The Gardens are home to more than just plants.

The Gardens are home to more than just plants.

Our diverse natural habitats attract a wide range of birds, mammals, insects and reptiles. Some are native, while some have been introduced. All are wild animals and can roam within and beyond the Gardens.

It's very important that none of the animals are fed, and left to forage in the wild. Feeding wild animals changes their behaviours, disrupts natural food chains and can make them sick if the food is not their natural diet.

If you want to help wildlife, give them a natural diet by planting local indigenous shrubs or trees in your own garden to provide a healthy food source. Wildlife thrives on native vegetation, which also attracts insects for them to feed on as well. Ask your local nursery what indigenous plants would be suitable for your backyard.

Indian Peafowl

Pavo cristatus

Pavo cristatus (Indian Peafowl).

The Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), or peacock, is a member of the pheasant family and is native to India and Pakistan. Peafowl were deliberately introduced to Australia in the 1800s.

The peafowl population in Sale originated from small number of peafowl let loose from a private owner. As wild animals, the peafowl roam freely around the Botanic Gardens and neighbouring properties.  

They roost in trees, safely out of reach of predators such as domestic dogs and cats, and foxes. The young peafowl, who cannot fly for two weeks after hatching, roost in the garden beds of the Botanic Gardens, or neighbouring properties.  

The Peafowl breeding season in Sale is from September to January, when visitors can witness the vibrant colours of the peacocks (the male) tail.  

Grey-headed Flying Foxes

Pteropus poliocephalus

Sale Botanic Gardens and the neighbouring Lake precinct is lucky enough to be a holiday spot for a transient population of Grey-Headed Flying Foxes each year.

A widely misunderstood mammal, flying foxes are a keystone species – meaning they are vital to the health of our ecosystem. They play a major role in the regeneration of native hardwood forests and rainforests by pollinating as they feed and dispersing seeds as they move throughout the forest. A single flying fox can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in one night. Through this role, flying foxes provide habitat for other native flora and fauna.

Extensive clearing of habitat, fires, prolonged drought and shooting have all contributed to population numbers dramatically decreasing.

Listed as a species vulnerable to extinction, this flying fox is protected under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. Penalties apply for harassing or disturbing them. The bats are sensitive to noise, so it is in their best interests to minimise noise when near them.

If you see a bat on the ground or low in trees this indicates it may need help. Do not touch the bat. Alert a wildlife carer by phoning Moonshadow Flying Fox Rescue on 0429 930 138 or The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action as the responsible authority on 136 186.  

It is important that bats are not handled because they could bite or scratch or you could injure them further. A very small percentage could carry Australian bat lyssa virus or Hendra virus.

Black Swans

Cygnus atratus

Visitors to the gardens are likely to see the emblem of the city of Sale sailing around Lake Guthridge and Lake Guyatt on any given day.

Our local abundance of Black Swans can be attributed to their preference for large waterways and wetlands, requiring 40m or more of clear water to take off – which we have plenty of nearby, including the Gippsland Lakes and Sale Common.

Pairing for life, both adults raise one clutch per season. Lucky visitors might spot a fluffy cygnet or ten during breeding season, which runs locally from June and September -  coinciding with wattle blossom.

The black swan has spiritual significance in the traditional histories of many Australian Aboriginal peoples.


(Specifically the Lesser Long-eared Bat and Little Forest Bat)

Nyctophilus geoffroyi and Vespadelus vulturnus

You’ll have to be eagle-eyed to spot these little guys out and about in the gardens! Lesser Long-eared Bats have, as the name implies, long ears, while Little Forest Bats’ ears are smaller, but no less important as microbats see through their ears! They use echo-location by producing a sound and listening for it to bounce back from surrounding objects. The time the sound takes to travel back to them tells the bat how close the object is.

Microbats roost in hollows in old trees, under bark and in old nests. In suburban areas, they often roost in ceilings, hollow walls, unused roller doors and canvas awnings in suburban and inner-city areas. They catch flying insects in flight and can snatch insects off the ground or leaves. They can sometimes be seen at night, swooping around street lights snatching up insects.

Microbats are vulnerable to a widespread loss of tree hollows and feeding grounds across the country, which are cleared for agriculture, forestry and housing, while pesticides and cats are another main cause of species loss. Microbat nesting boxes are often available at local markets, or plans to make your own are readily available online.


Sale Botanic Gardens and the habitat surrounding Lake Guyatt are home to plenty of bees – both native and introduced. Both play an essential role in pollinating the Gardens and neighbouring Seed Community Garden. There are European Honey Bee hives in several trees, while native bees tend to operate solo, living between rocks, in stems of plants, or homes they’ve carved out for themselves. Bees are particularly visible around any of the Gardens’ flowering Living Collections.

Bees are not aggressive and won't be inclined to sting if left unprovoked. If you see a bee in the Gardens, thank it for being responsible for some of the stunning displays you can see in our Living Collections.

Purple Swamphens

Porphyrio porphyrio

Purple Swamphens provide an almost comic presence to the Sale Botanic Gardens, often found walking closer to the Lake Guthridge shoreline, flicking their white tails up and down as they stalk around on their beanpole-like legs.

Native to Australia, their colourful presence is commonly found amongst Lakes Guthridge and Guyatt’s shorelines, as they pick through the reeds and rushes for a tasty morsel.


Need more information? Our Nakunbalook Frequently Asked Questions section may have the answers you're looking for!

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