5 Animals You May Encounter in the Australian Outback

The Australian Outback is home to some incredible creatures, including wombats, kangaroos, and dingoes. You can learn all about them here!

May 29, 2024By Adeline Ee
animals you may encounter in australian outback

Australia is home to many unique animals not found anywhere else. Its isolation from the rest of the world, combined with its unique terrain and climate, has resulted in the formation of some remarkable creatures. From the kangaroo to the dingo, there are many animals you may encounter in the Australian Outback. While some aren’t exactly friendly, they certainly showcase this continent’s interesting landscape. Here, you can meet some of these animals for yourself—without risking a kick or bite!

1. Saltwater Crocodile: The World’s Largest Reptile

saltwater crocodile looking up
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The saltwater crocodile is one of Australia’s most dangerous animals. It’s also the largest living reptile! Spanning 20 feet long and weighing more than a ton, these animals are surprisingly fast. They are capable of running up to 30 miles per hour on land and swimming at speeds of over 20 miles per hour. They are one of many animals that can hold their breath for long periods.

Crocodiles have been around for millions of years, and their ancestors date back to the time of the dinosaurs. Today, they can be found in tropical regions around the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. While these massive reptiles are a threat to humans (accounting for about 1,000 deaths per year), saltwater crocodiles generally prefer to eat smaller prey, such as birds and snakes.

2. Dingoes: More Than Wild Dogs

red and orange dingo
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dingoes are a type of wild dog, one of many animals native to Australia. Dingoes typically live in packs, and they hunt for food such as rabbits and rats. However, they will also eat fruit and other plants. Dingoes are not afraid of humans, but they prefer “flight” to “fight.”

In recent years, there has been an increase in dingo attacks on humans. That’s because more people are encroaching on dingo territory. Some people even feed dingoes, causing these dogs to lose their natural wariness of humankind. If you ever visit the Australian Outback, do not feed any animals you come across––including these dog-like creatures!

3. Sand Goanna: A Possible Pet?

Sand Goanna lizard
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The sand goanna is a large monitor lizard found in sandy deserts throughout Australia. These lizards can grow up to two feet long and are distinguished by their long snouts and tails. Sand goannas are opportunistic predators and will eat anything from small mammals to reptiles. However, they are most commonly seen hunting for termites and ants.

These unique lizards use their powerful sense of smell to find prey and then use their long tongues to snatch them up. Sand goannas are also proficient swimmers and have been known to cross rivers in search of food. In addition to being excellent hunters, sand goannas are also skilled diggers. They often excavate burrows in the sand in order to escape the midday heat.

Sand goannas can also be kept as pets. Much like pet chameleons, they do not like being handled. Still, given a proper habitat, they can make for interesting and unique companions. Be warned: these lizards can easily live for more than 20 years. These are not ideal reptiles for beginners!

4. Kangaroos: Native to the Outback

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are several species of kangaroo native to the Australian Outback like the red kangaroo, wallaroo, and rock wallaby. These impressive animals are one of the most recognizable in the world, thanks to their signature long tail and powerful hind legs. A male red kangaroo can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour and leap 25 feet high in a single jump!

Fun fact: did you know that kangaroos can't walk backward? This is due to the way their hind legs are positioned; when they try to walk backward, their legs lock, and they are unable to move. It’s a good thing that these animals don’t have to walk backward to survive!

Here’s another fun fact. Female kangaroos have a special pouch on their stomach where they carry their young. Once the baby kangaroo, called a joey, is born, it will climb into its mother's pouch and remain there for several months until it is big enough to survive on its own. Kangaroos are a type of marsupial, just like possums and some species of mole.

5. Wombat: Not Rodents

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wombats are native to Australia and have a unique appearance. For instance:

  • They are covered in thick fur that is either gray or brown.
  • They have stout bodies with short legs and long tails.
  • Wombats can grow to be up to four feet long and weigh up to 60 pounds.

What’s more, they are very good swimmers and can hold their breath for up to six minutes. Wombats are also very strong diggers. They use their powerful claws to dig holes that can be up to 30 feet deep! Wombats are nocturnal animals and spend most of their time eating grasses and roots. Despite their appearance, wombats are not rodents. Like kangaroos, they are marsupials, meaning they carry their young in a pouch.

Adeline Ee
By Adeline Ee

Adeline graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Marketing. Originally from Singapore, she is a fanatic dog-lover and volunteers her time to help strays whenever she can, participating frequently in spay and neuter programs.