Friday, January 23, 2015

What, a new blog post??

Yep, that’s right.
I’ve been driven to it by the hardships of my life.

Normally I can handle my self-imposed solitude; month after month alone in the bush, my only human converse, ‘Fill it up with Super, thanks’.
But sometimes it all gets too difficult and I just can’t go on without the comfort of a sympathetic ear (or rather, eye).

What’s brought about this tragic state of affairs?
The unbearable cuteness of mongoose pups.

Each day, when I visit my study animals, I have to face them. Waddling out eagerly on their stumpy legs, they look like a swarm of mouse-sized bear cubs. Blunt noses raised, they peer up at me myopically with misty green eyes. As I crouch down, they gather around, clambering over my boots and eagerly placing their tiny paws on my leg, their claws scratchy against my skin. Although, at three weeks old, they’re still primarily milk-guzzlers, they’re hoping I'll give them a mealworm, which they snatch hungrily from my fingers and crunch up with a relish quite disproportionate to their size.

Tended constantly by a babysitter during their first 4 weeks, dwarf mongoose pups first toddle from their termite mound at 2.5 to 3 weeks. These little guys - Periwinkle, Speedwell and Nepenthes (coz she bites) - are from Halcyon’s first litter. Copyright L Sharpe.

A swarm of little Herpestids. In an act of unusual magnanimity, the reigning females in both Bugbears and Halcyon allowed their sisters’ litters to live this year (usually they just munch ‘em) so both groups are raising a bumper crop (7 and 8 pups respectively). Copyright L Sharpe.

If the morning is drear and chilly, one of the pups will clamber laboriously up onto my leg and snuggle down, hearth-rug style, with its belly pressed firmly against the bare skin of my thigh. Since mongoose pups like to huddle, others soon follow suit, until I have the whole litter heaped in a somnolent pile in my lap. They’re so relaxed it looks as if some awful massacre has taken place; at least until the top ones grow chilly and squirm their way underneath their comatose siblings. The babysitters aren’t quite sure that this is kosher of course, and they sit watching anxiously, like mothers on the first day of school.

Here Violet, uncertain about protocol, drags her little brother Mouse-whiskers back to the termite mound. Copyright L. Sharpe.

Hey, play nice! Copyright L Sharpe.

It’s never too early to learn to read. Campion and Rosy deciphering scent-messages at the group’s latrine. Copyright L Sharpe.

Bergamot, the proud dad at Halcyon. Copyright L.Sharpe.

Skipper and Piper (from Bugbears) playing on my heartstrings. Copyright L Sharpe.

So now you've seen the photos maybe you'll understand why it’s all too much for me. Why I just can’t continue without sharing the experience with another human being.
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