previously noted, bandicoots haven’t got much road sense.
I think it has to do with their small size and their limited field of
vision which just can’t encompass a huge vehicle bearing down
on them. This is the story of one very lucky little bandicoot
that I met when I was still living in Western Australia..
puttering along the back road towards home just on twilight, the sun
glaring in my back window and rear-view mirror just before it plunges
to a fiery death in the Indian Ocean. I see a little grey-brown
figure dart out of the bush at the roadside. Foot off the gas,
foot on the brake, try to steer around it—KLUNK--right into my
left front hubcap.
into the next driveway, reverse, and crawl back up the road looking
for the body. There on the gravel sits a bandicoot, twitching
and shaking. I put on my emergency signals, set the brake and
leap out, hoping there's nothing coming from the left, as I can't see
a thing due to the combination of sun-glare and deep shadows.
injured bandicoot isn't spouting blood, so I dash back to the car,
dump out the groceries and run back with the calico shopping bag to
scoop up the bandicoot, which begins thrashing about. Tie the
straps together and gallop back to the car. An SUV passes me;
the driver gives me a suspicious look. I stash the bag on
the floor of the passenger side, where it thrashes even harder.
Ooops, sorry, little beast; I didn't mean to put you down on the
package of frozen beans. “ I move beans to back seat.
The thrashing bag calms somewhat.
slowly, I make my way home and trot up the front walk calling for
Gene to come open the door. "What have you got?" says
he, eyeing the bag I have clutched to my rapidly dampening bosom.
mind, just get the cat carrier and the old bathmat!"
care, we untie the bag handles and lower the parcel into the cat
carrier. Adding a few peanuts and a bowl of water, we decide to
leave the guest to himself in my den, where we can shut the door and
keep out inquisitive felines.
supper, we put the first joint of a cooked chicken wing in the bag
where the bandicoot is still hiding. By bedtime the wing has
been stripped, gnawed, and cast aside. The water is
overturned. And the bandicoot is still alive. I decide to
name him “Lucky”.
morning, my den has a ripe tang of healthy bandicoot intestines, but
the guest is alive and apparently uninjured save for the tip of his
tail, which is gory. The cat carrier is unspeakable, so I fetch
a clean calico shopping bag, insert the guest, tie up the bag and
leave it with some misgivings on my mohair rug while I take the
noisome carrier outside to hose it out, dry it, and fill it with
shredded newspaper this time.
bandicoot into cage and wait until 9 a.m. when I take him to the
vet. There’s a new vet on duty, not the experienced Dr
Ralph, but a 4th year vet student who seems not to have seen a
bandicoot often, if ever. He disappears with patient, returns
very quickly and reports "Nothing wrong with this fellow bar the
small injury on the tail. You can safely let him go." (I
suspect the bandicoot bit him or scratched him or piddled on him.
Or all three.)
we go, retracing our drive of the previous night, looking for the
spot where Lucky dashed out of the bush. I get to the gates of
Bindaree, an imposing country place, and pull over, but worry about
letting the beast go so close to the road. 70 yards or so
further along is a dirt track, so I pull in there and release the
bandicoot into a clump of grass trees where he will have shelter and
can collect his wits until dusk. I hope he won't have any
trouble finding his way home, which is probably close enough for him
to be able to sniff his way back.
to do my errands, returning later via the same route, eyes peeled for
a little corpse, but happily, don't see one. Lucky may have
learned a valuable lesson from his adventure—one can only hope.
drove down the same road a few weeks later and saw a dead bandicoot
on the gravel verge. Maybe it wasn't Lucky, maybe it was a mean,
bad, drug-pushing bandicoot who deserved to be run over.....I’d
like to think so.)
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