Worldwide Wildlife: Australia


(Image via CGTN)

Tori Ratliff

Australia is most well known for its kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and venomous snakes, but that’s only a tiny fragment of the rich biodiversity of the well-known country (yes, it is a country, as well as a continent). According to WWFF, there are over 378 species of mammals, 828 species of birds, 300 species of lizards, 140 species of snakes, and two different types of crocodiles. The marine life consists of 4,000 species of fish and 50 marine mammals as well as a large range of seabirds. The Animal Kingdom can be split up in multiple ways, but we’ll look at them in these four: mammals, birds, reptiles/amphibians, and marine life. 

Mammals, arguably one of the most well-known types of animals, are split into three subgroups: placental, monotreme, and marsupial. There aren’t as many placental mammals in Australia, mainly being bats or rodents, according to Australian Wildlife Journeys. The most well-known mammal of this category in Australia is the dingo, Australia’s native wild dog. Monotremes are, according to Terra Australia, the most exotic animals of Australia. There are only five species of this unique type of mammal and four out of the five call Australia home. Two members of this small group are the duck-billed platypus and short-beaked echidnas. They are so special, because they bring young into the world, not by birth, but by laying eggs. The third and final type of mammal is the marsupial. This is of course the category that the most well-known Australian fauna are a part of; kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and wombats. The characteristic that makes these mammals different from the other two is that they carry their young in a pouch. These species are pretty much exclusively native to Australia.

Birds are abundant in Australia, with over 800 different species. The emu, the second-largest living bird (height-wise), can only be found in Australia. There are more black swans than white ones and the iconic Kookaburra. The kookaburra is a species of kingfisher exclusive to Australia, that laughs instead of singing. The cassowary, closely related to the emu and ostrich and is the second heaviest bird in the world, and largely regarded as the most dangerous bird in the world. Fairy penguins, also known as little blue penguins, are the smallest penguin and live in Australia (yes, even though they’re penguins). Also found in Australia are 55 species of parrots and a variety of cockatoos, lorikeets, cockatiels, parakeets, and many other colorful birds. 

Australia is known for its venomous snakes, for a good reason. There are more venomous species of snakes than there are non-venomous. The common death adder, inland taipan, and tiger snake are just 3 of the 140 species of snakes in Australia (and coincidentally, they are all venomous). There may be more venomous than non-venomous snakes, but because snakes usually avoid contact with humans, there aren’t very many incidents. The second type of reptile that has representation in Australia, is crocodiles. One of these water reptiles happens to be the largest living reptile, the saltwater crocodile. According to, the males are capable of reaching lengths of up to 23 feet and a weight of up to 2,200 pounds. These large reptilians get their name from being able to survive in completely salinated water. Their incredibly powerful jaws can deliver the strongest bite of living animals. That and their long breath-holding abilities give it the tools it needs to hunt large land mammals. Apart from the more dangerous species of reptiles, turtles, frogs, and lizards also call Australia home. While there aren’t any species of tortoises, there are 29 species of turtles in the aquatic environments Australia offers. Australia also has the most diverse variety of lizards with over 360 species. There also isn’t a lack of amphibians with over 200 species, with 93% only found in Australia.

One of the most well-known marine wildlife destinations is located in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and is home to over 1500 species of fish, over 600 types of coral, 215 species of birds, 133 species of sharks and rays, 30 species of porpoises, 14 species of sea snakes, six out of seven of the globe’s marine turtle species, and 25% of all marine species that have been discovered (Great Barrier Reef Foundation). Some of these unique and majestic species are manta rays, green turtles, dugongs, whale sharks, clownfish, mantis shrimp, humpback whales, giant triton, giant clam, and the blanket octopus.

Australia offers a diverse culture of creatures, a lot of which can only be found in this island/country/continent.