Warm days and the drought has breeding season in full swing

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Warm days and the drought has breeding season in full swing NEW MUMS: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mums, including this capybara mother with her two babies.
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TOO SWEET: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mothers, including this first-time capybara mum with her two babies. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NEW MUMS: A baby marmoset eating a grub.

NEW MUMS: A marmoset gazas at it’ reflection in the smartphone of primate keeper Daisy Murphy, while one of the babies looks on.

HUNGRY: A pair of baby marmosets wait for grubs to be prepared by their parents.

FAMILY FEED: Baby marmosets huddle up to one of the parents as they dine on grubs.

A FEAST: A baby marmoset huddles up to a parent while enjoying a mealy grub.

LOOKOUT: An adult meerkat watches for danger while pups play wiuth primate keeper Daisy Murphy’s boots.

INQUISITIVE: Meerkat pups go exploring.

A SHOE-IN: Curious meerkat pups and a pair of adults investigate the boot of a zoo keeper.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Adult meerkats with their two pups.

MUM’S THE WORD: A meerkat pup with its mother.

NEW MUMS: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mums, including this capybara mother with her two babies.

NEW MUMS: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mums, including this capybara mother with her two babies.

NEW MUMS: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mums, including this capybara mother with her two babies.

NEW MUMS: Hunter Valley Zoo has several new mums, including this capybara mother with her two babies.

KEEPING WATCH: An adult meerkat with its two pups.

KEEPING WATCH: An adult meerkat with its two pups.

TAKING A PEEK: A baby marmoset pokes its head around the parent to take a look at the camera.

TOGETHERNESS: A meerkat mum with her pup.

TweetFacebookMagpies are swooping, plovers protecting their eggs, reptiles are out of hibernation and the alligators ever so amorous at Hunter Valley Zoo.

It seems the unseasonably warm winter and dry conditions have played havoc with animals’ body clocks, most mating weeks ahead of schedule and making appearances where we least expect them.

In some locations across the Hunter, plovers and magpies are starting to mark their territory. They are nesting and starting to protect their young and the swooping incidents were in full swing at the end of July.

Hunter Valley Zoo Manager Jason Pearson said the mating season is well ahead of schedule and could become the norm.

“We’ve had cooler nights but the warm days in the low 20s have been spring like and that has triggered the animals’ breeding season and they have become more active,” he said.

GATORADE: Male alligators sunning themselves in balmy conditions at Hunter Valley Zoo. Picture: Simone De Peak.

“Normally reptiles have a four to five months of hibernation and don’t usually make an appearance until September.

“Everything is way ahead of schedule. There are three pairs of plovers nesting around the zoo. They’re a few weeks in advance.

“What we find with birds and a dry spell is they end up with a high infertility rate in their eggs which could happen this season,” he said.

“This could become the norm if global warming continues and it will take its toll on nature. We need the seasons,” Mr Pearson said.

The warm winter and early spring conditions also havesnakes on the move early.

“We will be seeing much more interaction between reptiles and people because there is not enough water in the bush for them to survive.

“They are starting to come into backyards in search of pools or ponds so be on the lookout,” Mr Pearson said.

He said householders should be aware there is not a lot they can do, but they can ensure they keep yards free of clutter and debris where most reptiles like to hide.

Earlier this week Fairfax Media reported on the high incidence of feral deer and kangaroos making their way roadside for green pick.

“Motorists need to be cautious because these animals are in bigger packs at the moment and that little bit of moisture run off from the road,greens up the verges and that’s what they want to feed on. Just be vigilant.”

He said deer have been a problem in the area which was once home to a healthydeer industry.

“That was a fewyears ago whenthere were several deer farms around Cessnock. They have since folded, some lost fences and infrastructure during the Pasha Bulka storm sodeer escaped and now there are rife and have become a pest,” Mr Pearson said.

The Maitland Mercury

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