Australian Desert Animals
A Photo Gallery Of Australian Outback Animals

Australian desert animals had to evolve some nifty adaptations to the harsh Outback environment they live in.

The Australian Outback deserts are not the driest deserts in the world, it actually rains a fair bit here and there is a lot of wildlife...

But the rain is unpredictable. Years may pass between showers. Often, when it rains it pours and the desert turns into a big flood plain. From one extreme to the other within a few hours...

Below are pictures and links to more information about Australian desert animals. Find out how they live and how they deal with the challenges of their environment.

Australian Desert Animals 1

The Bilby
Australian Desert Animals

The pretty and delicate bilby once lived across most of the Australian inland deserts. Today its range is a lot more restricted (due to the usual environmental problems that we humans cause). Only small, fragmented populations survive in parts of the Tanami, the Gibson and the Great Sandy deserts.

Like most desert animals the bilby hides during the day and forages at night to avoid heat and dehydration. Bilbies dig burrows that are one to two metres below ground and moister and up to ten degrees cooler than the surface.

They are so efficient in conserving water that they don't need to drink. They get enough moisture from their food: seeds, bulbs, fungi, spiders and insects, which they find by scratching and digging. Just like the little fellow in the picture above.

Australian Desert Animals 2

The Perentie
A huge lizard living in the Australian desert

The Perentie, a two meter monitor lizard that lives in the Australian deserts, uses the same strategy: it shelters in underground burrows.

Those burrows are huge and often have many escape tunnels. Not that the Perentie would need them. Perenties are amongst the top predators in the Australian deserts.

Australian Desert Animals 3

The Thorny Devil
The most amazing Australian desert animal

The thorny devil is one of the most unusual looking animals of the Australian desert, and its adaptation to its harsh environment is ingenious to say the least.

Read more about how the thorny devil eats and drinks, and how it survives in the harsh desert climate.

Australian Desert Animals 4

The Bearded Dragon
Another well adapted animal from the Australian desert

Another desert dweller from the family of Australian lizards: the bearded dragon. Bearded dragons are found mainly in the central desert regions of Australia.

Let me rephrase that. Bearded dragons originated mainly in the central desert regions of Australia. From there they conquered the rest of the planet: they are one of the most popular pet lizards in the world.

(An article on bearded dragons is coming...)

Photo by Andre Karwath.

Australian Desert Animals 5

The Red Kangaroo
Red Kangaroo

The Red Kangaroo, the largest marsupial in the world, is the most famous kangaroo species, but it is only one of many. The "big reds" are the species that inhabits the driest parts of Australia, the central deserts. And their adaptation to their environment is the one aspect they are so famous for: the hopping.

Hopping is a fast and very energy-efficient way to travel. It evolved because Red Kangaroos need to cover huge distances to find enough food in the sparsely vegetated Australian desert.

Their other survival strategy? Lie around and do nothing when it's hot...

Read more about Australian kangaroos.

Australian Desert Animals 6

The Camel
Camel in Outback Australia

No, the camel is not a native Australian animal. But when camels were introduced they did so well that the camels that escaped or were let go by their owners multiplied rapidly and established a big and healthy population in the Australian Outback deserts. Today they are everywhere.

Australian deserts contain huge numbers of wild camels, camel meat is on the menu of many restaurants that offer "bush food", we have camel farms and camel rides are popular with tourists. We even export camels back to the countries they originally came from. Australia is one of the world's top producers of camels. No kidding.

Read more about camels in Australia, and the problems their exploding numbers are causing for the fragile Australian desert environment.

Australian Desert Animals 7

The Desert Dingo
Australian Desert Dingo

The dingo has lived in Australia for much longer than any other introduced animal. Still, it didn't evolve here. Dingos were introduced at least 3500 years ago.

The wild dogs had become an integral part of the Outback environment, but when white settlers arrived here, and brought their sheep, and there was a clash of interests, the hunter became the hunted.

Dingo numbers are steadily declining, so much so that dingos could become extinct within just a few decades. And that means we would be losing our best weapon in the fight against the most destructive feral predators and pests: cats, foxes and rabbits.

Not a very promising outlook for native Australian desert animals...

Next page: Australian Reptiles

Return to top

Australian Wildlife Pictures main page

Read more about the Australian deserts.

Go to Australian Animals (articles and information about Australian wildlife)

Return from Australian desert animals to Outback Australia Travel Guide home page

Picture 2 to 5 are from Wikipedia and are under GNU Free Documentation License.

The Outback > Australian Animals > Wildlife Pictures > Australian Desert Animals

Enter your name and email and get a FREE
70 page Outback Guide




Find out more