NATIVE FAUNA


There are a wide variety of animals living in the Valley. We have had eyewitness encounters with the following: wedge-tailed eagles, sea eagles, platypus, echidnas, various wallabies, possums, bats, fish, various birds, tiger snakes, frogs, quolls, owls, entechinus, blue tongue lizards, micro bats and numerous others. On this page we provide information on threatened and protected species in the reserve.


Giant freshwater lobster (Astacopsis gouldii)

 Astacopsis gouldii - image from  www.ninekaow.com

Astacopsis gouldii - image from www.ninekaow.com

The river banks of the Wilmot River adjacent to the reserve are excellent habitat for the giant freshwater lobster. This species is listed as vulnerable under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Giant freshwater lobster are the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world. They are typically shy and cryptic animals that prefer pristine rivers of various sizes. The smaller juveniles lobster are believed to favour smaller rivers and headwaters, but are also found in the riffle zones of large waterways (riffle zones are shallow areas of a stream in which water flows rapidly over a rocky or gravelly stream bed). 

Rivers that provide deep pools and undercut banks along with numerous in stream snags, are ideal habitats. The diet consists mainly of decaying wood, but they will also consume leaves, small fish, and rotting flesh. Direct threats to giant freshwater lobster populations include: loss of riparian and in-stream habitat; in-stream barriers preventing dispersal, including culverts and bridge structure, extensive stream siltation from erosion and contaminates entering the waterway. 

Protection of the riparian vegetation in the Reserve is an important priority and will help protect the health of the Wilmot River along several boundaries of the Reserve.


Grey goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae)

The Reserve contains suitable habitat for the threatened grey goshawk. Grey goshawks are listed as endangered under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. 

Photo of Grey Goshawk in The Valley by Trudi Bird

Two colour morphs of this species are known on mainland Australia: a grey form (hence the common name and an all white form. In Tasmania, it is only the all-white form that occurs. The bill is black, with cere yellow, as are the legs and talons. Eye colour varies from red to yellow.

The grey goshawk occurs in a variety of forest types, preferring mature blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) swamp forest, wet forest and mixed forest with a closed canopy. The species requires old growth (or re-growth >50yrs old) for nesting, particularly where blackwood dominates the forest community. This species of Acacia is the preferred nest tree species. Positive nest identification is difficult without seeing birds on the nest.

The major processes threatening the grey goshawk are the loss of habitat for both nesting and foraging. The protection of potential nest sites is a high priority. Visit the Tasmanian Raptor Refuge.


Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) 

The dense vegetation along the banks of the Wilmot River Reserve represents excellent habitat for the spotted-tailed Quoll. This species is listed as rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and vulnerable under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

 Spotted-Tailed Quoll - image from  Wikipedia

Spotted-Tailed Quoll - image from Wikipedia

The spotted-tailed quoll is a small marsupial carnivore; it weighs about 3.5 to 4 kg and has a distinctively spotted tail. There are two species of quoll in Tasmania with the Eastern quoll being more common. The Eastern quoll is quite small and finely built by comparison weighing on average about 1.3 kg and has no spots on the tail.

The spotted-tailed quoll is threatened by habitat destruction and deaths from shooting, dogs, and competition by feral cats.


Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)

The Devil is generally nocturnal. It is a small dog like animal with a large head and short thick tail. They have coarse, thick black fur and irregular white markings on the neck, shoulders and rump. They have very powerful jaws. They are mainly carrion eaters, scavenging anything of animal origin including wallabies and possums. The Devil is able to consume most of the carcass, even the bones, because of it's powerful teeth and jaws.

 Tasmanian Devil - image from  Wikipedia

Tasmanian Devil - image from Wikipedia

They can be heard growling and screaming when fighting over a carcass. they find shelter in thick scrub, old burrows and caves and frequently follow riverbanks, roads and tracks. Their presence is easily identified by a distinctive large scat interspersed with pieces of undigested bone and fur. They mate in March and give birth in April three weeks later and can have up to four young per litter. The young are in the pouch for fifteen weeks and are completely weaned by about forty weeks.

While the threat to the Tasmanian devil due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) continues to spread through wild populations in Tasmania, significant advances in the Insurance Population and protecting isolated devil populations, are enabling the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to commence a new phase in the species' conservation - focussing on recovery in the wild. Click this link for more information.


Tasmanian Wedge-Tail Eagle (Aquila audax fleayi)

With legs feathered to the feet, the Wedge-tailed Eagle is Tasmania's only true eagle. Juvenile Wedge-Tailed eagles are tawny brown with a pale nape. They get darker with each yearly moult until they are dark brown with maturity at 4-6 years and almost back at 20 years old, their lifespan in the wild. Females are slightly larger than males.

The Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle is larger and paler than its mainland relatives. It has been isolated for the 10,000 - 12,000 years since Tasmania last became an island. Animals restricted to islands are especially at risk of extinction and already our Wedge-tailed Eagles are classified as vulnerable - based on low overall numbers, disturbance and loss of breeding sites and deaths by unnatural accidents and persecution.

 Wedge-tail Eagle - image from  office of environment and heritage  NSW

Wedge-tail Eagle - image from office of environment and heritage NSW

Only about 200 Wedge-tailed Eagle territories exist in Tasmania, and not all are occupied by a pair of adults. This apparent shortage of adults suggest that the current population can not withstand any greatly increased pressure. Eagle populations can fall quickly due to their low breeding rate and they take a very long time to recover.

Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagles nest in typical places - a large eucalypt in 10ha or more of relatively undisturbed, old-growth eucalypt forest on a sheltered slope. Nest trees are usually part way down a slope so that their crown top is below the ridge top. Undulating territorial displays of eagles can be an indication of where a nest is. They are notoriously shy at the nest and may desert if disturbed during breeding, especially when they have eggs or small young. Consequently, productivity of disturbed nests is lower than that of undisturbed nests. About 80% of eagle nests are on private or forestry land, hence the need for landowners and managers to be aware of what the eagles require. This applies equally to foresters, farmers, rural-residential planners and park managers. Visit the Tasmanian Raptor Refuge.


OTHER PROTECTED SPECIES

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Many platypus have been sighted in The Valley and on one occasion mating was witnessed. These creatures are great teachers for meditation as we often sit for long periods, quiet and mindful, waiting for a glimpse.

 Image from  Camping with Platypus at Eungella  by Ray and Sue Travel Photography

Image from Camping with Platypus at Eungella by Ray and Sue Travel Photography

Platypus are most active in the early morning and late afternoons, however we have been fortunate to see them in the middle of the day. They form a short burrow usually hidden under tree roots just above the water line. They have a broad tail, webbed feet and duck-like bill, with soft dense fur. The male has a venomous spur on each ankle. They eat worms, insects, small invertebrates and molluscs, and when collecting from the bottom they store food in large cheek pouches which they then consume when they come to the surface.

They breed in October and November. They usually lay two eggs that will hatch one to two weeks later. The mother builds a nesting burrow up to 20m in length prior to laying her eggs. She feeds her young on milk secreted through numerous ducts opening into the mother's abdomen. The young are weaned at four to five months. 


Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

They usually prefer to eat in the early morning and late afternoon but can be active during the day in colder months. If they are threatened they will either curl into a ball or dig into the ground leaving only the spines exposed.

Echidna in The Valley - photo by Trudi Bird

They have a long tubular snout with a long tongue with sticky saliva, used to trap it's food, such as ants, termites and other small invertebrates. It has very strong claws and reddish-brown to black fur. Like the Platypus, the males have a venomous spur on each hind leg. The Tasmanian Echidna has more fur and less spines than it's mainland counterpart. They breed in late winter to spring. We have often heard them calling for hours at a time during winter. The sound is similar to that of an owl and amazingly loud for such a small creature.

They lay a soft-shelled egg and the young hatch after about 10 days and is weaned after three months. Echidnas generally don't have a definite nest site however the female may occupy a burrow while suckling her young.