The Aussie Critters Page

Australia is home to some really wondrous beasties, so much so that they tend to put us on the map and over the years have had an influence in determining who we are as a people.   I have put together a little collection of photographs culled from my adventures round the Net.   Some of them are common to my area, some of them are here because they are  too unique to be left out.   Either way, sod off now and make a cuppa or grab a beer or go weed the garden.....come back in 5 minutes when they have loaded, they are worth it.

Clint Eastwood gave us 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'  I give you the (in the zoological vernacular) 'The Good and The Approach with Caution Wearing Thick Gloves, Stout Boots and While Carrying a Very Long Stick'..

The Good

The critters in the genus 'Good' are those which, while bearing fur feather or scales, incite us to make  'ooh, aaah' noises and feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.   They are generally spectacular, unique or even worse....cute.   Don't look for the KKK (koalas, kookaburras or kangaroos) here, this page is all about avoiding stereotypes like the plague !!

This is a monotreme,  a marsupial which lays eggs and then, after hatching (naturally) suckle their young.   There are only two species of monotreme in the world.   This one is called a Platypus.   Platypussies er pusses er pusi...whatever, have a duck bill, webbed feet, a flat, beaver like tail and waterproof fur.   They  live in burrows on river banks and are pretty elusive  so you don't get to see them in the wild all that often.

The male (don't quote me on that) has a poisonous spur on the hind foot.   Foxes and wild dogs make a mess of the platypus population, but being an Aussie, he is a tough little bugger and is so far surviving.   He was once hunted for his pelt but is now protected.   I dream that one day I will see one in the wild, but for now I just make a beeline for the platypus tank at Taronga Park Zoo whenever I visit.

Unlike the platypus, there a lots of these red wattled birds in my area.    I have lots of these raucous little sods in my garden where they feed on the native plants around my pool.   They are getting quite tame and do not let the fact of me skinny dipping put them off.   They have a loud and varied call which varies from a squawk to a pleasant warble and they visit mornings and late afternoons.   I enjoy their company.

This is a Carpet Snake.   He is a python so he will not give you a poisonous bite.  At the very worse you will get a long hug from one, long enough for him to eventually realize you are not prey and slither off dignity intact.   Snakes are protected creatures in Australia and just about the coolest critter I can think of outside of Dragons.

Here is the other monotreme. Yep, Australia is host to both species.   This is the Echidna or Spiny Ant Eater.   Handsome isn't he.   Again the female lays eggs.   These hatch after about two weeks at which time the young can enjoy milk, distilled from  mum's diet of ants.   Hmmmn sounds tasty doesn't it.  The male has a penis worth mentioning in that it is shaped like a shower head with multiple (seven I think) outlets.   An Echidna penis is the most non erotic thing I have ever seen !!!    It was on a bloody documentary, no I do not go round inspecting monotreme genitalia ..... well OK sometimes, but only the cute ones !!

There is a place on the Great barrier Reef where you can go to hand feed these magnificent potato cod.   If you go to my
Links Page you will be able to visit a site put together by a very interesting guy who (for a fee) will take you there.   Even if you can't visit the reef, go have a look it is  a good site with many interesting and beautiful underwater photos (some of which I 'borrowed').

Lessee, we have had swimmers with fur, swimmers without fur, slitherers, walkers and flyers..... time for a hopper.   Yeah, but I did say no kangaroos right ?   Well, this is a Wallaby, a pretty faced Wallaby to be precise and definitely not a stereotype !!

Like kangaroos, the female wallaby keeps it's young in a pouch on the front of her belly while the male just lays back and lights up!!   Or something like that.   Wallabies are generally smaller than most varieties of kangaroos and when they have a few beers we call them wobblies.  (or was that after I have had a few beers ??)  There are a hell of a lot of varieties of roo and wobbly out here, we even have ones that climb trees.

I don't know about this Rainbow Lorikeet, it is the clearest pic of one I could find on the net, but to me it looks like a victim of a Taxidermist (don't get me started on that subject !). We may not have kangaroos hopping down George Street Sydney but these beautifully coloured squawkers fly around in our parks.   Some people in Sydney are lucky enough to have Rainbows visit them every day.   The birds are attracted to balconies which offer pieces of fruit, usually apples and pears.   They can become quite tame and close up, they are unbelievably gaudy.   They give a nasty bite too.

The Approach With Caution (etc)

Here are some critters from the Approach with Caution (etc) Genus, of which we have a surfeit.   Some of these live near me and some are justy out there waiting.   The basic rule of thumb to be applied to all critters with a capability of ruining your day is 'dont mess with them'.....   There is a certain measure of respect due here as is the case with most of Australia itself, because just when you relax and think nothing is watching you ..... things can go horribly wrong.

One of the deadliest spiders in the world, the Funnel Web Spider is native to my area.   Not good news for me.   They inhabit a thin coastal strip of NSW encompassing Newcastle and Sydney and yet I have never ever put my hand in the wrong place and pulled it out covered in angry spider, let alone seen on live.   This is good because the venom can stop you breathing in around 15 minutes.   A few people have been bitten by funnel webs, none have been killed since an anti venene was developed ummmmm .... in the past (don't know when).

The Blue Ringed Octopus can be found in rockpools all around our coastline.  They are prettiest when they are agitated, changing to a more vivid colour if they feel threatened.   They are not an agressive beastie but tend to get cranky if handled, hassled or bored at dinner parties.   There have not been  that many fatalities caused by the blue ring in fact I am pretty sure only two people have been killed by bites.   Like so many highly venomous creatures, this little Octopus is only dangerous when not approached with caution.

Who does not remember those underwater shots in Jaws ?   Remember when the shark attacked the cage ??   Those were filmed at Elizabeth Reef in South Australia.   No, this is not Bruce on the Universal Studios tour .... this is real ... a Great White Shark.   Approach him with caution only if you must..... find consolation in the fact he has mistaken you for a seal, just before he bites you in half.   On a lighter note you will be relieved to know that Great Whites do not frequent my neighbourhood (nor me theirs).   Photo courtesy (whether he knows it or not) of Mike Ball's dive page.

The Red Bellied Black Snake frequents my neighbourhood.   These guys are venomous but their method of delivering venom is by way of  dribbling it down external grooves on their fangs.   This way, not a lot of venom gets into the bite.   The really dangerous snakes have hollow fangs like hypodermic needles.   I nearly stepped on one about six monts ago.   Knowing how inefficient his fangs are didn't make me feel any less shit scared.   I stepped back and walked away.  He slithered off.   We had a mutual agreement thing going.   I didn't try and hit him with a stick, he didn't bite me on the hand.  (most snakebite victims get bitten this way). Later I was glad I saw him..... much later.

Well, thats the Critters page.   We do have others, these are just a sample.   I hope you enjoyed them.   Now, please leave via the exits in a calm, ordered fashion.




Who the hell is Terry Pratchett and what is the Discworld ..huh??
Discworld Quizze 1   Discworld Quizze 2    Rince Meets the Man
My Country    Me in brief       Interesting Critters     My Cobbers*
Some Links   Dragon Frogs