Animals in Australia Native, Introduced, Endangered & Extinct Fauna of Australia

Australia has some of the weirdest animals in the world. Where else would you find animals that hop with their babies in a pouch? Or see a platypus that looks so strange that people thought that it was stitched together from the parts of lots of other animals. Or find a sea creature called a headless chicken monster.


Koala sleeping

Photo: Koala sleeping in a tree

Native Australian Wildlife Which Animal is Native to Australia?

Ever wondered what animals are really native to Australia? Generally speaking, it is any animal that has been in Australia before the arrival of humans. The reason this definition is the best is because animals such as the koala and emu have been in Australia for millions of years and are unquestionably native. The dingo, on the other hand, which considered native by some, was only brought to Australia by humans about 5,000 years ago. Many other animals such as camels and rabbits were introduced by European settlers less than 200 years ago. These animals are definitely not native to Australia.

So any animal that was living in Australia before the arrival of humans is a native Australian animal.

Why Australian Animals are Different

There Were No
Mice, Apes & Monkeys
in Australia

Until Europeans came to Australia in 1788, there were no hoofed animals (like horses, cattle, goats, deer, etc.) in Australia. There were no apes or monkeys in Australia either.

Rats and mice were the only animals that the Europeans didn't bring intentionally. They arrived as stowaways on ships.

Australian Mammals Types of Native and Introduced Mammals in Australia

Photo: Kangaroo hopping

There are three types of mammals in Australia. These are monotremes, marsupials, and placentals.

Monotremes first appeared between 145–99 million years ago and are the oldest type of Australian mammals. Two out of the five known species of monotremes in the world live in Australia. The echidna and platypus are two such animals found in Australia.

Marsupials appeared about 64-65 million years ago and are the second oldest type of mammal found in Australia. They occupy every niche of the Australian habitat and range from the large red kangaroo to marsupials smaller than a mouse.

Placental mammals are relatively recent arrivals to Australia. Bats were the first to arrive, getting here about 23 million years ago. Rodents arrived about 5-10 million years ago. These animals reached Australia by flying or hitching a ride on floating debris and crossing the oceans that separated Australian from Asia as Australia as it stated drifting slowly closer to Asia. These placental mammals make up a very small percentage of the total mammalian population. Humans introduced several animals. The dingo was the first of these, coming here about 5,000 years ago. Beginning in 1788 many types of placental mammals such as cattle, the fox and rabbit were brought to Australia.

Difference Between Marsupials, Placental & Monotreme Mammals

Australian Amphibians and Reptiles Some are the Most Poisonous Snakes

Photo: Blue-tongue lizards

Australia has many amphibians, and reptiles found nowhere else in the world.

Lizards – There are over 700 species unique to Australia alone.

Snakes – Australia has 140 species of land snakes and 32 species of sea snakes. Of these about a 100 are poisonous snakes. The bite from about 12 of these can be fatal to humans. The taipan and red-bellied black snake are some such poisonous snake.

Frogs – Four families of native frogs numbering 230 species inhabit the continent. 135 of these are unique to Australia.

Crocodiles – Australia has two species of crocodiles. The Saltwater crocodile is the world's largest and can weigh as much as 1,000 kilos and is known to attack humans. Freshwater crocodiles are much smaller and do not attack humans.

Turtles – There are 35 species of freshwater turtles. Six species of sea turtle also visit the coastlines.

Australian Birds Desert, Outback and Rainforest Birds of Australia

Photo: Australian red parrot

Australia has 800 species of birds of these 350 are only found in Australasia.

Ratites such as the emu and cassowary are large flightless birds similar to the ostrich. The Emu lives in the Australian Outback. And the critically endangered cassowary lives in the tropical rainforests of Australia.

Megapods such as the Mallee fowl, trace their ancestry as far back as Gondwanan time. These stocky birds look somewhat like chickens, but they have small heads and large feet (that's why the name "megapod" meaning big-feet). These birds are usually found in forested areas.

Parrots unique to Australia comprise nearly 20% of the world's know species. These include the cockatoo and the almost extinct night parrot, which lives in the Australian desert.

Other birds such as Kookaburras are the world's largest kingfishers.