One of the aims of the "Friends of Herring Island" in planting native plants on the island has been to encourage native animals to return to the island. The following animals have been sighted on the island, (although not all are welcome visitors), or are animals that we hope will return with more plantings of indigenous plants.

Illustrations by students from Richmond Primary School

Swamp Wallaby by Jazzmin Jarman


Wallabia bicolor

A swamp wallaby appeared on the island in March 2004 staying for a week or so. It had been sighted coming down the Yarra river corridor, and presumably swam to the island. It is not known where it went after it left the island.

Swamp wallabies are Australia's only wallabia species, found on the eastern coast of Australia, introduced to New Zealand and offshore islands. Their habitat is dense undergrowth in forest woodland and heath throughout eastern Australia.

They are about 700 mm high when sitting on their haunches and their tails are also 700mm long. They weigh up to 17 kg. Fur is dark brown with lighter belly and chest.

Illustration by Jazzmin Jarman


Pteropus poliocephalus
Also called Grey Headed Flying Fox.

A large bat with a wingspan of 1.2 metres (4') It can be seen in large flocks, flying up the river on a warm evening, from the Botanical Gardens where it lives in a breeding colony which fluctuates in size from 3000 to 8000 bats. It spreads out into suburban gardens at night where it feeds on flowers and fruit.
The colony is the subject of contoversy. Managers of the Botanical Gardens would like to get rid of the bats because of the damage they cause to trees where they roost.
Naturalists are more concerned about protection of the bats, as their numbers are declining in other parts of Victoria.

Illustration by Nicky Clarke-Hodge

Grey-headed Fruit Bat by Nicky Clarke-Hodge


Chalinolobus gouldii

A small bat about the size of a mouse weighing between 13 and 20 grams. It lives in small 'roosts' during the day. It leaves the roost which is often in the hollows of a River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) at dusk to feed on small insects such as mosquitoes. It can eat half its body weight in insects each night.
Hollows do not develop in River red gums until they are over 100 years old, so the Friends have installed bat tubes as artificial roosts to encourage them to the island.
The Gould's wattled bat ranges from Queensland to eastern South Australia and is the most common microbat in Melbourne.

Picture shows bat tubes in a River Red gum with the Yarra in the background and a Gould's wattled bat inset.

GOULD'S WATTLED BAT  Chalinolobus gouldii

Brushtail Possum by Soph Louchart


Trichosurus vuipecula

A large possum, about the size of a cat. It lives in tree hollows or in house roofs. It eats leaves, flowers and fruit, sometimes eating eggs and small animals. One of the few native animals which thrives in the city.

Illustration by Soph Louchart.


Pseudocheirus peregrinus

Height 700 mm (25")long from head to tail. A smaller possum, it eats leaves, flowers and fruit. It builds a nest from shredded bark and grass in dense bush.

Illustration by Isabelle Carr

Ringtail Possum by Isabelle Carr

Garden Skink by Stephanie Tran


Lampropholis guichenoti

Length 100 mm (4")

Vividly patterned with a flecked back and black and white stripes. Females lay eggs in communal nests of up to 200 - 300 eggs, with each lizard laying 2 - 3 each.

Illustration by Stephanie Tran


Gallinula tenebrosa
Length 400 mm (15") Blue tongue lizards are found throughout Australia. Eats insects, soft fruit, snails etc. They flick out their tongue to frighten off enemies.

Illustration by Brittany Stewart

Blue Tongue Lizard  by Brittany Stewart

Brown Antechinus by Charlotte Crouch


Antechinus stewartii
Length 100 mm (4") (Head & body ) Tail 90 mm

Feeds on insects. Probably the most common mammal in South Eastern Australia. Males are extremely aggressive, especially during mating time, and die of exhaustion, shortly after mating, at less than 1 year old. Females can survive for up to two breeding seasons.

Illustration by Charlotte Crouch


Pseudonaja textilis
Size: up to 2 m.
The Eastern Brown Snake is one of Australia's most dangerous reptiles. It is fast-moving and aggressive. However, like most snakes, it is most likely to retreat.

The name 'Brown Snake' is a bit misleading. Colours are variable and range from tan through dark brown, russet-orange to almost black, with a cream or white belly. Juveniles have black bands. In some individuals, the bands cover the entire body while others have bands only to the head. Both variations may be born in the same clutch. The black bands fade with age but may still be evident in some adults.

The Eastern Brown Snake lays eggs and feeds on lizards, frogs, small mammals and birds.

Distribution: Common in Forests, woodlands, and heath in eastern and central Australia.

Bite: Venomous and dangerous

More about the brown snake

Illustration by Maddy Ellis

Brown Snake by Maddy Ellis

Text by Damian Curtain.

Artwork by students of Richmond Primary School, Year 6, 2003

Richmond Primary School


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