Australia is the 6th largest country in the world and contains an abundance of wildlife. There are more unique species of fauna in Australia than in any other country. Every year millions of people both local and overseas visit parts of Australia because of its wildlife. Bird watchers, whale watchers even weight watchers travel to forests, plains and coastlines. Zoos, national parks and wildlife parks are enormously popular as are urban parks and even some suburban backyards.
The wildlife watcher has a choice, several actually. There are many wildlife tours in both urban and rural areas on land and on sea. You can are transported and have the full guided tour or you can do it yourself. There are many publications which advise what can be seen, where and when and so armed with binoculars, sun hat, camera and water bottle, you venture forth to meet the locals.
Kangaroo. The picture which springs to mind is usually those large mammals often in big numbers l au nching themselves over the paddocks or through the bush. But there are almost 70 species in the kangaroo family and this well-known Australian animal comes in a wide variety of sizes from 500 grams to 90 kilos. They can swim and the tree kangaroo can build a nest. Some species are endangered and some are so numerous their numbers are culled.
Platypus. This unusual animal lives in and beside freshwater in eastern Australia . It swims underwater with its eyes closed and has a woolly furred coat part of which is used to detect things underwater. They stir up mud with their bill, locate insects and store them for consumption later. Their biggest enemies are snakes, foxes and water polluted by humans.
Kookaburra. Native to Australia and New Zealand this large to very large bird is a member of the kingfisher family. One of their many appealing attributes is its call which sounds very much like a l au gh. Aboriginal stories believe it is a call to have the Sun rise or rest. The birds have a mixture of brown, black or white feathers and eat insects, rodents, small fish, worms and frogs. Some will visit homes where friendly humans serves them the odd delicacy.
Crocodile. There are two types found in the hot and wet tropical north of Australia - saltwater and freshwater. Both can move into the other type of water and both are dangerous. Saltwater crocs can grow up to seven metres long. The female can lay up to 80 eggs and about half will survive. They are magnificent creatures who must be treated with extreme care.
Leadbeater's Possum. A be au tiful small grey animal and one of the many species of possum. In the early 20th century it was believed to be extinct until 50 years later it was re-discovered. It lives only in old growth forests in Victoria 's central highlands. Its greatest enemy is man. Cutting down old growth forests removes the animals' habitat.
Dugong. A gentle marine mammal which lives in the warm waters of northern Australia . They eat sea grass and grow to about 3 metres in length. The female takes the new-born into shallow water to protect it from sharks. Sadly mankind polluting the ocean and thus destroying the sea grass is putting pressure on these quiet creatures of the sea.
Rainbow Lorikeet is a colourful bird which makes a lot of noise and lives mainly along the eastern part of Australia . Its appearance is striking with a dark blue head and a yellow-green collar. If that's not showy enough the bird has a red beak, a violet belly, an orange chest and green tail. With all those colours the word 'rainbow' in their title is apt. Jokingly they are known as the clowns of the bird world. They'll happily come to a safe garden but do not feed them bread and biscuits. Plant native trees and bushes and let them feast on the pollen and nectar.
The Greater Bilby is a small marsupial and is sometimes called the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot. It has silvery grey fur, is about 400mm tall and lives on insects and fruit in the dry, spinifex country of the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia . It is a nocturnal creature with poor eye-sight. The Lesser Bilby has not been seen in Australia since the 1930s. Foxes are a deadly prey and cattle trample the burrows of the Bilby. In Australia many people no longer refer to the Easter Bunny but to the Easter Bilby.