Feb 1

Species name: common wombat

(bare-nosed wombat)

Nominated by: Wildlife Land Trust

IUCN Red List classification: Least Concern

What is so special about your species?

Bare-nosed wombats bring out the best in people. There are thousands of Australians so inspired by the species they dedicate their lives to caring for injured and orphaned wombats, waking at all hours to feed and comfort them, helping them recover in the wild by preparing and placing burrow flaps to treat mange, and protecting their habitats.

They have an incredibly endearing no-nonsense nature – if a wombat has somewhere to go nobody is going to stop it getting there, especially if there’s a joey on board! They are playful, loving, and as tough as nails. Characteristics we would like to think are quintessentially Australian!

What are the threats to this species in the wild?

While the bare-nosed wombat is relatively abundant, they have been treated terribly in Australia in recent times and their wellbeing remains under serious threat. Wombats were classified as vermin in 1906, there was a bounty put on their heads in 1925, and they continue to suffer from shootings, rampant habitat clearance, a disturbing amount of road strikes (occasionally intentional, including an instance where 11 wombats, some carrying joeys, were mown down in a camping ground in 2015), and the highly distressing disease mange.

Mange is a horrific skin infection caused by a parasitic mite that results in aggressive itching, hair loss, skin crusting, and open wounds. Of the native Australian mammal species known to be affected, wombats are the most impacted, with mange limiting wombats’ ability to forage and drink, resulting in weight loss and compromised immune systems which help the infection on. If left untreated, scabbing gets so bad that wombats can become deaf and blind, almost inevitably leading to a painful death.

What can people do to help your species?

Mange can be treated through medication placed in cleverly designed burrow flaps, and hundreds of wildlife carers around Australia spend their time and money erecting them to help reduce the suffering of this species they adore so much. But the task is too big for carers alone and support is desperately needed.


Apr 12
Doria's tree kangaroo image

Doria’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus dorianus)

Species: Doria’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus dorianus)

Status: Vulnerable (VU)

Interesting Fact: Doria’s tree kangaroo is the heaviest tree-dwelling marsupial in the world, weighing as much as 20 kilograms, and is capable of jumping down to the ground from a height of up to 18 metres without injury.

Despite its appearance and arboreal nature, Doria’s tree kangaroo is closely related to the well-known ground kangaroos that can be seen across Australian plains, and has similar strongly developed hindquarters and a long, well-furred tail. Unlike its Australian relatives, Doria’s tree kangaroo is endemic to the island of New Guinea, where it is found in the central highlands. This species has fairly long fur, which interestingly grows in a reverse direction on the back and neck. This is presumably to stop water running down its face, as this marsupial tends to sit with its head lower than its shoulders.

While Doria’s tree kangaroo is thought to still be common in some areas of its range, intense and consistent hunting pressure for its meat has led to the local extinction of many populations of this species. In the past, hunting of this prized game species by local people may have been sustainable, but advances in the development of hunting equipment, combined with a rising human population, has led to an increase in hunting. Habitat loss and degradation of forested areas as a result of exploitation for timber poses an additional threat to Doria’s tree kangaroo.

Doria’s tree kangaroo is legally protected in the Indonesian part of New Guinea. However, this is not yet the case in Papua New Guinea, and the protection of vital forest habitat in this region has been recommended to ensure the future survival of this intriguing marsupial. In addition, measures to control or restrict traditional hunting have been suggested as key factors in the conservation of this threatened species.

See images and videos of Doria’s tree kangaroo on ARKive.

Find out more about New Guinea and other South Pacific islands.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Jan 26

Australia Day is an annual celebration to mark the first arrival of ships in Sydney Cove from Great Britain in 1788. Held on the 26th January every year, Australia Day began as an anniversary dinner for the original colonists, to celebrate the love of the land they lived in. The name ‘Australia Day’ was not used until 1935, but today the anniversary still celebrates everything that’s great about Australia.

Here at ARKive, we thought we’d get into the spirit by celebrating some of Australia’s more unusually named critters…..



Similar to a kangaroo or wallaby in appearance, the quokka was given its peculiar name by the Aboriginal people living in Western Australia. The quokka is a species of marsupial, and therefore has a pouch in which the young are raised.

Quokka image

Quokka (Setonix brachyurus)



A small cat-sized marsupial, the chuditch is nocturnal and spends its days sleeping in hollow logs or burrows. This species is Western Australia’s largest endemic carnivore, and will feed on a wide range of things from small mammals, to lizards, frogs and birds!

Chuditch image

Chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii)


Crest-tailed mulgara

This desert marsupial mouse is well-adapted to its arid habitat. Having evolved kidneys capable of producing highly concentrated urine, the crest-tailed mulgara does not even need to drink, with its food providing it with adequate water.

Crest-tailed mulgara image

Crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda)


Tasselled wobbegong

The highly unusual looking tasselled wobbegong is superbly camouflaged among sun-dappled coral by its beautiful mosaic markings. The scientific name of this shark roughly translates to ‘well fringed nose with shaggy beard’, and you can see why!

Tasselled wobbegong image

Tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon)


Greater bilby

With its long, slender hind legs and oversized ears, the greater bilby is certainly a comical looking animal. To add to this appearance, the tail is carried as a stiff banner during the bilby’s cantering run.

Greater bilby image

Greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis)



The rare dibbler is a small carnivorous marsupial, with strong jaws and sharp teeth which it uses to capture its prey of invertebrates and other small ground-dwelling creatures.

Dibbler image

Dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis)



Newborn kowaris measure a mere 4 millimetres long at birth, and remain in the female’s pouch for around 56 days. After this, the young are left in the nest or ride on the female’s back, until weaned at about 95 to 100 days.

Kowari image

Kowari (Dasyuroides byrnei)


Golden bandicoot

Now who wouldn’t find these young golden bandicoots cute?! These well presented bandicoots have fused toes on their hind feet, which form a comb for grooming.

Golden bandicoot image

Golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus)


Spotted any other unusually named Australian critters on ARKive? Let us know!

Celebrate Australia Day by taking a look at some of the other wonderful species found there.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author


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