Whn we are talking about Australian Native animals as pets we should
remmeber that the domeatic animals we are familiar with, eg cats and dogs,
have been selected over 100s of generations as pets. For example the cat is
derived from the European Wild Cat, but not from the European subspecies,
which has resisted all attempts to domestic it, but the smaller North
African subspecies. For the cat domestication has meant selecting
individuals for neotenic behaviour, ie in certain aspects of their behaviour
they stay kittens all their lives, as this is why you can tickle them under
the chin at all, rather than having chunks taken out of you every time you
come near them.
For Wallabies and other amcropods I guess the thin you'd want to eliminate
in them is panic, and it might take many generations to have a domesticated
population that didn't jump through window and so forth when startled.
Someone was talkign recently in an ABC trailer I saw about having Quolls as
pets--well if you like a pet that's going to bite your ankles every time you
come into the room...
I guess cage birds select themselves quite fast, ie those that don't crash
into the wire, taer their own feather out or die of depression are, ipso
facto, good cage birds, and in some spp (ie budgies) this is the majority,
therefore they are 'good' cage-birds, with other species only a few
individuals survive and these are the 'difficult' species of cage-birds.
It should really be surprising that adapting to such a difficult 'niche' as
association with, or incarceration by, humans is so difficult, or takes so
long. But that is the point, you can't domesticate a spp overnight, and you
can only domesticate a spp by changing it in some way or other, usually so
that it doesn't much resemble its wild ancestors.
John Leonard (Dr),
PO Box 243,
Woden, ACT 2606,
"If they could tell you in advance exactly how much
shit you're going to have to take it wouldn't be so bad;
then you'd be prepared." Ralph Bridges
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