When it comes to Aussie animals, most people are familiar with the iconic kangaroo and koala, but it may come as a surprise that there are even more crazy critters living in the Land Down Under.
Here are five weird native animals you may spot if you head into the great outdoors on an Aussie adventure.
When you think of native birds you might think of a laughing kookaburra or a beautiful rainbow rosella, but a cassowary is a whole other story. Up to two metres tall, this giant bird stands upright like an ostrich and has a bright blue and red neck with shiny black feathers. While you’ll only find cassowaries in the warmer climates of north Queensland, it’s important not to underestimate the big bird if you come across it. While they are normally scared of humans and will run away, a cassowary has a horn-like bit on the top of their head and VERY sharp claws, so can kick or charge you (and do some serious damage!) if they feel threatened. So, play nice.
Sugar gliders are funny looking creatures. Are they a rat? Are they a bat? Actually, they’re a marsupial (a mammal that carries its babies in a pouch) and they can be found all the way from the Kimberley region, down into Victoria and Tasmania. Because they’re nocturnal creatures, the best way to catch a glimpse of these cute little guys is to grab a torch and take a night bushwalk. They live up in the trees and if you’re lucky you may see one take a giant leap and glide through the air using the stretchy, furry skin ‘wings’ on each side of their body. Not a bad way to get around.
Tasmanian (Tassie) Devil
The Tasmanian Devil (pictured at top), shouldn’t be confused with the now sadly extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Also a marsupial, the Tassie Devil lives up to its name thanks to the awful screeching sound it makes and its notoriously bad temper. This black, hairy creature may look cute from a distance, but is a carnivorous predator with a very sharp set of teeth. Its powerful jaw allows it to completely demolish everything it eats – skin, bones and all! While the Tassie Devil used to live on mainland Australia, nowadays it’s only found in Tasmania and is considered a symbol of the state.
Frilled neck lizard
While Australia has a number of native lizard species, the frilled neck lizard is undoubtedly one of the most unique looking varieties. It gets its name from the stretchy skin-like frill that it can retract or extend around its neck and throat. The orange-red frill is normally extended to scare off predators, but if that isn’t enough to deter them, the frilled neck lizard also has long fangs for defending itself and eating its prey. This lizard is so unusual and quintessentially Australian, that popular children’s show Playschool, even created a song and dance for children about the iconic Aussie animal. Yep, Australians can be kind of weird.
Australia may be known for deadly snakes and spiders, but the most dangerous creature in the country is without a doubt, the Drop bear. With similar physical features to a koala, but an aggressive temperament, many tourists have been attacked or killed by drop bears when they have approached them mistaking them for a docile koala. A carnivorous animal, the Drop bear normally kills and eats its prey by dropping on top of it from a tree above. But perhaps the most interesting fact about Drop bears is that THEY ARE COMPLETELY MADE UP! Tales of Drop bears have been a long-standing joke among Australians who meet foreigners and trick them into believing this terrifying bear is real. But we’ll level with you – they are one hundred percent fictional and purely designed to confuse tourists. I’m sorry…. but it’s still a bit funny.
Come and see some of Australia’s weird wildlife on an Adventure Tour in the Land Down Under.
Feature image by Sander Groffen via Shutterstock.