Yungaburra Wildlife

The rich and diverse wildlife of the Atherton Tablelands is a major attraction. Our myriad of habitats range include wet tropical rainforests and sclerophyll forests, with large tracts of rainforest gazetted as World Heritage Areas which are managed by the Wet Tropics Authority.

The Wet Tropics region is home to about a third of Australia's 315 mammal species. 13 mammal species are found nowhere else in the world. They include; Atherton antechinus, lemuroid ringtail possum, green ringtail possum, Herbert River ringtail possum, Daintree River ringtail possum, Long-tailed Pygmy Possum, Musky rat-kangaroo, Lumholtz tree-kangaroo, Bennett’s tree-kangaroo, the masked white-tailed rat, Tropical Bettong and the Mahogany Glider.

The prolific and diverse wildlife you may see includes beautiful butterflies and bugs, rare frogs and interesting snakes and lizards. Not to mention the bird life, which is so abundant it deserves its own web page.

In Yungaburra township, take a walk down Petersen Creek and try to spot an elusive platypus in the creek, or find tree kangaroos in the canopy above the walk.



Why not benefit from the expertise of a professional guide? They will know exactly where to find that elusive animal or help with identification of species.

See our tours page for more.


When a platypus specimen was first presented to British scientists the initial reaction was that it was an elaborate hoax.

This cute creature is an egg laying mammal with a rubbery duck-like bill and a body covered in dense, dark brown fur. The tail is broad and flat, and the legs are short and stout with webbed feet. The male platypus has a large spur on each hind ankle, connected by ducts to a poison gland.

They spend half the day in the water feeding on insect larvae, shrimps and crayfish, and the rest on land and in a burrow. They can remain under water for up to 10 minutes.

If you want to see platypus in the wild, choose a place they are know to frequent, (such as Peterson Creek near Yungaburra). Sit quietly, and watch for the telltale concentric ripples which usually indicate a platypus is present. Platypus are usually seen near dawn or dusk.

Platypus - copyright J Wright
Platypus - copyright J Wright

Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo

Yes there really is a kangaroo which lives in trees! It is listed 'rare' under the Qld Nature Conservation act. The Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo lives in rainforests and adjacent wet sclerophyll forests in Far North Qld.

They are not easy to see, but places you may find them are the Curtain Fig Tree, Petersen Creek area near Yungaburra, Mt Hypipamee National Park, Malanda Falls, Wongabel State Forest. Try looking first thing in the morning or late afternoon, or by torch at night. Look for something the size of a basketball high in a tree, or a small dog if you can see it closely. They have an extremely long tail, a black face, and black paws.

They are the only macropod able to move their hind feet independently of each other, i.e. they can walk as well as hop! They eat leaves and occasionally fruits or flowers.

The Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo are are solitary animals and mainly nocturnal, but also move about during the day.

Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo - - copyright Wet Tropics MA
Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo - copyright Wet Tropics MA

Information supplied by
The Tree-Kangaroo and Mammal Group
This group of dedicated volunteers have greatly added to our knowledge of these rare animals.

Butterflies & Moths

Some of the butterflies and moths you may encounter are:

The Ulysses Butterfly – Quite unmistakable large butterfly, with brilliant electric blue upper wings, trimmed in black .

The Cairns Birdwing Butterfly – The largest Australian Butterfly. The male is black with brilliant green. The female is brown and larger. Both sexes have yellow bodies with red behind the head.

Hercules Moth - the largest moth species in the world, with a wingspan of roughly 30 cm. Both sexes have brown wings with a pale edged stripe and triangular transparent 'windows'. The males wings have long tapered tails.

Hercules Moth
Hercules Moth - copyright Wet Tropics MA


Australia 's largest snake is the Amethystine Python (known locally as a Scrub Python).

Grows to approx 5m, with some confirmed at 7 meters. It is very distinctive with a tan diamond pattern, large head and when seen in the sunlight, an iridescent amethyst sheen on its body. It is often seen crossing roads in the rainforest at night, usually docile, but do not approach as it is very powerful and may inflict a painful bite.

You may view these lovely creatures sunning themselves on the edge of Lake Barrine .

Amethystine Python
Part of the amethystine in sunlight - copyright J Wright

Musky rat-kangaroo

This small kangaroo is endemic to the Wet Tropical Rainforest of North Qld.

It is regularly seen around the volcanic lakes Eacham and Barrine and around the bases of the famous Curtain Fig and Cathedral Fig trees. Look for them in the morning and afternoon foraging on the forest floor.

At night, and in the middle of the day, the musky rat-kangaroo sleeps in a nest at the base of a clump of vines or the buttresses of a large tree. The diet consists of insects and worms, berries, fruits and tuberous roots.

Musky Rat Kangaroo - copyright Wet Tropics MA
Musky Rat Kangaroo - copyright Wet Tropics MA

Possums & Gliders

The Wet Tropics region has the highest possum diversity in Australia.

In the Rainforests around Yungaburra, you may see the Striped Possum, the tiny Long-tailed Pygmy Possums, Squirrel Glider, Greater Glider, Feathertail and Sugar Gliders ,Yellow-bellied Glider, the Coppery Brushtail (a subspecies of the very common Brushtail Possum ) and the Common Ringtail.

Striped Possum- copyright Wet Tropics MA
Striped Possum- copyright Wet Tropics MA

The Lemuroid Ringtail Possum - restricted to upland rainforests. Endemic to Tropical North Queensland. Mostly chocolate to charcoal-brown in colour. Tail is furred along the entire length.

The Mahogany Glider - Critically endangered. Soft grey or brown, with black stripe on head and body, tail long and black tipped. This glider is not rainforest dependent.

The Green Ringtail - The Green Ringtail is so named for the strange illusion of colour provided by the black, yellow and white banding on each hair of its thick fur. It is easy to recognize during spotlighting as it has white patches below its ears and eyes.

The Herbert River Ringtail Possum - The emblem of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is an attractive black and white ringtail possum from upland and highland altitudes.

Striped Possum - a very attractive possum, with striking black and white stripes along its body and a white tip to its tail. Lives only in the upland and lowland forests of the Wet Tropics region of north Queensland.

Sugar glider - these cute little animals have big ears and eyes, grey fur, a long bushy tail and a dark stripe along the back. They use membranes on either side of its body to glide up to 50m through the air between their favourite trees. If you spot one, there'll be more nearby, as they live in family groups of up to seven adults with their young.


Soney Creek Frog
Male Stoney-creek Frog - copyright J Wright

In the rainforest of the wet tropics, over 22 species of frog are endemic. Unfortunately there has been a decline in many stream dwelling frogs, resulting in the disappearance of some species, and the listing of some as Critically Endangered.

Lizards & Dragons

Many of the species of lizards are common and seen frequently, such as the nocturnal geckoes and skinks.

However while in the area, a "must see" is the strange looking Boyd's Forest Dragon. It is a challenge to spot in the low light of the rainforest. It is about 50cm long, with a colourful large-scaled head and line of curved spikes down its back.

Boyds Forest Dragon
Boyd's Forest Dragon - copyright J Wright

Look for it clinging upright to slender trees at about eye level, ready to pounce on prey on the ground. As you approach it will slowly move around to the back of the tree. Often seen around Lake Eacham , try near the steps, going down to the turtle viewing platform.