The who’s who of Queensland animals
Thanks to 150 million years in the making, and island isolation, Australian animals are some of the most unique species on the planet. Amongst Queensland’s local residents we have over 150 species of marsupials, 50 species of kangaroos, the oldest living reptile species (the saltwater crocodile) and Australia’s largest flightless bird (the cassowary).
We’d like to introduce you to some of Queensland’s resident Australian animals and share some of the fun facts that make them such original characters.
“Matilda” the Bilby
Species: Macrotis lagotis
A little about me: I’ve got a silky light grey and white coat and a long black and white crested tail. My sense of smell is out of this world thanks to my long snout. I’ve got pretty fast reflexes as well thanks to my large, hairless ears which help me listen out for predators and prey.
Where I hang out: I love to watch the stars at night, making the Queensland Outback the perfect spot to live, more specifically the Mitchell Grasslands of southwest Queensland and a purpose built reserve at Currawinya National Park near Cunnamulla (it’s fenced to keep us safe from feral cats, dingoes and foxes).
Claim to fame: I love to get my paws dirty and dig a good burrow to hide from predators and sleep in during the day.
Favourite thing to eat: I’m an omnivore. I love a good feed of bulbs, fruit, seeds, fungi, insects and worms. I’ve been known to sniff out a good feed of termites and, if I feel like exercising before dinner I’ll chase small lizards and spiders too. My sometimes food is the bush onion or yalka which grows in desert sand plains after fires.
Something you don’t know about me: I don’t need to drink water regularly because, like the koala, I get most of my moisture from my food.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: To get the red dirt out of my fur, I take a break at Carnarvon Gorge. The sandstone cliffs are amazing and there are lots of beautiful creeks and places to explore.
“Cain” the Dingo
Species: Canis lupus dingo
A little about me: My name is Cain, but my mates call me Ernie (it’s an Aussie joke). I like to hang out with my mates on Fraser Island, but I also really like being on my own. Our wider group is like, totes pure. I’ve heard other dingo gangs around country have a bit of wild dog in them, but not us man, we’re all dingo. We even had some scientist dudes come and do some tests a few years ago and they reckon we’re the real deal.
On the whole I’m pretty into the whole ‘fringe’ scene so woods and grassy knolls are my usual hang out but, you know – YOLO, so sometimes I hit a beach or lake for some fun.
Where I hang out: The mainland is so mainstream – I was on Fraser Island before it was cool. Here we’ve got a pretty cool gig since other dogs aren’t allowed on our turf and we’ve got some sweet as bars (ok, they’re sandbars) and lots of good game meat, like possums, which are organic and sustainable.
Claim to fame: My ancestors came here from Asia and must have been pretty tough as we’re still the biggest land predator in Australia. I reckon that’s pretty rad.
Favourite thing to eat: A mostly a paleo diet consisting of free-range, organic rabbits, rats and roos is my jam– Bone apetit!
Something you don’t know about me: My ancestors used to help keep the early aboriginal people warm by cuddling at night. I don’t think I’d be cool with that though, I tend to be a bit snappy.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: When I need a break, I head to Outback Queensland to visit some of my extended family. The food and wine scene is really underground – like, you can literally eat grubs! Plus there’s something about those red sunsets that really makes you paws and think about the important things in life (#punny).
“Olive” the Green Sea Turtle
A little about me: I have a beautiful olive and brown coloured shell, but I’m known as a Green Turtle because the fat under my carapace is green from all the seagrass I eat. Everyone loves a turtle, we’re curious and friendly and some of us are pretty famous – remember Crush surfing the EAC on Finding Nemo? He’s an international celebrity, but luckily last time we surfed together it hadn’t gone to his head.
In November and December each year, thousands of people head to the beaches to watch us girls nest and lay our eggs. Then from January to March more come back to watch our darling little hatchlings dig their way out and scramble to the water – man can those sweet things move! I wish I could travel like that on land – it takes me a little longer nowadays.
Where I hang out: You’ll find me chilling in the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef. I love the islands and coral cays all along the coast, but I have a favourite hang-out and that’s Mon Repos Regional Park near Bundaberg.
Claim to fame: I have an amazing memory and will return to the beach where I was born from thousands of kilometres away when it’s time for me to lay my own eggs.
Favourite thing to eat: I’m a herbivore and just love seagrass, particularly in shallow lagoons where I can also enjoy the warmth of the sun, but my offspring are omnivores, eating a combination of seagrasses and small crustaceans when they are still little.
Something you don’t know about me: I can’t pull my head into my shell, unlike some of my cousins.
Hamilton “Hammo” the Koala
Species: Phascolarctos Cinereus
A little about me: You wanna know about the shirt, don’t you? Well I’m the head of the Koala Union. The boys gave me this shirt when I brokered the koala working week; 18 hours sleep a day and 90 minutes work a week. Crikey! Not even the Southern Euros get it this good. It took a bit of jive talking with the EPA (that’s the Environmental Protection Agency, to you) but now every single Queensland koala called up for cuddles has a stress-free life. We still smooch with tourists, but no more than three times a week and 30 minutes each session. Of course a few of the boys got a bit grunty when Taylor Swift came into the park and they had already burned through their snuggle time. And the sheilas – geez it was a catfight over Obama last year. Still, a rule is a rule. That’s why I’ve got the union shirt!
Where I hang out: Look up! That’s where you’ll find me; snoozing in the fork of a gum tree. Okay, it’s true, with just nine of us per square kilometre, thousands of trees in the same space and my cloud coloured camouflaged bum, I can be difficult to spot. The best places to see me in nature are the Fort Walks on Magnetic Island, Noosa National Park on the Sunshine Coast and Daisy Hill in Brisbane. But if you are a bit of a lazy koala yourself, then get to a Queensland zoo. There must be 20 places where you can cuddle a koala. No other state in Australia has that.
Claim to fame: I’ve been valued at a billion bucks! That’s about the amount my megawatt cuddles generate in tourism dollars.
Favourite thing to eat: Between half a kg and a kg of eucalyptus leaves a day. That’s a lot.
Something you don’t know about me: I’m cousins with the wombat and we both have really bony bums (Mine so that I can sleep in a tree. Wombat needs a bum bone so nothing can bite it while it’s burrowing head-first into a hollow log). Speaking of bums, koala bums look like a cloudy day. That’s a camouflage tactic so those pesky dingos can’t spot us when they look up. Hah. We sure fooled them.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: It’s got to be Magnetic Island off Townsville. It’s pure paradise with a cool fringing reef and about 800 koala cousins to hang with. Once a month, when the tourists come for the full moon party on the beach, we have our own gum tree party. It’s huge. The island goes off. Of course, we don’t get much sleep that night. Maybe only 16 hours.
“Huntah” the Laughing Kookaburra
Species: Dacelo novaeguineae
A little about me: I am one of the most well-known birds of Australia and one of the largest birds from the kingfisher family. I have a stocky body and large head with beautiful brown stripes across both eyes – quite striking aren’t I? My big heavy bill, which I use to hunt and makes nests, is almost as long as my head!
When I fall in love it’s for life – call me old fashioned! We have many seasons of breeding and my elder offspring act as “helpers” during the breeding seasons. We really share the parenting duties between all family members.
Where I hang out: The eucalypt forests of Eastern Queensland – As long as there is a tree big enough with plenty of open hunting ground I’m happy.
Claim to fame: My loud call sounds like a raucous laugh! I enjoy waking you up just before day break, it makes me laugh (no pun intended). I am very well loved by the Australians – they even have a song about me…
Favourite thing to eat: My favourite meals include small mammals, lizards, large insects and snakes. Smaller animals I can swallow whole, others, like snakes, I have to bash around a bit, but that’s part of the fun.
Something you don’t know about me: I like to use vacant termite nests to raise a family. I fly hard at the nest and use my hard bill to crack it open and make a big enough hole to raise my little ones in.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: Sigh…the green behind the gold! I love the trees of the Gold Coast.
“Bill” the Platypus
A little about me: Look at moi – I am an egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal. Confusing eh? In fact, when European naturalists first met me, some thought I was a hoax. I like to hang out in small streams and rivers, but when I’m not in the water, I chill out in a burrow on the riverbank not far above water level. I often hide under a tangle of roots as I am rather shy of meeting other creatures. My body and flat tail are covered with dense, brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep me warm. Thankfully my fur is waterproof.
Where I hang out: I can be found in quite a few locations in Queensland but one of my favourite spots is in Eungella National Park, near Mackay. Remember I am very shy but you might be lucky enough to spot me at dawn or dusk in some slow moving river or lake around Queensland.
Claim to fame: My duck-like bill and shy nature makes me one of Australia’s most intriguing animals. I use my tail to store my fat reserves and am so buoyant that I have to keep swimming to stay underwater.
Favourite thing to eat: I’m partial to a good feast of worms and insect larvae. I also enjoy a tasty freshwater shrimp or two and yabbies that I can dig out of the riverbed with my cute little snout.
Something you don’t know about me: Ahem, I am a bit awkward. Out of the water I waddle with the webs of my front feet turned back so I can use my claws for digging.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: While I’m a fan of the slow-moving streams and rivers around Queensland, especially up in Mackay, occasionally you can see me living it up in Lamington National Park in Southeast Queensland. I really like to get to the glow worm caves around there – they’re like a natural disco!
Reggie “Big Red” the Kangaroo
A little about me: I’ll admit I’m a bit of a gym junkie and am super into my health and fitness. To give you an idea of my size, I weigh in at around 90kg (198lb) but some of my mates are as small as 55kg (121lb), and I stand at around 1.6 metres (5.2ft) tall (again, my smaller mates are around the 1.3m (4.3ft) mark). Sporting wise, I am a natural at high-jump and long-jump. Don’t let my large build deceive you; my long-jump PB is nine metres (29.5ft) and my high-jump PB isn’t too shabby either, at three metres (9.8ft). The only thing is, as I can’t move my legs independently of one another, I have to ‘hop’ everywhere. This may sound like a burden, but I ain’t complaining, as I can move at speeds of over 56 kilometres/hour (35 miles/hour), bounding up to nine metres (29.5ft) in a single leap *raises eyebrows*.
Where I hang out: I can usually be found lazing about with “the mob” which sounds super tough, but it really just means I hang out with a bunch of other kangaroos. My mates and I typically prefer open plains with some trees to chill out under. We are a pretty hardy bunch too, as we are actually capable of conserving enough water and selecting enough fresh vegetation to survive in an arid environment.
Claim to fame: You would NEVER know this about me (as I’m not much into alternate types of cardio), but I am an adept swimmer. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but hey I’m all about keepin’ it real.
Favourite thing to eat: Gimme’ some greens any day, I’m all about a “plant based” diet to keep fit and strong. I mainly devour fresh grasses and forbs, but I’m not too fussy…I will eat the ‘brown bits’ when plants look dry too. It’s all about the gains.
Something you don’t know about me: *Flexes muscles* I’m big, like real big. In fact, I’m the largest terrestrial mammal native to Australia, and the largest extant marsupial.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: I surprised my lady-roo (because I’m awesome) with a camping holiday to Currawinya National Park in South West, Outback Queensland and let me tell you, it was pretty special. Give me camping beside a waterhole; red dirt in my fur; and lazing under a star-studded sky on an Outback Queensland holiday any day!
“Tex” the Saltwater Croc
Species: Crocodylus porosus
A little about me: We salties are the biggest crocs of all and have reigned supreme since the dawn of time with our family tree goin’ back pre-dinosaur. We’re pretty darn unique compared to them other crocs ‘cos we can swim anywhere in the world. We’ve travelled through India and South-East Asia but still call Australia home. My buddies call me Tex ‘cos I like to greet everybody I meet with a friendly tooth-y smile. That and I’m rather fond of wearin’ this here hat. When we’re not off explorin’, we can be pretty darn lazy. A day well spent is a day doin’ nothin’ at all and baskin’ in the sun before headin’ out to hunt for our supper when the cool night rolls in.
Where I hang out: While them freshies are stuck to their borin’ little rivers, we get out and explore lagoons and swamps inland before headin’ to the beaches and islands around the tropical north and Torres Strait. Them waterin’ holes just north of Rockhampton hold a special spot in my heart with enough fish to keep my belly full all day long.
Claim to fame: I’m the biggest reptile in the world! Why, them freshwater crocs got nothin’ on me and those American alligators – yep, even the Texas ones – look like geckoes when I’m around! We males are usually ‘bout 4 to 5 metres long while the little ladies grow up to a dainty 3 metres.
Favourite thing to eat: I believe in survival of the fittest and think fad diets and vegetables are just for wimps. So if any fish, bird or mammal comes too close to me, sorry mate but you’re a goner!
Something you don’t know about me: I don’t actually hunt humans! We’ve been gettin’ a lot of bad press in the past few years but honestly, my eyesight ain’t what it used to be. If you’re crouchin’ down at the water or swimmin’ through my water hole, I can’t help but think you’re dinner. Luckily the rangers have put up signs so we all know how to stay out of each other’s way!
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: Summer is my main workin’ season so I’m usually out greetin’ visitors with my grin and posin’ for photos. Winter is when you’ll find me investin’ in some serious RnR and getting’ my tan on anywhere on the northern coasts of Queensland where it’s still fairly warm.
“Kevin” the Cassowary
Species: Casuarius casuarius johnsonii
A little about me: I’m a recently single dad. I met a sheila, one thing led to another; she laid her eggs and was gone. It’s not all bad, in 50 days or so I’ll be taking the next generation under my giant flightless wings. I’ll be showing my chicks the ropes of the family business before they go out on their own. We Cassowaries are proud rainforest gardeners. It is a tradition that dates back to when those big blokes, what do you call ‘em, ah yeah, dinosaurs, trampled through the rainforest. We pretty much get to roam the rainforest and repair it as we go with the power of our … Oh I’ll spare you the details but I do have the best job in the world!
Where I hang out: Mate, I live in the best place in the world – where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef – the gorgeous Daintree Rainforest!
Claim to fame: The brown casque on my head makes me look like a dinosaur.
Favourite thing to eat: I’m a hard core frugivore. I only eat fruit from the rainforest and I love it so much that I swallow it whole. Ain’t nobody got time for chewing!
Something you don’t know about me: I make my own fertiliser. It is a special recipe. Haha!
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: I’m very attached to my neck of the woods but I love hiking. I’d love to give the Thornsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island a go.
“Chester” the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
A little about me: *Cue the stage lights* I’m a real show pony. I guarantee even if you haven’t seen me, you’ve certainly heard me. I was born for a life in the spotlight with my fluffy white plumage and striking bright yellow crest, which makes me easy to spot in the crowd.
I’m a classically trained singer with my big loud voice and strong projection. My first gigs were in the subtropical and tropical rainforests of Queensland before moving into more urban areas to make a real go of it. I cover a lot of real estate in the Sunshine State and call most coastal areas home. Don’t be shy if you see me, come say hi … just don’t try and feed me.
Where I hang out: Coolangatta Beach baby! I’ve got all the pine nuts in the world at my claw tips, a sea breeze in my crest and I can eye ball beach babes from my perch.
Claim to fame: I’ve woken more people up with my sunrise bird call than any self-respecting rooster.
Favourite thing to eat: A paleo diet of seeds, nuts & insects but I get my glucose fix from fruit, flowers and tubers.
Something you don’t know about me: Boy can dance. Yep, studies show that we can synchronise our movements to a musical beat. Take that other bird species!
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: A tree near you!
“Eduardo” the Echidna
Species: Tachyglossus aculeatus
A little about me: Yes my hairstyle is a little outdated (I’m channelling Benji Madden’s do in the 90’s) – I actually have two types of fur that cover my head; back and tail: a short coarse hair keeping me warm from the cold and longer spiky spines to protect me from any predators. My spikes are sharp and creamy-coloured and are made up of that keratin stuff girls like to straighten their hair with. With my outdated hairstyle comes an awkward waddle since my legs protrude outwards and then downwards, similar to reptiles.
Where I hang out: If there is one thing I cannot tolerate, its extreme temperatures – I think I’m pretty lucky to live in Queensland with pleasant temperatures year-round. In-fact my family are all spread out across the state. If you come looking for me though I spend my time checking out the 1,000+ parks and forests in Queensland. Caves and rock crevasses are where I like to gather my thoughts.
Claim to fame: Don’t be fooled by my physical appearance – although I’m quite reserved, I’m pretty impressed with my biceps – all that digging has got me guns the size of Arnie’s.
Favourite thing to eat: Ants and termites for us! We can sniff them from miles away with our trusty old snout, foraging through rotting logs and food sites until we can detect a smell or electrical impulse. Then, we rip open the logs with our forepaws or lie on top of an ant mound and pig out.
Something you don’t know about me: I have a long (17cm to be precise) and fast moving tongue so I’m quick to catch my food. While this could be useful in mating season (July-August), there are usually up to 10 of us lining up for a lady’s attention. The lucky guy is usually the closest to the lady echidna in the ‘train’. Did you know we (along with platypuses) are the only egg-laying mammals in the world?
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: Alas, echidnas don’t really swim, so I’ve never been to the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s number one on my bucket list. I really want to see the blowfish…I hear we have a few things in common!
“Doug” the Wombat
Species: Vombatus Ursinus Copia
A little about me: I am so hip that I am underground. Sipping grass shots by day and dodging nasty roots at night. Don’t let my hairy nose put you off. I am a rare find and will only be spotted in the wild here in Queensland. No bear or cub, I’m a proud pouch carrying marsupial that loves belly rubs and a good grunt.
Where I hang out: I am a night animal. When not sipping on grass shots, you’ll find me hangin’ in the burrows of Epping Forrest – a secret hood around 850kms north of Brisbane. It’s a special area that is protected and only accessible for rangers and scientists. But don’t fear, my mates and I all love a good belly rub and cuddle at some of Queensland’s wildlife sanctuaries like Dreamworld, Australia Zoo and Cairns Tropical Zoo.
Claim to fame: I poop in squares. Seriously!
Favourite thing to eat: I’m your typical clean-eating, organic, gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, vegan. Love grazing on grass and roots.
Something you don’t know about me: Champion sleeper. Give me 16 hours of sleep any day.
Where I like to holiday in Queensland: I like the club scene in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Like I said, underground is my thing.