Cape York Wildlife
Most of it is much the same as the wildlife in many other places in Australia, particularly in north Queensland.
But then there are also the species that are only found here and in our neighbour New Guinea.
Check out here the unique Cape York animals.
The rest of this page will tell you about the animals in Cape York that are also found in other parts of Australia.
York Wildlife - Mammals
Australia's most special mammals are monotremes platypus and echidna. Echidna is found in the whole Australia, including Cape York, and while it is not easily seen everywhere, you do sometimes come across it, particularly in gorges and national parks.
Platypus is a water animal, and in Cape York it is mostly found in Daintree rainforests. It lives in freshwater streams and waterholes, and it is a shy animal which can be seen at dusk and dawn, if you keep quiet.
Platypus and Echidna ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Kangaroos and Wallabies
Most other Australian mammals are marsupials. Some of the most famous marsupials such as koalas and wombats are not found in Cape York. Neither do we have many kangaroos. Only one kangaroo - the Eastern Grey, lives in south-eastern parts of the peninsula. All other kangaroo-like animals that you may come across are either wallabies or wallaroos. There is also one species of tree kangaroo in Cape York, but it is not very easy to see and it is only found in Daintree rainforests.
Agile Wallaby and Tree Kangaroo. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Possums and Gliders
While kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos can be seen in daylight, dusk or dawn, possums and gliders are animals that mostly move around night time. You have much better chances to spot any of them if you go spotlighting in darkness. There are a few different species of possums in Cape York, such as brushtails, ringtails, striped possums and others. Some are found in the whole peninsula, others only in rainforests. There are also a few species of gliders and cuscus.
Cape York Wildlife - Carnivorous Marsupials
Quolls, dunnarts and bandicoots are carnivorous marsupials, and they are also best seen in darkness. Bandicoots are quite easy to see, they come to camping grounds and eat food scarps, while dunnarts and quolls tend to be more shy and rarer to see.
Spotted Tailed Quoll. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Bats and Flying Foxes
Bats and flying foxes are placental (not marsupial) mammals, and there are a few species of them in Cape York.
Apart from the more common Little Red Flying Fox that is found in many other parts of Australia, there are two more species of flying fox bat in Cape York - the larger - Black; and Spectacled Flying Fox.
There are also about five species of bats. You can see flying foxes flying at dusk and dawn and hanging off the trees during day time; while real bats are mostly found in caves and cavities.
Tube Nosed Bat and Spectacled Flying Fox. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Dingoes and Other Introduced Animals
Other placental animals are dingos and other introduced animals. Dingoes were introduced so long time ago that they are most often considered native even though there are people that consider them as pests. They are found in the whole mainland Australia including Cape York. But they are not very easy to come across.
Easier to see are "real" introduced animals. The most common ones to come across in Cape York are feral pigs and feral horses (brumbies).
Cape York Wildlife - BirdsSome of the most notable Australian birds are emus, and they are found in the whole Cape York. Another large flightless bird that is found up here is the Southern Cassowary, which, as opposed to the emu, is a rare, endangered bird that is only found in the tropical north Queensland and Cape York.
Emu and Southern Cassowary. ©cape-york-australia.com
But there are many other, smaller flightless birds. Some of the most common ones in Cape York are bush turkeys. They are the most common birds you will see in Cape York - they are just everywhere. Bush turkeys are found in the whole coastal Queensland where they 'normally' have a yellow collar around their neck, but the subspecies found in Cape York has whiteish or purple.
Bush Turkey - Cape York / Atherton Tablelands. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Parrots and Cockatoos
Australian parrots, rosellas and lorikeets are some of the most colourful, noisy and smart birds. A fair few species are found in Cape York, including Eastern Rosellas and Rainbow Lorikeets, as well as red winged, golden shouldered, red cheeked and eclectus parrots.
Eastern Rosella and Rainbow Lorikeet ©cape-york-australia.com
Another group of smart and noisy, but less colourful birds are cockatoos. As opposed to the parrots that are also found in South America and other parts of the world, cockatoos are only found in this part of the world - in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and Philippines.
There are a few species in Cape York, including sulphur crested, red tailed black and palm cockatoos as well as galahs and little corellas.
Galah and Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Kookaburra and Other Kingfishers
Another classic Australian bird is kookaburra, and while the more famous laughing kookaburra is found in southern and eastern Australia, up north we also have the blue winged kookaburra. Both are found in Cape York, along with seven other species of kingfishers.
Blue Winged Kookaburra and Collared Kingfisher. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Jabirus and Brolgas
Cape York is also home for jabirus and brolgas - beautiful large birds with a wingspan of more than a metre. Brolgas are grassland birds and are particularly easy to spot in Lakefield National Park. Other grassland birds found in Cape York include sarus cranes, bustards and bush curlews.
Jabirus are wetland birds and are easily seen in Weipa (the lakes and the beach). Other birds found in and near wetlands in Cape York are pelicans, magpie geese, ibis, herons, egrets, spoonbills, ducks, cormorants, darters and many more.
A brolga and a jabiru. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Tropical Pigeons and Doves
There are many colourful pigeons and doves in Australia, and some better known ones that are found in Cape York are Wompoo fruit doves and imperial pigeons. They can typically be spotted in forests and woodlands. Other forest birds in Cape York include honeyeaters, bee-eaters, monarchs, finches, robins, pittas, flycatchers, bower birds, wrens, whistlers, wagtails, fantails, and many more.
Wompoo Fruit Dove and Imperial Pigeon. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Birds of Prey
While most birds tend to be better seen in early mornings and late afternoons, birds of prey can be quite easy to spot in the middle of the day. Australian largest raptor, the wedge tailed eagle is found in Cape York, but is not quite as common here as further south in outback Queensland.
The second largest - the white bellied sea eagle is quite common and quite easy to see. There are a few other species of eagle, as well as hawks, kites, ospreys and falcons. There are also a few different species of owls, frogmouths (Tawny, Papuan and marbled) and nightjars.
Lesser Sooty Owl and and White Bellied Sea Eagle. ©cape-york-australia.com
Of course, there are many, many other birds in Cape York, but the list is too long to describe here in detail.
Sunbird - only found in coastal north Queensland. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Reptiles and AmphibiansThe most famous Australian reptiles are of course crocodiles. There are two species of crocodiles in Australia, and both are found in Cape York.
Cape York Wildlife - Crocodiles
The large, man eating saltwater crocodile is the world's largest crocodile. It lives in the ocean waters around Cape York, as well as in rivers and even freshwater swamps. It is very dangerous, and it will kill a human for food. The smaller, freshwater crocodile, lives in fresh water creeks, typically in rocky gorges, and while it can give you a bite, it doesn't kill humans for food. The two are easy to distinguish by their size, and the broadness of their snout.
Saltwater and Freshwater Crocodile. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Turtles
Turtles are as great survivors as crocodiles, and just like in crocodiles, there are saltwater and freshwater turtles.
Cape York Wildlife - Lizards, Skinks and Geckos
There are many species of Australian lizards in Cape York, but the most famous of dragon lizards, and one of the most common ones is the frilled lizard. It is found in the whole northern Australia including Cape York. But despite being quite common, it is not easy to spot and even harder to photograph. You can sometimes see them crossing roads, but it is far more common to see them up in trees. When you approach them they cleverly move to the opposite side of the tree trunk, making it hard to take a photo.
Skinks is one of the largest groups of reptiles in Australia. There are many different skinks in Cape York, the largest ones are blue tongue skinks.
Blue Tongue. ©cape-york-australia.com
As we are in the tropics we also have the little and cute gecko lizards, including house gecko lizards (both the native and the Asian house gecko).
Gecko Lizard. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Monitors and Goannas
Other, larger reptiles that you may come across are monitor lizards (including sand goanna). They actually belong to the same genus, the only difference is that "goanna" is an Australian term while "monitor" is used world-wide. They are impressive meat-eating reptiles that can be metres long. We don't have Australia's largest one but we do have the second largest - lace monitor.
Lace Monitor. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Snakes
And then of course, there are the infamous Australian snakes - some of the most feared reptiles. Like in the rest of Australia, both non venomous and poisonous snakes live in Cape York, however on your trip you probably only come across the harmelss and very common black headed python.
Black Headed Python near Cooktown. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Frogs
Most of Australian frogs that you will see in Cape York are green tree frogs. There are many species of native brown-coloured frogs too, but the large, ugly cane toads are easy to recognise (they are a bad introduced pest that has spread across the whole Cape York and many other places in Australia).
Green Tree Frog and Cane Toad. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Insects and SpidersSome of the most beautiful insects you will see in Cape York are the electric blue Ulysses Butterflies...
Ulysses Butterfly. ©cape-york-australia.com
... and Cairns Birdwings - the largest of all Australian butterflies (the female is, not the male on the pic below).
Cairns Birdwing butterfly. ©cape-york-australia.com
Other impressive Australian insects are rhino beetles, stick insects and praying mantids, which are also found in Cape York.
Stick Insect, Cooktown. ©cape-york-australia.com
There are many different species of ants, but probably the most obvious ones are green ants, whose nests you can see everywhere. They give you a mild bite, very mild compared to many other Australian ants. Aboriginal People used to eat them as bush tucker.
Green ant nest. ©cape-york-australia.com
Another thing you will notice is the tall termite mounds everywhere. Termites are mistakenly called white ants - in fact they are not related to ants at all. But they definitely build some impressive nests!
Termite mounds in Cape York. ©cape-york-australia.com
And as elsewhere in Australia, there are also many different spiders in Cape York. You don't need to be scared of them, read about Australian spiders and you realise that there is no reason to panic.
Australian spiders. ©cape-york-australia.com
Cape York Wildlife - Water CreaturesAnd finally, there is life in the water... The most amazing marine animals are of course the marine mammals like dugongs, whales and dolphins, and there are many places where you can see them in the ocean.
Australian whales. ©cape-york-australia.com
But Cape York is also in the northern end of the world-famous Great Barrier Reef and there are so many beautiful coral reef animals to watch in many places around the coast and coral islands.
Coral reef animals. ©cape-york-australia.com
Just remember - the ocean is home to many dangerous animals in Australia and remember crocodiles, sharks and jellyfish. And there are also the harmless ones, like soldier crabs.
Australian jellyfish. ©cape-york-australia.com
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