The northern part of the Red Centre may look barren and lifeless, but there are plenty of seriously cute critters that call this beautiful wilderness home. Keep your eyes peeled and you may be lucky enough to spot a few, if not all, of these remarkable animals during your Outback adventure.
This beautiful lizard is one of the icons of the Outback. Coming in at a tiny 20cms in size, the Thorny Devil is part of the Dragon Lizard family and live for up to 20 years. Despite their fearsome appearance – their skin is covered in tiny spines – and name, they are one of the least aggressive lizards in Australia and have a gentle, shy nature. Difficult to spot, you’re most likely to see one sunning itself by the side of the road, soaking up the sunlight they need to raise their body temperature. Look out for its erect tail and keep your eyes peeled and to the ground during any hikes. Populations are suffering due to habitat loss so seeing one is a real privilege.
The goanna is a large lizard which loves to laze around in the sun, and are widespread throughout Australia, so you’ve got a good chance of spotting one while travelling through the Outback. The goanna is actually a monitor lizard, given their distinctive name by early settlers from Europe who thought they looked like iguanas! They can reach over 2 metres long and eat snakes, insects and even birds. They love to dig holes, so wherever you see holes in the ground, a goanna is likely to be close by.
One of Australia’s best loved icons, the red kangaroo is likely to top anyone’s list of wildlife to spot while in the desert. The “big red” is the biggest marsupial in the world, and you’ll spot them in droves throughout the desert regions. Their hopping isn’t just cute, it’s also energy efficient and quick (they can reach speeds of 60mph), enabling them to travel large distances to find the small amounts of food available. When it’s hot, you’ll find them lazing around in the scrub. Very sensible indeed.
Another iconic Aussie animal, the dingo is an intelligent and gorgeous wild dog that has been around these parts for more than 3,500 years. Fully grown, these sandy coloured beauties can grow up to 20kg in weight and are unique in that they don’t bark, but howl. Over the years they’ve been crossed with European dogs and the famous blue heeler is a well known dingo cross. Dingoes are omnivores meaning they eat both meat and anything else they can find, and mostly hunt at night. They have an unjustly deserved bad reputation but are graceful and shy and a top sight during any desert adventure.
Spinifex Hopping Mouse
These nocturnal mice are one of the creatures you’re most likely to see while out walking at night. They have a distinctive tufted tail and bound along at night on their long legs and giant feet. Growing up to 5 inches in height, they live in small family groups in burrows underground to protect themselves from predators. Keep your torch pointed towards the ground and keep a sharp eye out for these bouncing beauties.
Another nocturnal sight is the woma python. Growing up to 3 metres in length and with pretty striped, brown markings, they make their home in sandy burrows left behind by other animals. They hunt by suffocating their prey with their body before swallowing them whole. They are no danger to people and are not venomous. They are also critically endangered so if you do see one, count yourself very fortunate.
These “ships of the desert” are not native to Australia, but have become one of the ubiquitous sights of the Outback. Tall and graceful, often with a grumpy temperament, they can travel huge distances with little to no water and move in large groups. They do so well in the harsh Outback environment that Australia is now one of the world’s top producer of camels, exporting them to the Middle East and beyond. Look out for them both on the road and on the menu, if that’s your bag.
Possibly the cutest of all, but also the rarest, the pretty bilby is a small marsupial with a huge snout and large ears, in a tiny package coming in at around 30 inches long, so you’ll definitely need to keep your eyes peeled for this one. Like most desert creatures, the bilby tends to hide away from the sun during the day, so look out for them at dawn and dusk.
Want to see these beautiful creatures and more?! Check out our Central Australia, Uluru to Uluru tours and our awesome guides will do there very level best to seek them out for you!