Flora and Fauna Questions
Is the large Galapagos tortoise mentioned in past Miscellanies still on the island? Have you seen it?
Mrs T, the Galapagos tortoise lives over at Tedside, and we quite often go over there to search her out and feed her bananas or melon. Occasionally she will turn up closer to this side of the island. Randy and Nadine Christian have found her in their vegetable garden at Flatlands at times and have had to put her on a trailer and transport her back to her own side. As you travel down to Tedside there is a fence and a gate that she cannot get through. Because her colouring is very similar to the colour of the rocks and soil you can walk right past her without noticing at times.
Are there turtles At Pitcairn Island?
Sea turtles swim about at the Landing. You see them from time to time. They are large. They like to steal the bait off the fishing lines! Sometimes they have to be pulled into shore to have a hook cut away. Usually the nylon line just gets cut and the metal hook would rust away in the sea water.
Are rats / mice / cockroaches / flies a problem in the houses? If so how do you deal with it? Are there fruit bats on the island?
There are many rats on Pitcairn but no mice. Wild cats keep the rats under control. Most families have several cats which are fed lean rations at home to keep them keen on rat hunting. We had a problem with rats running in the ceiling at our house and we were able to get rat poison blocks which we threw up into the ceiling cavity. This killed the rats in the house. Yes, we have many cockroaches and earwigs. Earwigs can fly which I have seen on a few occasions. There are some flies. Chicken runs and compost areas tend to attract flies. Insect screens keep them out of the government houses. No there are no bats on Pitcairn. Insect life is prolific here. Geckoes, lizards and skinks are numerous. You see hundreds of them. Gecko droppings need to be wiped up from window sills etc. Soldier crabs lurk in dark corners too. Ant are also a big problem in summer and you need to keep food in plastic sealed containers.
Are there any wild domestic animals on the island?
There are many wild cats, chickens and roosters and also numerous wild goats. All the wild animals look extremely healthy. The wild chickens usually look healthier than the caged ones, probably because there are so many insects. The wild goats are culled regularly by the animal control person. They are shot.
How does the cat population stay under control?
This is a tricky one. Our pet cat recently had five kittens. They are no homes to be found for surplus cats as all households have as many cats as they require already. We only allowed two of the kittens to live. The others were killed minutes after they were born. The male kittens can be de-sexed by Shirley Young. The females will go on to breed again and again. At times all kittens are killed at birth. Advice from a vet was that contraception pills for female cats nearly always results in cancer of the uterus developing in the cat. So it is time for us to put aside our city-born scruples and take charge of the problem. Personally I would find it difficult to kill a newborn kitten but thankfully others are not so squeamish.