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Behind the Scenes at Melbourne Museum

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So today I spent time behind the scenes with Simon Hinkley, Peter Mariot, Patrick, and Wendy (last names unknown) at Melbourne Museums live exiberts and entomolgy departments. I also spent time within the museum befire heading behind the scenes looking at a variety if displays from medical to historical.

Speaking with Patrick, live exiberts curator, the thorny devil is a male and one of the only captive specimens.
The Museum has two colonies of black house ants to of which the Thorny Devil feeds on. The museum regularly collects queens to maimtain both colonies.
"The sucess we have been had has only come from years of experience in keeping invertabrates", Paricks says. Other varietes of ant were trialed but failed in that the thorny refused to eat them.

Getting into husbandry, according to Patrick, the Thornies need a costant humidity level of 0%. A water dish left in the enclosure for too long often led to fungal infections on the skin. Patrick stated that the Thorny eats excluvisly ants and will up to 1 gram of black house ants per day, which given the very small size of the ants works out to be a lot of ants. The Thorny is on display for only a couple of hours a day, one of the ant colonies is for while the Thorny is on display. The display enclosure is complete with its on built in anthill, red dessert sand and a small dried grass tussock. Dead crickets are used to entice the ants to leave the safty of the colony, however they soon become aware of the predator and retreat from the colony for the rest if, given so the thorny is only on display for a couple of hours at a time. Off display the tank is pretty much bare, newspapper as the substrate and a small hide. Tubes connect the ant colony to the display enclosure. For the off display enclosure, a simillar method is used.

In terms of nature, the Thorny is about as relaxed as your pet bearded dragon, happy to sit on your hand and ocassionally venture up your arm. They are fairly slow and even whilst hunting ants most movements are slugish, the only quick movements are of bobbing the head down to eat an unsuspecting ant.

In most cases the museum displays the thorny on Fridays only, and for only a couple of hours at a time (as for the oreviosly mentioned reason). However durring school holiday periods theu tend to have him on display on multiple days and for slughtky longer periods due to the high ammount of visitors.

The musum mainly keeps invertabrates but does keep less than a dozen reptile species and 4 frog species. The frogs kept are the Eastern Banjo frog, Growling Grass frog, Blue Mountains Tree frog, and Spotted Tree frog. As for the reptiles I only saw the Thorny and an Eastern Water dragon but according to Patrick there are a few more. Patrick is also a private keeper, keeping a variety of differnt animals including some lizards.

The whole time I was accomponied by Wendy who joined when she found out I was seeing the Thorny. Wendy is a volunteer in the Entomology department. Patrick enable both Wendy and I to hold the little fella, a real highlight of the day.

After visiting Patrick, I headed uo to Entomology where I spoke to Peter Mariot about the Museums entomolgy collection, in padticular its Microlepidotera.

Probably the most knowlegeable and fun trip to a museum someone could ever ask for. I would like to thank everyone who showed me behind the scenes and made today possible.

Photo of me holding the little guy to come.


- - - Updated - - -

Its taken a while sorry, I had an issue with loading photos to my computer. You guys get to see my face for once :p
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Photo I took on Patrick's hand.
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Photo Patrick took of me holding him.
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