Road Kill

A sad note of our travels in the Western Outback was seeing dead animals on the road.  I certainly saw more dead kangaroos than live specimens and a variety of other animals as well.  The upside to the road kill was the opportunity to see some animals up close that we might not have ever had opportunity to see outside of a zoo.

Road kill presents a hazard to predator and scavenger animals as they try to eat the dead bodies of the animals left on the road.  As a result, dingos, vultures and lizards like this end up getting run over as well.  Andrea, ever the animal helper wanted to pull over and clear all of the road kill from the roads.  I didn’t mind, it was for a good cause and we ended up clearing hundreds of miles of roads of the carcases of dead animals.

This desert monitor lizard was an interesting specimen.  I was surprised at how heavy it was, it probably weighed 25 pounds or so (12 kg).  We had a chance to look at him up close and we could see his eyes, scales and his claws (below).  Later, Andrea did see a live monitor as it ran from the side of the road.  We pulled over to take some photos but he was long gone.  These lizards can run fast (20mph/35kph) and we couldn’t even find where he had run off to.

I lost count of the number of dead kangaroos we saw.  The road trains took their toll on the roos and some of them looked like they were almost cut in half.  As we approached this dead kangaroo, the several vultures that were feeding on its carcass flew for cover (you can see one just above and to the right flying away).

Clearing the road of dead kangaroos and other animals protects other animals like these vultures from danger and it also protects other motorists; if a car should hit these animals a vehicle accident is possible.  Andrea dragged the roo carcass clear of the road so that the scavengers could snack on it without causing a hazard to themselves or other cars.  If you decide to remove road kill from the roads, be sure to stop well off of the road so that you are not a hazard to other motorists.  It is important to get the carcass well off of the road as snacking animals can be spooked back onto the road when headlights come at night.  You should clear the animal at least 15 to 20 meters (50 or 60 feet).

Later we came across a small bird that was dead on the highway.  At first I thought that it was a dead owl but it turns out that it wasn’t.

Andrea comments about this little fellow:

This is a Tawny Frogmouth, when they sleep during the day, they tilt their head up and look very sleek, just like a tree branch.  You can tell that its not a raptor (owl) by its feet.  They’re not powerful curved talons; this bird mainly eats insects.  Sadly, they commonly die when hit by cars as they chase moths illuminated in the headlights.

The bird’s head and mouth are on the bottom left and it has a flat and unique look like I’ve never seen in a bird before.

Andrea emailed me a link to a living Tawny Frogmouth; you can see how well its camouflage works in nature.

While up in Cape Tribulation we came across this little snake who didn’t make it across the road.  We cleared it off the roadway and then continued on our photo hunt for night predators.  I never realized how much fun driving around at night.

If you take a drive in the Outback, be sure to drive slow and keep a watch out for animals.  I can’t imagine ending a holiday because of a car wreck caused by collision with an animal.  Holiday should be fun and a wreck could spoil your whole vacation.  Near Exmouth we came across this flock of sheep and a pair of lambs had made a bed out of the side of the road.  Had we been driving faster we might have run them over or crashed ourselves.


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