Discover the Rainforest : Daintree Romancer Find out More

Before embarking on your adventure, it’s important to know what animals live in the Daintree Rainforest. This unique and ancient ecosystem is home to a variety of animals you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.


It’s also filled with exotic plants that date back to the age of dinosaurs, making it one of the most biologically diverse rainforests on Earth.


A living library of the evolution of Australia’s flora and fauna, here are ten rare Daintree Rainforest animals and plants to keep an eye out for during your next visit.

What animals live in the Daintree Rainforest?

1. Southern Cassowary


You can recognise a southern cassowary instantly by its beautiful blue face and neck and distinct horn-like casque. Southern cassowaries can be spotted throughout the Daintree region, often wandering along Mission Beach or roaming the Daintree Rainforest lowlands.


These rare and precious residents of the region are best admired from afar, particularly because they have a sharp, spear-like claw on each foot and can become aggressive when they feel threatened. They can also grow up to 1.8 metres tall and weigh as much as 35 kilograms. These impressive, flightless birds can be traced back to the time of Gondwana and are also renowned for their gardening, spreading fruit seeds throughout the forest keeping the unique diversity of rare, prehistoric plants in bloom due to its very effective seed distribution.

2. Bull Kauri Tree


Endemic to the Atherton Tableland region and the largest tropical trees in the world, bull kauri trees (agathis microstachya) grow up to 45 metres tall and have flaky bark and high branches. Within the Daintree Rainforest, 1,100-year-old bull kauri trees push up through the rainforest canopy and their thick trunks create iconic holiday photographs.


One of the best ways to learn more about the unique plants within the Daintree Rainforest is with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. You can book this immersive zip-lining experience here at Daintree Ecolodge.

3. Musky Rat-Kangaroo


You can best spot the cute little musky rat-kangaroo in the late morning and early afternoon, when they forage for food on the rainforest floor. They’re one of our favourite rare animals in the Daintree Rainforest, particularly because little has changed about them over the last millions of years.


Unlike a traditional kangaroo, the musky rat-kangaroo has a bound rather than a hop, travelling on all fours much like a rabbit. It also has possum-like features, which includes a hallux on its hind feet (large toe) which it uses to climb trees. Its tail curls much like a possum’s, which it uses to carry nesting material on its journey through the tropical rainforests as it too plays a vital role in dispersing the seeds of rainforest plants.


Guided rainforest walks at Daintree Ecolodge give you a great opportunity to spot the smallest kangaroo on the planet with an experienced guide. They love to eat rainforest fruit and fungi, but also won’t say no to a selection of small vertebrates.

4. Boyd’s Forest Dragon


When it comes to rainforest dwelling animals, the Boyd’s forest dragon is one of the hardest, but coolest to spot. That’s because this sizable endemic lizard is an expert at camouflage to escape predators often staying very still, only moving when it is sure it has been spotted.


Fortunately, Boyd’s forest dragons prefer to spend most of their time on tree trunks around head height, they also have favourite trees to which they will regularly return to. Unlike other lizard species that bask in the sun, they warm themselves via thermoconforming; where their body temperature simply conforms to that of the air around it. Exploring the rainforest during the day, between sunrise and dusk, offers the best opportunity for seeing one.

5. Idiot Fruit Tree


Despite its name, the idiot fruit tree (idiospermum australiense) is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected plants. Found only in the World Heritage-listed rainforests of North Queensland, with its biggest remaining population in the Daintree Rainforest, the idiot fruit tree is renowned for its human fist-sized seeds, along with the cream or rose-coloured flowers found high up in its canopy.


The oldest-known fossils of the tree date back as far as 120 million years. This history has earned it the nickname, the Green Dinosaur. When you find this amazing plant in the Daintree Rainforest (easily spotted due to the scattering of seeds at its base), take a moment to appreciate its connection with dinosaurs and a world we’ll never know.

6. Bennett’s and Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos

When it comes to Daintree Rainforest animals, there is certainly some truly unique wildlife to try and spot. Two native creatures you’ll want to keep your eyes open for are the Bennett’s and Lumholtz tree kangaroos.

Tree kangaroos somewhat resemble a traditional kangaroo, in the sense that they have long, thick tails and powerful hind legs. One of the main differences is the long, sharp claws they possess for climbing trees.

Always keep your camera handy when roaming through the Daintree in case you spot one of these cute Aussie animals. The Bennett’s tree kangaroo is the larger of the two and is found in the north of the Daintree Rainforest, while the smaller Lumholtz tree kangaroo dwells in the rainforest’s south.

7. Buff Breasted Paradise Kingfisher

Native to both Australia and neighbouring New Guinea, the buff breasted paradise kingfisher makes a home in the Daintree Rainforest where it breeds. It’s a small bird with a large red bill and colourful plumage. The buff breasted paradise kingfisher often boasts a bright yellow chest and other brightly coloured plumage, but the colours can vary.

While this bird is sometimes hard to spot up in the trees, they come down to the ground to feed, giving visitors a more close-up view of this beautiful Daintree resident.

8. Daintree River Ringtail Possum

As the name of this cute little Australian possum suggests, the Daintree River ringtail possum is most often seen along the banks of the Daintree River, that cuts a path through the Daintree Rainforest. However, this possum does like to spend most of its time in the treetops, so if you’re hoping to spot one from a river cruise, that will prove to be more difficult than if you’re exploring the terrain on land.

Most ringtail possums are small and weigh less than one kilogram. They are light brown in colour, possess a dark stripe of the back of the head and have a distinctive curved tail which they use to carry small twigs and branches for building nests.

Arm yourself with a pair of binoculars, so you have the best chance of spotting a Daintree River ringtail possum.

9. Blue Quandongs

The Blue Quandong is a bright blue fruit that grows within the realms of the Daintree Rainforest. Aboriginals use it in cooking by crushing the fruit and mixing it with water to form a paste. The fruit blooms during the spring and summer, while the plant itself flowers during autumn and the winter months.

In the Daintree Rainforest, you’re most likely to spot this plant in sunny locations, as it thrives in direct sunlight or areas of only partial shade. Sometimes, the hard blue shells of the berries are used for making ornaments and necklaces, due to their rigidity and fantastic, vibrant colour. It is one of the fastest growing species of plant in the rainforest.

10. Wait-a-While Vine

As you roam and explore the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest, one plant species that you’ll want to keep a keen eye out for is the Wait-A-While Vine. Do you know how it got its unusual name?

It’s due to the prickly spines that protrude from the stem of the vine. This vine tends to dangle down from the canopy and can easily snare your clothing as you brush past it. Therefore, you’ll have to wait a while as you disentangle your clothing from the grip of the vine.

While it’s an interesting vine to observe or photograph, you’ll need to keep your distance from it to protect yourself.

daintree rainforest romantic honeymoon luxury accommodation

Book Your Perfect Sustainable Retreat At Daintree Ecolodge

Discover more about Australia’s diverse flora and fauna with a holiday at the Daintree Ecolodge. Through walking tours, indigneous cultural experiences and self-guided excursions, you can see what animals live in the Daintree Rainforest and get up close to these ancient plants that date back to the age of dinosaurs.