Night falls in Tasmania and animals come out searching for food. They must be carefull, predators are waiting outside
On the long rainy days, the first Europeans told, and exaggerated, the stories, by the light of the fires in their cabins.
And when night fell in the southern hemisphere, the ancestral, imported, fears of the colonists resurfaced: ghosts and goblins found here the perfect atmosphere in which to emerge from the mist.
The marsupial darkness is full of shadows playing the hide and seek of death, whether they want to or not:
A ring–tailed possum . A vegetarian that tries to remain unnoticed.
For those men, animals like these were hardly appetising, from a gastronomic point of view, but they soon came to appreciate their furs, and hunted and killed vast numbers of them.
Despite this, these old elves of Gondwana have been ale to survive – small in size, they only come out at night, in search of fruits or flowers among the branches, the same branches whose shadows they fear.
And their fear is justified – some of their marsupial relatives eat meat, and have evolved into efficient predators, ready to pounce on any unwary creature.
He must be constantly listening out, his defence is to remain very still…..others, however, have a rather more active way.
The little Tasmanian bettong, a jumper, and the forest-dwelling relative of the big kangaroos, has stopped searching for mushrooms and insects, because he doesn’t like our game:
The eastern quoll, one of the native cat species, specialised in hunting invertebrates and small prey on the forest floor. He has adapted well to the pasture created by man, even becoming man’s friend, as he devours large quantities of insects.
He is not an enemy of the bettong or the possum when they are adults, but he would not hesitate to attack a young bandicoot if he finds one. And there he has found one.
The family of the bandicoots eat absolutely everything. They are marsupials, but their small legs are like those of herbivores, and their teeth like carnivores. So their body is rather like a unique combination of different evolutionary traits.
But, just being 40 centimetres long, a bandicoot never knows when he is eating his last meal.
The giant quoll is out on the prowl, so it would be better to make a run for it.
The giant, or spotted-tail quoll, is a killer of four kilos in weight, extremely intelligent and skilled at hunting among the upper branches.
This is the marsupial version of the European pine marten.
As his life is closely linked to the shrinking forest, his future is uncertain. And, to make matters worse, domestic cats and foxes introduced by man are rivals for the same kind of food.
Nonetheless, for as long as he survives, no bird or possum is safe when the giant quoll is out looking for victims.