Meet the Locals: Australian Animals in the City

Aussie Animals

You don’t have to head to the bush to see Aussie animals – there are some fascinating creatures to be seen right in the city.

Here are a few of the cuddliest, creepiest and most beautiful critters international students can see, without venturing out of town.

Swooping Magpies

You may have heard that spring is magpie season in Australia, but you may not know what that means.

We would love to tell you that there was nothing at all to worry about and that stories of large, cranky, swooping birds chasing innocents down the street was just another piece of Aussie mythology.

Unfortunately, any Australian will tell you that well, yes, occasionally, people do get swooped by Magpies in the spring time.

Magpies are one of Australia’s most common birds and spring is when they lay their eggs.  Mother magpies can get very territorial during this time, and are known to swoop down upon unsuspecting people as they pass by the mother’s tree.

Usually, no harm is done, except for the shock of finding that a large bird has decided to pick a fight with you in the street.  Mostly – embarrassment is the only consequence.  If it happens to you, the very best thing is to cover your head and get out of the area quickly.

There are numerous theories as to what (if anything) can keep swooping magpies at bay.  This video demonstrates a woman testing out a few different methods.  At the least, it gives a good sense of what a magpie-swooping feels like.

If you’re concerned, or if you see a swooping magpie, there’s always Magpie, a website dedicated to tracking and sharing swooping magpie locations.



While most of Australia’s cuddliest animals stay well away from the cities – possums are in the habit of occupying city parks, backyards, and even roof-spaces. Urban possums, as they’re called, can sound like thunder as they run across rooftops at night, and can also make some alarming noises when they mate. If you see possums, it’s best not to offer them any food – they’re known to become a little aggressive and will keep coming back for more!

If you’d like to see possums, keep a close eye on trees with hollows in them – they’re possums preferred home. In the spring, you might even get to see joeys hitching a ride on their mum’s back.

Redback spiders


While most of Australia’s more dangerous animals are only found in out of the way places like the bush or the beach, the redback spider is one famously venomous creature that does show up in people’s houses from time to time.

While they only tend to be aggressive if their web is disturbed, redback bites account for around 2,000 hospitalizations each year. Luckily, there hasn’t been a death since an anit-venom was developed in the 1950’s.

The female is particularly easy to spot for the distinctive red marking on it’s back. Females have a body length of about 1cm (that’s not including their legs), and males are brown with white markings and are about 4-5mm long.

If you see one, don’t play around with it and only try to get rid of it if it’s safe to do so. Keeping your house free of anything that might attract insects – the redback’s natural prey –  should keep it free of redbacks as well.

Black Swans


It was thought that all swans were white until 1636 when black swans were sighted for the first time in Australia by a Dutch sailor.

While similar to their white European counterparts in many ways, black swans are known to be a little more aggressive and make more sounds.

Australia is the only country in the world where they’re found, and you can get a glimpse of these beautiful and unusual birds in many urban creeks and rivers in southwestern and eastern Australia.

Rainbow Lorikeets


If you’re lucky you might spot some of these chirping outside your bedroom window one morning.

Rainbow Lorikeets are some of the most colourful birds you’ll ever see.  Like Australian cockatoos and galahs, they’re so beautiful that they are often smuggled outside of Australia and sold on the black market. While they can be kept as pets but they need special care.

We hope you get the chance to see some of these amazing creatures around town – good luck animal spotting in the city!