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