As a desert city, Dubai is home to many species of camels and lizards. Here, you’ll also find animals native to the United Arab Emirates, including the Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, sand cat, and red fox. You can even get to see slithering serpents like the carpet viper and horned viper.
Aside from the native wildlife, you might also encounter certain animals that you probably didn’t think you’d see in this bustling modern city. A tour of the Australian walkabout in a popular indoor rainforest could be your ticket to a close encounter with the following non-native species:
1. Lace Goanna Lizard
Goannas originally came from the north, but, for some reason, they moved to the continents of Australia and Africa roughly 15 million years ago. These animals have an important place in Australian culture and history, which explains their presence at the Australian walkabout.
There are numerous species of goannas, but what you’ll find in the walkabout is more thrilling than you might expect.
There, you’ll find the lace goanna lizard – the second biggest species of goanna in Australia. Also called the tree goanna or the lace monitor lizard, the Varanus varius is a goanna species native to Australia that can grow as long as two meters or seven feet. It’s also a heavy lizard, weighing as much as 14 kilograms or 30 pounds.
The lace goanna lizard can appear in two forms, but the most common one has a dark gray to a bluish-black color with cream-hued spots scattered all over its body. Its head is also black, with the snout marked with yellow bands from the neck to the chin. Its tail also has narrow cream and thick black stripes that gradually change in width towards the end.
Young goannas, also called “juveniles,” have more defined banding composed of five narrow black-hued bands on its neck and eight on its body.
2. Sugar Glider
Sugar gliders are animals naturally found in the wilderness of Australia and New Guinea. They look a lot like squirrels and appear to fly, but they are neither rodent nor avian.
Sugar gliders are members of the marsupial family. Like their brother kangaroos, these mammals have pouches where they tuck their young to keep them safe.
Gliders are nocturnal mammals. This means that they are active at night and asleep during the day. They are also deemed to be “very social” since they tend to live in groups.
As for their appearance, wild sugar gliders usually have gray fur, a white underbelly, and a dorsal stripe colored black. However, domesticated gliders have been bred to appear in a wide range of colors and patterns. They are also well-known for having big, round eyes.
These small animals have folds of skin that stretch from their wrists towards their sides. This is what helps them glide from one spot to another, which essentially explains why they look like they are flying, with arms outstretched.
A male sugar glider can weigh between 100 and 160 grams or about 0.22 to 0.35 pounds upon reaching adulthood. Females, on the other hand, are a bit lighter at 80 to 130 grams or 0.18 to 0.29 pounds. On average, a sugar glider has a lifespan is about five to seven years for both genders.
While kangaroos are the first marsupial species that people think of in relation to Australia, there is one other marsupial that has become quite well-known in the Land Down Under: wallabies.
While most wallaby species don’t grow very big, the largest one can measure as long as six feet, from the head to its tail. These macropods originally live in New Guinea and Australia, but they have also been introduced in other countries like New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Wallabies are under the same taxonomic family as kangaroos. In some cases, they belong in the same genus. However, kangaroos have six specific species, while wallabies are roughly grouped according to their habitat: brush wallabies, shrub wallabies, and rock wallabies. There’s also the hare wallaby, which is named because of its size and behavior that is akin to that of a hare.
Like kangaroos, wallabies also have strong hind legs that help them jump very far and bounce at high speeds. They can even use their powerful legs in casual battles with their kin to deliver kicks. These are also useful during encounters with predators when they need to protect their young.
Did you know that, when venturing at the heart of Dubai, you can also learn more about sloths?
These infamous mammals that are considered the slowest in the world are native in Central and South America, but some of them have found their way into the modern desert city.
Aside from being very slow, sloths are also known for their long claws – measuring about three to four inches – that the animals use to hang onto tree branches. These allow them to eat leaves that most animals cannot reach.
However, there is one downside to their large claws – they make it hard for sloths to walk on the ground. This explains why these sluggish animals are mostly found hanging on tall trees.
Explore the Wildlife
Modern architecture and technology have made it possible for institutions to bring animals you don’t usually see closer to you. When in Dubai, try to explore the different human-made green spaces and learn about some of Mother Nature’s creations that originally lived on the other side of the planet.