Lucky travelers venturing deep into the outback may chance upon a burrow of the highly sociable, extremely delectable chocolate bilby. Despite a myriad of flavours including fruit and nut, toffee chip, raspberry mallow and sugar-free rice crisp, the egg-laying bilby can be broadly classified into three main varieties: milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. The latter is by far the rarest- predators, such as dingoes and foxes, are all too aware that milk and dark bilbies contain theobromine, a chemical in chocolate that can be fatal when ingested by animals. However, white chocolate is free of theobromine, and these bilbies are sought after gluttonously, with many newly-unwrapped babies gobbled before their first Easter.
Chocolate bilbies are unrelated to regular bilbies, and their similar appearance is regarded as an extraordinary example of convergent evo-cookery. An inability to generate their own body heat fascinates scientists and disqualifies them from being classified as mammals, though may be explained logically. A chocolate animal making body heat in a desert is a recipe for disaster... or fondue. Therefore, chocolate bilbies incubate their eggs in the sun for a few minutes each day to maintain optimum temperatures, risking possible melting in the process. Skilled parents are able to judge the amount of heat needed to ensure perfect consistency in their offspring. Unfortunately, this strategy exposes the eggs to predation, and milk and dark chocolate bilbies will defend their white babies ferociously, in the hope their toxicity may deter predators from attack.
It should be noted that, although chocolate bilbies are harvested from the wild for sale at Easter, this is heavily regulated by the Chocolate Bilby Act 1987
, and harvest quotas are considered sustainable.
The bilby is an endangered marsupial omnivore closely related to bandicoots. Chocolate "Easter bilbies" are sold throughout Australia (the more traditional rabbit is a serious pest which competes with bilbies). "Darrell Lea" is the only manufacturer to donate a portion of their profits to bilby conservation.
This artwork has been donated to the "Save the Bilby Fund" [link]
, which is based in Queensland, Australia. I hope they can auction/ raffle it and raise a bit extra to ensure the survival for these cute little critters!
Other species shown include the Centralian blue-tongue (a skink), Sturt's desert pea (red flowers), and desert oak (trees with weeping foliage). These endemic species were chosen to contrast with the feral red fox- arguably Australias most devastating pest.
Acrylic, 71 x 51.5 cm (28 x 20). You may follow this works step-by-step progress: [link]
, or see a concept sketch: [link]