Colac and district: mammals

The area around Colac originnally supported a rich and diverse population of mammals, much of which has suffered detrimental change since white settlement, with a number of once commonly found species now long extinct. The aboriginal population lived for thousands of years in a balanced, even at times symbiotic, relationship with the animal population. To the white man, the animals were just a nuisance.

Eastern grey kangaroo

Macropus giganteus
Once found in 'plague' proportions, now restricted to small numbers in groups of 6 to 12 living in protected areas in the southeastern mainland and rarely in Tasmania.

Photograph by Peter Firus of Flagstaffotos.


Common brushtail possum

Trichosurus vulpecula
Widespread across southeastern Australia, nocturnal and living in tree hollows or any other hole they can find, as well as roofs of houses or sheds.


Common ringtail possum

Pseudocheirus peregrinus
Widespread acrosee southeastern Australia, with similar habits to the brushtail possum although less inclined to occupy buildings.



Antechinus stuartii, flavipes and swainsonii
Very common small marsupials which are often killed as a result of being confused with mice. Despite this they are very common, with the brown antechinus (A. stuartii) perhaps the most common mammal in southeastern Australia.


Extinct species

Common wombat
Vombatus ursinus

The common wombat was once very common but was regarded as vermin by white man and vigorously hunted out of existence, although it is still common in eastern Victoria. The wombat was used as food by both the aboriginals and the early white settlers. It has never been reported in the Otway Ranges.

Eastern quoll or little native cat
Dasyurus viverrinus

Originally very common but now only found in Tasmania. They were originally persecuted because of their elleged predation of poultry, although disease proved to be the last straw for the mainland population.

Dingo or wild dog
Canis familiaris dingo

Very much a dog, and used as such by the original inhabitants who are believed to have introduced the species around 12,000 years ago, which makes it an introduced mammal. The dingo was once found across the mainland of Australia but is now restricted to the north and centre of the continent. When white settlers arrived in the district, the dingo was often seen domesticated in the company of indigenous inhabitants, much as dogs are the world over.