Pygmy Wombats

With the extended wet season in Mallacoota nature has sprung into overdrive.

Trees, grasses, birds, insects, mammals and even rodents are having a wonderful time; busily reproducing and growing as if there is an urgency to make up for dry times in the past and no doubt hard times ahead.

Our local bush-rats (we nick-named these delightful creatures “pygmy wombats”) are showing the universal urge to have more babies.

Trusting native bush rat

There is a little digging going on and I think it would be hard to establish a new garden at the moment. But with a little tolerance the damage in established greenery is OK.

The difference between the horrid European Rats and our home grown species is a much shorter tail, bushier hair and they are much prettier, with a ‘trusting’ behavior. They venture out during the daytime and will actually accept a little bit of cheese or bird seed in front of delighted guests. Especially from children, who are without doubt still closer to a more natural life. One proud mother actually took a video of her little girl feeding and communicating with her newly found furry friend.

I am always amazed that the presence and charge of a dog (strictly BEHIND the glass of the floor to ceiling front-windows) does not create panic in the bush rat world; no, they seem to smile, knowing that there is safety behind safety glass.

King parrot sharing with our bush rats

What to do with the fact that there is European rats around? Bush rats do not climb readily and should we need to catch a ‘vermin’ rat, we use either life-traps or have bite-stations up high in the rafters. Our concern is that if rat-poison spills out of the bait-box, our abundant and colourful native birds might pick up these unsavory morsels and suffer consequences. Somebody also mentioned that the carcasses from any poisoned animal are a deadly feast to opportunistic carnivorous birds or mammals.

Nothing we do seem to be without repercussions.

I have been prompted to offer this ‘bush-rat story’ because of the article below. It is one of many bits streaming from the internet.

Animal cruelty should carry a much higher penalty. I think it should impact a person’s ability to obtain a variety of licenses – including business licenses and driver’s licence. When the government issues a licence, it is in effect saying a person can be trusted to make good decisions when there are larger stakes, and someone who has committed cruel acts has proved that they should not be given this public trust. Same with any cruel crimes – rape, child abuse, kidnapping, all of these should make a person ineligible to hold public office, sell alcohol or real estate, practice medicine, run a business, operate anything heavier than a bicycle. We would have a MUCH different culture if we took morality seriously in this way.

Margaret and Peter Kurz