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  Native and introduced animals

Native animals such as kangaroos, possums, wombats, koalas, bats, platypus, echidnas, dingoes, and native species of rodents, seals, whales, dolphins, birds, reptiles, frogs and fish have been in Australia for thousands of years. The laws concerned with owning native and introduced animals are usually quite different and also vary according to the state in which you live.

Most native animals are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Animals that can be kept as pets include native birds such as some parrots, cockatoos, finches, quail, doves, pigeons and ducks however these must never be caught from the wild (as this is illegal). Less common native animal pets are reptiles, some tortoises, lizards, crocodiles and snakes, some frogs, and some types of fish. Special permits are necessary to keep most Australian wildlife (e.g. kangaroos, possums, wombats, koalas, kookaburras, magpies, hawks, many reptiles, frogs and fish). Usually only zoos and fauna parks are given permits to hold these animals.

In some cases people make a deliberate decision to keep native animals as pets, while quite often people do so by accident when they find injured or orphaned animals that need care. Other people are interested in attracting native animals to their garden. It must be understood that there is no diminished responsibility in keeping native animals as they require equally high standards of food, hygiene, shelter and conditions, as compared to a domestic pet. In some cases, native animals require considerably more careful attention and more elaborate facilities.

The RSPCA is actively opposed to the sale and keeping of native animals (other than captive bred birds) as pets. Due to widespread ignorance of the husbandry requirements of these animals, they often suffer from neglect. The RSPCA believes that native birds bred in captivity should always be kept in an aviary with the one exception being the budgerigar, provided that it is housed in a cage of approved size (a minimum of 30cm x 30cm x 38cm for one bird). Cockatoos must not be confined by a chain to the leg.
Native birds
  Garden attraction
  Injured wildlife

Orphaned wildlife


Many native birds, reptiles, and other wildlife require permits issued by the Department of Sustainability and Environment. The Department of Primary Industries also determines the conditions and cage sizes required for keeping birds and reptiles according to the applicable Department of Primary Industries Code of Practice.

For additional advice contact the Avicultural Society of Australia.



Selecting your bird

It is very important that only compatible birds are kept together, otherwise serious injuries can occur from fighting. Aviaries should not be overstocked.

Health problems

If you find a baby bird please leave it alone!

  • Fledglings (young birds that have grown most of their feathers) may leave the nest before they can fly. Don't try to return a fledgling to its nest as you may disturb other young birds.
  • If you find the bird on a road, or somewhere very exposed or dangerous and it is uninjured, put it somewhere near by where there is some cover and where the parents will find it and will continue feeding it.
  • If you are worried about the young bird, leave it for two hours. When you return you will almost certainly find the natural parents have taken care of the youngster.
  • If you find an unfeathered bird has fallen out of the nest (probably by accident), you could try to find the nest and put it back very carefully.
  • If there is no alternative and you feel that as a last resort that the bird should be cared for, contact the RSPCA. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to give the bird the attention it would receive from its parents and it may be difficult for it to learn to fend for itself in the wild.



Furred possums and kangaroos

Unfurred or finely furred possums and kangaroos

Kookaburras and magpies


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