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In many urban areas, particularly the modern treeless urban sprawl featuring Mcmansions in tiny spiky plant gardens, the species list for mammals is limited – humans, domestic pets, rats and mice is about it.

But in leafy suburbs, areas close to remnant native vegetation and rural and semi rural settlement some species of small native mammals may still venture close to human habitation.

Unlike rats and mice, which thrive in human modified environments, the vast majority of native wildlife species prefer to avoid humans. However  because much of their habitat has been removed or modified, they may venture into houses and gardens to seek food, water and shelter or occasionally they simply get lost.

All native wildlife species are protected. You can help visiting wildlife by controlling dogs and cats, avoiding the indiscriminate use of rat poison and snail bait and leaving some undergrowth as cover. One major new threat to wildlife is monofilament garden netting, this kills and mutilates many species of wildlife and should never be used (for alternatives refer to http://www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com)

When you hear some rustles around your place, especially at night, you may have some of the following little native visitors.

Fawn-footed Melomys Body 95-200mm;
Short, dense fur, greyish tan to bright orange brown; Behaviour nocturnal, arboreal, builds spherical nests in trees;

Bush Rat Body 120-200mm; Tail 80-195mm; Soft, dense fur, variable colour, upper grey-brown, under grey-cream; Behaviour nocturnal, terrestrial, shy, solitary, shelters and nests in shallow burrows and logs. Similar Species distinguish from the introduced rat by tail proportion. The introduced rat has a tail longer than its body length, whereas the Bush Rat’s tail is shorter than its body length, and the introduced rat has longer ears than the Bush Rat.


Swamp Rat Body 120-200mm;
Tail 80-145mm; Long, coarse fur, upper dark brown-grey, under buff grey, dark hind feet; Behaviour partly diurnal, nocturnal, terrestrial, tunnels through vegetation and constructs extensive shallow burrows systems, females defend a territory of .5ha males of 4ha.

Water Rat Body 230-390mm; Tail 230-325mm;
Soft, dense, shiny, waterproof fur, upper black to grey, under cream to orange, white tipped tail; Behaviour mainly nocturnal, but may forage in daylight, adapted to swimming, territorial, makes nests in waterside burrows.

Northern Brown Bandicoot Body 400mm;
Tail 170mm; Weight 2 kg; Long pointed snout, rounded ears and harsh brown fur. Behaviour leave small conical pits in soil and lawns when they dig up underground insects and larvae, thereby preventing much potential insect pest damage. Has a balloon screech call if disturbed.

Long-nosed Bandicoot Body 400mm; Tail 140mm; Weight 1.5 kg; Long pointed snout and pointed ears. Behaviour leave small conical pits in soil and lawns when they dig up underground insects and larvae, thereby preventing much potential insect damage. Has a shrill toy trumpet screech call if disturbed.

Brown Antechinus Body 93-130mm; Tail 92-120mm; Weight 18-60g; Light chocolate brown fur above, paler brown underparts. Behaviour mainly nocturnal climbs with jerky movements.

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)