We have the most amazing, wonderful and unique animals in Australia. Whether it is that crazy duck-billed platypus, our cuddly koala, kangaroos and wombats or the ever-smiling Quokkas, the truth remains that Australia is filled to the brim with an incredible array of wonderfully unusual and special creatures. Below is a list of some of the most unique animals you will find in Australia.
Ok, so they are well-known and well-loved in Australia, but they are also extremely unique creatures that cannot be matched or found anywhere else in the world. Koalas are one of Australia’s native, nocturnal animals, marvelled the world over for their adorably fluffy, teddy-bear-like features.
Be careful not to call them bears, though! They may resemble the cuter variety of them but they are marsupials, not bears. Their closest relative is another one of our unique Australian animals – the wombat!
Why koalas are unique: It is their appearance more than anything. No other country has such an adorable ‘teddy bear’ that lives in their backyard trees. These guys also have fingerprints, like humans, and two opposable thumbs!
We can’t have a list of unique animals in Australia and not mention one of the most unique animals – in the WORLD! That’s right. Our very own platypus is a species that has even scientists scratching their heads with its unique blend of features.
In fact, they are so unusual that it took British Scientists more than eighty years to decide what they are. Scientists first thought the platypus was a hoax! Is it a duck, a beaver, or an otter? No, it is a blend of them all we love our Aussie platypus!
Why platypi are unique: Aside from their unique mix of features, they belong to the monotreme family, a classification of mammals that lay eggs. There are only two monotremes alive today, and they both live in Australia; the echidna and the platypus.
Another famously unique Aussie animal is of course our high-jumping kangaroos. Members of the Macropodidae family, meaning ‘big foot’ in Latin, Kangaroos are unique in that they are the biggest marsupial on Earth.
Kangaroos have incredibly long tails to help them balance while jumping and standing and it is the only large animal to use hopping as their primary means of locomotion. A male kangaroo can leap to lengths of close to 30 feet and at a height of up to 10 feet.
Why the kangaroos is unique: Kangaroos come in several different varieties and are only found in Australia and New Guinea. They are also one of only two animals that cannot walk backwards – only forwards. It is why, with the emu, they are on the Australian National Coat of Arms.
Oh my! These little guys that live mostly on Rottenest Island pack some serious photogenic clout! Voted ‘the world’s happiest animal’ because of their love of selfies, extreme close up and wide, happy grins, these adorable little marsupials are herbivorous and mainly nocturnal.
Interestingly enough, these adorable furry friends share similar characteristics to kangaroos, including the fact that they like to hop around and carry their offspring in a front pouch. They are often referenced as the short-tailed wallabies too.
Why quokkas is unique: Quokka’s are only found offshore on Rottnest Island near Perth or Bald Island near Albany. What endears them most is their happy-go-lucky, smile-on-cue nature.
The Tasmanian devil is the icon of Australia’s most southern state, Tasmania. Tasmania Devils are hungry little scavengers and like to feed on carcasses (dead animals) even eating the bones and fur! Generally, they like to hide during the day and head out to feed at night. Eating up to 10% of their body weight a day, they are actually the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial.
Why tasmanian devils are unique: Found only on the coastlines of Tasmania, these crazy little creatures eat like no one else and will even roam for up to 16km in search of food. Coupled with red ears and disturbingly wide jaws lined with sharp teeth, the settlers decided to call these creatures “devils.”
Another animal that can only be found in Australia, wombats are the second-largest of the Australian marsupials, after the red kangaroo. Despite their short and chunky build, wombats run really fast. They can run at a top speed of 40 kmph when threatened and can keep that speed for up to a minute and a half.
Their bodies are also extremely well built for burrowing and digging, which enables them to excavate extensive systems of tunnels and chambers. A wombat can move up to three feet of dirt daily.
Why wombats are unique: I just don’t think we can go past the fact that wombats are the only animal who poops are cube-shaped, thanks to opposing tensions in its intestine!
Australia is the only country in the world where you can see emus in the wild. They are the second largest bird in the world (behind the ostrich) but cannot fly. They have two sets of eyelids, one for blinking and the other for keeping the dust-out!
Emu can also run nearly 50 km per hour and if cornered, they kick with their big, three-toed feet.
Why Emu are unique: Like kangaroos, emus cannot walk backwards – only forwards. It is why these two unique Australian animals feature on the Australian Coat of Arms together, symbolising the fact that Australia will only advance forward.
The Superb Lyrebird (how awesome is that name) is found only in south-eastern Australia and southern Tasmania and is one amazing mimic. It can mimic any sounds it hears, which can be a great defence strategy. The Superb Lyrebird’s song is somewhat famous. About 80% of the song consists of expert mimicry, with both and joined together in a rousing medley.
Did you also know, the reverse of the 10 cent coin features an image of a lyrebird? Designed by Stuart Devlin, it has not changed since 1966.
The lyrebird gets its name from its tail. The male of the species in particular, boasts a spectacular tail, which was originally thought to resemble – you guessed it – a lyre.
Why Superb Lyrebirds are unique: Not only are they only found in Australia but they are seriously the best mimics around. Superb lyrebirds have been known to imitate car alarms, camera shutters, shooting from video games, workmen and chainsaws.
Echidna (pronounced i-kid-na) is one of the most interesting and curious creatures in the world. One of only two living egg-laying mammals in the world (the other being the platypus), the echidna has some very unique features that make it stand out from other animals.
Echidna’s spines are actually long, tough, hollow hair follicles and these little guys can actually move objects twice their own weight. Echidnas are actually toothless mammals, but they more than makeup for it with their long, sticky tongues. An Echidna’s tongue is about 15 cm long, longer than your pencil!!
Why Echidnas are unique: Being one of only two living egg-laying mammals is pretty unique on its own, but add to the fact their spine-covered bodies, ability to roll up into a ball and their sticky, super long tongues and these guys are definitely on our unique animals in Australia list.
Australia’s most dangerous bird, the cassowary, is a flightless bird that lives in Northern Australia. Heavier than an emu but not quite as tall, they are flightless with massive feet known to kill humans when threatened. Considered a ‘modern dinosaur’, the cassowary can grow to be as heavy as 60kg and can leap up to 1.5 metres off the ground. They actually can jump feet first, so their claws can slash downward in mid-air towards their target. Eeek!
Why cassowaries are unique: Being regarded as the most dangerous ‘modern dinosaur’ bird in Australia is pretty unique. These birds mean business, with dagger-like claws that can grow up to 5 inches long; Cassowaries are also great jumpers, super fast runners and amazing swimmers! Talk about overachievers!
Also known as the laughing kookaburra, this large omnivorous bird’s chorus often comes with the sun’s rising and setting. An extremely friendly and frequent visitor to the Aussie backyard, the laughing kookaburras are native to eastern mainland Australia.
Kookaburras are an attractive “floofy” bird with a white belly and brown / blue wings, their most distinguishing feature (aside from their call) is their very large beak – which can get as long as 10cm!
Why kookaburras are unique: Kookaburras are unique not only for their long, addictive laughing call but also because of their complex social structure. A pair may remain in a semi-monogamous relationship with helpers to assist with the care of the young for their entire life.
The dingo not only holds the title of Australia’s top predator, but it is the oldest breed of dog in the world. A wild dog with some pretty impressive features, the dingo can rotate their wrists, run extremely fast, jump up to two metres in height, climb trees, and squeeze into the narrowest of gaps.
The longest wall in the world was built in Australia to keep the dingos away from livestock and fertile land. It stretches over 5500km and is even longer than the Great Wall of China!
Why dingoes are unique: The earliest dingo was thought to live around 3,500 years ago. They are the only wild canids we have in Australia with the purest bloodlines calling beautiful Fraser Island beaches homes.
Yep, we can’t have this list without adding this terrifyingly unique Australian animal. The saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile in the world. They are night hunters, spending the daytime hours moving through water or sunbathing.
The Australian saltwater crocodile can eat almost any animal in their territory and even attacks terrestrial animals like mammals and birds. Their deadliest attack is known as the death roll, where they catch their prey and then roll with them as they bring them under the water.
Why saltwater crocodiles are unique: A human can apply 100 pounds of pressure per square inch with their jaw, whereas a crocodile can apply up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch with their jaw.
These animals, whilst unique in their own way, are only a handful of the incredible array of animals and wildlife found in Australia. For more amazing Aussie animals, check out our huge list of Animals in Australia as well as more detailed animal facts for kids.