A couple of nights ago I was sitting by the fire reading New Scientist when I heard from somewhere in the kitchen the telltale “eeeeeekk…eeeeeek!!” screams of a mouse having a very bad night. Confounded by this unexpected rupture to my otherwise peaceful night, I peered towards the source of the noise for further updates, but following these first desperate cries the kitchen fell deathly silent.
For a long time the only sound heard was the pleasing crackle of the fire carrying on its business undeterred. But then, just as I was resuming my article about zombie ant fungi, I heard another noise emanating from the kitchen – this time consisting of a series of short, rapid scampering. I straightened in preparation to receive some determined, smallish creature clearly travelling along the timber floorboards towards my position.
Suddenly, arriving by my outstretched foot in much the same way as a family dog might return a thrown stick, a rather rambunctious little marsupial appeared, hauling a freshly dispatched mouse in its sharp little teeth. I swear the look I received in that instant said something like “would you mind lifting your effing leg cobber, this mouse ain’t getting any lighter”.
Without further ado, this delightful fellow darted around my leg (was that mutterings I heard?) and with a final supreme effort leapt up and into a convenient hole in the back of my stereo speakers. A further few seconds passed before I detected the faint, but rather gruesome sounds of a mouse being disinterred. I made a mental note to cover the hole with wire mesh one day and went back to reading.
The creature I speak of is called an Antechinus. If you haven’t already met, Antechinus are brave little native mammals with ravenous appetites and near-frantic demeanors. This is an animal who really shouldn’t drink red cordial. Apart from their fondness for eating cockroaches, mice and avocados, they also have a rather dazzling (but mortally dangerous) sex life.
In late Spring each year every sexually mature male Antechinus launches a frenzied sexual rampage of such intensity it destroys their immune system and leaves every one of them dead. Apart from perhaps any Incel Antechinus of course. Oh, and the pregnant females then love to give birth to a litter of tiny pink babies in your sock/undies drawer. A simply adorable little creature is the Antechinus. I love them.