Remain Insane

Ramblings of an animal loving, people hating, game enthusing, book nerd :D

The memoires of a crazy cat June 18, 2013

Let’s face it, cats are freaking nuts. And as with anyone who has ever owned a cat in the history of ever, I have always thought that my own, Jasper, has always been a little bat-shit-crazy…. weird. Maybe this is because of the deprivation of oxygen and the death of a few hundred brain cells when he got stuck in-between the couch cushions before we owned him. Maybe this is because Steven and I have just driven him insane. But maybe, just maybe, this is because he is, and always has been, a conniving mastermind playing dumb, waiting each day for his moment to strike. Upon finding Jasper’s ultra secret diary, my suspicions have been confirmed, with his schemes beginning from the very first day we brought him home, but not always going exactly as planned….

Jaspers Diary

Day 1: Catnapped!

Dear Diary,

Today, whilst ransacking the warden’s kitchen with my siblings, to prove the point that his mere ‘cat barriers’ were no match for our cunning, the day took an unexpected and horrible turn…… I was kidnapped. Abducted! Stolen from my home! The warden was in on it too, he handed me over, just like that! I am now beginning to think he was running some type of illegal cat trading agency. Bastard. My two captors consisted of a tall male and a squealing female who seemed disturbingly obsessed with picking me up and squeezing me (Note: overheard them referring to it as a ‘hug’, must remember to run when same word is used in the future.). Once we reached my new prison, I tried to strike fear into their hearts by viciously attacking one of the dangling objects they waved in my face, but miraculously my attempts went unnoticed, with them referring to me as ‘cute’. Unbelievable. Perhaps if I play the cute card and allow them think they have won me over, they will reveal their diabolical plans for me sooner. I will watch. I will wait.

Unhand me woman!

Day 44: Strange objects

Dear Diary,

My captors are yet to reveal their purpose for me, at the present time, they seem completely content with just ‘owning’ me, which is completely absurd. They don’t fool me for a second. Over the past months they seem to think I have been ‘happy’ because I am eating and playing with the numerous fluffy and bouncing things they have bought me. But in honesty, I have only been scarfing the meagre rations to keep my strength up, as well as practice killing manoeuvres on the ‘toys’ to ensure that when the opportunity presents itself, I will be able to escape. I suppose this place is comely enough, but my captors are strange humans (they mock me by constantly meowing at me), and this place contains too many objects I don’t understand. Like the strange object they erected in the loungeroom today. It is quite obviously some kind of climbing structure for me, why else would they have made it look like a tree? Yet when I assumed as much and began my ascent to the star shaped object sitting on top, they took me away from it and told me I mustn’t climb it again. Naturally, I ignored them, which ended in me locked in solitary confinement for 30 minutes. Not to mention the complete embarrassment when I mistook ‘pictures’ on the black box they like to watch as real things and promptly face-planted a solid object. The horse was MOVING, how was I meant to know! My captors laughed at me until they were in tears. Oh the shame.

They'll never find me in here!

They’ll never find me in here!

Day 103: New love

Dear Diary,

It was only a week ago that I first laid eyes on her. I no longer sit at the window day-dreaming of my escape – escape no longer seems so important at the present time – but instead I sit and wait for her. At first she didn’t pay me any attention, she was too occupied with rubbing against my captors legs when they were out in the yard (preposterous!) but finally she noticed me! I sat eagerly at the window as she approached, hoping I had remembered to groom myself that day, but alas, rather than love at first sniff, she hissed at me and stalked off. I am not disheartened, and will continue to try to win her affections. The captors however have been making this next to impossible though by refusing to let me outside the house (due to ‘roads’ and ‘cars’, bah!). How am I meant to woo said female without being able to interact with her?! To voice this disgusting injustice, I have found a delightful new way to irk the captors. After using my litter tray, I have vowed to scratch anywhere but the litter. The wall, the floor, even the air, I will flail my paws in any random direction and scratch, as this seems to infuriate female captor, even more so when I take the extra dedication to smear my faeces across the walls. I will get to my female at any cost.

My love, come back!

Day 200: Mutilated

Dear Diary,

My female is now forever out of my reach. She still gracefully dances through my window watching from time to time, but no longer do I long for her, as the captors conducted an atrocity of the most heinous kind…….. they took my manhood. This place has taken a turn for the worse, changing from a mere prison to a torture chamber.  I had grown complacent with the captors, with their food and displays of affection, for I had begun to believe they may be too simple minded and soft hearted to have had any ulterior motives for me. But now, more than ever, I realise that escape must always remain my number one priority, lest I fall victim to another session with the captors accomplice: the ‘Vet’.

The horror.

Day 315: Transferred

Dear Diary,

Today the captors transferred me to a new containment facility via the horrid metal beast, with all of our belongings in tow. This prison is an upgraded version of the last, with a long hallway for running, large windows for bird watching and a giant floor scratching post that the captors call ‘carpet’. This transferral is no doubt due to my good behaviour as of late, as I have ensured I have been extra ‘cute’ in order to reassure the captors I do not harbour any negative feelings towards them. I am sure this will eventually lead to a lax in their surveillance of me, and that is when I will strike. I was positive that this opportunity had presented itself to me today in the form of an open door, but alas, it was not so. I raced towards it as fast as my legs could carry me before the captors noticed only to, again, face-plant a solid object. Heard the captors calling this new devilry a ‘screen door’, obviously installed there with the sole purpose of tormenting me. I think I may have to find a way to drown them in their water bed tonight.

Soon I will escape this hell hole!

Day 406: New prisoner

Dear Diary,

The captors have brought home another prisoner. I was hoping that this new inmate would be of some use to me, as either an accomplice or a scapegoat, in my efforts to escape, but contact with the animal is not possible. The small creature has been placed in a glass box filled to the brim with water, and is under even more strict solitary confinement than I. I am now questioning my captors sanity even further, as I can only conclude this prisoner is placed in such a thing because a) The captors have designed a new type of torture device – one which I can only assume they will one day use on me, or b) He is a truly vicious beast (maybe he is a homicidal maniac) and has to be kept in such a way for our safety. Upon observing him and his beady little eyes, I have decided it is the latter, and that he is best to be avoided. Though, at the rate my food supply is dwindling (captors have changed me to new food, said I was getting too fat!), I may at some point be forced to confront the beast and eat him. Better him than me.

Who knows what crimes this thing has committed to be under such strict confinement?!

Day 500: The end is nigh

Dear Diary,

500 days. 500 days I have been with my captors, and ……. I think I have finally discovered the captors plans for me, but I fear it is too late…….. I… I think I am becoming domesticated. Last week it was playing fetch outside with the female captor, happily bringing her back the stick like a dog! Yesterday it was waiting patiently by the door for male captor to return from his day duties. Today I even caught myself sitting on female captors lap because it was a cool winters day. THE SHAME! I can’t believe I have been so blind as to let them manipulate me so, it stops now! Tonight, I must do it tonight before they continue their diabolical plot. I will find a way to distract them and finally escape as I should have a long time ago. I will leave after dinner, tonight they are preparing roast chicken, which I am quite fond of. Perhaps I’ll first play a game of chasey with the captors too, for old times sake. Hmm, tonight looks to be a little cold, and my bed is awfully warm, maybe I should wait? Yes. Yes I will wait. Tomorrow. Maybe.

Escape…… later…… zzzzzzzzz.

While your plans may have not worked out over the past year and a half Jasper, it’s nice to know our evil ‘domesticate cat’ plan certainly has 😉

Until next time lovelies 🙂

 

15 Useless Animal Facts Pt. 2 :D December 29, 2012

Everyone loves weird/gross/interesting animal facts on a Saturday evening, so here is Part 2 of my list of completely useless animal facts! 😀

1) Frogs are unable to vomit. Being a reflex to get rid of possibly harmful toxins we have ingested, obviously lacking this mechanism means that if frogs eat something harmful they’ll kick the bucket right? Wrong! Rather than vomiting and bringing all its food back up in that revolting manner, the frog instead throws up its ENTIRE STOMACH, empties the contents of it, and then swallows its stomach back down! Neat huh? 😛

2) Despite the huge difference in length, giraffes and humans have the same number of bones in their neck: seven.

3) Dolphins can’t sleep. For humans, breathing is an unconcious mechanism as we live in the medium that we also happen to breathe, oxygen. For dolphins, living underwater but also needing O2 means that a dolphin is a conscious breather as it has to monitor its O2 intake and regularly come up for air. If a dolphin was to fully drift off into a peaceful slumber like we do it would drown! To solve this problem, a dolphin will take small naps with only one half of its brain at a time while the other half is still awake!

4) Baby Koala’s are not born with the ability to digest eucalyptus leaves. Obviously with eucalyptus being the only thing on the menu for a koala, this presents a bit of a problem! To help the babies digestive system develop the enzymes to overcome the toxins in eucalyptus, the mother feeds her baby a substance called pap…… which is er, well, pre-digested leaves….. yes she feeds her baby her faeces. As a result of this, the baby is able to eat eucalyptus when it is older, but is only able to eat the same types of eucalyptus as its mother did, as its immune system was only able to adapt to the pre-digested leaves it was exposed to in the mum’s poop!

5) A female ferret needs mate after she has gone into heat or she will literally die (because of a hormone imbalance)! While this is legit for the ferret, I wouldn’t put it past some humans to try and see if this excuse works with their partners: ‘Honey, if we don’t have sex right this moment I’m going to die!’ 😉

6) Kangaroo’s can’t fart. The methane that their body produces is converted into an energy source that their body reuses! I wish I could say the same about my cat! 😛

7) Ever wondered how once a bee has found a flower suddenly every other bee in the whole neighbourhood is suddenly at that flower too? When a bee finds something that will be of significance to the hive (new home/food source), it returns to its hive and it…… wait for it……. it dances! But this just isn’t any interpretive dance, this little bee’s ‘waggle dance’ is telling all the other bees EXACTLY where the food source is, from the direction and distance it is in relation to the hive right down to the angle it is at in relation to the sun!! And even when the bee is doing this dance for hours, he changes his dance (its direction and the amount of wiggles he does per cycle) in relation to the sun’s movements so he is still telling the other bees exactly where the item is even though it is a different time of day!

8) Ask anyone and they will tell you that a goldfish only has a memory span of three seconds. Common knowledge right? But is it correct? A 15 year old Australian school boy decided to test this theory by placing a beacon in the water when he was going to feed the goldfish, would wait 30 seconds and then sprinkle the food around the beacon. After 3 weeks, with a beginning time (at one week) of 1 minute to recognise the beacon and a finishing time (at three weeks) of less than 5 seconds after the beacon was placed into the water, the goldfish showed they now had established the food connection to the beacon. The boy then removed the beacon from the feeding process and fed the fish normally for the next week. When reintroduced 7 days later, the fish immediately recognised the beacon and reached it in 4.4 seconds, showing that they remembered it and could retain the information! Turns out goldfish aren’t as dumb as we think they are, and when you think about it are certainly smarter than some humans! 😉

9) In 1740, a cow was found guilty of witchcraft and publicly executed! On another note all our ancestors were obviously also crack addicts 😛

10) You think human’s are evolved? Try this on for size: there is a monkey species where the baby pulls itself out of the womb!! That’s right, none of that horrible pushing and straining that seems characteristic of childbirth, the mother just gives the first initial heave and the baby does the rest of the work! Now THAT is evolution!

11) A dog was the king of Norway for three years! After the King’s son was killed by his subjects, angry, the King gave the people of Norway a choice, to be ruled by his slave or his dog, and they chose the dog! You know a person is a pretty shitty option when a dog beats him in politics! 😛

12) Sand Tiger Sharks are fighting for life from the moment they come into existence, literally! While the mother produces many eggs, she can only give birth to one pup, so once the embryo starts developing it has to begin killing off its brother and sisters while still in the womb in order to survive! Talk about a violent start to life!

13) Never underestimate how dangerous a Rattle Snake can be….. even when its dead!! The instinct to strike at close movement is so hard-wired into a Rattle Snakes muscle reflexes that even with a dead brain an hour after its death it is still capable of killing you!

14) The penalty for killing a cat in ancient Egypt was death!

15) And once again on a more personal note, an animal story that occurred a little closer to home! Karta is an orangutan at Adelaide Zoo, whose enclosure (which I spend way too much time at when I am at the zoo :D) is surrounded by hotwires and high walls. To keepers, Karta never seemed to pay much attention to these things, so it was to their great surprise one day when she jumped ship and got out of her enclosure!! Orangutans are extremely intelligent and are perfectly capable of working through problems, which is just what Karta had been doing in the days leading to her escape. She had previously poked the hotwire with a stick, but on the day of her escape, the smart little cookie twisted the stick through all of the wires causing them to touch one another and short circuited the whole system! Once she had done this, Karta then started ripping up plants and placing them up against the wall to make herself a ladder to get out! And after all that effort, Karta hopped over the wall, saw freedom wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and climbed back into her enclosure! After her little adventure the keepers decided they better have a better look into their animal security systems haha 😉

Until next time lovelies 🙂

 

Taking a walk on the wild side August 3, 2012

After begrudgingly taking up Work Ed. as a subject as high school, I never could have imagined it would have led me to obtaining a job at a wildlife park at 16 years of age. Shyly handing in my application for work experience lead to a wonderful week of hands on wildlife work, which then lead to my decision to begin volunteering my time on the weekend at the park. After one volunteer shift, I received a call from the boss asking me if I would like a job (Though asking me if I would like a job with animals was like asking if the sky is blue :P). A year ago, my time at Dundee’s Wildlife Park ended due to its closure, and this month I have been feeling particularly nostalgic. From having being chased by a horny koala to being beaten up by a kangaroo, these are some of the most memorable experiences and animals that I encountered in my time at Dundee’s 🙂

Sweety the fat ass Donkey

Waiting for food, as per usual!

Cranky, pushy, manipulative, stubborn, a complete pain in the ass (see what I did there ;)), the word ‘Sweety’ did not really extend much past her name 😛 As much as she was frustrating, you became accustomed to hearing her screeching ‘EEEEYYYOOORRRREE!’ the moment you opened the front doors of the park in the morning, and I loved her dearly. Yes some days she caused complete havoc for us keepers because she had opened all the gates overnight and let the wallabies out which means you had to round them up (imagine 10+ little jumping animals over about an acre of land….. I did a LOT of running those days), yes she would break into the hay shed and eat a weeks worth of hay in one sitting, and yes she would pretend to get stuck in gates so customers would pay her attention and then she would steal their food, but she will always be one of my favourites, the cheeky little shit 🙂

Cooper the kickboxing Kangaroo

Relaxing after a hard morning of beating Gemma!

This is the kangaroo that one day made me his own personal punching bag. During our morning rounds, we had to do a clean up in Cooper’s enclosure, which involved simply sweeping the pavement. Cooper seriously made this easier said than done. See, he hated the broom. He would attack it when ever he saw it. Give said broom to a short 16 year old female, and put her in an enclosure with a broom hating MALE kangaroo who is going to try and exert dominance over and is taller than said short female, and you have just condemned the poor lass to a beating. This particular morning, Cooper decided the usual push and shove that he usually gave me wasn’t enough. After being able to clearly read his particularly aggro mood, voicing this to my superior, and still being forced to go in with him due to my bitch supervisor, he cornered me at the far end of the enclosure, and started attacking me! He bit, clawed, pushed, punched, head butted and finally, stood up on his tail and kicked me in the chest with his hind legs. Now, this move by kangaroo is powerful enough to break ribs! Luckily for me, the kick was only half assed, nonetheless, I still was left winded with a great whopping bruise across my stomach and chest! I always disregarded my supervisors demands to clean his enclosure after that 😛

Claus the cuddly Koala

Ready or not, here I come! >:D

Being hand raised, Claus (who was born around Christmas, hence Claus from Santa Claus…… I still think for a koala a better name would have been Claws :P) liked his cuddles, and he would go to any lengths to get them. When he was a baby, we used to have him sitting on a branch in the gift shop, with the shop attendant looking after him for the day. On one of my shop shifts, Claus was obviously trying to get my attention for cuddles, and I must have been particularly and annoyingly ignorant. He definitely managed to get my attention after a while …… by climbing up my leg like a tree! After he climbed the rest of my body, he sat quite smugly in my arms while visitors where oohing and aahhing over how cute his little stunt was, while I was trying not to openly agonise over the gouges of skin that had just been removed from my leg 😛

Dundee the horny Koala

Waiting for me to enter his rape dungeon…..

Placing this guy in an enclosure right across from a female in breeding season never ended well for us keepers. With all the super sexy female koala hormones sending him into a sex crazed state, sometimes Dundee liked to try his luck on who ever came into his enclosure. As soon as you entered, he’d already whipped it out. As soon as you had your back turned, he’d strike. After a while, having a horny male koala run after you and try to make sweet koala love to your foot was just a part of the morning rounds, but we would still run away squealing if he started getting a bit too jiggy with it 😛

Bobbi and Yella the Black Cockatoos

Yella making himself look pretty for the camera 🙂

Bobbi refusing to get off my shoulder 😛

These boys were my life and joy at the park. Their enclosure would be the first I’d visit in the morning, and the last I’d visit in the afternoon. Black Cockatoo’s are very intelligent birds . . . . and also very cheeky! Bobbi, the White Tailed Cockatoo, was the more gentle of the two, even with that huge powerful beak. He liked to sit up on my shoulder close to my ear, groom my hair and make little whistle noises and murmurs in my ear. The only time he’d ever nibble and bite my hand was if I was trying to remove him from my shoulder! 😛  Every time he saw you he would always call out to you and make a racket until you would go and visit him. Yella, the Yellow tailed Black Cockatoo, on the other hand always made a racket! While he too liked to sit on my shoulder, it wasn’t to be cutsie, but to steal hats, sunglasses (and break them :P), and play with and pull out my hair! He’d swoop you, hang above your head upside down, and even give your nose a good honking if you gave him half a chance! They both had completely different personalities, but I could have never ever chosen between my feather babies! 🙂

Buff the Water Buffalo

Big softie!

While weighing up to 3/4 of a tonne with horns that stretched 2 metres in length, this guy was nothing but a big softie! 🙂 At first I was so scared that if I went near him he’d gore me with those sharp horns, but soon realised that he was a big gentle giant who loved his hay and carrots. When ever I went in with him to change the water in his trough I kept a safe distance, as he did from me. But once I was safely on the other side of the fence again, as if he knew it were now safe, he would come up for pats. I happened to discover he also enjoyed licking, when one day I had my face near him and he decided to cover it in friendly buffalo slobber 😛 This giant animal wouldn’t hurt a fly, which is why I got so angry when I caught some customers throwing rocks at him and his ostrich companion one day. In my murderous rage I struggled to stay professional while telling them to stop what they were doing, but when the little 15 year old bitch gave me attitude, I couldn’t help but lose my shit and start yelling at her. If I recall, I called her an idiot and told her to ‘Get the f*ck out.’ She wasn’t so high and mighty then as I personally kicked her out of the park >:) Meanwhile Buff was waiting by the fence for me for a pat, making me wonder why someone would ever in their right mind throw things at him. This quote from ‘Family Guy’ describes me perfectly in these situations: ‘I’m like one of those bald eagles on the Discovery Channel. Beautiful to look at . . . . . . . but mess one of my chicks and I’ll use my razor sharp talons to rip your f*cking eyes out!’ 😛

The Psycho Emu Gang

Peculiar animals indeed 😛

Apparently a normal female + a normal male = completely schizophrenic babies! After the emus first lot of eggs hatched, it was obvious the three little munchkins were just born weird 😛 When they were little enough, they’d sneak through the gaps in the fence and try to chase the alpacas. When they were a bit older, they would chase each other around the enclosure in complete terror of one another. They would run in circles for absolutely no reason. They would literally stare at their food for 15 minutes like they didn’t know what it was, then chow into it like their was no tomorrow. When I was in their enclosure, they would play with my hair, took great amusement it biting my butt, and loved it even more when they had a chance to chase me. I would also regularly get a bath when changing their water trough. Emus love water, so when I emptied their trough on the ground, they would sit in it for ages. After they were thoroughly soaked to the bone, they would stand up, come over to me, and shake themselves like a dog. I think I came home smelling like emu a lot 😛

Heartburn and Julius the Crocs

Heartburn doing what he does best……..nothing 😛

We had many crocodiles at Dundees, but none was more of a pansy than Heartburn, the largest crocodile in the park. 17 years old and 3 metres long, Heartburn was a pipsqueak for his age, and unfortunately for him, he never did make up for size with his lazy attitude 😛 When we emptied his pond to clean it, he would go have a sook in the bushes on the bank until we returned is pond to its normal state. These sulking fits went as far as us being able to pat him without him moving (on the tail mind you, though he was lazy and a push over, there was still no way I wanted to be anywhere near those jaws! :P) Julius on the other hand was small and young, but ferocious as they come! About a metre and a half in length, Jules would always jump out of the water snapping his jaws trying to get you as you passed his pond. When you cleaned his pond, you needed everyone to help, whether they were cleaning and watching, and you had to be on guard at all times! When I went into work one morning and my boss Maurice told me we had to move Jules to a new pond up the top of the park, I assumed there was going to be more helpers, but it turned out it was just him and me! Firstly, we had to loop a rope around his top jaw. Once this was done, Maurice got into the enclosure to tie his jaws while I was holding onto the rope making sure he didn’t get away. After lots of struggling and splashing, his mouth was finally tied. Next step was a bit tricker, we had to get him out of his pond, which was deep in the ground, had no gates and a metre high fence that a person could climb easily on their own, but a crocodile in tow made it a little more difficult 😛 Maurice passed Jules up to me, and I had to haul him over the side. When I finally got him over the fence, he started thrashing, and recalling every Steve Irwin move I’d ever seen, I sat on top of him and held him down. Just call me the Crocodile Wrestler 😉

The ones that were lost

Along with all the wonderful animals that still live, there have been many that have also passed away that made my time at Dundees so special.

Incoming Kangaroo kiss!

Rufus was one of the first animals I fell in love with. He was a hand raised Kangaroo with Mickey Mouse ears. He was such a loving little animal and I spent lunch time sitting with him while he lazily sunbaked in the beautiful weather. He would always find you in the morning to greet you, and planted big wet kisses on your cheek. After a year of working there when my supervisor told me he’d had a seizure, I was heart-broken. I found him lying under a little shelter twitching, grunting and almost lifeless. If I thought I spent a lot of time with him before, now I was spending every spare second I had with him. He couldn’t get up and move at all, so instead I hand fed him and gave him water out of a bottle. When I returned a week later and he was still holding on, but had been next to forgotten about and left to lie in the dirt and as a result had gone blind in his left eye, I was furious. I found a blanket, and lifted my 70kg baby onto it and bathed his eye. The next morning, I was told it was the day he was going to get put down. I battled for control of my tears most of that day, but  at the end of my shift I broke down. I went and sat with him, cuddling him, telling him how much I had loved him and holding him close with his head resting on my lap. After an hour, I finally had to walk away, knowing that I would never spend another lunch time enjoying the sun with my dear friend. I’ll never forget that kangaroo.

Though a bit blurry, I feel this picture shows Woof for the cute freak he was 🙂

Rosie chatting up the camera!

In my third year at Dundees, there was a severe fire that completely burnt out the bottom of the park. In it, we lost some wonderful birds and owls. Woof was a Barking Owl, and he was quirky and loved for people to bark back at him when he called out, which sounded like a dog. Another bird we lost was Rosie the Major Mitchell, who loved daily scratches and talked to you non stop. Both had been there right from the start, and it wasn’t the same without them.

Sooky by name and sooky by nature!

Sooky the Galah didn’t actually pass away, but instead was stolen! This beautiful little bird lived up to her name to the fullest, loving cuddles from anyone at any time, so obviously someone decided they’d take her for themselves! Sadly, this was not the first or last time an animal was stolen…. sometimes I question people’s sanity! I have just always hoped the person that took her has looked after her well, she was a complete diva that needed papering to the fullest extent!

So many animals at that park over the 4 years have left me with so many wonderful memories. The good times, the bad times, the sad times and the times that made me laugh till my stomach hurt, I will never forget my time at Dundee’s and most of all the wonderful scaley, feathered and furry friends that made me look forward to work each day 🙂

 

Australia – What they didn’t show you in the adverts July 13, 2012

Welcome friends, to Australia! Please take a seat as we give you a brief walk-through of our wonderful country and the sights you will be seeing during your stay! The Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour, Uluru, The Great Barrier Reef, The Great Ocean Road . . . . . . no doubt these are the things you have been shown in the lovely pretty brochures of our country, but we will not be discussing these things today, oh no, we will be talking about the wildlife! While Kangaroos and Koalas are of course some of our native icons, there are many more . . . . . . interesting beasties that you will no doubt encounter at some point in your wild adventures! So please sit back, relax (paper bags can be located on your left in case of hyperventilation) and enjoy the side-show on the poisonous and dangerous, oh, I mean, the wonderful and fascinating creatures of Australia!

The Little Things

Here in the land down under, we have a range of creepy crawlies roaming completely free throughout our terrain (and houses) for your own personal viewing pleasure! There are thousands of these things all over Australia, so no doubt you will be lucky enough to get up close and personal with some of the following, neat huh?!

The Red-Back Spider

Easily identifiable by the red stripe on its back, the Red-Back Spider is considered one of Australia’s most dangerous spiders! It has a neurotoxic venom that, if injected into a human through a bite, causes severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and muscle spasms for up to 24 hours!

The White-Tailed Spider

Also containing a nifty venom, if this guy bites you, you are most likely to experience nausea, swelling, and receive a whopping big skin lesion, ulcer or blister that could lead to wide-spread skin loss, as the poison in its bite can rapidly kill skin cells!

The Funnel Web Spider

The Funnel Web Spider is one of the three most poisonous spiders in the world! Its acidic venom can cause muscle spasms, elevated heartbeat and respiratory distress, and can kill a person within 15 minutes!

The Huntsman Spider

Ranging from a 20 cent piece to the size of a man’s hand, this whopper is found EVERYWHERE. And when I say everywhere, I mean there is probably about 100 in this room right now, those little buggers just love to get right into all of our buildings and even snuggle up to you while you sleep!

The Bird-Eating Spider

Located in the warmer regions of Queensland, they are recognised as Australia’s largest spider. While their venom does not pose a lethal outcome (at least for humans anyway), these spiders have ridiculously long fangs to match their ridiculously large body, with their chompers sometimes growing up to 9cm!

The Scaley

Like snakes? Wonderful, we have plenty! Australia happens to be the very proud owner of some of the world’s most poisonous reptiles! We also happen to own a very large reptile species that is a direct descendant of the dinosaurs and is completely capable of successfully hunting man!

The Inland Taipan

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the most venomous snake in the world! It can kill an adult human in 45 minutes, and one bite contains enough poison to kill 100 people, or 250, 000 mice! Shy but highly intelligent, they are mostly found in our deserts, so watch your step, we don’t want you stepping on our world record holder!

Eastern Brown Snake 

While it is not much to look at, the Eastern Brown Snake of Aus currently holds second place in the world’s most venomous snakes! From the horrified looks on your faces, I can reassure you dear visitors that fortunately these magnificent beasts are found all around our country, so it is complete guarantee that you shall get that close encounter you so dearly desire! Lucky you!

The Saltwater Crocodile

Growing up to 8 metres in length, able to propel themselves half of their own body length out of the water, with a deadly death roll and a snap pressure of 15 tonne in its jaws (aka, what it would feel like if you got hit by a truck), the Saltwater Crocodile is one of the world’s most dangerous predators. After thousands of years of hard work, evolution has perfected the crocodile and his hunting abilities, with one of the most admirable aspects being able to find patterns in their chosen preys behaviour to maximise their hunting. Planning on taking a dip in our rivers or ocean? Just make sure you play nice and share, crocs are not only found in rivers, but on beaches all across the top of Australia, happy swimming!

The Sea Dwellers

While crocs can be found in both river and ocean, we certainly can’t let them take centre stage for our sea creatures! Nothing says: ‘I visited Australia!’ like an encounter with and a scar from one of these guys!

Box Jellyfish

We have another record holder folks! Classed as one of the most poisonous animals in the world, the Box Jellyfish is usually mostly transparent, so it’ll sting you before you even know it! Each of its tentacles contain 500, 000 cnidocytes (harpoon-like spikes), each of which can be used to pump venom into its unsuspecting prey…… that is a lot of poisonous spikes!

Blue Ringed Octopus

While only quite small, this little guys poison is strong enough to kill humans. Even better, there is no existing antivenom available to with-hold the poison which is 10, 000 times more toxic than cyanide! You have to rely on your own body to fight it off, lets hope you have a healthy immune system!

Stone Fish

Watch where you step! This fish, known as the most poisonous of its kind, often looks like a mere rock or piece of coral, allowing us unsuspecting humans to step on one of its 13 venomous spikes!

The Great White Shark

While Bondi Beach may look inviting, this is what awaits unsuspecting surfers under the surface! Seeing this large predatory fish with 300 serrated teeth travelling towards you at 24km an hour might seem quite scary, but I swear he is just smiling and wants to give you a grand welcome to his territory!

The slightly fabricated Beasties

While many will try to tell you that these beasts are merely local Australian myths, you never EVER want to underestimate these crafty creatures that are shrouded by an air of mystery!

Bunyip

Found to be lurking in swamps, billabongs, riverbeds and waterholes, the word Bunyip literally translates to ‘devil’. Believed to be an evil spirit working his magic at night, the Bunyip likes to prey on lone campers near the Murray River, often leaving no trace of the unfortunate souls it devours.

Drop Bears

For those seeking an animal with a bit more oomph than wussy and fluffy creatures, look no further than the Drop Bear! A new evolutionary strain of the cute and leaf-eating Koala, this unusually large, vicious and carnivorous animal likes to attack its prey by dropping on their heads from above! If you are a little frightened of these vicious Koala’s, never fear, a fork in your hair and a little Vegemite behind your ear completely deters the creatures from targeting you 😉

So there you have it my lovely visitors! I’ll take it by the shocked looks on your faces you are in complete awe of our creatures and can’t wait to leave the de-brief to begin to come face to face with each and every single one! Now I will just open the door to let you out . . . . . .what’s wrong? What are you all waiting for?! Get out there and explore our wonderful country! No sir, you can not get back on the plane, it is currently under maintenance for the next week, aren’t you lucky you are completely stranded in such a lovely place! Ma’am please, sobbing is really not necessary. You are surrounded by so many interesting animals, why not go and enjoy it! And if you haven’t been to Australia yet to bask in our wildlife: Where the bloody hell are ya?! 😉

 

You’re the devil in disguise May 6, 2012

Filed under: The Animal Loving — Gemma @ 10:02 pm
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 This my friends, is the face of evil:

Oh but don’t be fooled by his looks! Underneath this cute and fluffy exterior is a plotting and diabolical mastermind. When we first got him, while he was quite adorable, we assumed he was simple minded. He kept up this charade very convincingly for months with extremely dedicated idiocy through:

– Killing off a couple hundred brain cells per day through hitting his head on every single object possible.

– Running around the house at top speed on wet floors, losing balance and face planting the walls

– Diving and face planting the TV trying to catch the pretty pictures

– Licking poison

– Getting stuck in the bin

– Jumping in the shower over and over again while the water was on

– And becoming fascinated with and creepily staring at the ‘Magic Box’ (air conditioner)

After all this brain-cell-killing activity, I was very surprised when he started showing a bit of brainage. He would steal my clothes while I was in the shower so I would have to give him attention and chase him. I once spent 5 minutes chasing him around the house while he had a pair of my underwear on his head! When he felt that I was a terrible owner and was not feeding him soon enough, he would open all the cupboard doors himself and get his own food. He has also locked me in an epic battle of tomfoolery. He uses the shock tactic, scaring me when I least suspect it. I on the other hand, like the gentle loving person I am, use brute force >:D Everyday,  Jasper sets himself up in a strategic place around the house, and waits. After about 10 minutes, he will meow. Me being a gullible idiot, will stop what I am doing and try to find him, thinking something is wrong. Then, out of no where, ninja cat comes flying through the air and attacks me like this:

Possibly slightly fabricated

I think through these ambush attacks, it is quite probable that Jasper is in fact trying to give me a heartattack and kill me, in which I believe he will then eat me hence winning the battle. But I will give him no such satisfaction. Fighting back, I have locked him in the cupboard, chased him with the big scary duster, and also turned our water bed into a cat catapult while he was peacefully sleeping on it, by sitting my fat ass on it and sending him flying across the room. As the fight rages on, I seem to be losing miserably. I think more cat-apulting is in order ;D The score stands as such:

Jasper: 459

Gemma: 3

As he sleeps peacefully next to me right this moment, it seems the battle is over for the day, but the night is young. From the evil glaces he was shooting me before, I believe tonight may be the night he finally plans to smother me in my sleep. I shall take the duster to bed with me for protection . . . . just in case. Until next week my lovelies, unless Jasper gets to me first! 😐

 

15 Useless Animal Facts :D April 21, 2012

At the moment, I am training to be a volunteer at Adelaide Zoo and studying Animal Behaviour. This requires me to absorb a huge amount of information about an enormous amount of animals, but I only seem to remember the weird, interesting and entertaining facts the best 😀

1) A Kangaroo can jump 7 metres high, and 5 metres in length. So, theoretically, it could jump over a giraffe!

2) A Zebra herd consists of one male and a group of females. The females better hope they get on the males good side, as when they travel, the male places his least favourite females on the outside of the herd, so if they are attacked by predators they will be eaten instead of his favourite zebras!

3) While elephants put their young on the inside of a group while travelling for protection, a troupe of Hamadryas Baboons will place the breeding pair in the centre, other adults in the middle, and the babies on the outside to be the first picked off if attacked! Safe to say they are not very good parents!

4) A female Spotted Hyena has a penis. Yep, you heard me. They obviously don’t work as per usual, but the females flail these pseudo-penises around in front of each other, and the bigger the penis, the more dominant the female.

5) During mating season, to determine the dominant male, male Ring-Tailed Lemurs have ‘stink’ fights. They rub their stink glands all over their tails, wave their tails at each other and the stinkiest male wins. What a charming way to win over a female, so sexay ;P

6) A pack of African Painted Dogs will roll in each others urine and faeces every morning. Gross right? But essential for their hunting strategy and pack hierarchy. When hunting in long grass they have to stay in formation, and while they may not be able to see each other, because of their (disgusting) morning ritual they certainly can smell each other! 😛

7) A Binturong has a scent gland that releases a scent that smells like buttered popcorn! Er, nom nom? 😛

8) A Saltwater Crocodile has a snap pressure (that is, when they shut their mouth from open to close) of 1 tonne in their jaws! That is equal to the weight of a family car!

9) The first joint on a Giraffes leg is not actually its knee like most people assume. While its knee is located right up near its body, that first knobby looking joint is actually its ankle! That’s a huge freaking ankle!

10) One Poison Arrow Frog has enough poison to kill 2, 200 people! Cute little buggers, but more lethal than an Eastern Brown Snake!

11) A Cockroaches brain is spread throughout its body. This means, if cut in half, the cockroach is still able to survive! Cause of death would not be due to injury or dismemberment, but instead due to starvation! Creepy! 😐

 12) Male ducks form rape gangs. Sucks to be a female duck!

13) Just imagine an elephant stepping on your hand while wearing a stiletto shoe. This is what the bite of a Tasmanian Devil feels like, yeouch!

14) A male lion has a spiked penis, so when it is inside the female, she can’t get away and is forced to let the male mate with her. Again, talk about an unlucky female! 😐

15) And on a more specific note, one of the Panda’s at Adelaide Zoo got drunk! A fig tree overhanging the Panda enclosure was sectioned off by the keepers with an electric fence because they are bad for animals. While these figs are like candy to a Panda, once they are in their stomach they ferment and become alcohol. While Funi (the female) tested the electric fence with her nose, got zapped, and never went near it again, the boisterous male, Wang Wang, got half way through it, got zapped, and figured he may as well keep going! So he spent the rest of the afternoon stuffing his face and getting tipsy! What a party animal ;D YOU GET IT?! XD

I really need to get more sleep, I am far too hyperactive at this time of night 😀

 

Alex the Grey, move aside Gandalf! April 14, 2012

Filed under: The Animal Loving — Gemma @ 2:21 pm
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Animal behaviour absolutely fascinates me. How a crocodile will sit in the same spot for up to a week to watch its prey’s movements, and learn exactly how to catch it before it strikes to optimise its kill. How African Painted Dogs have learned to hunt in a funnel formation, driving the unsuspecting prey straight into the alpha males waiting teeth before it knows what hit it. How some great apes, just from watching humans at a distance, have learnt how to row a boat, paint, use sign language and to even use objects like hammers and nails. But there is one animal in particular that even I find my mind hard to wrap around, and the sheer comprehension of his achievements is mind blowing.

Get your nerd on guys, it’s about to get geeky in here.

This amazingly adorable and fluffy bird right here, in my mind, was a part of one of the most eye-opening and amazing studies of our time. This is Alex. He is an African Grey Parrot, the smartest bird in the world. Now Alex, he wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill bird. What was so special about Alex you ask? Well Alex . . . . . WAIT FOR YOUR MIND TO BE COMPLETELY BLOWN. . . . . . . . he could talk. Now before you shake your head, think ‘Oh Gemma you ninny, loads of birds can talk!’, and conclude that I am in fact deranged, let me explain why this particular case of a bird talking is so special.

When you talk to a bird, does it actually understand what you’re saying? When you hear a bird say ‘Hello’ or ‘Pretty boy want a cracker’, does it understand what IT was saying? If you’re answer was: ‘Of course not!’, you’d be in fact 100% right. The act of listening and repeating what we say is called mimicry. This is simply when the bird has heard a human repeat a word so much that the bird can then replicate it. The bird has no idea what it’s saying of course, this is just a new noise that it has added to its repertoire. The bird only realises that this new interesting noise is worth something when us humans flip out over it and give it food or pats every time it says it. The bird will continue to make this noise until the cows come home, in which it will then learn to moo if it means more love and attention.

This right here is what is special about Alex. He did not just mindlessly listen to human speech and repeat a random assortment of words in the hope of a bit of extra food; he could ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND what you were saying to him and what he was saying back to you. Just actually think about this for a moment. This is a BIRD, a ‘bird-brain’, a being that was believed to have no higher order of thought that is VERBALLY COMMUNICATING with humans and has LEARNT A LANGUAGE! Please watch the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6KvPN_Wt8I

DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID THERE?!!! IS YOUR MIND NOT BLOWN?!

A 30 year study with Alex saw him learn and understand 150 different words and phrases, and was predicted to have the intelligence of a 5 year old. He could identify 50 different objects like ‘key’ or ‘wool’, he could count up to 6, he could distinguish 7 different colours and 5 shapes, he understood the concepts of bigger, smaller, same, different, over and under! He could answer multiple questions about the same objects. He asked his own questions when he wanted to know something. He could understand the concept of zero or ‘none’. Just imagine how hard that would be for an animal, which base their whole thought process on sight, to understand we are asking him to identify something that isn’t there! He understood how to put language together:  for example, he knew what a cherry and a banana was. The first time he was fed apple, which he didn’t know, he said it tasted like banana. When he saw it, he thought it looked like a cherry. He could never properly pronounce the word ‘apple’, so what did he call it? Banerry. He combined two objects that he knew to describe one that he didn’t. If he said he wanted banana and was presented with a nut, he would stare at it, glare at the researcher, and repeat his request. If presented with a nut again, he would throw it at them! Even bird super stars turn into divas! 😛

Every time his owner, Dr Irene Pepperburg, left for the day he would tell her he loved her and told her to behave herself. Once Dr Pepperburg asked him what colour a block was (it was green), and because he was bored and feeling cheeky, he stated every other colour he knew except green. After an hour of this, Dr Pepperburg decided to leave him be, put him back in his cage, and went out of the room. As she was walking down the hallway, Alex started screeching ‘It’s green! It’s green! I’m sorry! Come back! Green green green green!’.

Now if the fact that this bird can understand language and communicate with humans isn’t enough, he taught another African Grey Parrot to talk. And not just mimic, he taught it to understand things like he did. Again, let me reiterate. THIS IS A FREAKING BIRD, WHO UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH, TEACHING ANOTHER FREAKING BIRD TO UNDERSTAND ENGLISH. When the other bird, Griffin, struggled with a word, Alex would correct him and they would talk to each other, IN ENGLISH, until he got it right. This parrot, this so called ‘bird-brain’ Alex, was simply astonishing. When he died, he had not even reached his full potential. He opened the whole world’s eyes to how amazing and smart animals are. He showed us that African Greys have the same intelligence as dolphins and Great Apes, which are one step away from humans on the evolutionary scale. And we humans had the nerve to think birds are stupid?

Not so stupid now are they?