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My Handbag Day Care Centre

baby antichinus

This morning, lying in bed with my cup of coffee (yes, I get coffee in bed every morning), a mother antechinus ran along the window ledge with four babies clinging to her back, and dropped them into my handbag.  A few minutes later, she was back with another lot, and another.  In total, there were twelve babies, dropped into my bag.  And she was off.  Handbag day care.

Now what do I do with a dozen, very cute baby antechinus in my handbag?

If you’re reading this in an urban area, or outside Australia, you probably haven’t met antechinuses. Antechinuses look a bit like large mice with a pointy nose but they are actually marsupials, more closely related to koalas than mice.  They are mostly insectivorous, so they don’t raid the larder and they specially love cockroaches, and baby mice. They don’t smell like mice do, and they don’t chew cables, but they do love making nests in odd places, and they steal and shred clothing (for some reason they particularly like knickers) for making their nests. And they’re not house trained. In urban areas cats have eliminated them, and though they’re not particularly endangered in the bush, they are native and protected.

The babies won’t survive on their own.  But I need my purse and keys and…

So what’s a good wildlife protector to do?

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Amanda January 10, 2014, 9:00 pm

    Oh! I had never heard this name before and did a quick google search. Recently I was mowing near our creek and saw what I presumed were regular mice or rats racing away but judging from the Google image results, maybe it was some of these little critters. It’s nice to know they’ll be eating the insects in my garden and not the vegies! (And what did you do about the babies? How funny!)

  • Jenny M January 10, 2014, 10:34 pm

    I haven’t heard of them either…I also will be doing a google search to found out more about them. Has the Mum returned?

  • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 10, 2014, 11:54 pm

    I have never heard of Antechinuses before – that is a perplexing but adorable problem to have! And I must congratulate you on your handbag tidiness – no sane mother antechinus would ever choose to drop her babies into mine!

    I hope you work out what to do.

  • Jeni at Northern Rivers Dreaming January 11, 2014, 9:18 am

    We are seriously falling about laughing here.

    I can hear our local community of antechinuses racing around in our roof, as I write. Last year some made a nest in my PhD thesis research notes, so I’m quite happy about them being in the roof this year. The first few years we were here they’d race over the bed at high speed – I will never ever forget waking up to find tiny antechinus paws gripping my earlobes for leverage.

    The lack of house training is the main issue – so they do need to come of your hand bag asap. Apart from needing your keys etc. But transferring a dozen tiny beasties is not going to be easy. You need to try and duplicate the surroundings the mother has chosen.

    Keep us informed, we’d love to know what you do 🙂

  • Jo January 12, 2014, 9:25 am

    I seriously would love to have the same problem… wouldn’t know what to do about it either, but here in a small rural town northwest of Auckland it would probably be river rats! and that’s another (not so pleasant) experience all together. Good luck looking after the babies, I wonder why Mum abandoned them or did she come back to the baggage claim?

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

  • Kim January 13, 2014, 7:48 am

    That is such a cool story. Perhaps it is nature’s way of saying ‘Stay home from work and chill out …you don’t need to go anywhere.’
    My suggestion – get a new hand bag and fish out your car keys .

  • Linda January 13, 2014, 9:39 am

    I moved them to a different, empty, bag hung in the same spot and by the time I got home they’d all gone again. I think mum just wanted a bit of time out.

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