Wildlife in Western Australia
Within the vastness of regional Western Australia the extensive range of native and wild animals you can expect to find includes mammals, reptiles, insects and sea life. In the outback there are flies (lots of them) spiders, reptiles, cattle, mammals and birds of prey.
You can find numerous ocean reefs to explore alongside, whales, sharks, tropical fish, coral and many varieties of marine life. Rottnest Island, 20 km off the cost of Perth is home to the quokka. This precious variety of wildlife is an exciting experience when discovering Western Australia.
Being able to view our native animals is as easy as visiting Perth Zoo, where there are kangaroos, koalas, wombats, birds, reptiles and insects. You can also hand feed koalas and kangaroos if you visit one of the wildlife parks, which are on the outskirts of the city.
See bursts of colour spread throughout the regions with the native wildflowers of Western Australia blooming between July and November. Kings Park in the centre of Perth holds an annual Wildflower Festival during September, which boasts 1700 native species of flowers packed into the 17 hectares of park. It’s a spectacular sight.
Dolphins, whales and sea life
The aqua hues of the Indian ocean with the sun setting over the horizon, is a truly remarkable sight. Beneath the surface of the ocean lies a completely different world.
Teaming with marine life from the top to bottom of the Western Australian coast, there are many sea creatures you can see which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Clear, crisp water lends itself to amazing habitats for marine life to thrive in numerous protected marine parks and reefs across the State. The most popular is the Ningaloo Marine Park, which is nature’s best kept secret in the North West of Western Australia.
Get up close and personal with gentle dolphins often frolicking close to the shore with their young calves. Swim with the gentle, yet gigantic, whale sharks. If you’re lucky you might encounter dugongs. Monkey Mia offers a one-on-one experience of feeding and swimming with bottle nose dolphins. The Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre also offers a similar experience.
Swimming with a whale shark can be a fulfilling experience. These gentle giants swim gracefully through the Ningaloo Marine Park from April to July each year following the mass spawning of coral. Ningaloo is one of the few places you can actually swim with a whale shark.
The southern Right Whales and Humpbacks, migrate during winter with their calves. The opportunity of watching the whales in their natural habitat is an uplifting experience. Charters operate in Perth, with day trips out on a viewing boat with a guide and also regionally along key coastal points north and south stretching all the way up and down the coast with the best viewing opportunities being in the South West.
There are many other whale watching opportunities, including the chance to witness Humpbacks cavorting in Exmouth Gulf with their calves, or migrating along the coast. Nature at its best.
Kangaroos, quokkas and kookaburras
Part of the national emblem, the kangaroo, is a familiar sight around most parts of regional Western Australia. There are two species, the most common being the Western Grey and the less common Red Kangaroo. Kangaroos tend to sleep or rest during the heat of day, comming out to graze at sunrise and sunset. Keep a lookout around bushes and groups of trees; you might see kangaroos congregating.
Take care when travelling outside of the metropolitan area on country roads, as these large marsupials can jump out from bushland areas, not realising they are about to head onto a main road. They can cause plenty of damage to your vehicle if you hit one. That’s why a lot of cars and trucks have ‘roo bars’ fitted to the front of their vehicle.
Catch a ferry to Rottnest Island and pay the quokkas a visit. Quokkas are only found on Rottnest Island and in small pockets of the south west of Western Australia. The furry marsupial is like a miniature kangaroo, with a small furry face, long snout and strong back legs. You stand a pretty good chance of seeing one when you visit Rottnest, as the population is estimated to be 10,000.
Kookaburras are part of the kingfisher family. They are best identified by the cackling laugh, which they use to mark the boundaries of their territory. Often this cackling takes on various forms, from a cackle to a “kooooo-aaaaah” sound, it can be quite infectious.
Kookaburras are common in both metropolitan and regional areas, so you will probably hear one before you spot one.
Crocodiles and reptiles
Several of Western Australia's national parks are home to hundreds of reptile species. You'll need to be patient to spot them, but they're always worth the wait. It's best to go searching with an experienced local guide. Crocodiles are more dominant in the remote north west of the state but have been found in central parts of regional Western Australia too. If you want to view a crocodile in its natural habitat it’s probably best to take a guided tour with an experienced guide to view them safely.
To squash a common myth, is to say that not all crocodiles are man eaters. Within freshwater (lakes, pools and gorges) you will find freshwater crocodiles or ‘freshies’. These are most common in the Kimberley region, where gorges and remote rivers provide an attractive environment for this prehistoric species. They look vicious but are relatively harmless.
Moving closer to the coast you can find saltwater crocodiles or ‘salties’. Salties have huge jaws with giant teeth. If you get to see a saltwater crocodile you will more than likely see their teeth, as they rest with their jaws open. They need to be treated with great respect, as they are predators and will fiercely guard their patch.These giant creatures have been known to make their way upstream into freshwater so beware, you may come across either species.
Western Australia has its share of snakes, too, although it is rare to see them in the towns or even in the wild, as they shy from humans.
Pets are a common addition to most households in Western Australia, with the most popular being a dog or a cat. Domestic dogs and cats can be found from registered breeders, or many of the rescue centres that operate in and around Perth and regionally.
In the remote areas of Western Australia, pets are more often used as working animals. Cattle ranch dogs or horses are used to herd cows or sheep. Keeping pets within Western Australia is regulated.Shires (local councils) will often impose a limit to the number of pets kept by each household and enforcing the registration of each pet annually (dogs predominately).. The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) operates within Australia and manages many animal welfare programs. Western Australia has a culture of respect towards all animals, with many volunteer organisations established to care for sick or injured animals.
You can also find boarding houses, like five star hotels for your pets to stay at while you take a holiday. Airconditioned pens with dedicated carers and set times for exercising your dog or cat are all part of the service offered. If you want your dog to have some company while you are at work, there are day care centres for dogs and sometimes other pets. They operate just like a childcare centre. You leave your dog for the day and they will be exercised and played with, ensuring a happy, content dog. There are also people who operate dog walking businesses. Check local newspapers and the internet for these services in your local area.
Avoid dangerous animals
Any country you visit in the world has its own list of dangerous animals. Australia is no exception, however it is rare to encounter dangerous species in cities and towns. The animals considered dangerous for Western Australia can be found on the Australian Faunna website.