Found this poor little fellow dead in the paddock this morning. Looks to be a victim of the dread Chlamydia (They also call it, ‘Wet Bum’) which is so prevalent amongst them, though s/he had also been fighting and had a number of nasty scratches – unsurprising when you see the size of their claws. I had noticed it roaming from blue gum to blue gum just the other day but had taken no notice as they are quite prevalent here, though not in epidemic proportions yet as they are in so many places, poor things. It is horrific to see them starving to death en masse, as they are/were eg at Cape Otway last time we were there in 2013.
Rear claw – quite a thumb:
Front claw – imagine being slashed by that. Those claws are over an inch (2.5cm) long!:
If you catch one that is in distress (eg after being hit by a car) it is quite difficult to handle them (you need a thick blanket or coat which you have no further use for!) as they will attach themselves firmly to your arm, those claws penetrating quite clear through your biceps etc, so that very soon you will be sorry you had picked it up. I saw a man in this state one day at Tarwin Lower one Sunday when we were out fox hunting along the Inverloch Rd – you could do that sort of thing then. We used even to hunt foxes out of the graves in the local cemetery (My hunting mate, the late Dick Davies was chairman of the Cemetery Trust). Some graves were quite prolific. I wondered whether richer people attracted a better class of fox! The local Leongatha vet had to euthenise the bear to get it off the poor chap it was attached to! Of course being such dreadful venal types as fox hunters (as we were) we thought the whole incident quite funny – except for the koala!
I do prefer seeing them alive, like this one, though he has pretty much eaten out his tree too, as you can see. Apparently once you start to see them, they are already too numerous for the good of the forest, like the little guy above. It was nearly thirty years before anyone first saw one after the First Fleet!
Curiously the foxes had not touched him. They must not taste anywhere near as good as sheep. A dead sheep would be scattered all over the paddock by the next day! This guy had been there about three days. He was a bit too far gone for me to try! I am not ‘Bear’ Grylls! No doubt so named because he usually eats them!
Interestingly enough, we used to skin all the foxes we shot, (we usually had a few dozen after a day’s hunt – the proceeds paid for everyone’s family’s Xmas presents) and throw their skun corpses into the blackberry patches. Nothing ever ate a fox. I am certainly never going to start if even crows eschew them. They are vilely malodourous – as are koalas actually!
Apparently long ago there was a marsupial lion very much larger than these little guys. Thylacoleo Carnifex (http://www.megafauna.com.au/view/megafauna/thylacoleo-carnifex & http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/scratch-marks-in-a-wa-cave-show-the-drop-bear-thylacoleo-carnifex-could-climb-particularly-well/news-story/5f6af36d077aa792e55239c41a814ecd). Some cryptozoolgical types (or not so logical types) avow that these critters were arboreal (indeed that they still exist!) and that there is some danger of them dropping from trees and devouring you. I have spent a lot of time under trees and it has not happened to me yet. Neither is irt stopping me from heading ‘up the bush’ this week – though some much needed fencing is, Alas!