Art as Architecture

Ceramic Burrows for Critically Endangered Greater Stick-nest Rats

Desert Park, 871 Larapinta Dr, Alice Springs NT 0871
Wed 20th July – Sun 24th July, 2022
See Desert Park website for opening times

Can art help to conserve threatened species? Ceramicist, Jane Bamford, and CEO at Arid Recovery, Dr Katherine Tuft, explore this idea in their work with greater stick-nest rats.

Stickies are very cute native rodents that build truly impressive stick castles as homes to shelter and raise their families in. The stick-nests are built up over successive generations of rats, and sometimes expanded to form granny flat stick-nests nearby. Known to the Adnymathanha people of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges as ‘Wopilkara’, Stickies were once widespread across southern Australia, but they steadily contracted in range and disappeared from the mainland as rabbits and introduced predators invaded the continent.

Recently, Stickies have been knocked around by a combination of factors and the population has suffered a major decline. With heatwaves being a major contributor, and one that’s only set to increase over coming years, Dr Katherine and Jane set about to mitigate their impact.

Temperature logger data shows that unshaded nests experience extremes ranging between 3⁰C and 47⁰C. Additionally, shaded nests doesn’t make a great deal of difference. However, calcrete warrens make an enormous difference, reducing the temperature range to 12 – 35 ⁰C. This is where Jane’s ceramic burrows come in!

Follow this link to learn more about our sweet “Stickies” and the project this dynamic duo is working on to keep them from extinction.

Why not check out Desert Park’s Nocturnal Tours while you’re out there?

Things get a bit wild around here at night! Step inside a large predator-proof enclosure for an evening of adventure and discovery. Join your guide in small groups as you walk through a rich desert habitat full of life. Stopping to spotlight endangered animals of Central Australia showcasing their natural behaviours.