Feeding our native wildlife at Lemonthyme

Feeding time at Lemonthyme

Sometimes things we take for granted at Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat not only amuse but fascinate our guests – particularly our coterie of international visitors. No better example of this is the feeding of the animals by our staff around 8:30 each evening. Guests assemble on the veranda adjoining the restaurant in the Lodge and are greeted by a dozen or so representatives of the local wildlife, usually dominated by the Tasmanian pademelon, anxious to consume some fresh vegetable peelings or fruit leftovers.

Pademelons are small marsupials. They are solitary and nocturnal, spending the daylight hours in thick vegetation, feeling right at home in the moist rainforest at Lemonthyme. After dusk, the animals move onto open areas to feed, but rarely stray more than 100 metres from the forest edge.

Pademelons, wallabies, and kangaroos are very alike in body structure, and the names just refer to the three different size groups.

Besides their smaller size, pademelons can be distinguished from wallabies by their shorter, thicker, and sparsely haired tails.

Also known as the rufous-bellied pademelon or red-bellied pademelon, the Tasmanian pademelon is now abundant throughout Tasmania. They previously inhabited areas throughout south-eastern Australia and feature heavier and bushier fur than their northern relatives.

About 70% of pademelon births seem to occur around the start of winter. After a 30 day gestation period the young spend about 6 months in the pouch and are weaned at around 8 months. Pademelons live between 5 to 6 years in the wild and males reach around 12 kg in weight and 1–1.2 metres in length including the tail, considerably larger than the females, which average about 4kg.

The Tasmanian pademelon is a nocturnal herbivore feeding on a wide variety of plants, from herbs, green shoots and grass, to some nectar-bearing flowers. We try not to overfeed the wildlife at Lemonthyme preferring that they not become dependent on their nightly supper.

Feeding time provides some pleasant memories and a great photo opportunity before guests retire for the evening. All part of relaxing in the wilderness!!