… and his friend the mountain lion.
This afternoon I decided to take a leisurely stroll up behind the Chalet on Mount Wellington, to see what I could see. I wasn’t after anything in particular, just a general wander to look at the plants and see who is flowering and maybe find another Caladenia alpina. The wind was minimal, the sun was out and it was a beautiful early summer day.
As I scanned the track ahead to check for snakes that might want to kill me, I noticed two massive animals standing on the path looking back at me. They were about… I have no idea with estimating distance, maybe ten metres in front? Although I could be totally wrong. It was then I totally freaked out. Not running screaming back to the car, but I did get a little spooked. They were two MASSIVE cats. And I really do mean massive, gigantic, size of a medium to large dog, it all depends on how big you class a large or medium dog though I suppose, maybe not as big as the Rottweiler next door, but perhaps the size of the Greyhound across the road. After I had worked out that I possibly wasn’t going to die, I remembered I had my camera in hand so managed a shot. Good thing I had my macro lens on so I could get in a bit closer to them.
Granted, it is hard to tell from this photo the size of them. So after they had skulked off I went and measured the bush against my leg to see how big they were. I estimated about 2 foot, maybe a big under. I know they are feral cats and that feral cats can grow big, but I seriously never imagined they would be that big. Not only the size of them, but the way they moved was different too. For those of you who know me and know my history with suburban feral cats, you know I have had a bit of experience with them. These two were best described as being very nonchalant. They just looked back at me then slowly turned and strolled off disappearing behind the shrub. The dark ones tail was massive, it was very panther like, curling up from the ground. Although I guess if a cat is that big then it isn’t going to jump and pounce around like a normal sized cat.
Obviously there is quite a difference with bushland feral cats and suburban ones. Either that or these are some freak hybrid cats. Perhaps once upon a time there was an old eccentric hermit who had a pet panther and mountain lion, but one day he passed away and had no family to care for them. Once they realised that their owner was no longer around they escaped into the bush and started their own Hobart Mountain Panther population at the foothills of Mount Wellington. Because of the mountain lion blood in them they slowly moved further up the mountain and made their home amongst the rocky out crops, feeding on lost bushwalkers and small wallabies. Or maybe not.
Anyway, they were freaking huge and gave me a bit of a fright. I think I am going to go with the mountain lion, panther hybrid that the old eccentric man kept as pets. It’s much more fun. Although my nine year old daughter did have another idea. She says that it is really a magical unicorn disguised as a big cat. I think she was mocking me, my family think I am crazy.
I did ask a guy who walked out past me if he had seen any gigantic cats on his walk. He also probably thinks I am crazy, I showed him the photos though. He will be sitting at home around the dinner table talking about the weird tattooed chick with a purple viking beanie on ranting away about panthers…
I did send an email to the park ranger up there. I am sure he is sitting there going through his emails saying to himself ‘Oh great, a nutter on the mountain who thinks she has seen the mystical Tasmanian Panther’… Perhaps he is right… I will be looking for giant cats each time I venture up the mountain now…