Living with local wildlife

We’re lucky to live in this amazing city. But it's not just us who call it home. In fact, sometimes we have to look very low (or very high) to see who our neighbours really are.


Looking out for wildlife

Sydney’s parks, gardens and wetlands provide homes for many native animals and plants. We need to look out for them, and look after the environment we share.

3 threatened species live in Sydney:

  • powerful owls
  • eastern bent-wing bats
  • grey-headed flying foxes.

Other native animals include eastern blue-tongue lizards, superb fairy-wrens, black-winged stilts, dwarf eastern tree frogs, barn owls and tawny frogmouths.

The city can be a challenging place for wildlife. That’s why we’re taking action. If we don’t, many species that live in our city could be lost forever.

We’ll know we’re doing a good job of creating a sustainable city that supports biodiversity if native animals are surviving and thriving in our local area.

Read more in our urban ecology strategic action plan.

Avoid feeding wildlife

Feeding birds, possums or other native animals does them, and the environment, more harm than good.

While it can make us happier, feeding native animals and birds can make them unwell because what we give them is often not their natural food.

When we feed native animals, we alter their natural behaviour and can spread disease, encourage vermin, cause poor nutrition, encourage some species at the expense of others, not to mention make some animals aggressive.

Instead of feeding them, it’s better if we protect the habitat they need for food and shelter. To show your care for native plants and animals, you can:

  • plant native plants and shrubs that provide the food they prefer to eat
  • create a water source in your garden such as a birdbath
  • join a local bushcare group.

Read more in our urban habitat creation guide.

Pets and wildlife

If you have pets, there are things you can do to keep native animals safe in our city, parks and backyards.

Dog owner? Using a leash when you walk your dog helps our wildlife. Sydney’s parks are home to native birds and animals who are threatened by dogs. We often think about cats hunting native birds, but dogs hunt, too, and can do a lot of damage. Even in off-leash areas, keep your dog in sight – tiny vulnerable animals can be living in bushy areas of parks. If possible, keep your dog inside at night, too.

Own a cat? Cats are voracious hunters and should be kept inside wherever possible. It’s a myth that cats only hunt at night – they hunt during the day, too. If you can’t keep your cat inside during the day, at least do so at night when native animals are more active. A bell or scrunchie around a cat’s collar may assist in warning wildlife of a cat’s presence, but often cats learn how to hunt with these. Pet cats alone kill nearly 170,000 birds each day across Australia. Add the birds also killed by feral cats and this number jumps to a million. Cats have a huge and destructive impact on our environment in Sydney and Australia. It’s our responsibility as cat owners to minimise the impact our pets have.

For all pet owners, desexing your pets is a must. If you can’t look after your pet any more, take them to a shelter. Feral dogs and cats are the descendants of escaped or abandoned pets, and they do enormous damage to our environment.

Also, we know we have amazing wildlife on our doorstep, but please don’t think about keeping any as pets. The City of Sydney does not endorse keeping snakes or other native Australian wildlife as pets.

Living with wildlife

We all live alongside wildlife. You may have different species of birds, possums, and bats where you live.

Below are some tips on how to live harmoniously with native animals.

And remember – native birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are protected in NSW. It’s an offence to harm, kill or remove native animals unless you hold a licence.