Australia is home to some really odd animals. The kangaroo is perhaps the most famous, and appears on the Australian flag. Female kangaroos have pouches which they use to suckle their young. Their babies are called joeys.
The echidna is another weird animal. It looks like a hedgehog crossed with an anteater, and is one of only two egg-laying mammals in the world.
The incredibly weird platypus is one of the world’s most fascinating mammals. This semi-aquatic Australian monotreme looks like a hodgepodge of duck, beaver and otter parts stitched together, with a rubbery duck-like bill, a paddle-shaped tail and otter-like webbed feet. It even has venomous spurs, which it uses to defend mates and territories from rival males.
The platypus hunts for food by diving underwater, staying under for 30 to 60 seconds. They are completely sightless and unable to smell, but they use thousands of sensors in their bill skin: push-rod mechanoreceptors detect changes in pressure and motion, while electroreceptors track subtle electric fields produced by prey.
When they find a tasty morsel, they scoop it into their cheek pouches to store it until they return to the surface. They eat insect larvae, shrimp, freshwater crayfish (called “yabbies”) and worms. Their unique reproductive system and their bizarre feeding habits make them one of the most unusual mammals in the world.
Wombats (Vombatidae) are heavy, tailless marsupials that resemble woodchucks. They are solitary, nocturnal animals that spend most of their time in a complex network of underground burrows. They are mainly herbivorous, eating grasses and the roots of plants. The common wombat is considered a pest by farmers because it digs in cultivated fields and pastures.
One of the most interesting wombat facts is that these chubby creatures can run pretty fast if threatened. They also have slow metabolisms to help them conserve energy. Because of this, they plod along and are often misunderstood by humans and predators.
Another fun fact about the wombat is that it can poop in a square shape. The reason for this is that the wombat has a piece of cartilage in its rear that allows it to squeeze out its feces in a square shape. This is used as a warning signal to other wombats that it is defending its territory.
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are tree-dwelling marsupials native to Australia. They spend most of their time in the trees because this is where they find their sole food source, eucalyptus leaves, and it also helps them to stay cool and out of direct sunlight (2). They have heavily padded feet with two thumbs and special rough pads that help them to climb and grip trees.
Koala babies enter their mother’s pouch after a gestation period of 34 to 36 days. They cling to their mothers’ backs for up to a year until they are fully weaned and can leave the pouch.
Koalas have poor vision and rely on their other senses, especially smell and hearing to avoid predators and other joeys. They use a scent gland on their chests to mark trees and attract females. Male koalas will usually leave their parents’ home range at around age two or three and settle into their own areas of the forest.
The Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. It is a member of the Dasyuridae family and shares many of the characteristics of other marsupials like separate toes and pouches. Female devils have a pouch on their rear where they will carry young. The young are called imps and they compete for the mother’s teats upon birth, only the strongest survive.
They are fierce predators but also scavengers and will feast on already dead animals known as carrion. Their enormous jaws can crush and ravenously ingest even the bones of their prey.
They are often spotted around Tasmania in coastal moorlands, woodland forest underbrush, wooded rural areas, scrublands and in the mountains. They are nocturnal and can be heard at night making raspy screams, grunts, snorts and growls. These calls are used to warn other Devils that they are eating a carcass or to invite other Devils to share in order not to waste food.