Australia may be thousands of miles from Baltimore, but we’re lucky to have a little slice of the Outback in Australia: Wild Extremes! Home to more than 70 species—including birds, crocodiles, turtles, snakes and lizards—the exhibit is modeled off a northern Australia river gorge.
Perhaps the brightest bird on exhibit, the Swainson’s lorikeet is vibrantly colored with a combination of blue, red, green and yellow feathers. You’d think a bird rocking those hues would be easy to spot, but in their native habitat—coastal forests and urban clearings along Australia’s coastal strip and north of Sydney—these colors provide the perfect camouflage.
Lorikeets feed on nectar from plants and even become intoxicated after consuming too much fermented fruit nectar. They screech in a very loud tone when they are feeding and flying, and they roost at night in flocks of thousands. During the day, these social birds break up into smaller flocks of about 20 birds.
The Mary River in Queensland, Australia, is the only place on the continent where you can find another Australian species: the Mary River turtle. The Aquarium is one of the only places in the world to care for and to have successful reproduced these turtles outside of Australia.
Mary River turtles are identified by the two projections on their chin, known as tubercles, which allow the turtles to detect nearby prey movement in the sand. These turtles also have extremely large, long tails. The interior of this turtle’s tail is lined with gill-like structures that extract oxygen directly from the water, earning this reptile its nickname, “butt breather.”
And, of course—we’re not leaving lizards out of this Australia Day celebration! The frilled lizard is known for its unique defense mechanism: opening its mouth wide and displaying the “frill” that encircles its head. The lizard’s appearance and hissing warns predators to stay away!
Frilled lizards are typically found in humid woodland areas of northern Australia and parts of southern New Guinea. Their skin coloration and pattern are perfect camouflage in tree habitats where they spend most of their time, only venturing to forest floors in search of food.
Learn more about Australia: Wild Extremes and the animals that call it home!