Wildlife in the Gardens

The Gardens is about more than just plants. The variety of plants and habitats attract a wide range of animals to the Gardens and they in turn help to keep the ecosystem of the gardens healthy.

This page gives you a taste of some of the animals you might find on your visit.

  • Birds

    We have a wonderful range of birds in the gardens. Some are permanent residents and some only visit at certain times of year. See our Birdwatching page for an introduction or Download our iphone Birdwatching app / Download our android Birdwatching app.

  • Common brushtailed possum

    These fluffy-tailed characters can most commonly be seen in the afternoon or evening running over the lawns or climbing up trees throughout the gardens. Possums are usually solitary animals but you may be lucky and see a mother and her baby.

    • Brushtailed possums have large pointed years, sharp claws and a thick fluffy coat. They are usually grey brown on the back with a yellowish cream underbelly and cheeks.

      Like koalas, brushtailed possums typically eat eucalyptus leaves but will also eat the flowers, shoots, fruits and seeds of a range of native and exotic plants.

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  • Water dragons

    If you wander along the Joseph Banks Walk between the Visitor Centre and the Cafe you are almost guaranteed to come across these wonderful creatures.

    Download our water dragon fact sheet (PDF)

    • Growing up to a metre long they are a greenish-grey with black bands running across their back, tail and legs.

      Water dragons are fast runners and strong climbers and will quickly disappear into the bushes when scared. If you are quiet and patient you may see them communicating to each other with little arm-waving movements!

      Water dragons are omnivorous (eat both plant and animal matter). They generally feed on insects, frogs, yabbies, other aquatic organisms, fruits and flowers. They can even eat under water!

      If you see them please respect their space and home and don't attempt to touch or feed them.

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  • Swamp wallaby

    If you are lucky and stay alert while walking around the gardens you might see a swamp wallaby or two. These wallabies are usually very shy and tend to stay in areas of thick undergrowth.

    • The best places to keep an eye out for them is around the rainforest gully and in the areas of scrubland higher up in the gardens. The wallabies are easy to distinguish from eastern grey kangaroos by their size. Swamp wallabies are small and typically stand at about 70 cm high (a kangaroo can be as tall as two metres!) Swamp wallabies have thick fur which is dark brown or almost black on the back with dark paws and nose with light yellow to orange on their chest and base of their ears.

      Swamp wallabies eat a wide range of plants but prefer to nibble on shrubs and bushes than to graze out on open grass.

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  • Eastern grey kangaroo

    Throughout the more open areas of the Gardens you might see eastern grey kangaroos. They are mostly seen early in the morning, or as the light starts to fade in the evening.

    • In the middle of the day, kangaroos rest in the cover of woodland areas and but come out in the open to feed on the grasslands in groups. As thier name suggests they are predominantly a soft grey with a lighter or cream coloured underside. Eastern grey kangaroos can be up to two metres high when standing on their hind legs!

      Eastern grey kangaroos are not aggressive towards humans but please don't attempt to touch or herd the animals. Groups with joeys in the pouch or on the grass may become frightened and can attack to protect their young.

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  • Echidna

    If you are walking quietly in the gardens you might hear an echidna before you see it as it rustles noisily through the undergrowth. Echidnas forage for food in woodland areas because termites (their favourite food) can usually be found in the rotting wood of fallen tree branches.

    • Echidnas have coarse hair and spines over their back with softer brown fur underneath. They have strong claws for digging, a long snout and long sticky tongue (but no teeth!) They use their sticky tongue to collect food.

      Echidnas generally eat ants and termites but will also eat worms, beetles and moth larvae. Their role in the gardens ecosystem is important because it keeps the populations of these useful insects in balance.

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  • Snakes

    Eastern brown snakes are seen in the Gardens during the warmer months. The red belly black snake is rarely seen in the Gardens but is common throughout the Canberra region and often appears in residential gardens and in urban parks.

    • The eastern brown snake is usually about 1.5 metres long - and likes to sun itself on pathways or rocks. Studies of this species in the Gardens have helped us to better understand their movements.

      The red belly black snake isn't aggressive and will usually try to escape under a rock or into scrub. Its venom can be fatal so if you see a snake in the gardens please stay clear of the animal and advise a ranger as soon as possible.

      It's a striking animal with a glossy black back and a bright red or pink belly. These snakes tend to stay around areas where they can bask in the sun but quickly hide under rocks or scrub if needed. You might spot one at the rock garden.

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