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What the Smell? Animal Reactions.


Alexandra Fowler

My day out with the vetebrates team. We found some pretty cool things and you will never guess which animal made the worst smell!

Today I was working with the Invertebrates team. Our main focus was to check the pit traps and the funnel traps in both the morning and afternoon. It is important to check traps at least twice a day so that anything caught is not in the trap for too long. The traps do not harm any of the animals! Our first set of traps were set up a few days ago in a grassland habitat. In those traps we mostly caught spiders but the afternoon check also resulted in a couple of interesting beetles.

The second set of traps were in a Mallee habitat. Again the traps mostly contained spiders but one contained a Pygmy Possum. The Pigmy possum had two main reactions, the first was when we took it out of the trap it clung to the hand holding it. The second reaction occurred when it was taken out of the fabric bag, it went into a defensive mode hissing and biting.

In the Mallee Habitat we did some insect hunting as well. We looked through bark and leaf litter for anything that moved. I caught 5 insects; a cockroach and four different beetles. Many of the things we found under the bark were quicker than I could catch. I noticed that insects tend to run in response to being uncovered, although a couple decided to just play dead.

After checking the traps in the morning and before we did the afternoon check we explored the national parks looking for other animals. We saw lots of different birds including Osprey, Oyster Catchers, Ring Necks, Brown Hawk, and various other water birds. The Pied Oyster Catchers possibly had a nest somewhere near where we were, they were very noisy and kept flying just above us (we were worried they would swoop us) or running along the ground. The Osprey stayed well away from us and continued along the coast, fishing.

We hunted in bushed and under rocks to see what we could find. My biggest and most exciting find happened on our lunch stop. We had stopped by a salt pan with water in it. We were walking around after eating to see what we could find. I enjoyed flipping rocks but there wasn’t much for me to find. I decided to try one more rock before joining the others. Underneath there was a hole in the soil with what looked like a giant earthworm. Well I grabbed it and put it in the tube I had with me. As I was doing this it wriggled and I realised I was a lot stronger than I had thought it would be. It curled around on itself and tied itself in a knot. It wasn’t an earthworm and it was pooing out some yellow liquid and matter! When I had it in the tube and took a proper look at it, I realised it was a snake. But it was weird. Instead of a mouth at the front of its nose it was on the underside. It was a Blind Snake! It was super cool. And the yellow stuff reeked SO BAD, it smelt disgusting!!!

I also found some lizards; two stone geckos under some broken concrete pipe and a painted dragon under a rock on a sand dune. The geckos were in a hibernation type state and didn’t move. We left them the and I replaced their cover. The painted dragon tried to run and I caught him. He was a lot more active than the geckos! He was release near his rock after we put it back in place.

On our drive back we also stopped to take a look at a wombat we spotted standing at the top of its burrow. We stayed well away from it. It was clearly wary of us and was ready to bolt down its hole if we came too close.

It was a pretty impressive day in all and we had some exciting finds.