Breaking News from Roo Gully

Snake Handling Course
Creek 'Busy Bee'

Ringo Home Again
Ringo, our adorable Ringtail possum,
has decided he really doesn't want to be a possum
and after a failed soft release is now a permanent resident at Roo Gully.
Ringo came to live with us in October 2006,
after his mother was killed by a cat.
Ringo pouch log
He only weighed just over 200 grams
and was very reliant on us.
Ringo lived in his tree house
in Carol's bedroom.
Ringo chews
Ringo tree house
And he was very content for weeks.
But being nocturnal, it wasn't long
before everyone else in the house
was becoming nocturnal too!
Ringo curtain track
So every night Ringo helped with the washing up.
Ringo helps
And was then taken to an outside enclosure.
Ringo off bed
Ringo Laura bed
And every morning.
He had his breakfast in style.
Ringo steal milk
Ringo hat
Before curling up in a new pouch
or in this case a Santa hat
And sleeping throughout the day
in his tree in the bedroom.
Ringo hat tree
Ringo squashed
He also found some other
comfortable sleeping places too.
A few weeks after Ringo arrive
we also offered a home to another Ringtail possum.
Penelope was also orphaned by a cat.
Penny looks
But she was older than Ringo
and therefore more timid.
However she was always gentle
and everyone loved her.

Sadly Penelope didn't like Ringo so they could not be housed together.

Our 2 possums lived with us for several months
and both were doing very well.
So we cut down the time they spent with us
in preparation for a soft release.

This was much harder for Ringo who loved being with people.

Ringo Steph
Ringo Laura
Ringo Ian
But we did it.
And in early March we took Ringo and Penelope
to Tortoiseshell Farm near Bridgetown.
Jarrah forest
Release site
It was the perfect release site.
Magnificent Jarrah trees
where the canopies touch.
Sean and Sheila, who own the property,
had screwed 2 eskies (coolers) onto trees about 35 metres apart.
These would help protect the possums from the heat.
And there was a place inside each box
for the food and water bowls.
Food and water
Saying good bye wasn't easy.
Good bye Penny
But Penelope was very curious with her new surroundings
before settling down to sleep in her own pouch hanging inside.
Penny looks box
Penny looks
Ringo was not so eager.
Good bye
He looked around more warily.
And then hid inside his pouch.
Ringo peeps box

Sean and Sheila monitored the possums every day
and gave them food and water every evening.

Penelope was doing very well,
but Ringo would run down a tree trunk for a cuddle every time he saw someone.

Then, even though the food and water was still going,
both possums were not seen.
This was a sign they could have found a new home.

Tree hollow
And we all suspected Penelope was living in this tree hollow.

But where was Ringo?

We found out a few later when he turned up at Sheila and Sean's house.
He had travelled over a kilometre,
had lost a lot of weight and looked very sorry for himself.

It was very obvious Ringo didn't want to be a wild possum,
and that is often the problem when wildlife is raised from such a young age.

Ringo is now back at Roo Gully, and is back to his old self.

He is also a very happy young possum too.
Ringo teeth
And Penelope is still doing well in her new home
where we hope she will find a mate from the local Ringtail population.

'Ringo Home Again' © Roo Gully 2007

Photos courtesy of Roo Gully, Laura Keighley,
Sandra van der Poel, Susanne Kessens, Stephanie Jones, Sara Caretti.

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Venomous Snake Handling Course

When we found out that the Boyup Brook Telecentre
had organised a venomous snake handling course,
we decided, that being the local wildlife sanctuary,
we should perhaps send a few Roo Gully team members along.
The team turned out to be Carol, Shelley, Bunnie and a reluctant Mike, as our cameraman!
What a day that turned out to be!

We apologise in advance that some of the pics we are posting might not quite be in focus
but snakes move very fast indeed, as we all found out.
And Mike was having to keep as eye on where they were at all times!

Our tutor was Brian Bush.
Who is enthusiastic and very passionate about reptiles.
Brian Bush
Brian's friend
And who began his introductions to reptiles
by letting us all handle one of his very special lizard friends.
Brian continued to relax us with his tales of Australian wildlife,
which was good for those who were attending the first part of the course
to try and reduce their fear of snakes, and also good for the rest of us
who were staring at a large metal box with locks and warning signs!
Slowly Brian produced his array of snakes,
starting with the non venomous.
Brain little reptile
And even the 'cuddly'.
Shelley python
Bunnie python
Most people enjoyed this close interaction.
But Brian really enjoyed introducing these harmless reptiles
to the more nervous in the group.
Brian and snake

Happily plonking pythons around necks
with a mischievous grin on his face!
He also brought along this massive Rainbow Serpent.
Python table
A non venomous snake that kills its prey by constriction.
It was a magnificent creature.
Rainbow Serpent
Snake fingers
Who didn't mind people getting close.
In fact it was a very curious snake.
Python woman
Python Bunnie's legs
And was soon slithering off the table.
And onto the floor.
Python floor
Rainbow Serpernt Shelley
So it could get even more close and friendly.
It was good to touch all these snakes
but the main purpose of the course was feeling comfortable about being around, and capturing,
the dangerous reptiles we encounter at some time or other living in the bush.
Death Adder
It was awesome to get a close up to
some really venomous snakes
such as this Death Adder.
And Brian had a very attentive audience.
King Brown
Especially when he pulled out
this large King Brown.
Luckily he kept a firm hold of the snake
when it decided to check out a few humans.
King Brown Shelley
Then Brian showed us how to catch a snake.
Snake hook
The first snake out
was a feisty little one.
But Brian made it look easy,
and when the snake was safely in the bag
he demonstrated his famous wiggle.
Brian snake bagged
Then it was our turn!
And it seemed the snakes knew it!
Snake coiled
After a very aggressive display.

Snake off

They were off.
And boy were the Brown snakes fast!
Snake off
But, with Brian's exuberant enthusiasm, we each went after our snakes,
sticking to our task despite them striking at the bags.
Snake bag
Snake bag

Eventually each one disappeared inside that black bag.

Much to our relief!

Snake caught
Snake in bag
And the famous 'Brian Wiggle' followed each successful capture!
Snake bagged
Happy snake catcher
Snake caught

Then we had to capture a very different reptile - the much feared Tiger snake.
This snake has a reputation for being aggressive
but the fact is it is a slower moving snake
and therefore displays aggression when it has to defend itself.

Carol Tiger snake
The one we had to catch was also heavier than the Brown snakes
and took some holding down with the snake stick.
Carol snake off
Carol snake off
But eventually it saw the bag.
Carol snake
Carol and snake
And obliged by slithering inside.
Tiger snake bag
Getting the snake inside the bag was not the end of the story.
It had to be removed for the next person to catch it.
And some were not happy about being tipped out!
Snake out
Snake angry
There were also a couple of problem snakes.
Snake escaping
This Brown snake
headed towards Mike, our cameraman,
who doesn't really like snakes.
Luckily it went straight by him.
Snake off
Snake cupboard
After seeing a likely hiding place - a cupboard.
And slithered under the door.
Snake sees cupboard
This is where is all got a bit tricky.
Snake cupboard
The catcher tried to stop the snake.
But it slipped from underneath the stick.
Snake seeks escape
Snake close
And lunged towards her foot.
Brian quickly stepped in
and the snake went underneath his boot!
Snake under boot
Snake table
And luckily kept going!
There was another close call.
This snake was very angry.
Snake defensive
Snake attacks
He wasn't frightened either.
In the beginning he struck at the stick.
Snake reluctant
Snake wall
Then tried to climb the wall.
But his anger was rising.
Snake turns

And with amazing speed he turned
and struck at the catcher.

Larger dugite
Snake strike
It was very close!
But when the snake struck again
Snake very angry
Snake bag
The bag was quickly placed in the way.
Seeking the darkness
it slithered inside.
Snake bag
Snake in bag
We were all very relieved.
And full of admiration for the catcher.
Happy snake catcher
Although there were a lot of raised heart rates during the day
it was a great course to take.
Brian certificates
Brain Bush is a very experienced and entertaining tutor.
Visit his web site and see some of his amazing work,
and maybe sign up for the Venomous Snake Handling course!

'Snake Handling Course' © Roo Gully 2007

Photos courtesy of Roo Gully.

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