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Published: October 5th 2016
My Aussie Backyard...those that slither, climb & crawl.
We have so few predator animals in Oz but some of the world's most venomous snakes, spiders and jellyfish.
There is the blue-ringed octopus that smiles at you from rock pools but knocks you dead if you dare touch it.
One day I'm sitting on the floor playing with our children and a Sydney Funnelweb Spider casually trots between us.
They are deadly.
You can always tell a Funnelweb...they look vicious as they rear up at you as if challenging for a fight.
Like those red and black soldier ants that used to bite me as a kid. They don't run away. They attack you, sting...and hurt!
Unlike the snakes that skidoodle if you come near...even the venomous ones...unless you tread on one that is.
I'm walking in the bush behind our place and freakout...about to tread on a diamond python just resting there.
Another time deep in the gorge I found a shedded skin at least 20 metres long...reckon it was from a blind worm or the like.
One summer I found five snakes in
the backyard. A two metre carpet snake in the kitchen last summer...thought Denise had put a plastic snake in the venetian blind...funny joke I thought as I went to examine it. Then it moved!!!
Then there are the venomous snakes... tiger, brown and red-bellied black.
Remember the postman picked one up and ripped its head off. Talk about brave...or was it foolhardy?
Walked outside one day and there was a red-bellied black snake at the back door. We both freaked out so it hid under the line of the paling fence next to the side steps.
Use Denise as bait.
So I got on one side of the fence with a spade...Denise on the other side supposed to shake the fence with the handle of a rake.
"Come on, shake it."
"What if it comes out at me? I'm scared."
"Trust me," I say in my most mellifluous voice.
Bingo. Out it comes like a rocket straight at ME!!!
Chuuuh...spade comes down...its tongue quivvering one last time as its severed head glares at me.
Creates an ethical dilemna for me. I prefer to chase snakes away.
But when your kids are small and the snake is venomous and camped by the backdoor...I took action.
It's a Dad thing after all.
(Don't tell Denise how many bottles I've got in my workshop of funnelweb spiders and nasty creepy crawlies that I've caught over the years and kept in store...IT'S A LOT!!!)
I wouldn't wrestle a goanna. They climb trees and pinch eggs from bird nests...can be up to six feet long...yeh I wouldn't wrestle a goanna.
We have had a pair of the weirdest looking knobbly skinks with paddle tails in the laundry basin pretty well all year.
They don't seem to mind being swamped by the washing machine discharge water pouring out. Beats me what they eat...maybe its washing powder...diluted for taste of course! Then one died...the bigger one lying on it in the plug hole...reckon it drowned. The remaining one not looking like moving out soon though.
Then there are the smooth brown lizards that poke their heads out of holes as I approach...nests under massive rocks by the creek...up to one foot long these critters.
The thorny lizards...water dragons gotta be my
favourite...or maybe it's the Blue-tongues...they're kinda cool.
Well I've told you about the deadly Funnelwebs.
So if you are still tempted to visit Oz...maybe you'll change your mind if I tell you more!
There's an old song about a Red-back under a toilet seat...backyard dunny that one.
Well...we also have them at our place. Possibly known as black widows in other countries. Nasty sting but you'll recover...not much to worry about but better beware. Black with a vivid red stripe...even named a tasty beer after them.
The girls in our family have spider phobias.
Remember Denise when we were courting used to shake uncontrollably if we walked into a spider web while we were stealing a kiss outside.
The Golden Orb spiders in the bush blocking paths with their webs...pretty freaky when you stumble into one I know...pretty cool otherwise though...especially with the early morning dew on them.
"Dad, Dad. There's the biggest spider I've ever seen on the wall. I'm never going into that room again.!!!"
"OK. coming." Dad to the rescue yet again!
"It's only a Huntsman. OK its a Daddy Long Legs.
OK it's big. It won't hurt you. It eats flies you know." Bats and flying foxes
One of the banana trees out the back actually grows bananas. Considering banana trees die off after a couple of years we always have one that fruits. And every year the same fruit bat or flying fox returns when its fruiting...pretty wise not to let its mates know.
Also lucky we are not an area that are invaded by the swarms of flying foxes...wonder if their efforts to clear them from the Sydney Botanical Gardens was successful.
Denise had her girlfriends lunching on the deck one day...one calling to me, "What's that? Its moving!"
In the fold of a deck umbrella was the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest bat I'd ever seen.
No more than a fingernal long! A micro-bat.
Supposed to be plentiful around here. First time I've ever seen one...not surprising as they are micro...only out at night. Super hard to macro they're that small! Mice and Rats
In Oz humans live in house...so do possums, mice and rats.
Some may say also cockroaches...but don't want to admit to that
The mice are these ex-pat types stowed away from Europe. Aussie mice prefer the bush they say.
Rats are two types. The bush rat with the pointy nose that I sometimes find skipping along the floor joists under the house (we do live next to the bush you know).
Then there is that snub-nosed monster...the European Black Rat. Didn't know they existed until I moved the lawnmower recently and heaps of rat pooh. There above it a skeleton of a Black Rat hanging from an electrical cord...maybe accounts for one of the unexplained tripping of the fuse box...big brute...tail over one foot long! Bandicoots...and Feral Cats
They say bandicoots carry ticks but I kinda miss the holes in our back lawns...used to have heaps of bandicoots digging for grubs when I was a kid.
Maybe its feral cats or foxes that's the cause...which reminds me.
Anyone who knows us, knows we have have pet cats...always kept indoors at night as we live next to the bush.
One we called Loopey that our neighbour gave us...a male they said...and they kept the other male.
Loopey was a fluffy
marmalade...anti-social pretty thing...wrote a children's story about it once.
One day I found the largest cat outside of Africa I've ever seen on top of Loopey on the back step...growling...glistening black like a Black Panther...over two feet or 70 cms long plus tail...big brute of a thing...thought it was trying to kill or mount Loopey.
Last thing I want in our place is a poofey cat!!!
Enter the hunter!
In Sydney there have been the occasional reported sightings of Black Panthers in the bush for many years, but they have never been confirmed.
Well...I herein report my own sighting...more than once. If not a Panther...gotta be a giant black feral cat.
And the black cat came back.
And I was waiting.
Got it cornered under my neighbour's house...hit it with some kerosene...raced into the bush screaming...never saw it again.
But we had to take Loopey to the Vet shortly after that.
Weren't we surprised when the Vet announced Loopey was pregnant???
Our de-sexed male cat was an un-de-sexed female!
Last time I'll take those neighbours on their word!
Then not long after that I found Loopey dead
under the house with a massive rip about 20 cms long on her stomach.
Maybe the Black Panther came back...and when it did it took revenge...got a bit of its own back! Possums are not cuddly...yet they keep coming back
If you don't have rodents or possums in your roof, lucky you.
Where we live in Oz, we are guaranteed to have possums.
We have either Ring-Tailed or the larger Brush-tailed Possums.
The Brush-Tailed in my opening picture can be very cute...but on the whole they are like illegal immigrants...impossible to get rid of...best to integrate into society.
Opened the tiles on our roof when I was in my teens...grabbed one by its tail and tugged.
The Brush-tail hung onto the timber joist for its life. I pulled long and hard. Felt I was going to rip it in half. So I let go and replaced the tiles on the roof.
The possum said nothing...but the message was clear...it intended to stay!
I had a client once who was the groundsman at a school. With his possum trap we caught eight possums, one at a time.
let them go at the other side of the gorge so doubtful they found their way back.
Yet as soon as one vacated...another moved in!
Years pass and we rebuild our house. When the roof came off a possum jumped to the ground and raced into the bush.
When the roof went back on there was one corner where we could hear a possum digging its way out or in. I kept plugging it up with bits of pipe and chicken wire but we still could hear a possum pulling at the chicken wire for hours and then scurrying on the ceiling...used to send me crazy.
So I used to wait for it to emerge at night...sometimes with baby on its back.
One time it ate through the gyprock wall and entered through the hole...upstairs!!!
Then things settled down. I have let the possums stay.
Not through lack of determination on my part...nothing I can do about it I say.
Late one night I saw a possum returning and I was waiting.
It went past the blocked entrance after giving it a bit of a tug. "Why bother?" it
seemed to say.
Walked into the middle of a section of tiled roof...lifted a tile and slid in.
I was flabbergasted. I couldn't lift that tile without a crowbar.
I remembered my teens when a possum hung onto the timber joist and I let go of its tail for fear of ripping it in half.
Those Brush-tails...cute as...but pound for pound...the strongest critters on the planet.
Mentally...physically...gotta be the strongest residents of our place.
Relax & Enjoy,
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