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No. 42
Well, not sure quite what kind of winter to expect this year. It's chilly enough in Perth now for us to 'rug up' in the evening, the wood burner getting some action – but the daytime has been pleasant enough.

At Animal Ark we are in our slow season but gearing up for a very busy snake avoidance spring and summer.

Press releases and promotional stuff takes time and patience – thankfully I have Jenny and Ziggy capably dealing with all that. I'll stick to cleaning and feeding the animals - from tarantulas to king browns!

All that cleaning up snake and spider scats, poops or whatever you like to call the waste product of animals, gave me the idea for much of the content of this latest newsletter.

David Manning and labrador dog. Photo: Animal Ark
Humans study the strangest things. Researchers in Georgia looking at the hydrodynamics of defecation came to some interesting conclusions.

It seems all mammals - human, elephant, dog or panda - take around 12 seconds to poo plus or minus 7 seconds (maybe it depends on whether you had curry or not the night before).

They also looked at diets and those creatures with lots of fibre in the diet produced more floaters, with carnivores more likely to have sinkers. Next time you go to the loo maybe take a stopwatch and see how you compare!

Elephant at Sable Sands, Zimbabwe. Photo: Animal Ark
One had shotgun pellets removed, others collided with cars, one way or another with a variety of wounds they arrive at Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Malaga, where we rent office space.

Here volunteers dedicate many hours to the rehabilitation and eventual release of these critically endangered birds.

I was at a recent release of 8 such birds at Yanchep. Mike, NAR's black cockatoo Team Leader, said "As our human footprint spreads with development and pollution these poor birds struggle to survive".

It is very uplifting to see these birds fly free again – even though I didn't put in any of the hard work.

Carnabys black cockatoo - NAR release at Yanchep. Photo: Monica Iseppi
Feces or faeces are the solid and semi solid waste products excreted via the anus or cloaca. Some excremental words are deemed offensive: crap, load, dump, turd, shit, stool, dollop can all be used for faecal matter and many also to be vulgar in conversation.

Different terms can even be used for the waste of particular species:

  • Horse - manure or road apple
  • Cattle - cow dung, meadow muffins or cow patties
  • Rabbit - pellets
  • Bird - droppings
  • Birds and bats in large congregations – guano
  • Hawks (and other raptors) - mute
  • Wild carnivores and sometimes any animal – scat
  • Insects such as caterpillars and stick insects - frass
  • Otter – spraint
  • Worms - castings

Interestingly elephants, hippos, koalas and pandas amongst others are born with sterile intestines and must gain gut bacteria through ingesting parental (usually maternal) faeces.

It is unusual but true that direct human faecal implants (from one person to another) are helping many people improve bowel and intestinal health. In some cases it is reported that this procedure has greatly enhanced the health of recipients if not curing some ailments completely.

Power to the poop!

Rabbit droppings. Photo: PalaeoMal, Wikimedia Commons

Rock at Monterey with birds and their crap. Photo: Mrmariokartguy, Wikimedia Commons

Snail with faeces. Photo: Luis Miguel Bugallo- Sanchez, Wikimedia Commons

Worm castings. Photo: Ceridwen / Wikimedia Commons

Warming to the above topic has reminded me of many excrement related incidents involving animals when I worked with a range of creatures in the film and TV industry. Anyone who works with animals knows about poo – because you have to deal with it on a regular basis: pick it up, wipe it off and all the rest.

Many years ago now I was in a studio on a music video shoot involving penguins and the band Queen. As a result of one penguin's loose bowel movement, I can safely assume I am the only man in the world that can claim that his penguin pooped on Freddie Mercury. Really it happened.

Hippos are amazing, huge and potentially very dangerous animals. They have the unusual habit of spraying faeces – with a little high speed tail wagging they manage to propel and spread their liquid poop metres high and wide. This in Hippo land helps a male to mark his territory. Maybe even more remarkably or disturbing is the female's habit of doing the same directly onto a male's face, particularly during the breeding season.

Which takes me back to another film studio incident - on a day filming with a pygmy hippo – this miniature version of its larger relative can do and did exactly the same thing. Emma the hippo decided she just had to go, backed up towards the studio wall and sprayed for her life, her little tail whirling about. A huge area, quite literally from floor to ceiling and at least a couple of metres wide were in a few seconds covered in steaming, smelly dripping muck.

This was a bit embarrassing for me and probably even for Emma – but the show's producer who was right there to witness it thought it was just hilarious and decided to call on his radio for the cleaner to come to the studio with a bucket as soon as possible. His face when he arrived with just a bucket and mop was a picture, we all laughed so much. I don't remember what happened next but either many men with mops were required or the whole wall hosed down.

Freddie Mercury, Queen and penguin handled by Animal Ark

Hippo in flippers. Photo: Simon Murrell/Animal Ark

Hippo splatter zone

Of course animals have always pooped – and some poos from millions of years ago sank into sediment and over millennia have fossilised – turned from poo to stone. Coprolite is the correct name for these ancient specimens.

Paleoscatologists can study coprolites and learn about the diet and digestive systems of now extinct animals. Pictured is probably a very nice Turtle coprolite from Madagascar. It was sold to me as dolphin poop - I am no Paleoscatologist but I am convinced it is the more common turtle excreta.

Fossil poo. Photo: Animal Ark
Last newsletter we reported on an amazing glowing frog – this time we have a frog so translucent you can see the heart beating. It's a type of glass frog found in the Amazonian lowland of Ecuador.

The upper part of its body is camouflaged but from below, where no predator would view it, the heart is plainly visible. You may even see it's poo – frog poo if you were wondering - depending on size of frog looks a bit like an olive pip.

Ecuador glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium yaku). Photo: Jamie Culebras, Daily Mail
Coming early next month.

Why not pop along and meet Animal Ark and some of the Australian wildlife at Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Malaga on Sunday 9 July, 10am to 3pm.

And come along to the WAHS Reptile Expo at Claremont Showgrounds on Sunday 16 July, 10am to 5pm. Animal Ark will be at both events – all day!

WAHS expo

NAR open day 2017
Animal in Focus: Dung Beetle (Family: Scarabaeidae)
I thought I would continue on with the theme of the newsletter for this month's Animal in Focus, the Dung Beetle. These beetles are remarkable animals that play a significant role in our environment. Australia is home to more than 523 species of dung beetles, 23 of which are introduced from Europe, Africa and Hawaii. The introduction of these beetles was intentional (you would have thought we had learnt from the cane toad incident) but in this case the beetles have been quite useful for Australia's agricultural regions.

Native dung beetles typically feast on and process marsupial waste, produced from wallaby and kangaroo species, and find it difficult to process moister waste products from our European farm animals, including cattle, sheep and horses. There are in fact several native species of dung beetle that have been found to consume these moister poos, however introduced specialized dung beetles are faster and have been doing a great clean up job too! Dung beetles, in large numbers, can bury cow patties or meadow muffins within 10 to 30 hours. Not only does the dung beetle remove the excess and sometimes unwanted waste, but burying the poo benefits the land, pasture, soil and water in many ways. Additionally, the consumption of cow patties has resulted in a natural biological control of the bush fly, notably reducing their numbers and making farmers very happy!

On average dung beetles live to around 3 years of age and are 0.5cm to 3cm in length. One of the largest is the Elephant dung beetle (Heliocopris dominus) - up to 6.5cm long. Although they are often small creatures, one dung beetle in relation to its size is both the world's strongest insect and, wait for it… the world's strongest animal! Who knew?? The male Taurus scarab (Onthaphagus taurus) can pull a dung ball 1,141 times its own bodyweight! This is equivalent to a 68kg human pulling a road train!

Dung beetles can either be dwellers, rollers or tunnellers. If you are a dweller dung beetle, you would live inside the poo itself, females laying their eggs inside the poo and the larvae that hatch will feed on the poo 'in house'. Rollers are the typical dung beetles you see on TV or in movies, they shape a section of a poo into a ball and commence rolling the now round poo ball away from the pile. The dung beetle will then bury the dung, storing it to eat later and/or to lay eggs in. Tunnellers will dig a tunnel under the poo, usually in a male-female pair, the male brings down poo into the tunnel, which the female sorts and stores.

Words by Ziggy at Animal Ark

CSIRO ScienceImage Bronze dung beetle (Onitis alexis) introduced to Australia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium Bachuss) Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Photo: Kay Africa wikimedia commons

Female Giant Dung Beetle (Heliocopris andersoni). Photo: Bernard DUPONT, wikimedia commons

Plum dung beetle (Anachalcos convexus) composite. Photo: Charlesjsharp, Wikimedia Commons

Rhino poo dung beetles, Botswana. Photo: David Manning. Animal Ark

Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Wednesday 14 June – Malaga, Perth
Friday 16 June – Malaga, Perth - FULL
Thursday 22 June – Malaga, Perth
Friday 7 July – Malaga, Perth
Friday 4 August – Malaga, Perth
Friday 1 September – Malaga, Perth
Friday 22 September – Bunbury, WA
Friday 6 October - Malaga, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Thursday 6 July – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 31 August – Malaga, Perth

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Friday 23 June – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 12 August – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 16 September – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 23 September – Bunbury
Sunday 24 September – Bunbury
Thursday 28 September – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 30 September – North Beach, Perth
Sunday 8 October – North Beach, Perth
Wednesday 18 October – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 21 October – Bunbury
Sunday 22 October – Bunbury
Tuesday 24 October – Margaret River
Wednesday 25, Thursday 26 October - Nannup
Saturday 28 October – Mount Barker / Albany

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 9 July
Native Animal Rescue Open Day
170 Camboon Road, Malaga
Community Event. Entry fee at gate.

Sunday 16 July
West Australian Herpetological Society (WAHS)
Reptile Expo
Tom Wildling Pavilion, Claremont Showgrounds
10am – 5pm
See for more details and ticket prices.

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.