David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



The BUILDER, one of the rarest and most elusive species of Australians. It derives its name from its habit of building things, though it has never actually been seen to do so. Builders are extremely rare and hunting one involves searching the length and breadth of the Yellow Pages and following up every clue from friends and associates. The only real hope of coaxing one out of hiding is to lure them with enormous sums of money and even then it may be weeks before one can actually be induced to appear on the building site.

When the creature does appear it will most likely just sniff around the area, scratch at the dirt a bit and then disappear again for up to a year. However, over the succeeding months, if we look closely, we will observe tiny telltale signs of its presence. A huge pile of sand will appear at the front of the house, killing the grass; a series of trenches will appear, usually in the wrong position, as well as many stacks of bricks, all the wrong colour.

Once winter sets in all traces of the Builder will vanish as the creature migrates to the warmer weather of the North for three months but, with the coming of spring, some PVC pipes will blossom and later some tiles. Soon, allied species such as plumbers and tilers will appear on the site but only very early in the morning, when they will make very loud noises until about 9 am.

Finally when the construction is almost completed, and there are only a few minor finishing touches required to make it liveable, the Builder will appear once more to collect its money and then vanish for ever. It is one of the great tragedies of the current economic environment that these unique and perplexing creatures are believed to be virtually extinct.

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