I’ve had a few encounters with Australian wildlife. The animals don’t really want to be photographed, so I have supplemented my efforts with a visit to the Zoo.
Kangaroos (and their smaller, cuter cousins, the Wallabies) are everywhere in Australia. On the walking paths, in the campsites, and in people’s gardens. They are a serious problem at dawn and dusk, I had to pull an emergency stop on my second day as one jumped in front of my car.
Kangaroos have big claws on their hands (for defense), huge feet and an elastic Achilles’ tendon (for hopping). They breed extremely fast, the females are permanently pregnant and are often nursing three young at once (one in the womb, one in the pouch, and one in the wild).
If you’re thinking of red kangaroos, seven feet tall and wearing boxing gloves, they are only found in remote areas of the mainland.
Tasmanian Devils are small scavengers able to eat half their own body weight in a single sitting, storing the excess fat in their tail. Despite weighing only eight kilos, they can match the jaw strength of an adult human. I heard one of these howling outside my tent at night and I can see why they are called ‘Devils’.
Wombats are my favourite. Like moles, they burrow tunnels. Unlike moles, they are fairly big, so those tunnels can be accessed by the smaller Tasmanian Devils and Dingos.
When threatened, a wombat will dive into a tunnel and block the entire width with its hindquarters. It’s rear legs are plated with armoured cartilage and will resist predator attack. In the event the predator tries to squeeze over the wombat and enter the nest, the wombat will suddenly lurch upwards and crush the predator against the roof of the tunnel.
I was advised not to hit any wombats. They have a low centre of gravity, can weigh up to fifty kilos and are built like tanks. You car’s radiator will not survive a wombat strike.
Wombats are also the only known animal to leave square poo. Fun fact.
I’m afraid I havn’t had any encounters with sharks, jellyfish, snakes, spiders or jumping fire ants. I suggest a David Attenborough documentary if you are interested in these topics.