Today’s #WednesdayWombat leaves no poet unturned! #GoingRogue

This adorable-animal-behaving-badly story from renowned Tasmanian poet, Sarah Day, whom we sincerely thank for being brave enough to share her story of fear and marsupial bloodlust.

Some years ago I drove with friends to stay at Cradle Mountain. We arrived late in the summer afternoon and walked from the old Waldheim huts down to picturesque Dove Lake. The sun was sinking low and with it the temperature. We turned from the lake to find a large wombat approaching.

I remember exclaiming something naff like “Wombats, aren’t they adorable!” On cue, the one metre creature altered course slightly and made a beeline for me. I felt complimented to be singled out as it headed stolidly closer. I continued, no doubt, to utter those low guttural noises we make when we see something that touches us.

It was at the moment it lifted itself vertically and planted an adult hand sized paw on my thigh that the first waver of doubt flickered. I took a step back and the wombat leaned with me, its paw or rather claws, which were hefty, gripped harder. I took another step backwards and the wombat took a number of steps forwards to the mirth of those I was with.  Again I retreated, the feel and look of those claws remaining with me, as the wombat advanced. I turned and began to jog, assuming that the wombat would lose interest and be diverted by my friends. Not so. It too broke into a trot, hot on my heels. That such a solid and heavy looking animal should be able to pick up its feet in this way was surprising.

The road climbed slowly, I could hear the wombat right behind me. I picked up speed and began to sprint, throwing a glance over my shoulder as I turned the corner of the zigzag back to the huts. The wombat hadn’t lost ground. I could hear laughter in the distance below. I gave it all I had and pelted the last fifty metres to the hut, slamming the door behind me.

This was over thirty years ago. I’ve encountered many wombats in the interim. I love to watch them in their habitat, in forests, dunes, on beaches, coastal plains, on farms. They are grand animals with their great heads, their barrel like muscularity, big paws and thick fur and their funny, pedantic territorial habits – lay a stick on one of their cubic scats and when you come back another, fresher scat will be balanced staunchly on the stick. On many occasions they’ve walked close beside me, sometimes unseeing, their eyesight, especially in daylight is not acute. They are more likely to smell people, it’s easy to see when they’ve caught a whiff of you on the wind and begin to bolt. Since my Dove Lake encounter though, I’ve always been circumspect close up to wombats, my flight reflex on alert. And I’ve just checked with Wikipedia who endorses my story and memory; wombats can indeed run at speeds of 40 km per hour for up to 90 seconds. Don’t be deceived by those short legs.

Legs are short, but claws are long!

Legs are short, but claws are long!

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No, kakapo! Rare, fluffy parrot behaving *very* badly #GoingRogue

Video

Thanks to Sirocco Kakapo, New Zealand’s Official @Spokesbird for Conservation for this pearler of poor animal behaviour – footage from BBC’s series Last Chance to See, featuring Stephen Fry and Mark Carwadine.

The show blurb is below, but essentially, this is a very cute, fluffy kakapo parrot behaving exceptionally badly on Mark’s head, on camera. No wonder they’re having trouble keeping their numbers up in the wild.

Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine head to the ends of the earth in search of animals on the edge of extinction.

In New Zealand the travellers make their way through one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. They are on a journey to find the last remaining kakapo, a fat, flightless parrot which, when threatened with attack, adopts a strategy of standing very still indeed.

Which, incidentally, does not accurately describe the behaviour of this bird at all…enjoy!

Going Rogue – Adorable Animals Behaving Badly – share your stories of faunal terror!

Sure, she looks cute now, but wait til she finds out you're weaning her off rolled oats.

Sure, she looks cute now, but wait til she finds out you’re weaning her off the rolled oats.

Have you met an adorable animal behaving surprisingly badly?  C’mon and let us know!

Last month’s publication of the story of the herpetologist-mugging wombat prompted an outpouring of “me too!” stories, regarding animals we had thought of as harmless, fluffy, or borderline inanimate behaving in ways which were both unexpected and frankly, quite terrifying.

This week’s #WednesdayWombat will feature one of these stories, as told by the fabulous Sarah Day, renowned Australian poet, and now outed as apparently irresistible wombat bait. Perhaps the animal in question had some inkling of some of the roadkill-themed poetry Sarah was yet to write.  Her story of marsupial terror to appear here this Wednesday as our next “Going Rogue” feature.  Stay tuned!