Here in the drizzle-forest of Tasmania, we’re on day three of our search for the Giant Walking Stick insect. And – oh! Aha! I do believe I’ve just spotted one. It’s right there on the ground. I’m just crouching down now to get a closer look at the magnificent... Oh...no, sorry. It’s just a big stick. *Grrr* That’s the tenth time that’s happened today.
Oh! But just up ahead – aha! No question about it. I’ve finally found...Arrrgh, no. It’s just another big stick.
What was that sound? Hmm, maybe it was nothing. Strange. Now I’m feeling a little drizzle on my head. Hang on! How am I able to feel drizzle on the top of my head if I’m wearing my trusty helmet?
*GASP!* My helmet! It’s missing!
But I’m sure it was on my head just a minute ago. Hmm, I wonder...Let me just check the ground...Ah! I knew it! These tracks in the mud prove it. Oh, how exciting! I’ve just come in contact with the very sneaky hat-snatching bandicoot!
My name is Hickory Slick. And welcome to Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with Hickory Slick.
So, there’s been a change of plans. I’m no longer searching for the Giant Walking Stick insect. Let’s face it: that insect is about as exciting as a large stick. Instead, I’m hot on the trail of the hat-snatching bandicoot. Finding one is important for two reasons. First, it will add to our knowledge of the world. And second...it has my hat!
Mine is no ordinary helmet. It’s a “Hickory Slick” original. I designed it myself. It fits my head perfectly. And I look very handsome in it.
But does the hat-snatching bandicoot care? No! They have been stealing hats since the beginning of human history. No matter what kind of hat it is, these creatures will find a use for it.
They use them as nests. An upside-down bonnet or cap makes a perfect place to raise baby bandicoots. Also, bandicoots will try to impress each other with their collections of hats. In addition, bandicoots even use hats as toilets. Oh dear, I better find my helmet immediately!
The hat-snatching bandicoot is a small creature that looks harmless. The adults grow to be no larger than a loaf of bread. They usually scamper on four legs. But when they see a hat to snatch, they rise on their back two legs which then grow five feet or more! This makes them just the right height to pluck a hat off someone’s head.
They’re some of the best tip-toers in the animal kingdom. So they’re able to sneak behind their prey without a sound. They have very strong mouths to carry the hats away. And they make a very faint “hee-hee-hee” sound after they’ve grabbed a hat. Perhaps they think it’s all very funny. Well I, for one, don’t find hat-snatching amusing at all.
These tracks in the mud appear to lead to this dense hedge. Hmm...If I can just part these leaves enough to get a clear view of the other side...*GASP!*
There they are! And I’ve caught them red-handed! On the other side are at least fifty bandicoots and countless hats of all sorts!
Note the bandicoot’s two very long front teeth. These teeth are helpful for clutching hats and carving hat stands out of trees. Yes, I can count at least twenty-four beautifully-carved hat stands right here.
And – my word! There are so many hats from different time periods! I see ancient Roman helmets, top hats, bowler hats, cowboy hats, sombreros, berets – the list goes on and on!
Over there, they’ve stacked many hats to create a hat-skyscraper. Some of the bandicoots seem to be living inside it. Now look: some young bandicoots have set some hats on their sides to play a hat-rolling game. And even more bandicoots are using lots of hats to play hide-and-seek.
But where is my hat? And how am I going to find it?!
Aha! Hold on. I can just spy, through these leaves, two young bandicoots using my upside-down helmet as a see-saw. That is not what I designed it for.
Hmm... I’m going to have to sneak through this hedge and snatch my hat back from them! But how can I get to my hat without being noticed?
Ah! I have an idea. I’m not sure it will work, but it’s my only choice. Here in my sack I have a melon. I’ll carefully slice off the bottom, like so...And now with this spoon I’ll scrape out all of the delicious melon until it’s completely hollow on the inside. *SCRAPE, SCRAPE*
There! Do you see what I’m doing? I’m making a fake hat! Luckily, I always have some glue with me. So now I can glue some leaf decorations on the top. And, presto! A fine-looking fake hat. Hmm, it’s missing just one thing. My signature! I’ll just sign with this marker. *SQUEAK, SQUEAK* “Hickory...Slick.” Perfect!
Now, then. I’ll place the melon-hat on the ground. And now I’ll rustle these leaves to catch their attention. *RUSTLE, RUSTLE*
Ah! The bandicoots see the fake hat. They seem interested. They’re all scampering towards it. Now’s my chance to hurry and grab my helmet. Yes, I got my helmet back!
But uh oh! It looks like they now know the melon-hat is just a melon. Yikes! And now they see me! Time to dash, Hickory!
Oh, dear. I don’t think I’ll be able to outrun fifty bandicoots. What do I do?!
Hang on...They seem to be turning away from me. They’re heading back. Ah, I see. It’s begun to drizzle! Hat-snatching bandicoots hate getting wet. Now they’re all scurrying back to find shelter from the rain under one of their many hats.
I also don’t like the rain. But, lucky for me, I have my Hickory-Slick-designed helmet to keep my head dry.
So, if you ever have trouble finding your hat, there may be a bandicoot to blame. And if you ever can’t find one of your socks, you can probably blame the sock-snatching spandiboot. But that’s for another episode.
This has been Hickory Slick. Tune in next time for Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with me, Hickory Slick.