Today’s episode is the first of hopefully many Aussie English interviews where I interview a good friend Tamara and ask her to use some of the phrases and slang words from previous episodes in sentences of her own.
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By pete — 4 weeks ago
AE 518: An Aussie Christmas with Kel and Pete
G’day, Kel! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. So, today we’re going to be talking about a bit of Aussie culture. Aussie culture. We’re going to be talking about Christmas! Or Xmas, as we sometimes call it.
Well, I don’t know why I think it’s cross, right? Chris, on a cross, Xmas. it’s called Xmas for people who aren’t really Christian like very very religious they tend to refer to it as Xmas.
Never heard that.
I would usually just call it Christmas, but sometimes I’d write it, when I’m writing quickly I write Xmas, Xmas Xmas Xmas. So, thought we could talk a bit about, I don’t know, what Christmas was like for each of us growing up, obviously with a focus on me and Australia, but also to hear about your experiences with Christmas growing up because, you know, it’s one of those things I grew up doing a certain, you know, having a certain set of customs and rituals that we do each year and I think everyone else does them everywhere else in the world, just the same as I do.
Yeah, I thought the same.
What questions do you have for me the start us off?
I don’t know. Was the same, every year the same for you? Christmas, or it was something you would be looking forward to as a child and be all excited about, or it was like oh… my God, family gatherings…
Think that happened a little later, when I was a little kid I used to love Christmas because you always got presents, right? So, to sort of run you through how it’s, how it usually occurred for me growing up when I was a little kid, my earliest memories of Christmas were…we would have in Australia so, Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas Day, that’s the 24th of December. Then we have Christmas Day, which is the 25th and then we have Boxing Day, which is the 26th and so, Christmas Eve we would usually celebrate with some of my dad’s family, because we’re just the two families, my mom and my dad’s families, would never get together, it would always be you see one then you see the other.
So, on Christmas Eve I would see his family, we would exchange presents, we would usually have a more versatile dinner so, it could be anything, really, with them. Someone would bring you know chips and dips and little things to eat, but it would be at my auntie’s house and she would usually cook something, but it wouldn’t be the same thing every year. So, she just cooked some kind of meal like, you know, maybe a salad, maybe they’d be cold meats, like ham and salami to put in rolls or could be anything.
So, we would do that on Christmas Eve and then we would usually exchange presents with them because we weren’t going to see them on Christmas Day so, we would usually sit down after dinner and then each family would give everyone else in the other family a present or two each, and they were you know, just wrapped up, might have a ribbon on it, might have just wrapping paper with sticky tape on it with a card on it saying, you know, Merry Christmas, Dave. And then they open the present oh, I got Lego! Uhuh! you know, depending on who it was or it could be a voucher or clothes could be anything, but then on Christmas Eve we would usually be, me and my sister, would usually be incredibly excited because we would go home knowing that Santa was coming that night, right? So, we would be like I can’t wait to get home! Got to sleep!
Did you actually believe in Santa?
What are you talking about, Kel? What do you mean believe? Santa is real, Kel.
Well, of course! Yeah. What else are you going to believe, right? You get told this by your parents and why would you not? You go to sleep, you wake up the next day and there’s all these gifts under the tree.
Yeah, definitely, the evidence.
That weren’t there the day before… So, yeah. I would go to sleep with my sister in the same room or in separate rooms as we got older and we would always be like…”can’t sleep, I can’t sleep! What if Santa comes while we are wake? Oh my Gosh!” . You know, we’d be like “try and listen and hear if we hear his reindeer and his sled land on the roof” and I remember too thinking ”Mum Dad we don’t have a chimney, how does he get in the house?”
Oh that’s so cute!
And mum’s like… we leave the door open, don’t worry, him can get in. And so we would go to sleep thinking that he was coming and he would put the presents under the Christmas tree so, we would have a Christmas tree set up, usually a plastic one. Some people would buy small pine trees that you can like real trees and you’d hang decorations on them like Christmas balls and bells and angels and, you know, gingerbread man, candy canes, holy reindeer, snowmen, everything to do with Christmas on these trees and the presents would usually go under the tree that people had bought one another and then Santa would usually leave our presence in a special sack. So, Mum and Dad had like pillow cases with our names on them and they would be under the tree empty on the night.
For Santa to put the gifts inside.
On the 24, yeah and then the next day we would wake up and we would like, you know, before anything we’d run out and have a look at the tree and look underneath and be like Oh my Gosh! The sacks are full of presents!!!!
This is so cute!
And we were patient, we’d have to go in and wake mum and dad up and be like…
So you couldn’t open the presents before….
No, they had to be there. They had to be there. Yeah. We’d have to go… and it would be so annoying cause sometimes you wake up and it would be like 5am and you’d be like It’s time! It’s time! you know, the sun is not up, but it’s time! And Mum and Dad go back to bed. Yeah because it was so early, they’d be like going to sleep for another hour or two and then we’ll wake up and do it and I’ll be like noooo we have to wait so long to see the presents!
So, what would you usually get? Like, what was like…cars?
Oh yes, so toy cars. I remember Lego used to be something I always wanted! So, we would wake up my parents, they’d come out and they would usually sit on the sofa and we would sit on the ground, Annika and I, my sister and I, in front of the tree and each have our sacks and be pulling the presents out and comparing sizes and being like ”she got more than me! Santa!” or ”she got a bigger one than me or I got a smaller” oh ‘what is this? It’s the shape of a CD or a DVD”.
You know, so you’d be trying to guess what it was. I remember always shaking it hoping that you would hear that jingle of Lego pieces. So, you shake the box and you’ll be like…is it going to be a lot of little pieces? and then you like yeaaah cause you can normally tell the difference between a puzzle or Lego or a DVD or something. And you know the box sort of shape of Lego as well, right? So, yeah I used to get Lego, you’d get all sorts of toys like, water guns, robots, stuffed toys, could be anything.
So, you would get more than one present?.
Yeah, they’d usually…not necessarily spoil us. I remember the presents were never ridiculously expensive. My parents were never really well-off. They were in a similar position that you and I are today when I was very young, maybe a little bit better off, but I think also they never wanted to spoil us, so they would never be like, you know, hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of toys. And I think too because they knew that you’re not going to be playing with that toy for that long, right? You’ll play for it for a few weeks,max, maximum and then you cast it aside and be asking for the next toy and so, they were like well…
What’s the point?
And Lego, far out, that get expensive. You look at some of those huge things and it’s like hundreds of dollars.
So, that used to be it, we would get out in the morning, wake the parents up, go through the presents and then, you know, be like oh man, Santa! What a bad ass! So awesome! Thank you, Santa! Oh, he didn’t give us coal! you know?So there’s the stereotype in or the story, I guess, in Western culture that Santa, he knows who’s been good and who’s bad and you as a child have to be good in order to get presents, if you’re bad, you get coal, right? Like burned wood. He’ll leave you some coal.
Yeah. So there’s always that song, right? “He knows if you’ve been naughty he knows if you’ve been good”, whatever it is, but would, you would your parents put like coal l inside the bag just like oh… that’s because I did this thing…
No, I think that would be like child abuse.
No, I mean, you would get presents but just one piece of coal, just like oh yeah I remember.
I think they probably would have done that if we had had a an open fire at the house where they could have readily access, had access to coal. Maybe, but that never happened though.
I didn’t know this thing.
But we would also leave out, before we went to sleep on the 24th, we used to leave out food and milk for Santa. So, that would, that would be something we would do too, where our snacks were or the Christmas stockings are. Some people buy stockings, like these huge kind of like sock, kind of things for you to put presents in, you quite often in Western culture in America, in Britain, in Australia probably other parts of Europe as well, kids will put food and drink for Santa, because he’s obviously tired, right? After going to what three billion kids homes. So, we would leave milk in a glass and often biscuits that we’d made or something for Santa to eat.
So, in the morning the food would be gone?
It would always be half eaten, my parents would always come and just like take a sip of the milk and probably a few bites of biscuits or the carrot or whatever that was there.
It’s just so cute!
And be like “look! Santa’s eaten some of the stuff! Obviously he liked it and kept going on his way” and we’d always, you know, joke around like oh that’s why Santa’s so fat! He was always getting treats! Poor Santa with his diabetes from all the biscuits and milk.
Just leave him a beer, man. Next time, there you go, Santa.
So, that would be Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then for Christmas Day we would usually go to my grandmother and grandfather’s house on my mother’s side so, my mother’s family and her parents and that was always much bigger than what I did with my dad’s family because part of his family lives overseas so, it would be a small thing with with his family, with my mum’s family on the other hand we’ve got bigger and bigger as we got older because of her siblings all having children. So, it used to be used, it used to be wild, like we would go to their place in Melbourne so, we’d have to drive for like an hour and a half and then they would have morning tea. So, like shortbread, tea, coffee whatever drinks you want and you sort of wait for everyone to arrive to the party. And then there was a sort of very regimented and strict lunch, it was pretty much the same every single year so, my grandmother would organise a very traditional roast, which was usually turkey and lamb. They would have a turkey and lamb roast beef and they would have their vegetables, the sort of traditional roast and veggies so, you would have things like pumpkin, potato, green beans and I think it would usually be those three and then maybe some salad and she would have other people in the family bring other food too, so someone would bring things like chips, like lollies and.
Chocolates. Yeah, someone will have to bring the rum butter, a special kind of like sweet butter with rum in it.
Yeah, I think I’ve tried it, with cake or something.
Yeah, exactly. And so, we would eat, we’d go through all these courses, you have the first course, which is a little entree with salad, the main course with all the meats, the meatballs, the veggies like potato, pumpkin and she would have peaches, that was a very strange thing I remember always, they always had these like canned fruit peaches that you can have with your dinner. And then dessert would usually be mouse, ice cream, and then the Christmas pudding, the special Christmas pudding, which was a… I think a plum pudding? So very, very it’s like a fruit cake that’s been boiled, a plum pudding that’s been boiled and she would usually pour brandy on it, liqueur, and then light it on fire as they brought it out, right? So, this cake would usually enter the room on fire.
And there was just normal from me, like, everyone does that, right?
I’ve never seen it. I mean we went…I think two weeks ago we went to see your grandparents?
The year before for some reason they failed and they couldn’t light it. I remember. Then last time they just skipped it. The lighting it on fire. And my grandmother does a very strange thing where she puts old Australian currency into the cake, right? So, she takes coins from before 1966, that was in circulation then, but like I think like a threepence and a penny and that kind of old money and she puts that into the cake and if you find certain currency, certain valued coins in there, in your piece of cake, she’ll exchange it for a dollar or two dollars or ten cents or something.
I think I got two dollars or something last time?
Yeah, you got two bucks this year. Yeah. So, that was always, that was my Christmas, and again gift with them we would usually exchange gifts amongst everyone in all the different family members before lunch so, everyone would sit down in the living room in sort of like a big circle with like 20 25 of us and then each family would take turns in handing out gifts to all the people in the different families and it would be anything from like wine or food or jam, like food that people had made or it could be usually toys and small gifts and Barbie dolls that sort of stuff for children.
More interesting things for them to play with, Nerf guns, water pistols. Yeah. So, that was, that was really Christmas for me and then Boxing Day was usually just, the 26th, was usually just a day to rest and chill out. That’s when the Boxing Day sales begin in stores in Western countries so, that’s usually the all of those big commercial stores like Myers, JB HIFI, all of those places that you buy gifts from before Christmas, usually have massive sales when they sell things for like 50 per cent off on Boxing Day and so, there tends to be a whole bunch of crazy capitalism going on as well.
I have experienced that in Townsville, it was great, everything just like half price stuff, yeah, great.
One more thing to add. The interesting thing about Australian Christmas is that it’s during summer and the weird thing for me growing up was… and I never even really thought about this until I got older… that all of the trinkets and decorations and things related to Christmas that you buy, are all winter related.
Yeah, snow and..
You know, like the stocking, snow, snowmen angels, all of these like the decorations on them pine trees, the pine trees, which are from the North, right? You know, pine needles, all of this stuff was always winter related because it comes from Europe and western, western Europe and like the US so, that was always funny for me because we would have Christmas where it’s probably could be anywhere between 30 to 40 degrees and it hasn’t snowed for four months anywhere in Australia and you will go down to the beach and like, you know, play cricket on the beach, go for a swim here and that would usually be our sort of Christmas afternoon so, enjoying the sun so, it’s a bit strange.
It’s the same for me, always hot so, I never really had this like stereotypical Christmas when you have snow and you go outside to play with the snow and things. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Yeah well, I always thought, why are we playing with snowmen? And it’s like… we don’t…
We don’t have it!
We don’t have snow, exactly! Why is Santa dressed in such warm gear? And so, that would be the stereotype those jokes on TV and stuff we’re Santa is wearing shorts and a singlet or something at the beach.
Same in Brazil.
So, what was it like for you growing up then Kel, in Brazil, compared to the sort of Western Australian, British and American Christmas, what was it like for you in Brazil?
It’s a bit different, I would say, it was…was something I would be looking forward to during the year as a child just like Yeah, Christmas! Not so much because of the presents I would get, but because of the food.
Oh really? So, you’re sort of the opposite of me, I’d always be like presents first and then like ah, do we have to eat?
I think it depends on your financial situation in Brazil, it depends a lot on it. So, if you… if your parents have more money or your family has more money you may have a bigger party, but my family is quite big and we didn’t have a lot so, it was this one time of the year there we would do something really big and it was amazing. So, yeah I would be all excited about it, but the thing is we celebrate it differently like we…our party happens on the 24th.
Yeah. I remember you telling me this and being like, what do you mean it happens on Christmas Eve? You celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day?
We spend the whole day, Christmas Eve, cooking, preparing the house, cleaning and then we get ready, like usually you have new clothes, and you stay awake until midnight, that’s when you have dinner with your family and you open presents.
Yeah. So, I would be so excited because I didn’t really have rules in my house like children go to bed at 8p.m, but it’s hard for a child to be awake, you know, until really late, so I would…that would be one of the very rare occasions when my sister and I would be awake until midnight or 1a.m.
See, for us that would be New Year’s Eve that we were like oh we get to stay up late. Christmas Eve would never be one where we could stay up to midnight. And I think mainly because our parents wouldn’t stay up that long, right? Because they’re in bed by whatever time so, we would be in bed before then. Specially as little kids, whereas for New Year’s, New Year’s Eve, they would be up all night. So, of course we were more able to stay up late on those sorts of days.
So, for us yeah we would stay awake until like midnight, 1:00a.m. and then at midnight to have fireworks and, you know, you say Merry Christmas and you hug and you exchange presents and you have food.
Did you have that thing with Santa, though, too? Are you waiting for Santa to come? Some people do, but honestly, I’ve never had this thing in my house. Mum would never, like my family just would never be like Santa Claus is coming… we didn’t, I don’t ever remember thinking about it. Like, oh yeah he’s coming. No. I knew my mum would get the presents and it was like… listening to you explaining how exciting it was, I kind of feel like I wish I had had it, you know, so magical and like I can’t imagine be so excited about something. I was excited, but you know, just thinking ”oh is he going to give me a lot of presents?”. I already knew it was my mum or my grandmother.
I think is one of those things you snap out of it pretty, pretty quickly and you realise that I think for me I discovered when I walked into my parents room one day and they had the receipt for all the gifts on the wall.
I was like, mum how come the receipt here is like literally all the gifts that I got for Christmas?
What did she say?
”We bought them for Santa. So, that he could give them to you” and I’m pretty much walked out like ”Annika, Santa is not real!”.
No way. That’s so funny. I never had this moment. Like, I always knew it was mum or dad or someone so, I didn’t have….I was excited about what I would get, but not because of Santa like it was just like I know Grandma it’s probably going to give me something, so…
Looking back on it, though, I think… how did we not think Mum, Dad why haven’t you given us any presents? Santa gave us all this stuff, you gave us nothing!
Can Santa be my dad?
Yeah so, then we would have dinner with the family and there was a really, you know, massive sort of dinner, we would have like…my family doesn’t like turkey, is very popular in Brazil, but we never really liked it so, we’d have this big chicken, full of chemicals or whatever, but yeah really a massive chicken.
Been given steroids, had it?
It’s like first of December, something happens all the chickens are massive! I’m like ok… So, a lot of rice with raisins. All the other things are in Portuguese so, I know I’m not quite sure.
How to translate them.
How to translate them, but yeah.
So very traditional food then?
Very traditional food, lasagne…
Well yeah…brigadeiro, things like that we would have for Christmas.
This chocolate desserts.
Yeah there was it. And then we would eat and go to bed.
So, was it a very religious event for your? Or celebration too, we should talk about that.
Some people, not for me personally, my family… we would watch the, what do you call it, mass?
I was thinking Mars, the planet.
With the Pope?
With the Pope and everything.
Because obviously you guys are catholic.
Yea but I remember grandma going to church, but I wouldn’t, it was just like ah, whatever, you know?
It was the same for me.
But some people really follow like the traditional, they go to church and the mass finishes before midnight so, you have time to go home, you know, have dinner.
Wow, goes that late, though? Holly Molly.
It’s quite late, but IT has to finish before like 11:00, I would say.
So that the family can celebrate.
So, in Australia, I guess, is a Christian holiday, right? It’s about the birth of Jesus and, you know, celebrating new life, everything like that, but I think the average person in Australia isn’t very religious. They will probably… the average person’s probably atheist, right? At least not actively practicing a religion. So, if anything they’re sort of Christian through their family, but they don’t go to church and they don’t actively pray and that sort of stuff. So, for us it’s still the holidays kind of now detached from Christianity and going to church and practising it like that. We never did that growing up, but my mum and her family were Christian when she was young or at least her family still is, she’s not anymore, but they would go to church and they still do. So, they still go to church on Christmas Day and I think it’s the morning service on Christmas Day that they go to so, we always have to arrive after they’ve gone to church and that’s usually I think, that usually starts at like 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning and finishes after an hour or two.
Yeah. So, it is a Christian holiday, but it’s not just for Christians to celebrate. That’s, that’s the point I’m trying to get at. In America, in Australia, in many parts of Europe, Christian countries have this celebration, but everyone takes part, whether you’re Christian or not so.
Same in Brazil.
So yeah. So it’s not weird to meet people who are Indian or people who are from the Middle East or from Africa living in Australia and still celebrating Christmas with the rest of us, because you don’t have to be a Christian to still, you know, want to get a Christmas tree, put decorations on it, buy presents for people say thank you to everyone and kind of just celebrate being a big community and what you’ve got.
Well, it is it is a family sort of thing in Brazil and it’s very, you know, related to religion, although my family is not extremely religious, but yeah my grandma would go to church, if I’m not mistaken, but then yeah, some people do, some people don’t. So yeah. So that was my 24th and then on the next day, the 25th, we would just eat the leftovers, for lunch and for dinner, and if there was anything else where we would eat the next day.
How much did you cook?
Oh man. You have no idea. We literally cook for like four or five days because everyone is so tired after that.
It makes sense.
My poor mum, she would cook the whole thing by herself. And, you know, that’s when my sister and I would get involved. We would help her with things like cakes and stuff just being so curious around the kitchen and that was really exciting. And she would give as like oh you make the brigadeiros or you make this cake and things. So, the very few things I know how to cook, are because you know my mum doing Christmas cooking around the house and me watching and helping her. So, yeah and I think that’s when it differs from your celebration in Australia because we don’t have like…some people do have Christmas lunch on the 25th, but the main thing is the midnight thing on the 24th.
That’s the main party when everyone gets together, we open presents and everything. The next day is like some people get together. Some people don’t and we don’t have Boxing Day. So, all the sales and things would be before Christmas, before the 24th because you need to buy presents for people to open on the 24th. So, if you want to buy cheap stuff it has to be before Christmas, we don’t have Boxing Day, I’m quite sure it’s a holiday. And then that’s it and then we start a for a New Year’s Eve and yeah…pretty much. You were mentioning the presents you would get. I’d get one present. One, like, it would be a toy or it would be new clothes or new shoes or, you know…
Something useful too that you kinda needed.
Definitely. My mum and my grandmother would just like put a little bit of money into something a bit better, like I’m gonna get you a new dress.
So, it was a much more practical sort of present.
Yeah. I would get toys from my dad because he wasn’t living with me so, he was like oh I’ll visit you, he would come over, drop a few, like one present for me, one present for my sister and that was it, but my, the family I was living with, my mum my grandma, my aunts, they would give me useful sort of things like shoes, clothes or whatever.
I remember too, when we used to go through this stage on Christmas Day all the kids in the neighbourhood used to leave the house after they’d gotten the gifts, right? In the morning and you would see all these children playing in the street with new toys. So there’d be kids with like electric race cars, new skateboard, maybe a kite, always playing and especially if you knew the kids quite often you would be like taking turns
What did you get?
Yeah. What did you get for Christmas? Wow, that’s awesome. Can I have a go? Can I try your new skateboard? And so, that was always really fun. Oh and we used to have, on the 24th, Santa would come around on the fire engine and so, we were showing you this recently. So, the fire brigade , he CFA, I forgot what that stands for, the CFA in Australia is the fire brigade, the people who sent out when there’s a fire and often they would pay…they would fund themselves, they’d buy little bags of candy or lollies, as we call them in Australia, lolly bags and Santa, someone dressed up as Santa, would usually be on the top of one of these red and white fire engines and that would drive around the streets playing Christmas music, Christmas Carols and hand out the lolly bags to children. And so that used to happen as well, you would hear the music in the background on the 24th and be like ‘Santa is nearby, where is he?’ and, you know, you walk out in the street and he’s waving on the back of a truck and you’d be like ”yeah, lollies!!” and he’d walk out and just give you some lollies and be like HO HO HO.
I’m sure we have that, I remember that in my city, but Santa doesn’t drive around, you know, he is somewhere sitting down in his chair and you go to him, you take photos and then he might give you a lollipop or something.
Well, we have those at the moment set up in like malls. So, we saw it today. If you go to malls anywhere nearby, you’ll often see this big chair with Santa on it and you can get photos, that’s usually for children to get photos with Santa. So, that’s something else, but I guess sort of finishing up if you guys want to celebrate Christmas in Australia, the good thing is there is no one way of doing it. You can make it as big or as small as you want, but probably the biggest things, I would say, is just get a Christmas tree. However you sort of want to get it like a real tree, a plastic tree, it could be a gumtree that you bought, a small one, you can have whatever you want, but the spirit, the idea there is just to have some kind of tree and then to put decorations on it and again you can sort of make whatever you want. I remember my parents and my grandparents when we were growing up used to get us to sort of do creative art and make things out of native plants, like gumtrees, we’d use the gum nuts and like other things and glue them on to like horse shoes or something and put them on the tree so you can make your own gifts and do that with the kids and be involved and I guess the biggest thing is just share presence with those people that are important to you on Christmas day, whether it’s food, something you’ve cooked, something you’ve made.
That something I really like about Australia. I don’t think we have the same sort of tradition, not so strong in Brazil. Like you cook something for someone, you make something, like it can be just a card or something. I love that. We are much more like you buy something new. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but you usually buy something.
I think my parents and my family and my extended family have sort of gotten to a point now where you realise it’s just capitalism, right? You’re just spending money on things people aren’t necessarily needing. They don’t necessarily want, that they’re not going to use for very long and so a lot more, at least in recent years, my family, my immediate family like my sister and my parents as well as my extended family, now make things like their own wine or they’ll put together some kind of like Protein Balls or a bag of nuts or some lollies or they’ll make food, they’ll cook gingerbread, gingerbread man like my sister is going to do tomorrow. And then they give that to the family so, you can do that with your culture, right ?Like whatever it is. If you guys are from say India and you can cook some really good food there that you could give to other people, people really appreciate getting interesting new things and I would be like…like Kel’s planning on cooking food that’s Brazilian and handing that out to the family.
That will be really nice.
Yeah, exactly. Anyway, so, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this episode and it has given you some understanding of Australian culture and what Christmas is like here in Australia and how it compares to Christmas in Brazil, but I would definitely love to know from you, guys, how you guys celebrate Christmas or what you celebrate instead of Christmas during this period of the year, and I guess until next time, guys.
Merry Christmas. See you soon!
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By pete — 2 years ago
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Pete: What’re you planting at the moment anyway?
Ian: Just these two little plants here. One… they’re both groundcover dwarf-plants to hopefully cascade over the edge of the rocks.
Ian: And so, the idea of designing this garden is you put the bigger plants up in the middle and then the medium sized ones on the… on… in the sort of foreground, and then groundcover ones cascading over the rocks so that you get this vista look moving up looking at the plants.
Ian: This one’s only new. So, it’s got to take a year or so to grow up. One of the things we tried to do when building this garden was to put a mixture of flowering seasons in so there’s always some colour in the garden, but also some different textures and colours in the greens, the leaves, for… varying from sort of bright green through to grey colours, so that there’s always a mixture of colour and texture no matter what the season. One of the advantages we have in Australia about seasons is that we never have snow, certainly down here.
Ian: So, you don’t have to worry about cold tolerant plants, but the counter side of that is the ocean’s 400m that way. So, we get a lot of sea air and salt. So, you have to have the plants that are salt tolerant. And the other thing I try and do is find plants that are water tolerant so that they can put up with a lot of water if it rains heavily, but also (it) doesn’t matter if it doesn’t rain for a month. You don’t need to keep watering to keep them up. Sometimes you have some successes.
Ian: Sometimes you have some failures. The failures you just replace with something different. It’s always a challenge to find the best sort of plants for an area. We try and use some that are indigenous to this specific area because obviously they’re going to be used to the soil and the climate, but with artificial garden beds like this that are built up with a mixture of topsoil that’s brought in and the existing soil, you can never exactly tell with the soil chemistry what’s going to go.
Ian: So, it’s a bit hit and miss. You try to start with, but just try and get it right in the long term by replacing things that don’t work with things that do.
Ian: So, what have you got in here at the moment that you can at least remember you’ve put in here, and tell us why or…
Ian: Yeah, so there’s a variety of things from kangaroo paws. These aren’t flowering at the moment.
Pete: These ones down the bottom?
Ian: Yeah, but we can show you some out the front that are flowering. Through to these little lillies that have these long flower stalks, and they last quite a long time when they’re flowering, through to some other things like some of these daisy bushes that flower for about six months of the year, and they grow really quickly.
Ian: But also, some native grasses. Those grasses attract different sorts of birds and butterflies and things from the normal flowering plants.
Ian: (I’ve) tried to put a couple of trees, feature trees, in. This eucalypt here’ll grow to about 3 or 4m tall. Not very tall, but tall enough to provide a little bit of shade from the western side, which is over here. And also, to attract some birds in when it starts flowering. It’ll probably be 2 years or 3 years by the time it gets large enough to start flowering, but then we can put a bird bath and so on in here as long as there’s a bit of protection for the birds so that the cats, local cats, aren’t going to get them.
Ian: And, the rest of it just made up of some local and Australian natives, correas, grevilleas, some acacias, banksias, you know, classic Australian plant names just to sort of fill up the rest of the environment here.
Pete: So, do you find that the native plants make a big big difference for bringing in native animals?
Ian: Yeah, they do. There are certainly some non-native plants that will bring in birds and insects, because they flower with a lot of nectar in them, but often they’re short flowering seasons. And so, if something’s only flowering for a few days or a few weeks it’s not much use to you for a long term effect. So, for attracting animals in.
Ian: So, we try and use some of the plants that are going to have long flowering seasons, but as I said earlier also intersperse plants that have different flowering seasons.
Ian: So, hopefully when this’s a mature garden there’ll always be something flowering here to attract different birds, insects in, and we also have these rockeries, (they) are also a great place for, you know, spiders and lizards and things, which are also additional food. A lot of the birds we have around are honeyeaters. So, they’re attracted to the nectar, but most of them will also grab insects. Some of them (will grab) other small animals like small lizards and things. Not that I particularly am wanting the lizards to get eaten, because they’re really lovely to have around as well.
Ian: And if you get water, permanent water, in, and we’re looking at some ways of putting that in, then you can attract frogs in as well. So, you can get a variety of wildlife in a garden by putting in the right environment there.
Pete: So, what are you specifically trying to get in too? Are there any birds that you’re targeting or that you want to definitely come in?
Ian: Honeyeaters and parrots mostly. This big eucalypt here behind us, that’s a Western Australian. It’s not an indigenous eucalypt. It’s a Western Australian eucalypt. But it has very large bright yellow flowers that attract the parrots in when… particularly lorikeets that are nectar feeders, but also rosellas that are seedeaters, once the seeds start to be created.
Ian: So, the same thing with this peppermint over here. (We’re) just trying to get a mixture of plants that will bring in particularly parrots and honeyeaters because they’re pretty, they’re noisy.
Ian: So, it’s good to have them around. But we also have some non-indigenous birds. I don’t particularly want to attract them, but again, they… they’re good for the garden as well.
Ian: If you have a look, this might be hard to tell with the shade in here, but there’s all these little dig patches around here. They’re blackbirds, European blackbirds, that are digging up in the garden looking for grubs and snails and things. So, they turn the ground over, which is a pain when you’re trying to grow small plants, but later on the more activity you get in the soil the better.
Pete: What’s the thing to your left, dad? Talk about that and why it’s Australian.
Ian: Oh, the deck out the front of the house? Yeah, (it’s a) wooden deck, with as you can see by the shiny and sort of wet look on it, (we) just oiled it yesterday. So, every year or so you’ve got to put more oil into it to keep the timber in good condition.
Ian: So, the barricade’s up here to prevent people from walking straight up onto it into the front door. One of the challenges when you’ve got one at your front door is how you leave it locked off for 48 hours before it dries.
Pete: So, why’s it such an Australian thing too, the deck?
Ian: I think a lot original colonial Australian houses were built with verandas over them and decks around the house. A lot of that before the days of air-conditioning people used to build so that you can open up windows any side of the house and have shade with cool air coming through the house when you… and particularly in the evening as it starts to cool off.
Ian: So, people’ve just had this tradition of building decks around their house. We’ve only got a very little veranda here. It’s really just an eave-overhang. We don’t really have room. And with a low roof (it) would be quite a low veranda if we had it on.
Ian: So, I did want to show you these kangaroo paws quickly, the small plants that we had around the side hadn’t started to flower yet, but this is what they look like. (You) get them in a variety of colours. The original natural native plants were yellow and red and green, but there’s not a whole lot of varieties that’ve been bred up that, Pete, if you come in close you’ll be able to see that the kangaroo paw is named for these little flower heads that… I’ll take my (glove off), that have this sort of hand going over just like a little kangaroo paw. If you’ve seen kangaroos they sit with their paws like this, and people thought that’s what the flower heads look like on these.
Pete: Awesome. So, can you tell us anything else about the other plants that you’ve got here in the front yard, dad?
Ian: Look. (This is a) banksia here. This one’s called Banksia robur. Obviously, it’s a small plant. It grows to about 2 or 3m tall and quite wide. The idea with this one was to put a plant in here to block off a little bit of the street view. We didn’t want to have a fence coming all the way down the side here and blocking this off completely. But that grows up and has very large flowers about 20cm high and they start off a dark deep greeny blue colour and then go brown and yellow when they open up. So, (they’re) quite beautiful plants.
Ian: The rest of them, again, are just a mixture of plants with flowers all through the season. There’s some small everlasting daisies that are really varietals. They’ve originally been bred from some native plants, but they’re called everlastings because the flowers can last for months, and if you also, if you cut them and dry them out they’ll last for years in, you know, flower decorations and so on, ‘cause they’re almost like a paper rather than the soft petals that you get (on other plants).
Ian: Other things that we’ve tried to do, again, are different textures, different colours. You can see the greys, the lime greens, the dark greens and so on in here, and some more different sort of grasses, particularly these wallaby grasses in here that while they look dead over summer…
Pete: So, they’re these little ones.
Ian: They’re this little one here, yeah. It looks sort of dead over summer, but those seed heads will sit there for a few months. They’ll eventually fall off, and then as soon as the rain starts again in Autumn the plant, the grass will start to green up again and then reflower the next Spring. So, they’re a perennial plant that looks like an annual (plant), but they keep coming back.
Ian: So, these grasses are stipa. The… they grow on dunes and the sort of secondary dune at the back of the dunes at the beach, but they’re also good garden plants. But of course, being dune plants they’re very salt tolerant, they grow really quickly, and they provide this beautiful feathery, you know, seeding… (head).
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By pete — 2 years ago
In this interview episode of Aussie English I interview my good friend Phoebe who is a fellow PhD student at the museum with me. We both share the same supervisor, and like me Phoebe is studying some incredibly cute threatened native rodent species.
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Interview: Phoebe tells us about cute native mice and sex-crazed marsupials
Pete: Alright. So attempt number two. We just tried to start this interview off but the battery died. So, once again I’m here with my friend Phoebe. Ah… she’s a fellow PhD student here at the museum. We have the same supervisor, both studying rats, and she recently got back from two weeks of fieldwork in the Grampians, in Australia, Victoria, in the western side of Victoria, and I thought I would do a mini interview with… with Phoebes together to tell you about her PhD project, um… a little bit about her fieldwork, and maybe a little bit about the Grampians as well. So, take it away Phoebes. Start again.
Phoebe: Thanks Pete. So, I’m in the second year of my PhD and I work on two species of native Australian mice, and Australia has tons of native rodent species, um… many of which have already gone extinct and many more of which are endangered and at risk of extinction. So, I work on two of those species, the Smoky mouse and the New Holland mouse. Um… and they’re both really struggling in Victoria. So, the Smoky mouse, one of its remaining strongholds is the Grampians in western Victoria, and as Pete said I spent the last two weeks there um… trying to find Smoky Mice. So, I basically um… set up camp and lived in a tent there for two weeks in the pouring rain and crazy winds and spent my days hiking around, um… setting traps and checking traps and look for mice. So, when I find mice in my traps they’re actually like they don’t… they’re not your normal mouse traps. I’m not actually going out and killing all the threatened species. Um… I like… they’re little box traps, and they’ve got fluff and food in there, and the mice go in and sort of snuggle up for the night and I come round in the morning and take them out and weigh them and see whether it’s male or female, um… and take a little DNA sample and let them go again. And so, I do that every second month in the Grampians to see how the populations there are going, um… and to see why the populations fluctuate in different ways. So, why they go up and down. Um… and whether that’s related to things like rainfall or extreme weather events. Um, which is, yeah, part of my PhD.
Pete: So what have you found out so far with the data that you have collected over the last few years?
Phoebe: Well so far um… I’ve sort of confirmed that the species is really um… has a really localised distribution in the Grampians. So, a couple of years back I surveyed this entire mountain range in the Grampians, Victoria Range, and I found
New Holland Mice[Smoky Mice*] within a tiny portion of that mountain range. So, they’re only in little populations in these really wet gulleys, um… along about 6-8km of the mountain range, which is quite a small area when you think about, like, the impact of fires and, like, the size of like potential fires when they sweep through and they impact the species and you might just lose the entire population of that species in that area if they’re… yeah, not able to cope with it.
Pete: And so, we actually had during your Masters degree when you were studying these guys a little more thoroughly, we had a massive bushfire go through the Grampians right?
Pete: And so, what did you find? So, you sampled them beforehand, didn’t you? And then the bushfire came through and you got to sample them again afterwards and you were afraid that they were going to have potentially have been wiped out, right?
Phoebe: Yeah, that was a real fear that we had because nobody had, like, seen um… Smoky mice go through that sort of fire before. So, we kind of assumed that they might actually get wiped out, um, and thankfully I went back after the fire and the fire had passed through all of the historical locations, um… within that mountain range.
Pete: And what had the fire done to the place?
Phoebe: It was just, it just… it was like a moon-scape, like it had obliterated all of the vegetation, like there was just nothing. There were burnt… burnt trees, like burnt tree trunks with no vegetation whatsoever and you just had rocky ground, and yeah, it was amazing, like… it was incredible that any species could actually persist in it because it just looked so inhospitable, like, there was nothing… nothing there. Um… so we went back into these sites and the only species that I did find in my traps was Smoky mice. So it actually survived in situ, so in place, like they’d stayed there through the fire, and they’ve continued to persist in the years following the fire in those sights. And there are other species coming back now too. So, you’ve got little antechinus, which are like tiny little marsupials, um… that run around and eat insects and…
Pete: So, they actually look like little rats but they’re actually more closely related to kangaroos, aren’t they, than they are rats?
Phoebe: Yeah, yeah, people always think that they’re like sort of a kind of mouse or something, but yeah they’re actually far more closely… like we’re more closely related to rats than these guys are, um… yeah, and they’re quite interesting, like, people always pick up on the fact that they um sort of shag themselves to death.
Pete: Do you want to explain a little bit about that? First of all, the word “shag” means to have sex everyone, just for those who didn’t know, or “to mate” in a more politically correct, scientific description.
Phoebe: So, um… male antechinus put all of their energy into reproducing. So, it comes to breeding season and they just pump all of their energy into producing testosterone and producing lots of sperm and running around trying to sleep with all of the female antechinus. Um… and…
Pete: Though they don’t really sleep do they?
Phoebe: They don’t seem to. Um… Yeah, so they just put everything into mating and then eventually their body condition deteriorates because they’re not putting any energy into like repairing their bodies anymore.
Pete: And they’re not eating, right?
Phoebe: They eat very little, um… and they… they do actually sleep very little, like you start catching them at the wrong time of day when they’d usually be asleep. So, they’re usually nocturnal and you’d only catch them, like, at night, um… but you start catching them in traps, um… actually during the daytime which is just, yeah, out of control.
Pete: So, there’s these little… these tiny tiny little marsupials, probably Australia’s smallest marsupials, right? Or at least some of the smallest marsupials…
Phoebe: Some of the Smallest yeah…
Pete: Actually stop eating, the males stop eating and they stop worrying about anything aside from going out, searching for females, and having as much sex as possible over a period of what, it’s about two weeks isn’t it, where they… they all die because they…
Phoebe: Yeah, it’s a few weeks yeah…
Pete: …they all go out, mate themselves to death, don’t eat, don’t do anything else, and then all of a sudden you’re left with absolutely no males, right? Half the population disappears overnight effectively.
Phoebe: Yeah, so you’ve just got a lot of pregnant females, um… and there’s no males in the population at all until the females give birth. And they give birth to these tiny tiny pink little beans um… that grow into antechinus and they’re, sort of, they’ve got a very small pouch like all marsupials have got a little pouch, but theirs is more like a little little dint on their belly. And it just has these giant um… little babies start growing out of it until they’re nearly as big as their mum, and…
Pete: And they all hold on don’t they, to the underside of this antechinus?
Phoebe: Yeah, they all um… they latch onto the nipples or the teats and just stay there until they’re ready to go off and do their own thing. (Check this video out to see what it looks like.)
Pete: And so, we’re at that period right at the moment aren’t we, where you are catching a lot of antechinus but they’re all female and they all have babies, don’t they, at the moment, in their pouches slowly developing?
Phoebe: Um… so there’s two different species that I catch, um… one of them is [the] Dusky antechinus, and they’re at that stage where there’s no more males in the population and you’ve got these sort of jelly belly sized jelly bean babies like attached to their bellies, um… whereas Agile antechinus are still at the stage where the males are still in the population and they’ve got these massive, like, testes or um… and they’re just… you catch them all the time, and they just have very little um… regard for their own safety. Like, I had a couple of interesting um… experiences this last trip where I was checking the traps in the morning and it was pouring down with rain, so I was wearing a water proof jacket and I let go of an antechinus and instead of running away, which is what they should do and [what] they usually do, it ran up my jacket and sat there on my sleeve um… licking water off my jacket, and it was just like… it was absolutely adorable…
Pete: That’s so funny.
Phoebe: But it was like not the best survival behaviour for a species, ‘cause I’m this big potential predator.
Pete: I guess it’s a disadvantage, right, at that point if you’re more worried about your survival than about being active and going out looking for females to reproduce with you’re not going to pass on your genes as as… um… easily as ones that don’t care and just get out there and look for anything they can shag. Ah, cool. But back to the species that you were chasing, so you were catching smoky mice?
Phoebe: Yeah, yeah so, I caught a fair few smoky mice, um… well a reasonable amount for the species. I caught dozens more antechinus than I caught smoky mice but smoky mice tend to um… sort of persist in smaller numbers um… at times. And yeah, they’ve been fairly consistent in their numbers this year so far, so hopefully they’re doing alright and hopefully they’ll start breeding soon this um… this year as well.
Pete: And so, for those of… those listeners out there who probably cringe at the idea of studying rats, and just rats in general, how would you explain native Australian rodents compared to say the basic image most people will have when they think of a rat, which is the introduced pest species that you see eating out of bins and dumpsters in the city? What are the Smoky mice and other Australian rats like in comparison?
Phoebe: They’re absolutely gorgeous, like, I’m slightly biased but Smoky mice in particular are, like, so soft and fluffy, and they’re this like beautiful blue-grey colour, and they’ve got like, you know, a little pink nose and little pink feet, and they’re just, like, adorable, like, they’re something that you’d look at and think of more as being a cute little, like, possum kind of thing rather than like a gross species of rat, um… and we’ve got so many species like that, like native rats and mice that are actually really really cute little fluffy things. I mean not that the, you know, be all and end all for a species, but yeah, they’re actually quite attractive little guys, and they don’t smell. Like they’ve got their own unique scents but they don’t smell disgusting like a house mouse or a black rat.
Pete: Yep. And so, you’re actually also studying another mouse species, another native rat species that’s a little smaller than the Smoky mouse. So, tell us a little bit about that.
Phoebe: Yeah, that’s the New Holland mouse are similarly endangered, um… throughout Victoria, um… and they’ve disappeared from different sites um… a lot over the past few years. So, they’re now known from only three of 10 locations across Victoria, um… and they’re… yeah, a bit smaller than Smoky mice but really quite adorable as well. Um… and I spend most of my time um… looking for them down at Wilson’s Promontory (Wilson’s Prom/The Prom), which is another beautiful national park here in Victoria. Um… and they live in totally different habitat, like, they have um… So, both species actually burrow and live underground in little burrow systems, um… but the New Holland mice tend to live in sandier soils, ‘cause they’re a bit smaller it probably makes it a bit easier for them to burrow through. Um… and yeah, they just run around eating grass and seeds and insects and fungi. Um… and also, just disappearing, which is what I’m trying to figure out, is why they’re disappearing but… yeah
Pete: And that was part of the reason you went to Wilson’s Prom, right? You had no records of them being there for a very long time, or at least they hadn’t been sampled by other scientists. And so, you went in to see if they were still there, and you were somewhat surprised when you found them, right?
Phoebe: Yeah, so New Holland mice used to be really abundant at Wilson’s Prom sort of in the mid 90’s, and then they sort of declined until the early 2000s, and then the last individual was seen there in 2010 um… where they literally just found one single individual. Um… and nobody saw any um… between then and when I started my work um… in 2015. Um… so, people had gone out looking for them, but they just… they couldn’t find them at any of these historic sites anymore. Um… so I went out and used camera traps, which are sort of like um… motion sensor activated cameras and heat-sensor activated cameras that take photos of the animals just doing their thing. Like, I’ll put out like a bait to lure them in and um… they go and investigate it and the camera takes lots of photos of them. Um… so I put those out across a huge chunk of the Prom, um… and found New Holland mice at 2 of my 50 sites. So, it was really exciting that I’d actually managed to find them. Um… [I’m] kind of disappointed that I found them at so few of the sites, but yeah, they’re still there just in really really low numbers.
Pete: So, what does that tell you about the species um… in general, I guess, and… how would you explain it, but… do they need large numbers and do they need to live… do they live, you know, across the entire landscape or are you more likely to find them in patches and in high numbers, low numbers? Can the species persist in low numbers dotted across the landscape? What do… are they like lights switching on and off too, the different populations? Or is this what you’re trying to find out to some degree?
Phoebe: Yeah, that’s one of the things I’m trying to find out, is how they are actually persisting. Um… at the moment it looks like there’s just this sort of one really small area where they’re persisting um… in quite decent numbers. Um… when I first trapped them there back in October the last year I only got three individuals which was devastating because that’s… like, I put in a lot of effort there and found three individuals and that is not enough to sustain a population. Um… but I kept trapping there and have been finding um… more um… sort of over Autumn this year. The numbers are starting to decline a bit again as we go through winter, but they’re still staying above like I’m down to about 12 individuals that I see per month um… at the Prom. Um… and yeah, it’s in this really localised area. So, one of the things at the Prom, um… is that there’s been all this um… native tea tree encroachment. So, tea tree is like a sort of shrubby tree species…
Pete: And it’s native to Australia, isn’t it, but not to that area?
Phoebe: Yeah, it’s native to Australia um… and it’s kind of native to that area but there’s been a lot of change in fire regimes and different grazing patterns. They used to have like sheep and cattle in the area. And it’s sort of just lead to this nightmare situation where the tea tree has just taken over the entire landscape, like they’re… it doesn’t allow any other plant species to persist. It’s just like this monoculture of tea tree, which means there’s just like the one species of tea tree um… across the whole landscape, and that just isn’t very good for supporting species like the New Holland mouse because they need, like, diversity in the plants um… that are present so that they have things to eat and so that the plants support different types of fungi and different types of insects for them to eat as well. Um… and yeah, that’s just sort of crept across most of the Prom, and the New Holland mice seem to be persisting in an area, um… in this one little patch where the tea tree hasn’t sunk its teeth in yet, so… yeah.
Pete: Ah cool, well hopefully they don’t suddenly disappear over night.
Phoebe: That would be my nightmare.
Pete: What are your expectations though? Do you think that they’ll… both with the Smoky mouse and the New Holland mouse, do you think that they’re both somewhat threatened but they’ve been in this state of being threatened by land regime changes and everything for a while now and they’re holding on, or are they on the decline, or on the increase?
Phoebe: I think Smoky mice are sort of holding on. Like, they’ve been put through a lot in terms of um… like introduced predators and landscape change. Um… but they seem to be hanging on in these little isolated populations, like, reasonably well. New Holland mice on the other hand are just dropping like flies. Like, I’m seriously concerned for the Wilson’s Prom populations um… because it seems to be so small and so isolated. The other two populations left in Victoria are doing much better um… but… I mean, the other seven that we’ve lost in the past couple of decades, like, it’s not look good, and we don’t entirely understand um… what’s happening with the species, which is yeah one of the reasons I’m studying it so that we can find out before it’s too late.
Pete: So, obviously it’s important too for the species themselves that you’re studying them, but I’m sure you get a lot of people saying, “Well what does it matter if we lose a mouse or a small rat like this?” and, “Why is this research that important? Why aren’t you more focused on things like the koala and kangaroo that are animals that matter?” You know, I’m sure you… I’m sure… What do you say to people who ask you those kinds of questions?
Phoebe: Yeah, I mean I understand that because people are much more attached to the animals that they see more readily, whereas these animals, like I see them all the time but most people would never get to see them because they don’t, like, run around in your field of vision, um… but yeah, the thing is all… all of these animals play different roles within ecosystems. So, whether it’s like distributing like different um… seeds or fungal spores to help other species to like, plant species or fungal species, to reproduce. Um… or like, these… some of these digging species like these mice they dig burrows and they like dig up um… like, fungi and stuff to eat, like, that really helps other species establish by a sort of um… disturbing the soil. So, it’s called like, bioturbation, where like um… species dig through the soil to get food and things, and that helps to aerate it and mix nutrients up and, like, makes a much healthier ecosystem where the plant species are able to um… like, get to the nutrients more easily, and like establish new sort of seedlings and that sort of thing. Like, ecosystems…
Pete: So, they’re all kind of relying on one another and if you take any one of those away it can become harder for any one of the individual species to survive.
Phoebe: Yeah, ecosystems are a big… Yeah, it’s like a big network where if you start knocking out species here and there the whole thing can collapse, and yeah… you end up with things like just, you know, solid tea tree for a couple of square kilometers, like…
Pete: So, by actually potentially putting in place things to protect not… not just this rat but this rat I guess to some degree, you’re actually going to end up protecting a lot of other things at the same time. So, it’s a bottom up kind of approach, is it?
Phoebe: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so like… for instance if we did predator control, so for like cats and foxes, um… to support New Holland mice, that’s also going to support a lot of other native species um… that are preyed upon by cats and foxes. So, like native birds and other small mammal species. Um… and it’s also going to yeah support the different vegetation communities by having the mice in there doing their thing mixing things up a bit.
Pete: Yep, so what do you think’s going to happen in the near future? And what do you think we need to do in order to save these kinds of species? What needs to be put in place in order to prevent them from permanently disappearing?
Phoebe: Um… we definitely need to study them more and understand what is causing different declines in different places, um… and then we need to act on it, like, put in predator control measures, or like habitat modification um… that sort of thing, like, we need to actually understand what’s going on and then just basically throw money at it. Like, it’s the only way that you can actually um… yeah… ensure that we’re going to save these species, and the current um… yeah… sort of, the current idea is to just be like, “Oh yeah, they’re declining, let’s just wait and see what happens.” And then it’s too late. And I mean we’ve already lost like, what, 30 Australian mammal species, um… in the last 200 years, and that’s like worse than like any other country has ever experienced, like, we’re number one in the world for wiping out mammal species. Um… yay! Go us! Um… yeah, like, it’s something that we need to take seriously and act on now because it’s going to be too late soon.
Pete: Awesome, ah that’s probably long enough for today. Thank you so much for sharing your insights Phoebes.
Phoebe: No worries. Thanks for chatting to me!
Pete: You’re welcome.
Check out Phoebe’s blog about studying native Australian rodents here.
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