The only wildlife I saw growing up in a small narrow Street in Launceston, Tasmania was introduced sparrows and starlings. After I moved to Queensland I loved seeing all the wildlife here. I lived in a small beachside suburb north of Townsville for many years and we used to have red-tailed black cockatoos feeding in casuarinas trees out the front of the house on the beach. There was a swamp at the back and one day a large goanna went into a neighbour's backyard. She was English and hadn't been in Australia very long. She freaked out thinking the goanna was a crocodile. We did have a taipan in the front garden once. It came out of a crack in the concrete deck, slithered over a friend's foot and then went off into the bush. We didn't mention the snake to the friend as we didn't want him to move. Luckily he had shoes on and didn't even realise the potentially deadly taipan had just gone over his foot. He was from Melbourne. We never told him and we never saw that snake again.
We often got large carpet pythons in the garage rafters and we never worried about them until one night I nearly trod on one on its way into the house. Our son had a pet white rat called Adidas and the snake was obviously attracted to the rat. So the rat had to go. We took it back to the pet shop and we used to visit it there. Surprisingly Adidas must have got pregnant with a wild introduced rat when she was with us because one day when we went to visit her, she had a lovely litter of little grey babies.
We moved to Brisbane in 2001 and bought a house in the suburbs here a couple of years later. It was the middle of the housing boom and prices were going up all the time and any house that came onto the market was snapped up quickly. It got very depressing going out to open houses every weekend. Eventually, our agent rang us on a Wednesday to say she had a house we might like. We went straight out to look at it and put a deposit on it that afternoon. It was a great house on a quarter of an acre with lots of native trees and bushes. We also liked it because it had a park in front and didn't feel like a normal suburban block.
For years I worked full-time and was busy on weekends, so I never really got to spend much time at home. The garden went a bit wild. Since I stopped full-time work a few years ago I suddenly discovered a lot of wildlife here.
One morning I was having breakfast on the deck in my usual chair and all the birds were screaming around me. I didn't know what was going on until I looked down and saw a large python inches from my foot. I leapt up, my breakfast cereal bowl and spoon went flying. The snake wasn't worried. It curled up and snoozed in the sun all day. It was gone by the next morning and still lives in the yard somewhere as I saw it on the roof a few weeks ago. The birds always let me know when it is around.
I knew I had brush-tailed possums as they stomp across the roof at night and I hear them grunting in the night, although I have never seen them. I didn't know I had at least one ring-tailed possum though until recently. I first saw it on a wildlife trap camera I put up at the side of the house. Since then I've seen it two more times during the day. The birds were screaming again and now when I hear them, I grab my camera as there is usually something interesting going on. The butcher birds and noisy miners were dive-bombing the poor little possum. I will have to get a nest box so the possum can escape somewhere safely. The Australian common ring-tailed possum (Pseudocheirus pereginus) is quiet, unlike the brush-tailed possums that make a lot of noise.
One quiet Sunday afternoon the birds were screaming again. I thought it must have been the snake or the ring-tailed possum but couldn't see anything for a while. Then I noticed something on a tree very close to the house that was very well camouflaged. It was a tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) and I could just see its eye. I took a couple of photos and went inside for a while. After I came out I noticed one of the butche rbirds had landed just behind the tawny on the same branch. The frogmouth swivelled around to look at the butcher bird and then looked straight at me. I was very lucky to see it because these birds are often heard but not seen because of how well they can blend in with the trees. I don't know if mine lives in the yard or was just visiting.
I read they build a loose platform of twigs lined with green leaves in branches 5 to 15 metres above the ground. They eat moths, slugs, snails and love eating mice. Unfortunately, they often get killed by cats and dogs, or get run over by cars when they fly down to grab moths in the car headlights. I read If a frogmouth is disturbed, it may adopt a threatening pose, fluffing out its feathers, showing its wide orange eyes and opening its beak in a wide froglike gape to reveal its yellow throat, hoping to appear intimidating. Mine must not have felt too threatened by me because he didn't give me the froglike gape, although his eyes were a bit intimidating.
Both the ring-tailed possum and the tawny frogmouth are nocturnal so I was lucky to see them during daylight.
Things got quiet and the tawny was gone the next day. The butcher birds and minors were also attacking a kookaburra the other day. Unlike the possum, tawny frogmouth and python, the kookaburra fought back. It had its beak open defending itself before flying off.
I used to have an old Labrador. She died a couple of years ago, but I've kept a bowl of water on the deck because the birds come for a drink. I've seen butcher birds and magpies drinking from it. I've had visits from lots of native birds including white cockatoos, lorikeets, kookaburras, magpies, blue-faced honeyeaters, brush turkeys, colourful parrots and even a pheasant coucal. I've also seen and heard bush stone-curlews in the park in front of the house.
One morning I woke up hearing a scratching noise on my bedroom window. I looked up and a large lizard was on the window. After I went out to investigate I saw it was a blue tongue lizard. It was fairly high up so I put a stick for it to climb down.
I feel very lucky to have so much wildlife living with me. Every time I think I should clear up the yard I see some other animal that has made its home here. A postman delivering a parcel recently said my house and yard was great. He said "it looks like you are living on acreage".
I never expected to have so much wildlife in my suburban Brisbane backyard. We loved the house because it was tucked away down a long driveway on a hatchet block in a quiet cull to sac with the park in front. I have to admit the yard has gone wild since I've been here.
My resident beautiful carpet python probably eats any rats that come around, and probably also an occasional possum and bird's eggs. Carpet pythons are named for the beautiful, distinctive patterns on their scales, which are similar to those of a Persian carpet. Like all pythons they are constrictors, which means they kill their prey by wrapping themselves around it and strangling it before swallowing it whole.
You can make your garden wildlife friendly by minimising areas of lawn, bitumen and non-native vegetation as these areas are generally not wildlife friendly. It helps to plant native plants and keep your cats and dogs in at night. Wildlife needs water, shelter and food.
I'm sure lots of people in Brisbane have interesting native animals and birds in their yards. I'd love to hear what native creatures you share your home with.