Olivia Lee: 10 animals you can find at JCU

Each country has a stereotype attached to it that people tend to embrace and vehemently play up or get irritated by. With Australia, things like beaches, laidback people, and dangerous animals are the first thoughts that would come across someone’s head. While I’ll leave the first two for you to judge, I will confirm that dangerous animals do exist in Australia and swatting insects is pointless because they aren’t scared of you here. Coming from someone with limited terrestrial biology experience and a penchant to yell when surprised by reptiles, I still agree that all wildlife is amazing to witness, some are simply easier to appreciate than others, and here at JCU you can spot a plethora of insects, birds, and mammals.

  1. Magpie

Photo by Michael McMaster

You don’t find these beasts, they find you. They are notorious for attacking cyclists and have been spotted near the hospital and in the Douglas housing area. They are particularly nasty around nesting season (i.e., now) and I would advise anyone cycling that the helmet is not only necessary for Queensland Law but also to shield against magpie attacks.

  1. Curlew

Photo by Michael McMaster

You don’t find these beasts, you hear them. Many international students have been woken up by a shrill crying noise in the night, and they don’t realise that it is coming from this bird! It has characteristically long, skinny legs and walks around as though it’s on tip toes. They are like the unexpected guest that shows up to your party and every event after that- you’re not sure what they do but you always see them.

  1. Greater Bowerbird

Photo by Michael McMaster

Now on to a more serene animal, the male Greater Bowerbird can be seen making his nests around campus to attract a potential mate. You will often find shiny objects and materials strewn around the nest opening with an eager bird waiting at the helm.

  1. Huntsman Spider

Photo by Michael McMaster

I’ve never had a fear of spiders, but I wouldn’t use the bathroom if I saw one in it, which is what would happen at times in Rotary! These guys aren’t dangerous to humans, they’re just big and hairy.  They usually hang around in the bushes but on occasion they do seek shelter indoors and you wouldn’t see a trace of any web since it doesn’t build one, you might find it suddenly on your wall…

  1. Common Green Tree Frog

Photo by Michael McMaster

It’s a green frog and they love to come indoors to get between cool, dry areas. Check your showers or sinks because those are some of the places I’ve found them sandwiched in. They are harmless and come out at night to feed.

  1. Coastal Carpet Python

Photo by Michael McMaster

There are heaps of snakes on campus, there was even a day when a huge tree snake was found resting on a tree right outside the library. This would be an example of a harmless one, but frankly when I see any snake I would just make noise and side step it if I can’t go back in the direction I came from. I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between a venomous and non-venomous snake, other than the obvious fact that if you get bitten by the former, well…

  1. Brush Turkey

Photo by Michael McMaster

What pride, what grace, their babies look sweet when they still haven’t developed that gashing red neck. They can be pesky animals on campus because they constantly wait around to scavenge for food (never feed them!) and when they’re not doing that they rake leaves to look for insects or to build a nesting mound. It’s always eating or mating with these turkeys and the work never stops, you’ll see a brush turkey raking leaves every day for the rest of your time at JCU.

  1. Pretty-Faced Wallaby

Photo by Jesse Bellan

Before I came to Australia I always thought there were only kangaroos and smaller kangaroos, but I now realize there are so many kinds of wallabies. Per a friend doing biology, Pretty-Faced Wallabies, also known as Whiptailed Wallabies, are greyer with a prominent white mark on their face. You can spot them everywhere on campus, particularly around Rotary International House or during the dryer seasons when they come down from the mountains to eat all our grass. With a name like that it’s no wonder they’re the poster animals for JCU!

  1. Rainbow Lorikeet

Photo by Michael McMaster

These birds are so pretty and colourful that people who always see them the first time stop and stare in awe that a bird can have so many colours. I’ve seen them in many parts of the campus before and I hope you can to.

  1. Brushtail Possum

Photo by Michael McMaster

These possums are nocturnal which is why you wouldn’t have seen them displaying themselves in the day so grandly like the wallabies, but I find them to be just as cute. Take a closer look around campus at night and you might see them feeding, just be mindful you don’t step in the snaky long grass.

Special thanks to my friends Michael McMaster and Jesse Bellan for letting me use their photos and also for their animal expertise lest this marine biologist mess up basic animal biology…



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