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No. 35
Blowing my own trumpet - sorry. Chilly it is, I know, Ziggy our Manager lives near York and has even had ice on her windows. However as the day warms up some snakes are still active. I had two very interesting emails this week, both relating to Herdsman Lake in Wembley.

One from a friend who reported that a tiger snake bit her friend's dog whilst walking around the lake; two vials of anti venom from Balcatta vets and the dog is fortunately now recovering.

The second email was from a lady whose dog had attended our Snake Avoidance training and was also walking her dog around Herdsman Lake:

"We finally got a chance to check if the training had worked on Fergie. On a recent walk we came across 3 different tiger snakes and she definitely did not want to have anything to do with any of them! On each occasion once she saw them she moved away immediately while keeping an eye on them. I would (and have) strongly recommend your Snake Avoidance Training to anyone who cares for their dog."
Carrol, Punch & Fergie.
Snake avoidance training in action with David Manning. Photo Animal Ark
Quite incredible that something so big could have escaped the notice of scientists for so long. River water is often full of soil and runs very murkily out to sea covering everything in fine sediment, exactly what coral reefs hate. Coral reefs are usually found in shallows with clear water and exposed to plenty of sunlight.

But at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River in Brazil an extensive reef system was recently discovered 120km off shore. The Amazon River is just massive and runs so full of sediment the water is brown and diving in it is described as pretty pointless due to near zero visibility, like swimming in a stew. However, it is here where the mighty river flows out to sea that the discovery has been made. "We found a reef where the textbooks said there shouldn't be one" says study co-author Fabiano Thompson of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Whilst our own Great Barrier Reef is dying according to many experts as it 'blooms', it seems that this new reef teems with life. Amongst the new species discovered in Brazil are 61 sponges, new corals, sea fans and more yet to be named specimens.

Amazon reef discovered. Photo Lance Willis

Amazon reef discovered with unusual creatures like this sponge. Photo Rodrigo Moura,

Tasmanians have been waking up to finding bushes and trees just covered in ghostly sheets of spiders' webs and thousands of spiders.

Spiders can fly – many species disperse from where they hatch or escape flooding by a process called ballooning - the spider releases a string of silk and as it catches in the breeze they let go and are carried by the wind.

Spiders have been found 2.8km up in the sky and often ‘mysteriously' land on ships well out at sea. Interestingly spiders are also one of the first colonisers of new land created by volcanic actions. They literally drop in on the cooled lava.

However, back in Tasmania as pictured the spiders have been escaping from the recent floods. Quite an amazing spectacle to observe – but not fun for anyone arachnaphobic.

Spiders escaping floodwaters in Tasmania. Photo ABC Northern Tasmania, Rick Eaves

Spiders webs, Tasmania. Photo Ken Puccetti

Animals can have amazing feet, they can use them to walk, swim, climb, dig, cool off, grip, kill and more.

The animal with the most feet is well can you guess? It is tiny at only 1-3 cm long, it is a Millipede found only in Northern California. The white millipede (Illacme plenipes) can have up to 750 legs.

We are most familiar with bipedalism – you and I along with many apes walk on two feet, as do all birds and macropods like kangaroos. Otherwise most terrestrial animals are quadrupeds using 4 feet.

Here are a few images of amazing feet.

Chameleon foot

Zygodactylous arrangement. Like a split foot, enabling a very firm grip around a branch.

Chameleon foot. Photo Animal Ark
Waterbird foot

Webbed to aid swimming - pictured duckling and swan feet

Duckling feet. Photo Animal Ark

Swan feet. Photo HTO wikicommons


Foot with talons. Punch with one foot and grip hard with the other.

Red-necked falcon feet. Photo Yathin S Krishnappa, wikicommons
Tree frog

Microscopic hair like structures and sticky pads help some frogs grip and climb even up glass. The structures both grip and expel moisture at the same time.

Tree frog feet. Photo Animal Ark

Two hairy toes covered with thick nails to keep warm on chilly South American mountainsides.

Alpaca feet. Photo Jennifer Zoon Smithsonian's National Zoo, Wikimedia Commons

Dogs have sweat glands between their footpads and leave wet prints when hot or excited.

Dog paw - Goldie the labrador. Photo Animal Ark

Largest and heaviest feet of any living creature. Having 4 nails on the front foot and 3 on the rear, weighing in at around 3 tons they still basically walk on tiptoe. They also step silently as the sound of the footstep is contained in the centre of the pad and absorbed by soft tissue.

Elephant foot. Photo Fir0002, Wikicommons

A kind of foot on some gastropods. Gastropod means stomach foot.

Snail. Photo Animal Ark
So popular, I am extending the offer until the end of July for phoned orders. So you can get a snake catching bag with frame and clamp. I'll even throw in a bag full of snakes, lollies that is not the real thing.

JUST $120 inc postage Australia wide (usually $165 ex post).

Phone 08 9243 3044 to order or view at our online shop

Snake catching bag with frame and clamp - available from Animal Ark
A monk arrested leaving the Tiger Temple had in his car two tiger skins, ten tiger teeth and about one thousand amulets containing pieces of tiger skin. Within the temple in a freezer 40 dead tiger cubs were recovered. The authorities later removed a total of 102 live tigers.

The temple is a major tourist attraction 3 hours north of Bangkok. Despite years of allegations regarding animal cruelty, sensitivity surrounding raiding a religious shrine (Buddhist) has probably caused delays in the long overdue move by the government.

Over the years numerous other endangered wildlife species have been removed from the temple by federal wildlife officers including 2 Asiatic golden jackals, 2 Malayan porcupines, 2 black bears and 38 rare hornbills and others birds.

The tragic latest news is that nearby police have also discovered a slaughterhouse where the tigers have been carved up for skin and the exotic meat restaurant trade. Sick beyond belief really.

My own very limited experience with tigers is that after about 12 weeks of age they are not tame in any way unless drugged or malnourished and beyond a few weeks of age are totally unsuited to the tourism "photo opportunity" trade.

Tiger face - Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India. Photo Dibyendu Ash, wikicommons
Animal in Focus: Feral Cat (Felis catus)
It was on 26th January 1788 with the arrival of the first fleet that cats probably arrived in Australia. Edward Henty is listed as having cats amongst other livestock with him and some kittens and Rev Johns' cats are also noted in early records. However many experts suggest cats arrived much earlier, brought by Indonesian traders or arriving via Dutch shipwrecks in the 17th Century. Cats were certainly well known to central Australian aboriginals when contact was first made with white settlers some decades later. Feral cats in Australia are a nationally Declared Pest, meaning that government and landowners now have some obligation to control them. Cats are also a major feral predator overseas and in the United States kill an estimated 23 billion birds and mammals, so they are a similar sized problem to that we have here in Australia.

Feral cats are the same species as domestic cats but live and reproduce in the wild surviving by hunting and scavenging. They are probably our most famous feral species, and we have a few: dogs, rabbits, camels, bees, foxes, goats, carp and toads to name a few. Feral cats are responsible for the extinction of many ground dwelling birds and small to medium sized mammals. They are also the major cause of decline in many hundreds of other mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

All cats including both domestic pets and ferals are opportunistic predators and kill pretty much whenever they can. Cats can weigh in at 4kg for an average adult and 300gms of fresh food are required daily. Cats do not need to drink water. They may be active anytime during day or night but are mostly crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk).

Studies show that a feral cat kills between 5-30 animals per day, every day. Great vision including night vision and excellent hearing (they can hear bats) and sense of smell, assist this super predator. All their senses are far superior to humans.

Lifespan is 12 to 15 years, with a record of 38 years. Cats sleep between 12 and 16 hours per day! Cats can breed from around 1 year of age and may produce two litters of up to 4 kittens per year.

If you own a cat please act responsibly:

Responsible cats ownership means a cat should never be allowed to roam outdoors, or only in cat enclosures. All cats should be de-sexed, licensed, micro chipped and wear a collar. I used to keep them and work with them in the UK. I like cats but I think (personal opinion) that an outright ban on ownership should be gradually introduced into Australia at the same time allowing people to keep native mammals so the small mammal industry, companion pet keepers, breeders, vets, food and accessories suppliers all remain employed.

What do you think?

Feral cat with galah - Central Australian Museum, Alice Springs. Photo Mark Marathon, wikicommons

Cat. Photo Animal Ark

Feral Cat Buster. Photo Professor Batty, wikicommons

Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Friday 29 July 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 5 August 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 2 September 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 7 October 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 21 October 2016 - Albany
Friday 11 November 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 2 December 2016 - Malaga, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Thursday 4 August 2016 - Malaga, Perth

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Saturday 6 August 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 3 September 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 15 October 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 22 October 2016 - Albany, WA
Sunday 23 October 2016 - Denmark, WA
Saturday 5 November 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 3 December 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 17 December 2016 - North Beach, Perth

Public Events
Do come along and see us. Bring your family or friends as well.
The Animal Ark Roadshow will be attending the following events:

Sunday 17 July 2016
City of Stirling Community Event, Bushland Restoration & Wildlife Awareness
8.45am – 11am planting at Gwelup Bushland
11.30am – 1pm Animal Ark Snake & Wildlife Awareness Workshop at Henderson Environment Centre, Star Swamp, off Groat Street, North Beach, Perth 6020
Lunch provided
To register or for more information please contact Jo Taylor on 08 9205 7160 or

Sunday 31 July 2016
Curtin University Open Day
Department of Environmental Biology
Kent Street, Bentley, Perth
10am - 2pm
Free event. Contact Curtin University for more information about the Open Day

Sunday 7 August 2016
City of Stirling Community Event, Bushland Restoration & Wildlife Awareness
8.45am – 11am planting at Trigg Bushland
11.30am – 1pm Animal Ark Snake & Wildlife Awareness Workshop at Henderson Environment Centre, Star Swamp, off Groat Street, North Beach, Perth 6020
Lunch provided
To register or for more information please contact Jo Taylor on 08 9205 7160 or

Sunday 28 August 2016
Animal Ark Snake / Wildlife Awareness Workshop
City of Stirling Community Event
Henderson Environment Centre
Star Swamp, off Groat Street, North Beach, Perth 6020
11am - 1pm
contact City of Stirling for more information

Wednesday 14 September 2016
Kulunga Katitjin Festival 2016
Kings Park, Perth
Schools event - contact Botanic Gardens Perth for more information

Saturday 17 September 2016
Chittering Landcare Wildflower Festival
175 Old Gingin Road, MUCHEA 6501
11am – 3pm
Community event – please contact Chittering Landcare for more information.

See our diary for more dates or contact us to book.

Call (08) 9243 3044, SMS 0466 688 188 or email David, Jenny or Ziggy at to book.

Courses held monthly and as required plus on-site and remote site training available.