Friday, August 3, 2012

Scales, with a Few Feathers

I did give you all fair warning that there would be even more unasked for photos of the wide world of critters here in Australia right? Sorry to those of you who live in Australia and are getting bombarded by the familiar. Hopefully I'll be able to move on soon into something much more galvanizing, such as what my semester looks like, and whether or not I'm going to die a horrible death, smashed beneath a giant workload, and garnished with expectation. That actually sounds a lot more exciting than I had anticipated. Ok, never mind that, we're moving on to other things I found at the Wildlife Park in Sydney... which wasn't getting nearly as much attention as it deserves. However, if the moved the House of Wax next door, I'm not sure anyone would go down to that end of the wharf at all. My apologies guys, but you're not in the best of locations. :/

One of my downfalls has got to be lizards. Catching lizards as a kid was one of my favorite things to do during summer and into fall after school. I've never had a pet lizard, at least not one that I got from a pet store, but I did have a lot of wild ones, that I kept for a while and then let go. If I had been able to get one from the pet shop in the states, I probably would've ended up with a Bearded Dragon. These are Bearded Dragons in their uncorrupted form. That is to say, these are what they're supposed to look like color wise. Look at that green! Beardies love to do something else.. no, not eat. They seem to love standing on one another. Because it's not just the one doing it.

Hmm... well okay, apparently they moved before the picture was taken, but there were two more here that were standing on the heads and bodies of others. It was kind of amusing, until apparently someone had had enough, and then the lizard fight was on! Unfortunately, like the Bilby these guys move really fast, and all I got were comet shaped green blurs for all my trouble trying to catch them at their antics. Which means you'll have to settle for the 5 that were left when the tiff was done. That's alright though, because I've got other lizards to show you. Some are small and kind of on the docile side, and others will gladly eat you. :)

This little Frilled Lizard is not one of the "I will gladly swallow your entire carcass" variety. He will stand his ground, he will puff himself up, he will flare his little beard, and if you chicken out he'll chase you, but that's about all he'll do. Keep in mind he's fairly good sized (12 in.), so if he decided to bite you, you're going to get a healthy pinch. I can still remember a certain famous person getting his nose pinched pretty good because he got too close to one that was a very bold little fellow. All that aside, a Frilled Lizard is going to run like hell rather than try and face you down. The one I met at the park was very laid back, but then he'd been handled all his life.

This on the other hand WILL gladly eat you, given the chance to do so. But generally they'll stay clear of you if you look healthy and dangerous. Even then, if desperate enough, it's a bit of a question as to what decision it'll make. This would be a Goanna. Six feet of really sleepy Goanna. They are quite large, and in broader terms fall under the blanket term Monitor Lizard. They're a smaller, less lethal, cousin of the more infamous Komodo Dragon, but without the super deadly saliva, or at least not quite as potent. If you encounter one, I suggest leaving well enough alone, unless you really want to part with your skin. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is one of those creatures that you should just enjoy from a distance. There is also another Goanna cousin, though distant....

... the Salt Water Crocodile. This picture is somewhat misleading. It makes him look sort of on the small side, but the reality is that he's nearly 16 feet long. He would probably have no qualms about hauling you into his pool, rolling you around until you drown, and then he'll stuff you in some convenient corner until you're soft enough to eat. It's nothing personal. It's just what he does for a living. He was enjoying his sunshine that day though and was acting fairly placid. He's not alone in there. If you go around the side he's got some Archer fish in there with him... Archer fish about the size of my head. Whether or not he uses them as potato chips, I couldn't tell you.

The Croc had other more colorful neighbors. These little guys are all over the place in Queensland (I saw gobs of them when I was there last), and apparently we've got some here in Perth. Rainbow Lorikeets... And their incredible streams of poop! You'll see a flock of 20 go shooting past screaming and talking to each other, and you make the mistake of stopping and staring up. Which is when you get hit with precisely aimed shots of bird diarrhea, because that's what happens when a bird's entire diet is made up of fruit and nuts. Actually this is a she and only 4 months old. She was very affectionate and left the keeper's shoulder before she shot a stream of bird poopy straight into the Croc's pond. He didn't seem to care much, but then things such as bird crap is beneath his notice. The fish all made a beeline for it though. No idea, why. I decided not to ask. Heh. :D Some things you're better off not knowing.

And there were also... these... where'd he go... He was very hard to photograph, as he was eating, and fit neatly inside the cup when his head was doing sifting through the seeds. I'm sure most of my friends who have had birds before are very familiar with this particular bird... and in one case I know she can't stand the noise they make. Here, they're all over the place in the warmer climes.

Like I said he's hard to see. I had dozens of photos with only the very top of his little grey/brown head. This is a Zebra Finch and I got him in mid chow-down on some seed. They're really cute to look at, but when you have oh... say 50 of them all making a 'meep meep' noise, it gets tiresome very quickly. Also sort of deafening with them all going about it at once. But when it's just a few pairs in a large enclosure they're actually pretty darn cute peeping out of the brush at you. Even the lorikeets were somewhat fascinated with all their hyper-active movements through the shrubbery. Lorikeets are big enough so they have to climb through the bushes like monkeys. The finches just hop around in there like it's a jungle gym during lunch time.

Anyway, this concludes this evenings broadcast of Scales and a Few Feathers.
Please join us next time, when I present birds! And quite possibly ONLY birds!
Considering I've been taking pictures of birds like mad here, it's pretty much my only remaining venue. :D


callie brady said...

Thank you for the tour and photos!
And thank you for keeping up your blog.
I do wonder where the comments are from friends who are keeping track of your doings by reading your blog.
Maybe the comment moderation scares them off?
Well, don't despair and give up on the blog because it will be a great record and I'm reading it and enjoying your witty repartee.
Watch out for the bird poop... hee, hee :)

Knatolee said...

I really enjoyed learning more about all these critters! When I was in design school, we did a sketching trip at the Royal Ontario Museum and I drew a frilled lizard they had on display there, so I have a special fondness for them. :) And zebra finches are popular pet store birds here, so I do know how noisy they are.

I think Australia must have some of the most amazing wildlife in the world.:)

Mary Guido said...

Yes, I am the friend who is not fond of the "meep-meep" of Zebra finches. My favorite finch is the Lady Gouldian. They were both beautiful and fun to watch. Sigh.

Also, my mother had a Lorikeet, in a cage, in the dining room. Ugh. Poor miserable critter plucked him/herself bald, and did indeed back up to the edge of the cage to shoot streams of liquid poo on the floor. Shudder.

Please keep the stories and photos coming!