kangaroo
Australia, Environment

Kangaroos Hopping Down the Street

I never thought I’d be confirming an urban myth – that kangaroos hop down Australian streets.

Australia’s a first world country, (with a few exceptions), with over 22 million occupants, clustered in a few sprawling metropolises hugging the east coast. Noone still believes kangaroos hop along our city streets, do they?

It seems I was wrong.

Walking the dog around our new Home by the Sea, yesterday, I wasn’t quick enough to snag a photo of the Eastern Grey Male Kangaroo hopping down this street between the rows of newly built homes.

(I did get a video of the sweet creature, as you will see below).

What he hoped to find to eat along the street, I wasn’t sure. Kangaroos eat a range of grasses, herbs and shrubs. Perhaps Mrs Baldry’s lavender was to his liking?

The roo was headed in the wrong direction for grass, so I tried to shoo it back towards the Eco Corridor and wetland areas to the west and away from the traffic as you will see in the following video.

Eco corridor

(Hopefully the embedded video works. Let me know if you can’t see it or it says unsupported which can happen on mobile phones).

Kangaroo in the Suburbs

We all know that rain can make the grass grow, while you are watching it. During rains, the water that runs off from the road surface collects in the verges along the edge of the streets and roads, resulting in a flush of lush, green grassy growth. Grass that many Australian herbivorous animals enjoy eating. Especially Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.

I think you can guess what happens when they feed on these verges, after rain. Roadkill stats rise, not just in the wake of floodwaters ravaging their habitat, but also the lush growth that entices the animals out towards the roadside verges to feed.

Then this happened on my way home yesterday. Apologies for the poor quality of the dashcam footage.

Sliding Kangaroos on a Wet Road

Drunken Kangaroos

There might just be another explanation for the sliding kangaroos, which from my perspective appear unhurt by the incident and hop away okay.

As I discovered, reading an ABC article, kangaroos can become slightly drunk or disorientated on eating too much lush new grass, (which we have plenty of at the moment), and especially so, if a particular form of pasture grass has been consumed.

This can be known as Philaris poisioning syndrome, making kangaroos disoriented, clumsy and loose balance. Which is fairly critical when jumping if you are a roo!

Michelle Mead, from Central Victoria’s Wildlife Rescue and Information Network, said the ailing kangaroos resembled someone who was under the influence of alcohol. The wildlife worker said the animals were indeed intoxicated and that it was likely a type of grass that was to blame. Known as phalaris or bulbous-canary grass, the introduced plant species is a common pasture crop grown to feed livestock.

The syndrome was more common in areas with limestone soils, which contained less cobalt than basalt soils, Dr Rendell said. Dr Rendell said Phalaris staggers were also more common when lush grass growth occurred, because animals digested less soil, and therefore less cobalt, in those areas.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-21/grass-to-blame-for-staggering-kangaroos/9886884?nw=0
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Close up of our local Skippy

Kangaroos Physical Attributes and Adaptations

Kangaroos have all kinds of fascinating physical adaptations for existing in dry country, including suspending pregnancies and foetal growth in drier weather, inducing them to coincide with the grass growth after rainfall, as well as methods for keeping themselves cool in intense heat.

They are not usually active in the middle of the day, conserving their energy. Seeing them jump around at 1pm on some idle Tuesday was unsual.

Some myths and truths about Kangaroos

One can hope that this doesn’t happen too often as they are likely to run out of luck crossing that road.

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An Invitation to an Old Friend

Since I moved to a Home by the sea, I have had a beautiful friendship with a young wild bird who lived in the area. Recently, you may have read how I had to end the friendship with this wild bird. You may also be wondering what happened since then.

The fact that a wild bird could be so trusting as to voluntarily come into my house and sit on my dining room table, without fear, should have been a real compliment and I began to think I shouldn’t be angry at him. He was just doing what he could to survive in a suburban environment.

If truth be told, I was as fearful for his safety as I was for mine when he began fluttering around inside the house. And no, he didn’t drop any messages anywhere nor knock a single item over in his flurry. What dexterity!

Old Mate, as I dubbed him did come back the day following his tour of my abode and he sat outside on the fence singing for me to bring him his regular treats. I ignored his pleas. I did feel mean.

The next week went by and Old Mate didn’t visit me at all. I heard him but never saw him.

Yesterday, I heard him in the neighbourhood.

I relented.

I placed a piece of ham (his favourite), on the fence for him. It was still there the next day. Was this a sign he was gone for good?

I had to admit I still wanted a relationship with him but wanted him to respect that he could not enter my house. I would meet him in the yard.

Today, he arrived again and so I extended an invitation to him and his lady partner and offered him ham from my hand. He took it willingly.

We are friends again.

Birds are wonderful creatures.

#Socs

Australia, Community, Environment

Koala Rescue

Moving out of the inner city has its advantages.

We live in a designated Koala area as the new house is located within a known corridor and adjacent to a protected Koala habitat. Yesterday, we spotted a Koala on our way home from essential shopping at the Hardware store.

koala

This is not our first Koala sighting in our area. Several months ago, a male Koala was spotted resting in the lower branches of the same tree. See my post on Koala spotting here.

The dirty stain on the bottom indicates chlamydia

The Gumtree in which the furry marsupial was sitting, has a flourish of succulent new growth towards the crown, due, no doubt, to the recent rainfall. This has attracted another Koala occupant and this time it was a female with a Joey, (a baby Koala), in her pouch.

According to a neighbour living directly opposite, the koala had been in this tree for a week or so, I contacted the Koala Rescue to report the sighting.

The Rescue group has a number of volunteers who attend Koala sightings to perform a visual health check, as almost all Koalas in our State, are known to have a number of health issues, primarily Chlamydia infection. This is a particularly painful infection that can lead to Koala infertility, blindness and death. Along with Chlamydia, habitat loss has led to a significant decline in Koala populations to a point where they remain vulnerable.

Surveys have shown that some wild populations demonstrate a 100 percent rate of [Chlamydia] infection, which frequently leads to blindness, severe bladder inflammation, infertility and death. And treatment with antibiotics could create further problems for the marsupials, upsetting their gut microbes and making it difficult for them to digest the eucalyptus leaves that are a staple of their diet, researchers recently discovered.

http://www.livescience.com/62517-how-koalas-get-chlamydia.html

The Moreton Bay Koala Rescue is an organization staffed by knowledgable volunteers who drop everything and run to aid a Koala. Marilyn and her able assistant used a set of binoculars to assess the Koala’s health from the ground, as the animal was too high to conduct a full-on assessment and rescue. In the video, they tapped the base of the tree with a stick, in order to assess her ease of movement and to get a better view of her as Koalas generally sleep during the day.

She may well be the Koala, known to rescuers as Barty, as she had a tag in her right ear, meaning that she is a female, (as women are always right!) and she did have a Joey in the pouch.

The Rescuers told us the Koala Mum has likely been carrying her Joey in the pouch, for around 6 months. In a few weeks time, this Joey will move out of the pouch and travel about on the Mum’s back for several months, until it is old enough and clever enough to live independently. If the Mum has chlamydia, she will, unfortunately, pass it on to the little Joey.

Koalas Killed on Roads in Breeding Season

Breeding season is when Koalas are on the move, crossing roads and hunting for a mate. This usually starts in July; perhaps it will start earlier this year, as daily temperatures have been higher than expected.

The Rescue stated that in the first 8 weeks of the breeding season in 2019, they received and cared for 22 injured Koalas, mostly as a result of being hit by cars. It is heartening that their numbers are still high in our region, but tragic that so many are still accidentally killed by motor vehicles when crossing the road.

Koalas are harmless creatures, they basically just want to eat their gum leaves, find a mate and sleep away most of the day. If you only ate one food, you might also sleep 18 hours in every 24 too! They are not endowed with speed and often travel at night when they are difficult to spot on the road.

Slow down if you drive through a known Koala Habitat.

Kangaroo Island Koalas

South Australia’s Kangaroo Island had the only population of Koalas in the country without Chlamydia infection. Sadly, it is believed up to 30,000 perished in the recent bushfires. 90 % of their food trees on the Island were burnt, so any surviving Koalas actually died from starvation, unless they were rescued. One resident claimed that you couldn’t walk ten metres in any part of the forest, without coming across a dead Koala carcass.

Koalas rescued from South Australian Bushfires

Why do we need to Protect Koala Habitat?

As incredible as it may seem, the Government still seems reluctant to protect Koala habitat. Koalas are specialised feeders; they are only able to eat four species of Eucalypt leaves and are thus, highly vulnerable to extinction. Ensuring that remaining Koala habitat is protected is a critical factor for their survival.

The Koala is an iconic symbol of Australia that brings millions of tourists and their dollars to our shores, yet it receives little recognition in the way of publicly funded support in return. After the recent bush fires, a new strategy to protect some realms of known Koala habitat in my own state, has even been criticised for not going far enough to cover many known Koala corridors.

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Koala on Stradbroke Island

It is absolutely essential to protect any remaining Koala habitat. We have been blessed with a responsiblity for this beautiful creature and it desperately needs our help to survive.

In order to maintain viable populations, the Koalas must be free to roam within their range and interbreed to remain healthy. Protecting Koala populations with Koala fences may actually prevent males from finding a mate to breed with.

Report Koala Sightings

It is imperative, therefore, that all sighting of Koalas are reported and documented, so that their movements can be tracked and the data collected and shared with Government bodies. This will assist in protecctive planning decisions that aim to preserve the Koala and its habitat for future generations to enjoy.

May 3 is Wild Koala day for the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue – a major fundraising event had to be cancelled, due to Covid 19. They are a not for profit organization dependent on donations and community support.

May the Rescue continue their great work. Thanks to every one of them.