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No. 54
Rain, rain, rain – well it's great for our quokkas (see below), farmers, the bush, gardeners and of course frogs. Winter is our quietest time of year at Animal Ark, snakes are sleepy, and everything gets a good feed and a rest before the spring weather eventually returns.

Incidentally the wettest place in the world is Mawsyrnram in India with 11,871mm of rain a year. Can you imagine that - in Perth over 12 months despite our recent wet weather we only get 733mm.

During this cooler period our stick insects are hatching at an alarming rate, babies are emerging daily from their tiny eggs and munching through ever increasing amounts of gum leaves.

Picture here is one happy motorbike frog Litoria moorei spotted during some dog training at North Beach Primary School.

Motorbike frog (Litoria moorei). Photo Animal Ark
A study of 1,000 fossilised human poops from Texas has made an astonishing discovery. One of the 1,000 coprolite samples contained the bones, scales, and a fang of a snake from the Viperidae family, and also the remains of a small rodent. Both were uncooked or cut up – just swallowed. It's the first archaeological evidence of venomous snake consumption known to researchers. So, was it eaten for ceremonial purpose, nutritional gain, some diet fad, or just as a dare?!

The Journal of Archaeological Science reports that the study helped understand the diet of the ancient hunter gathers of the region that ate many small animals and plants that could be found in the arid North American region over 1,500 years ago.

Fancy a snack anyone? Crotalus cerastes, Mesquite Springs, CA. Photo: Tigerhawkvok, Wikimedia Commons
We are starting to have dog owners book up for Snake Avoidance Training and have numerous dates and locations on the website for the coming season.

Our training centre in the Perth Hills at Mahogany Creek will be a hive of activity and is a perfect location for us to deliver this vet-approved service for dog owners.


Stella, the Jack Russell dog and David Manning. Photo: Danella Beavis, / Animal Ark
Usually any measurements taken during a study that suggest your animals are actually shrinking would be immediately dismissed as poor science and put down to human error whilst using the tape measure. However, after 18 years of continuous study it has been confirmed that not only can bone shrinking occur but that it can also be reversed with lost bone density regrown later.

The findings have confirmed that the marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is the world's first vertebrate known to have this extraordinary ability. The marine iguana is a remarkable creature; they feed exclusively on marine algae found in the cooler waters of the Galápagos Islands some 900kms off mainland Ecuador. How and why?

Well every few years the El Nińo weather pattern raises the water temperature and causes a huge reduction of the algae, making survival much harder for the iguanas. Many die as a result of food shortage. But those that shrink have an increased chance of survival.

Scientists found that those shrinking a centimeter or so had increased their survival rate by 10% and those that shrank more can increase survivability by 35%. Some iguanas measured could shrink by 6.8cm that's about 20% of their body length.

The larger the iguana was, the more they could shrink overall and the more likely that ultimately, they would survive. As they shrink, less food is needed and also their smaller mouths are much better at nibbling on the limited algae.

Scientists think that understanding more about the hormonal and physiological mechanisms behind this ability may help humans, especially the aged, where declining bone density causes many health problems.

Marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), Galapagos. Photo: Animal Ark

Marine iguanas Rabida Island, Galapagos. Photo: Animal Ark

Marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), Galapagos. Photo: Animal Ark

A pair of mating kookaburras decided to get amorous too close to a sub-station in Carine. A witness reported that he saw the birds making out, and that contact with the power lines was shortly followed by blue flashes and bangs.

The outage caused loss of power to 1,000 local residents and businesses, but was fixed within 2 hours. The kookaburras needless to say did not survive but went out with a bang!

Kookaburra. Photo: Animal Ark
Steve Irwin 1962-2006
Steve (crocodile hunter) Irwin was Australia's best-known wildlife celebrity; fame came with his hugely successful Crocodile Hunter TV series and films. His Australia Zoo, the family business, is now a major tourism venture and conservation breeding centre. The Australia Zoo wildlife hospital cares for injured wildlife and is well equipped with a surgical theatre, x-ray room and pathology lab – purportedly the best such hospital in Australia – funded by donations and the zoo itself it makes a major contribution to aiding and rehabilitating injured wildlife.

Australia Zoo started small and with another name, but is now situated on 1,000 acres near Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Steve's parents Bob and Lyn opened it in 1970 as a small Queensland reptile and fauna park. Steve took over management of the park in 1991 and it was renamed Australia Zoo in 1998. His wildly popular Crocodile Hunter TV show made him a star around the world and his catch phrase "Crikey!" well known to his fans. Over 500 million viewers in some 130 countries have seen his TV shows. He was an exuberant individual, passionate about animals and conservation. His uniform of zookeeper khaki shirt and shorts and very Australian accent has no doubt influenced a new generation of wildlife enthusiasts.

His life was cut tragically short aged only 44 in 2006 whilst filming on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland with stingrays. A large stingray defending itself from what it assumed was a predator caused the fatal wound to the heart. Justin Lyons the cameraman filming at the time said "It popped on it's front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds"

His wife Terri and children Bindi and Robert survive Steve and continue the good works.

Steve and his father Bob discovered a new species of freshwater turtle in the Burdekin river of Queensland. It has been named Irwin's turtle Elseya irwini in his honour.

Steve Irwin at the Australia Zoo in 2005. Photo: Richard Giles aka rich-115, Wikimedia Commons

Steve Irwin. Photo: Australia Zoo

The late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin after playing with Dingos. Photo: Bernard Dupont Wikimedia Commons

We have had huge stocks arrive ready for the coming season so to help clear a bit of space how about a massive 25% off all kits, so Solo and Team Snake Handling Kits and Team Fauna Handling kits.

Includes postage within Australia.

Online use the discount code KITSJUNE.

Click 'pick up from store' but we will ship.


Offer runs until the end of July 2019.

Buy online at or telephone your order 08 9243 3044.

Animal Ark Snake handling reptile removalist equipment kit Animal Ark fauna handling equipment team kit
Animal in Focus: Quokka (Setonix brachyurus)
Let's have a look at our wonderful quokka, an icon of Rottnest Island and WA.

The quokka is a small wallaby with quite dense short greyish brown fur. With short ears, short tail and diminutive size they are quite an endearing 'teddy bear' like creature. They are herbivorous and mostly nocturnal ranging from 40 to 54cm long and weighing in at 2.5 to 5kg. Cat sized and unfortunately the 'perfect' sized prey for both cats and foxes, this has led to their virtual demise on the mainland. They are well built for an arboreal lifestyle and will climb into small trees and shrubs to locate tender leaves and flowers. They prefer habitats with high rainfall preferring 600mm or more per year and are most frequently encountered near stream and within swamps.

Sexually mature at 18 months a female gives birth to a single joey that will stay in the pouch for around 6 months and then is further dependant on the mother for milk for another 2 months or so before becoming totally independent. Two joeys a year may be produced. Like many marsupials should a female be chased by a predator they may discard their joey, which distracts the animal, giving the mother a better chance to escape. Essentially, the young are sacrificed for the survival of the parent.

Their tameness on Rottnest makes them a very easy animal to interact with and the tourist board has had great success promoting WA and Rottnest Island in particular to overseas visitors with several celebrities such as Roger Federer and Margot Robbie taking selfies with the cute little marsupials.

Historical – Willen deVlamingh in 1697 mentioned quokkas referring to them as forest rats. Nicolaas Witsen a director of the Dutch East India Company wrote about the 'pouch beneath their throats into which one could put one's hand'

Despite its reputation as occurring only on Rottnest Island, quokkas can in fact still be found in at least 25 locations around WA such as between Mundaring and Walpole, the Northern Jarrah forest, Jarrahdale, Dwellingup, Harvey and a good secure population on Bald Island. They can still thrive in areas where cats and foxes are less abundant or more effectively controlled. Original range was throughout most of south-western WA including all around Perth and up past Jurien Bay.

Common only 150 years ago, I think this icon of ours should be widely reintroduced and could also make ideal pets. They could with only a little help (and political will) once again become a common sight in our suburbs. They should thrive and domesticated varieties would soon tame as easily as those on Rottnest Island. They are native, do not adversely affect the environment and would no doubt help encourage more people to care about all of our threatened native species. Interestingly every summer a huge number of quokkas die of natural causes (drought) on Rottnest so without much threat to the overall island population these vulnerable specimens could be relocated annually and maybe assist in establishing a native pet program. I am saddened by the WA government's attitude to keeping natives (they are very much against it) whereas in South Australia the same wildlife department seem to be positively encouraging the care and maintenance of native species as pets. They see it as a positive step forward to reduce the annihilation of our Australian native animals whose populations are often in terminal decline.

Quokka family. Photo: Hesperian, Wikimedia Commons

Rottnest island quokka. Photo: Animal Ark

Rottnest quokka (Setonix brachyurus) Photo: SeanMcClean, Wikimedia Commons

Upcoming Courses and Events
Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Saturday 29 June - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Thursday 4 July – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 13 July - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Saturday 20 July – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 27 July - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Saturday 10 August - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Saturday 7 September - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Saturday 14 September – Harradine Vets, Bunbury
Sunday 15 September – Harradine Vets, Bunbury
Saturday 21 September – Oakford
Sunday 29 September – Yanchep
Friday 4 October – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 12 October - Toodyay
Thursday 17 October - Oakford
Saturday 19 October - Harradine Vets, Bunbury
Sunday 20 October - Harradine Vets, Bunbury
Friday 25 October – Nannup
Saturday 26 October – Nannup
Friday 1 November – Margaret River
Saturday 2 November – Margaret River
Sunday 3 November – Augusta
Saturday 9 November – Rockingham
Saturday 16 November – Albany
Sunday 17 November - Albany

Venomous Snake Handling Course
Licensed by DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service

Friday 28 June - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Thursday 4 July – North Beach, Perth
Thursday 18 July - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 31 July - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Thursday 8 August - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Friday 23 August - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Thursday 19 September – Animal Ark, Perth
Wednesday 2 October – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Tuesday 15 October – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 30 October – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 13 November – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 27 November – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 11 December - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills

Fauna Handling Course
Tuesday 30 July – Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Thursday 22 August - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Wednesday 18 September - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Monday 14 October - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills
Tuesday 26 November - Mahogany Creek, Perth Hills

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:

Saturday 17 August
Snake Awareness Workshop
Chittering Landcare Centre
10am – 12noon
To book or for more information contact Chittering Landcare Centre, 08 9571 0400

Saturday 14 September
Animal Ark Interactive Wildlife Display
Chittering Wildflower Expo Family Day
10am – 2pm
For more information contact Chittering Landcare Centre

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

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

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