The fox and the puggle: An Australian tragedy in five parts

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In 2019 Lisette Mill, a Landcare volunteer, was thrilled to seizure incredibly uncommon footage of a puggle – arsenic babe echidnas are fabulously known – emerging from its den to spot and sensation the extracurricular satellite for the archetypal time.

Mill and her radical had deployed cameras connected and adjacent the St Helens Flora reserve successful south-west Victoria to found that the Southern Brown Bandicoot inactive existed successful the region.

Hoping to unafraid much footage, Mill deployed much cameras connected the reserve and connected a neighbouring workplace wherever the owners had fenced disconnected a conception of onshore to support it arsenic habitat.

It was connected this spot of onshore that connected February 19, 2022 1 of them captured imaginativeness of what appeared to beryllium a parent echidna clearing retired oregon making a caller den.

Echidnas laic eggs astir 22 days aft mating, which soon hatches into a jelly-bean sized babe which the parent protects successful a pouch until the puggle becomes excessively spiky to carry, astir 2 months later. Then she builds a den to support it portion she forages and feeds it for the adjacent six months.

It took conscionable 3 days for a household of fox cubs, guided by a mother, to find the burrow. From their size Mills believes the cubs were astir apt calved astir August the erstwhile year. The camera captures their aggravated involvement successful the den. The parent echidna is captured coming and going betwixt the fox visits.

On February 23 the camera catches the parent blocking the entranceway with her ain body, arsenic tin beryllium seen successful imaginativeness tweeted by Mills. She says that successful sections of the movie not published the parent tin beryllium seen arching her backmost astatine the intruders. “She’s precise alert that the foxes are astir and she blocks the spread with her full body. They travel up and get rather adjacent and she bristles astatine them,” she told the Age and the Herald this week.

Then connected February 28 the camera captures footage of a cub getting heavy into the hole. It aboriginal skips off, arsenic though, says Mills, it has grabbed the puggle and is determined to support its drawback to itself. “Bear successful caput that successful the fox hierarchy, it’s endurance of the fittest. If you’ve got thing you don’t privation your siblings to have, you’re not sharing it with them.”

After this the foxes halt returning to the den. The parent returns once, astatine 1.55 americium connected March 1. Though the camera was near successful spot until July, it captured nary much beingness successful the burrow.

Mills says that erstwhile she recovered the cameras and began to presumption the footage it was hard to support going aft she discovered the accomplishment of the foxes.

“I was connected the borderline of my seat. I hoped that possibly the puggle’s spikes were large capable to prevention it.

“The happening that brought maine to enactment this full thread up connected Twitter was that it is distressing, but we should beryllium distressed.

“If this is what a fox tin bash to 1 of our much communal species, 1 that is arsenic an adult, but precise susceptible arsenic a young animal, what effect bash foxes person each day, time aft day? They are portion mining our biodiversity.”

According to the Invasive Species Council foxes person contributed to astatine slightest 14 mammal extinctions including the Eastern Hare-wallaby, Kuluwarri, the Crescent Nailtail Wallaby, the Desert Bettong, the Desert Rat-kangaroo, the Nullarbor Barred Bandicoot, the Pig-footed Bandicoot, the Yirratji and the Desert Bandicoot.

It is contributing to the diminution of a further 89 nationally listed threatened species. Research suggests that an estimated 1.7 cardinal foxes successful Australia termination astir 300 cardinal autochthonal animals each year.


Before the fox was yet eradicated from Philip Island it had destroyed 9 of 10 small penguin colonies, contempt ongoing baiting and shooting programs.

Philip Island is 1 of 12 Australian islands from which the fox was successfully eradicated, astir of them successful the Dampier archipelago disconnected the seashore of Western Australia.

It was capable to reinvade two, astir apt by swimming from the mainland.

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