When you think of Australian animals, koalas and kangaroos have hogged much of the limelight. However, today we met a few unsung characters when Taronga Zoo’s Zoomobile came to town.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what we were at this morning. I was just tagging along with my daughter and her cub scout pack. There was tree planting, running through the bush with her mates and meeting a real cast of characters from Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo. I was about to say cute and furry characters but if you’ve ever seen an echidna, you’d realise they’re more along the lines of rough and spiky. Indeed, I was told their spines can easily puncture through car tyres, although I’ve patted a few and survived unscathed. Also, I wouldn’t exactly describe the Eastern Shingleback Lizard as “cute” either. That is, unless you go with the definition: “ugly but interesting!
Mind you, in terms of cuteness, it is hard to overlook this baby Ringtail Possum.
Personally, the star of the show had to be a somewhat obscure marsupial called the Yellow-bellied Glider, which arrived in a rather intriguing wooden contraption that reminded me a bit of a miniature phone booth. I didn’t hear this critter make a noise and was just admiring its photogenic qualities and the softness of its fur when an almighty din erupted from the DVD player. Can’t even begin to describe what its call sounds like but you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnzGlC0Pmfo
I was also stoked to meet their echidna. You might recall that we chanced across a few echnidas on a bushwalk locally which I wrote about here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/bushwalking-through-the-lens-australian-style/
Even though we’ve seen echidnas in the wild, I was still stoked to see theirs, who was also a lot more sociable and willing to show off a little and give us a few more insights into the life and times of the echidna. Apparently, it locates it’s food using the tip of its snout or nose, which is sensitive to electrical signals from an insect body and this is how it searches and “sniffs” out ant and termite nests. Echidnas then normally tear into the mound or nest with its sharp front claws while its snout exposes the ants or termites. These are then caught with its fast-flicking, sticky tongue. Because they have no teeth the Echidna crushes the insects between horny pads in its mouth.
That all sounds like a lot of hard work just to get a feed…especially when you could just pop into the supermarket!
In addition to the cute and furies, the sharp and spikies, there were the reptiles…always popular at any animal show. I must admit I was quite relieved not to run into any of these on our recent bushwalk…especially any SNAKES!!
The Zoomobile wimped out a bit today on the snake front by only bringing what’s known as a Children’s Python. After all, it’s not a good idea to introduce Australia’s deadliest snakes to a whole lot of kids. “Mummy, look at me,” as Little Johnny’s clutching an Eastern Brown, Australia’s deadliest snake. That wouldn’t go down well on Facebook at all!
Yes, Australia is full of deadly snakes and if you’d like to read more about them with going anywhere near them, click here: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2012/07/australias-10-most-dangerous-snakes/
In contrast to the Eastern Brown, the Children’s Python is like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one user-friendly snake.
Actually, maybe not.
I just did a bit of quick Google research and found out that the Children’s Python isn’t some docile relative of a jelly snake, which makes a suitable pet for kids. Rather, it is named after the scientist John George Children, who first described them. Humph! That’s the last time I go playing with one of those things. Yes, they actually do bite but are non-venomous.
Yes, I’ll stick to eating jelly snakes!
Back on the cute list, we also spotted this frog which seemed to change colour to match its habitat. Clever!
Well, returning after school drop off this morning, I have finally found out what yesterday was all about.
It was the 26th July and National Tree Planting Day and we were planting trees to protect the long term habitat of the Yellow-Bellied Glider, which actually lives locally at Kincumber. This is a joint project between Gosford City Council and Taronga Zoo. One thing I did pick up was the these gliders live in tree hollows, which are formed when the branches drop off and the wood rots away to form the hollow. It takes at least 120 years for a tree to be mature enough for these tree hollows to form so we really need to protect our older trees as well as planting new ones for the future. Here is a link to more information about the project: https://taronga.org.au/education/project-habitat/kincumber-yellow-bellied-glider
Meanwhile, as the cubs were planting trees and enjoying the Zoomobile, our son was away on camp with the Scouts. We managed to enjoy a snapshot of the bush when we picked him up. I particularly loved the pink Boronia flowers. They have a beautiful fragrance and I used to pick them and make potions out of them when I was a kid.
Anyway, just thought I’d share this impressive shot of him carrying his pack. I don’t think it was an heavy as it looks or gravity would have done its job.
It’s been very encouraging working on this post and realising the limitations of my knowledge and pushing those boundaries out. Of course, we never stop learning and most of our greatest lessons take place out of the classroom.