Author Archives: amygriffiths

I’m on YOUTUBE!

Hello fellow wild ones!

While Wild Words is amazing with many updates to come, you also should check out my YouTube channel – I have begun recording some of my wildlife adventures for your entertainment! I find and discuss amazing animals in the wildest places; always wearing my favourite footwear! Enjoy!

View my Amy Wild Adventures HERE :)

Please like and share!!

reptileeducator.com

 

Also… I now hold reptile parties, displays and Venomous Snake Relocation Courses in the Perth metro area, WA! Check reptileeducator.com for more!

Stay Wild!

Bardick!

Bardick

Echiopsis curta

What a beautiful little snake, the Bardick (Echiopsis curta); pictured here just a small bit upset hehe.

I was delighted to find this little guy sprawled motionless on a walking path near the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Dunsborough. Snakes were the last thing on my mind on such a cold, overcast day; and on such a touristy path! People were everywhere. Yet there he was, trying to absorb what little heat was in the sealed footpath.

This potentially dangerous snake (an adult might experience severe sickness, and any bite should be followed by a swift trip to hospital) is one of many reptiles that gives birth to live young: 3 to 14 in each litter! Whilst Bardicks are generally known for their feisty behaviour, this cold individual was very placid, more reluctant than usual to waste energy fighting an annoying tail-grabber; until my camera assistant got too close while I still had a grip on him! Then the little snake started to feel well and truly threatened, and trapped to boot – so fell back to his only defence mechanism, strike-strike-strike. Such a cute little guy. The second we gave him a bit of space he was off under a bush. Which goes to show — the only way to get bitten by a snake is to be silly enough to try an pick him up; or to step on him, or to be *several expletives deleted* obtuse enough to try and harm him. The best defence against any snake is the statue defence! Stand totally still, even if he seems to be coming toward you. You may well be unintentionally standing between your snake and his escape bush, so while he seems to be rushing at you he only wants to get past you and into shelter!! I have tested this theory several times, including on heated up, large and potentially deadly animals in a rage after being caught in a trap! Works every time!

Remember, touching wild snakes is for silly people! Enjoy these beauties from a safe distance, and watch them go about their business with respect.

Stay Wild!

Echiopsis curta

Soaking up some warmth from the footpath on a cold day, hoping no one will bother him…

 

One for the Sharks: How AWESOME they are!

Many Australians will be aware of the newly implemented ‘drum lines’ for sharks in WA – a series of large baited hooks, where any shark over three metres may be hooked, then ‘if deemed a threat’ shot in the head until dead and dumped in the ocean. It doesn’t matter that these sharks are considered under threat of extinction. Nor does it matter that the ocean is where they live, exclusively, and where we venture only on a recreational basis.

Truly, there are a plethora of reasons why I feel this cruel new practice for WA is immoral, ineffective,  and a horrible waste of money. And did I mention illegal? White Sharks and Grey Nurse Sharks (a completely non-agressive, ultimately harmless species) are both classified under the EPBC Act as vulnerable. It is ILLEGAL to injure or kill these species. We have conservation plans to aid the survival of these species; what sense then is there in deliberately killing them?

Feeling sad now? Here’s a picture of the beautiful Tiger Shark to make you feel better; my first ever white charcoal on black paper sketch!

Tiger Shark Art
Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier

The Tiger Shark is “only” listed as near threatened, but this situation is grave enough. This stunning species also brings me to my next point: the species of the first shark to be killed by the WA drum lines. Interestingly enough the very species of the first caught shark came under immediate contention; although it had to be pulled from the water in order to be shot, the fishermen doing the deed claimed it to be a Bull Shark; while experts were sure it was a Tiger. I am no shark expert, but I do know what the two animals look like and in my opinion the animal was blatantly a tiger, utterly without question. The offending article now seems to have been taken down; but Barnett at the time backed his fishermen over the experts. Of course. Most (but not all) articles now seem to agree on the actual species. If these fishermen are the people deciding which sharks are a threat and which aren’t; and they cannot distinguish a STRIPED animal from an unpatterened one… We and our sharks are in even more trouble than we thought. They could just as easily kill an utterly harmless Grey Nurse, also a threatened species and absolutely no threat to humans, and call it a Bull Shark! I myself have scuba dived with several huge Grey Nurses, and waved at the uncaring animals from all of ten centimetres away! A magnificent encounter it was indeed.

Finally, something for your own knowledge, safety and piece of mind. In 2012, 14 people were ‘attacked’ by sharks Australia-wide. Note this included 4 surf board bites with no human injury. There were only two fatalities. Of the 14 attacks, 86% were on surfers, 7% on scuba divers and 7% on snorkelers. Zero attacks on recreational by-the-shore swimmers. Eight of the attacks were by White Sharks (seven surfboarding, one snorkeler), two by Tigers, two by Bull Sharks and the remaining two by unidentified Whaler sharks. WA and NSW shared the bulk of attacks pretty equally. To see all the numbers yourself, see http://taronga.org.au/animals-conservation/conservation-science/australian-shark-attack-file/annual-australian-shark-attack-report-summary-2012

I feel this drives home not only the actual likelihood of a shark attack; but the even tinier one if you are doing anything other than surfing!

Now I’m going to tell you a story (yay!), about my only experience with a wild Tiger Shark.

I was acting as a research assistant for a sea grass research project near Shark Bay, WA. We were out on a fairly small boat looking for suitable patches of sea grass to conduct our measurements on. Matt, the leader of the project, thought he’d found one; so we stopped the boat and he jumped into the chest-deep water to begin scouting around. No sooner had I let go the anchor than John, another researcher, burst out “Pull up the anchor, pull up the anchor!!”

I glanced up at the water, wondering at the sudden urgency; and then I saw it. Between our boat and Matt was a giant dark shape, slowly drifting between us. It was unmistakably a shark-shadow, and a solid 3 m long. I pulled up the anchor.

Now at this point you might imagine we rushed to Matt to get him into the boat and safety. …Did I mention we had a photographer on board? He was very much a professional, and only with us for the day to see if he could document the research. Of course he wanted a picture of the shark. So instead John steered the boat between the quiet shark and Matt, telling him only that we were finding a better place to drop anchor; and slowly herded the shark away from him, while the photographer and I hung our torsos over the boat, arms and cameras plunged under the water in the hopes of scoring a semi-decent photo. All the while the Tiger Shark grudgingly moved away from the trajectory of the boat, like a reluctant child being nudged into the dentist’s chair. We got close enough that I could easily see the beautiful markings on the shark’s grey skin.

I have heard from another researcher that Tiger Sharks in Australia, particularly around the Shark Bay area where they are often seen, are very well fed on the plethora of turtles and large fish that live in great abundance there. Their behaviour is different to the much hungrier animals in other parts of the world – far less likely to be desperate enough to test a human as a potential meal.

Ultimately, sharks are fascinating animals. their potential threat to our safety exists only when we choose to put ourselves in their environment; and even then, despite the increasing shark hype, chances of ever encountering one, let alone being hurt by one, are incredibly minimal. There are all manner of shark species that you likely haven’t heard of with the strangest, most wonderful behaviours; I challenge you to learn about them! Look at the rare Thresher Shark, that leaps incredible heights into the air for no apparent reason. Discover the elusive Basking Shark, the slightly smaller cousin of the Whale Shark who spends his time cruising the surface, enjoying the sun and filtering away for tiny critters. Or the cookie-cutter shark who’s teeth are designed to take away perfectly circular, cookie-shaped bits of flesh from dolphins and fish. The list is endless.

Embrace and learn about our life; the more you do, the more clear it will become how important it is to understand and protect it, rather than to kill it out of fear.

Here are some more sites to look at; petitions and facts for your action and enjoyment!

Shark Cull Petition

Top 100 Shark Facts!

Western Australians for Shark Conservation

Australian Shark Attacks 2012

History of Shark Attacks in Australia

 

Stay Wild!!

 

Unravelling the Ramphotyphlops: Earthworms of the Snake World

Ramphotyphlops; what a name! It is pronounced Ram – foh – tie – flops, and means ‘beaked blind eye’. 

This is the only genus of blind snake (family Typhlopidae) in Australia. Given that they all burrow beneath the surface and look very much like finely scaled earthworms, blind snakes  remain one of our most poorly known groups of vertebrates.

 

Ramphotyphlops grypus

Ramphotyphlops grypus, showing black head and tail with cream snout-tip

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My Rat Pi and I

Rat

Homo sapiens provides ideal viewing platform for Rattus norvegicus

This is my dear pet rat, Pi. Rats are another of those animals who I feel receive far more negativity on a personal level than they deserve. You shouldn’t miss out on one of the most entertaining, affectionate and low maintenance pets in the world, based on an old-fashioned attitude!

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Flogging the Horse Dead

NOTE: The footage below shows racehorses being put down. Disturbing content.

Video: What happens to failed racehorses? (7.30)       

 

Horse Art

‘Flogging the Horse Dead’

Lots of people like horse racing. It’s a lot of fun, good to watch; something to do with your friends. And of course, the excitement of making money from it is a big thing. The winning animals are made such a big deal of, and everything is so glamorous, it’s easy to think that these horses must be lovingly treated by the industry. But what happens to the horses, not only that fall and die on track – but those that obtain small injuries, which could easily and cheaply be fixed; or to the horses that simply are not fast enough?

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Seeing Stars SKA Art Prize 2013 FINALIST: Description of a New Martian Vertebrate Species

Description of a New Martian Vertebrate Species: Examples of Interplanetary Convergent Evolution and Vertebrate Adaptations to Martian Atmosphere

Amy R. Griffiths

Martian Anatomy, Department of Extraterrestrial Biology, PO Box 2223, Perth, WA 6148, Australia, Earth.

 

Abstract. An unknown bipedal vertebrate was observed on Mars in July, 2021. This represents the first recorded Martian vertebrate. The individual was detected and examined at distance through magnifying apparatus for seven minutes before it retreated beyond view. Capture was not attempted due to safety precautions, however further explorations are currently under planning. Observed anatomy implies a vertebrate structure, highly convergent with vertebrate Earth species. The key source of visible divergence between this species and those from Earth are adaptations to the low temperature and gravity atmosphere of Mars. An encephalization quotient (brain to body mass ratio) appearing to be unprecedented on Earth, footwear and ornamentation noted on the individual also strongly imply an advanced level of intelligence and culture in the species. This study describes the vertebrate, indicating visible points of convergent evolution with numerous Earth taxa, as well as the species’ unique adaptations to the Martian environment.

Methods: After detection by sonar software, the Martian was viewed by two researchers for a total of seven minutes. Each used the Series III Observer field lenses. All observations were noted and illustrations of the vertebrate were completed by Amy R. Griffiths within two days of the viewing. Visible adaptations and cases of interplanetary convergent evolution are described below.

Results: Hypotheses for individual adaptations are included

Alien art

Figure 1: Head morphology

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