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Is Disney writing my life story today?

I walked out on my deck

I was up early and it was so lovely if windy, to see this sight.

I ventured into Cygnet, just to get groceries, and pick up library books. The weather is wild winds today (Friday02/10) and the weekend is heavy rain and cold. I do not mind this. Lots of books to look at and read with the wood fire going is something to look forward too.

Driving home from Cygnet I just happened to see this Wedge Tail eagle sitting in a paddock. It was a long way away, which is why I am so happy to have a telephoto lense. Of course I had to pull up on the side of the road. Hazard lights going, and hope the eagle hung around as I set up to shoot the camera.

As you can see it did. I was thrilled to notice it had a small (well from where I was it looked small) macropod; wallaby joey or paddymelon. A noisy ute drove up the hill and disturbed the eagle. Which is why it took off with its meal.

On arriving home I fed my dogs, and then went out in the wind to feed the chooks. No eggs today, I feel the wind has put them off. Though they have been out of the hen run most of the day as the gate blew down when I went into town.
Busby did chase them but he did not hurt anyone and cam (eventually when I called him). I doubt there will be eggs in the morning either. Poor hens.

I put Busby in the house and went to see if I could see the white hen who headed for the neighbours when Busby decided to chase them. Instead I came across the critter below. Of course I had to race back inside to grab my camera. Wildlife does not just hang around for photo opportunities.

Hooray the resident echidna is back, and I hope it is feasting on the Jack Jumper ants that are nesting in my paddock. It was so busy digging and eating and I was upwind of it I was not noticed until Treacle walked by the echidna, who was not that worried about her presence. She just left it alone and came to me.
The last photo shows what might appear to be a tail on the Echidna, it is not it is its rear feet. You can see its claws. Explanation follows

https://www.echidnawalkabout.com.au/how-echidnas-walk/So how do echidnas walk with legs pointing both ways? Like most animals, echidnas walk on the soles of their rearfeet. But the heel comes first, and the toes and claws follow. Why do echidnas back feet point backwards? This odd arrangement seems to give echidnas the ability to dig straight downwards. Like a drill.

I am very fortunate as I see so much about me, many others miss. I am mindful of not only my own place and space I occupy but all the life that shares my little acre, and surrounding area. I live simply and find so much joy, contentment and pleasure in the things that cost me nothing.

I hear people say, Yeah but you live in a lovely place. I grew up in a Sydney so I have not always, and even there I would see beauty everywhere and little magical bits of nature among the city streets. I used to travel to work on a train that went across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. Back when I worked 9-5 job. Nearly everyone around me commuting on the train, did not lift his or her head up from what ever they were looking at, to look at the beauty of Sydney Harbour, the incredible skill and workmanship of the bridge itself. The clouds in the sky. Every day I observed them for a moment as I then observed the incredible things outside the train window.

Put your phone down, learn to observe. See what others do not see. It really does not matter where you live. A bit of grass growing through cement… tells me nature will fight and is strong. Mother Earth is all about us and we do have to love her, observe her.

So my day was incredible.

I hope you all have pleasant weekends and are able to do something you enjoy what every your current situation is.

I am thankful for all the beauty that surrounds me. The native wildlife, the trees, flowers, insects. I am thankful that nature is strong enough that a weed or blade of grass can grow through cement or tarmac.

Blessings to You, Tazzie.

Echidna excitement

I wanted to say it amazes me how just writing about the things that impact my mental illness in an everyday way helps so much. I do not know if anyone else with CPTSD fixates on a thing, and it gets in to you, that you find it almost impossible to let it go. For me writing about my experience with benefits from the Government has let me let it go. Such a positive. It is all in hand I have an appointment with my social worker, and GP so all it under some control and I have asked for help. A massive thing for me. I feel good about it all and quite hopeful. Sigh.

Along with my writing I do find spending time at home and in my garden is the best thing for me. I am trying really hard to let go of all the mess, and delight in all the positives. I am doing well at this. Everything is on a list. Yet I can not have more that one list or I become overwhelmed.

This in itself is important. I have to have a list. It is on my fridge. I mean written on my fridge in a marker, a perfect white board. My psychologist has helped me note that when I am really overwhelmed I begin many many lists. So in simplifying only the major things, on one list. I will not forget any of them. There is no time line for completion and I do not get fixated, or overwhelmed. As my mantra these days is I am content with the discontent. Strange as it seems, but just saying this to myself is such a help.

As I wrote this I heard Busby barking in the paddock. I looked out and saw this,

At first I thought oh NO he has killed a small animal. Then as I moved down towards him I tell him to leave it, and then I see this. Yes in the second photo below the white on the echidnas back is where Busby has attempted to grab the echidna. Echidna 1 (thankfully ) Busby nil. It is so hard for Busby as he is a mixed breed dog. Staffie x,with ridgeback x with boxer. All breeds that make him protective and aware of things that do not live in our home. He was very gentle with foster kittens, and cats, along with other dogs and puppies I fostered. He was fine with some orphaned rabbit kittens, but not with those in their hutches..outside big ones. It is so hard with the genetics. He is improving as he comes away now.

Echidnas have no fixed address they are wanderers and will move around a pretty large area on the mainland in Southern Queensland the organisation Land For Wildlife says that a territory can be up to 50 Hectares/123.553acres though territories can cross.

They find each other using sense of smell.

Apparently our Tasmanian echidnas are bigger than mainland Australia Echidnas.

I have talked about how echidnas form a connection with a male, the following video shows you how Echidnas mate. It is a video from National Geographic, Youtube. https://youtu.be/frZGhk0i228

echidna train.

It is also delightful to actually see how these awesome animals get around. They are not slow moving all the time, and are great at climbing up and over things.

They weigh between 2 and 5 kgs/4.41lb- 11.02lbs. quite a range in size. They have lower body temperature than other mammals, 31-32dC / 87.8-89.6dF.

If disturbed, echidnas will usually lower the head, and with vigorous digging, sink rapidly into the ground leaving only the spines exposed. On hard surfaces they will curl into a ball — presenting defensive spines in every direction. They are also capable of wedging tightly into crevices or logs by extending their spines and limbs.

Echinda Hind Foot

The echidna is adapted for very rapid digging, having short limbs and powerful claws. The claws on the hind feet are elongated and curve backwards; to enable cleaning and grooming between the spines. However, despite this, they are infested with what is said to be the world’s largest flea — Bradiopsylla echidnae, which is about 4 mm long. (https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au).

Whilst both the male platypus and echidna both have spurs on their hind feet the echidnas is not functioning and is blunt unlike the platypus which has a sharp spur with functioning venom glands.

The diet of echidnas is largely made up of ants and termites, although, they will eat other invertebrates especially grubs, larvae and worms. The strong forepaws are used to open up the ant or termite nest and the echidna then probes the nest with its sensitive snout. Any insects in the nest are caught on the echidnas rapidly moving 15 cm tongue which is covered with a layer of sticky mucous, hence the name Tachyglossus meaning ‘fast tongue’. The jaws are narrow and have no teeth so food is crushed between hard pads which lie in the roof of the mouth and on the back of the tongue. Large grubs are squashed and the contents licked up. Echidnas eat a lot of soil and ant-nest material when feeding, and this makes up the bulk of droppings.

I do hope the echidna is eating all the jack jumper ants at my place. I have actually unearthed a few nests of ants in recent weeks, so kind of me to help them find food. In the process I have been bitten by two jack jumpers and they hurt so bad, and inflame and ache for days. One of the hidden joys of gardening. So I am very happy to have them about.

This is the echidna that was disturbed by Busby while crossing the paddock making its escape after I moved Busby away. Miss Treacle and I were able to watch it and I am so chuffed that i got its lovely face. You can also see how dry it has become here.

The echidna in Tasmania is common and widespread. They are less affected by the clearing of land as much as many other native animals as they can live anywhere that there is a supply of ants. Despite their covering of spines they do have natural predators such as eagles and Tasmanian devils which even eat the spines. They were a favourite food of Aboriginal people and early white settlers although they are now wholly protected by law.

blessings Tazzie

Why I love Echidnas!

I love Echidnas! (also known as Spiny ant Eaters colloquially ). I have Echidnas who live and visit my garden and in the surrounding bush. I wanted to share what makes these animals so awesome.

The Long beaked (nose) Echidna found in the Highlands of New Guinea, Indonesian Papua, and the Short beaked (nose)found in Australia. Even though some people call them Spiny ant Eaters they are not related to them at all! Nor to Hedgehogs, Porcupines or Pangolins.

Long Beaked Echidna. are in danger even as they are eaten by indigenous people in the hills of New Guinea and Papua, They are also in danger from deforestation.

The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), Sir David Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is one of the three species of the genus Zaglossus. (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-five-species-of-monotremes-living-today.html) If you wish to know more about the Long Beaked Echidna please look up the link above.

@Echidna Home 2019

The Short Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is the smaller of the two. In Tasmania you can often see them especially by the edges of the roads and even crossing the roads. Sadly as they move slowly they do get hit by cars.

I am very fortunate to have at least one living in and about my property. I will go into more about their territory and life in another post.

@Echidna Home 2019
@Echidna Home 2019.

They are amazing and fascinating animals.

Mammals are a diverse group, but all mammals-

  • produce milk to feed their young
  • have hair or fur
  • have a unique jaw structure
  • are warm-blooded

Echidnas are mammals? Yes.

But they have spines (which are actually tough hair folicles). Yes but they also have fur to keep them insulated so in colder regions you will see that Echidnas have longer fur covering some of their spines. If you compare my local Echidna with the picture below of an Echidna from NSW with a warmer climates you can see that it has less fur covering its back. So yes they have fur. Check. You can see more of it in the curled up photo on the right below.

(Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Image: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum
A Short Beaked Echidna is pictured with its snout to the surface of a wet rock. Its spines are yellow with a black tip, whilst its snout appears to be a bluish-brown colour. The echidna is an oval shape, with a ball-like appearance.
Image: Kathy Atkinson
© Australian Museum

Mammals are warm blooded, yep Echidnas are warm blooded.

Echidnas and Platypus are Monotremes, they lay eggs and their babies hatch.

Echidnas breed in Winter. Now the mother doesn’t have a pouch all the time. It is pretty amazing how she creates one; she does this by contracting her abdominal muscles which then forms a fold which is secure enough to hold the egg and puggle after hatching. (WIRES Northern Rivers. http://www.wires.org.au) and a single soft shelled egg is laid (like birds and reptiles).

The puggle (a baby Echidna) hatches out of the egg after about 10 days. As it is developing the puggle will grow a tooth structure, like chicks have, known as a ‘egg tooth’ a small sharp structure on a chicks beak to help it break the shell and hatch. Watch the video (below) of a puggle hatching and see if you can spot its egg tooth. Puggles are born blind with no spines or fur and it will be about the size of a jelly bean 1.45cms and can weigh in at as little as 380milligms/0.0134041ozs! (https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/echidnas)

Echidna pouch after loss of egg or small puggle
@Leoni Byron-Jackson http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html
A one month old puggle. It will stay in its mother’s pouch for about two months, spending all of its time lapping up milk and sleeping
© Chris Eastland/ZooBorns 

Since there is no nipple for the puggle to cling too it will cling to its mothers fur about her belly with its front legs that are incredibly developed and strong. but clings with its well developed front legs to the hairs on the mother’s belly.

Mammals feed their young milk. Check.

Whilst most mammals have nipples Monotremes do not. Instead in Echidnas the mother produces milk and it is excreted through the milk patches. Areas of the mothers stomach flat skin on either side of the pouch about where you would find teats or nipples on other mammals. The milk is excreted and the puggle will suckle at the patches not lick them. Patches are located on either side of the pouch approximately where one would expect a teat or a nipple to be.

Image result for how do  echidna puggles drink from their mothers
Newman has been reared, with keepers feeding him a milk mixture
out of the palm of their hands. Credit: News Corp Australia, Taronga Zoo

The young laps at the milk patches, it does not suckle. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005

@Image by Sharon McGrigor
69 day old Puggle being raised at Western Australia’s Perth Zoo.. This is of an age where it would no longer be living in its mother pouch. You can see its ear fold an the spines beginning to develop @Perth Zoo Western Australia.

The puggle stays in the pouch for a further approximately 50 days until it starts to develop its spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html The Puggle suddenly finds itself no longer clinging to its mother feeding when ever it desires warm snug and safe in its nestled in its mothers pouch. It now finds itself alone in a much cooler place where its mother will only return to feed it once every five days and it will only be with the puggle for a few hours. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 (Rismiller 1999; Rismiller and McKelvey 2009)

It goes from clinging to the belly of its mother and having access to the milk patch at all times to being left alone in a cool (15 – 18°C) chamber .

@Taronga Zoo Sydney NSW AU, 2016

Many of us have had encounters with these animals in the garden, where they may dig them selves in to the ground, if this happens it is due to the animal being frightened, leave it alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. We can not relocate an echidna, they are solitary animals and have a territory, and if removed from this territory they will make every effort to return, crossing unfamiliar territory, also as we do not know if it is a male or female it could have a puggle waiting in a hollow for the next feed. wires.org.au

If you are interested in reading more about Echidnas and their lives I will be posting more on these endearing unique animals.

Tazzie

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