26 January 2007

Tasmanian wildlife

It's been a long delay again, but we're back from another holiday, this time to Tasmania. Updates about the trip will be coming over the next few days, but I wanted to start off with a few pictures of some of the animals we met.
The first thing we did was visit Devil's Heaven in Launceston, where we saw the devils feed. Almost every picture you see of a devil is open-mouthed, but the truth is they are likely only yawning. There was a little growling before the food was tossed in the pen, but otherwise a lot of sleeping. Having said that, though, you still wouldn't want to be bitten by one. They are about the size of a cocker spaniel, but they have the jaw strength of a mid-sized salt water croc. They snap bone the way you would bite through a piece of chalk. If you like that sort of thing. Heather said they looked like ROUS's from The Princess Bride.
This wombat picture isn't great, but you generally only see them at night. We went on an evening animal spotting excursion at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park to get this one. The pictures we took weren't the best, but we saw about ten wombats, a few brushtail possums, a bandicoot, and a couple hundred wallabies and pademelons. In this picture, the wombat has managed to hide his face behind a clump of grass. Guess he's shy.
The devil was in a pen, the wombat was in the dark, but this echidna was up close, personal, wild and in the full light of day. We spotted him right next to the road--they feed there often because the runoff from the road makes for better food. Of course, that also makes driving around Tasmania dangerous at night. Heather jumped out and got this picture kneeling just a couple feet from him. When she stepped close, he curled up in a ball and stuck his nose in the ground, but when she didn't move, he went about rooting around for lunch.
So yet again, wildlife was a major highlight of our holiday. Next I'll share some pictures of the scenery around Cradle Mountain.

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