Friday, 2 March 2012

Bandicoots, Cats and playing "Bones"

Live Bandicoot
A couple of weeks ago, there was a dreadful smell near my wheelie bins - I mean really bad, like the bins out the back of a dodgy restaurant. This was a bit odd, because all food scraps go in the compost. It eventually turned out to be a dead bandicoot nearby. That made me sad.


Now I can't say for sure that the neighbours' cat did it, and the body was a bit too far gone to check for injuries, but there are clues:
  1. Next door has a cat, and I've seen it in the places the bandicoots visit at night
  2. The body was on top of a low wall, not on the ground
  3. In recent months the remains of two twenty-eight parrots have been scattered nearby
I can say for sure that my cat didn't do it because:
  1. She's 18 years old and too slow to catch one
  2. I've shown her bandicoots and birds before and she'd rather chat with them than chase them
  3. She has a cat run, so unless an animal climbs into the run she doesn't have physical access to it
This week's local paper had an article about bandicoots in the area, and mentioned that cats are their major predator. Please, cat owners, don't let your cat out at night and take steps such as creating a cat enclosure to protect the native animals in your area. You don't need to buy a commercial cat run. We created ours from some pine poles, a roll of 10cm square welded wire from the local hardware store, and a box of cheap bird netting to go over the top. The cats ever worked out that up was an option, anyway, so when trees grew through the bird netting we didn't bother to replace it.


The Bones bit
The TV shows Bones and CSI are always going on about hide beetles indicating the age of a corpse. Since the poor little bandy is dead anyway, I figured I might as well leave it there and let nature take care of it. By the time we found it, the ants had already moved in.
Hide Beetle

 By the next day, it had stopped smelling and the hide beetles arrived.  This means the body had been there for at least four days by the time we found it. It also means I was able to add hide beetles to my photo collection - this is the 101st beetle species I've found at my house.

The beetles are still around, slowly cleaning the fur & skin away. I'm waiting for them to finish so I can do my next Bones activity, and check the skeleton to see if there is evidence of a cat attack. Just so I know.

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