Rodentia Down Under

Deep in the Australian outback things are stirring. Being in the middle of an arid region, Alice Springs is a popular place to head for if you’re looking for a cool beer. Days are hot and nights are cool and flies are plentiful (except in September and October). But this year the rainfall has been a bit higher than usual. Not this past week though, it has been the normal hot ’n’ dry.

There is an influx of tourists predicted (1) due to the wetter than usual weather. These longhaired tourists are not welcome however. They are rodentia, and 12 inch long ones at that. The name on their documents is Rattus villosissimus. They are Australian natives and not recent immigrants, but they do have an unfortunate habit. That is, they can produce 12 babies every 3 weeks if left to entertain themselves.

Their home turf is in the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory, where rolling grasslands feed lots of beef cattle, and are watched over by Spencer’s Goanna, Ingram’s Brown Snake and Collet’s Snake. This year these guys have been asleep on the job, so the rodentia irrupted and have now gone walkabout.

The tourist mob doesn’t appear to have much interest in the Simpson Desert as they are heading west. Maybe for Alice’s Blatherskite Park to get settled in and ready for the 42nd Imparja Camel Cup race that will be held in early July. It is unlikely though, that the good citizens of Alice will be happy with that situation. If they were palatable, the barbies would be getting fired up now.


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