10 Weird and Wonderful Animals of Australia

It’s Australia Day, mate! We're celebrating by highlighting some of the amazing and unique animals who inhabit the Land Down Under.

The country is home to lots of fascinating species and is probably best known for the many who carry their babies in their pouches. In fact, more than 80 percent of Australia’s plants and animals are found only there, according to Australia's official tourism website.

We’ve pulled together fun facts about 10 of our favorites in the gallery below.

10 Amazing Australian Animals

Australia kangaroos

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Kangaroo

The kangaroo is one of Australia’s iconic inhabitants. Gray kangaroos, like those pictured here, roam the country’s forests. With their powerful hind legs, they can bound at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, covering up to 25 feet with just one leap. There are millions of them in Australia, living in groups called mobs. Their babies are tiny at birth and spend two months inside their moms' pouches before they emerge — and they continue to take cover in there until they’re nearly a year old.

Australia koala

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Koala

The koala is another one of Australia’s most iconic animals. Contrary to popular belief, he's not a bear. Like the kangaroo, this cuddly-looking creature is a marsupial. Female koalas carry their joeys in their pouches for six months. Then the babies ride on their moms' backs or in their bellies until approximately their first birthdays. These sleepyheads nap for up to 18 hours a day and spend their waking hours famously munching on eucalyptus.

Australia Tasmanian devil

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Tasmanian Devil

The devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. These hungry guys can eat up to 10 percent of their own body weight in food in a day and will consume just about any meat they can find. But their species is at risk. It was listed as endangered in 2009, its major threat being a contagious cancer called devil facial tumor disease. Wildlife experts are working hard to save the devils.

Australia platypus

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Platypus

The platypus is the most well known of an animal group called monotremes, or egg-laying mammals. The group is found only in Australia. Typically shy, they live in burrows that they dig along riverbanks. They each have a bill like a duck but a furry body like a beaver, and they are so unusual looking that the first scientists to examine a specimen actually thought it was a hoax.

Australia echidna

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Echidna

The echidna is the only other egg-laying mammal. Like platypuses, their babies are referred to as puggles. They can be short beaked or long beaked, and they are found all over Australia. They each have a prickly coat like a porcupine, as well as a long, sticky tongue. The species has remained unchanged since prehistoric times.

Australia dingo

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Dingo

The dingo is Australia’s largest carnivorous mammal. Though they’re most often associated with Australia, dingoes are also found in Southeast Asia. These wild dogs live all across the country, except in Tasmania. The creatures roam the land on their own or in packs of up to 10, and each one weighs just 22 to 33 pounds. There are so many of them that they’re often considered pests, and a famed 3,400-mile “dingo fence” was put up in the 1900s to protect sheep flocks.

Australia emu

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Emu

This large, flightless bird stands more than six feet tall. It’s the second-largest bird in the world, next to the ostrich. They are able to rattle their stiff tail feathers to scare off predators, which include dingoes. Their long, powerful legs allow them to sprint at up to 30 miles per hour. Male emus incubate the eggs laid by the females: The males will sit on the nest for eight weeks, losing up to one third of their body weight, while the females wander off.

Australia sugar glider

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Sugar Glider

This wide-eyed marsupial is able to glide nearly 150 feet and lives in a colony with 20 to 40 others. When sugar gliders are angry, they lean back and make a chattering noise that sounds like a small dog yapping. They have opposable thumbs and four fingers on their hands and feet.

Australia quoll

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Quoll

The endangered quoll is a marsupial that was one of the first native animals to be described by European scientists. Tiger quolls, which are 50 percent larger than the three other quoll species, have white spots extending along their tails and hunt mostly at night. They inhabit a large range of forest habitats.

Australia wombat

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Wombat

There are three species of wombats, and the stout animals can weigh up to 88 pounds each. The San Diego Zoo says they look like “short, stocky bears,” and we can see why — but they’re actually marsupials. Despite their appearance, they are known for having short tempers and being quite aggressive if they feel threatened. They are great diggers and live in burrows underground where they have tunnels that lead to their sleeping areas. Their tunnels can reach up to 650 feet in length.

Sources: National Geographic, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Australia.com, San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Australian Government Department of the Environment

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