What the Wildlife Guide Neglected to Mention

September 14, 2018

 

The flightless running bird whose mid-body shares an uncanny resemblance to a portobello mushroom. These nomadic birds look like they are in a perpetual state of shock; it's like they fell asleep under the Obama administration and woke up to find out Donald Trump was president. While their wings are largely useless, emus have calf muscles that would make Olympic athletes jealous. In 1932, the Royal Australian Artillery was deployed to wage war against the emus that were nomadically crossing a wheat belt. Despite thousands of rounds of ammunition, and supposedly more evolved brains, it was the emus that prevailed victorious! 

Behind this Instagram sensation is the ever-jovial marsupial, residing on Rottnest Island, Western Australia and second-cousin of Nabisco’s Teddy Graham. Early Dutch explorers mistook the animals for large rats. These darlings of social media are the size of a cat with the tail of a NYC rat that lives outside of the Times Square Olive Garden. The shape of the Quokkas mouth gives off the impression that the little creature is always smiling, earning them the title of the “Happiest Animal in the World”. But this genetic predisposition masks a potentially pervasive quokka depression, after all, as endangered species, these marsupials have a lot to worry about.

 

The Galah is one of the most abundant birds in Australia. These feathered friends are always ready for Valentine’s day, not only because of their pink plumage, but because they are also romantic little birds and choose only one mating partner for life. If you get close to a Galah and they are excessively sneezing, fear not! It is unlikely that they are allergic to you, but more likely that they are just cleaning themselves, as Galahs often sneeze over their feathers to remove dust. Capable of far greater intelligence than humans give them credit for, Galahs are often self-conscious when people analyze their age by highlighting the number of wrinkles around their eyes.

  

 

This is the animal most synonymous with Australia. The kangaroo population has currently reached a whopping 49 million - in comparison, the population of humans is only 23 million. Some attribute the population boom to higher than normal rainfall, hence more food, while others see the direction of causality lying in their rabbit-like breeding practices. Luckily for humans, contemporary kangaroos are significantly smaller than their ancestors. 30,000 years ago, giant kangaroos graced the continent, weighing over 500lbs and standing over 10ft tall. These giant marsupials could not hop due to their obesity status. Kangaroos are excessively indecisive and do not mesh well with cars - hopping away from the moving vehicles often results in a last-minute attempt to keep drivers on their toes and insurance companies lucrative, causing the cars to change course, or complete a 180. Usually, once they are already off the road, they hop back to the other side, all of this unfolding so quickly it has resulted in 99% of all cars outside of Australia's major cities being armored with massive bull bars (more appropriately called roo bars).

 Australia is home to the largest wild camel population in the world, with camels originally arriving on the continent in the 19th century. Yet, when the internal combustion engine arrived in Australia, camels were traded in for the younger, sexier work engine, and many were released into the wild for their second act. Often monopolizing resources native species need to thrive, camels are an example of the introduction of non-native species in Australia roving short term genius and long term nightmare.  Camel feet are the envy of the four-wheel drive community, as camels seamlessly cross soft sand that would bog anything with wheels. Australia’s healthy camel herd has racked up some extensive frequent flyer miles. In an ironic trade shift, Arabian countries are now turning to the Australian disease-free camel stock. As such, about 300 camels per year are flown (yes you read that right, on airplanes!) to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Camels are the expedition member of choice for some of Australia’s most intrepid explorers, such as Robyn Davidson and Andrew Harper.

 

The Australian saltwater crocodile aka “saltie” is the largest reptile in the world. With a 65 year lifespan, these reptiles have greater longevity prospects than humans in many countries. And with one of the strongest immune systems in the world, you would be hard pressed to find a croc taking vitamin C supplements. Their blood contains a naturally occurring and powerful combination of lethal antibiotics that make even the loss of a limb and stagnant E. coli water a “no drama” event in the infection department. They are also perhaps the most misunderstood creature in Australia for their famous deathroll. While usually employed for hunting prey, this technique is also a fatal combination of underestimating their own force and the love of a good crocodile somersault with a new friend. Unfortunately, the new friends don’t often survive the first play date.

 

Edited by Eliana Arian 

 

Wander Wisely,

Sofía

 

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