Aug 26

Aussie Birds & Crossword Puzzles

There are many smaller lizards, and the native reptiles include several species of pythons, which, although they grow to a length of twenty feet or more, are not classed as dangerous. The giant brown snake is the largest venomous snake in Australia, growing to ten feet. The black snake, tiger snake and the death adder belong among the deadly species, and there are others considered mildly venomous, Australian snakes, however, are secretive and will seek to get away rather than to attack humans. Study of the reptile life alone in Australia would be a life work for a capable herpetologist, for there is much to be learned of the habits and life history of these inhabitants of the bush country. The emu is an Australian bird that has been introduced to many as a convenient three-letter word in crossword puzzles. It appears on the coat of arms of Australia and on one of the country’s stamps. Unfortunately, the emu has been a victim of persecution on the ground that seeds of the prickly pear cactus stick to its feet as it wanders.

The “Bearded Lizard”, Amphibolurus barbatus, is the clown of the lizards. On the defensive if makes both a ridiculous appearance and one that must be frightening to small enemies. The “Frilled Liiard”, Chlamydosaurus kingii, stands at bay with its sharp teeth and powerful jaws ready to grab whatever comes within its reach. At the bottom is an Australian skink, Egernia nilida, found abundantly in the great Jarrah forest of the southwest. It peeks out of a crack in an old log to survey the scene before emerging. Emu mother and chicks. The youngsters are always striped or mottled, giving them an excellent protective color pattern. Mother guards them carefully and sends them scurrying for cover at the first sign of danger and they are then very difficult to find for food through the cactus patches.

Thus it has spread the bane of the stockmen. In Queensland much money was spent in an attempt to exterminate the bird. However, the cactus has now been quite well controlled, and the birds are no longer extensively disturbed. Why the emu was not wiped out seems a mystery to one who sees them standing within a short distance of an automobile gazing curiously at the contraption. However, let the car door be opened and the bird will be off in a flash, and it can travel rapidly. Those who have attempted to clock its speed from a travelling car credit the emu with a speed of from thirty to forty miles an hour.


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