Monday, August 10, 2009

Thorny Devils

Pipi and I both arrived in Australia with ideas about things we were hoping to encounter. For example, I’ve known since I was a teenager that I like Australian music and furry Australian animals, and I planned our itinerary in such a way that I could experience both.

Pipi, too, arrived with a dream about something she’d like to see, but it wasn’t anything she’d known about since high school. In fact, it wasn’t something she’d known about when she got on the plane. Pipi fell in love with a thorny devil lizard she saw in documentary during the flight across the Pacific.

For this we have the excellent Qantas in-flight entertainment system to thank. There were so many films, documentaries, and TV programs to watch that I don’t think we saw very many of the same shows. I did steal a few glances at the reptile documentary while I was watching (but mostly listening to) something about the band Hunters and Collectors. I noticed that Thorny devils are cute by lizard standards. They have spiky armored skin, and look like little stegosauruses, only adobe-colored and about the size of a kitten. They even walk a little bit like newborn kittens, with a funny stuttering gait that makes them look like they’re not quite sure what to do with all those legs yet.

Thorny devils are native to central and western Australia. We never saw one in the wild, but we did encounter two lizards in captivity at the Alice Springs Desert Park. This was a peak experience and we watched them snuffle up ants for quite a while. (And dreamed about getting one to live in our kitchen. One winter in our old apartment I thought we’d have to get an aardvark to keep things under control.) We were nearing the end of our trip, and getting close to seeing everything we had reasonable hopes of seeing.

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