keeping pets & domestic animals
For many people, pets such as dogs and cats are family companions and provide safety and security. However, they are a significant threat to the environment if not well cared for and managed. The environment can also be very hard on them. If you can live without domestic pets in this area, then this is the best option for the environment. If you can’t, we hope this fact sheet helps you minimise their impact.
Animals that are not native to tropical rain forests require a significant amount of maintenance and care. Many animals will regularly pick up ticks, parasites, worms fleas and other tropical nasties such as snakes. Prevention is the best remedy, but one of the most common and worst is also hardest to prevent - the paralysis tick. Early symptoms include wobbly back legs or fits. If untreated it is fatal – get them to the vet as quickly as possible.
The heat and humidity will be very hard on horses and many breeds of dogs – horses will need shelter during the wet season and many get mange and skin problems regardless.
If you have an animal when you move to this area, then you should make sure that you are responsible for your pet at all times, as domestic animals are responsible for the decline of many native animals.
A recent survey revealed that feral cats are responsible for nearly 1200 native bird kills per cat per year and domestic cats are responsible for 200-300 native bird kills per cat per year. The best thing you can do is keep your cat indoors or confined to a cat run, especially at night. If this isn’t possible, putting two bells and a mirror on its collar will impede hunting prowess.
Dogs are one of the most significant threats to Cassowaries, wallabies and small, ground-dwelling mammals such as bandicoots. If you do get a dog, try to choose one with a breed and disposition that isn’t suited to hunting. Keeping them inside or chained up at night or while you are away will also minimise the threat.
Like most places in Australia, you are required to register cats and dogs.
Keeping horses is very difficult here and not recommended. They require a large amount of land – you won’t be permitted to clear a paddock so you will have to either agist it nearby or stable and hand feed it. They don’t cope well in the wet season and will need shelter and extra care during this time.
Horses also contribute to the spread of weeds and erosion – fencing off creeks and slopes in the paddock and using designated creek crossings can minimise this.
If do have a horse, immunise it against Hendra virus and your family against Lyssavirus.
Australian dingoes are listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN and interbreeding with domestic dogs is one of the most significant threats to their survival. Interbreeding will likely make the dingo a much stronger predator and thus a threat to the Cassowary and other fauna. De-sexing your dog will eliminate this threat, and make them generally easier to manage. This goes for cats as well.
Poultry and other birds have the potential to introduce avian disease that could decimate the Cassowary population. If you do keep poultry it is recommended you ensure individuals are disease free before bringing them here, and follow your vet’s recommendations to keep them that way. Confining them to a run will also help reduce the risk.
Birds, poultry and kittens will fall prey to pythons if you don’t protect them. Don’t keep them inside unless you are also prepared to have a snake inside.