Isolated from the rest of the world for literally millions of years, Australia has developed some of the most wild, weird and wonderful creatures on the planet.

Many of these unique animals are well-known, such as the kangaroo, wombat, koala and platypus. In this article, we delve into some of the more obscure Australian animals that populate this great continent. So get ready to learn with Fair Go casino and find your new favourite creature or critter below.

Tree Kangaroo

When you think of a kangaroo, you probably think of these large animals bounding across a vast Australian desert landscape or through native bush. What you don’t picture though is a kangaroo hanging out in a tree with birds, lizards and other arboreal dwellers.

Called a tree kangaroo, these relatives of the ground bound variety inhabit the rainforests of Queensland. They live exclusively in the branches and foliage and thus they have shorter legs and strong forelimbs for climbing-somewhat like our Fair Go casino mascot, Koala Kev. They’re also much smaller than regular kangaroos, weighing in at about 15 to 20 kilograms and measuring a mere 30 inches in height, not including their 15 to 30-inch tails.

If you’re wondering how it’s possible to associate the tree kangaroo with other kangaroos in Australia, it all comes down to the fact they are both part of the macropod family, which is a plant-eating marsupial group that also extends to wallabies. Millions of years ago, all macropods lived in trees. After making the move to the ground though, it took many generations before ancestors of tree kangaroos decided they’d had enough of the land and decided to go back to the branches.

Shy, elusive and solitary animals, tree kangaroos are mysterious in their own right. It’s difficult to spot them in the wild and as such, there are still many things we do not know about them. They can hop along the ground, but it does look rather awkward. It’s clear they prefer branches to dusty red soil or cracked earth.

In terms of diet, tree kangaroos will eat mostly fruit, leaves, foliage and tree bark, if necessary, in order to sustain themselves. So if you do want to see a tree kangaroo in the wild, you’ll need a lot of luck and perhaps a tree bark and banana smoothie to lure them out into your line of sight.

Tasmanian Devils

With its red ears, sharp teeth and wide jaws, the Tasmanian devil can certainly give the uninitiated a fright in the night. In fact, the reason for its name stems back to the time of colonial Australia, when settlers saw these strange creatures for the first time. Whether or not they’re deserving of their title is yet to be decided. One thing for sure is that these carnivorous marsupials are certainly one of Australia’s most wild and wonderful animals.
A cross between a small dog and a bear with a stocky build, they are only found on the island state of Tasmania. Currently, they’re under threat from loss of habitat by logging and development, plus a species-specific facial tumour that can be fatal if left untreated. Unfortunately, this means that the Tasmania devil is now considered close to extinction.

The good news is that there are conscious efforts to fight this debilitating facial tumour and ensure the species continues to thrive. Tasmanian devils are nocturnal animals, however, they also like to bask in the sun and are huge water lovers, also somewhat like our Fair Go casino mascot, Kev. If you’re lucky, it’s actually possible to watch them wade and splash around in shallow streams and creeks as they socialise with other devils. It seems like most Australians; Tasmanian devils can’t resist a bit of sun and water.

For those who are dead keen on seeing a Tasmanian devil, your best bet is to visit a wildlife sanctuary in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo and the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary are both located only a short drive from Hobart and are both committed to helping the frightfully adorable Tasmanian devil get back on their feet.

Tiger Quoll

Tiger quolls are the biggest of the quoll species and were first documented and subsequently captured by Captain Cook back in the 18th century. They have a light brown or rust coat that’s covered in white spots with a creamy underbelly. Tiger quolls live in an underground burrow that can be fashioned from a cave, rock crevice, hollow log or under a house.

Like the Tasmanian devil, the tiger quoll is a carnivore that preys on small animals such as lizards, snakes, birds, chickens, insects and possums. They also scavenge carrion of all sizes, including dead kangaroos, cattle, pigs and dingoes. Backyard chickens in particular are favourite meals for tiger quolls. Whether they like their chicken on a hot roll with lettuce and mayonnaise like other Australians is yet to be revealed.

Tiger quolls live predominately in the states of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. Many live as transients, roaming from burrow to burrow within a defined area, instead of maintaining a permanent base. Gross but true; some tiger quolls will use rocky creek beds, cliff bases or roads as communal latrines. So careful where you tread when you’re in the bush… you might just be walking through a quoll-a-potty.

Another strange fact about tiger quolls is that they are prolific maters. During autumn and winter, males and females come together to reproduce, with the female calling out to males in order to attract a potential suitor. Once an eligible bachelor has been found, tiger quolls can go on to mate for up to 80 hours. So at the very least, the humble tiger quoll deserves our respect purely for their ability to copulate for nearly 4 days.

Flying Fox

Intelligent, adorable and unique to Australia, the flying fox is a remarkable native animal that deserves more attention. They help regenerate our forests and keep our ecosystems healthy through seed dispersal. They are also nomadic keystone animals, which means that many other plants and animals rely on them for survival and wellbeing. Like bees, flying foxes drive biodiversity and improve their immediate surroundings.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the flying fox isn’t actually a fox with wings. It is in fact a bat, or more specifically, a mega bat. Another name for a flying fox is a fruit bat, but that is also somewhat misleading as they eat nectar, pollen and fruit instead of insects. Contradictory to their name, they don’t use sonar like other bats, just their eyes and their ears. In reality their hearing and eyesight is about as good as a cats. They’re also just as smart.

Flying foxes live in large colonies and set out every evening in search of food. Native eucalypts are their favourites, as are large and small leaf fig trees. While out at night, flying foxes perform a crucial role of pollinating the native forests that they feed in, which ensures the longevity of local bushland and sclerophyll forests.

They mate upside down, have about one offspring per year and are the only flying mammal in existence (that is a mammal that can sustain powered flight). Behind the screeching and the loud noises that the males make during mating season, flying foxes are actually one of Australia’s most vital animals and more than worthy of our protection.

Thorny Dragon

When it comes to wicked animal names, it must be a tie between the Tasmanian devil and the thorny dragon. The latter is a reptile that lives in the sandy deserts and arid shrublands of central Australia. They are practically inactive during the hottest summer months and the cold winter months. The only time they come up from their underground burrow is in late winter through to early spring, during which time they mate and lay eggs.

Thorny devils eat ants, move slowly and have an incredibly funny gait. They walk along with their tail lifted taking careful but jerky steps backwards and forwards. It’s thought that this is meant to be a defence mechanism, but judging from a few YouTube videos, it could serve as a way to make predators laugh themselves to death.

A true desert specialist, thorny devils can change colour in order to hide from other animals. Quite naturally though, their colour also changes from sunup to sundown, going from a drab olive colour to a lighter tone as the temperature climbs.

Other mechanisms that allow them to survive in the desert include their thorny hide that acts as another layer of protection and their false head, which sits just above their regular head and is used as a decoy. Note: this decoy head is purely functional and cannot communicate with the thorny devil like an angel on its shoulder.

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