P is for Pademelon – the furry hoppers of Melaleuca #MelaleucaMiscellany

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Tasmanian pademelons (Thylogale billarierii), contrary to nomenclatorial appearances, are not a fruit.  They are actually a smallish type of macropod (literally, a “big foot”), putting them in the same genetic ball-park as wallabies and kangaroos.

Pademelons are marsupials, a kind of pouched mammal, which give birth to tiny, jelly-bean like young.  These tiny, squidgy blind babies commando crawl their way up over their mother’s belly and into the pouch, where they stay for about six months before coming out into the world to hop about.  A pademelon mother can have three babies on the go at a time – one in the womb, one in the pouch attached to a nipple, and one out and about, occasionally stopping by for a feed from a different nipple, which produces a different kind of milk.  I don’t know how this is done, but they should totally put a patent on it.

Common in Tasmania, pademelons are often seen ransacking prized veggie patches and lurking semi-suicidally on road verges.  Fortunately, in Melaleuca, there are no cars and the couple of vegie patches present are heavily fortified.  Much to the disgust of the local hoppers, most of the windfall apples end up in a clever catching device Qug has rigged up to keep them from falling to the ground.

While we were in Melaleuca, this female wallaby and her recently evicted joey (pademelon baby) spent a lot of time scuffling around in the scrub by the rangers’ hut.  They were hilariously bad at hiding or moving quietly, and would often be found bashing about in the bracken in the general vicinity.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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