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Newsletter
No. 2
Welcome
This is our second newsletter, an offering of all things animal – especially reptiles, in particular lots about snakes. We will also look at some furry and feathery animals. I hope to bring you some great wildlife images, news from around WA and the rest of the world, updates of our training course dates and other bits and pieces deemed worthy.

Apologies if you do not want to receive this – just unsubscribe and you will not be troubled again.

Southern Brown Bandicoot or Quenda
Isoodon obesulus fusciventer
Bandicoots can still be found in many Perth metro areas. Their diggings have been identified recently in small bush areas near my home in Duncraig and at Star Swamp in North Beach.

At first glance they might be mistaken for a pest rat but the Bandicoots tail is shortish and furred, whereas a rats is long and bare. Bandicoots hop more than run and scratch away in the soil for grubs, bugs and tasty bulbs and shoots to eat.

New Cat Laws
"Meow Meow" Really you still have a cat as a pet? Domestic cats are just terrible for all native wildlife including Bandicoots. I personally think cats should be contained at all times. All cats hunt and kill given the opportunity however well fed.

Please keep your cat inside at all times (new cat laws will help a bit - see link) http://publications.dlg.wa.gov.au/CatActGrantFlyer.pdf

To be a wildlife and neighbour friendly cat owner, why not consider a cat enclosure, or have the garden cat netted. Your cat can then run free without troubling anyone or anything else.

Teachers Pets
Our new Venom Incursion is aimed at giving young people an awareness of venomous snakes around Perth. How to live with them, how to react when one is spotted and most importantly to provide effective first aid for snake bites.

Kids, parents even teachers when out camping, walking or just mucking around in the local bushland all benefit from learning these life skills. We also get to look at some very deadly snakes and have a close encounter with a few very friendly and non venomous species. Confidence building, fun and effective education for all.

Contact us or see http://www.animalark.com.au/schools.php for more details.


Skull of a Gaboon Viper, Bitis gabonica.
Longest fangs of any snake species.


Mulga Snake, Pseudechis australis. A common and widespread Australian venomous snake.

Lizard in Focus: Perentie Lizard, Varanus giganteus
This is the largest of all Australian lizards and one of the biggest lizards in the world growing to over 2.5m. The largest and by far the bulkiest on earth is the infamous Komodo Dragon, Varanus komodoensis, which can be found on several islands such as Rinca and Komodo in nearby Indonesia, quite close to Bali.

Australia has a large diversity of reptiles and 25 of the worlds 40+ monitor species are found here, many of them in the vast desert areas of Western Australia. A few monitor species are found in and around Perth as well.

Perenties have a very long neck, stout body and very long tail. They are yellow or creamy coloured on the neck and have white blotches inside dark reticulated pattern over much of the body. The legs are dark and spotted. Monitors are the only lizards to have forked tongues. In Australia they and many other species of lizards are often referred to as Bungarras and Goannas.

Sir David Attenborough came to WA to be filmed with them for his BBC Life in Cold Blood series. I have seen them around Sandfire Road House on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in our arid north. In the dappled shade of scrubby bush their markings are very effective camouflage. They are not too wary of mankind and strut around feeling quite confident in our presence.

A formidable predator, fast enough to catch rabbits and big enough to feed on wallaby, and depending on age and size will feast upon eggs, insects, snakes other lizards, birds and even carrion. Smaller prey is swallowed whole; larger items can be torn to pieces by razor sharp claws and their long shredding teeth.

Perenties live in burrows or rocky outcrops, their long sharp claws effective digging tools. They can stand upright on their back legs using their tail to balance (tripoding) to get a good look around them, which makes for an impressive spectacle.

All monitor lizards are egg layers, with Perenties 10-15 eggs are laid. These will hatch several months later and the young are almost instantly independent, receiving no parental care upon emerging from their eggs.

Photos: Perentie at Kalbarri National Park. Kind thanks to Alan Hodson.

A Tale of Sir David
Sir David Attenborough still lives just around the corner from Bio Pet in London, the site of my first job working with reptiles many moons ago. At our facility I was responsible for looking after a range of animals, including lizards, frogs and of course snakes, prior to their sale to zoos, wildlife parks and pet stores.

On at least one occasion I was probably a bit careless, or a specimen particularly agile. One evening I received a call from Richmond Police Station to inform me that a lady had seen through her upstairs bathroom window a large black and gold snake and called the police. They, being unable to reach my boss, had called on David Attenborough to catch it for them. They eventually found my number and could I please come and collect it from the police station.

On arrival a somewhat nervous policeman handed me a cardboard box with a note on it - Mango Snake! Well I thought there’s no such thing as a Mango snake. But upon opening the box I saw a large Mangrove Snake, a pugnacious but very beautiful, rear fanged venomous species. I think Sir David was trying to give me a clue and keep me out of trouble with the authorities. I am sure he knew exactly what type of snake it was, and the Mango note was a warning to me – but not enough to alert the police to the fact that this was, although beautiful, a rather dangerous snake to be wandering around Richmond.

Mangrove Snake - Boiga dendrophila
Upcoming Courses & Events
Snake Handling Course, DPaW approved for Reptile Relocators Regulation 17
Friday 2 August 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 6 September 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 4 October 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 1 November 2013 - North Beach, Perth

Public Events

Saturday 14th September Bunnings O'Conner 10am - 2pm. Open to all.

Wednesday 18 September - Kulunga Katitjin Festival 9.30 - 2.30pm (formerly Quiz on Legs), Kings Park. Contact BGPA 08 9480 3933

See our diary for more dates.

Call (08) 9243 3044 or email David or Jenny at info@animalark.com.au to book.

Courses held monthly plus on-site and remote site training available.

   

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