Tag Archives: australian wildlife

Cane toads just can’t catch a break

cane-toad-2

Once upon a time, 101 Cane toads were  deliberately introduced to Australia, under the premise that they would eat the beetles ruining the sugar cane crops, ridding the farmers and population of a costly pest. Yet as we have learned time and again, the road to hell is paved with non-native species.  The population of poisonous cane toads exploded in Australia, the toxic toads started causing deaths of native species, and a variety of measures were sought to mitigate the new-and more obtrusive- problem, including:

1) Golf clubs (the author of BV cannot reccomend this, though she does understand the sentiment)

2)freezing 

3) gassing

 

But now, scientists believe that they may have found “a more natural way” to kill these killers: Meat ants.

…Yes folkes, this is another one of *those* posts.

Meat ants, a carnivorous species native to Australia,  have been observed eating cane toadlets, leaping upon them and devouring them alive. Or dead, however they find them.  Unlike the native toad species, moreover, the cane toads have not evolved defences to meat ants as have their Aussie counterparts. Simply put, “they do not hop away.”

Not one to hook his wagon to just any star, the mayor of Darwin and Frogwatch coordinator, Graeme Sawyer doubts that these ants can come to the rescue, as they “just don’t eat enough toads.”

Who knows whether sending the toads to swallow the beetles, and sending the ants to swallow the toads will end in tragedy… But the author of BV is put in mind of a childhood song …

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Filed under backyard fauna, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Emu: summer lovin’ happens so fast

this emu is already looking for another mate

this emu is already looking for another mate

 Any number of men with whom the author of BV is aquainted might feel a twinge of envy when they learn of the prodigious attributes of the male Dromaius novaehollandiae; during breeding season, males experience an increase in luteinizing hormone and testosterone. The result? Their testicles double in size, and the birds switch from boxers to briefs.

But in one of mother nature’s canny twists, it is the males who are  saddled with the biological clock. At first, the trade-off might not seem so bad:  the pair mates every day, and the female is still responsible for laying the very large, thick-shelled, dark-green eggs.  

Yet the tide soon turns: the male, brain addled by regular sex with a willing mate,  turns broody after his mate starts laying, loses his apetite, and settles in to incubate the eggs before the laying period is even finished. From the moment he first settles down on those eggs, he will not eat, drink or shit for eight weeks while the eggs incubate.  He loses weight, surviving on stored body-fat and any stray drops of morning dew that he can reach from the nest.

This is because infidelity is widespread amongst  emu, and once the male starts brooding, the female  starts looking for greener pastures, refusing  to bring her erstwhile schmoopy  a beer, make him a sandwich, or tend to his swollen testicles, preferring to sow her wild oats with other, more mobile males. 

To be fair, some females stand by their man, defending  the nest until the chicks start to hatch, but most of the shameless hussies leave to nest again;  for  a female Emu, a good summer fling may mean multiple nests with multiple mates.

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Filed under gender bending, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized