Manningham's Backyard Diversity Series

Learn all about Manningham’s unique local wildlife and environment with TV Zoologist Chris Humfrey from Wild Action, ‘The Zoo That Comes to You’.

Chris has presented a series of 30 short videos across two series that will introduce you to a range of native animals which call Manningham home. The first series introduces the backyard diversity of our resident fauna, the second series addresses the impact of litter on the homes and habitats of the local wildlife.

Series 1: Manningham's Backyard Diversity

Video 1: Introducing Manningham's backyard diversity.

You will be amazed by what lives in Manningham and maybe even your backyard. You will learn about our incredible local biodiversity and how we can all play an important role in the protection of our native species and our local fragile environment.


Video 2: Short-Beaked Echidna

Echidnas can be shy, but are found in many areas of Manningham where there is enough native habitat for them to roam in. The Echidnas home range can be up to 50 hectares. Echidnas like to burrow into the soil, hide under vegetation and shelter in hollow logs, rock crevices and in burrows. They need lots of understory habitat that can provide them with their food including ants and termites.


Video 3: Southern Boobook Owl

The Southern Boobook is the smallest owl in Manningham and makes a distinctive 'boo-book' or 'mo-poke' call. As with many of our local species The Southern Boobook's needs tree hollows to nest in. The Southern Boobook feeds on insects, small mammals (such as the House Mouse, Mus musculus) and other small animal species. 



Video 4: Swamp Wallaby

The Swamp Wallaby is a shy animal that usually live alone. They can be found in places where there is thick habitat for them to hide in.  The Swamp Wallaby feeds on a variety of plants including introduced and native shrubs, grasses and ferns. They are regularly spotted early in the morning along our local creeks and the Yarra River habitat corridors where there is plenty thick scrub for them to hide in during the day. 


Video 5: Sugar Glider

Sugar gliders are tree-dwelling marsupials gliding possums found across Manningham. They can glide up to 50 metres in one trip with their “wings” made up of thin stretched skin between their forefinger and back ankle, During flight they use their bushy tails as rudders as they soar through the air. The Sugar Glider is most active at night, sleeping by day in nests made of leaves in tree hollows. The biggest threat to Sugar Gliders are cats. It is important to bring your cat inside so they don’t eat our native bird, possums and other native animal species. 


Video 6: Ringtail Possum

Ringtail Possums get their name from their long white prehensile tail. They are not as noisy as Brushtail Possums, and make a soft, high-pitched twittering call. Ringtail Possums are at risk from cats, dogs, foxes, traffic, and also electrocution from powerlines. Possums are also at risk from the removal of habitat due to human development. It is illegal to catch and release possums into areas more than 50 m away from where they were caught as they do not often survive relocation. You can help local wildlife by keeping big trees in your backyard as they provide tree hollows for native animals like possums, birds, bats and gliders to nest in.


Video 7: Blotched Blue Tongue Lizard

Blue-tongues usually live in open country with lots of ground cover such as tussock grass or leaf litter. They shelter at night under large objects on the ground such as rocks and logs. During cold weather they remain inactive, buried deep in their shelter sites, but on sunny days they may emerge to bask. Unfortunately, blue-tongues will eat snails and slugs poisoned by snail baits and can be poisoned themselves. They rapidly become used to human activity, and may live in the same place for many years. Rockeries and cavities under houses are favourite hiding places. Many residents and schools create lizard lounges to provide habitat for bluetongue lizards and skinks. All you need are some rocks, ground cover and a sunny place for lizards to bask in and call home.


Video 8: Tawny Frogmouth

The Tawny Frogmouth is nocturnal and is often mistaken as an owl. They are however more closely related to the nightjars. Their beaks are designed to catch insects such as cicadas and beetles and the occasional mouse, rat or frog. Unlike owls, the Tawny Frogmouth is a poor flyer and will sit quietly for its prey to approach. Tawny Frogmouths love mature trees to roost and camouflage in during the day like a stringybark trees where they can be almost invisible. Tawny Frogmouth families stay together giving many local residents generations of the same family in their backyard. Protecting big old trees are a great way to encourage a Tawny Frogmouth to your backyard. The call of a Tawny Frogmouth is very distinctive and is often described as a spooky low pitched ooom ooom sound.


Video 9: Koala

The koala is one of the most recognizable Australian animals. A tree-climbing marsupial, a small remnant population of koalas survived in Manningham as recently as 2015 (the last known recording of a koala in Manningham). It is thought the loss of Koalas in Manningham was mainly due to habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and road accidents. Koalas are fussy eaters and only eat a few types of eucalypt leaves. Manna Gums which are found along Manningham’s waterways are the most favoured. There is now a renewed effort by local Landcare groups and concerned residents to create more koala habitat in hope that they will return to our municipality. If you do see a Koala in Manningham, record the location and contact Manningham Council. Citizen Science is a great way to record information on our local natural environment. 



Video 10: Laughing Kookaburra

The Laughing Kookaburra is common across Manningham where there are suitable trees. They have one of the most iconic calls in the Australian bush. The kookaburra feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. Kookaburras can pair for life and their nest is a naturally occurring tree hollow. Both sexes share the incubation duties and both care for the young. Kookaburras can become quite tame around humans and will readily accept scraps of meat. Similar to live prey, this 'pre-processed' food is still beaten against a perch before swallowing.



Video 11: Manningham Kangaroo

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is an important part of Manningham's natural ecosystems. They promote the regeneration of native plants and reduce the fuel load in forests and grasslands. They are regularly seen in our conservation parks including Currawong, Westerfolds and Mount Lofty parks. They rest amongst shady trees during the day and move out to graze from late afternoon to early morning. Their fur is light grey colour making then perfectly camouflaged in our local woody grasslands. A baby kangaroo or ‘joey’ is raised in the pouch until it becomes independent at about 18 months of age.


Video 12: Centipede

Centipedes are common in Manningham and can be found under logs, in leaf litter or under rocks and bark. Centipedes are nocturnal and hunt their prey at night time. Centipedes are myriapods not insects, as they have more than six legs. Centipedes and other ‘minibeasts’ including spiders, ants, termites, butterflies, bees and other small animals play a vital role in any ecosystem. They are eaten by bigger animals in the food chain, help to pollinate plants and eat dead and decaying matter which recycles the nutrients back into the soil and ecosystem.

Video 13: Lace Monitor

Lace Monitors were once common in Manningham, however due to habitat loss they are now very rare. They need tall open Eucalyptus woodlands to live. There are occasional sightings of Lace Monitors in Manningham’s Green Wedge usually between September to December when they are on the move. If you go for a walk through bushland during the cooler months of the year, watch where you step, Lace Monitors spend much of this time hiding under logs or rocks, or inside hollow tree stumps. If you do see a Lace Monitor please take a photo, record the location and contact Manningham Council. Citizen Science is a great way to record information on our local natural environment.  



Video 14: Gang Gang Cockatoo

Gang-gang Cockatoos visit backyards and parks in Manningham and feed on eucalyptus and wattles.  Male Gang-gang Cockatoos are easily distinguished by their wispy red crest, which looks like a feather duster. Plant locally native plants that Gang-gang Cockatoos can eat from, such as sheoaks (casuarinas), eucalyptus, and wattles. Be careful of low perched or low flying Gang-gangs when driving in areas with many trees, especially near hawthorn shrubs. Don’t forget to participate in the Citizen Science program: Aussie Backyard Bird Count in October.


Video 15: Barn Owl

Barn Owls are found right across Manningham and are silent hunters of the night eating mice, rats and snakes. Their heart-shaped face and asymmetrical ears help the owl to use even the slightest sound to pinpoint their prey even in complete darkness. Barn owls need old growth trees to nest in. These trees provide large hollows with the nest sometimes up to 10m inside the tree. Don't use rat poisons that cause secondary killings. Owls are natural predators of rodents but if an owl eats a rat that has ingested this poison, it can die too. Remember Manningham’s raptor birds (birds of prey) need old growth trees to breed in and hunt for prey.  



Series 2: Litter Impacts

In this Litter Impacts series, Chris will present 15 short videos that will introduce you to a range of native animals which call Manningham home and how we can protect their home by reducing our litter and appropriately disposing of our waste.

Video 1: Introduction to litter impacts on local wildlife

Manningham is home to an array of incredible and unique native animals. Our litter and waste has a big impact on our wildlife; as it flows into waterways and out into the bay, it can drastically change the water quality or even be mistaken for food.


Video 2: Grey Headed Flying Fox

Grey Headed Flying Foxes are the largest bat in Australia, but they’re also a vulnerable species here in our parks and backyards in Manningham. They spread seeds from our trees across Melbourne making sure new trees keep growing. Unfortunately they get caught in our fruit nets, so make sure that once your fruit has finished on your trees you take down your nets to ensure they don’t get tangled.

Video 3: Earthworms

Earthworms are terrific for our backyards and our environment. They move through out soil helping to aerate it and at the same time eat the organic matter turning it into fertilizer for our gardens. Make sure you don’t put harmful chemicals in our soil as it can kill the worms and stop them from keeping our soil healthy.


Video 4: Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snakes can be found basking in the sun in Manningham. They’re highly venomous and should never be touched or picked up, it’s also illegal to kill or harm snakes. They’re very important for our environment, as they eat mice and rats. Unfortunately they cannot move backwards, so if they get trapped in a discarded aluminium can or PVC pipe they can get stuck there and die.

Video 5: Wood Duck

Wood Ducks love our parks and farmland here in Manningham. They eat grass and poo out the seeds to keep the grass growing. Sometimes they mistake cigarette butts for food and the butts can swell in their tummies making the ducks very ill. It’s important that we don’t feed ducks bread as they need to find native food for themselves.

Video 6: Eastern Long Necked Turtle

The Eastern Long Necked Turtle is common in our creeks and rivers in Manningham. They eat snails, dead fish and yabbies, keeping our rivers and creeks clean. Litter is a huge threat to turtles as it can get caught around their limbs and necks, choking them. Fishing line and illegal opera house nets can also kill our turtles, platypus and rakali (water rats) when they get caught in the nets and can’t escape.

Video 7: Buff Breasted Rail

This Buff Breasted Rail is a secretive bird in Manningham, but keep your eyes peeled at Ruffey Lake Park, you might just see them walking around through the reeds. They’re omnivorous, which means that they eat plants and other animals, sometimes they also mistake our litter for food as well. Make sure you pick up litter that you find on the ground, report overflowing bins and litter dumped in our parks, you might just save our local wildlife. 

Video 8: Cattle Egret

Cattle Egrets are known as a cosmopolitan bird, as they’re found all around the world. They love flooded agricultural land and wetlands in Manningham; it’s the perfect place for them to find their food. They’re also directly affected by stormwater pollution and litter, like polystyrene cups that can remain in our environment for up to 600 years. Unfortunately  they see polystyrene or cigarette butts as potential food.

Video 9: Banjo Frog

It might sound like you have a bluegrass band in your backyard at night, but that’s the call of the Banjo Frog. They burrow into our soil with their digging feet and eat all the bugs. Their skin is susceptible to pollution, as that’s how they breathe and drink water. Instead of putting your chemicals down the drain, make sure you dispose of your oils, detergents, paints and other chemicals at a chemical drop off point.

Video 10: Brown Tree Frog

Brown Tree Frogs love hanging out in Manningham. They eat bugs, like pesky mosquitos and flies in our gardens. If you have frogs croaking in your garden, it means you have a healthy place for them to live. Frogs absorb moisture and breathe through their skins, so they’re highly susceptible to pollution in the water. Be careful with what goes down your drains and we can protect our important little frogs.

Video 11: Fresh Water Crayfish

The Yabbies, or Fresh Water Crayfish, love our waterways in Manningham. They grab onto their food with their big claws and propel themselves through the water with their big finned tail. They clean up all of the organic matter in our rivers, creeks and wetlands and keep our waterways healthy. Yabbies are very sensitive to pollution in our rivers and creeks, so be careful with what you wash down the sink and into the stormwater drain. You can dispose your harmful chemicals at a Detox Your Home drop off.

Video 12: Short Finned Eel

The Short Finned Eel is common in our waterways here in Manningham. They’re long, slippery fish that live in our creeks and rivers and they hunt yabbies, insects, worms and fish. When they’re ready to breed, they swim all the way down the Yarra River, out of Port Phillip Bay and breed in the Pacific Ocean! The babies then make their way back to Melbourne and live in our rivers again. It’s up to us to keep our rivers and creeks free of litter to make sure our Eels survive.

Video 13: Little Penguin

Little Penguins are the smallest penguin in the world and they’re found in Port Phillip Bay here in Melbourne. They live on our beaches and eat the fish around our bay. Unfortunately when they lay their eggs on our beaches, they can be easily caught by foxes and cats, so make sure you keep your cat in at night. They also fall victim to plastic waste in our waterways, it can get caught around their necks and choke them, or they could mistake the plastic for food. Please be responsible and dispose of your waste properly.

Video 14: Banjo Ray

Foraging at the bottom of our beautiful Port Phillip Bay is the Banjo Ray. As our waste flows down the Yarra River and into Port Phillip Bay, it comes into the home of our ocean wildlife. Banjo Rays can be harmed by eating the litter that arrives in the bay, so make sure you put your litter into the correct bin and report any litter dumped around Manningham.

Video 15: Pot Bellied Sea Horse

Pot Bellied Sea Horses live in Port Phillip Bay, right at the end of the Yarra River. The Sea Horses eat crustaceans in the bay but they can mistake microplastics for food as well. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic which look like food to our aquatic life they eat it and it often stays in their stomachs and often stays there. Unfortunately this means that when we eat some fish we could be eating microplastics too!  Make sure you dispose of your plastic waste into the correct bin.

Join Chris through Wild Action

Visit ZooHQ. The 11 acre wildlife facility in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria.