Friday, November 30, 2012

A Lizard in my Pool

There seems to be a theme developing on the blog. I have had recent close encounters with koalas, and spiders, and even a snake in my living room. There is interesting wildlife popping by to visit daily. Luckily for me, the latest one did not come any closer than the pool in my garden.

Before I go on I need to explain that our pool was designed to be a swimming pool, but the previous owner neglected it for so long, that now it is a mass of pondweed, coffee coloured water, and insect larvae.

One day we will pump it out, disinfect it, and make it all sparkling new again so we can use it for its intended purpose. In the meantime, I love watching the birds skimming the surface for insects, and enjoy seeing the ducks treating it like their own personal hotel spa pool.

And now there is another reason to love having my own personal wildlife pond; a lizard has come by for a visit.

It seemed happy enough, sitting in our waste outlet, but it occurred to me that it might be stuck. It might not be able to climb the slick fibreglass pool walls and leave.

The next day I watched it swim at the edge of the pool and then reach out ineffectively to the water outlet, little hand flailing. As I watched he began to sink. His head stayed above water for a bit watching us with beady eyes, and then his whole body sank into the depths of the murky pool.

I called my husband over for advice.

Neither of us knows much about the lizard but we decided to play it safe.

We carefully manoeuvred the lizard onto a leaf rake and deposited it under some shady bushes, where it stayed motionless, and almost invisible among the twigs, until we left.

I am not sure if we saved the life of the lizard, or merely interrupted his morning swim. All I know is that if he was playing dead, he deserves an Oscar.

Just in case it happens again, I am going to put a knotted rope into the pool. The next lizard, goanna, snake, or skinny koala that gets through the fence into the pool will be able to find its own way out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is that A Frog Upstairs?

A while ago, a carpet snake turned up in my living room. A few weeks before that, I had two koalas in the trees outside my door.

I thought I had had my share of ‘Crocodile Dundee’ type adventures. Then the other night I came home to find a frog in my house. I wonder what will be next. A kangaroo? A pelican?

It is all seeming a little unlikely. I knew there was lots of local wildlife, I just had no idea that it would all want to come into my home.
I had just arrived home and it was a little dark. I walked upstairs, turned on the light, and the bouncy little grey thing hopped across the carpet looking for somewhere to hide. Luckily we still have no furniture in most of the upstairs rooms and he was easily cornered and taken outside by my intrepid Aussie boyfriend who is now my husband and wildlife wrestler.

I spent the next three minutes checking the house for frog sized cracks, as my husband vainly tried to reassure me that the frog came in through the door. Since the snake incident, I have always made sure the door was closed firmly. Perhaps my husband left the door open, or maybe it came in behind us as we arrived. I worry that if the frog got in then the snake might return. Perhaps he will hear about the frog and come back inside looking for a little grey snack.

Only a few days ago, after finding the third spider in a week, I waged war on all the bugs and spread a three month insect killer all along the skirting boards and ceiling beams. Obviously no one told the frog and he assumed we still had froggy treats on tap.

It reminds me of the children’s story about an old lady that swallowed a fly, and then swallowed a bird to eat the spider, a cat to eat the bird, a dog to chase the cat, a cow to scare the dog, and so on.

Perhaps one day we will be visited by a four foot goanna. They are not common here, but Phil assures me they exist. If there are any within a fifty mile radius, then I am sure one will turn up here eventually.

Perhaps I should invite it in. A goanna in the house would be too big to sneak up on me and might keep the house snake free. It’s worth a thought.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Of big things like ... Yetis?

 One of the things I love about this part of Australia is that everything is so big. Wonderful things, like large colourful birds, fish that fishermen can write home about, and kangaroos and wallabies that look to me like a kind of large rodent.


There are also annoying things like the bulbous, fat, and persistent flies. The third time I whack my arm and miss them, I remember they won’t be put off by a loud noise or a simple wave of the hand, no matter how “karate kid” fast.

Other insects are also large and sometimes come with teeth and fangs. I have come up close and personal with giant cockroaches, and furry black spiders of joke shop proportions. I have even had a snake enter my house and curl up to sleep in my living room.

So many things have been a surprise, and some are just plain mysterious.

Today I attempted to remove some of the garden weeds. I have been wrestling with an infestation of “Mother-in-Laws tongue. A blade shaped leaf that grows up to four feet high and has spread to plague proportions along our fence.

It fights back.

As I grab one end and pull it out, the other swings around and slaps me on the face, or tangles in my legs and tries to trip me up. Sometimes it succeeds.

Next to the aggressive weeds, there is also a gorgeous large flower that has grown up all on its own. It sprouted from a forgotten and sadly neglected pot in the overgrowth of the sadly neglected garden borders.


That is a big pot and those flowers are almost six inches across.

In Far North Queensland I watched an enormous cassowary cross the road.

A cassowary crossing the road

Other large things are not as easy to identify. A while ago, I looked out my window and saw what looked like a large hare. It was three times the size of anything I had seen in my whole life. Of course the photo is blurry like the pictures of the loch ness monster or the yeti.

A hare in the garden?

As a voracious reader of one too many Readers Digest ‘survival under wildlife attack’ stories, I am understandably nervous about a four foot high rabbit or a haystack of a bird with barbed wire feet.

Are these just bad photos, or the beginning of a new legend? You decide.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Snake in my Living Room

The other day I was relaxing in my new comfortable easy chair and watching a little daytime TV when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. When I looked down, I found I had been joined by a six foot long python.

The only reason I didn’t jump out of my chair in fright was because I had met him a few days before.

I was hosing my garden when he appeared from the corner of the house. I tried to chase him away with a stream of water, but instead he took up residence in my garden shed. Stupidly, I left the door open so he could leave again.

I had only just come to terms with a snake in my garden. He seemed friendly enough and quite good natured when a neighbour and I spent twenty fruitless minutes trying to encourage him out of the shed with a broom and a long handled rake. I figured he could stay there if he wanted. I knew of others who had pet snakes and I knew it would not hurt me unless I hurt it first.

I was also told on good authority that they usually slide away when they see someone.

This one was apparently much friendlier. He climbed the outside stairs to the open back door, came inside through a slightly open door, crossed the living areas, came down the internal stairs, and then deliberately chose to come into the room where the TV was blazing away and there was bright fluorescent light.

It cruised lazily past my feet as if it owned the place, ignoring my polite but insistent requests to leave, and then went to sleep in a coil in the corner behind some tools that belong to my husband.

The snake in my living room

I know I am attractive to Aussie wildlife. The mossies always go for me first, and I am loved by leeches and ticks, but this was ridiculous.

Luckily I had friends I could call because this was beyond my ability to solve. I feel more comfortable with snakes than most of my friends, but this only means that I can look at them from six feet away without screaming.

The friend picked him up using a broom handle in the centre of his coil and dropped him into a spare recycling bin I had. We then wheeled him outside and let him out in the forest across the road.

The snake in my recycling bin

It was exciting, but not something I want to repeat.

I spent my first fifty years growing up where there were no snakes. Now I have been up close and personal with several. Even people who have lived in Australia all their lives have usually not known one to come into the living areas.

I am just lucky I guess.