Today I went on a field trip with some of the other university students to visit a wildlife sanctuary as well as a winery. I learned an important tip today: always dress a layer too warm, because then if you do in fact get too warm, you can take off a jacket and be fine. The winter wind here in Melbourne takes you by surprise and has taught me that you can always expect it to be about ten degrees colder then you actually think it will be. Needless to say, five hours later, I still feel like my toes are thawing out. Despite the weather being not awesome, I got to see some more Australian wildlife I hadn’t seen before. I saw my first Tasmanian devil, platypus, dingo, and skink. Here’s what I have to say about each animal.

1.     Tasmanian devils look adorable, but they sound awful. They completely transform when they open their mouths to reveal their teeth. They go from, “I could definitely cuddle with that” to “oh my gosh, get me away!” in about two seconds. With the two we saw today, I think we caught them in the middle of an argument or something, because they sounded like they were having a heated discussion. 

2.     I’m stealing Devin’s description of what a platypus looks like: an otter that got a beak smashed on the front of its face. I was under the impression that platypuses were actually quite large, but they are actually about foot or so long. They are also nocturnal, so to see them we had to go in a dimly lit cave and take the zoo guide’s word that the platypuses were there. However, at the last second, one little guy dove into the water and started swimming in circles. He seemed pretty content with swimming laps, and I was totally content watching him for however long, but alas we had to move on. Another interesting fact about the platypus though is that they are one of three animals that lay eggs, but feed their children milk.

3.     The dingo is a half wolf, half dog breed, native to Australia. Again, you have the gut reaction of wanting to snuggle with them, yet they are pretty vicious hunters in the wild. The three we saw today definitely didn’t care that we were there and just pretended to sleep. I say pretended because at one point, one raised its head, but as soon as I reached for my camera it went back to not paying attention to me.

4.     Skink – not skunk – is a little lizard. I got to see one because we were visiting the animal infirmary when one was getting its little bandages taken off his feet and tail. Skinks are a very group orientated species; therefore they usually get along pretty well, as they generally like everyone in their group. However, the skink we saw today had gotten beaten up by the others in its group and deemed an outcast. How sad is that? They can’t release him back to that same group because he would just get torn to pieces all over again. It was so peculiar to see a lizard, no bigger than an iPhone, have little bandages made small enough for his wounds. However, there is hope for the little injured one because sometimes outcasts from different groups form their own groups. With that said, the zookeeper in charge of handling the skink’s wounds sounded determined to set him up with a female who had been voted off her island to help ease the pain.

Something incredible that I forgot to share before is how marsupials are born. What makes marsupials unique is how the female carry their young in their pouches. Whether it is a koala or kangaroo, the little embryo that is born is no larger than a jellybean. It has no feet and no eyesight, only little arms, and somehow has to make it into the mom’s pouch on its own. The mom helps out the process by licking a path in her fur to help direct her joey into her pouch. After the mom makes the trail, it is up to the joey to make the journey. And that folks, is one of the reasons Mother Nature is so incredible.

The zoos and sanctuaries here in Australia have this campaign called “Wipe for Wildlife”. It sounds weird, but hear me out. Before I had heard about this campaign, I had never even considered the impact I was having on wildlife with my toilet paper choices. They now make 100% recycled toilet paper, and what it does is help stop deforestation. So next time when you’re shopping for toilet paper, think of me telling you to buy recycled toilet paper. And then smile, because you realize how much you miss me.

Since I got here, I had wondered how my first purchase of alcohol would go. Would the cashier demand to see my ID? Would I start sweating from being so nervous, even though I’m of legal age here? Well, it was pretty anticlimactic. Compared to how getting into the club last week went for me, it was a breeze. Quick side story:

Before I got here, it was recommended I buy a passport card, that way I wouldn’t have to carry my passport around with me for being identified as of age. Well last week when we went out, I brought my card with me. The bouncer told me “he’d let it slide this time” but for me to bring my passport next time. I was offended he didn’t even think I was actually over the age of 18. So rude.

Anyway, so when I went to get my drink of choice the other night, I was ready to stand my ground. No need – with a smile, the cashier just scanned the bottle and told me how much I owed him. I got all hyped up on adrenaline for nothing. And yes, you can obviously tell I’m not much of a thrill seeker if that kind of situation is what gets my blood pumping. 

 





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