The park is rich in wildlife, providing habitat for at least 48 mammal species, many of which occupy distinctive niches within the forest ecosystem. Among the more common ground dwelling mammals are:
- bush rats
- Stuart's antechinuses
- eastern grey kangaroos
- swamp wallabies.
The tiger quoll's optimal habitat consists of lots of tall moist open forest and cool moist environments, particularly in escarpment areas or elevations above 300 m. It breeds and sleeps in nests made in caves, hollow logs or trees.
The greater glider is very sensitive to habitat loss. Removal of the canopy or even thinning of trees for provision of infrastructure could have a severe impact on local populations.
The long-nosed bandicoot is a medium-sized ground mammal that's very vulnerable to predators. Known populations should be monitored and predators reduced through baiting programs.
A large number of threatened native animal species have been recorded throughout the South East Forest National Park. These include three endangered species and species with a high public profile such as the koala. The needs of threatened species is an over-riding influence on all aspects of park management. Recovery plans for species such as the koala may include community education because their habitat overlaps private land. Neighbours are encouraged to report sightings of threatened species.
The Potoroo Management Area (PMA) in the Genoa section of the park is the only recorded location in NSW for the long-footed potoroo and is critical for its survival. The area is subject to an intensive survey, research and monitoring program. It's also specifically targeted for intensive predator control and predator scat analysis. Public access to this area is restricted to minimise threats to this very rare species.
The Yowaka and Waalimma sections contain habitat for the endangered smoky mouse. There are on-going surveys and predator control in smoky mouse habitat. Phytophthora dieback in the area is of concern for smoky mouse conservation and it may become necessary to restrict access to affected areas.
Surveys have recorded 116 bird species throughout the South East Forest National Park. Species in the park include gang gang cockatoos and crimson rosellas which feed on the seeds of eucalypts, spotted pardalotes, red-browed and white-throated treecreepers which take insects from trunks and large branches, and mistletoe birds which feed on the fruits of mistletoes which grow on branches.
Glossy black cockatoos and red-browed finches feed on the seed of forest oaks in the understorey, yellow-tailed black cockatoos seek out borers from the trunks and branches of wattles, and satin bower birds take the seeds of the five-leaf water vine. Eastern whipbirds, pilot-birds and Lewin honeyeaters make their homes in the densely vegetated wet gullies.
The threatened powerful owl generally lives in all forest types, especially deep forest gullies on the coastal slopes of the Great Divide. This species roosts in tree hollows or among dense foliage by day, using several roosts in rotation, changing every few days. It nests in the hollow limbs or spouts of large forest trees. The major threat to this species is destruction of habitat, particularly old-growth forest with a range of hollow sizes.
The sooty owl inhabits tall, moist, dense eucalypt forest and rainforest, and roosts in hollows and dense vegetation. They need tree hollows 40-60 cm in diameter for nesting. The life cycle of the species relies primarily on moist vegetation communities, mature trees with suitably sized hollows for nesting and forest with suitable prey species.
The olive whistler is also threatened and occurs in dense highland forests of south-east Australia. The species lives in moist forest and dense understorey, preferring areas of tall dense heath. They are both terrestrial and arboreal, however they spend much of their time on the ground foraging for insects and berries. Threats to the olive whistler include habitat destruction causing the loss of nest sites and reduction in foraging habitat.
Amphibians and reptiles
The 33 species of snakes and lizards found in the region include:
- black rock skink
- water skink
- red-bellied black snake
- common death adder
- eastern brown snake.
The eastern brown snake is a swift-moving, daytime snake. It lives in a wide range of habitats, from the wet and dry eucalypt forests and heaths of the coast and ranges, through to savannah woodlands and inland grasslands. They mostly eat small mammals and reptiles, and lay clutches of 10-35 eggs.
The common death adder is relatively sedentary, living mostly among leaf litter. Frequent fires and earth moving machinery probably harm the species. This area is a stronghold for this species, which is declining in south-eastern NSW.
Thirteen amphibians have been recorded during surveys including the brown froglet (Crinia signifera) which is found in almost all habitats from the mountains to the coast, from wet eucalypt forest, through grassland to disturbed areas.
The threatened giant burrowing frog is usually found around sandy creek banks, and is known to breed in slow-flowing water in flat areas. Its skin is rough and warty, and breeding males often have pronounced black spines on the backs of their fingers. Although water is essential for breeding, the frog is known to spread into the surrounding forest and it's been seen in montane eucalypt woodland, montane riparian forest, wet eucalypt forest and damp dry eucalypt forest.
The green and golden bell frog ranges from dull olive to bright emerald green above, with varying amounts of brown or copper/bronze blotches. Occasionally they may be all green or all bronze. This species lives in large permanent swamps and ponds with plenty of emergent vegetation, especially bulrushes, and is active by day and night. It's declined in recent years and is now on the threatened species list.
Invertebrate species in the south-east forests, as in the rest of Australia, are largely unknown. CSIRO ecologists have recorded 700 beetle species in the Wog Station area beside the park and eighty per cent of other invertebrates recorded in the study have yet to be classified. The park's diversity is probably similar.