The Creatures

People over here always ask about the funny “creatures” and “wee beasties” from Australia. Where to begin?

There were possums holding running races in our roof each night, kamikaze magpies, lambs who followed us to school one day, spiders in the shower, and a big brown snake curled up on the front doormat as I was about to step outside one summer morning.

And of course there were mice. One day the vacuum cleaner died, so we brought in the “spare” from the garage. We switched it on and a dozen mice shot out of the hose, a wheeling squealing blur of tiny tails and feet.

“Secure all exits!”, hollered The Mothership,  and we ran around uselessly with rolled-up newspapers.

There were further dangers lurking in the garage. We had a huge metal garbage bin filled with dry dog food. Once I noticed the lid was ajar, so I went over to investigate. The bin began to rattle and growl. Inside was Agro, the most temperamental of our sheepdogs, his scrawny body curled around the circumference. Clearly he did not want to share with his colleagues. In the end Rhi and I had to lift him out of there with some golf clubs, all snarling and coated in red dog food dust.

About Shauna Reid

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15 thoughts on “The Creatures

  1. You were followed to school by lambs? hehehe! Groovy!

    Ahhh, we like your strange creatures. Particularly the Shauny-specific ones.

    Talking of small creatures: on Tuesday, I broke the cat. And what’s more, she got stuck to the carpet, and I had to literally prize her off! She’s okay now, though. (It was a seizure triggered when I unbolted the back door, and her left-hand (or paw) fangs got snagged in the carpet during the seizure itself.)

    (She’s also the Cat of the Year at the vets’, ’cause she’ll be twenty-one this year (and the vets have made lots of money from her over the years).)

    Seen any urban foxes, yet? Or badgers? (Do they have foxes and/or badgers in and/or around Edinburgh?)

  2. In Palm Desert, California, all of the creatures and critters were crunchy. Scorpions, roaches, lizards, horny toads, and cicadas. Crunch crunch. You could hear it if you ran over a little tiny thing in your car.

  3. Once, during an Adelaide mouse plague, Dad turned on our gas space heater, and noticed the fan was making this strange pinging noise. He turned it off, and out fell this rather dazed and dizzy and somewhat bloodied mouse. He was luckier, though, than the mouse who was feasting on crumbs at the bottom of the toaster when Mum started making breakfast …

  4. Yeech, mice. We used to have so many problems with them at the farm place. And I was terrified of them for so long, even though they’re really small and can’t possibly hurt me, except maybe by squeaking at me in a rude manner.

  5. i knooooooow rory! i keep automatically translating for the american readers. for shame! so it is a garbage can? or since i’m in the UK now, is it rubbish?

  6. Shauny, no pandering! But…could you speak more slowly…and use smaller words, just for us American peeps.

    This entry made me go, “tee-hee!” Glad no one was around to hear it.

  7. Now you’ve got me wondering whether I knew it as a rubbish bin or a garbage bin as a kid; either or both, I guess. Trash cans were what Oscar the Grouch lived in.

    Trying to translate for other brands of English is a never-ending task. Easier just to be yourself. Although you can always provide a glossary in the first comment for anything obviously strine.

    If you start using non-Australian words in your everyday speech as a result of living outwith the country for a wee while, well that’s another matter entirely, hen.

  8. och! i had to change it. i’m sure we called it a garbage bin. so, so be it 😛

  9. You can be too harsh sometimes!

    What about being woken up by the sounds of kooka’s in the tree outside, seeing the splash by the riverbank and wondering if it is a platypus, or the excitement of seeing the devils scatter the quolls at a carcass?

    I was suprised at how small the UK wildlife is. I thought squirrells were the size of possums and hedgehogs were like echidna’s, until you see them and realise they’re tiny!

    And if you’re feeling homesick, the forecast for ACT is -2 to 12, much the same as here!


  10. once i woke up at my girlfriends place and there was a mouse, dead, on the floor next to the bed. My girlfiend put the mouse in front of the door of one of her flatmates, isn’t she a nice person;)?

  11. Kym, you may be interested to know that most of the squirrels here (the grey squirrels) are actually American. Red squirrels (the truly indigenous ones) are smaller. And they’re being wiped out by the yanks!

    Now, ain’t that a topical, cultural metaphor?

    As for using Americanisms in the interests of understandability, there’s always the risk that others might think that they’re typical of Australia. How terrible it would be for your home country to be so misrepresented!

    (Steve Irwin was on telly today. He kissed a crocodile who had just laid her eggs.)

    And your Henman haiku is very funny!

    As for rubbish bins / trash cans / garbage cans / etc, we usually call them ‘rubbish bins’, but we do tend to say things like ‘in the rubbish’ in reference to them, but semantically it’s sort of referring to the contents of the rubbish bins (if that makes sense). But if you were writing for a local council, in, say, a leaflet to be distributed to local residents, you’d say (or write) ‘refuse’ (with the stress on ‘ref’) instead of ‘rubbish’ (but I can’t remember what ‘bin’ gets translated to (receptacle? container?).)

  12. Hmm…I can assure the people over there, that many people over here posses a quiet hatred (and sometimes fear) of many of those wee little beasties. For example I grew up with Funnel-web spiders in my backyard (we had over 20 per square meter) and yes they are the world most venomous spider…But now I live with possums…Three of them…They play on the roof…They break into the house (a lot) and the eat my bread and the cat’s food (as well as doing other unpleasant things)…And they are immune from a deserving punishment as they are a protected species…

  13. I killed several Australian scorpions while living at my folks place outside Canberra.

    … in the bathroom, no less.

    (No, really – there are Australian scorpions! Not terribly big, though, and probably less poisonous than most of our insects/reptiles.)

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