Black Flying Fox
Grey-headed Flying Fox
Little Red Flying Fox
There are over 140 terrestrial placental mammals in Australia, with almost all of these being bats or rodents. Bats are the only mammals that can fly and can be split into two main groups; fruit eaters and insect eaters.
The Grey-headed Flying Fox is one of the most common fruit bats and is distributed along the eastern part of the continent and can be seen around the You Yangs and Great Ocean Road. Baby flying foxes can be spotted in ‘maternity camps’ around October. Across Kakadu & Arnhem Land, the Black Flying Fox congregates in large groups and is known to follow the ripening of fruit and the blossoming pollens of eucalypts, Melaleuca Paperbarks and banksias. Little Red Flying Foxes and Blossom Bats can also be seen in this area. Also in Northern Australia, the Spectacled Flying Fox is a common sighting across the Wet Tropics outside of Cairns.
Ghost Bats are the second largest insect-eating bat in the world and are characterised by their almost transparent wings and large protruding ears. These bats feed on lizards, birds and large insects. Only 10,000 individuals are left in the wild, with significant colonies present in the Kakadu area. Large and Small Bentwing bats can also be seen in the tropics and eastern coast of Australia, often seen flying in and out of caves or mines at dusk.
Australia’s best known placental mammal is the Dingo. Fossil evidence suggests that Dingoes, which are a subspecies of the Grey Wolf, arrived with Asian seafarers 3,000-5,000 years ago. Dingoes often hunt in packs and will target kangaroos, wallabies and waterbirds. They can be heard howling in early morning and late evening around Kakadu & Arnhem Land and across Uluru & Red Centre.
Search for tours including Placental Mammals, using the seasonal viewing opportunities calendar further down the page or find out more at the tour links below:
Summer: Dec-Feb, East Gippsland
Grey-headed Flying Foxes are large fruit-eating bats that roost in camps of thousands of individuals during the day, which provides great viewing of their diverse social interactions. They fly out to feeding grounds at night. Most of their babies are born in spring, and by summer the juveniles are quite noticeable, clinging under their mothers arm. When they are tiny their mother carries them on her nightly flight, but after three weeks of age they are left in the roost with all the other youngsters. By January the young can fly and will forage with their mother.
Swamp Wallabies prefer denser vegetation of wet eucalypt forests or heaths in the region and have a beautiful dark brown or almost black fur. Their gait differs from other wallabies, with the Swamp Wallaby carrying its head low and tail out straight.
The warm evenings also provide the opportunity to see Yellow-bellied and Greater Gliders in the mature eucalypt forests. These remarkable creatures have a membrane of skin from their wrists or elbows to their ankles, enabling them to glide up to 100 between trees, as they search for insects and nectar to feed upon.
Spring: Sep-Nov, East Gippsland
The Common Wombat is a resident of the lush East Gippsland forests. Known for their remarkable digging and excavation prowess, they have very specific requirements before they come out of their underground burrows, with the temperature above ground required to be lower than 20 degrees Celsius. Cool nights in Spring are the best times to see them.
Echidnas are also active at this time, with November being the peak viewing time to see these intriguing animals across East Gippsland. Cool nights and mild sunny days make for perfect conditions for viewing echidnas in the daytime, as they are an animal that cannot tolerate high temperatures. They hibernate in winter and usually breed in spring. Females lay a single egg into a simple pouch in the abdomen about four weeks after mating.
Autumn: Mar-May, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The end of the wet season heralds the arrival of Black Wallaroo joeys, with families taking shelter in the picturesque rocky escarpments. It is the smallest of the Wallaroos as well as the most distinctive, with its striking black silhouette. Antilopine Wallaroos are more commonly seen in larger mobs in the Savanna woodlands, with breeding reaching a peak at this time.
Dingos sightings are more prevalent across Kakadu and Arnhem Land after the wet season, where they commonly prey on Agile Wallabies and other small mammals. Rock Ringtail Possums and Little Red Flying Foxes also give birth to young around April and can be seen at dusk along with the Northern Brown Bandicoot and Brush-tailed Phascogale.
Northern Quolls typically breed from mid-May onwards, where incredibly males die shortly after mating from exhaustion, leaving the females to raise the young alone. Numbers are increasing in the area due to a reintroduction program, however, the species has been significantly effected by preying on the poisonous introduced Cane Toad.
Winter: Jun-Aug, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The pretty Agile Wallaby is the most abundant macropod in the tropics, with its range growing across the floodplains and creek beds at this time due to the lower availability of food and fresh water. Dingos can also be heard howling into the evening, with young males often solitary and nomadic versus breeding adults that often form a settled pack.
The Wilkins’ Rock-Wallaby is a popular sighting amongst the rocky hills and escarpments with it’s distinct grey, brown and white markings on its head and sides. Black Wallaroos are seen across the rocky habitats whilst their cousin, the Antilopine Wallaroo sticks to more heavily timbered regions in the Savanna.
Colonies of Ghost Bats with their large protruding ears can be seen around caves and rocky outcrops situated in Arnhemland, whilst the Black Flying Fox, Little Red Flying Fox and Blossom Bat congregate in large groups following the ripening of fruit and the blossoming pollens of eucalypts, melaleuca paperbarks and banksias.
Spring: Sep-Nov, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
As water dries up, the concentration of Agile Wallabies around creeks and billabongs increases significantly, putting them at greater risk of being ambushed by Saltwater Crocodiles and Dingoes. This common macropod of the area typically feeds on leaf matter, roots and buds of burnt speargrasses over these months, as they wait for the wet season to begin. A highlight for visitors is seeing males fighting as box using their paws and legs, balancing on their tails.
Antilopone Wallaroos also gather in greater numbers around the Savanna woodlands and grasslands whilst higher in the escarpments, the adorable Wilkins’ Rock Wallaby nibbles on the ripening fruits of the Screw Pine from September onwards.
A number of nocturnal animals can be seen at dusk at this time including the Northern Brown Bandicoot, Brush-tailed Phascogale and Northern Quoll. The Northern Quoll feeds primarily on invertebrates, but also consumes fleshy fruit, small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, and frogs. Almost one-third of all Australian bats are found in Kakadu with opportunities to see numerous species flying at dusk to catch insects, including the Black Flying Fox, Little Red Flying Fox, Ghost Bat and Blossom Bat.