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Wildlife in Central Australia

Travel Central Australia / Alice Springs in the Northern Territory

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Wildlife in Central Australia
The 'heart of Australia' encompasses a breadth of lands that is immense in size and ancient in origins. Occupying about one sixth of Australia's total land mass, it's boundaries hold some of Australia's most unique and significant icons, being home to a variety of contrasting landscapes of deserts, saltpans, ephemeral rivers, permanent waterholes, grasslands, shrublands and forests, sand dunes and mountain ranges, that offer a unique experiences for visitors to the region.

Such a vast and varied landscape means it is also home to a great range of flora and fauna, much of which is unique to the area. There are of course many non-indigenous wildlife and plants that have established themselves in the region, some which are considered vermin and noxious weeds, but have permanently established themselves.

When travelling through Central Australia, you pass through land that is traditionally associated with different Aboriginal language groups. As the original custodians of Central Australia, they have a unique relationship with the land, that is communicated through their art and Dreamtime stories, weaving a connection between spirit and country. Their close relationship extends in to their intimate knowledge of the flora and fauna, providing food, medicine and the essentials.

Centred on the Alice Springs and MacDonnell tourism regions, the vast Central Australia region describes an area that stretches north to encompass both the Barkly region, across the border into Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Sometimes referred to as the 'red centre', this immense semi-arid region is full of life and has many attractions. With it's rich Aboriginal culture and the more modern European history, the region encapsulates the true Australian outback spirit.

Wildlife in Central Australia - Snapshots from Australia

Australia's larges species, the Perentie (Varanus giganteus) is found throughout the arid Central Australian region, central Western Australia and outback Queensland. Growing up to 2.5 metres in length, it is usually found in rocky ranges and outcrops, as well as the vast sandy deserts.
Perentie (Varanus giganteus) © Ausemade Pty Ltd
One of Australia's iconic animals, the kangaroo is a common term used to describe a group of roos that include the Red Kangaroo, Eastern Grey and Western Grey, Wallaroos whose other names include the Hills Kangaroo, Hills Wallaroo, Euro and Common Wallaroo. The largest of these are the Red Kangaroo, the male of the species being a reddish brown colour, whilst the females more blue-grey. They are rarely found alone, preferring to stay in small groups.
Red Kangaroo © Ausemade Pty Ltd
Following is the newly emerged adult cicada (Orange Drummer). It quickly darkens and takes on the colour of the Orange Drummer species. Cicadas are the loudest insect in the world. Their drone are one of the most recognisable sound in Australia, and herald the approach of summer. There are more than 200 species of cicadas in Australia, most of which belong to the one large family, the Cicadidae. There are about 1,500 species world-wide.

The adult cicadas mate, and then the female cicada lays its eggs by piercing the plant stems and inserting the eggs into the slits. These eggs hatch into small wingless cicadas known as nymphs. They fall to the ground and burrow below the surface, where they live on the sap from plant roots. Over the period of several years, the nymphs grow, shedding their skin at intervals. The nymphs of the larger, common Australian species of cicada is thought to live underground for around 6-7 years. This may explain why adult cicadas are more abundant during some seasons than others, with peaks occurring every few years. Once the nymph reaches full size, it will dig its way to the surface with specially adapted front legs. It usually surfaces as night falls in the late spring or early summer. Then, climbing the nearest tree trunk or other fixture, it will shed its skin for the last time, emerging as a pale fully-winged adult cicada, which darkens to the recognisable colour of that species of cicada.
Newly emerged adult cicada (Orange Drummer) © Ausemade Pty Ltd
A spectacular creature this reptile is a favourite of many young children and adults, with it's strange jerky gait and tail held in an upward curve.

The distinctive Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) is found in arid scrub and desert regions of Central Australia. Covered with large thorn-shape spines over its head, body, tail and limbs, the Thorny Devil also has a spinose hump on the back of its neck, that looks similar to two gumnuts joined together. The spines are sharp to the touch. The colour is mottled arrangement of predominantly mustard yellow and rusty red. Colours can vary depending on the colour of the sand where the Thorny Devil lives. Those on the rust red of Central Australia taken on that colouration, whilst other found living on desert yellow/white sand are lighter in colour. The Thorny Devil feeds exclusively on small black ants, eating up to 5,000 ants per meal.
Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) © Ausemade Pty Ltd
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