Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Thylacine

Heads up! I'm wrapping up my Marsupial Spotlights within the next weeks. I'll be moving on to new spotlights after that. But there are still more marsupials to deal with, and I shall be happy to introduce you to them.

The thylacine is a very strange marsupial that looks like a really odd cross between a mountain cat and a dog. It also has some very interesting stripes on its back that get very thick and defined around its rump. They are very cool to look at. Size-wise, they are 51 inches long with a very long tail of 26 inches. Since they are strict quadrupeds, I find it important to inform you that they have a shoulder height of 24 inches.

Thylacines are strict carnivores. They hunt other marsupials such as kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats. Although they have a mountain cat look to them, they have something of a stiff gait. Because of this, they cannot run very fast. Instead, the thylacines will sneak up on their prey and perform a bipedal hop upon the unfortunate animal. Standing on back legs is not hard for marsupials in general. It comes naturally to this marsupial too; however, they prefer walking on all-fours.

Like most marsupials, the thylacine has a pouch. They breed all year; although, they prefer doing it in winter and spring. They have 4 cubs per litter and will carry their children in their pouch for up to 3 months.

Now, I have been a little deceptive in how I've been writing this blog. It's time to come clean. Firstly, let me just say that I really like this animal. I have watched a lot of videos of them. They have a spring to their step which is cute. They make little barking sounds which are described as "yip-yap," "cay-yip," or "hop-hop-hop!" Their stripes are awesome. I love everything about them and long to write stories about them; I probably will too. But there is a problem.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has the thylacines listed under the rating of EX. As of 1939, the thylacine is extinct. There is nothing I can do about that, but when I see those videos of them while they were still alive, they still seem like a very real and living creature. At the very least, this creature was documented in modern times, and I was able to learn about them as if they were still around.

Guess what! The thylacine has been immortalized in fiction as well! To name a few, there is a video game called "Ty the Tasmanian Tiger" which features a very cool looking thylacine who wields a boomerang. I have not played the game... yet. I want to though. The title is totally appropriate. Thylacines were often called Tasmanian tigers. The game has had two sequels since it came out in 2002, and the original game has been remade in HD recently for modern systems. Needless to say, it did well.

In the recently mentioned TV show "Taz-Mania," there was a living thylacine character named Wendell T. Wolf. He claimed to be the last surviving Tazmanian wolf. He did not like being alone despite being so lonely in the world. I think that is actually kind of sad. Despite officially being a thylacine, he looked nothing like them.

Lastly, there was a thylacine in literature. In the children's book called "Tiger Tales" by Steve Isham, you will learn an Aboriginal story about how the thylacine gained his stripes. It sounds very interesting. After all, I love those stripes!

For me, I see the thylacines as a tribal race of silly warriors. If you watch the videos of them, they are very jumpy. I see them as very talkative and friendly with those they are allied with, but if you are not among their clique, they will try and kill or capture you... and, I don't know... maybe put you in a cage and make fun of you or something. That sounds about right.

Even though I was not around when the thylacines were, I do love them. I wish they were still around. Pull up a video of them sometime and watch how they act. It's very peculiar and even fun! As long as we enjoy their memory, we can keep creating with them. An active imagination never lets anything cool fade away forever.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Yip-yap!

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger

Wendell T. Wolf

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Fat-Tailed Dunnart

The fat-tailed dunnart is very small when compared to its other marsupial cousins. They usually don't get much bigger than 3.5 inches long. Marsupials are known for being very big, but this little mouse-like creature is a strong exception to that rule. They do, however have nice, big ears and, of course, their tails are quite special as you shall soon see. They can be found in a very good portion of Australia and are closely related to the quoll and Tasmanian devil.

Fat-tailed dunnarts are strict carnivores. They are known to devour beetles, spider larvae. small reptiles, and also amphibians. It is a little surprising to see a marsupial so tiny keep away from plant life, but there it is.

It must also be said that this marsupial generally lives in some extreme, semi-arid environments; although, it can live just fine in a nicer place. It has a a sort of daily plan programmed into it so that it knows how to react to every part of the day. It usually rests at night when the temperatures are low. High temperatures can cause energy loss problems, and it's body takes heavy advantage of this lull. In the day time, it spends as much time eating as it can. If there are food shortages, it will go on a far more intense feeding frenzy in order to make up for it. If there is food out there, the fat-tailed dunnart WILL find it.

The fat-tailed dunnart is all about balancing exertion with rest--basically energy management. That is also where the fat tail comes in. The dunnart's tail is swelled at the base and thins out towards the tip. Fat is stored here to make up for unforeseen imbalances in nature. It allows the marsupial to adapt easier whenever it needs to. Remember that, in the wild, animals are more likely to have a problem with a loss of resources than with an overabundance. The fat tail is a good safeguard against the more likely problem. After all, the fat-tailed dunnart is, by its very nature, a model survivor.

And here we come to the fiction portion of the blog. No, I could not find any dunnarts in any books or movies. Few marsupials get the literary treatment, but here, I think there may just be a missed opportunity. By now, you must see that the fat-tailed dunnart represents the epitome of the survivalist. To make a "Tremors" reference, they are the "Burt Gummer" of the marsupial class. Put them into almost any environment, and they will do everything and anything to stay alive, and you can imagine how hard that can be when your only 3 inches big. Nothing is wasted; every last resource will be used to its fullest. A hardcore survivalist--that is the fat-tailed dunnart as a person.

I do find it strange that I am inventing such a strong-willed character after something so small, but you have to remember that all sizes are relative to their unique environments. Even we have, in the past, had to deal with creatures larger than ourselves. We have also thrived in the most unfriendly of environments. We adapt better than anything else, but the fat-tailed dunnart is not that far off. In fact, they live every day under the oppressive world that surrounds it... and it lives.

Thank you for reading this blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Bring it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Ringtail Possum

The ringtail possum is this odd combination of cute and weird. I am not talking so much about their habits as much as I am about how they look. I'll get back into that after dropping a few details about this interesting marsupial.

The ringtail possum is 13 inches long with a prehensile tail that is the same length as its body. It has grey fur with white patches behind the eyes and a cream-colored belly. The tail has a white tip that commonly covers 25% of the appendage. They can been found on the east coast of Australia and also parts of Tasmania.

As far as I could tell, these guys are herbivores. They love fresh, young leaves and usually avoid the old or brittle ones. This is a good diet to have since the ringtail possum usually spends all of its time up in trees. They even build nests up there where they take care of their young similar to birds. But there is something else you may or may not want to know about their eating habits.

The ringtail possum does not digest food in the same way as most animals. I know this is kind of gross, but just hear me out. They will only partially digest a meal and then defecate. After a little nap, they will re-ingest the faeces and finish digesting it to get the most out of the nutrients in the food. Sound strange? Rabbits do this too.

These marsupials are known for being gregarious and even form large treetop communities called dreys. They all get to know each other and sometimes they form into mates. If a ringtail possum shows up from a strange drey, they are NOT welcome and are driven off. This is, after all, a gated treetop community. There is even a neighborhood watch.

Like all possums, the ringtail possum is not a macropod, but they do have pouches. They have 1 to 2 offspring per litter, and this is usually once a year. The young will remain in the pouch feeding off mother's milk which changes in formula as the child needs different kinds of nutrition. They will leave the pouch in about 130 days in search of more solid food.

Now, what I was referring to at the beginning of this blog was that the ringtail possum looks both cute and weird at the same time. They have fluffy bodies which is cute, but their eyes are kind of wonky and have a habit of staring into your soul. But they also are kind of goofy, so it's not entirely creepy. I like looking at them regardless, and that is reason enough to write a spotlight about them.

In fiction, I see them living like Ewoks up in treetop villages. They occasionally have little javelin battles with other dreys, and honestly the whole idea is super cute. Violent, but cute. I mean how could I NOT pick this for their fictional selves. How awesome would it be to live like that?

Yes, I am sure there are more interesting marsupials out there, but this guy still caught my attention. Having lived in a treehouse myself, I had to give this fellow a say.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Numbat

I recently ran into information about a marsupial called a numbat. The name jumped out at me, and I dug deeper to see if it would be interesting. For your information, I do not spotlight all species of a type. I only pick out the ones that catch my attention. In this case, my attention was indeed captured.

The numbat is a marsupial found in Western Australia and is also used as their local emblem. They are small with very vibrant colors and varying patterns that delight the eye. They can be as big as 18 inches long. They also have a very pointed snout which is why they are sometimes referred to as the marsupial anteater. Honestly, I find them to be very pretty creatures--very lovely to look upon. How much fun would it be to have one of these cuties for a pet?

Numbats may look similar to anteaters, but they do not eat ants at all. In fact, their diet is rather unusual. They ONLY eat termites, and that is all. I have never before seen an animal have such an exclusive diet. They shun all other things entirely--even water. Surprised? Numbats live in very arid environments where water is scarce. They get all the water they need from the bodies of those termites. It isn't much, but it is all he actually needs to survive.

Now, in this region, termites live in little concrete castles that they build themselves. These structures are extremely hard, and despite the numbat having sharp claws, they cannot break into them. For this reason, the numbat will simply adjust his wake schedule to fit in with the termite's active cycles. The marsupial may have a different wake period depending on a number of factors which include temperature, location, and season. Once the termites are accessible, the numbat will use his sticky tongue to probe the colony for their treats.

This may be a callback to my Mustelidae Spotlights, but did you know the numbat has a scent gland? It is not really used for defense at all, however. It is a territory marker. Male numbats dislike other males, but they will allow in the opposite sex for obvious reasons. Two numbats can produce one litter of four per year; however, if something unfortunate happens to this litter, they can produce a second to make up for it.

Another remarkably unusual aspect of the numbat is the lack of a pouch. This is quite uncommon. Pouches and marsupials almost always go together. Instead, the numbat seems to mimic a more traditional mammal by having its teats on the outside; although, they are modestly covered by some crimped, golden hairs that grow over them. Good to see they still keep their dignity in check.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has given the numbat a rating of EN which means they are now officially endangered. Although, this is troublesome to hear, there are three worse ratings then that. The numbat is struggling in the same manner as the woylie due to the unfortunate introduction of foxes into the region. It already was struggling with its natural predators such as the little eagle, brown goshawk, collared sparrowhawk, and carpet python, yet the numbat was still thriving quite well taking up much of the whole of Southern Australia. The foxes caused an imbalance which offset the whole thing, and now they are in trouble.

Other then some mostly unheard-of children's books, there really is no good fiction for the numbat. I am quite fascinated by their pretty looks and their religious diet. Yes, they are loners, but that does not mean others will fail to admire them. I mean... I admire them. I can't stop looking at them. They have a sort of lovely symmetry that I find appealing. And those colors and stripes! I think that as fictional characters they will be adored, and the numbats will accept said adoration. And this may work in their favor when a restaurant does not serve the one thing they want to eat. Sometimes clout comes with beauty. I am sure the waiter will go out of his way to provide the finest termite stew in all the country for something as lovely as Miss Numbat.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Dawling!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Yep! Kangaroos sure are big... OR ARE THEY?! Well, many of them are; however, in the case of the musky rat-kangaroo, they come in a very small package. This particular kangaroo has a very modest body length of 9 inches and only weigh about a pound. The musky rat-kangaroo is considered the smallest kangaroo in the world. I was rather surprised that it was considered a kangaroo at all, but they really do fit the bill.

The musky rat-kangaroo can be found in large numbers in northeast Australia and also in New Guinea. They are often found around rivers and creeks or tropical rain forests. These tiny marsupials make nests out of dried fern like some of their small cousins.

Apparently, this marsupial appears to have closer relations to the possum than any other kangaroo. This gives him an interesting prehensile tail which he can use to do a little climbing--very little actually. He also has opposable thumbs. No other kangaroo has either of these, and that makes him special. One more thing about that tail: it is unusually shiny as if it was made of glossy leather. Rat's also have furless tails, but this one is more noticeable. Some people might think it's kind of icky-looking, but I actually see it as a very prominent feature.

The musky rat-kangaroo is also a macropod. All kangaroos are macropods. Once mated, they can have one or two offspring per litter. The female's pouch is big enough for both of them. They will only produce offspring once every year.

Remember how the large kangaroos are known for their great leaps when they run? Most kangaroos tend to hop using only their back legs, but the musky rat-kangaroo also use their forelimbs. They gallop in a manner that is similar to a rabbit--placing their strong back feet in front of their forelimbs mid-gallop. This is very unusual for a kangaroo.

I had a lot of trouble finding research on their basic behaviors. There does not seem to be a huge interest in them--despite their unusual traits. This makes it hard to hone in on a fictional personality. Because of this, I had to look at images of them and try to figure out what they were thinking. Honestly, I think they are little weirdos. They got those creepy-but-cool shiny tails, possum-like thumbs, and rabbit-like traveling methods. They don't seem like they would really fit in with their kangaroo cousins. I think that they must have little rooms somewhere where they talk about weird things, and nobody else is in on the clique. If it is nothing like the real thing, then that just means that it is my imagination at work, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Weird...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Woylie

Remember the boodie? Well, he has a cute little cousin called a woylie. Apparently, everyone in this family tends to have a silly name, but I don't mind it so much. I don't know the meaning of the name, but I did find out that it is based on a word from the Nyungar language used by the indigenous people of south-west Australia.

Their bodies can be as long as 13 inches long with a tail that can be 14 inches long. This tail is prehensile and is generally used to carry things while they run such as nesting material. Like the boodie, the woylie is very rodent-like in appearance--something I always find appealing. They have a sort of yellow-brown fur with a paler version of this color on their belly. They usually have little to no fur on their muzzle and tail. Additionally, the woylie is a macropod--meaning that they have horizontal pouches for their young.

The woylie is mainly a night creature. They are loners as well; although, like any other animal, mating is always a good time to make friends. Females of this species can mate about 6 months after birth, and they will produce a litter about every 3.5 months afterwards.

As far as food, they are omnivores and like various plants and insects; however, that is not their favorite. The woylie's most delectable dish comes in the form of underground fungi. They will use their foreclaws to dig up this fungi and feast upon it as if it was chocolate pudding. There was a time when the woylie actually was doing Australia a service by cleaning up all this fungi out of the ecosystem, but as of late, such things are simply not possible,

The latter statement is true because the woylie is almost entirely gone from this world. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has given the woylie a rating of CU or Critically Endangered. This means that the woylie is now in danger of going completely extinct, and it may happen soon. To put this in perspective, the woylie once inhabited 60% of Australias mainland where they now only exist in 1% of it. This drastic decrease comes from several factors--namely the introduction of grazing animals into the region, land clearing for agriculture, and the unfortunate introduction of red foxes who rather like eating the woylies. Sadly, we may not see many woylies for very much longer.

I know of no fiction made for the woylie, but when I try and imagine what a fictional creature will be like, I try to focus on the one or several bits of research that stand out the most. In this case, it was its love of fungi. A particular adoration for something always stands out to me, and with animals, that adoration usually comes in the form of food. That is why I see the woylie as a tinny, little connoisseur. I see them being very opinionated on every type of fungi and would likely make a good chef if given the opportunity.

So, that is the woylie in a nutshell. I hate to see something so cute disappear, but sometimes, that is just the way it goes with some animals. But we can still enjoy them while they are yet here, and even so, there are many other fun marsupials to stare at. That's what I do, you see. I like to stare at them. I stare at them because I like them, and I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing--except, of course, writing this blog.

On that note, thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. [Stare]

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Wombat

Sometimes, you can condense an animal down into a single word. With foxes, you can say clever. With mules, you can say stubborn. In the case of the Australian wombat, the word "fat" suits them perfectly. A wombat who can't properly "shake it" should really be ashamed of itself.

Wombats look like very large rodents with a lot of meat on them. Generally, their body size is about 40 inches with a short stubby tail. They can actually be much bigger though. Domestic wombats--if treated well and fed regularly--can get pretty huge. I'll get into that a little later.

The wombat is a burrower which is just awful if you have a garden nearby. As big as they are, these are not small holes to deal with. They are not macropods; however, they do have pouches that are inverted so as to not scoop up dirt during the burrowing activity. You may remember me bringing up a similar feature on my earlier bilby spotlight.

These marsupials are strict herbivores. Their diets consists of grasses, herbs, roots, and the like. Because of their surprisingly slow metabolism, they can take up to 14 days to digest their food. This also makes them move very slowly--similar to a sloth. The only time they will move quickly is when they are threatened. At this point, they will suddenly go from a ridiculous crawl to a 90 second 25MPH sprint.

It's hard to imagine so much fat running that fast, isn't it? Well, I would suggest not getting in his way. A running wombat tends to be very bowling ball-like. It will knock down and trample anything in its path. Even chain link fences have been known to have holes in them due to this big ball of running chub. Just stay out of its way.

Similar to the boodie, the female wombat--once mated--will give birth in only 21 days. She will only have one offspring as well. A young wombat takes 15 months to wean, and it will become sexually active in 18. Nice and slow, that's how it's done.

The biggest wombat in the world goes by the name of Patrick. Although, I could not figure out how long he was, the pictures suggest he is almost as big as the woman who cares for him. What I do know, however, is his weight: 84 pounds. He is charmingly fat, and if there is anything we can love about a wombat is that he is wonderfully chubby.

There are wombats in fiction. In the Australian book series "Blinky Bill" by Dorothy Wall, there is a wombat character who goes by the name Mister Wombat or Wombo as the lead koala likes to call him. There was also a video game for the nearly forgotten Sega Saturn called Willy Wombat. I can't really tell you much about this game since it has fallen into so much obscurity, but I will provide a picture regardless.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a reoccurring, unofficial mascot kept showing up. It was Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat. This character was more of a tongue-in-cheek gag, but it was still popular. You have to understand that some wombats can be quite annoying to people--what with them bowling over people and destroying fences. This is really how the character came to be.

To quote a character from the video game Metal Gear Solid 2, "Laugh, and grow fat!" The quote really sums wombats up for me. I honestly love how they look, and would adore the chance to give those chubby things a big ol' hug. As characters, I do not think they would be ashamed of their bigness. They would encourage it! They would speak up about all the joys of being large and see themselves as more beautiful for it! This is really what I meant by charmingly fat.

So that's it for the wombats. Although, there are three breeds of them, they are all similar enough to close the book on this particular marsupial. I just want you to know that I really do love them. I already love rodents, and the prospects of a big, fat, lovable one is right up there on my "glorious list." They have easily made it into the marsupial hall-of-fame, and I was very happy to write a blog about them.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Ha! Ha! Ha!



From "Blinky Bill."