Home sweet home

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Here at Arid Recovery, it’s pretty quiet during the day - you could almost be excused for thinking that we don’t have any animals inside the Reserve!  However, at night time the Reserve is alive with a range of critters darting across dunes and foraging through foliage.

Many of the animals that live in the arid zone are nocturnal. This means that they sleep during the day and are active during the night when the weather is much cooler. It is often mammal species that are nocturnal; however reptiles and amphibians may also become more active at night during the warmer months.

So now that we know the animals are only seen at night, where do they go during the day?

Each of our re-introduced species has a unique home that they can retire to after a long night. These homes keep the animals safe and cosy, and can house one or a large number of critters, depending on the animal and its home.

  • The Greater Stick-nest Rat builds its home out of sticks (above). The nest is generally built around a bush and can be over 1 metre in height. Sticks and branches are dragged to the site in the rat’s mouth, with larger branches gnawed down to a manageable size and added to the nest. The sleeping sites within the nest contain soft vegetation and grass, with tunnels built from the outside to reach these points. 
  • Burrowing Bettongs construct a burrow in deep loam or sandy areas, and are the only member of the macropod family to shelter underground. The burrows often form warrens, which have multiple entrances. The floor of the warren is lined with vegetation to create nests for sleeping. Complex warren systems can have 11 or 12 entrances. One warren system found on Barrow Island had 120 entrances with about 60 bettongs living in it!  
  • Bilbies are powerful diggers, constructing a spiralling burrow which may be 3 metres long and up to 1.8 metres deep. The entrance to a bilby burrow is often under a small shrub and at Arid Recovery is usually left open. At other locations bilbies often backfill their burrow entrance, possibly to protect it from predators or to regulate the burrow temperature. Bilbies frequently dig new burrows and occasionally return to their old ones.
  • The Western Barred Bandicoot (WBB) shelters during the daylight hours in a nest. It digs a shallow hollow in the ground, usually under a low shrub and fills the hollow with sticks and leaves. A single entrance and exit point is disguised from predators using leaves, and the WBB will make a quick exit if disturbed by predators. Some WBB’s will use the same nest repeatedly over the course of the week, while others will move to a new nest each night. If caught out in the open a bandicoot will use another animal’s burrows to shelter in until the threat has gone away.

Many other animals are known to live underground at Arid Recovery, including sand goannas, scorpions, spiders and the incredible Trilling frog.

Museum Madness

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The South Australian Museum carefully wrapped specimens and put exhibits in boxes as they headed on the road for the last of their ‘Out of the Glass Case’ roadshow for the year 2013. Roxby Downs was the final destination for the travelling roadshow, and how lucky we were to have these special visitors.

Bringing with them a range of staff with expert knowledge on all areas including birds, spiders, fossils, and geology, the Roxby Downs community was treated to a night of discovery and wonder as the Area School library doors opened to the public for a Twilight Event. Arid Recovery was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Twilight Event, which enabled community members to see educational displays and participate in hands-on learning in a fun environment.

A regular at expos and events, Arid Recovery’s skins and skulls display proved again to be a hit, with many bidding scientists amazed at how light weight an emu’s skull is and how small a cat’s head must be! Visitors to the stall also had the opportunity to touch a range of furs, and distinguished between native and introduced animals by looking at the patterns and colourations on the animal’s coat.

The Arid Recovery office pet, Bruce the juvenile bearded dragon also came along for the evening. Bruce was extremely popular with the children, and his presence made every small child want to share their story about how they saw a lizard in their backyard in Roxby!

Local kids examine the skins and skulls display 

“Opportunities like the Community Twilight Event don’t come by Roxby Downs very often. It was fantastic to see so many members of the local community embracing the evening and bringing the kids down to learn something new and exciting,” explained Anni Walsh, Education and Community Officer. “Visiting these educational displays encourages children to use their imagination, and open their eyes to appreciate the natural wonders of our world.”

Highlights of the evening included blowing into the conical shell ‘trumpet’, witnessing fossils found in the Flinders Ranges region billions of years ago, seeing the egg castings of baby trap door spiders, touching a 10 foot python and of course the 'emu news' puppet show!

If you want to find out more about educational opportunities at Arid Recovery email education@aridrecovery.org.au


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Arid recovery is a conservation initiative supported by:
adelaide university