Mungo National Page

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Understanding Mungo



Any trip to Mungo would be incomplete without seeing a mob of Emus prancing through the bluebush, cockatoos screeching at sunset or a Red Kangaroo scratching himself in the morning light. Back when the lakes were full the place was brimming with wildlife that nourished the Aboriginal inhabitants - ducks, swans, waders, pigeons, fish, yabbies, lizards, bettongs, bandicoots, wallabies, mice, rats and more. The fish and waterbirds are long gone, and many of the small mammals disappeared more recently, but the native fauna remains a fascinating part of Mungo's outback mystique.

A great variety of native vertebrate animals has been recorded here - 110 species of birds, 22 mammal species and 62 reptile species. Eighteen of these are classified as endangered.


The first ground-dwelling animals you'll see in Mungo National Park will probably be our largest marsupials - kangaroos. These herbivores spend their days grazing quietly in the grasslands or resting in a scratched-out pad in the woodland shade. The best time to observe kangaroos is from about 4 pm through to 9 am. You'll need to be very quiet because they are shy and easily scared.

At Mungo there are three species of large kangaroo:

Red Kangaroo. Photograph © Ray Dayman Western Grey Kangaroo. Photograph © Ray Dayman

Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus).
The males are the easiest to identify by their earthy red coats and pale belly, legs and tail. Some males can be the colour of bluebush, while the females are generally blue-grey and smaller.
Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus).
This 'roo is sooty grey tinged with a rust colour, and is adapted to scrub and woodland communities. Western greys are commonly known as 'scrubbers', possibly due to their appearance, or their habitat.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus).
This is very similar in appearance to a western grey, but doesn't have the western grey's tell-tale black fur on its extremities.

Of the three species, the Red Kangaroo is better adapted to drought conditions because it doesn't stick to a home range but roams to follow good conditions.

Following ancient tradition, the Paakantji and Ngiyampaa people do not eat grey kangaroos.

Western Pygmy Possum. Photograph © Ray Dayman

You might be lucky enough to see a Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) while you're in Mungo. These monotremes are highly specialised feeders, devouring ants, termites, grub larvae, worms, mites, insect pupae and small spiders. They seek out food by ripping open logs and stumps or digging into ant mounds and nests, guided by smell and minute electrical signals detected in the snout.

Ningaui. Photograph © Ray Dayman

In summer you'll probably see echidnas more at dawn and dusk, but in the cooler months they can be found throughout the day, taking advantage of the temperate conditions. Look closely at an echidna and you'll see a layer of fur between the spines, the colour of which varies with the environments they live in.

The echidna usually seeks shelter in rabbit or wombat burrows, hollow logs or thick bushes, while females build their own burrows when incubating or suckling their young. Although echidnas are known to hibernate in the cold regions of the east and south, it's unlikely that they do this as far west as Mungo National Park.

Fat-tailed Dunnart. Photograph © Ray Dayman Common Dunnart. Photograph © Ray Dayman

A number of small and medium-sized mammals have become extinct in the Willandra area since white settlement (see Recent Changes), but others still survive. These include two mouse-sized, carnivorous marsupials: the Fat-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata), which stores fat in its tail for lean times and whose nocturnal tracks can often be seen on the dunes and the Common Dunnart (S. murina). The Southern Ningaui (Ningaui yvonneae) is a tiny but energetic predator that weighs only about 10 grams. It lives in the mallee country and eats insects, spiders and small lizards. This ningaui is endangered by loss of habitat, predation by foxes and cats, grazing and frequent fires.

In the evenings, you might see small insect-eating bats (microbats) flitting around the sky. Bats are the most diverse group of mammals in Willandra, with nine species including the endangered Little Pied Bat (Chalinolobus picatus). These microbats roost in hollow trees, and sometimes in old farm buildings.


Emus are often seen on the lakebed. Photograph © Ian Brown Wedge-tailed Eagles feed mainly on introduced rabbits. Photograph © Ian Brown The endangered Pink Cockatoo is relatively common in Mungo National Park. A Common Bronzewing on her nest. Flocks of mischievous Apostlebirds like to scrounge in camping areas, but should not be fed. Photograph © Rosie Nicolai.

Mungo supports a wide variety of bird life, mainly due to the varied landforms and habitat of the region. About 150 species can be seen here, but some are more conspicuous than others.

While bushwalking through the mallee community for example, there's a good chance you'll spot some Mallee Ringnecks (Barnardius zonarius). These parrots hang out in flocks or pairs, and can be identified by their green plumage and creamy-yellow neck band. They're about 30 cm long and, like most parrots, are brightly coloured and wonderful to watch. They usually nest in tree hollows and feed on grass seeds, herbs, berries, fruit, buds and blossoms, as well as the seeds of red gum and Yorrell.

A very sociable animal, especially around campgrounds, is the grey Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), so named because they hang around in family groups, sometimes of about a dozen birds. They are also referred to locally as 'bludger birds', because they're always on the lookout for food scraps. But please don't feed them because anything but their natural food of seeds and insects is not good for their health.

Apart from the largest Australian bird of all, the flightless Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), other bird species you might see in various parts of the park include:

Eolophus roseicapillus
Pink Cockatoo
Lophochroa leadbeateri
Red-rumped Parrot
Psephotus haematonotus
Blue Bonnets
Northiella haematogaster
Melopsittacus undulatus
Zebra Finches
Taeniopygia guttata
Common Bronzewing
Phaps chalcoptera
Crested Pigeon
Ocyphaps lophotes
Singing Honeyeater
Lichenostomus virescens
Australasian Pipit
Anthus novaeseelandiae
Variegated Fairy-wren
Malurus lamberti

Galahs, like many parrots and other birds, nest in tree hollows. You might be lucky enough to spot a rare Australian Bustard. Screeching flocks of Galahs are a common sight in Mungo.

Many of these birds can be seen drinking at one time or another from the ground tanks located around the park. Generally each species has a specific drinking time, and once you've worked these out, you can be ready to watch each species at its favourite time. At times there may only be a handful of birds drinking, while at others the watering spot will be bustling with excitement and intense chatter as the birds come in for a drink during a dry spell. These are perfect opportunities for observing the interactions and specific characters of some of these outback birds.

If you're visiting the lakebed, which is covered with various species of saltbush and bluebush, keep an eye out for the Orange Chat (Epthianura aurifrons). This little bird will most likely be running across the ground. The male will be an orange-red colour and the female more of an orange-yellow.

Much more brilliant however, is the Crimson Chat (Epthianura tricolor), which can be found within the bushes along the edges of mallee habitat. Again you'll notice that the males have more dominant colours. The female has mottled tinges of red on her forehead, and the same on her cream belly, while the male displays a vivid red bonnet and apron.

Chats are highly colourful little creatures and are among the few small birds that walk, but do not hop. They have a brush-like tip on their tongue, assumed to be an adaptation for extracting nectar from the flowering plants of the region. Their nests, cup-shaped and made of fine twigs and grasses, can be found on low bushes in spinifex clumps, or on the ground.

Keep an eye out for the Pink Cockatoos, which can at times be seen in their hundreds, particularly when coming in to roost for the night.

If you are stopped in wonder by the sounds of a rich and melodious call, it's most likely the flute-like song of one of the species of butcher birds.

Another wonder to keep an eye out for is the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides), sometimes referred to as a sparrow hawk. This tan-coloured bird with darker, pointed wing-tips is amazing to watch as it hovers in place watching for signs of movement on the ground, perhaps a mouse, an invertebrate, or something from the reptile kingdom.

Once sighted, the little kestrel tucks in its wings and dives straight for its target. With prey clutched tightly in its talons, it alights on a stump, branch, or fence post to savour the rewards of its efforts.

Threatened bird species recorded for the Mungo area include:

Australian Bustard
Ardeotis australis
Chestnut Quail Thrush
Cinclosoma castanotum
Gilbert's Whistler
Pachycephala inornata
Pink Cockatoo
Lophochroa leadbeateri
Leipoa ocellata


Nobbi Unbanded Delma

A walk through any habitat in the park will undoubtedly result in the sighting of one of the many lizards and snakes to be found at Mungo. Forty species of reptiles have been recorded here, including ten species of gecko and sixteen species of skinks.

Three-lined Knob-tail

The largest reptile in the park is the harmless Carpet Python (Morelia spilota), which can grow up to four metres long, but is more likely to be two metres. These animals are models of patience, as they will hang from a branch over a known animal track for up to a week. The snake will wait for something to pass by, and if nothing does, it will simply pack up camp and try somewhere else.

Yellow-faced Whip Snake

The Carpet Python is a beautiful snake, with superb pale to dark brown colouring with black splotches and yellow patterned markings over the full length of the body. The under surface is cream or yellow blotched with dark grey.

King Brown Snake and Bearded Dragon

You probably won't come across a snake in or around the park's campsites, but they are not uncommon outside the camping area. Snakes are naturally shy animals and will avoid contact with humans wherever possible. It's best not to take chances though, and to be aware that they're around and that it's their home you are visiting. Wear sensible footwear, and if you do happen to come across a snake, just walk calmly away.

Three of the snake species in the park are listed as dangerous:

Western Brown Snake (1.5 m)
Pseudonaja nuchalis
Eastern Brown Snake (1.5 m)
Pseudonaja textilis
Mulga, or King Brown Snake (2 m)
Pseudechis australis


Several reptile species make their home in the saltbush, including the Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa), sometimes known as the stumpy-tail or sleepy lizard. You may find a Shingleback resting under a shrub or sunning itself in the open. Their diet consists of vegetable matter such as fruit and berries or ground blossoms, but they will also eat insects and snails.

Lined Earless Dragon

The Lined Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis lineata lineata) lives in many of the different habitats of Mungo. Don't let the name fool you, for this lizard grows to only 15 cm long. It's quite attractive in its brown, black and orange outfit, with thin white stripes running the length of its body. It lacks visible ear openings - hence the name.

Central Bearded Dragon

While you're driving around or hiking, keep an eye on fence posts, stumps, and shrubs, where you are likely to see a Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata). These lizards like sunning themselves in unusual, but very practical places. Being reptiles and cold blooded, they use the energy of the sun to regulate their body temperature. They grow up to 40-55 cm long.

Other species you might see include:

Gould's Goanna

Mallee Dragon
Amphibolurus fordi
Gould's Goanna
Varanus gouldii
Western Blue Tongue Lizard
Tiliqua occipitalis (threatened species)
Spinifex Slender Blue-tongue lizard
Cyclodomorphus melanops (threatened species)

The Western Blue Tongue is a large species of skink. Mallee Fowl incubate their eggs in large mounds scraped together from soil and litter. The eggs are and chicks are vulnerable to introduced predators such as the fox, feral cat and feral pig. Photo by M. Pennay, DECCW The Mallee Fowl is an endangered species that survives in parts of the Mungo region. Photo by R. Wheeler, DECCW The Little Pied Bat. Photo by M. Pennay, DECCW King Brown Snake. Photo by Ken Stepnell The Echidna will always dig in when confronted by people. Photo by Keith Gillett


Not much is known about the amphibians in the park. The Common Spade Foot Toad (Neobatrachus sudelli), Long Thumbed Frog (Limnodynastes fletcheri) and the Spotted Grass Frog (L. tasmaniensis) are reasonably common around ground tanks, particularly those that hold water for long periods. The threatened Painted Burrowing Frog (Neobatrachus pictus) may also potentially live here.


Many of the mammals and birds in Mungo rely on invertebrates such as beetles, bugs, spiders and insect larvae for food. Some invertebrates rely on the vegetation of the park for food and protection from the surrounding environment. They return the favour by helping to pollinate plants, forming an essential link for plant reproduction.

Fauna List

This is a full list of all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians recorded for Mungo National Park as at June 2010 (Source: NSW Wildlife Atlas). Species are listed in alphabetical order on scientific name (genus).

# species listed under Threatened Species Act
* introduced species

Scientific name
Common Name
Cercartetus concinnus#
Western Pygmy Possum
Chalinolobus gouldii
Gould's Wattled Bat
Chalinolobus picatus#
Little Pied Bat
Felis catus*
Macropus fuliginosus
Western Grey Kangaroo
Macropus giganteus
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Macropus rufus
Red Kangaroo
Mormopterus planiceps
Little Mastiff-bat
Mus musculus*
House Mouse
Ningaui yvonneae#
Southern Ningaui
Nyctophilus geoffroyi
Lesser Long-eared Bat
Nyctophilus timoriensis#
Greater Long-eared Bat (south-eastern form)
Oryctolagus cuniculus*
Planigale tenuirostris
Narrow-nosed Planigale
Rattus villosissimus#
Long-haired Rat
Scotorepens balstoni
Inland Broad-nosed Bat
Sminthopsis crassicaudata
Fat-tailed Dunnart
Sminthopsis murina
Common Dunnart
Tachyglossus aculeatus
Short-beaked Echidna
Tadarida australis
White-striped Freetail-bat
Vulpes vulpes*
Vespadelus baverstocki#
Inland Forest Bat
Scientific name
Common Name
Acanthiza apicalis
Inland Thornbill
Acanthiza chrysorrhoa
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Acanthiza nana
Yellow Thornbill
Acanthiza uropygialis
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill
Accipiter cirrocephalus
Collared Sparrowhawk
Accipiter fasciatus
Brown Goshawk
Aegotheles cristatus
Australian Owlet-nightjar
Amphibolurus nobbi
Amphibolurus nobbi coggeri
Aphelocephala leucopsis
Southern Whiteface
Aquila audax
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Brachyurophis australis
Coral Snake
Cryptoblepharus australis
Inland Snake-eyed Skink
Ctenophorus fordi
Mallee Military Dragon
Ctenophorus pictus
Painted Dragon
Ctenotus atlas
Southern Mallee Ctenotus
Ctenotus brachyonyx
Short-clawed Ctenotus
Ctenotus olympicus
Ctenotus regius
Pale-rumped Ctenotus
Ctenotus schomburgkii
Barred Wedgesnout Ctenotus
Ctenotus strauchii
Eastern Barred Wedgesnout Ctenotus
Cyclodomorphus melanops elongatus#
Mallee Slender Blue-tongue Lizard
Delma butleri
Unbanded Delma
Demansia psammophis
Yellow-faced Whip Snake
Diplodactylus elderi#
Jewelled Gecko
Diplodactylus tessellatus
Tessellated Gecko
Diplodactylus vittatus
Wood Gecko
Egernia striolata
Tree Skink
Elanus axillaris
Black-shouldered Kite
Eremiascincus fasciolatus
Narrow-banded Sand-swimmer
Eremiascincus richardsonii
Broad-banded Sand-swimmer
Gehyra variegata
Tree Dtella
Haliaeetus leucogaster
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Heteronotia binoei
Bynoe's Gecko
Hieraaetus morphnoides#
Little Eagle
Lerista muelleri
Wood Mulch-slider
Lerista punctatovittata
Eastern Robust Slider
Lialis burtonis
Burton's Snake-lizard
Liopholis inornata
Desert Skink
Lucasium damaeum
Beaded Gecko
Menetia greyii
Common Dwarf Skink
Milvus migrans
Black Kite
Morethia adelaidensis
Saltbush Morethia Skink
Morethia boulengeri
South-eastern Morethia Skink
Nephrurus levis
Three-lined Knob-tail
Parasuta nigriceps
Mitchell's Short-tailed Snake
Pogona vitticeps
Central Bearded Dragon
Pseudechis australis
King Brown Snake
Pseudonaja nuchalis
Western Brown Snake
Pygopus schraderi
Eastern Hooded Scaly-foot
Ramphotyphlops bicolor
Ramphotyphlops bituberculatus
Prong-snouted Blind Snake
Ramphotyphlops sp.
blind snake
Rhynchoedura ornata
Beaked Gecko
Smicrornis brevirostris
Strophurus intermedius
Southern Spiny-tailed Gecko
Suta suta
Curl Snake
Tiliqua rugosa
Tympanocryptis lineata
Lined Earless Dragon
Underwoodisaurus milii
Thick-tailed Gecko
Varanus gouldii
Gould's Goanna
Scientific name
Common Name
Acanthagenys rufogularis
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Anas gracilis
Grey Teal
Anas superciliosa
Pacific Black Duck
Anthochaera carunculata
Red Wattlebird
Anthus novaeseelandiae
Australian Pipit
Ardea pacifica
White-necked Heron
Ardeotis australis#
Australian Bustard
Artamus cinereus
Black-faced Woodswallow
Artamus leucorynchus
White-breasted Woodswallow
Artamus personatus
Masked Woodswallow
Artamus superciliosus
White-browed Woodswallow
Barnardius zonarius barnardi
Mallee Ringneck
Cacatua leadbeateri#
Pink Cockatoo
Cacatua sanguinea
Little Corella
Cacomantis pallidus
Pallid Cuckoo
Chalcites basalis
Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo
Charadrius australis
Inland Dotterel
Chenonetta jubata
Australian Wood Duck
Cheramoeca leucosterna
White-backed Swallow
Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Silver Gull
Cincloramphus cruralis
Brown Songlark
Cincloramphus cruralis
Brown Songlark
Cincloramphus mathewsi
Rufous Songlark
Cinclosoma castanotus#
Chestnut Quail-thrush
Climacteris affinis
White-browed Treecreeper
Climacteris picumnus#
Brown Treecreeper
Colluricincla harmonica
Grey Shrike-thrush
Columba livia*
Rock Dove
Coracina novaehollandiae
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Corcorax melanorhamphos
White-winged Chough
Corvus bennetti
Little Crow
Corvus coronoides
Australian Raven
Corvus mellori
Little Raven
Cracticus nigrogularis
Pied Butcherbird
Cracticus tibicen
Australian Magpie
Cracticus torquatus
Grey Butcherbird
Cygnus atratus
Black Swan
Daphoenositta chrysoptera#
Varied Sittella
Dicaeum hirundinaceum
Dromaius novaehollandiae
Elseyornis melanops
Black-fronted Dotterel
Eolophus roseicapillus
Epthianura albifrons#
White-fronted Chat
Epthianura aurifrons
Orange Chat
Epthianura tricolor
Crimson Chat
Eurostopodus argus
Spotted Nightjar
Falco berigora
Brown Falcon
Falco cenchroides
Nankeen Kestrel
Falco longipennis
Australian Hobby
Geopelia cuneata
Diamond Dove
Geopelia striata
Peaceful Dove
Grallina cyanoleuca
Hirundo neoxena
Welcome Swallow
Lalage sueurii
White-winged Triller
Leipoa ocellata#
Lichenostomus leucotis
White-eared Honeyeater
Lichenostomus ornatus
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
Lichenostomus penicillatus
White-plumed Honeyeater
Lichenostomus virescens
Singing Honeyeater
Malurus lamberti
Variegated Fairy-wren
Malurus leucopterus
White-winged Fairy-wren
Malurus splendens
Splendid Fairy-wren
Manorina flavigula
Yellow-throated Miner
Manorina melanocephala
Noisy Miner
Melanodryas cucullata#
Hooded Robin
Melithreptus brevirostris
Brown-headed Honeyeater
Melopsittacus undulatus
Merops ornatus
Rainbow Bee-eater
Microeca fascinans
Jacky Winter
Mirafra javanica
Horsfield's Bushlark
Myiagra inquieta
Restless Flycatcher
Neophema chrysostoma
Blue-winged Parrot
Ninox novaeseelandiae
Southern Boobook
Northiella haematogaster
Blue Bonnet
Nycticorax caledonicus
Nankeen Night Heron
Nymphicus hollandicus
Ocyphaps lophotes
Crested Pigeon
Oreoica gutturalis
Crested Bellbird
Pachycephala rufiventris
Rufous Whistler
Pardalotus striatus
Striated Pardalote
Passer domesticus*
House Sparrow
Petrochelidon ariel
Fairy Martin
Petrochelidon nigricans
Tree Martin
Petroica goodenovii
Red-capped Robin
Phaps chalcoptera
Common Bronzewing
Plectorhyncha lanceolata
Striped Honeyeater
Poliocephalus poliocephalus
Hoary-headed Grebe
Poliocephalus poliocephalus
Hoary-headed Grebe
Polytelis anthopeplus monarchoides#
Regent Parrot (eastern subspecies)
Pomatostomus ruficeps
Chestnut-crowned Babbler
Pomatostomus superciliosus
White-browed Babbler
Psephotus haematonotus
Red-rumped Parrot
Psephotus varius
Mulga Parrot
Purnella albifrons
White-fronted Honeyeater
Rhipidura albiscapa
Grey Fantail
Rhipidura leucophrys
Willie Wagtail
Stiltia isabella
Australian Pratincole
Strepera versicolor
Grey Currawong
Struthidea cinerea
Sturnus vulgaris*
Common Starling
Sugomel niger
Black Honeyeater
Tachybaptus novaehollandiae
Australasian Grebe
Taeniopygia guttata
Zebra Finch
Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Red-backed Kingfisher
Tribonyx ventralis
Black-tailed Native-hen
Turnix pyrrhothorax
Red-chested Button-quail
Turnix velox
Little Button-quail
Tyto javanica
Eastern Barn Owl
Vanellus miles
Masked Lapwing
Vanellus tricolor
Banded Lapwing

# species listed under Threatened Species Act
* introduced species

Todiramphus pyrrhopygius

Red-backed Kingfisher
Tribonyx ventralis
Black-tailed Native-hen
Turnix pyrrhothorax
Red-chested Button-quail
Turnix velox
Little Button-quail
Tyto javanica
Eastern Barn Owl
Vanellus miles
Masked Lapwing
Vanellus tricolor
Banded Lapwing

# species listed under Threatened Species Act
* introduced species Todiramphus pyrrhopygius

Red-backed Kingfisher
Tribonyx ventralis
Black-tailed Native-hen
Turnix pyrrhothorax
Red-chested Button-quail
Turnix velox
Little Button-quail
Tyto javanica
Eastern Barn Owl
Vanellus miles
Masked Lapwing
Vanellus tricolor
Banded Lapwing

# species listed under Threatened Species Act
* introduced species >

Zebra Finch
Todiramphus pyrrhopygius
Red-backed Kingfisher
Tribonyx ventralis
Black-tailed Native-hen
Turnix pyrrhothorax
Red-chested Button-quail
Turnix velox
Little Button-quail
Tyto javanica
Eastern Barn Owl
Vanellus miles
Masked Lapwing
Vanellus tricolor
Banded Lapwing

# species listed under Threatened Species Act
* introduced species