Discover the Rainforest : Rainforest Roamer 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 five 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.

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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.