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Animals of Australia


									Animals of Australia

      Submitted by A. Student
      To Jane Brown, Instructor
          ID108 – Fall 2002

As Dirk Hardtop sailed away from the west coast of Australia in 1688, he remarked,

“This land is cursed; the animals hop instead of run, the birds run, and the swans are

black, not white.” I now understand Hardtop after returning from the coasts of Australia

myself and seeing how upside-down the animals from the land down under truly are.

Mammals – warm-blooded animals, which possess hair-covered skin and feed their

young with mammary gland milk

Marsupials – warm-blooded animals whose females possess a pouch on the abdomen that

serves to carry and nourish their young

Reptiles – cold-blooded, air-breathing animals that usually lay eggs and have skin

covered with scales or plates

Birds – warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals with feathers and forelimbs, that

form wings

Animal Facts



Ash-colored with thick, fluffy ears and a broad, flat nose, Koalas look so cuddly. Like the

kangaroo, the female carry their young in a pouch. The Koala obtains enough moisture

from the eucalypt leaves that it lives on that it doesn’t need to drink water. The eucalypt

leaves have a sedative effect that makes the Koala look sleepy. It is illegal in Australia to

handle this cute animal because it is an endangered species.

The Dingo is a wild form of the domestic dog. It has a shorthaired coats, ranging in color

from ginger to brown with white points on the feet, snout and tip of its tail. A medium-

sized dog, the Dingo has a fairly bushy tail, strong claws, and a very angular head with

erect ears. This canine does not bark (though it does howl).



I stalked the Red Kangaroo, Australia’s largest kangaroo, through its natural habitat as it

in traveled in groups known as Mobs. It is the largest marsupial in the world, weighing up

to 198 pounds and standing as tall as 60 inches, and can amazingly travel as fast as 40

miles per hour. Any animal that looks like a kangaroo and weighs less than 40 pounds is

called a Wallaby. Kangaroos regulate their body temperature by panting and licking their

forearms. To warn other members of its mob, this smart marsupial will thump the ground

with its feet when danger is near.


The Platypus has a beak like a duk, a tail like a beaver, and lays eggs! This egg-laying

marsupial lives on the edge of rivers. Spending up to 12 hours each day in water as cold

as 0 degrees Celsius, the Platypus’ dense fibers trap a layer of air next to the skin,

providing excellent insulation. The Platypus usually lays two eggs but, after they hatch,

the mother feeds her young with her milk produced in large glands under her skin.

Lacking nipples, milk oozes out onto a patch of fur and the young suck it up.


The salt water Crocodile found in Australia is the biggest reptile in the world. As long as

seven meters and reddish-brown in color, they have clear eyelids enabling them to see

under water. They can actually live up to 100 years. The start of their life is very

dependent on the temperature at which the egg is kept; the temperature determines the

sex of the baby crocodile! If the egg is kept at 31.6 degrees Celsius, it will be male.

Hotter or colder temperatures beget females.


The Western Taipan has the most toxic land snake venom known. These snakes strike

rapidly, inflicting multiple bites. They possess the largest fangs and can grow up to three

meters in length. They hunt by day and are attracted to barns, farms and other habitations

because of their love for rats and mice. The head is usually light or dark brown with a

creamy yellow abdomen. Interestingly, nine of the top ten venomous snakes in the world

live in Australia.



The Emu is the second largest flightless bird in the world (the Ostrich is bigger), but it is

found wild only in Australia. Standing as tall as a man, it has a long neck, small head, and

very long legs. These curious birds live in large flocks and investigate anything. The

male Emu incubates the eggs and takes care of the chicks once they hatch. They make

funny grunting noises while the female makes booming noises.

Fairy Penguin

Begetting their name, Fairy Penguins are the smallest penguins in the world and can be

found scampering onto the beach and waddling to their burrows on the shores of
Australia. Watching the Fairy Penguins traipse inland to their burrow at dusk or out to sea

at pre-dawn is a favorite tourist past time. Standing only 16 inches tall and bluish in color

with a white underbelly make this short, chubby bird adorable. Both males and females

help to incubate the eggs. Once hatched, Fairy Penguins live only about seven years and

mate for life.


The Kookaburra is 18 inches long and weighs one pound. It has a big square head and a

huge beak, which helps this bird eat snakes, insects, and lizards. To eat a snake it first

swoops down and grabs the snake behind its head and then flies high into the air only to

drop the snake to kill it. When calling each other, the Kookaburra sounds like a person

laughing. It is named the world’s biggest kingfish, a strange name because it doesn’t even

eat fish.


So why are Australian animals so different? Can it be simply a result of evolution? 250

million years ago the world is said to have had one large super-continent. Animals were

able to mix with one another. 200 million years ago this super-continent broke into two

continents. 60 million years ago one of the two continents broke into what has become

South America, Africa, Antarctica, India and Australia. Since then Australia has been

isolated from the rest of the world by vast oceans. The original animals no longer had

contact with animals from other parts of the world. They evolved separately. Could this

explain why they are so different?


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