The Bush Baby a unique pet
Meet Pookie Nyoni!
Now here is a little bush babe which I have no doubt everybody is going to fall in love with. Those adorable eyes. Who wouldn't? Everybody loves a baby. In actual fact that is an adult and it's a mammal too. Head-wise, one might think it's a cat or perchance, a lovely little mouse. Body-wise, one may think it's a kangaroo? It's nothing of the sort, but it does have some similarities.
A species generally found in East Africa, but also in many other parts. It's nocturnal, mainly due to protect itself from predators. Normally they are found in semi-arid areas under 6500 feet.
I went to school in such a place, tucked away on the most southern border of Zimbabwe in a province known as Matabeleland. It was a tough province and an even tougher school. One went there at the beginning of any school term and one stayed there for that length of time without a break to see your family. Unless one got into a sports team, that was it. Understandably then, as boys we learnt how to roam the tough, tough sands of Matabeleland and it's many thorn trees battling to survive in a low rainfall area.
As boys, nay kids, perchance we missed our parents? The only thing we had left, was to find a pet in this tough place and nurture it as best we could. Here then is one of the most loveable and adorable pets, a boy could wish to find.
Image from Inherently Funny
Who is Kevin Moor
It's just Spook.
I led a normal happy life and had a wonderful schooling full of great teachers and interesting boys and friends. Aye, we were lads once and what a bunch of lads we were. Reasonably intelligent and reasonably gifted at sports including, cricket, tennis, hockey and medium distance running. The thing about us lads is; we just couldn't help teasing each other and some took this better than others, and everybody had a nickname. Mine started with rickets ( I hated that one ) but luckily that didn't last and was changed to bones. It should be perfectly obvious, that I was a very fine physical specimen. No amount of weightlifting made any difference and I soon gave up. By form 4, I was known as Spook and this nickname has stuck throughout my life. I loved it.
On leaving school I went to do my National Service in the Rhodesian army. Whilst doing this I became deaf. I've written many stories here on Squidoo about that and many other aspects of my life, so am not going to repeat them here. But I am thankful to Squidoo for providing me with the voice to do this.
Lastly, the photo is none other than myself, slightly soured by age and a hectic life. I'm a bit like the bush baby. Oh, what beautiful eyes or they used to be.
Lastly, lastly, ah, when Irish eyes are smiling, sure the whole world smiles with you.
Finding pookie nyoni
The African bush
You have to realise that everybodys' tastes are different. Lots of different boys, so many different tastes. Owls, Goshawks, Snakes, Rabbits, Chickens and the list was almost endless and indeed was. Tucked somewhere behind the house we lived in, was the pets room. As mentioned, anything went here and endless fights ensued. 'You stole my Owls mince meat for your hawk', 'your rabbit ate my pookies banana' and so on and so forth. However, the biggest danger always lay in some cat getting into the pet room. These loveable, furry little, adorable little, kitty cats, are in reality, predators. The best there is and nothing is sacred for them, nothing. It was like they were bullet proof and no matter how well you set up the security arrangements in the pet room, somehow they bypassed it. The solution was to get a 'new boy' to sit up all night and prevent this. Lord help him if he fell asleep.
Now the bush baby is nocturnal and it has developed this way to protect itself from predators especially snakes and hawks. It is an amazing creature and with it's hind legs can jump between 10 to 20 foot whilst stationary. This is the system it uses to catch its prey, mainly insects and it propels itself from tree to tree like this. It then uses its long, bushy tail, to grab a branch in case of overshoot. It is very fast like this and almost impossible to catch. However if one can get it onto the ground, it is very slow and catching it is a lot easier. Therein lies the secret.
Image from The Animal Healing Project
Pookie nyoni - Adorable
Well what do you think of pookie nyoni as a pet so far
To be quite honest I've forgotten how the bush baby got its name of pookie nyoni. However I'm going to give it a reasonable guess.
We always knew our pookies as pookies, everybody knows this. However I think it drew its name from the African dialect of the area. When going into attack mode, it flattens its ears which have acute hearing and launches itself. It can cover great distances like this and give the impression that it is flying. Hence nyoni, which simply means bird. Therefore the pookie that flies. How apt and how logical.
Amongst Afrikaans speaking people in South Africa it is known as nagapie. Nag meaning night and apie meaning ape. Or the night flying little monkey. Also how apt. So there you have it.
Image from Cat Salter
Nagapie - Pookie nyoni
I have already described the reason between two different names, so would like to ask readers.
Which name do you think suits it best?
Favourite times with pookie nyoni
Sleeping during the day
Now pookie nyoni is nocturnal, so he is awake during the night and asleep during the day. In captivity then, this makes his/her normal habits hard to fit in with yours. Consequently, as boys we used to take pookie with us to classes. Of course this was frowned upon by the authorities and not really allowed, so we had to make a plan.
The plan consisted of, tucking pookie into your shirt at about stomach level. They are small so we could get away with it. At first pookie used to bite, not really sore but a bite nevertheless. As time wore on and it became used to you, that soon stopped. I always loved carrying pookie like this and the feeling of his small hands as he shifted around in sleep was, exquisite.
Sometimes there was a problem. Part of their nature, mainly the women in their natural habitat, is to find groups of mothers and children and protect and socialise together. Sound familiar? The men of course keep to themselves and only surface when it is time to put the stork on the roof. Then of course they are welcome, otherwise, not. Now these lassies mark their territory by passing urine at certain strategic spots. It's innate. Pookie then, sometimes did pee pees in your shirt. Sis man, but you had to put up with it.
Image from African Wildlife Foundation.
The best fun with pookie nyoni
Catching grasshoppers to feed him
On the playing fields at school
Giving him exercise
As far away from trees as you can get, if he gets there you've lost him
Make sure there are two of you in case of trouble
Firstly search the sky for any signs of hawks
Have fun catching grasshoppers with pookie
Tuck your children into bed - With a pookie nyoni
Forget the teddy bear. Try something different for your 'little rascals' to go to sleep with. The lovely, adorable, pookie nyoni.
Pookie nyoni - His photo gallery, click on an imageClick thumbnail to view full-size
Diet and diseases
The pookie nyoni is not that hard to feed. It mainly eats insects and grasshoppers and moths. Also loves a bit of fruit, so always easy to find it something to eat.
However our time with this wonderful pet was soon to be limited. The more man researches the cleverer he gets and this was finally to count against us. Veterinarians soon found that the pookie nyoni was most unusual in that it had the ability to switch diseases. Simply put from man to animal and vice versa. Subsequently it was decided that the risk was too great and boys were no longer allowed to keep them as pets. How sad.
This phenomenon was known as; Zoonoses.
Image from Animals of the Amazon.
Images courtesy of Google images.