Here at Healesville Sanctuary, not much gets wasted. A single fish can provide both food and enrichment for several species over the course of a week (although not many people would want to get too close to it by the end).
Day 1 – Keeper Jess has a fresh fish carcass and knows who would love it- Wylie the Water rat goes straight for the eye balls. Yum! That’s enough food for him for 2 days! Now we just needed to let our fish get a bit more smelly before going to the next eager recipient.
Day 3 – Tasmanian Devil keeper, Monica, with the fish that has gone rotten. She left it outside for a few hours and it is now covered in maggots.
Day 3 – Tasmanian Devil, Lucifer, scent marking his maggoty new fish. He is so excited
Lucifer taking his fish away to hide from everyone else. He got very protective of it when any keeper got too close.
After 5 days there was nothing left to find of the maggoty fish carcass… Well if you got too close to Lucifer you’d still get a sensory reminder… Smells like enrichment!
Oh by the way- you may not want to try this with your fishy leftovers at home :)
Our final day for our winter monitoring of Eastern Barred Bandicoots (EBBs) at Woodlands Historic Park and we are still finding great numbers of healthy bandicoots (and Possums).
Today our teams caught 10 EBBs and 6 of them were new animals born in the reserve! That gives us a total of 36 for this round of monitoring (including 14 new animals born in the wild!). Each of the females we caught also had young, with a total of 27 new babies counted in their mothers’ pouches! We also found lots of bandicoot diggings across the park, which is also good to see. It shows they are moving throughout their new home and foraging for their favourite foods including worms, other invertebrates, roots and tubers.
Perfect bandicoot habitat – a mix of grasslands and woodlands
Our partners in Conservation Volunteers Australia and Parks Victoria, and all our Zoo staff, are very pleased with how the new population is growing and how healthy all the Bandicoots look. We look forward to seeing them all again soon!
Bye bandicoots! See you next time!
Another successful day! Today the teams caught 10 Bandicoots and 3 of them were new! Females again had beautiful new babies in their pouches. Great results for our population!
When we trap at Woodlands, Eastern Barred Bandicoots are not the only ones who love our bait food. We often catch Brushtail Possums too! The Possums sometimes don’t want to leave their warm traps – they know there is food in there after all.
‘Do I have to get up? It is warm in here.’
‘I don’t want to leave – just give me more food!’
‘Fine… I’ll go – but I’ll be back!’
A Possum heads back home
Today we had teams of Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) researchers from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria and Zoos Victoria working across the park to see who was in our traps and monitor our bandicoot population. We were hoping to see our older EBBs and also find some new youngsters born in the wild. If there are new bandicoots found, they could be the fourth generation born at this site – we could be great great grandparents!
An EBB released after a quick check up
Success! It was frosty as the sun rose over Woodlands, but all of the animals were warm in their fluffy beds. We were very excited to find 16 EBBs and 5 of them were new animals born in the wild! All of them were in excellent condition with some of the males over 900 grams – that is big for a bandicoot! Even better, we found one of our females that was released last year with 3 new young in her pouch!
Baby EBBs in mum’s pouch (Photo: Deb Dyson)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s results!
In July 2013, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) Recovery Team started a new population of EBBs at Woodlands Historic Park (next to Melbourne Airport) to help fight the extinction of this super cute Victorian.
We all work together to monitor the bandicoots throughout the year to look at survival, habitat use and breeding success of the population. We are currently conducting our winter survey. So, how do you monitor bandicoots?
One of our EBBs bred at Werribee Open Range Zoo
At Woodlands we have a huge grid with hundreds of sites where we try to catch our bandicoots. The traps have warm covers to keep out any wind and rain, warm fluffy bedding so the bandicoots can make a nest and we put in their favorite food – bait balls made with peanut butter, oats and honey!
One of our bandicoot traps at Woodlands
Once we catch an EBB we use a microchip reader to see who it is, we take their weight, give them a condition score and check their feet and long nails. If they are a new animal born in the wild, we give them a microchip (like in pet dogs and cats) and take a small amount of fur for a genetic sample, so we can monitor the diversity of the population. Sometimes our vets from Melbourne Zoo come with us to do further checks to ensure the population is healthy. The most exciting part is checking if females have babies in their pouch – we love to see new young born in the wild! After their check up we then let the bandicoots go back to their wild home.
Today we are setting all our traps – I’ll keep you updated over the next few days to let you know what we find!
During the Dusk Open Vehicle Adventures over the past two weeks Keeper Laura Harbridge discovered that our resident barn owl family were back in the lower savannah. This is the only time of year that we really traverse that area after dark so we took the opportunity to get some photos before locking up for the night.
Barn Owls may be nomadic or they may stay put in one location depending on rodent numbers. Judging by the number of young owls it seems we have quite a few mice around – there were at least seven chicks!
Barn owls lay 3 – 9 eggs staggered at intervals so that they do not all hatch together. Given that each egg takes a little over a month to hatch followed by a three month fledgling period it is safe to say that the parent owls have been very busy… Two mice were delivered just in the 15 – 20 minutes that we observed them!
We have also noticed that Nankeen Kestrels are hanging around this tree during the day. It’s highly likely that they are waiting to use the same tree if not the same nest hollow as the owls. This high rise hot demand only highlights the importance of these old trees for wildlife homes. I guess we might need to provide some artificial hollows to ensure there’s enough supply for demands in the future.