Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges are teeming with wildlife!
- 130 native bird species
- 31 native mammals
- 21 reptiles, and
- 9 amphibian species.
We can’t list them all, so we’ve selected 10 key birds and animals you might want to look out for when visiting the region.
Although shy, the Superb Lyrebird is one of the most famous inhabitants of the Dandenong Ranges. People are fascinated by this bird’s ability to mimic the calls of other bird species, as well as the male’s beautiful plumage. To attract females, the males construct a mound of bare soil or twigs as a platform for their dance displays. The female builds an untidy nest, usually low to the ground in a moist gully, where she lays a single egg. She incubates the egg over 50 days and rears the chick alone.
2. Swamp Wallabies
Swamp Wallabies live in the undergrowth of the Dandenong Ranges’ forests and woodlands. During the day they shelter in thick grass or ferns, emerging at night to eat. Their diet consists of soft plants such as buds, ferns, leaves, shrubs and grasses. Swamp Wallabies are mostly solitary animals but can form groups when feeding. Joeys live in their mother’s pouch for 8 to 9 months, but continue to suckle until about 15 months old.
Wombats are marsupials that prefer forested, mountainous environments. After giving birth, the females carry their young in a pouch. Wombats live in extensive burrow systems that they dig out with their powerful front teeth and claws. They are herbivores with a diet consisting of grass, bark, herbs and roots.
Rosellas are medium-sized, colourful parrots. Their main diet consists of seeds, fruits, buds, flowers, nectar and insects. They tend to congregate in pairs, small groups or feeding parties. However, during the breeding season, they only forage with their mate.
The Short-Beaked Echidna is a special kind of mammal known as a monotreme. A single egg is laid in the mother’s pouch where it’s incubated for 10 days. After it hatches, the baby stays in the pouch until it is 45-55 days old. Echnidas have no teeth. They use their long, sticky tongues (up to 17.78 cm or 7″) to raid ant or termite nests. They can live up to 50 years in the wild. You can read about Ferny Hill Retreat’s resident echidna here.
Laughing Kookaburras really do sound as if they are laughing – loudly! They feed on insects and worms, although frogs, rats and birds may also be on the menu. Kookaburras are believed to pair for life, nesting in naturally occurring tree hollows. Both sexes share the incubation duties and care for the young. Offspring of the previous one to two years, act as ‘helpers’ during the breeding season. Every bird in the group shares all parenting duties.
7. Sugar Gliders
Sugar Gliders are possums. They are named after their preference for sugary foods like sap and nectar, and their ability to glide through the air, from tree to tree. They are active at night, and shelter in tree hollows lined with leafy twigs during the day. Sugar Gliders are marsupials and their babies are born tiny and furless. The babies suckle milk in their mother’s protective pouch until they grow big enough to venture out.
The platypus is a semi-aquatic animal that spends part of its time on land and part in the water. It feeds on worms, insect larvae, shrimp, and freshwater yabbies. The platypus is a mammal but, like the echidna, it’s a monotreme. The platypus lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young. Outside the mating season, platypus live in simple ground burrows, the entrance of which is about 30 cm (12 in) above water level. After mating, the female constructs a deeper burrow (up to 20m 66ft) long where she cares for her young. Males take no part in rearing their offspring,
9. Southern Brown Tree Frog
Southern Brown Tree Frogs live in wet or flooded areas. Only growing up to 4.5 cm (1.77″) in length, they’re pretty small. During the breeding season, males can be heard calling long distances. Eggs and tadpoles are found in still water locations like ponds, dams, lakes and flooded ditches. As tree frogs, they’re great climbers and jumpers. They are are also bug-eating ninjas. Southern Brown Tree Frogs feed on mosquitoes, flies, and moths and catch insects mid-leap.
10. The Powerful Owl
The Powerful Owl is a great hunter and one of the top nocturnal predators of the Dandenong Ranges. About 75% of its diet is made up of animals such as possums and birds. They are large, measuring 45 to 65 cm (18 to 26 in) in length, with a wingspan of 112 to 135 cm (44 to 53 in). Powerful Owls mate for life and live within set territories. They don’t build a nest as such. They use large tree hollows, high above the ground. A typical clutch is two, but occasionally only one egg.
Amazing wildlife, isn’t it? And these 10 critters are only just a few of the inhabitants of the Dandenong Ranges.
There’s so much to see and do, it’s well worth the journey!