Wildlife of the Peninsula
The diverse natural environments on the Peninsula provide range of habitats for wildlife - over 400 species of native animals have been recorded here, including:
- 293 species of birds – including tiny Hooded Plovers that nest on the ocean beaches of Rye to the impressively large Powerful Owl that hunts through forested areas, our bird fauna is the most diverse group of animals on the peninsula.
- 34 mammals – including the easily recognisable Echidnas, Koalas, macropod marsupials like Swamp Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos, to lesser known ground dwelling mammals like the White-footed Dunnart, Southern Brown Bandicoot and Swamp Rat, and nine species of microbats.
- 31 fish – including two endangered species - the Dwarf Galaxis, a tiny freshwater fish which is recognised by its striking iridescent stripes, and the Flatback Mangrovegoby, a locally abundant species associated with estuarine waters amongst saltmarsh and mangroves.
- 25 reptiles – from the better known species like Blue-tongue Lizard and Eastern Brown Snake, to more cryptic animals like the Jacky Lizard and threatened Swamp Skink.
- 11 frogs – including the nationally endangered Growling Grass Frog and more common and widespread species like the Spotted Marsh Frog and Southern Brown Tree Frog.
To learn more about the peninsula's diverse wildlife, download our Fauna of the Mornington Peninsula(PDF, 1MB) guide which includes photos and descriptions of over 70 native animals that call the Peninsula home.
Koalas on the Mornington Peninsula
Koalas are Australia’s largest tree-dwelling marsupials. This iconic native animal is found on the Mornington Peninsula. Research from Deakin University indicates that Koalas are relatively widespread across the peninsula, though occur mostly at low densities. They generally avoid highly urbanised areas and are rarely found in locations where there is little forest cover within a one kilometre radius.
Koalas faces many human induced threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, bushfire, drought and disease. Habitat fragmentation is a serious issue for koalas because they have a specialised low-energy, low-nutrient diet of eucalyptus leaves. This means they have a limited amount of energy available to use travelling between patches of food trees. Other threats to koalas include attack by domestic dogs and vehicle collisions.
How you can help
Protect koala habitat
The most important thing you can do to help koalas is to protect existing habitat trees and surrounding vegetation on your property. Koalas need many healthy mature trees for food and shelter. Even non-eucalypts can provide much needed cover. Before pruning trees or shrubs, check for Koala use (look for their poo on the ground) and limit pruning if koalas use the area. You can also ensure that that fences on your property are Koala friendly (i.e. ones that Koalas can climb).
Plant koala trees
Whilst protecting existing habitat trees is crucial, planting trees is also important. Depending on which area of the peninsula you live, the following Koala food trees might be suitable:
- Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis
- Swamp Gum Eucalyptus ovata
- Messmate Eucalyptus obliqua
- Narrow-leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus radiata
Koalas also use non-food trees for shelter, particularly Acacia species. Before you plant its important to check which trees are suitable for your local area, as some parts of the peninsula aren't suitable for koala tree plantings. To find out which areas of the peninsula are suitable for koala trees take a look at the trees and habitat information on MPKoala's website.
Keep your dog under control
Take care with your dog. Unrestrained dogs can harass and injure koalas and other wildlife, particularly when they come to the ground to move between trees.
Be wildlife-aware when driving
Koalas and other wildlife often move across our roads. For your safety and theirs, be aware and slow down, particularly dawn and dusk when visibility is poor and koalas are likely to be moving between trees. If you do see koalas or other wildlife when you are driving, be careful and give them plenty of time to move off the road.
The Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation Landcare Group, or MP Koalas for short, does fantastic work to protect koalas. Visit their website to find out how you can get involved. You could also join your local and Friends Groups also do great work to protect habitat for their local wildlife. Find out more on our Landcare and Friends Groups pages.
What to do if you find injured wildlife
Call the Wildlife Victoria 24hr Hotline 13 000 94535 or 13000Wildlife. Other Mornington Peninsula injured wildlife rescue emergency contacts can be found on the Community Directory. The State Government also have a handy Help for Injured Wildlife Tool to help you find and contact the closest relevant wildlife carers and rehabilitation organisations to help the injured wildlife.
Spotted a seal?
Seals occasionally visit our beaches, you can learn more about seals on beaches and marine wildlife here.