Unique Australian Animals on tour
5 Unusual Australian Animals You Must See In The Wild
Australia is home to more than one million species of animals, and is one of 17 mega-diverse countries on the planet with a large variety of ecosystems that support birds, marine life, reptiles, insects and mammals.
Why there are so many animals endemic to Australia
This biodiversity has resulted in high levels of endemism that can be attributed to Australia’s geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time.
The effect of humans and other causes on habitats
Since European settlement, 29 native animals and marsupials are believed to have become extinct in Australia including the Tasmanian Tiger, Paradise Parrot and Pig-footed Bandicoot.
To put this in a global context, one third of mammal extinctions in the last 400 years have occurred in Australia.
Hunting, deforestation and agricultural production have combined with animal and plant disease to cut species populations.
Steps to preserve Australia’s wildlife
Consequently, nearly a quarter of the mammal species and around 1 in 7 of bird species are listed as threatened. Sadly, more than 1,700 species of flora and fauna are listed by the Australian Government as being at risk of extinction.
Every Australian state and territory has assigned protected areas including wide national parks, reserves and wetlands with the intention to protect and preserve the country's unique ecosystems.
Adventures Beyond champions conservation and education about Australian wildlife for all travellers. Below, we list 5 unusual Australian animals that you may see on an Adventures Beyond tour:
1. Kangaroo Island Dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni)
The iconic Kangaroo Island is a melting pot of unique flora and fauna, and is home to a shy marsupial called the Kangaroo Island Dunnart.
This little guy is the only endemic species to Kangaroo Island, and is mostly found at the western end of Kangaroo Island in Flinders Chase National Park.
It is estimated less than 500 individuals remain in the wild.
2. Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus)
Another Kangaroo Island resident, the short-beaked echidna is an egg-laying mammal (monotreme) that has made a permanent mark on Australia – even featuring on one side of the Australian 5-cent coin.
It is covered in fur and has sharp spines, like a porcupine, and tends to be nocturnal.
Sub-species found in different regions of Australia vary in spine length, size of claws and even their hairiness! The sub-species Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus is endemic to Kangaroo Island.
3. Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
One of the more unusual creatures to grace the animal kingdom, platypuses are expert swimmers with webbed feet, a duck-bill and a flat tail similar to a beaver.
They feed on worms and yabbies (shrimp-like crustaceans) in the mud.
You can see them in the Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island, and parts of Queensland.
4. Koala (Phascolarctos cinerus)
A well-known Australian icon beside the kangaroo, koalas have had a love/hate relationship with conservation in Australia over the decades.
In the early 20th century, koalas were hunted for their fur and after widespread culling and public outcry efforts were then made to preserve the species across Australia.
Koalas munch on the leaves of eucalyptus trees, and their population numbers are affected by koala diseases, urbanisation, bushfires and droughts.
Adventures Beyond have great Kangaroo Island adventure tours where you can get up close and personal to koalas. You can find various locations in Australia where koalas outnumber people, and an epic 9-day Perth to Adelaide tour that camps at Mikkira Station, the only wild koala colony near Pt Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula.
5. Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)
This devilish and cheeky-looking Australian animal, nicknamed the ‘Tassie Devil’, is the world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial.
Tasmanian Devils are about the size of a small dog, and are mostly nocturnal, hunting and scavenging for medium to large mammals.
This rare Australian animal is extinct on the mainland and is now found only in Tasmania, with population numbers in large decline greatly attributed to an infectious facial cancer.
Which tour do I book
To book your Adventures Beyond tours to try and encounter these unique animals and other amazing wildlife, we offer a superb range of tours including:
- Kangaroo Island Dunnart and Short-beaked Echidna, tour options : http://www.adventuresbeyond.com.au/kangaroo-island-wildlife-adventures
- Platypus, tour options :
- Koala, tour options here :
- Tasmanian Devil, tour options :
Conservation of Australian animals
To learn more about the list of Threatened Species in Australia, visit www.iucnredlist.org who assess the conservation status of species on a global scale.
If you’re interested in finding where there are reserves and protected wildlife areas in Australia, go to www.australianwildlife.org as they have a good overview about preservation of threatened species.