Introduced Animals in Australia
The introduction of non-native animal species to Australia has had a profound impact on the country's native flora and fauna. Humans intentionally brought most of these animals, while others arrived with humans accidentally. Unfortunately, many of these introduced animals have caused significant damage to the environment and threatened the survival of many native plants and animals. To learn more about these introduced animals, browse the list below or use the "quick search" button in the menu bar.
Dingoes are medium-sized wild dogs. They originated from semi-domesticated dogs brought to Australia about 4,000 years ago by ancient seafarers. There is some controversy about whether they are now native or introduced animals.Read More
First introduced for sport hunting in 1859, rabbits have become one of Australia's most destructive introduced species, causing significant damage to crops and ecosystems. Twenty rabbits were imported. There are now over 200 million wild rabbits.Read More
Camels were brought to Australia in 1840 for transportation in the Australian outback. Later released, they become wild animals. Australian wild camels are called feral camels. Today about 1.2 million camels live in the Australian deserts.Read More
Cane toads were introduced in 1935 to control sugarcane beetles. Unfortunately, they didn't do its job. Instead, they have spread across much of northern Australia with devastating consequences on native wildlife.Read More
Feral cats are wild cats that evolved from domestic cats that escaped their human environment. There were no cats in Australia before European settlement in 1788. They kill millions of native animals.Read More
The European red fox was imported and released in Victoria, Australia in the 1850s. Today it is found in over 75% of Australia, and number over 7.5 million. It is killing native Australian animals at an alarming rate.Read More
Brumby (Feral Horse)
Brumbies are wild horses, descendants of domestic animals that escaped from early European settlers. Australian native vegetation suffers significant damage when trampled by hoofed animals such as horses.Read More
European Honey Bee
The European honey bee was introduced into Australia in 1822 to supply them with honey. It is vital to the Australian agricultural sector today. Bee stings cause the highest number of human deaths each year.Read More
Introduced in 1863 to control insects in market gardens, these birds are fast becoming Australia's number one pest. The Indian Myna aggressively competes with native birds for food, nesting, and territory.Read More
The Monarch Butterfly, also known as the Wanderer Butterfly in Australia, was unintentionally brought here by American gold miners around 1871. They appeared in Australia after the arrival of the Milk Weed plant.Read More
Dung Beetles were imported in 1967-89 and 1990-1992 to collect and bury the dung of farm animals, which helps recycle nutrients, aerate the soil, and reduce flies. They have been happily eating millions of cow-pats each day.Read More
Water buffaloes were introduced in 1825 to supply meat for settlers. They can grow up to 2m in height, 3m in length, and weigh up to 1,200 kgs. They cause considerable damage to Australian fauna and flora.Read More
The house mouse is one of the few animals not intentionally brought to Australia. It hitched a ride as early as 1770 during the visit by James Cook. But it most likely came with the first fleet in 1788.Read More
Red Fire Ant
Red imported fire ants arrived in from the USA in 2001. It is a serious pest that can inflict painful bites on people, pets, and livestock. It has a voracious appetite, reducing plant populations and competing with native wildlife.
The Spotted Dove is a long-tailed pigeon native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It was introduced in about 1860 and often displaces native doves. However, the species has not spread far from urban areas.
Goats were imported in the 18th century and escaped into the wild. They now cause significant damage to the environment by overgrazing. This leads to land degradation, depriving other animals of food.
Common house sparrows are large finches introduced to Australia in 1863. They quickly established themselves in urban areas in eastern Australia. They are considered pests, and eradication efforts to date have failed.
Mallards were released in Australia in 1862. They are often the dominant waterfowl where they interbreed with native species.
Feral Pigs are the descendants of pigs brought to Australia by European settlers. Many were allowed to roam and soon became wild.
The European and Spanish Rabbit Fleas were specially imported to use as a carrier of the myxomatosis virus used to kill feral wild rabbits.
Introduced from Asia, it was first noticed in the 1960s. It is now found throughout northern Australia.
Black and brown rats arrived on board the first European ships to come to Australia. These pests carry diseases, eat crops and damage infrastructure
The European wasp arrived in Australia in 1959 and is now found in southern Australia. It is aggressive and will sting its victim repeatedly.
Introduced in 1894 from California, it has been very successful. It has caused the extinction of many native fish and invertebrates.
The Banteng was introduced by the British army in 1849 at a remote outpost in Northern Australia which was later abandoned.
There Were No
Mice, Apes & Monkeys
Photo: House mouse
Until Europeans came to Australia in 1788, Australia had no hoofed animals (like horses, cattle, goats, deer, etc.). There were no apes or monkeys in Australia either.
Rats and mice were the only animals the Europeans didn't bring intentionally. Instead, they arrived as stowaways on ships.
The Australian Ecosystem Isolated and Protected for Millions of Years
Believe It or Not
Humans have been the most destructive animals ever introduced to Australia.
Australia was isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years. In its isolation, many plants and animals evolved, specialised and adapted to Australia's unique environment. Up until the arrival of European settlers starting in 1788, only one non-indigenous animal was introduced to Australia. This was the dingo which arrived about 4,000 years ago. Since 1788, however more than 25 mammals, 20 birds, 4 reptiles, 1 frog, 34 fish, hundreds of marine species, an unknown number of invertebrates, and more than 2,800 weeds have been introduced to Australia.
The introduction of foreign plants and animals have sometimes had unforeseen impacts on native flora and fauna. These impacts have ranged from negligible to catastrophic. Many of these introduced species damage and degrade the ecosystem, bring new diseases, prey on native species, and compete with native plants and animals for food and shelter.
Be Gentle with Us We Never Asked to Come Here
It is important to remember that these introduced animals never attempted to come to Australia on their own. We, humans, brought them to Australia without due consideration for the impacts of our actions. These animals are only following their natural instincts to survive in their new environment. Yes, some have killed native plants and animals. Yes, they out-compete the natives. But we brought them here and failed to manage them from the very outset.
Some ludicrous unsubstantiated claims have also been made. For example, it is claimed that feral cats kill 20 billion Australian native species each a year! This is surely scaremongering. Sure, there is an issue with introduced species, but very little unbiased scientific research has been carried out to determine the true magnitude and impact of introduced animals on the Australian ecosystem.
Impact of Animals Introduced to Australia Not All Introduced Animals have been Bad
The impacts of the various introduced animals on the Australian ecosystem have been broadly classified below. Sometimes an animal can be in more than one group. For example, the rabbit is classified as both feral and a pest.
Beneficial - These species have been useful to humans or the environment.
Benign - These creatures have had no noticeable adverse impact on the Australian ecosystem.
Invasive - species have a tendency to spread their range into new areas.
Feral - Domestic animals brought to Australia that have gone wild and significantly impact the ecosystem.
Pests - These animals have a direct negative effect on the Australian ecosystem and are difficult to control.
All Rights Reserved. (Last Updated: May 11, 2023)