Love Wins

Starting with the letter A, Mox and Mialy will be the first to lead us through love across species... I look forward to sharing their story with you...

A is for Avahi cleesei


We were together. I forget the rest.
~Walt Whitman

Mox and Mialy, a faithful duo in their infancy waited in the canopy of the Tsingy de Bemaraha forest that dry August night. The April that had just past had deepened their bond and brought them to this new journey of welcoming their first born, Matoky. They had been separated by distance, travelling apart for many years prior to the evening when Mialy heard Mox’s distinct call down by the Monambolo river that bordered the southern edge of her group’s territory.

“Ava-hee Ava-hee” Mox called out into the dark canopy.

She perched upright for a brief moment to locate the call before she leaped forward soaring through the expanses between the trees. Mialy followed along the edge of the shore as she bounded from one branch to next. She listened intently, her glistening maroon eyes inquisitively wide. The sun would soon begin to rise and Mialy was intent on finding Mox.

“Ava-hee Ava-hee” the vocal Mox continued rhythmically.

Piercing through deciduous trees of the narrow bordering forest between the river and the newly burned land she caught the glimmer of Mox’s big shiny eyes.

Mialy called out to Mox. 

“Ava-hee Ava-hee” until his eyes met her gaze. 

Mox was part of a population around the Ankinajao village that had been decimated by intensive logging. He had been searching for a new group when Mialy answered his calls. Mialy eyed Mox as she approached him. He had a freckled appearance while the dorsal side of his tail reflected the red hue of dawn. The sun was slowly rising as they came together. Unlike other primates that don’t maintain monogamous pair bonds Mox and Mialy were a part of the nine other species of Strepsirrhini that lived in faithful pairs. Her long legs didn’t give her a graceful stride, but rather, bounced her forward with quirky little jumps until they were face to face. 

This was only the beginning…


A few little facts...


*This species was named after the British comedian John Cleese who also has long legs and a distinct "silly walk".
*This species has only been known to inhabit the Tsingy de Bemaraha territory in western Madagascar which is located to the north of the Manambolo River (Thalmann & Gussmann, 2005). 
*The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN and has a decreasing population trend due to habitat loss.

Thalmann, U. and Geissmann, T. (2005) New species of woolly lemur Avahi (primates: Lemuriformes) in Bemaraha (central western Madagascar). American Journal of Primatology, 67: 371–376.






B is for Bumblebee Bat


Hovering like a hummingbird the tiniest of mammals cast a shadow above its prey in the early light of dawn that dwarfed his actual size. Just outside this flying hunter’s limestone roost was a tree whose leaves were covered in the traffic of scurrying beetles and meticulous spiders spinning their webs. While she had accompanied Pakpao on this escapade, Sasithorn preferred to hunt at dusk just before the moon lit up the sky. Pakpao loved the early adventures which indulged his playfulness with the game of shadows. Sasithorn followed closely behind and caught a few insects along the way aided by her uropatagium* which assisted her in the agility of her aeronautical exploits. Sasithorn was not familiar with the sunrise but could see the licks of red flicker that cut through the trees and radiated an intense heat. Pakpao elegantly soared through the forest filling his wings with the tunnels of air like the sail of a boat catching the wind. His reddish brown fur shimmered in the heat of the light before them and in a flash he was gone…

Uropatagium: “a large web of skin between their hind legs that gives them assistance when in flight.” 


When we explore the worlds of other species it can leads us on such delightful journeys. It is a gift of experience into the realities of another. The bumblebee bat is one of these lovely examples of a journey through flight and fancy. Not much is known about the mating rituals of this species of bat but their declining populations are a reminder of how our human trespasses into the habitats of these species adversely affects and threatens their existence. In 1974, the species was discovered in Western Thailand and South Myanmar and humans flocked as tourists and collectors leaving with these tiny creatures as souvenirs. Since that time, not only has the curiousity of collectors and tourists led to the decline in the population of the species but the current threat for the Thai population is now the destruction of their habitat through ritual burning of the forests.

Opportunities to teach and learn...

Name that bat...



C is for Cuttlefish



Hovering over the reef Lola watched as the dominant male raised his center arms to ward him off. He waited patiently before switching in the blink of an eye… These camouflage aficionados rely heavily on visual cues to differentiate between sexes. In the mating world of the cuttlefish, females will reject 70% of all attempts of mating throughout the day. And, brains often wins over brawn. The male cuttlefish have a distinct zebra striping and smaller males cannot mate unless they get past the larger protective males. So, by masking his stripes a smaller male will trick the larger males into thinking they are another female. The smaller male can then mosey on by and capture the female’s attention. This technique is known as sexual mimicry. Better than sleight of hand trickery, sexual mimicry has its benefits, as females will mate at higher percentage with these mimics than they do with other males. It ain’t all about the size of your stripes…


D is for Dodo

Little Dodo

John Gould (1804-1881).



The old adage of curiousity killed the cat would be more appropriately coupled with the myth behind the extinction of the Dodo. And, much like the Dodo, the Tooth-billed pigeon, affectionately nicknamed the “little Dodo”, is fast approaching becoming an unfortunate statistic. The Tooth-billed pigeon is an endangered species whose population has plummeted since the 1980s. Although they are the National symbol for their Samoan home they have faced an uphill battle to survive. The drastic shift in their population is a result of, like many cases, the intrusion of humans. Both hunting and habitat loss has drastically impacted the ability for these birds to thrive. As with many other species in danger of becoming extinct the prohibition of hunting of a particular being does little to protect it when there is no enforcement of the laws. Sadly the only living member of the genus  Didunculus strigirostris may well end up in the history books like its close relative the Dodo. 

While there isn’t much documentation about the mating rituals of either of these birds speculation is that the Tooth-billed pigeon lays two eggs during a breeding season. And one may speculate that the early records describing the Dodo noting that they pair bonded and mated for life, also taking on the mutual responsibility of caring for their offspring could perhaps be a similar behaviour of the little Dodo… 


E is for Eagle


By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Head over Heels


The pair screeched in a call to the other as they soared above the ocean mirroring the flight path of the transitory leader until they were close enough to grasp one another. The initial dance was short-lived before they connected in that instant forceful hold that bound them in the airborne cartwheels that would follow. Their talons locked as they plummeted through the icy blue backdrop of the sky to display a dizzying succession of ritualised summersaults that exhibited an exhilarating feat of breathtaking acrobatic prowess.  

Spinning through the air, they gained momentum as they rolled in alternating directions like a helicopter from a maple tree to a spinning trapeze artist, the two fell forcefully in silent motion. It was meditative, calming and terrifying. In watching them you could get lost in the moments of the dance and feel the pull that would join them for life. As they plunged through the air there would be the final moment when they would have to separate but one could not imagine letting go…


Unlike many of the beings that have been featured in either Alphabeasts, Love Wins or some of the characters from Beautiful Creatures the eagle from this week’s explorative narrative is an example of a conservation success story.The species that once teetered precariously on the endangered list was down listed to a listing of threatened in the mid 1990s. Since that time, bald eagle populations have increased with their population concentrations in Alaska and British Columbia. Their lifelong monogamous pair bond begins in the airborne dance and partnerships between bald eagles are only broken in the case of infertility or death.


F is for Flamingo

Flamingo, Flamenco, it's all in the dance...

Left to right turns and eyes that cut through the crowd with posture perfect pivots he scans the scene. Bill tip and quick blink she saunters by amid the sea of lesser males. Swift steps and neck dip for a swift flick of her crimson plumes. She is not the vivid colouring of other species but her rich red feathers are like a flash in the crowd of the paler pink plumage of the surrounding flock.  

By Kjunstorm from Laguna Niguel, CA, US (Dance of Love) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Dance of Love
By: Kjunstorm from Laguna Niguel, CA, US

The visual iconographic illustrative representation of the four chambers of a human heart has become the symbol for this February 14th holiday for Western masses. The flamingo is a bird with of fanciful colour, they can echo the shape of a heart that we as Westerners are so familiar with on this particular day and their bonds are mimics of ours. And so, in this case, what better beast to explore for the letter F in the month of February than the Flamingo?

Flamingo breeding groups vary in size depending on the initial colony, species or location. These break-off groups will perform a synchronised dance to help them pair up with their mates. It is much like the concept of a flash mob of love, occurring randomly, synchronically and seemingly not directed at one particular individual. Flamingoes do form pair bonds but when there is a bevy of choice, dance partners can change… The dance is much the same in a greater flamboyance but the numbers are staggering among the lesser species. 

Rhythm and coordination in the dance reveal a good match, and while fancy footwork may send hearts all a flutter and catch the eye of a prospective mate the colour of your plumage is what will capture a discerning companion. Although that may seem like it’s all about the outfit, for the flamingo this means of mate selection runs deeper than pretty plumage. This is due to the fact that the colouring of a flamingo’s feathers is a telltale sign of their abilities…

Breaking Hearts
By Axel Bührmann 
It is interesting to note that despite the overwhelming size of lesser gatherings the species’ is actually classified as near threatened as a result of population decline. So in thinking of “la vie en rose,” from chambers to species, I can’t think of a better metaphor that illustrates the novel ideas of love in our world than that of the flamingos on Valentine’s Day.



G is for Grasshopper

Ain't no April’s fool...

N. A. Naseer / www.nilgirimarten.com / naseerart@gmail.com [CC BY-SA 2.5 in (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/in/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons


Walking through the narrow labyrinth of stairred paths to the village as she did every morning she stopped near the field to stare out into the ocean. You could see for miles into the blue. The panoramic vista from this side of the island was dotted with a few smaller islands. It was peaceful at this hour. The sun had barely risen, but she could feel the heat warming her back as she sat for a moment closing her eyes. She listened to the deafening silence of the human world around her. Letting her thoughts fall into the grass beneath her the orchestral symphony of peeps and chirping of the beings within the vegetation of the field began to penetrate the assumed silence... She delved deep into the sounds of the grasshoppers calls out to their distant mates. Whir whir whir... One stridulation louder in reply to his mate’s softer song. That distinct sound that summer was coming and warmer days were on the horizon.


Grasshoppers definitely are persistent and determined when trying to attract a mate. Not only is their repertoire of mating songs is into the hundreds, but they have the stamina to continue their serenade the entire day and if need be will ride the “coattails” of another active male’s stridulations. The female is no fool, her mate definitely has to impress her! This is the case in what I think of of as the yogi grasshopper that strikes a pose with his catalogue of contortions to attract his mate.


I recently spent a week in Greece and so I thought it a lovely coincidence that the month of March had me exploring the letter G and Greece’s own critically endangered grasshopper the Chorthippus lacustris. So as we hop away from March, what better being than the grasshopper to jump forward into April. Happy Spring!

H is for Human


“Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. 
Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all.
Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see”
There are so many storylines to follow when we think of our own species in the context of love. Love itself may be a universal concept but its definition is individually defined, understood, and nuanced on so many levels that sometimes, we as humans, can barely comprehend the emotion within ourselves. We confuse it with affection, lust, ownership and/or control. There are a multitude of types of love, from love within friendships or familial bonds, or the romantic, the unconditional, sexual, obsessive, unrequited or platonic types of love… How we define love is often independently determined on our specific needs and love then becomes a reflection of a desire rather than the outward expression of an emotion. When we look at other species we often examine love through the lens of courtship, ritual and/or bonding. These notions are very much a part of human love. Yet our species seems far more complicated in our courting, in the rituals we have relative to relationships or their definition, and even in our levels of attachment, aversions to bonding and/or drive toward deeper connections. And while it may be easier if we as humans had a universal courtship ritual, whatever love our path may follow, one thing is certain, that most us of do delight in the dance…



I is for Iguana

AN ADULT GREEN IGUANA IN FULL REGALIA IS A SPECTACULAR AND BEAUTIFUL BEAST. THIS VERY RED INDIVIDUAL (ORIGINALLY FROM CUBA) WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN FLORIDA BY CARY BASS, LICENSED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION-SHARE ALIKE 3.0 UNPORTED LICENSE.

Let the more loving one be me…
Inspired by Auden

The air was dry and a gentle breeze washed over him as it danced through the leaves of the arboreal canopy that was Amato’s home upon which the early morning sun beat down intensely heating his core as he lay basking. He had a few preferred sunning perches and as a dominant male he was quite territorial. Contrary to him Amaia was the most docile within the polygynandrous *slaughter, but she was a quiet force.

Among the younger of the gravid females she was the one with a delicate blush to her legs that contrasted the lively green complexion of her papaya-like belly. Standing beneath the foliage of the trees one could look up and see the flashes of complementary hues of orange and the variations of effervescent greens that were the individuals that made up this particular polygynandry. Like little flecks among the leaves, they were reminiscent of the faded stars in a city sky that blend together and disappear if one is to stare too long.

Amaia was an admirer of Amato’s and had gradually climbed her way closer to him, slowly clasping her toes around the branches and carefully calculating each step that brought her closer to his perch. Over the last few weeks Amato’s skin had been slowly warming into a rusty orange complexion that mirrored the chalkiness of a lychee's skin and like an irate avocado the tips of the dermal spines of his dorsal crest exploded in the rich and vibrant tint of the deep dark flesh of a ripe mamey. Along her destined path she’d come across a few uninvited suitors and she’d aggressively bobbed her head at the intrusiveness of these other males of the slaughter as she continued her mission. Once she’d found the perfect basking spot she settled in and waited patiently. 

Amato maintained a controlled rhythm to the bobbing of his head when he saw Amaia, and she mirrored his greeting with a slow deliberate bob. But it wasn’t long after he'd noticed this new female in the greenery of the perch adjacent to his before he gave a quick whip of his tail and the impressive fan of his dewlap burst out into a striking display. He stepped closer to Amaia. She sensed the intensity of their encounter and as he nuzzled her, his dermal spines like the flare of a striking match, sparked the moment when he bit her neck. That sharp heat of an igniting flame pierced through her, and like a fallen star he retreated, plummeting to the creek beneath the trees and propelling himself with powerful tail strokes to thrust him toward his escape. Amaia continued to gaze down at the empty glassy reflected sky below that echoed a sublime darkness that in time she would learn to embody.


*A group of iguanas is called a slaughter.


One of my favourite photographers did a lovely shot of an iguana in Ecuador in 2004. They are such an intriguing species in which one can see the similarities in the structure of their fingers to ours but so very foreign that we can only imagine their umwelt. Unlike many of the species that have been featured here and in Alphabeasts or Beautiful Creatures most iguana species are in no danger of disappearing and they have a rather extensive range which includes Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean islands and Southern Brazil. In certain places like South Florida they are considered an invasive species and are making a comeback since the freeze of 2010 killed a large swath of the population. In popular culture the theme of the iguana's ability to change their colouring has been the iconographic descriptor in a few well-known novels to establish the idea of change such as Rios's work of fiction that explores the bi-lingual/cultural experiences of a young Anglo-Mexican boy. Williams's The Night of the Iguana also explores change through the character of Lawrence Shannon and Tennessee Williams's screenplay was later adapted to the silver screen in 1964 equally inspired Mitchell's 2007 lyrical adaptation... The iguana has been seen in many facets through the human lens, from a pest to the embodiment of our human confusion the iguana has also seen the lighter whimsical side of love which is all to fitting for this series in the work of Boynton...




J is for Jellyfish


By Original: Ernst Haeckel. From: [1]. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



Immortal Beloved
Turritopsis dohrnii

Extending into the depths of the abyss, the bioluminescent glow of the graceful filaments sway with the currents within the fluidity of this other world. The sanguinely vibrant core illuminated the darkness like the warmth of a lover's heart glowing within the flowing translucent bell of the being's aboral surface.

The luminescent tentacles that reached out into the fluid depth grazed her and like the sting of a sudden separation, the toxic venom surged through her body which now slowly plummeted deeper toward the ocean floor like a feather falling from a wing on a breezeless night.

She was lost in the microcosm of her thoughts and had not sensed the perilous encounter of the threadlike hunter. Now paralyzed from the neurotoxin she was caught in the gentle currents that would take her away.

As the water carried her lifeless body deeper into the void her mind travelled to places of the past and future with brief interruptions of the unwelcomed present reality. These ruptures in her dream state were like the jolt one experiences when gasping for air but came without the relief of that given deep breath.

The eternal fountain of youth... 

The title for my piece on the jellyfish was inspired by one of my favourite composer’s. His oeuvres were the soundtrack of my childhood as far as I can remember. The memories of those notes still strike the chords that echo in the chambers of my heart to this present day, but with renewed meaning. And so, of all the hydrozoans, I chose the immortal jellyfish for the series, envisioning the being as a symbol of everlasting love, and how love transcends boundaries and transforms over time. “Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours." (Beethoven, July 7, 1812).

This particular jellyfish is said to have originated in the Mediterranean Sea but it is an excellent hitchhiker and can be found in many of the world's oceans. But this being's tentacles have a reach beyond their watery abode... As a forceful interloper, the immortal allure of Turritopsis dohrnii has also made its way into popular culture via two television series in Zoo and The Blacklist

An eternal presence onto itself, the immortality of this creature lies in its ability to reverse its life cycle during times of adversity, through a process called transdifferentiation. It is a fascinating being that echoes science fiction anomalies in its embodiment of personal time travel, or more accurately, rejuvenation. 


K is for Kookaburra



Resonance

At the beginning of the week she’d received a text with nothing more than a quote. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection…” The quote brought about a smirk as she’d read it through tired eyes. The words evoking the recollection of a few weeks prior to the day when she’d returned to her little island home in the Pacific after her extended summer away in her hometown…

It was the first day of September, her first morning waking in her cottage oasis in the woods and she was returning to work for the first time after having flown back late the night before. As she turned the key in the lock of her front door the sound of a Pileated woodpecker in backyard unlocked the memory of those early morning walks on campus across technology bridge. The peacefulness of the setting was suddenly broken by what seemed like the Canadian cousin of that all too familiar laugh that carried through the trees on those morning walks when she’d gather her thoughts. That laugh always made her smile, much like her daybreak alarm, a friendly emerald catbird who’d visit her window sill like clockwork and cry. It was like being transported in time. She shook her head for a moment to bring her back to the present.


She closed her eyes for a moment once more and took a deep breath whilst reminiscing of that time on the bridge, of the weeks that had just past and the months prior. As she exhaled, everything came flooding forward in an overwhelming wave to the final morning of her departure from home.

Wuk wuk wuk! called out redheaded churl  once more, and she smiled at the familiarity of his song to that of the warbling laugh-like call of her beloved Kookaburra.

The mating behaviour of Kookaburra’s is much like other avian species in that they form lifelong monogamous pairs. Courtship begins with the male bringing food to his prospective mate and spending time with her in the nest. Once the bond between the two is formed they will remain together until which point one dies. Like some other avian species, the young Kookaburra are not only raised by the direct parents but with the aid of helper-birds. These helpers are the offspring from the season before. There can be up to six of these birds that stay within the group to assist with the new flock, so raising young Kookaburras is a true cooperative undertaking. There several other Australian birds species that also participate in cooperative breeding (also known as alloparental care), so the Kookaburra are not unique in this behaviour. Alloparental care also happens across taxonomic groups and while the idea seems like it would only be one that benefits the group, in the case of the Kookaburra, studies have shown that the prominence of female helpers can actually hinder the development of the fledglings. The negative impact of too many female helpers is due to the fact that they are not known to be dependable incubators and unlike the males they also lack the ability to be adequate providers for the fledgling. While there are many behaviours that the Kookaburra exhibits that are similar to other bird species the distinct laugh is certainly all their own. Fledglings begin laughing at six weeks but only perfect the call at three months of age. Although this distinctive laugh sets the species apart it has garnered thoughts that the bird was laughing at the misfortune of others in certain stories. However, my favourite connection to lore of the Kookburra laugh is that it is a morning reminder to illuminate the sun.



L is for Lamprey



No love lost…


Swaying her tail from left to right as she cut through the liquescent surroundings on her journey to the seasonal breeding site she was unaware of the supple spear like being that would deliver that deadly kiss… Its lithe body in motion was undetectable to her senses until it was too late, until that moment when her predator’s mouth met her body and seared into her flesh, drawing the life from her once vibrant being.




Love Potion #3kPZS

They are a being that certainly activate the recoil response in most and are the fodder of aquatic nightmares. They have no natural predators and due to their highly invasive, adaptive and destructive abilities, they have decimated many local species. Scientists have looked into several ways to address the growing problem from attacking the larval stage to the use of various lampricides. Yet, the use of lampricides has its own environmental concerns and the approach of working with the lamprey’s natural rhythms and instincts has lead scientists to explore the power of pheromones. Lamprey release a potent cocktail of pheromones and necramones that either entice or deter other lamprey from clustering to an area. Fisheries managers refer to this as the push-pull strategy (Cosier, 2015). However, even though the use of pheromones is expensive, only a small amount of the love potion is potent enough to yield great results. 





M is for Mouse

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/9727880#page/159/mode/1up

Any time I think mouse, I think of a comedy sketch by The Kids in the Hall. One of my friend’s would always quote the few lines of the character known as Tucker (Mark McKinney) in the sketch, and they resonate in my head to this day and still make me smile every time I hear the word “mouse”.

However, when I discovered my new roommates that had come into the warmth of my rental to escape the cold winter, my smile was a little strained despite the memory of Tucker’s tragedy. While the skit is funny on some levels, the reality of having these little uninvited critters stressed me like it did Mark McKinney’s character. I couldn’t sleep properly wondering if they would escape the confines of the closet they now called home and join me in the rest of the house. I remember as a teenager I’d catch little field mice that came into the house with my bare hands and set them free, but today… Not the case. These little defenceless critters sent me screaming like the elephants in Dumbo

The day I discovered them I went straight to the hardware store to see what I could find to send them packing but they had nothing but the traps that Tucker used, and that was not something I could do… I live on a small island and so access to supplies is limited. So I called my father the farmer, and he suggested a few deterrents that worked for him. My next stop was the health food store for some peppermint oil. Apparently, unlike the British Columbian mice the mice in Ontario can’t stand to be around the smell. A few days later, my landlord brought back a humane trap and came down to set it with her son. I felt a little relieved, but at the same time I knew I was going to have to release whatever the trap would end up catching. A couple of days passed, but nothing. I’d peer in every day, slowly opening the door expecting to be charged by a gang of hungry mice ready to storm the main house. I was about to leave for my spring break the next morning and I was finishing up some work before getting ready to walk the dog.

“I should check the trap” I mumbled to myself.

I had been in the closet that morning and nothing was there so I expected nothing would change from the few nights. I flashed my phone light into the trap. There didn’t seem to be any movement, but all of a sudden three little sniffy noses appeared between the breathing slats. I jumped back… Half happy that I had caught a few and terrified since now this meant I had to set them free. I called my friend on the phone to talk me through it. I begged him to come help me but he was nowhere near and it wasn’t realistic. I was going to have to do it myself. He said he’d stay on the phone and talk me through it. I was so afraid they break free. Between my squeaks and theirs, we made it to the car.

I was leaving for Florida and Disney the next day so at least I would have to deal with again for another couple of weeks. So into the car we went, and I put a big rock on the trap to ensure they couldn’t break the top open and attack me in the car. You never know, perhaps they were of the same strain of the Rabbit of Caerbannog , or like the beefed up iron pumping mouse of Nolan's cheese that I have featured in my classes.

I started the engine while my friend remained listening to my little anxiety attacks and off the four of us drove into the night to find a new home for this little trio. I drove to a beach a few miles away that has all sorts of brush, rocks and places to hide. Turning off the engine I told my friend I’d have to go it alone from here. I needed both hands to be able to hold the light and open the trap. We hung up and I took a deep breath. I got out of the car and went around to grab the little trap from the passenger side floor.

Walking down to the beach I’d see their little faces peering out and I’d cringe. I felt bad for the eviction but I also knew they had to leave. I set the trap on the ground close to some bramble for cover. Slowly, I opened the top and one flew out startling me. I dropped the top closed in panic. I’d have to fiddle with it to open it again to let the others free. I tried to do as quickly as possible and the other two scurried out, one taking the route across my flip flopped foot! I bit my tongue so as not to scream in terror like I did with every other encounter I’d had with the mice in my house.

They were gone. I stood motionless regaining my breath and my eyes began to dart around for any onlookers. I felt like I had just aided the escape of a group of convicts. I quickly reached down to grab the trap and walked briskly back to my car. Jumping in, I drove off quickly, refraining from screeching the tires as I drove away. The speed limit on the island is 40kms, so there are no real high speed getaways…

Today, after being back a week and having seen one mouse when I had returned my landlady had someone come over to plug up any holes in the closet. While he was taking things out that were stored in there he discovered another nest and the old vacuum which appeared to be full of some sort of dog food. Apparently the summer renters seemed to have created the perfect winter oasis for my uninvited guests. And so, I head to bed tonight with the month of March full of mice behind me in the hopes that April will be mouse free.




N is for Numbat


John Gould, F.R.S., Mammals of Australia, Vol. I Plate 52, London, 1863.

Even Kiss’ God of Thunder has nothing on the Numbat!

With its distinctive rear stripes, pointed little ears and big bushy tail, the Numbat looks like a cross between the Tasmanian tiger and a Canadian red squirrel. This Western Australian native once spanned the continent along the west down to the southern edge and even into some of the northern communities. 

However, they are currently listed as endangered, and they risk going the way of the thylacine with populations hovering around the 1000 mark. Much like many other animals the introduction of non-native species and the destruction of habitat have wreaked havoc on this little marsupial and conservation efforts are currently re-introducing the species to the south. 

The mating of these little critters occurs in December and January. During the mating season the males with secrete an oil that turns their fur red, and so, females are alerted to potential mates like a bull to a red rag. The pair will communicate with clicks to acknowledge a match or the female will propmtly voice her disapproval with low throaty groans and growls. Mating can be slow or swift but the polygynous males will always move on…






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