Ringtail calls

To: "Syd Curtis" <>, "Evan Beaver" <>, "Greg" <>
Subject: Ringtail calls
From: "Alan Gillanders" <>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 09:32:02 +1000
Syd wrote:-
BTW, I was once asked by a zoologist friend who had been out spotlighting,
to go with him and witness (lest he be disbelieved) a ringtail dining
happily on the leaves of a young Giant Stinging Tree (Dendrocnide excelsa).

the Green Ringtail is virtually silent and has a particular appetite for Dendrocnide photinophylla, the shiny leaved or Mulberry leaved Stinging Tree. D. moroides which is the nastiest of this group in Australia (and yes I've been stung by them all except the rare one from Cape York) is rarely eaten. The exception to this is if the dry season has been severe and then we get a few storms. D. moroides is one of the first plants to respond with new growth. The Green Ringtails then come to the ground, even during the day, to feed on these shrubs.

Below the signature is an extract from one of my newsletters if people wish to read more about the stinging trees.

To some overseas visitors Australia is a place of friendly people but a most unfriendly nature. We have the most poisonous land snake, the most dangerous spiders and the most painful plant. The worst of the stinging trees is not actually a tree but a bush. Of the six species in Australia there are two trees and four shrubs. While closely related to the stinging nettles, the shrubs are much worse.

The leaves are heart shaped with teeth on the edges, a quilted appearance and a covering of fine hairs. While they can grow to seven metres it is unusual for them to exceed three. All parts of the plant carry the stinging hairs.

The leaves of the Gympie-gympie are covered in silica hairs which are like straws of glass. By brushing against the leaves the hairs penetrate the skin. In this straw is a nasty chemical which causes the sting. Although the pain is intense the agent is not causing any damage to your body; it just feels like it is killing you! The affect is to stimulate the nerves causing a painful sensation. It is not necessary to actually touch the bush to suffer its impact. Just working near the plants for some time or slashing them with a machine can be enough for the hairs to irritate the membranes of the nose and eyes. After affects vary from person to person and on the area stung but I have had them last for four months. When the area became cold I would get a little electric shock. Others suffer a burning sensation when the area is rubbed.

These plants do not lie in wait to jump out at unsuspecting bushwalkers but they do often grow along tracks. For stinging trees to grow, they need good light but protection from wind. Beside roads, tracks and where trees have fallen are the best places to find and avoid stinging trees.

Prevention is always the best medicine. Find out what they look like, stay on the track and don't touch. If one is stung, the removal of the hairs by hair removal wax will reduce the pain. Distraction by focusing on something else is often the best pain control. A severe sting will cause the release of lymph and the swelling of the gland in groin or armpit. In the case of unbearable pain or the injury of infants seek medical supervision. Do not try the bush remedies you may have heard of as the best is of negligible use and the worst, dangerous.


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message: unsubscribe (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU