Bilbies, Chocolate and a Dilemma for the Battalion Bloggers

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Save the Bilbies

After being one of the classes to receive some baby Australian animal card sets, members of the Battalion Bloggers class became interested in the bilby. This small marsupial, as they pointed out, looks a little like a rabbit. Being a marsupial, it is more closely related to kangaroos and koalas than placental mammalian rabbits. With their observation of similar appearance to rabbits and with Easter approaching, I mentioned Australia has chocolate Easter Bilbies as well as bunnies. 30c from each sale of the 150g Easter Bilby is donated to the Save the Bilby fund. Bilbies are endangered in the wild.

This extra information brought even more comments and questions so I decided to send a gift to the Battalion Bloggers. Here is a photo of one of three inside their gift...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Their post after receiving the gift, linked above, shared comments from the students. Below are my replies...

Jenna, Catherine and Hilary – It was the interest your class showed in bilbies and Easter Bilbies that gave me the idea to send them. While they can be bought online, the trio were bought in a department store.

Bilbies are desert dwelling animals so they aren’t found in my area. They are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and do look like rabbits but are marsupials (pouched animals) like kangaroos and koalas. Rabbits are placental mammals like us.

Unfortunately, no zoos near me have bilbies but Taronga Zoo in Sydney does. The bilbies at Taronga Zoo will be having a royal visit shortly…

https://taronga.org.au/news/2014-03-06/royal-visit-taronga

Because I sometimes send parcels, I keep some styrofoam packaging just in case I need to pack a special item. I knew to survive the trip to Canada the bilbies would need to be well packed. I thought the styrofoam would help protect them from heat and bumps. I was very happy when I read they arrived safely.

Taronga Zoo's bilby information video

Lane – Parcels can be mysteries before they’re opened. The tension builds as we open them and finally can see what’s inside. Seeing questions from you class about bilbies and their chocolate cousins gave me all the excuse I needed to buy some for a class so interested. It’s not the first time I have bought merchandise from the Save the Bilby Fund people but the chocolate bilbies are the tastiest. 🙂

Sam – Bilbies are very cute and I hope to be able to take some photos of my own but it seems I would have to travel to Sydney over 500km from here to do so. Next time I have the chance to visit Sydney, I’ll have to visit Taronga Zoo and hope my cameras can handle low light. The bilbies are nocturnal animals in the wild. They are active at night so they have low light their zoo area so visitors see them during the day.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. 

Melvin & Kale - Every year I would buy some chocolate Easter eggs for my class as a reward for their hard work. Since retiring, I haven’t had a class for which to buy them until your class showed interest in bilbies at just the right time of year. 🙂

Noam and Claire – The real bilbies are even cuter than the chocolate ones. Here is a link showing the bilbies in Perth Zoo on the other side of Australia. What I like about this link is it also shows the young joeys (baby marsupials) in the mother bilby’s pouch.

http://www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au/perth-zoo-breeds-threatened-bilby-5080/

Alex, Amy & Ethan - As cute as chocolate bilbies might be, I can’t resist the chocolate. That’s why I have photographed them. I keep the photos and eat the chocolate.

In the wild, the bilbies have suffered by the introduction of rabbits, foxes and cats to Australia. The Fund helps set up fenced areas to help their numbers grow. 🙂

http://www.savethebilbyfund.com/our-work.php

Martin, Cohen and Zyne – It can be a wonderful experience to receive an unexpected gift and try to guess what’s inside before opening the box. I would buy Easter chocolate for my classes every year. Now I am in contact with classes around the world, I only needed an excuse and your class’s interest in bilbies gave me the reason I needed. 🙂

Bilbies have even been included as characters in children's books here in Australia. Below is a photo of three books I have in my library...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This graphic should not be used & is only available to demonstrate some available bilby storybooks for children.

Hannah – I think we have something in common. As cute as they are, I wouldn’t be able to resist tasting the chocolate inside. We can buy Easter Bilbies online but here in Australia I know shops that sell them each year. They even have packs of 6 small bilbies but I liked the size I bought for your class because they are closer to the bilby’s size than the small ones.

Kelly and Kennedy – Can you imagine how hard it would have been to share only one bilby in class? I already had a box available and realised I should have been able to pack three bilbies safely inside. The foam was an attempt to protect them from heat and shocks so I’m not surprised that didn’t make a noise when the box was shaken. 🙂

Finally, a 4 minute 15 second video clip on Chocolate Easter Bilbies and their real cousins...

2 thoughts on “Bilbies, Chocolate and a Dilemma for the Battalion Bloggers

  1. The Battalion Bloggers

    Hi Ross!

    We LOVED this extended comment! Our special little bilby friends are still hanging out with us … we STILL haven’t decided that we want to eat them and never look at their adorable little faces again! Here are our thoughts on your AWESOME comment:

    “Hi Ross! Thank you SO much for always extending our learning! The baby biblies are SO cute. CUTER than baby BUNNIES! Even though I LOVE bunnies the bilbies are CUTER than bunnies. We STILL don’t know what to do with them! Sorry it took us SO long to reply! Thank you, again, for always extending our learning!” ~Noam

    “Hi Ross! Sorry about the late reply. We are very busy! We’ve been making iMovies … with our marionettes! Uh, ya … bilbies. So cute but TASTY! Yum, yum! I LOVED the video of feeding the bilbies! By the way, you should BUY a bilby and name it COCO! Cute name, right? By the way … Prince George LOVES bilbies!” ~Amy

    “Hi Ross! That video that you sent us was SOO cute because of the bilby’s big ears! I’m sad that there are only about 1000 bilbies in the wild. I wish I could pet the bilbies. Sorry we couldn’t reply so fast. One of the teachers in the school has one of the books you told us about. We are going to read it. I can’t wait for your reply! I really wish I lived in Australia.” ~Ethan

    “Hi Ross! Thanks for leaving an awesome comment. I loved the youtube videos, especially the one where they were were feeding the bilbies mealworms. I still think we should eat two chocolate bilbies and save one because I really want to taste one. But, we still don’t know what to do with them! I can’t believe that there are only 1000 bilbies! Hopefully the bilbies’ population will grow!” ~Peng Peng

    “Hi Ross! We are so interested in bilbies. We also loved the videos! Too bad we can’t adopt one in our classroom! They are SO cute! They’re all fluffy and all nice and fuzzy! It’s too bad they are endangered! I feel really sad. We hope that bilbies don’t get extinct. If they do get extinct then we would be crying and it would be the end of the bilbies!!! Do the bilbies in the wild get much food or water? Thank you for extending our learning!” ~Catherine & Kelly

    “Thanks, Ross, for once again stretching our learning! Our class was so mind blown that there are only 1000 bilbies in the wild. One of our teachers actually HAS the book Hunwich’s Egg. Our class can’t believe that the bilbies’ name stands for long-nosed rat! We would NEVER say it looks anything like a rat! Thanks once again for leaving a comment on the blog!” Alex & Isaac

    “Hi Ross! Sorry for not getting to your reply that quick! We have Hunwich’s Egg in our library but someone has it out. A HUGE thanks for giving us some chocolate bilbies! I don’t know what to do with the chocolate bilbies! Maybe we WILL take a picture and then EAT IT ALL UP! Yummy!” ~Zyne

    “Thank you for ALWAYS extending our learning! The videos that you sent us were SO cute! We only have the Hunwick’s Egg book. But, one of the other classes has the book! my favourite video was the bilby one! Oh, thank you for the awesome extended comment! The bilbies in the video were adorable. I hope that the bilbies don’t get extinct!” ~Aya

    “Hello Ross! Thank you for the bilby facts and thank your for the awesome comment! I lOVED all the videos that you sent us. And, thank you so much for always extending our learning! My favourite video was the video that asked people about bilbies. My favourite part in the video is when the bilby keeper fed the bilby! I had some lowlights about that video … that was when the bilby was eating worms! Once again, thank you SO much for the comment!” ~Hannah

    “Hey, Ross! It was SO thoughtful of you to send us a comment. I never knew that bilby meant long-nosed rat. It really stretched our learning. Our class till does not know what to do with the chocolate bilbies. I think we should keep the picture and eat the chocolate! The bilby post was SO cute. Once again, thank you Ross … it was so thoughtful of you. PS I would like to adopt a bilby!” ~Kale

    “Hi Ross! Thank you for replying to us again with an AWESOME extended comment. 🙂 We are SO sorry it took us SO long to reply to your AWESOME extended comment! I LOVED ALL the videos you put on the comment. I had no idea that there are only 1000 bilbies left in Australia in the wild. That’s SO sad! The links were SO cool! I can’t believe that one of the websites shoed one of the baby bilbies inside the mother’s pouch! It was sort of gross. I don’t think that I would want to see that in REAL life! Once again, thank you for leaving an awesome comment!” ~Claire

    “Hi Ross! It’s very thoughtful of you to leave an extended comment! We were very surprised when your post told us that there is only one thousand bilbies in the Australian wild! We are so lucky to find the book Henwick’s Egg by Mem Fox in our school. That was a big surprise! We really loved the beautiful chocolate bilbies. We hope we can adopt a bilby!” ~Martin & Cohen

    “Hey, Ross! Thank you for leaving us each great comments! We loved the video at the end of the post because of the blooper at the end! 😉 One of the teachers has the book Hunwick’s Egg and she was my kindergarten and Grade Two teacher! We are going to borrow it from her. You can adopt bilbies! We saw a video of Prince George’s visit to the Taronga Zoo!” ~Daniel & Melvin

    “Thank you SO much, Ross, for the AWESOME extended comment! It was SO thoughtful of you to think of us! Our class thinks it’s SO sad that there are only about 1000 bilbies left in the wild. 🙁 We loved ALL the youtube videos and we think that it is SO nice of you to take the time to look at all those videos and find the perfect ones for us! We like almost every animal but, the bilby is one of our favourites! Why, you ask? Because they’re pretty little and their long noses and ears are TOO cute! Their little eyes sparkle with CUTENESS! We also love how they jump when they walk! Once again, thank you SO much, Ross!” ~Jenna & Hilary

    “Ross, the information on the bilbies that you sent to us inspired me! In the video they said that the bilby is critically endangered and people are trying to save them at the bilby foundation. It is very important to the country of Australia to protect the bilbies. Thank you for sharing the information. I hope more people can help the bilbies.” ~Lane

    Thank you SO much, Ross. We LOVE our learning journey with you! Our thinking caps are ON … we have BIG decisions to make. To eat, to save .. to eat … to save? Hmm.

    The Battalion Bloggers 🙂

    Reply
  2. rossmannell

    Post author

    Hello Battalion Bloggers,

    Your school year is almost over while ours is reaching the middle. How time flies when we are able to share our learning journey with others. It seems such a short time ago when I visited the Battalion Bloggers’ first posts and now you are joining the others from your school who are experienced Battalion bloggers who have helped the Q’enqo people and their library during their school year. You have all made a difference! 🙂

    Noam – Don’t worry it took so long for you to answer. I know being very busy means we have much to do but not always the time. I’m a bilby fan but not so much of a bunny fan as they aren’t native to Australia. I like our dinkum* Aussie animals.
    Dinkum – an old Australian slang word meaning true or honest. To be fair dinkum means you are telling the truth.

    Amy – I know Prince George was fascinated by the bilbies, especially the one now named George. Being a chocolate fan, I know the chocolate Easter Bilby is tasty. 🙂

    Ethan – I am trying to take photos and some video of many Australian animals and have visited two zoos this year in search of more to photograph/video. I have added animals such as the tree kangaroo and Tasmanian devil but no nearby zoos have had bilbies. I hope to add some bilby photos when I next get the chance to travel north. By collecting my own photos, I’m able to share them online and allow students to use the photos. My website shares some of the photos I have in my collection. At the top of the webpage you will find links sharing photos from zoos and other places …
    http://rossmannell.net

    Peng Peng – While I can resist the temptation for many things, I couldn’t resist the chocolate so I don’t know whether I would be strong enough to leave one bilby uneaten. You are stronger than me. While bilby numbers are low in the wild, there are a number of people involved in breeding programs so we hope the cute little guys have a great future.

    Catherine & Kelly – Some of the biggest threats to bilbies in the wild come from habitat loss because of human activity and competition from rabbits and the presence of feral (not native) predator animals such as cats and foxes. When a breeding program is set up in the wild, feral animals (rabbits, fox, cats, dogs) are kept out. Bilbies are adapted to dry climates and can thrive when free from threats. They don’t normally need to drink water as they get it from the food they eat.

    Alex & Isaac – Yes, bilby is a word borrowed from the Yuwaalaraay Aboriginal people from the north of my state and it is said to mean long-nosed rat. They do have some similarities to rats/mice and more with rabbits but I think bilbies are much cuter. The Yuwaalaraay wouldn’t have had experience with rabbits because they weren’t introduced into Australia until 1859. If the people did know about rabbits, they might have named them long-nosed rabbits.

    Zyne – I have photos of the chocolate bilbies and can keep them but I wouldn’t be able to resist the chocolate. 🙂

    Aya – With the Save the Bilby Fund and a number of breeding programs, I think we have a good chance of saving the bilby and possible re-releasing them into the wild.

    Hannah – Bilbies are omnivorous (eat plant and meat) like us but a tasty menu for them would include “insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals” (from Wikipedia). Humans also eat these (yes in some cultures even spiders and insects)…
    Insects – grasshoppers are a delicacy in some Asian cultures
    Insect larva – Many Aboriginal people in Australia ate witchety grubs. I have been told they taste a little nutty.
    Seeds – wheat, corn, rice, etc
    Spiders – a delicacy in Cambodia and some other places
    Bulbs – e.g. onions
    Fruit – you can name many
    Fungi –mushrooms
    Very small animals – we eat many such as shellfish, anchovies, etc.

    Kale – I think I would agree with you. I have photos of the chocolate bilbies but I couldn’t resist the chocolate. I hope at some time in the future to be able to add photos of real bilbies to my photo collection. The closest location with bilbies I know is the zoo Prince George visited in Sydney, i.e. Taronga Zoo.

    Claire – The pouch to a young marsupial is a comfy home. When carers look after orphaned marsupials, they usually have woolen pouches where the young marsupial can go in to feel safe and warm. It’s sort of like a warm hug from your parents or a warm bed on a cold night.

    Martin & Cohen – Mem Fox is one of our greatest writers for the young (and people like me). If I see her name on a book , I expect a good story and, with her illustrator, a feast for the eyes. “Henwick’s Egg” gives you an idea of the quality of her books. Another favourite of mine is “Possum Magic”.

    Daniel & Melvin – Animal adoption is a great way for zoos and animal sanctuaries to raise funds to care for their animals. While you don’t get to have the animal with you, you know an animal is doing well because of the help you are giving.

    Jenna & Hilary – I must agree bilbies are very high on the cuteness meter but I now know you have discovered another cute little Aussie, the antechinus (marupial mouse). I know people in my area have found them in their houses and gardens at times. The one in the photo I shared with your class had been caught in a trap where peanut butter was the bait. The scientists in charge of collecting, recording and release believe they caught the little male in the photo twice. He must have so loved the peanut butter he came back for a second taste before the traps were removed. Do you think he knew he’d be released?

    Lane – Sad to say, Australia has lost many small animal species since European settlement in 1788. The settlers brought European farming ideas and destroyed habitats by clearing land. Animals they introduced competed with native animals. Realising the value of animal diversity (having many types), there are a number of programs trying to save endangered species.

    This may be my last major comment for your class this school year. As with classes before you, I really enjoyed what we have been able to share in your school year.
    I know your class is one of those intending to supply names for the 2nd birthday post on my blog so I look forward to your suggestions. Sometime later this year I will probably make my 200th post on the blog. What a journey! I wonder how many words, photos and videos I have shared? I wonder who will receive the 200th post? Of course, next year I hope to celebrate my blog’s 3rd birthday. There seems to be always something just around the corner.

    Ross Mannell
    Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

    Reply

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