Most of the 43 native mammal species which have been recorded in Royal National Park live in the tall moist eucalypt forests and rainforests of the Hacking River valley.
They include threatened species such as the tiger quoll and red-necked pademelon, both of which were once common in the Illawarra region.
You're more likely to encounter a brushtail or ringtail possum, or perhaps a sugar glider, after dark in the forested areas of the park. In coastal areas, you might be lucky enough to sight swamp wallabies and native rats. Short-beaked echidnas are also common in the heathlands.
Royal National Park is rich in birdlife - 241 species have been sighted in the park, 140 of them resident, nesting or occurring regularly. The richest diversity of birds are found in the tall moist eucalypt forests and rainforests. In the eucalypt forests, look out for sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets. The rainforests are home to satin bowerbirds, superb lyrebirds, eastern whipbirds and catbirds. Threatened species such as the powerful owl have also been sighted in the park.
On the coastal heath, insects attract birds such as fantail cuckoos, pigeons and quails. The nectar of flowers like banksias attracts honeyeaters and wattlebirds. And, near the cliffs, seabirds such as silver gulls, terns, sea eagles and even albatrosses soar on the updraft from coastal breezes.
The Royal's estuarine areas provide habitat to internationally protected migratory birds, such as the eastern curlew, bar-tailed godwit and great egret. The vulnerable pied oystercatcher breeds on the sand dunes in the Maianbar area.
You can buy a copy of our booklet on Birdwatching in Royal and Heathcote National Parks.
Amphibians and reptiles
Royal National Park's herpetofauna (reptiles and frogs) is richer than any other studied coastal park in New South Wales. This is mainly because the park provides so many different habitats and its favourable climate. The most important habitat areas are in the rainforests along Lady Carrington Drive, moist forests, freshwater swamps, coastal heaths and beside small creeks. Scientists have found some 40 reptile species and 30 amphibian species living in and around the park.
Tiger snakes, brown snakes, death adders and red-bellied black snakes all live in the park. These species are venemous, so take care if you go walking. When given a choice, snakes will stay clear of humans - so if you come across a snake, keep your distance and give it a chance to retreat.
Royal National Park has one of the richest native insect faunas of any area in NSW. It also has a diverse terrestrial mollusc population, which includes the virtually extinct land snail. Molluscs are most abundant in the rainforests along Lady Carrington Drive, and in the littoral rainforests around Garie and Werrong Beaches.