Emus, snakes, and cows: Here’s how native animals are being affected by the floods

The floods across NSW have been front-page news over the weekend and now its time to take a look at how the severe weather conditions are affecting Aussie wildlife.

Sydney is currently experiencing the secret third verse of itsy bitsy spider, whereby the sun has come out to dry up all the rain but that does not mean we are in the clear yet. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warns that although the skies have cleared, rivers are still rising due to flood waters.

The extent of devastation wrought on native wildlife will only be apparent once floodwaters recede.


Days of sustained rain are dangerous for ground-dwelling animals such as echidnas. “There are the clearly devastating problems for burrowing and ground-dwelling animals like wombats and echidnas that can quickly become trapped by floodwaters,” said Evan Quartermain, the Australian head of programs and disaster response for the Humane Society International. “And aquatic animals such as platypus and turtles face major run-off issues and can easily be swept far from their territories.” Poor little wombies.

Wildlife carers told The Guardian that they had received calls about “kangaroos stuck in drainpipes, animals hit by cars after leaving for higher ground, and turtles and seabirds swept far from their usual habitat.”

Speaking of animals in strange places, nothing is sadder or weirder than a land shark.

Ground-dwelling animals aren’t the only iconic Aussie creatures that are suffering due to the floods. In Windsor, one lucky pet emu named Gookie was saved by his owner, Paul Zammit, in a boat that became somewhat of a Noah’s arc for the big bird.

Zammit said during the evacuation of his home, his pair of emus “ran straight over the top of them [the fences] … they wanted to go across the water”. Apparently, emus can be strong swimmers, as he found Gookie quite far from his home on Tuesday. After a bit of a struggle, the bird was lifted into the dinghy and she was on her way to dry land. “You’d be surprised how strong they are, it took three grown men trying to hold [the emu] down,” Zammit said.


Over in flood-stricken Taree, dairy farmer Rod Lattimore tried desperately to save his cattle. “I was whistling to them,” he said. “And there’s one block downstream from me – it’s only like a kilometre – and as I was whistling to my cows in the dark to get them out of the water they are in, the younger ones on the heifer block up the road could hear me whistling and all of them swam to me, which was pretty amazing against the flow.” Lattimore lost some 20 heifers but managed to save all of his dairy cows.

And then there are the creepy-crawlies, who, as usual, are being as feisty and resilient as ever – love that for them. Firefighters near Port Macquarie told The Sydney Morning Herald in their (perfectly headlined) article ‘Snakes On A Floodplain’ that they were advised: “just to be careful of all the snakes” on a rescue mission. Seeking refuge from the flood, snakes had apparently started jumping into the life-rafts. Inspector Russell Turner said that one of the firefighters, dressed in a helmet and wetsuit, had stepped out of the boat and “pretty much stepped right onto a black snake”. Nightmare fuel.

Also, spiders.

Fingers crossed the rain dries up soon so that these guys can climb the hell up the spout again.