Native animals

The Gold Coast is home to almost 3000 species of native animals and countless invertebrates (animals without backbones), including native bees, butterflies, crustaceans, water bugs, worms and molluscs.

We have more fish, birds, frogs and mammals than Kakadu!

The Gold Coast's natural environment can support these species because of its diverse ecosystems and habitats.

Native animals that have been recorded include:


Approximately 84 native species including:

  • iconic Australian animals - koalas, echidnas, platypus
  • bounding macropods - kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons
  • tree dwelling possums and gliders including sugar and greater gliders, ringtail possums and
  • carnivorous marsupials including antechinus, phascogale, planigale, dunnarts and quolls
  • other marsupials including bandicoots, potoroos and bettongs
  • native mice and rats including the rare native water rat
  • flying foxes and bats
  • marine mammals including dugongs, baleen whales, orcas and dolphins.


Approximately 352 native species including:

  • noisy and colourful parrots and cockatoos
  • long beaked honeyeaters which feast on nectar
  • a wide diversity of forest birds, many of which are rarely seen. Some live high in the canopy of trees, others hide in shrubs. A few including quails, brush turkeys and the rare Albert's lyrebird live on the ground.
  • birds of prey which hunt over land and water
  • owls which spend their days in tree hollows and their nights hunting
  • frequently encountered backyard birds including magpies, butcher birds and a wide variety of pigeons
  • shorebirds which gather and feed on the edge of our tidal beaches, sandbanks, mudflats and rocky shores. Most are migratory, a few are permanent residents.
  • coastal birds including crested and little terns and seagulls
  • a diverse variety of waterbirds which live in and depend on our water environments including:
    - long legged waders that stride through wetlands and shallow water in search of food
    - shy and elusive fringe dwellers that live and hide among the plants at the water's edge
    - swimmers and divers including cormorants, grebes and pelicans that venture out into open water in search of food
    - web-footed waterfowl including Australia's unique black swan
    - brightly coloured kingfishers and the not so brightly coloured kookaburra
    - soaring sea birds which spend their time feeding in ocean waters off our coast.


Approximately 74 species including:

  • a wide range of lizards including skinks, geckoes, legless lizard, dragons and lace monitors
  • land snakes including pythons, blind snakes and venomous land snakes
  • sea snakes in and around our reefs
  • marine turtles which swim in our coastal waters and a few that occasionally nest on island beaches
  • freshwater turtles in our creeks and streams.


38 species of local native frogs have been recorded:

  • 18 species of tree frogs
  • 20 species of ground frogs which are unique to Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Fish, sharks & rays

  • 37 species of freshwater fish including blue eyes, grunters, catfish, rainbow fish, freshwater bass, freshwater eels and gudgeons
  • most fish recorded on the Gold Coast are reef and marine fish with more than 200 species recorded, including species of surgeonfish, tangs, unicornfish, cardinal fish, trevallies, jacks, king and queenfish, butterfly fish, moray eels and angel fish
  • sharks and rays that have been recorded include eagle rays, blind sharks, wobbegongs and common stingrays.

Invertebrates (animals without backbones)

Many are small and we may not give them much thought, but invertebrates are an abundant and important part of our wildlife. They are often eaten by other animals and are therefore an essential part of ecosystem food chains.

Native bees and butterflies are also important pollinators.

  • native bees – it is estimated that there more than 200 species of native bees
  • butterflies – as many as 170 species
  • dragonflies and damselflies – more than 130 species
  • crustaceans – numerous species of crabs, crayfish, lobsters
  • water bugs – countless small animals without backbones live all or part of their lives in water including dragonfly larvae, mosquito larvae, water fleas, beetles and snails.

Of the animals recorded on the Gold Coast, more than 72 are listed as threatened species which means they are at risk of becoming extinct.

We have identified 30 of our local native animals as priority species for conservation. There are also more than 150 species that have been identified as city-wide significant species.

All native wildlife is protected under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 and cannot harmed. This includes species such as flying foxes, ibis, magpies, noisy minor, pigeons, possums and snakes which may have nuisance behaviours.

Pest and invasive animals also occur including introduced rodents, foxes, feral deer, feral cats, wild dogs and feral pigs. Animal pests are also found in our creeks and rivers including tilapia fish, mosquito fish and red eared slider turtles.

World Wildlife Day

Celebrated internationally on 3 March every year, World Wildlife Day celebrates and raises awareness of the world's wild animals and plants. The day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.

Kids learn about native animals with us

Encourage children to learn more about our native animals with our NaturallyGC Junior Defenders education program.