Learning from mistakes: Eastern barred bandicoot(Perameles gunni)

Here’s something a little different for you all, time to look at conservation. During my studies at University we briefly brushed on a case study involving the Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunni), an adorable marsupial native of Victoria, Australia which became effectively extinct by the 2000’s due to a failed breeding programme. This sparked an interest in me so I looked further into the topic.

Photo of an Eastern Barred Bandicoot taken from australianfauna.com

Between 1982 and 1989 the number of bandicoots in Victoria dropped from 1750 to 400. So in 1991 a breeding programme was set up in an attempt to boost the numbers back to sustainability. It took some time to properly establish the programme as they first needed to get the breeding techniques correct. In 1995 they had successfully (or so they thought) reintroduced a genetically sound colony of 800 bandicoots into the woodland Historic Park outside Melbourne.

All started going down when the park suffered from a long drought taking a toll on the colony. Then as the number of Grey Kangaroos began to increase and eat away at vegetation, the bandicoot’s population further suffered due to increased predation from red foxes now they lacked vegetation cover.
The once sound colony of 800 had taken a drastic hit and by 1999 there were less than 20 bandicoots recorded in the area. In the en only 4 of the original colony were recaptured and the Eastern barred bandicoot was virtually extinct in this area.

There are now only a scare number of bandicoots left in Victoria the majority found in zoos.
With more and more species from across the world facing extinction it is crucial that breeding programmes such as this one are done perfect, in the past there have been several examples such as this where not enough care and planning was put into the programme. With appropriate field management this failure could have been prevented. The Western barred bandicoot faced a similar decline but due to correct management and the use of exclusion fences to protect them from over predation this programme was seen to be more successful.

Techniques are improving and thankfully it seems conservation teams are learning from their mistakes however there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Sand, the big debate: Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons have become increasingly popular over the years due to their mini dinosaur looks and mega laid back personalities. They make wonderful pets and as with your average furry pets love attention.

Bearded dragon at Blijdorp Zoo

Due to their habitat in the wild it is a common assumption that the best substrate to house a bearded dragon on is sand, this however is not the case. While many people experience no problems with housing their beardies on sand, others are not so lucky. It is a common behaviour for bearded dragons, especially the young, to lick rocks, decorations and sand in their enclosures. When swallowed the sand can build up and cause gut impaction, a serious and frequently fatal disorder.

Some dragon owners would suggest sand is fine so long as they are fed food in bowls and refrain from feeding live animals so as not to increase accidental intake of sand. Crickets and other insects are great enrichment and nutritionally valuable to the bearded dragon so best not left out of the diet. In addition the sand licking problem will also be present.

The other theory is that so long as the bearded dragon is fully matured, sand should be ok as this curious licking behaviour is hardly present, still the same feeding problems exist and surely it is better not left to risk?

There are many different types of sand but the most dangerous is calci-sand, sometimes beardies can grow to like the taste and when the calcium carbonate in the sand gets wet it can solidify in the animal’s stomach and gut. The other dodgy sand type is normal play sand, play sand contains silica which is harmful to the lungs and the dust it gives of has been found to be harmful to bearded dragons.
So long as they have plenty of places to hide, bask, climb and a small area to express digging behaviour (using safe large particle substrates) then while it may seem bare, a simple tiled enclosure is probably the safest option.

This is all of course open to debate however from my research it is definitely better to be safe then sorry and avoid sand!

Gun Laws

So I thought I would take a moment to write a nice summery off the laws surrounding firearms in Ireland as my lovely neighbours seem to think there are no laws and shooting on our land and off the roadside is perfectly “OK”.

Yesterday I was doing some research for my next blog and heard two gunshots going of in the near distance, my dog went crazy with stress outside as did all the other dogs within earshot. The shots came from just a few fields away as I could see flocks of birds escaping the scene.

Now only a few weeks ago one of our neighbours spotted a man pulling up outside our land and he began to shoot into our fields , this is breaking two rules within the law :

1) It is forbidden to shoot from the road or out of a vehicle .

2) Written permission from the land owner must be obtained before entering with a firearm.

Our cats frequently wander through these fields and could easily get mistaken for a small fox or other small animals so I do not appreciate people taking this risk.

In addition to the roadside and land laws there are a number of other restrictions surrounding the possession of a firearm and the animals that can be shot which I see being neglected often on news articles, and from personal experience.

Here is a list of the animals and there shooting status :

  • Rabbits: Shoot on sight
  • Fox: Shoot on sight
  • Mink: Shoot on sight
  • Pheasant: Only between November 1st – January 31st
  • Wild ducks: Only between September 1st – January 31st
  • Wood Pigeon: Protected unless damaging crops
  • Hare: Restricted by season

Now for the age restrictions:

  1. 14 + can apply for a training certificate which means they can only use a firearm under supervision from a fully certified adult.
  2. 16+ can apply for the certificate after training is completed
  3. 21+ can apply for a dealers license (further restrictions apply)

Crossbows , spear guns, paintball markers, airguns and air rifles all fall under the “need to have a license” category.

I feel the age is to low, a 14 year old is not allowed a learner driving licence, but can practice shooting animals ? a 16 year old is deemed responsible enough to take the life of an animal into his/her hands ?

Seems all a little relaxed to me. As for the weapons that fall under the liscence this does not seem to be monitored appropriatly because the ISPCA are recieving more and more cases of air gun attacks on cats and dogs day by day.

In my opinion the firearms laws need a serious re-look and need to be more restricted, surely all animals have the right to wander freely throughout land without shooting risk ? It is their right , and they where there first.

I would like to think my babies are safe to roam around the countryside without 14 year old kids and cat hating farmers posing a risk with a shotgun . . . . .

<img src="Photobucket” alt=”Tango !” />

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Anti-Freeze Kills !

Given the time of year I feel this is an important topic to raise awareness on.

The main component in Anti-Freeze products is Ethylene glycol which is a highly toxic substance. Anti-Freeze is added to car radiators to prevent them from freezing over however these radiators often leak and such products can be stored incorrectly which is where the danger exists.

Due to it’s sweet taste, when a cat begins to consume it, there is a very good chance it will consume a harmful amount considering it actually likes the taste. The Ethylene glycol attacks the animals central nervous system and kidneys often producing similar symptoms to that of kidney failure.

The University College Dublin in Irelands veterinary hospital has recently witnessed an increase in the numbers of cats brought into the clinic displaying symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning. They cannot say for sure the cause but say it is most likely from leaking car radiators. Small dogs are also at risk. See the link below for the full article:


Anti-Freeze containing this harmful substance has also been known to be added to peoples toilets in order to help prevent pipes from freezing over during the winter which is a risk to indoor pets as we all know how curious cats and dogs may be.

So please ensure you always store your Anti-Freeze contents securely and away from reach by pets and children. Also keep check on your car that it isn’t leaking as it only takes one small puddle to take the life of a small animal.

Cat with anti-freeze

Meet the Family

At home I have 3 wonderful furry members in my family, Garfield , Tango and Bailey ! Here’s an introduction to the amazing trio !

Garfield is the love of my life (sorry Mike), had him from the day he was born, his mum sadly passed away a few years ago. She was found in a local farmers yard with no obvious indication of what caused her death so poison is the most likely option there 😦 RIP Willow !

He loves to laze around and go for little excursions to the old cottage across the fields , but as soon as he’s called he’ll come running (usually for food). He’s almost 10 years old now so is slowing down but occasionally you’ll catch him chasing leaves and he still keeps the mice and rats at bay. Would do anything for my baby. Here’s some photo’s of the man himself !



Tango is our other cat, a playful girl barely a year old ! Our neighbour had too many cats running around on her farmyard (remember to get your pets neutered fokes!) so we decided to take in one of the kittens to keep Garfield company in his old age. She was very wild to begin with but with time and love she got better. She is still a bit skittish to this day but has come a long way.


Tango and Garfield

As well as our two cats we have an beautiful terrier cross , Bailey ! She is a right character ! Whenever you are in need of a hug she’ll be there wagging tail and full off kisses but other then that she just wants to play. As with a lot of terriers she loves a good barking session and at times can be very stubborn but we always forgive her. How could you not with a face like hers ? :


So that was three of my best friends, I’m sure you’ll hear plenty more about them in the future! don’t forget to comment 😉

Fur farming in Ireland

The use of real animal fur in the fashion industry has been under the spotlight by animal organizations all over the world for years now and while progress is being made in the prevention of fur farming, there is still plenty of room for improvement. I for one am completely against the slaughter of animals simply to “look good”.

The year 2000 saw the fur Farming (Prohibition) Act coming into place and all fur farms in England and Wales where given until 1st of January 2003 to close down. This was yet another big step forward in the evolution of laws to protect animal welfare.

In 2003 Northern Ireland and Scotland followed suit and in 2004 Austria become yet another country on the growing list of countries to ban the breeding of animals for fur. It is now 2012 and Ireland has yet to join in with their British neighbours in the banning of fur farming.

Mink and the silver fox are the main animals bread in Ireland for their fur and while you need a license to farm mink since the debates in 2005, no license is needed to farm foxes as of yet. The conditions they are kept in far from meet the animal welfare needs.

In order to cut costs intense farming methods are used, providing the bare minimum of space and often housing mink together. Mink are not a social animal so immediately you see the problem in housing several mink in close proximity to each other.
The following is an image obtained from an irish mink farm which appeared on indymedia.ie
Mink in irish fur farm

The mink are raised for up to 6 months then they are removed and placed into gas chambers to be killed in large groups. They are then skinned and whats left over disposed of by means of rendering. No vet needs to be present during the killing procedure. These skins are then sent abroad where they will be used to make clothing. Foxes are slaughtered by means of electrocution.

Fur is not a necessity and merely a show of vanity. Fake fur provides a very close alternative and is easier to keep so why people still feel the need to promote the suffering of animals by wearing real fur is hard to understand.

Ireland is supporting this cruel trade by allowing the farming of animals for their fur and needs to get with modern times and agree that the law needs a serious looking at.

For further information please check out these useful websites in relation to the fur farming issue:




Céad míle fáilte !

Welcome !

Since as long as I can remember writing was always a big interest of mine from poetry to short stories, and now after all them years I wish to improve my writing skills and get into the blogging scene 🙂

Animals being one of the most important thing in my life seems the obvious choice for my blog topic and I hope you will enjoy it and learn from it. I am fresh out of my 3 years at University where I studied Animal Behaviour and Welfare and now having obtained my degree feel this is a good way to actively put it to use.

I hope to update it as often as I can , providing the latest news from the natural world from welfare issues to new discoveries.

Feel free to comment keeping in mind a lot of the blogs will be opinion based and I will be open to other peoples opinions just please keep it civil and don’t start targeting people or myself as the whole “hate game” on the internet tends to get out of hands and doesn’t do anyone any favours.

So please just sit back and “pawsforamoment” to read up on all the latest animal matters 🙂

Thank you,

Noortje =)