Mammals

Mammals are divided into three groups – monotremes, marsupials and placentals – all of which have fur, produce milk and are warm-blooded.

Marsupials give birth to small, poorly developed young and most female marsupials, such as kangaroos, wallabies and the Koala, have pouches. While the platypus and echidnas are monotremes, females lay soft-shelled eggs.

Placental mammals of Australia include bats and rodents along with marine mammals such as dolphins and whales. These mammals give birth to well-developed young.

Australian Fur Seal

What do they look like? The males and females are physically quite different although they all have big heads, pointy faces with big eyes and long whiskers and very sharp teeth, like a dog’s. The males are larger than the females and can weigh up to 350kg. Males are usually brown or dark grey and

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Bandicoot

Have you ever found a finger-deep hole in your lawn with a cone-shaped pile of dirt next to it? You have a bandicoot. Bandicoots live throughout Australia in a wide variety of habitats. There are about 21 known species. While you may not love the holes, bandicoots are doing your garden a fantastic service by controlling your grub numbers and aerating your soil. A bandicoot locates food underground using its excellent sense of

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Brushtail Possum

You can recognise a Brushtail Possum by its thick, bushy tail which distinguishes it from the smaller Ringtail Possum. Brushtails live in backyards and the bush all across Australia and are frequent backyard visitors. If your resident possum is feasting on your flower beds, plant a good selection of native shrubs for them to feed on instead and this may stop them eating all your rosebuds. To discourage possums from running ove…

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Echidna

Echidnas are most active in the lead-up to their winter mating period, so if you live in an area with lots of native bush nearby, you may have a small spiny visitor. Echidnas are the oldest mammals alive today. They live all over Australia and are able to survive in a wide variety of habitats and temperatures. They are covered all over with strong and sharp spines, their only defence mechanism against predators. The spines are…

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Flying Fox

What do they look like? Flying foxes are the largest of all bats. They have grey, fox-like heads with very large eyes. They have dark fur (even on their toes!) and are around 25cm long (but their wings can stretch as wide as 1 metre). Where are they found? Flying-foxes, also known as Bats, Fruit

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Gilbert’s Potoroo

What do they look like? Gilbert’s Potoroo is a small nocturnal marsupial which lives in small groups or colonies, slightly smaller than a rabbit, with a dense coat of soft grey-brown fur. With furry jowls, large eyes and an almost hairless tail, it weighs in at around a kilogram. Where are they found? Gilbert’s potoroo

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Grey-headed Flying-fox

The Grey-headed Flying-fox gets its name from its grey, furry head but it also has a bright orange neck. If you imagine them without wings, they really do look just like little foxes. Also called 'Fruit Bats' they actually prefer to eat pollen and nectar rather than fruit. The Grey-headed Flying-fox often travels 20 to 50 km from their daytime roost to find food. They eat nectar from flowering gums and banksias, Lilly Pilly fr…

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Humpback Whale

What do they look like? Humpback Whales – 40 tons of majestic singing and aerial acrobatics. Humpback Whales are highly social and intelligent mammals. At 14 to 18 metres long and nearly 40 tons, they are the fifth largest animal on earth. They breathe air, have hair on their bodies, and give birth to live

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Koala

Koalas are marsupials that live in eucalypt forests in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Koalas are fussy eaters, eating only a few types of eucalypt leaves. They eat up to one kilogram of leaves each day. Their diet consists mainly of a certain type of eucalyptus leaf which is poisonous to other animals. From a young age, Koala joeys are fed a form of fecal matter called pap that helps them to digest …

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Mahogany Glider

What do they look like? Mahogany Gliders are a relatively large arboreal gliding marsupial with adults weighing up to 500g. Mahogany Gliders vary in colour from mahogany brown to buff to apricot belly. The top of the head is pale and has a dark stripe extending to their rump. The lower half of the Mahogany

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Microbat

Microbats are mammals - the only mammals capable of flying a sustained distance. During summer and autumn, microbats go into a feeding frenzy as they fatten up on insects to help them survive the winter. Once the nights become cooler and the insects disappear, microbats lower their body temperature and go into a state of mini hibernation until their food returns in spring. Microbats can eat as much as 40% of their own body wei…

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Mountain Pygmy Possum

What do they look like? These small possums average around 40 grams, are smaller than your thumb (250mm in length) and over half of their body is their tail. They have dense, fine, grey-brown coloured fur with a creamy-fawn coloured underbody. Their nose is pink and have bright eyes with dark shadows around the edges.

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Northern Quoll

What do they look like? The Northern Quoll is the smallest of four species of marsupial carnivore in the genus Dasyurus and they are the most aggressive. The species was first described in 1842 and given the species name hallucatus, which means ‘notable first digit’. This refers to the short ‘thumb’ on the hindfoot, which

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Numbat

What do they look like? The Numbat is a marsupial with reddish-brown fur and prominent white, stripes. It also has a dark stripe running across the eye from its ear to mouth. The Numbat can grow to 27.4 cm long and weigh up to 715 g. It has a bushy tail which can grow to

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Platypus

What do they look like? The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an aquatic mammal. It is brown in colour and quite small. An adult Platypus can be from 45 cm up to 60 cm in length and can weigh up to 2.7 kg. Platypus have dark backs and a light brown belly, long, coarse hair, a

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Possums

What do they look like? Possums are small marsupials that are found across Australia. They can range in size from the size of a mouse like the tiny Western Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus concinnus) at just 15 grams up to the size of a cat. The most often seen possums in backyards and urban areas are

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Quokka

What do they look like? The Quokka is a small wallaby with thick, coarse, grey-brown fur with lighter underparts. Its snout is naked and its ears are short. Its short tail can reach 31cm long and tapers towards the end. Males grow to 54cm long and weigh up to 4.2kg, whereas females grow to 50cm

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Quoll

Quolls are winter breeders, so by August, some babies are ready to leave the mother. Quolls are meat-eaters at the top of the food chain. They prey on many other species such as gliders, possums, small wallabies, rats, birds, bandicoots, rabbits, insects and carrion. Female quolls make their dens in tree hollows, logs, rock crevasses and even among building materials. Baby quolls start life as tiny, rice-grain sized embryos wh…

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Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders live in the trees and glide between them using flaps of skin between their front and back legs. These small marsupials live in eastern and northern Australia and nest in tree hollows or nest boxes. Adults can weigh as little as 150 grams. They are grey to brown with a prominent dark stripe over their foreheads, and have prehensile tails which they use to grip on to branches. In June, sugar gliders begin mating. T…

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Tree Kangaroo

Tree kangaroos really are kangaroos that live in trees. They are marsupials and macropods and are the largest tree-dwelling mammal in Australia. In Australia, they live in far north Queensland. Other tree kangaroo species live in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The two Australian species are the Lumholtz's and the Bennett’s tree kangaroo. They do look like kangaroos but have shorter legs, strong forearms and very long tails.…

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Wallaby

Although not common to most suburban backyards, wallabies will visit backyards that are near bushland and will certainly frequently visit those lucky enough to have big backyards. Wallabies are marsupials that belong to the animal group Macropods which means 'large footed'. Other macropods include kangaroos, pademelons, wallaroos and tree-kangaroos. There are about 30 wallaby species in Australia. Wallabies have very powerful …

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Water Rat

The Water Rat, also known by the Aboriginal name Rakali, is a top predator in freshwater and saltwater environments right across Australia. You're most likely to see a Rakali as it runs along the shore edge in a lake, river or beach. You can tell if you have Rakalis in your backyard by their footprints. As the Rakali has webbed feet, they leave very strange and unique footprints in sandy shores and banks. Rakalis can be messy …

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Wombat

The common wombat is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal. Indeed, it is such an accomplished burrower that early settlers called it a 'badger', a term that is still heard today. However, the closest relative of the wombat is, in fact, the koala. With its short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and 'cuddly' appearance, the wombat is one of the most endearing of Australia's native animals. Wombats are nocturnal, solitary…

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