Bigfoot dwells in Australia, but we call it macropod. The term macropod is derived from the Greek words makros (meaning large) and poús or pod (meaning foot).
Macropods cover a group of marsupials that have large hind feet and which move by bounding. They cannot move their legs independently and often propel themselves forward with the help of their tails. They also raise their babies in pouches. There are several species of macropod including kangaroos, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, pademelons, bettongs and potoroos, among others. Today I thought I would share some photos of two species of macropod, the Swamp Wallaby and the Long-Nosed Potoroo, found at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, just outside of Canberra (Australia).
The swamp wallaby is a medium sized macropod. Mature males weigh in at about 20kg and females 15kg. It is relatively abundant and adaptable. It lives in a wide range of forested habitats, with its range stretching from far north Queensland through to the southern most points of Victoria. It prefers to hang out in areas where there is a dense understorey of plants. It is sometimes called the Black Panther because it may be mistaken for a panther as it bounds along. When moving at speed, it sticks out its long black tail horizontally, while keeping its head low to the ground. I think you would have to be pretty lucky to spot that tail because they blend in so well with their environment.
The second macropod in this post is the long-nosed potoroo. It is one of our smallest macropods and just adorable. But they have a problem. Their nickname is kangaroo-rat. Talk about how to win friends and influence people! I think their nickname needs a makeover because the current one doesn’t endear them to people. It is no wonder they are listed as vulnerable. After you’ve seen their photos, perhaps you can help come up with another nickname.
Potoroos are not indigenous to the Canberra region, but are being bred in captivity (in large multi-hectare enclosures) at Tidbinbilla. Here, they are safe from predation from foxes and feral cats. Potoroos need and deserve protection. Habitat protection is critical. Potoroos live in wet forests and scrubland which have a dense understorey. The understorey is vital for providing protection from predators. Potoroos have a symbiotic connection to eucalpyt forests because they rely on fungi associated with these trees and vice-versa. They don’t do well in areas where there are frequent wildfires. You would think that living in wet forest would reduce the risk of fires. However, wetland forests are drying out due to climate change.
The potoroo could so easily become critically endangered. I have a very personal example of how taking their presence for granted could hasten their departure from the landscape. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that my mother lives on a rural property in central Queensland. When she first moved there, there were heaps of potoroos, but over the years they’ve almost completely disappeared. I think that is because many more people have moved into the area and have set up hobby farms. New residents clear the land, and bring their dogs and cats with them. They often know little of the potential impact of their activities on the wildlife that drew them there in the first place. Kangaroo rats are not rodents. Nor are they feral pests. They are wonderful and unique Aussie animals. Here’s an idea. Let’s educate current and prospective landholders about the animals on their properties and what they can do to ensure local wildlife thrive (mum, please share this with the local council). Anyway, dear Readers, you’ve waited long enough. Time for some photos.
We would do anything for our dogs, right? Love me, love my dog. I think I’ll get a T-Shirt made that says, “Love me, love my potoroo.” Who could argue with that?
So have you thought of any alternate nicknames? The tooter-roo? The cutie-tooter? The podlet? The impossibly cute teeny bigfoot?