Date Tags 2002au

One surprising thing about Tasmania is the amount of roadkill. Traveling at a nominal 80kph/50mph, you pass one dead mammal about every 20 to 30 seconds on any of the highways here--anything from the size of a cat (possums, quolls, pademelons) up to dog sized (wombats) and big dog sized (wallabies). What makes it all the more interesting is that Tasmanian devils come out at night to scavenge the road kill. They're carnivore scavengers, and often four or six of them fight over the carcass at once, though you never see it since it's usually really late at night. Good thing they do it late at night, or they'd be roadkill themselves. The devils really clean up-they eat bones and fur and almost everything that they can get their jaws around. If you spot wallaby roadkill late in the afternoon, the next morning it's often just bare vertebrae and a few ribs-no skull or anything else remains.

Our main (guilty) fun today was stopping at Tasmanian Devil Park, on the way back from Port Arthur to Hobart. It's not a zoo, but more like a old-style tourist trap that now rehabilitates injured animals. At 10 and 11, they feed the devils-typically roadkill they pick up from the highway out front. It was guilty fun. The keeper came out at the 10:00 feeding, threw two unrecognizable carcasses into an enclosure with a male and a female. The female grabbed the carcass, the male tried to get it, they screamed at each other, she bit him, he ran away, she went back to the burrow. He got the other one. Both of them made sickening noises as they crushed bones in their burrows.

There was more guilty fun later: a couple with their small daughter was looking at the second devil enclosure. This enclosure had four 10-month old devils, all from the same litter. The four devils were all very interested in us and the girl, so Chris picked up a very tame seagull that had been annoying us and put it on the enclosure fence, offering it as a treat to the devils. Well, the girl's parents kinda looked askance at that, and Chris said, 'oh, just kidding' as I put the seagull back on the ground. The parents asked Chris if he was Canadian or American and Chris said "American, of course! You think a Canadian would do anything that mean?" Hee!

Later, as more folks gathered, one of the devils started puking in front of the kid--and the other three ran up and ate up the vomit. Ewww! Well, they're scavengers after all. A few minutes later, the little girl was treated to two of the devils mating with each other (incest!). The coup de grace was when the girl's parents sat her on the low enclosure wall and one of the devils leapt up the wall at her rubber booted feet, trying to eat them! If that devil had chomped down, let's say that the girl's feet would've been crushed.

Tasmanian devils are cute in a very peculiar way. It was a fun day. I'll post some pictures tomorrow.


March 21 2002, 04:43:22

Sounds like two really BIG new T Devils are on the loose there! Hugs

March 21 2002, 06:48:04

So, putting a seagull on the wall is worse than doing the same your own daughter? Geez.

March 21 2002, 08:30:28

my boss is looking at me funny and asking me why i am laughing (more like giggling) uncontrollably. I knew there was a reason for you two :o)

and btw, Canadians would do the same thing with the seagull, we would just feel bad about it afterwards.