Sunday, 30 June 2013


When we first moved here there were a lot of antechinus in the area.  They are a small, native, carnivorous marsupial.  They look similar to a large mouse or a small rat, but they are ferocious and they eat meat!  I wanted to show the kids what they looked like up close so I caught this one and put in in a bug catcher.  The kids had a look and then I let it go, it climbed up a tree and disappeared into the roof.

antechinus and permaculture
my Antechinus friend
Then a mouse plague struck the area, the largest plague since the 1980's.  It probably took 3 or 4 weeks of everyone in the area complaining about mice before we even saw our first mouse.  I am pretty sure the local antechinus population was large enough that they were eating out all the mice before they could get to my house, which was great.  Then the mice numbers eventually got too large for too long that they were everywhere.  People were having mice eat the wiring in their cars.  It was disgusting.

Eventually the mice started to get in the house and chew through electrical wiring in the roof.  After we could not take it any longer I started to put out traps and eventually started to bait them.  I was killing heaps of mice each night.  Unfortunately I was also occasionally trapping antechinus, they are tougher than a mouse so I was able to set them free and hope that they were not too injured.  Judging by the way they ran off I am guess that they mostly were not too hurt by the experience.

When the mice eventually subsided there were no more antechinus.  Normally we would see them hopping around eating moths and beetles, but all was quiet.  I had a bad feeling that they had died from eating too many sick poisoned mice.  It is a horrible feeling to think that perhaps you have killed off all of them...

Then the other day Tracey came home and found a dying antechinus under the car port.  This is great news!  Male antechinus die after the breeding season around this time of year, so finding a dying male is a sign that they are still around.  Hopefully they can return to their previous numbers and get back to protecting the place from mice.

permaculture and antechinus
while the picture is far from convincing, this is a male antechinus

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