Mammal Life

Mammals are vertebrate animals that have mammary glands that produce milk.

There are 3 types; monotremes, marsupials and placental mammals.

The monotremes are egg-laying mammals, almost as if they are halfway between a reptile and a placental mammal. There are only 2 species of monotreme that exist on earth today; the echidna and the platypus.

While the platypus is restricted to rivers and streams, the echidna lives almost anywhere in Australia, including the deserts.

Black-flanked Rock-wallaby
Black-flanked Rock-wallaby

Marsupials have pouches and give birth to live young that are small and underdeveloped. They need to stay in their mother’s pouch, suckling milk until they grow enough to start venturing out and eventually leave the pouch entirely.

The largest marsupial in the world is the iconic Red Kangaroo which can be found in all of Australia’s deserts. Their energy-efficient hop and ability to go for long periods without fresh water make them ideally suited to the arid environments.

Placental mammals carry their young within the womb to a relatively late stage of development. Placental mammals include dingoes, rats, mice, bats, and humans.

Australian deserts are home to many mammal species. Because of the low rainfall in the arid regions of Australia, most mammals are small, so they need less water to survive. Most of the water they need comes from the plants and insects they eat.

Being small and mostly nocturnal, mammals in the desert are often known as ‘cryptic’ meaning that they are rarely seen, so when we survey for them we often need to employ traps to catch them. We then identify the species and release them as soon as possible. Another good method is to set up remote cameras that detect body heat and movement which triggers the camera, taking an infrared photo which the animals cannot see.

Spinifex Hopping Mouse
Spinifex Hopping Mouse