Did you know there are more than 1700 species in Australia known to be threatened and at risk of extinction? Chagi takes us through ten threatened species in Queensland that are less iconic, but still deserving of our attention.


Koala, emu, eucalyptus tree – these species are all Australian household names. They have great PR managers, that’s why you see koalas posted on ads everywhere and why people still talk about the Great Emu War. But what about those critters and plants that people don’t even know exist? Here are some of the species in Queensland we’re at risk of losing that you’ve probably never heard of. 


Central Greater Glider (Photo: Dash Huang www.facebook.com/dash.hwang.3/

Central Greater Glider | Dash Huang

1. Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas)

Ghost Bats are not as spooky as their name suggests. Their long ears, large eyes and distinctive nose-leaf make them intriguingly cute. They’re found in habitats ranging from arid zones in the Pilbara to tropical woodlands and rainforests. Ghost Bats are the largest microbat in Australia and the second largest in the world, weighing up to 150g and with a wingspan of 60cm. 

Fun fact

Ghost Bats are Australia’s only carnivorous bat, feasting on birds, reptiles, frogs, small mammals, and even other bats. They use their sharp teeth to strike their prey’s neck and head, killing them almost instantaneously. Ghost Bat has also won the prestigious award of Australian Cave Animal of the Year 2022!

How it’s threatened

The Ghost Bat is listed as Vulnerable under federal legislation and Endangered under Queensland legislation due to habitat loss and destruction of their habitat from mining. Bats can also become entangled in barbed wire fences which eventually kill them.  

Why it’s important

The Ghost Bat provides population control for rodents and other small mammals. They also produce guano (bat poop) which can be used as fertilizer. 


2. Golden-tailed Gecko (Strophurus taenicauda)

Golden-tailed geckoes are stunning creatures. Their orange jewel-like eyes are almost as hard to miss as their golden tails. Speckled with small black blotches on a silver body, these geckoes are able to camouflage well in Brigalow woodlands.

Fun fact

Don’t mess with a Golden-tailed gecko. When threatened, they squirt a putrid, sticky liquid from their tails to fend off predators.

How it’s threatened

The Golden-tailed gecko is listed as Near Threatened under Queensland legislation as its habitat in the Brigalow Belt is being destroyed.

Why it’s important

This gecko is a key link in food chains, acting both as predator and prey. It feeds on pests such as mosquitoes, and is also food for larger animals.


Golden-tailed Gecko (photo: Ryan Francis @ryanfrancisphotography)

Golden-tailed Gecko | Ryan Francis

3. Greater Glider – Northern (Petauroides minor), Central (P. armillatus) and Southern (P. volans)

Greater Gliders are tree-dwelling, nocturnal marsupials and are the largest gliding possums in Australia. They’re found from Mossman in North Queensland all the way down to Daylesford in Victoria. They basically look like fuzzy gremlins – they have large furry ears, a short snout, and a distinctively long fluffy tail.

Fun fact

A study in 2020 used genetic testing to find that the Greater Glider (then Petauroides volans) was not just one species across eastern Australia, but actually three. We gained two extra marsupials last year!

How it’s threatened

The Greater Glider is federally listed as Vulnerable due to the loss of its key habitat – old growth trees with lots of hollows. Under Queensland legislation, the Northern Greater Glider is Vulnerable while Central and Southern Greater Gliders have recently been listed as Endangered.

Why it’s important

The Greater Glider is living evidence that gliding in mammals has evolved independently at least six times.


Southern Greater Glider (Photo: Lachlan Hall @wild_lachie)

Southern Greater Glider | Lachlan Hall

4. Calyptochloa gracillima subspecies ipsviciensis

Calyptochloa is a type of native grass and that covers areas of the ground in mats. It has small, yellowish-green leaves and its stolons (horizontal stems growing above the ground) are about 40cm long.

Fun fact

Calyptochloa gracillima subsp. ipsviciensis is endemic to Ipswich in South East Queensland, meaning it’s only found there and nowhere else in the world.

How it’s threatened

Since there are only a couple of small areas in Ipswich where this plant is known to grow, it’s listed as Critically Endangered under Queensland’s legislation.

Why it’s important

Native grasses are often overlooked as people are usually attracted to colourful wildflowers. Grasses not only provide habitat for birds and insects, but also stabilise the soil and help increase water infiltration.

5. Cycas megacarpa

These prehistoric looking cycads grow to eight metres tall and have a dense, rounded crown of leaves. They occur between Bouldercombe and Woolooga in woodlands and forests in rocky areas dominated by Eucalyptus species.

Fun fact

Cycads in general are considered long lived, slow growing plants with a growth rate of about 1cm per year. Since they have the ability to develop new trunks, if the current one is damaged or removed (new trunks are known as ‘pups’), it’s not possible to accurately age them.

How it’s threatened

Cycas megacarpa is listed as Endangered under federal and state legislation. It’s destroyed through land clearance and is affected by drought.

Why it’s important

The cycad is dependent on various insects for pollination, and insects rely on cycads to complete their life cycles. If these symbiotic relationships are disturbed, it could lead to extinction of not only the cycads, but also their insect partners.


Cycas megacarpa | Gus Daly

6. Ornamental Snake (Denisonia maculata)

This small, venomous danger noodle is brown or grey-brown in colour with slightly iridescent body scales. It has a distinctive dark crown on its head and black and white barred lips. Ornamental snakes are found in the Bowen Basin where Acacia trees are found on melon-hole mounds.

Fun fact

When it’s dry, the snake will seek refuge in the cracks of clay soils. Rain brings in bucket-loads of frogs – its favourite meal – and it’ll leave the soil cracks to feed.

How it’s threatened

The Ornamental snake is listed as Vulnerable under federal and state legislation due to its habitat being cleared and degraded by cattle grazing.

Why it’s important

Similar to geckoes, snakes play the role of both predator and prey. In their predator role, they control frog populations by keeping their numbers down.

Read more: An Intro To Snake Spotting


Ornamental snake (photo: Andrew Jensen

Ornamental snake | Andrew Jensen

7. Pale Imperial Hairstreak (Jalmenus eubulus)

It may sound like a hairstyle from the Roman Empire, but the Pale Imperial Haistreak is actually a type of butterfly that lives in Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) woodland. It’s mainly white with hints of green on the males and pale blue on the females.

(Not so) fun fact

A recent study found that the Pale Imperial Hairstreak has a 42% chance of becoming extinct within the next 20 years. The study also listed the top 26 Australian butterfly species that were at the greatest risk of extinction. The Pale Imperial Hairstreak unfortunately came second on this list.

How it’s threatened

The butterfly is listed as Vulnerable under Queensland legislation due to the clearing of Brigalow woodlands.

Why it’s important

Butterflies are key pollinator species for various plants, and also provide a hearty meal for birds and small mammals.


8. White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)

Its name speaks for itself, the White-throated Needletail is a swift with a white throat and a short, square tail that gives a spiky appearance. It breeds in Asia then makes its way to eastern Australia, where it can be found flying over most types of habitat.

Fun fact

The White-throated Needletail can fly at great speeds of up to 130km an hour!

How it’s threatened

These swifts are listed as Vulnerable under federal and state legislation. They can collide with overhead power lines and wind farm turbines.

Why it’s important

Swifts play an important role in controlling insect populations. White-throated Needletails are almost exclusively aerial (rarely landing) so they catch insects while they’re flying.


White-throated Needletail (photo: Andrew Jensen)

White-throated Needletail | Andrew Jensen

Tusked Frog (Adelotus brevis)

Tusked frogs are dark brown in colour with a butterfly-shaped marking on their heads and bright red patches on their thighs. They lay their eggs as a foamy substance on the surface of ponds and streams, usually hidden from view under dense vegetation.

Fun fact

These frogs actually do have tusks on their lower jaw.  The males have larger heads and larger tusks than the females and use them to battle other males to defend their breeding sites.

How it’s threatened

The Tusked frog is listed as Vulnerable under Queensland legislation due to habitat loss (seeing a common theme here?) and the disease, Chytrid fungus, that affects many amphibians.

Why it’s important

Frogs are a good indication of the health of an ecosystem since they’re so sensitive to change. They also eat a ridiculous amount of insects, including pesky flies and mosquitos.


Tusked Frog (photo: Jayden Walsh)

Tusked Frog | Jayden Walsh

10. Silver-headed Antechinus (Antechinus argentus)

These teeny tiny marsupials (one of the smallest marsupials in the world) have petite heads and long, narrow snouts. They’re restricted to high-altitude forests in central-eastern Queensland.

Fun fact

Silver-headed Antechinuses are dramatic little lovers. The frantic, three-week-long orgies they have during mating season (which can last up to 14 hours each day!) inevitably kills the males. By the time the babies are born, there’s not a male in sight.

How it’s threatened

The Silver-headed Antechinus is listed as Endangered federally and in Queensland. The competitive process of its sex marathons is actually harming the population numbers. Extreme wildfires have also destroyed its habitats.

Why it’s important

Small mammals are abundant in nearly every ecosystem, impacting plant communities and acting as a meal for predators.


Silver-headed Antechinus (Photo: Stephen Mahony @svmahony)

Silver-headed Antechinus | Stephen Mahony