Ok, so this is a post that is entirely unrelated to books, TV shows and movies. Because of this, I am adding this as an extra post this week. Yay!
Anyway, everyone knows about all the popular Australian mammals; kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, common brush-tailed possums, platypuses, Tasmanian Devils etc. In fact, Australia is well-known for all of these species, but there are LOADS more that most Australians have never even heard of, let alone seen or touched. So here, right now, I will compile an awesome list of cute (but not always cuddly) Australian mammals that you never knew existed!
‘Anti-what now’? I hear you say. It’s pronounced anti-ky-nus and it is a small, shrew-like marsupial. It’s got tiny little sharp teeth used for catching insects and comes in several different species (both tree-climbing and burrowing). They’re nocturnal and can range anywhere from the size if a small mouse to a large rat. One of the things I love about these guys is about how tough they think they are. They’ll open their jaws as wide as they can while trying to bite you, but just end up looking even cuter because some species (such as the Agile Antechinus) can’t even break your skin.
This is a mammal that you’ve probably heard of before but don’t know much about. It’s a marsupial omnivore that’s found only in Australia. It weighs about a kilogram and has a fat body with a long pointed nose. A lot of the time, it hops around instead of running (so cute!). They are nocturnal and are almost completely immune to ticks (including the paralysis tick). In fact, while on camp we caught a Southern Brown Bandicoot with a tick the size of my thumb nail on it, and yet it wasn’t bothered.
Another obscure mammal is the potoroo (pot-o-roo). It’s very similar in size, shape and colour to the bandicoot so much so that they could be confused! All species of potoroo are threatened with one species being critically endangered. The potoroo is extremely important for Australian forests because they help the spread of a soil fungus that is needed for the forest plants to grow.
These would have to be one of the cutest and most amazing Australian mammals there is. There are many different types of gliders including the Sugar Glider, Squirrel Glider and Feathertail Glider. On the same camp I referred to earlier, I had the privilege of seeing a Sugar Glider fly directly over me! It was amazing to see how far it could glide.
Right about now you probably think you’ve been tricked. I mean, everyone knows what a rat is. Most people probably hear ‘rat’ and think “quick, kill it!” but hold onto that frypan. It may not be the introduced Black Rat (with the hilarious scientific name of Rattus rattus) but one of Australia’s native rats. That’s right, Australia has rat species that were born and raised here, but chances are they won’t be found in your kitchen.
You guessed it. Not only are there native rats in Australia but there are also native mice, some of which (such as the hopping mice) hop around instead of running. Unfortunately, a large number of these native Aussie mice are now extinct.
You mean wallaby, right? Or a kangaroo? Nope, a wallaroo. Interestingly enough, it’s pretty much half way between a kangaroo and a wallaby (size-wise) but its genus is the same as a kangaroo. There are three species of wallaroo. Incidently, there is a town called Wallaroo in South Australia.
A very small mammal that’s about the same size as an antechinus but looks more like a mouse. They are mainly insectivorous and is known for having the smallest number of genes in the Y-chromosome of any mammal (four genes!). Distinguished by a mouse because of its five toes.
This Aussie mammal (pronounced fas-co-gale) has a body that looks like a possum but with a head that looks a lot like a mouse. The male individuals of the species live for just a year and soon die after a frenzied mating season. It is a marsupial with its name meaning “pouched weasel”. They nest in a leaf-lined eucalypt tree hollow.
And last, but not least, the quoll. One of the few purely carnivorous marsupials left in the world. It is also known as our native cat. All species of quoll have been in rapid decline ever since European colonisation, mainly because of introduced species such as the Cane Toad. It has a lifespan of three to five years.
While writing this I noticed how little even spellcheck knows about these animals! Well, this didn’t really turn out to be a rant at all, more of an informative post. I hope you learnt something and that you will spread the word about Australia’s lesser-known (and yet no less awesome) Aussie mammals!