A Christmas visitor

On Christmas Eve mid morning Darling Daughter and her Country Cousin returned from the beach with this little fellow on a broad stick. They had found him on a rock outcrop surrounded by sea, not sure if he may have been carried there by a dog or a bird. This little brown fellow was cold, wet and very quiet. We dried him off and kept him in a dark, warm and quiet place in my sewing studio, offered him food, he seemed to be recovering from his mysterious watery adventure but sadly just before dusk he had passed away. We had hoped to release him into the dunes that evening if he had looked feisty and well. These little Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) are common in our area although we have never sighted one before. They are a mouse like carnivorous marsupial animal only found in Australia, they are related to the Tasmanian Devil and Quoll and have a mouthful of canine teeth unlike the mouse with incisors. We presume he would normally live in the dune area between our house and the beach where there would be many insects, lizards and small animals to feast on.

This little fellow would have had a very limited life span if he had survived as the males apparently 'shag themselves to death', they mate with as many females as possible over a 2 weeks period each spring for up to 6 hours at a time. The females have an open pouch on their underside with 6-10 teats that the little babies attach to and are dragged around under mum for 5 weeks then left in a warm nest where she continues to feed them for up to 4 months. The females live for 2 to 3 mating seasons.

I tried to take some closeup photos of this little visitor so you could see that he was a very beautiful little mammal, he was tiny but his features were just so detailed and perfect. I hope one day we get to see these little animals going about their lives in our dunes. Here is a link from the Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers that details the rescue of 5 Antechinus babies after their mother had died in tragic circumstances in a nasty drawer slamming incident.


Rhonda said...

My ex-students would have loved this. I really wish I had had access to the blogging world when I was teaching. Thank you for the mini-science lesson.

Crafty Cripple said...

This little guy was so sweet. What a shame he won't get to enjoy himself next Spring!