Monday, April 21, 2014

Wildlife and sleep

Well our young dingo is still around. It seems to have taken to howling at all hours just up the hill behind our house.
I suspect it is trying to carve out its own little territory between those of other dogs.
Or maybe it doesn't know the etiquette yet? 

I like to hear it is around, but random howling in the dark of night is not good for my sleep.

Speaking of sleep... last night there was a noise something like a fizzing-chattering noise (if that makes sense) coming from the roof of our back porch.

I had to investigate and this is what I found.

No, this sweet little creature is not a mouse. She (and I am fairly sure it was a she) was arguing with this fellow.

What are they?
They are Antechinus, probably Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii). Despite their mouse-like appearance they are actually a marsupial (like kangaroos, koalas, wombats and other Oz animals).

They are common in Oz forests, but most Aussies have never seen one (or perhaps realised they have). They live in forests and are nocturnal and mostly people who see one think they have seen a mouse. Hence they don't really have a common name and get stuck with their scientific moniker.

So how does an Aussie tell the difference?
Well these guys are a little bigger than a mouse, their ears are rounder and they have much pointier noses.
Plus in terms of behaviour they are like mice on speed!
They leap and bounce around as if they have no tomorrow. Which is kind of true, male antechinus only live a single year dying of stress related disease before their first birthday.

Unlike mice they do not gnaw. Instead of the big incisors mice have, these guys have a mouth full of little needle like teeth. They make their living as predators, mostly eating insects and spiders.

Oh and they don't squeak! They fizz and hiss at each other far more loudly than such a little creature should.
Here's to an unbroken night's sleep.


Wendy R said...

Utterly fascinating and educative Al, I loved this one wx

Kristen M. said...

You've just taught this zoologist about a new marsupial. Awesome! I had to look up the teeth. With its mouth open, it looks a bit like an opossum (but cuter).

Lisa said...

Boy, between the marsupials and the dingo you are having a tough time getting a decent night's sleep! Poor little males - one year and they die of stress-related disease? And I thought I had a lot of stress in my life!