David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



Although it is one of the most numerous species in Australia the Clerk is also one of the most remarkable.

The habitat of these fascinating creatures is in the vast office colonies of the central business district which they inhabit in their thousands. Unfortunately their dull colouring - the males are uniformly white to the waist with grey legs, and the females are usually white, blue or fawn - disguises their extraordinary characteristics.

The clerk is reputedly the slowest creature on earth. Short sighted and deaf to the telephones ringing around it, this creature can take up to an hour to find a letter on its desk, half a day to find a file in a filing cabinet and reloading a stapler is virtually a career. Inordinately shy, they avoid public areas such as the Reception Desk and can usually only be glimpsed hiding behind the ferns endlessly testing rubber stamps on their blotter, trying to find the right one.

Much of their time is spent making trips to the stationery store or standing in small groups muttering about the boss, however they can also be playful creatures and have often been observed spending several hours after lunch (a salad sandwich, an apple and a bottle of juice) trying to throw the lunchwrap into the waste-paper basket. If they're in a particularly good mood - they may even arrange the paper clips on their magnetic holder into amusing shapes.

Clerks nest fiercely and will aggressively decorate their cubicles with snapshots of their holidays, Dilbert cartoons and newspaper headlines which appear to make amusing comments about other members of staff. Their cosy burrows are also rapidly populated by parasitic organisms such as troll dolls, smurfs, gumbies and frogs stuffed with birdseed.

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