Senator pushes for Quolls to replace cats as pets

Discussion in 'Reptile News' started by RoryBreaker, Mar 18, 2015.

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  1. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    It would be nice if cats became an endangered species (even better if they were driven to total extinction) here in Australia.

    First step in that happening is the government labelling them (all cats) as noxious pests exactly like they have for cane toads , foxes , carp and most other introduced species have been and manning up and deciding to enforce laws to ensure their extermination and maybe commissioning the CSIRO to manufacture a biological weapon that's specific to cats and 100% lethal to them.

    But we've had that discussion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  2. Pauls_Pythons

    Pauls_Pythons Power Seller Power Seller

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    Unfortunately the government continues to make lots of money from the legal import of these non native species so they will never want to stop it regardless of the impact on the environment. Nothing will change unless the plan includes a way for it to be profitable for the government. (More profitable than the current arrangement)
     
  3. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Look at what happens when domesticated breeds go feral. They tend to revert back to their wild-type form, colours and behaviours. Typical of this are feral cats, pigs, goldfish and sword-tails, to name but a few. I do not know for certain why this happens, but I can hazard a guess. It could well be that the gene pool as a whole still contains wild-type alleles of pretty much all the genes and that these are being selected for. It may also be that some or many of these traits are achieved by minor genetic changes which can readily occur. Whatever the mechanisms, beginning feral populations would certainly be under intense selective pressure towards attributes that suit them to survival in their ?wild? environment. While founding populations may be full of artificially selected morphs, the resultant feral populations, after a number of generations, display a remarkable shift towards their wild-type ancestors. Based on the foregoing, I suspect the issue of selectively bred captive animals being genetically unsuitable as a basis for re-establishing species that have become extinct in the wild is more imagined than real.

    Attempts to re-establishing locale-specific varieties will be more problematic. Even where pure locale-specific lines have been bred, one would still expect a deviation from the gene-frequencies of the original population. However, assuming no significant environmental changes to the locale?s habitat, then you would expect the same selective pressures to continue operating. Given that a founding population has a fair sampling of the range of alleles that naturally occurred in the area, with time, competition and natural selection, one would expect a large degree of convergence between the original population and the re-established one. Irrespective, Mother Nature will sculpt a population that is tailored for survival in that particular environment, which really should be the ultimate goal in re-establishment. Preservation of specific or distinctive colours, patterns or shapes, which is often an aesthetic desire of some humans,s may or may not be a part of the adaptive changes orchestrated by nature.

    Hybrids open up a nightmare of possibilities. However, given their natural occurrence in nature and yet their continued persistence in limited regions only, there is good reason to hope that the natural order of things may prevail in the long term. After all, Nature is in the habit of burying her own mistakes!

    The original ancestor of all modern dogs is the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus). Molecular studies have shown the two groups to be conspecific (the same species) and the domestic dog?s scientific name has been changed to Canis lupus familiaris to reflect this.

    Blue
     
  4. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    I guess so, dogs go back to being small, medium, or large and black, brown or brindle given the chance, and I suppose if a dodgy morph was to escape it would probably just die anyway not being able to fend for itself.

    I didn't know they'd changed it, so domestic dogs are essentially a subspecies of wolf? Given that they can interbreed and create viable offspring I suppose I should have guessed that.
     
  5. Mike Archer and I were each fortunate to obtain a baby Western Quoll (Chuditch) when they were bred at the Royal Perth Hospital animal house around 1970. (Mike was doing his PhD at the WA Museum at the time). Have to say they were simply the most gorgeous looking little critters, and do all the things that Mike has suggested they do. Mine lived for about seven years, and Mikes died after eating a Cane Toad following his move to Brisbane - a great loss for him.

    One of the things that needs to be considered seriously when discussing (particularly) the smaller native mammals for pets, and I believe it has already been mentioned, is that most of them are highly and incontrovertibly nocturnal, and thus can be quite a bit more demanding in terms of time, than the usual cats & dogs, whose activity times more or less match ours.

    There is no doubt that Quolls, Phascogales, Dunnarts, Mulgaras, gliders and a number of other species are cute as pie, and the notion of keeping them as pets has great appeal, but the elephant in the room will always be peoples' expectations of just what a "pet" should be. Not for a moment am I pouring cold water on the idea of public keeping of native fauna, but I suspect that many of these critters would be quickly found to be unsuitable as "pets" by many households which acquired them initially for the wrong reasons. It takes a particular type of person to breed or buy the sorts of food they need to eat (to remain healthy), and to be willing to provide the sort of environment they need to thrive, given that their activity clocks are about 12 hours out of sync with ours, and they might also bite if displeased. Mike & I were quite happy to have our Quolls running and climbing around our houses all night and making noises that kept us awake quite often. Many others would not be so tolerant.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there would need to be some sort of filtering system attached to the availability of these species to try and ensure that they were in knowledgeable and tolerant hands. I'm sure that the same applies to reptiles, but the needs of mammals are far more immediate. My suspicion is that, faced with unwanted native "pets" which were not living up to expectations, they would be more easily released rather than rehomed, and that could be a significant hurdle to overcome.

    Jamie
     
  6. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    100% agree, natives might not be for everyone.
    Quolls sort of remind me of ferrets.
    Jamie, if you were to keep your quoll awake during light hours, and they were so exhausted they had to sleep at night, would you be able to reverse their clock or would they just sleep right through and be up all the next night?
    I assume that would be somthing you could breed for as well if you were so inclined, and it would take forever, but I'm sure you could.
    My cats sleep all day while I'm at work and run around like idiots at night chasing each other and the dog, with bells on their collars, so I'm quite used to nighttime noises, but I'm sure a lot of families wouldn't take that into consideration.

    I think a licensing system of sorts would work, we know what happens when parents buy their kids cute baby animals for gifts that don't turn out the way they expect :(

    ETA: What do they eat exactly? I thought chuditches ate meat?
     
  7. I doubt very much if keeping them awake during the daylight hours would do much more that stress them to death very quickly. The dasyurids are night hunters, their prey is also largely nocturnal - they eat pretty much whatever they can overpower and kill. In southern WA, they can be a pest in chook pens, but they will eat invertebrates and vertebrates with equal relish. Rats & mice are favourites.

    With regard to living at large in houses - you need to remove any items which may fall or be knocked off shelves, mantlepieces etc because they are great investigators which haven't lived around humans for all the generations that domestic dogs & cats have, in order for them to take living in houses for granted.

    Jamie
     
  8. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough, wouldn't want to stress them out.
    Quolls themselves wouldn't be that hard to feed by the sounds, they eat all the same stuff our reps do
    Would they be better off spending any unsupervised time in a big house-cage? Like ferrets, I mean you wouldn't let them roam around on their own.
     
  9. Oh they're easy to feed alright! They just eat a lot more than reptiles do so could end up being quite expensive, although the do skin their prey before eating it in the case of other mammals, so a diet based on chicken seemed to work for me (and my Quoll as well :)!).

    A large enclosure would be necessary because they're very active when on the move, and they'd need plenty of stimulation & challenges to keep them entertained - putting food inside containers that they need to open etc.

    Jamie
     
  10. Firedrake

    Firedrake Well-Known Member

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    Argh they sound so cute, like native ferrets! Make it legal already!
     
  11. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    Hell, why not, they sound like a real hoot to have as a family pet.

    Even better can feed them insects and chicken (mince) and I'm sure the pet food companies would pretty quickly produce foods in packets and tins that are tailored to their specific dietary needs if it really caught on, and it's easy to get insects (can buy in bulk online pretty cheaply from places like Frog Arcade which doubles the benefit because they use a big chunk of the money on frog habitat and frog breeding and repopulating frogs).

    As far being a money spinner for the government- easy, require either a companion animal permit (with a class for them) or if someone wants more than one, similar permits as we have for other native animals like snakes, lizards, frogs, etc already. No permit no sale. Plenty of $ in that for them, probably a lot more per animal than they get from registering cats and dogs. Plus the council would get a cut as they would want them microchipped and registered (even more $).

    I see very few negatives (for owners and the animals) and lots of positives including the potential to save some from extinction (once extinct it's forever). If they were permitted and I had the money I'd keep some in a heartbeat and be proud to be able to do my little bit for conserving an endangered or not so endangered native species.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  12. stusnake

    stusnake Not so new Member

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    Would be a good thing to see legalised, so long as its done right. Working with native wildlife for a number of years now, I have come to know that many are hardy, easy to care for and can be just as loving and affectionate as any other domestic animal in their own right.
    Like with a number of native species that are currently able to be legally kept, I think as far as mammals are concerned the licenceing and code of practice will need to be carefully looked at to ensure licensees have appropriate expeirience and husbandry conditions, With particular species, having micochipping or tattooing may also be another point to look at along the lines of having a map so to speak to create an extended genetic diveristy, allowing private keepers to be activley involved in breeding programs to aid rare and threatend species.
    A hyperthetical for instance would be say the devils. Intitially after 2007 it was a knuckle biting effort to establish a viable captive population of 1000 devils, which we thought would be an impossible figure to reach within the zoological network, but was acheived.
    As far as I am aware that figure now needs to grow to around 3000 for long term sustainability. With only so many that can be kept and maintained in various institutions along with ageing animals no longer viable for breeding, this makes it hard to acheive ther target goal. So whats the answer? Do non breeding animals get moved out to other parks and zoos that currently dont have or breed devils as a means to maintain space for those successfully breeding? do surplus animals become available for mobile exhibitors to assist with number allocation and conservation/education programs? Or do retired breeding animals non viable breeders go into the care of experienced private carers. And do we allow devils to be kept privately on restricted licences to spread things out?
    We have seen where captive management has taken animals on the brink in the wild and become highly common in domestic/captive environment, there are many examples of this in birds and reptiles.
    Whats to say we cant achieve the same with native mammals, just so long as we get the logistics right and well cemented first so as we dont see the same dramas encountered as per reptiles, birds, etc.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thats right, there will always be plenty of for and against arguements, its just a matter of what we can take from both sides and put together to make good licencing laws and requirements to make it work. And if its done right I think it could work and potentially have huge and positive affects for our fauna.
    With the current dramas facing many of our native species and their habitats, things have to change, and zoos and parks cant do it all along, its bigger than that now. Through private keeping, we may at least be able to increase species population growth, genetic diversity, and breeding colonies.
     
  13. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Having read the entire thread I see many posts that have been thought out and delivered with good intention and argument however; I feel the only one who displays any real common sense is Jamie.

    I think a lot of people have dismissed the fact that the domestication of our common household pets has occurred over millenniums and I believe any consideration to domesticate any of our naive fauna to a point where they would be readily accepted as household pets by the general public would take an extensive period of time, maybe not millenniums but a long, long time none the less. I can see them, as with current popularity with reptiles, being accepted as bouquet pets but as for allowing them to have free access to roam the living room at will, curling up at our feet, sleeping soundly on the ends of our beds or chilling out in front of the TV...I'm not so sure. On top of that there is the consideration of the expense of special diets and housing requirements and the expectation to bond with humans. From memory native nocturnal fauna also seem to possess a distinctively strong odour when housed in an enclosure let alone closed up in a house.

    Dogs and cats are here to stay as the preferred domestic pets. No government is going to put blanket restrictions or consider heavy legislation on having these critter as pets. It would be nothing short of political suicide. One would have to consider where the money would come from for any type of bounty or funding to develop a control measure. Then one would have to consider the uproar from the domestic pet loving community, which by the way would no doubt overwhelm the voting power of native fauna lovers.

    As for keeping and breeding them in captivity for the intention to re-introduce them into the wild in an attempt to to stay off extinction or replace extinct species, again it's notable and well intended but again I think a lot of people forget that it's not just feral animals that contribute to the decline and/or extinction of native fauna but many other factors, such as loss of habitat/micro-habitat and food and water resources and the increased dominance of both native and feral animals throughout the landscape once their numbers have declined or worse, been eliminated.

    As I said I can see a lot of good intentions posted by a lot of well meaning people but i have to question the practicality of undertaking such a project. I hate to be the fly in the ointment but being the realist I am, it's just the way I see it.

    George.

    t.
     
  14. RoryBreaker

    RoryBreaker Well-Known Member

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    A bit of a follow up article on cats.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-20/scrunchies-prevent-wildlife-death-study-finds/6337222

    [h=1]Scrunchies saving wildlife from being killed by cats: study[/h] By Stephanie Dalzell
    Updated 16 minutes agoFri 20 Mar 2015, 7:45pm
    [​IMG] Photo: A new study has found putting brightly-coloured scrunchies on cats prevents them from killing wildlife. (Supplied)

    Map: WA

    A fashion relic of the late eighties and nineties, the humble scrunchie has found a new lease on life preventing the slaughter of wildlife by domestic cats.
    In a new study, West Australian researchers found putting a scrunchie-like collar on cats reduced the amount of native wildlife killed by more than half.
    Murdoch University PhD student Catherine Hall spearheaded the research which observed the behaviour of 114 cats for two years.
    Over the course of the study, the owners of the cats froze everything their pets caught, both with and without the collar.
    She said the results showed the scrunchie-esque neckwear reduced the number of birds, reptiles and amphibians captured by the cats by 54 per cent.
    "Bright colours are very noticeable to songbirds, they should see the cats further away, allowing them to escape earlier," Ms Hall said.
    "Because it's based on colour and vision, cats won't be able to learn to make it stop working.
    "Unlike what people say about bells. [They say] that cats can learn to make them less effective over time."
    The study found the collar did not make a difference to the number of mice and other mammals caught as their colour vision was not as good, meaning owners could still use their cats to catch garden pests.
    "For people who want their cats to catch small rodents like rats and mice but don't want them to catch birds, this is an effective device to use," Ms Hall said.
    Serpentine resident Robyn Brown's two cats, Chocco and Milo, were recruited for the study.
    She said they used to be active wildlife hunters and would often leave birds like wrens on her doorstep.
    "We were very concerned about that. We've tried everything. We've tried double bells and all kinds of things and we've tried locking them in at night time," she said.
    But she said since the collars were placed on her cats more than two years ago, they had not caught a single bird.
    "We just can't believe it. We're very happy," Ms Brown said.
    "I've always loved cats ... I didn't want to give up cats because I had birds as well, and I loved having them in the environment, but now I can have both."
     
  15. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    [MENTION=39076]GBWhite[/MENTION] So we don't bother at all then George? Let National Parks continue to think they're doing anything other that simply drawing a line around an area so that it can be encroached upon by feral flora and fauna anyway. Change nothing because there's no point?
    I'm all for your opinion but don't just sit there and point out the negatives without providing some kind of alternative or useful positive input. That achieves nothing other than continue to trick the sheep into thinking nothing needs to change, or that there's no point in trying.
    Are these animals right for everyone, almost certainly not. But the concept of larger numbers of native animals in captivity under the care of informed and responsible people is a distinctly positive idea. Not fool proof and not fully conceptualised yet though of course.

    That's about the most unscientific study I've ever heard of. If they wanted to actually improve on the concept though they could add colours or materials that reflect light in the Violet to Ultra Violet range, that birds perceive quite well. A full body spray/dye could be created that covers the majority of the cats coat and specifically reflect the shorter wavelengths of light. This way they'd stick out like a sore thumb to native birds and some reptiles, but the owner wouldn't notice any difference in the colour of their cat as its outside our visible spectrum.

    Better yet, dont let the cat outside where it can harm wildlife. "We've tried everything......" This is why have no respect for dumb cat owners.

    "I keep slamming this door on my hand, but I just can't understand why it keeps hurting like this!'. Idiots.
     
  16. kingofnobbys

    kingofnobbys Suspended Banned

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    Wont stop them from killing and maiming defenceless native animals , how many cats will tolerate such a thing around their neck for more than a few minutes ?

    The only easy solution is keep all cats locked up inside behind these things called "DOORS" and never allow them to go outside ever.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Pretty hair-brained actually, and even if (and that's a BIG IF) it worked and only saved 50% of natives. that's NOT ANYWHERE NEAR ACCEPTABLE.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  17. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    Well its not 'hair-brained'. I'm a very intelligent person and make conclusions (at least) roughly based on science where ever I can. But you are right. As you already know, I'm on your side with cats. If it were up to me (us) there wouldn't be any in Australia. But if John Walmsley proved anything, its that being too radical for the public only alienates you.
    An extreme 'yes' can be just as bad as an extreme 'no' though in some cases. [MENTION=39076]GBWhite[/MENTION] for example; where an overly positive attitude comes off as over-ambitious and uninformed. Equally as unhelpful as a radical view.

    I think its going to be baby steps for any and all of these issues, and that's if anything comes of them at all. It may just take as few individuals with guts and the right abilities and experience to take the matter into their own hands and start the ball rolling. The amnesty in NSW probably helped to stabilise the established captive populations of many of the various reptile species we have available today. That's quite a bit of conjecture though. People are bound to disagree.
    Point is though, just because its the 'law', doesn't always mean its the best course of action. But that's highly subjective of course. I'm not promoting rebel smugglers in any way, shape or form. But, yeah, anyway.
     
  18. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    I've heard it all before Sean_L over and over again throughout the last 4 decades and as I said before it's commendable and thought provoking but I see it all as being an impracticable pipedream. Just as what is evident to a blind man, it will be no different to what is happening in the herp scene lately, it would be wide open to corruption and exploitation by those who are willingly to jump on the bandwagon for personal gain at the further expense of wild populations that are already in danger.

    As for not pointing out positives and providing alternative and useful input, it was not my intention of the post. I simply posted what a lot of people don't want to hear and unfortunately its the truth about the wall that is staring everybody in the face. It's no good preaching to the converted on forums like this and maybe the sheep you are referring to are actually the ones that will follow blindly into the sphere of those that see the potential for commercial gain under the guise of protecting a species.

    Again, just my thoughts,

    Cheers,

    George.
     
  19. Sean_L

    Sean_L Not so new Member

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    [MENTION=39076]GBWhite[/MENTION] That's fair enough. I'm sure it must be frustrating from your point of view given that you've been in the game for so long and as you said, have seen it all before. I guess the real changes need to happen a lot further up than with the public consensus. Ironically, the corruption is equally thick from those that desire their personal gain and those that decide the rules. Oh wait, they're the same. Not so ironic after all.
    A funny world we live in.
     
  20. Bushfire

    Bushfire Well-Known Member

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    If it was finally allowed, the biggish hurdle I can see is not genetic diversity, not hybrids / morphs or suitability; it will be the supply line of the animals. There is only a limited number of people who could or want to supply the hobbyist. Most zoos and private conservation organisations who could potentially supply animals and have the variety have already indicated their un-interest in taking part or to be seen to be taking part. The only other option would be a take system which would be extremely unpopular and cement the fear that such a system is replacing "traditional" methods which really is an unfounded fear.
     
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