Katie Stewart’s illustrations of Australian animals are detailed and divine. Here she shares the most interesting facts she’s learned about the animals in her books

Australian animals are unique and interesting in so many ways. Sadly, many are endangered, yet people know little about them. Here are some interesting facts about the animals that appear in my picture book Where Do the Stars Go? I hope these lists give you lots to talk about when you read my book.

Brushtail possum
Brushtail possum

Brushtail possum

  1. The underside of a brushtail possum’s tail has no fur, to help them hold onto branches.
  2. A brushtail’s home is called a ‘den’.
  3. Dens are normally in hollow branches, but sometimes they are in the roof of a house.
  4. Baby possums are only 1.5 centimetres when they’re born. They live in their mother’s pouch until they’re four or five months old.
  5. Brushtails eat mainly eucalyptus leaves, but will also eat seeds, fruit, grass, eggs, insects and even the occasional small mammal, like mice.

Laughing Kookaburra

  1. Kookaburras are related to kingfishers.
  2. Laughing kookaburras are not native to Western Australia. They were introduced in 1896 because of their skill at snake catching.
  3. Laughing kookaburras were once known as ‘laughing jackass’.
  4. Baby kookaburras can’t laugh; they have two weeks of singing lessons from their parents.
  5. Kookaburras live for about fifteen years.


  1. A rakali is a native water rat.
  2. The back feet on a rakali are webbed to help it swim and its fur is waterproof.
  3. Rakalis are carnivorous and nocturnal. They can be seen looking for food along the edges of bodies of water (such as rivers and lakes) in the early mornings and late evenings.
  4. Rakalis don’t like being cold, so in winter they look for food on land rather than in the water.
  5. Rakalis can eat cane toads without being poisoned.


  1. Bungarras are also known as ‘sand goannas’. They’re a kind of monitor lizard and live in most parts of Australia.
  2. Bungarras look for food during the day.
  3. Bungarras are also sometimes known as ‘racehorse goannas’ because they can run very fast.
  4. Bungarras can grow to be 1.6 metres long.
  5. They have very sharp teeth and claws. 


  1. Numbats are only found in two small areas of Western Australia ­­– therefore they are considered an endangered species. There are less than 1,000 numbats left in the wild.
  2. They are awake during the day because that’s when their main food – termites – are active. They can eat up to 20,000 termites a day.
  3. Numbat tongues are very long and sticky for slurping up termites from their nest.
  4. A numbat’s striped fur helps them to blend in to the trees, bushes and grass around them.
  5. Numbats have the best eyesight of all marsupials. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads so they can see danger coming.


  1. An adult male galah has very dark brown eyes. A female has red or light red-brown eyes.
  2. Galahs live all over Australia.
  3. If kept as a pet, a galah can live to be 80 years old.
  4. Galahs will stay with their partner until one of them dies. They nest in hollow trees and both incubate the eggs.
  5. The word ‘galah’ comes from the Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay Aboriginal languages of northern New South Wales.

For more weird and wonderful animal facts try these website






Katie Stewart is the author of three picture books featuring Australian native animals. What Colour is the Sea?, Where do Stars Go? and Wombat Can’t Sing. Where do Stars go? has just been shortlisted for the 2021 WA Premier’s Award.

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