Animals In The Daintree: The Weird & The Wonderful

boyds forest dragon daintree rainforest

Animals in the Daintree are enough to impress even the most avid nature spotter!

This unique rainforest ecosystem is home to 430 bird species, 12,000 insect species and 30% of Australia’s reptile, frog and marsupial species. As a matter of fact, the Daintree Rainforest has the largest concentration of rare and threatened animal species in the whole world!

Estimated to be around 180 million years old, the Daintree is home to some equally prehistoric creatures to match.

From peppermint-spraying bugs to giant reptiles, here’s the weird and wonderful animals in the Daintree Rainforest…


Southern Cassowary

southern cassowary on jungle tours daintree rainforest tour
A Cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest captured by Anna-Rita Evans on Jungle Tour’s Go Wild Full Day Tour

It doesn’t get more iconic for the Daintree than the Southern Cassowary! Often referred to as a living dinosaur, this rare big bird plays an integral part in the survival of the rainforest. Cassowaries eat and spread over 238 species of plants, including ones that are toxic to other species.

It is estimated that there are only 4,000 Cassowaries left in Australia. The Daintree Rainforest is one of the most likely places that you will spot one in the wild. We are lucky to often spot them on our Jungle Tours Day Tours.


Estaurine Crocodile

estaurine crocodile daintree river cruise with jungle tours
An Estaurine Crocodile basking in the sun, spotted on Jungle Tours!

Another “living dinosaur” that lives in the Daintree is the mighty Estaurine Crocodile. Growing up to a whopping 5 metres in size, this apex predators are fascinating and terrifying at the same time!

Around 70 adult crocodiles inhabit the Daintree River and the best way to spot them is on a Daintree River Cruise! Best of all, the unique mangrove environment is home to a range of other interesting species, including snakes, birds of prey and the vibrant Azure Kingfisher.

We spotted the big boy above on a cruise during our Go Wild Day Tour.


Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo

bennetts tree kangaroo daintree rainforest
Photo source:

This adorable tree-dwelling marsupial is only found in the Daintree Rainforest between the Daintree River and Cooktown. It’s larger than the Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, which adult males reaching 14kg.

Although it is known to be quite timid and shy, the Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo has been spotted on Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours.


Daintree River Ringtail Possum

daintree river ringtail possum
Photo: Getty Images

The Daintree River Ringtail possum is yet another of the animals in the Daintree that can’t be found elsewhere. Interestingly, these little guys only dwell in three specific mountains in the Daintree: Thornton Peak, Mount Windsor Tableland and Mount Carbine Tablelands. Their preferred habitat is cooler, mistier rainforest with high rainfall levels.


Peppermint Stick Insect

peppermint stick insect on jungle tours guided boardwalk tour

This strange-scented insect is one of our favourites! When threatened, it sprays an irritating, peppermint-scented fluid at predators. If that wasn’t extraordinary enough, it also prefers to live on spikey-leaved palms called Pandanus.

We spotted the Peppermint Stick Insect above during the guided Daintree Rainforest boardwalk tour on our Go Wild Day Tour.


Rufous Owl

rufous owl daintree rainforest

The Rufous Owl has the sort of frazzled, shocked expression that most of us associate with Monday mornings! This rare bird is Australia’s only exclusively tropical owl and roosts in thick rainforest vegetation.

It only breeds during the dry season, in which it lays eggs up to 30 metres above ground level in tree trunks.


Azure Kingfisher

azure kingfisher daintree rainforest
Source: Wikipedia

This bright blue bird can often be spotted near the Daintree River. If you’re lucky, you may spot one diving deep into the water from a low-lying branch to catch its prey!

Amazingly, seven of Australia’s Kingfishers can be found in the Daintree Rainforest.


Boyds Forest Dragon

boyds forest dragon daintree rainforest

With protruding spikes and large scales, this little guy pretty much looks like a mini dragon! They can be seen clinging to trees at around head height, but they stay very still and can be surprisingly hard to spot!

This clever reptile changes its temperature with the winds, which stops pythons and other predators from sensing its heat.

Ready to see animals in the Daintree? Join us for our Go Wild Day Tour and enjoy an action-packed tour with nature, rainforest and more! Spot crocodiles and other wildlife on a Daintree River Cruise and wander the Daintree Boardwalk looking for local fauna . There’s even guaranteed Cassowary spotting at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas.

To all our wonderful passengers, visitors, supporters, and followers past and future, we are required to follow government regulations and stop operation until further notice due to COVID-19. The animals at the CaPTA Group's parks will continue to be cared for during this time by our wonderful wildlife staff. It is sad to have to write this after over 39 years of operation, however we will get through this together and look forward to reopening and welcoming you all back in when possible. We will keep you posted, please be patient as we work through this.

Got it!
X myStickymenu