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03 November 2011 @ 09:59 pm
Quoll, quoll, quoll ...  
Fantastic video on the Sydney Morning Herald site today, baby quolls and koalas! I have a huge love for quolls, they are the native Australian equivalent of a cat, taking up the same evolutionary roles here. And they are enormously cute, see –
Dasyurus maculatus -Healesville Sanctuary, Australia-8a

They are also terrible little thieves. Years ago I did the Freycinet walk on a guided tour (with this mob, who were AMAZING, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend them. Exxy, but unforgettable.) It's a four-day walk through beautiful bushland on a peninsula on the east coast of Tasmania, through the freshest air imagineable, with beautiful wildflowers and astonishing wildlife. At night, you stay in a standing camp which is set up to have minimal impact on the environment. They warn you to make sure that you pack everything away at night, as Australian native animals are on the whole fiendish little muesli snack snatchers.

On the last night, I had stayed up at the campfire reading until all the couples had been gone for a while (because tents are thin, and awkward!), had a wash and neatened my tent before going to sleep. A few hours after dropping off, I woke to pitch blackness and a very nearby rustling sound. Very slowly and quietly, I reached for the torch I always keep by my pillow when travelling*, turned it in the direction of the sound, and turned it on.

I confess, I was expecting a python, because they are like puppies and will seek out a nice warm spot to sleep, though it was very late for one to be looking for a nap space.

Nope, it was a quoll. With one of my best hiking socks in its mouth. 'What are you doing?' I whispered. 'That's my sock!'

Obviously it did not say anything in English, but interpreting quoll body language, it opened its little mouth with a definite air of 'What, this thing?'

'I need that to walk tomorrow!' I whispered.

It put a paw on the sock, as though to say, 'Are you sure? It would make excellent nesting material!'

'No, quoll, it's mine!'

With an expression of infinite disappointment at my lack of generosity, it turned and squidged its way out underneath my tent door. I turned my torch off and sat there in the dark with a big grin on my face, because despite being thieving little bastards, quolls are so incredibly cute and I had never seen one in real life before and here was one two feet from me!

Then I turned my torch back on, leaned over, stuffed my socks deep inside my boots and tucked them underneath my camp bed. Just to be safe.


* This is the one travel tip of mine you should seriously consider. It's especially brilliant for camping, and in a hotel will keep you safe looking for the exit during a fire alarm or blinding the eyes of burglars while you reach for something to thwack em with! (And also helps out with the 'Where the hell is the light switch?' moments when your body decides now is a great moment for a wee.)
 
 
 
pioniepionie on November 3rd, 2011 11:31 am (UTC)
What a cute encounter! I second your torch advice - I have a headtorch, which may not be the sexiest thing in the world, but having hands free is a bonus :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
I have long craved a headtorch, but keep failing to buy one. I went out briefly with a caver who had several in his camping kit and was amazed at how easy it was to set up a tent with one. Shame he was a total numpty!
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on November 3rd, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
They are amazingly useful. My whole family had one each.
pioniepionie on November 4th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Fonder memories of his headtorches than him? Definitely not a keeper :-D
Sivaroobini: Booty Catsirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
That is such an adorable animal! And such a cute encounter. :D

fiendish little muesli snack snatchers

That made me giggle. XD
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 11:41 am (UTC)
I have had muesli bars stolen by at least five different marsupials, ye cannae trust 'em! (Pademelons are the worst, they're fat little wallaby like creatures who are convinced that bushwalkers are little more than takeaway food deliverers.)
Sivaroobini: Hobbit-approved!sirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness. XD Note to self: bring extra muesli bars. They sound like adorable little thieves. (I'm coming to Australia next year for three years to study Classics and Ancient History, so I'm carefully taking note. XD)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC)
Where will you be? Most cities have only possums – keen food snatchers, but don't let them climb up you like a tree, they get confused!
Sivaroobinisirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 12:48 pm (UTC)
In Perth. :D Um, by confused, do you mean they'll poop on me?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
No, they'll run up you holding on with their claws, which are surprisingly sharp. Though they get freaked out by the shrieking and jump off before they reach your face (possums = not very bright).

Perth is FABULOUS! I've not spent enough time there to know loads about the animals, though they have quokkas, which win the best name comp by far ;-) Brilliant cycling city with the easiest train line in the world and bike lockers at stations. Though oh-so hot ... Still, great food and markets!

Sivaroobinisirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Awww. XD

I just Googled quokkas and my goodness, they're adorable! And ooh, I live in Singapore so it's good to hear about the food and train line. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
You will be all right with the hot, then :-). Oh, and if they tell you not to swim somewhere because of sharks, they really, really mean it. The one downside of Perth. But great baths, so there are plenty of swimming options!
Sivaroobinisirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
I was actually hoping for cooler temperatures, and at least Perth has winter, so I'm looking forward to that. XD ... D: I'm half-expecting to see a beach called Amity Beach now.

Thanks! :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Definite winters! Even I needed wool socks and a furry hat! My hosts gave me an extra dog for the bed to keep my feet warm :-)
Sivaroobinisirius_luva on November 3rd, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Awwww, I'd love that! XD Animals are the best body-warmers.
Susanlil_shepherd on November 3rd, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC)
I agree with you - quolls are incredibly cute, but then so is a lot of Aussie wildlife. I haven't seen one in a zoo over here, and I don't think we saw them at Healsville when we were there a decade ago. Pity, that.

I love your story. We always promised to go back to do "Tassie and the Red Centre" as the friend we were staying with put it. Perhaps we will.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
Tasmania is amazing, I do recommend it. Though waterproof your boots thoroughly – the rain can be very insistent. I am yet to really do the Centre, I keep being too busy over winter and too liable to die of hot in summer. One day!

And I've rarely seen quolls even in Australian zoos and wildlife parks. I think they have only just started on captive breeding programs in the last few years because there are a lot of news stories about successes with them. I know that their habitat on the mainland has enormously decreased from what it was and that Tassie is something of a sanctuary for them. Those little noses woffle amazingly :-)
Hueyphoenixacid on November 3rd, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
You guys have some of the CUTEST wee animals ever. I've never seen a quoll before. It's adorable.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Australian native animals often have a little bit of a ratty look about them, but it is the very sweet ratty sort of face that I do like, even on actual rats. And yes, they are particularly lovely. The one I saw had the most astonishingly glossy chestnut fur, quite like a red setter!
ecosopherecosopher on November 3rd, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
Quolls are awesome, aren't they? What a great memory to have :) Thanks for sharing it!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
It was clearly an unreformed sock thief, I could see it thinking 'Wait a few days ...' The little hillside at the back of the camp was dotted with things quolls had rejected from the last lot of campers, we did a bit of a clean-up the next morning and found a startling number of toothpaste tubes!
drbunsen: gonzodrbunsen on November 4th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Camping in a cave up the top of some mountain in NSW, I woke up to hear one of the little beggars rattling away inside our cooking pot, eating our leftovers. The fire was still burning, so I got a good look at his rear legs peeking out of the top as he bashed the billy here and there noisily upon the rocks, occasionally wearing it like an oversized hat.

We went back to sleep only to find him stealing strands of my partner's hair o_O
wemyss: tweedywemyss on November 3rd, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Only you. Brammers.
You've more interesting conversations with the beasts of the field than most people have with Fellows of All Souls.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Only you. Brammers.
The beasts of the field are closer to my eye level in many cases ;-)
bk7brokemybrainbk7brokemybrain on November 3rd, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
How cute! Thank you, I've learned my new thing for the day. I'd never heard of a quoll before. Also, I will be using that word in Scrabble from now on.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
It's a good one for Scrabble! Quokka would be great, too, except for the one K in a set (which is ridiculous, K is such a common letter!), but if you have a blank and a QUOKA – ta-dah!

Australian fauna is a constant source of interest to me, they do such mad things. Poor little male antechinus shag themselves to death, for example, http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1865551.htm
bk7brokemybrainbk7brokemybrain on November 3rd, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
LOL - Scrabble should put out an Aussie and/or Hawaiian letter set with extra vowels, Qs and Ks, lol.
Interesting article about the Antechinus! Rather a harsh way to assure healthy promiscuity in females, but what a way to go out, huh?
I'm fascinated by the evolutionary isolation that Australia provided.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 3rd, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
Did you know they used to have giant carnivorous wombats here? I am not joking!
drbunsendrbunsen on November 4th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
The size of rhinos!
Nennenenne on November 3rd, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
It looks adorable. :) I have never heard of or seen a picture of one before. You have the strangest (and cutest) things in your part of the world. I wonder if it even has a name in any other lanuage?

I'm really impressed with your knowledge of the body language of quolls. Indeed I am. ;)
lyras: Cate Blanchett beautifullyras on November 3rd, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
Quolls! We almost ran one over on a late night drive up to Launceston a few years ago, along with various other wildlife. I'm still not over all the emergency stops and the hours spent desperately staring at the roadside for animals that were about to jump out. But it was very sweet, and I'm jealous that you had one in your tent! As well as being very glad it wasn't a snake. :)
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this mundane stuff called lifewinnett on November 3rd, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Oooh! I want to do that tour. I didn't even really know about these critters. Thanks for the educational moment. :)
subtlefiresubtlefire on November 3rd, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, that thing is so adorable! Please help me figure out a way to transport them to the States immediately.

I also keep a flashlight within reaching distance of my bed, although I've never traveled with one. That's an excellent idea. For now I just use it on the very rare occasions I force myself to write down my dreams when I wake up in the dark.
Seshetasesheta_66 on November 3rd, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww! How adorable. :)
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nahimanaemerald_dragon8 on November 4th, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
I have never seen one of these in real life! :( They're just so cute! To be fair, I'm not much of a camping/hiking type (that would require exercise) so it's not entirely surprising.

(Also, hi! I haven't spoken to you in an age because I am slack with the internet. I miss you and your posts!)

Also, not sure if muggle quidditch is your thing, but there's going to be a day of it held at UNSW's Physics Lawn on the 26th November and ANU's quidditch team (plus me, I don't play but I film matches and next year will be the treasurer of the club) will be heading there. Should be good fun to watch if you're interested. :)
Jaeenchanted_jae on November 5th, 2011 01:53 am (UTC)
Next time, pack an extra sock. You know, one of those that has lost its mate and may wish to end up as nesting material.