View this newsletter in your web browser Browse all newsletters
No. 5
Well summer is finally here. It’s warming up down here in Perth and no doubt very sticky for those of you up in the Pilbara and beyond. Hope you enjoy the following and PLEASE DO like us on Facebook
Relocation Work
As I mentioned in Newsletter 4 I was involved in some fauna relocation work recently. It is indeed very sad to see bushland cleared for development anywhere. However, I am aware that wherever any of us live now was once pristine bushland. It is at least fortunate that some developers do consider the fauna and flora when clearance is underway.

I would like to thank Satterley, developers of the Catalina development in Perth’s northern suburbs for caring enough to allow for some precious plants and animals to be removed prior to the machines moving in. In conjunction with the grass tree people at Replants I spent several days walking around eagled eyed for any fauna that could be recovered as the bushes and trees where heaped into piles for mulching.

The juvenile monitor lizard pictured was actually caught by the dozer driver who spotted some Ravens attacking it and swooping around it in the air. Fortunately and somewhat remarkably it was caught unharmed, kept warm for a couple of days and released into Star Swamp bushland where I hope it’s enjoying a new lease of life.

As these photos show, at least some species got a second chance to live to maturity. I am sure they are smiling for the camera.

Western Slender Bluetongue
Cyclodomorphus celatus

Goulds Sand Monitor
Varanus gouldii

Snake in Focus:
South Western Carpet Python
Morelia spilota imbricata
Six sub species of Carpet Pythons can be found in a range of habitats throughout Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. Here we are looking at our local sub species the South Western Carpet Python - imbricata. They are an impressive, large snake with a markedly bulbous arrow shaped head and visible heat sensor pits on the jaws. Scales are greenish to blackish brown with random blotches and patches, affording excellent camouflage in bushes, trees and grasslands.

These snakes are found throughout the Perth region, but usually die off in developed and disturbed areas. Yanchep National Park amongst others have populations of this efficient predator that feeds on a variety of prey including lizards, but specialising in mammals and birds, so from mice to wallabies, doves to parrots. In turn they are preyed upon especially when young by feral cats and foxes. Food is swallowed whole and they mainly eat during spring and summer, hiding away for several months in the cooler winter in old tree hollows or rocky outcroppings.

Carpet Pythons can occasionally reach 2.5 – 3m in length and weigh between 1 and 5 kilos. Mating occurs during the spring months and eggs are laid around 2 months later. These are guarded closely by the female and eventually hatch around 60 days later. Parental care ceases at this time and the hatchlings are independent from this moment on and at their most susceptible to predation until they have a few months of feeding under their belt. The first year sees phenomenal growth rates and they can reach over a metre in length in a matter of months.

Teachers, bosses - why not book our Venom Incursion to visit your school or workplace. See

Juvenile Carpet Python

Carpet Python having just eaten possibly a rabbit.
Photo by William Archer courtesy of

Australia’s Rarest Reptile - Turtle No 4
Western Swamp Turtle
Pseudemydura umbrina
One day back in 1953 a boy picked up a turtle from the road in Upper Swan and took it to the local wildlife show. He had just rediscovered a species of turtle thought to be have been extinct for 113 years. The only other species of freshwater turtles living in SW Australia have long necks so it was easy to know that this was a very unusual find.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and the population had dropped to around 30 specimens. Dr Gerald Kuchling initiated a captive breeding programme and Perth Zoo now study, breed and release these rare reptiles back into protected reserves in the Swan Valley.

At a recent event the Minister for the Environment Albert Jacob paid tribute to conservation efforts to save this endemic (only found locally) species. I was there and was very fortunate to meet turtle Number 4, the 4th turtle to be radio tracked all those years ago. Still going strong at around 65 years of age she is expected to lay another batch of eggs in November.

If you have heard about this species before it is usually called a tortoise, can’t really say why but Aussies and Americans do have a problem with these common names.

All are classified as Chelonia but in usual English usage I believe there is a difference:

  • Turtles are adapted for a mostly aquatic lifestyle. They have evolved webbed feet and feed mostly in the water on aquatic prey.
  • Terrapins are equally terrestrial and aquatic, have webbed feet for swimming and feed on land and/or in water.
  • Tortoises (my favourite) live and feed on land often a long way from water into which they are mostly reluctant to venture. Many have domed shells and stumpy feet designed to carry their weight and for walking on land.

The Western Swamp Turtle as I will continue to call it has webbed feet, I do wish they would get their common names as right as a common name can be. As Australia has NO land tortoises maybe that’s why there is confusion. Or maybe no one cares and I am being petty!

Chinese Hornets Kill Dozens of People
The Asian Giant Hornet
Vespa mandarinia
According to the state Chinese news agency, Giant Hornets have been responsible for a wave of fatalities in recent months. Reports state that since July this year 41 people have died, 1,600 were injured, 206 are currently in hospital and 37 in a critical condition.

Despite their size their venom is considered to be less toxic than that of the European Honey Bee Apis mellifera. It would appear however that these hornets are attacking in numbers and can sting repeatedly. Three cities Angkang, Hanzhong and Shangluo have been the worst affected.

Milder winters and hot humid summers appear to have led to increased numbers of the Hornets, that coupled with recent urban development into Hornet habitats seems to be the cause for so many fatalities.

Female Giant Hornets can grow to 5cm long and have a 6mm sting (longer than most Australian snake fangs). They occur over a wide area of SE Asia and can be found in parts of Asian Russia, Korea, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and India.

Feeding upon other species of bee and hornet and their larvae, they attack hives on mass. Very interestingly I think is one of the native honeybees defence mechanisms. Around 500 bees will fly out to intercept and surround an incoming Giant Hornet in a tight ball. The temperature within the cluster rises very rapidly to 47°C and the Hornet rapidly expires. The bees are unharmed, as they have a higher upper lethal thermal limit of around 48 - 50°C. This defence is called "heat balling". You must be a brave researcher to get close with a thermometer to get that data! Go on, Google it and find out more.

I have seen a few specimens in museums and they are impressive beasts indeed and those sting wounds in the picture look pretty nasty.

Meet a Lion Whisperer
If you are interested in Lions at all – this upcoming event in Perth may be for you. I am going - maybe see you there.

Check out this link for more information:

Upcoming Courses & Events
Snake Handling Training Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocators Regulation 17 Licence
Friday 1 November 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Monday 11 November 2013 - Bunbury Wildlife Park
Tuesday 12 November 2013 - Bunbury Wildlife Park
Friday 6 December 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 17 January 2014 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Monday 4 November 2013 - Malaga, Perth

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

Sunday 27 October 2013
Dogs Breakfast, Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex, Madeley, Perth.
9am - 1pm
Free event.

Sunday 3 November 2013
Northbridge Piazza, Halloween Event
12 noon - 4pm
Free event.

Thursday 16 January 2014
Animal Ark Roadshow
Woodvale Library
10am and 11am
Contact the library to book.

Sunday 19 January 2014
Wonders of the Wildlife Ark for Nearer to Nature, DPaW
Yanchep National Park
11.15am and 12.45pm
Contact Nearer to Nature to book.

See our diary for more dates.

Call (08) 9243 3044 or email David or Jenny at to book.

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