Okay, maybe not so stealthy, but he sounded like he was trying to be – With a hole in the tent wall caused by the fire, a hole big enough for a human to enter, I was very aware of our vulnerability to animal intrusion – We were new to the acreage of wilderness in the Top End of Australia, and innocent as yet to the ways of Nature.
I’m an incredibly light sleeper. Tents are noisy, they billow and flap, they also leak rain when a sagging roof allows for a hefty collection of water – and you don’t want to touch it because that lets the water through. Anyhow, the winds had died down and we were both sleeping well. It was the middle of the night and I awoke for some other reason.
Listening in the dark, I soon discovered what had disturbed me and set my inner alarm off. It was a footfall. Someone was being very careful to keep quiet and was very close to the tent. Out here? The nearest neighbor was literally miles away. But it was a footfall. A careful tread in leaves and grass. Right. By. The. Window.
A quoll is cute until it opens its mouth, then you are introduced to its serious side – Quolls are an Australian marsupial carnivore, cousin to the Tasmanian Tiger, but only about the size of a cat – although with canine teeth like a dog – They are nocturnal and eat whatever meat they can catch of small and medium-sized creatures, including possums.
Out in the wilderness of the Northern Territory, we had quolls all over our camp every evening. They came out at dusk and got up to mischief all night. They broke into our early idea of meat-safe (a foam lidded box) and ate our meat. They tried to eat our cat more than once, too, but he got wise to them and learned to keep out of their way.
They even moved into my office caravan. It was an old van with gaps and holes that we didn’t even know about. I opened a drawer one day and found a fair-sized quoll splayed out and fast asleep right on top of the papers that were in there. He had climbed in up through the floor and in through the back of the drawer.
I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too busy closing the drawer really carefully so as not to wake him and have him go Wild-Animal all over my office. 😀
The pictures shown in this post were NOT taken of our local population. These pictures are all borrowed from the Internet as we never could get a good clear picture of one.