Backyard Buddies

Mammals

Mammals are divided into three groups - monotremes, marsupials and placentals, all of which have fur, produce milk and are warm-blooded.

Mammals also have three bones in the middle ear, and a lower jaw made up of a single pair of bones that articulates in a unique way with the skull.

While the platypus and echidnas are monotremes, females lay soft-shelled eggs. Marsupials give birth to small, poorly developed young and most female marsupials, such as kangaroos, wallabies and the Koala, have pouches.

Bandicoot

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Photo credit: Michael Todd

Bandicoot

Have you ever found a finger-deep hole in your lawn with a cone-shaped pile of dirt next to it? You have a bandicoot. Bandicoots live throughout Australia in a wide variety of habitats. There are about 21 known species. While you may not love the holes, bandicoots are doing your garden a fantastic service by controlling your grub numbers and aerating your soil. A bandicoot locates food underground using its excellent sense of..

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Brushtail Possum

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Brushtail Possum

You can recognise a Brushtail Possum by its thick, bushy tail which distinguishes it from the smaller Ringtail Possum. Brushtails live in backyards and the bush all across Australia and are frequent backyard visitors. If your resident possum is feasting on your flower beds, plant a good selection of native shrubs for them to feed on instead and this may stop them eating all your rosebuds. To discourage possums from running over your..

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Echidna

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Photo credit: J Yurasek/OEH

Echidna

Echidnas are most active in the lead-up to their winter mating period, so if you live in an area with lots of native bush nearby, you may have a small spiny visitor. Echidnas are the oldest mammals alive today. They live all over Australia and are able to survive in a wide variety of habitats and temperatures. They are covered all over with strong and sharp spines, their only defence mechanism against predators. The spines are made of ke..

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Grey-headed Flying-fox

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Photo credit: WIRES

Grey-headed Flying-fox

The Grey-headed Flying-fox gets its name from its grey, furry head but it also has a bright orange neck. If you imagine them without wings, they really do look just like little foxes. Also called 'Fruit Bats' they actually prefer to eat pollen and nectar rather than fruit. The Grey-headed Flying-fox often travels 20 to 50 km from their daytime roost to find food. They eat nectar from flowering gums and banksias, Lilly Pilly fruit and Mor..

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Koala

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Photo credit: Benjamint44

Koala

Koalas are marsupials that live in eucalypt forests in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Koalas are fussy eaters, eating only a few types of eucalypt leaves. They eat up to one kilogram of leaves each day. Their diet consists mainly of a certain type of eucalyptus leaf which is poisonous to other animals. From a young age, Koala joeys are fed a form of fecal matter called pap that helps them to digest the leaves...

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Microbat

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Photo credit: Doug Beckers

Microbat

Microbats are mammals - the only mammals capable of flying a sustained distance. During summer and autumn, microbats go into a feeding frenzy as they fatten up on insects to help them survive the winter. Once the nights become cooler and the insects disappear, microbats lower their body temperature and go into a state of mini hibernation until their food returns in spring. Microbats can eat as much as 40% of their own body weight in a si..

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Quoll

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Photo credit: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Quoll

Quolls are winter breeders, so by August, some babies are ready to leave the mother. Quolls are meat-eaters at the top of the food chain. They prey on many other species such as gliders, possums, small wallabies, rats, birds, bandicoots, rabbits, insects and carrion. Female quolls make their dens in tree hollows, logs, rock crevasses and even among building materials. Baby quolls start life as tiny, rice-grain sized embryos which as..

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Sugar Glider

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Photo credit: Pavel German

Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders live in the trees and glide between them using flaps of skin between their front and back legs. These small marsupials live in eastern and northern Australia and nest in tree hollows or nest boxes. Adults can weigh as little as 150 grams. They are grey to brown with a prominent dark stripe over their foreheads, and have prehensile tails which they use to grip on to branches. In June, sugar gliders begin mating. The female w..

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Wallaby

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Photo credit: Peter Sherratt

Wallaby

Although not common to most suburban backyards, wallabies will visit backyards that are near bushland and will certainly frequently visit those lucky enough to have big backyards. Wallabies are marsupials that belong to the animal group Macropods which means 'large footed'. Other macropods include kangaroos, pademelons, wallaroos and tree-kangaroos. There are about 30 wallaby species in Australia. Wallabies have very powerful tails and ba..

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Water Rat

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Photo credit: Ed Dunens

Water Rat

The Water Rat, also known by the Aboriginal name Rakali, is a top predator in freshwater and saltwater environments right across Australia. You're most likely to see a Rakali as it runs along the shore edge in a lake, river or beach. You can tell if you have Rakalis in your backyard by their footprints. As the Rakali has webbed feet, they leave very strange and unique footprints in sandy shores and banks. Rakalis can be messy eaters a..

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