Melbourne Wildlife: Animals You Didn’t Know Lived in the Suburbs

May 12, 2017

WE’VE all heard the screeches of possums fighting high in the treetops and spotted foxes and echidnas crossing the road — but have you heard of eels in the Yarra River or Merri Creek?

There are numerous types of wildlife, including bats, birds, fish and mammals that call Melbourne’s suburbs home.

Foxes have been spotted as close the CBD as Richmond and both brushtail and ring-tail possums seen scurrying along fence lines in many inner city suburbs.

Let’s not forget the numerous kangaroos causing a stir in the inner suburbs — as their open spaces are being taken over by new housing estates propping up on the city fringe.

But there are some less obvious forms of wildlife living right beside us:

The friendliest possums in Melbourne pose for selfies in Flagstaff Gardens. Picture: Jason Edwards If you live in Melbourne, you’ve probably seen echidnas crossing the road.


Pretty much all rivers, wetlands and lakes in the Melbourne area have eels in them.

Dr Jarod Lyon from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research says eels, that mostly come from the east, can live for up to 25 years and can grow to a metre long.

“They all spawn from the Coral Sea and drift in the East Australian Current to get to Victoria,” he said.   He said eels are quite hardy and can survive in less than pristine conditions and are some of the top order predators in the waterways system.

They also provide some good fishing for those inclined to do so — but it’s best not to eat the ones found in Melbourne’s waterways, according to Dr Lyon.

Backyard birds

Birdlife Australia says bird communities in urban and regional centres have undergone quite the change in the past 40 years with the loss of smaller birds.

That change has corresponded with an increase in large, more aggressive native and introduced species — including the Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong and Common Myna.

Despite the change, Melburnians may still be surprised by the amount of common backyard birds you’ll see.

  • New Holland honeyeaters — Beautiful black, white and yellow honeyeater that is quite inquisitive and will readily approach humans, attracted to gardens and parks where grevilleas and banksias are found.
  • Superb Fairy-wrens — They are common in urban parks and gardens where they twitter and bounce about looking for insects. Often seen in small social groups consisting of one brightly coloured blue and black male and several females and young birds.
  • Silvereyes — Lovely, small, olive-green and grey birds that occur in almost any wooded habitat, especially urban parks and gardens, as well as orchards. They prefer gardens with little lawn coverage and lots of shrubs.
  • Eastern Spinebills — Gorgeous little honeyeaters with a long and slender, down-curved beak. They prefer gardens that are well vegetated with shrubs (and very little lawn), where they can feed and retreat to for safety.


There are plenty of native fish species living in our local waterways.

From whitebait and minnows to the endangered Yarra Pigmy Perch there are many galaxid species living in our streams.

There are also numerous introduced species, including the cryptic Blackfish, living in our rivers — including the Yarra River from Warrandyte right up to the Dandenong Ranges.

And don’t forget the many crayfish species living in the Yarra and its tributaries — some may be fooled by their yabby-like appearance, but the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning says they are in face freshwater crays.


The threatened species Powerful Owls live in a wide range of forest habitats, including along the urban fringe and are known to live in various parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria and local councils such as Wilson Reserve, Warrandyte State Park and Shepherds Bush in Glen Waverley.

They have also been seen in the Royal Botanical Gardens as well.

The Powerful Owl is listed as threatened in Victoria under the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.


Autumn is a particularly good time to find frogs in Melbourne’s suburbs — especially for those that are usually hard to find.

Melbourne Water water-watch co-ordinator Richard Akers says Spadefoot Toads, Southern Toadlets and Bibrons Toads call most during the three months before winter making them easier to find.

The best time to find common frogs in Melbourne is during spring.

Last spring, there were numerous sightings of the Eastern Common Froglet, Eastern Banjo Frog, Spotted Marsh Frog and Southern Brown Tree Frog across the suburbs.

Source: Heraldsun

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