The animals that the early settler; found in Australia looked very strange to them. They saw none of the animals that they had known in England. Instead they saw strange animals they had never seen or heard of before. There was a tall animal with short front legs and very long hind legs, and a thick, long tail. It was a kangaroo. It moves very fast over the ground by taking long jumps with the back legs. The mother kangaroo carries her baby in a big pocket on the front of her body. This kind of animal is called a marsupial. There are other marsupials in Australia. The wallaby is one. It is very much like a kangaroo, but smaller. The Australian opossum is another marsupial. Even more strange was the platypus, or duck-billed water mole.
This is a strange mixture of a bird, a fish, and a four-footed animal. Scientists ever since have agreed that it is most remarkable. It swims in the water like a fish, it has a bill like a duck's, the male has fighting spurs on his back feet, and the female nurses her young as a dog or cat does but she lays eggs that hatch like the eggs of a bird or a fish. This is an animal that has never been found anywhere except in Australia. The native Australian dog was strange to the British, too. It is called a dingo, and it is quite different from dogs in England. It is a wild dog, however, not a wolf nor a fox, as many of the earlysettlers thought at first. Another animal that had never been seen anywhere else was the koala bear, a fluffy little animal that looks like a living model of a toy teddy bear. It is very friendly. Although people in many parts of the world have said they would like to have koala bears for pets, it is difficult, because the only food the koala eats is eucalyptus leaves, and the eucalyptus tree grows mostly in Australia.
There are other strange animals in Australia, which can be found nowhere else. The spiny anteater is one. This is a long-nosed animal with spines all over its body. It lives on a diet of ants. Its scientific name is the echidna. As remarkable as the echidna is the wombat, a large animal that digs in the ground to find the roots on which it lives. The wombat sometimes reaches a weight of nearly a hundred pounds. The trees and plants of Australia were strange to the early settlers.