Kangaroo IslandKangaroo Island Attractions Fauna Flora Remarkable Rocks

Described as Australia’s Galapagos or a ‘zoo without fences’, Kangaroo Island is home to a profusion of flora and fauna. With its unspoilt, natural environment and some remarkable geology, it is a magnet for visitors keen to experience the natural surrounds of a pristine environment.

Kangaroo Island and the surrounding marine waters is home to 18 terrestrial mammals that include sea lion, fur seals, the Kangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus.), platypus, koalas, kangaroos and Tamar Wallabies. There are 18 reptile species (such as the Rosenberg’s goanna), 6 frog species, 231 fish species and 5 kinds of seagrasses.

Some 200 plus bird species have been sighted on the island, such as the Red Tailed Glassy Black Cockatoo, Hooded Plover and the Osprey.

Ligurian bees were brought to Kangaroo Island in the early 1880’s and the island is now home to the purest remaining strain of Ligurian Bees in the world.

Pelicans on Kangaroo Island, SA
Pelicans on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus)

A member of the order Monotremata, the monotreme known commonly as the Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is one of four living species of echidna and is the only species member of the genus Tachyglossus. The echidna on the Island is known as the Kangaroo Island Echidna and is the subspecies Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus. This particular species on Kangaroo Island have an overall lighter colour to the mainland species Tachyglossus aculeatus.

Kangaroo Island Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus), Kangaroo Island © Marc Newman
Kangaroo Island Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus), Kangaroo Island © Marc Newman

Covered in fur and spines, the Kangaroo Island Echidna has a distinctive snout and a specialized tongue, that it uses to catch its insect prey at a great speed, usually termites and ants.

The genus name is from the Greek tachýs, meaning “swift” and the Greek glōssa for “tongue”. Tachyglossus means “quick tongue”, and aculeatus means “spiny” or “equipped with spines”.

Like the other extant monotremes, the short-beaked echidna lays eggs.

Kangaroo Island Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus), Kangaroo Island © Marc Newman
Kangaroo Island Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus), Kangaroo Island © Marc Newman

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

A large waterbird, the Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia.

Compare to other living species of the genus Pelecanus the Australian Pelican is a medium-sized bird, that is predominantly white with black wings and a pink bill. It has been recorded as having the longest bill of any living bird, that eats mainly fish, although it will also consume smaller birds and scavenge for scraps.

Pelicans on Kangaroo Island, SA
Pelicans on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

There is a white panel on the upper-wing and a white-V on the rump set against black along the primaries (the primaries being the outer wing feathers that are attached to the bird’s fused “hand” bones). During the breeding season, the orbital skin and distal quarter of the bill are orange-coloured, with the pouch variously turning dark blue, pink and scarlet. Non-breeding adult have a bill and eye-ring pale yellow in colour, with the pouch a pale pink. Juvenile birds are similar to the adults, however, the black is replaced with brown and the white patch on the upper wing is reduced.


Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus)

Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) can often be seen around the beaches and coastline of Kangaroo Island. The Pacific Gull is a large dark-backed gull with enormous golden yellow bill with a thick red tip (the red is on both the upper and lower parts of beak), yellow legs and a black tail tip. The colour of the juvenile gull varies, being a lighter heavily marked grayish-brown, becoming a darker brown in the following year.


Footnote & References

  1. Consultation Document on Listing Eligibility and Conservation Actions, Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus (Kangaroo Island echidna), Australian Government, https://www.awe.gov.au/sites/default/files/env/pages/7e154b5c-7c29-4552-b778-08c0886dea44/files/tachyglossus-aculeatus-multiaculeatus-consultation_0.pdf
  2. Native plants and animals, Landscape South Australia, https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ki/native-plants-and-animals

Kangaroo IslandKangaroo Island Attractions Fauna Flora Remarkable Rocks

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