Learn all about Manningham’s unique local wildlife and environment with TV Zoologist Chris Humfrey from Wild Action, ‘The Zoo That Comes to You’. Chris will present a series of 15 short videos throughout the month of June that will introduce you to a range of native animals which call Manningham home.
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You will be amazed by what lives in Manningham and maybe even your backyard. You will learn about our incredible local biodiversity and how we can all play an important role in the protection of our native species and our local fragile environment.
Echidnas can be shy, but are found in many areas of Manningham where there is enough native habitat for them to roam in. The Echidnas home range can be up to 50 hectares. Echidnas like to burrow into the soil, hide under vegetation and shelter in hollow logs, rock crevices and in burrows. They need lots of understory habitat that can provide them with their food including ants and termites.
The Southern Boobook is the smallest owl in Manningham and makes a distinctive 'boo-book' or 'mo-poke' call. As with many of our local species The Southern Boobook's needs tree hollows to nest in. The Southern Boobook feeds on insects, small mammals (such as the House Mouse, Mus musculus) and other small animal species.
The Swamp Wallaby is a shy animal that usually live alone. They can be found in places where there is thick habitat for them to hide in. The Swamp Wallaby feeds on a variety of plants including introduced and native shrubs, grasses and ferns. They are regularly spotted early in the morning along our local creeks and the Yarra River habitat corridors where there is plenty thick scrub for them to hide in during the day.
Sugar gliders are tree-dwelling marsupials gliding possums found across Manningham. They can glide up to 50 metres in one trip with their “wings” made up of thin stretched skin between their forefinger and back ankle, During flight they use their bushy tails as rudders as they soar through the air. The Sugar Glider is most active at night, sleeping by day in nests made of leaves in tree hollows. The biggest threat to Sugar Gliders are cats. It is important to bring your cat inside so they don’t eat our native bird, possums and other native animal species.
Ringtail Possums get their name from their long white prehensile tail. They are not as noisy as Brushtail Possums, and make a soft, high-pitched twittering call. Ringtail Possums are at risk from cats, dogs, foxes, traffic, and also electrocution from powerlines. Possums are also at risk from the removal of habitat due to human development. It is illegal to catch and release possums into areas more than 50 m away from where they were caught as they do not often survive relocation. You can help local wildlife by keeping big trees in your backyard as they provide tree hollows for native animals like possums, birds, bats and gliders to nest in.
Blue-tongues usually live in open country with lots of ground cover such as tussock grass or leaf litter. They shelter at night under large objects on the ground such as rocks and logs. During cold weather they remain inactive, buried deep in their shelter sites, but on sunny days they may emerge to bask. Unfortunately, blue-tongues will eat snails and slugs poisoned by snail baits and can be poisoned themselves. They rapidly become used to human activity, and may live in the same place for many years. Rockeries and cavities under houses are favourite hiding places. Many residents and schools create lizard lounges to provide habitat for bluetongue lizards and skinks. All you need are some rocks, ground cover and a sunny place for lizards to bask in and call home.
The Tawny Frogmouth is nocturnal and is often mistaken as an owl. They are however more closely related to the nightjars. Their beaks are designed to catch insects such as cicadas and beetles and the occasional mouse, rat or frog. Unlike owls, the Tawny Frogmouth is a poor flyer and will sit quietly for its prey to approach. Tawny Frogmouths love mature trees to roost and camouflage in during the day like a stringybark trees where they can be almost invisible. Tawny Frogmouth families stay together giving many local residents generations of the same family in their backyard. Protecting big old trees are a great way to encourage a Tawny Frogmouth to your backyard. The call of a Tawny Frogmouth is very distinctive and is often described as a spooky low pitched ooom ooom sound.
The koala is one of the most recognizable Australian animals. A tree-climbing marsupial, a small remnant population of koalas survived in Manningham as recently as 2015 (the last known recording of a koala in Manningham). It is thought the loss of Koalas in Manningham was mainly due to habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and road accidents. Koalas are fussy eaters and only eat a few types of eucalypt leaves. Manna Gums which are found along Manningham’s waterways are the most favoured. There is now a renewed effort by local Landcare groups and concerned residents to create more koala habitat in hope that they will return to our municipality. If you do see a Koala in Manningham, record the location and contact Manningham Council. Citizen Science is a great way to record information on our local natural environment.
The Laughing Kookaburra is common across Manningham where there are suitable trees. They have one of the most iconic calls in the Australian bush. The kookaburra feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. Kookaburras can pair for life and their nest is a naturally occurring tree hollow. Both sexes share the incubation duties and both care for the young. Kookaburras can become quite tame around humans and will readily accept scraps of meat. Similar to live prey, this 'pre-processed' food is still beaten against a perch before swallowing.
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is an important part of Manningham's natural ecosystems. They promote the regeneration of native plants and reduce the fuel load in forests and grasslands. They are regularly seen in our conservation parks including Currawong, Westerfolds and Mount Lofty parks. They rest amongst shady trees during the day and move out to graze from late afternoon to early morning. Their fur is light grey colour making then perfectly camouflaged in our local woody grasslands. A baby kangaroo or ‘joey’ is raised in the pouch until it becomes independent at about 18 months of age.
Centipedes are common in Manningham and can be found under logs, in leaf litter or under rocks and bark. Centipedes are nocturnal and hunt their prey at night time. Centipedes are myriapods not insects, as they have more than six legs. Centipedes and other ‘minibeasts’ including spiders, ants, termites, butterflies, bees and other small animals play a vital role in any ecosystem. They are eaten by bigger animals in the food chain, help to pollinate plants and eat dead and decaying matter which recycles the nutrients back into the soil and ecosystem.
Lace Monitors were once common in Manningham, however due to habitat loss they are now very rare. They need tall open Eucalyptus woodlands to live. There are occasional sightings of Lace Monitors in Manningham’s Green Wedge usually between September to December when they are on the move. If you go for a walk through bushland during the cooler months of the year, watch where you step, Lace Monitors spend much of this time hiding under logs or rocks, or inside hollow tree stumps. If you do see a Lace Monitor please take a photo, record the location and contact Manningham Council. Citizen Science is a great way to record information on our local natural environment.
Gang-gang Cockatoos visit backyards and parks in Manningham and feed on eucalyptus and wattles. Male Gang-gang Cockatoos are easily distinguished by their wispy red crest, which looks like a feather duster. Plant locally native plants that Gang-gang Cockatoos can eat from, such as sheoaks (casuarinas), eucalyptus, and wattles. Be careful of low perched or low flying Gang-gangs when driving in areas with many trees, especially near hawthorn shrubs. Don’t forget to participate in the Citizen Science program: Aussie Backyard Bird Count in October.
Barn Owls are found right across Manningham and are silent hunters of the night eating mice, rats and snakes. Their heart-shaped face and asymmetrical ears help the owl to use even the slightest sound to pinpoint their prey even in complete darkness. Barn owls need old growth trees to nest in. These trees provide large hollows with the nest sometimes up to 10m inside the tree. Don't use rat poisons that cause secondary killings. Owls are natural predators of rodents but if an owl eats a rat that has ingested this poison, it can die too. Remember Manningham’s raptor birds (birds of prey) need old growth trees to breed in and hunt for prey.