Australia’s wildlife can be a little different from what visitors to the country are used to back home. But despite self-propagated myths about drop bears, Australian wildlife is actually a lot less mystical and unusual than some people might first assume. So, in order to keep you straight, I’m here to squash some common myths and misconceptions about the wildlife here in Australia.
Koalas Are Very Common
Probably one of the most common images of Australia, in countries like the US, is of a dust-covered red desert populated with hordes of kangaroos and koalas dangling from every tree. In reality, koalas aren’t all that common, and you’re far more likely to see one in captivity than out in the wild. If it is essential for you to see one of these furry marsupials (they are most definitely not bears), you’ll be able to see lots if you visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane.
Kangaroos Are Cuddly
Skippy the Kangaroo might be one of Australia’s most successful national exports of the 60s, but it has also proved to be a bit of a liability in the time since. Despite the depiction of kangaroos in Skippy as being intelligent and good-natured, the truth is that they’re not the brightest animals and they’d as soon kick you as hug you. If you’re visiting Australia, you’re likely to see lots of kangaroos once you get away from the cities, but please don’t approach them – their claws can give you a really nasty slash.
Saltwater Crocs Aren’t Found in Freshwater
Saltwater crocodiles have gained a bit of a reputation for ferocity and attacks on humans in comparison to their smaller, more reserved “freshie” cousins. While the chances of being fatally attacked by a saltwater crocodile are actually quite low, the best way to avoid an attack is to stay away from bodies of water where they roam. The name might have fooled you, but saltwater crocodiles can actually be quite happy, and are commonly found, in freshwater. If you’re in an area that is known to have saltwater crocodiles, then the best course of action is to assume that there is a croc in every body of water – one of the biggest factors in most crocodile attacks is the complacency of the victim.
Dingoes Are “Just Dogs”
This can be a bit of a contentious topic, but it is important to understand that Australian dingoes aren’t simply feral dogs. Dingoes have been found in Australia for over 5,000 years – much longer than any European settlers – and their behaviour is quite distinct from feral or domestic dogs. Treating dingoes like the wild predators they are is the best option, so avoid feeding them or normalising any human contact with them. There is also the misconception that dingoes don’t bark like other dogs when, in fact, they do – just not quite as often and with a lower tone to their bark.