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Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)


  • Laughing kookaburra prey on animals living on or near the ground (Legge 2004)
  • Prey items vary according to what is available in a habitat
    • Millipedes, insects, spiders, small reptiles are commonly eaten
    • Worms, crabs and crayfish, frogs, fish are less common prey
    • Less often - snakes, small mammals, birds
  • Adult kookaburra can eat snakes, including venomous ones, nearly 1 m long (3.3 ft) (Ralph & Ralph 1973) (Woodall 2001)


  • Like the raptors, kookaburra use their excellent vision to find prey (Moroney & Pettigrew 1987)
  • Hunting technique (Fry et al. 1992):
    • Watch for prey from a perch above
    • Swoop down, land, seize prey with bill
    • Carry prey to perch
    • Beat prey against perch to immobilize it, or against ground, or may drop a snake from a height to stun it
    • Swallow prey whole
  • Undigested food regurgitated in dry pellets of matted bones, fur, exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans (Eastman 1970)
  • Don't usually drink; obtain enough water from prey, but do enjoy bathing (Giles 1994)

Thick Bill for a Varied Diet

Laughing kookaburra eating

Laughing Kookaburras feed on many kinds of insects and other animals living on or near the ground.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Eastman (1970)
Fry et al. (1992)
Giles (1994)
Legge (2004)
Moroney & Pettigrew (1987)
Ralph & Ralph (1973)
Woodall (2001)

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