Attenborough’s Oxford: porterus moustachus

With its neat navy or black fur, and the distinctive grey stripe on its upper lip, porterus moustachus is one of the smartest looking creatures in the Oxford jungle.  However, its austere looks conceal a creature of the most territorial and protective nature.  porterus ceaselessly guards the entrance to its lair, and for good reason, for inside lies its adopted brood.  It is not known why porterus takes it upon itself to protect hundreds of individuals of many different species, including the troublesome fresherus fresherus and the intimidating finalius mentalus but whatever the reason it takes its job most seriously.  It barricades the entrance to its lair and assesses each creature that enters with a beady eye. Should an unwanted guest arrive, porterus moustachus will stretch to its full height, puff out its chest and vocalise in a gruff tone to drive away the intruders.  Some porterus sub-species are far more selective than others in who they will allow to enter their lair; for example it is known that porterus moustachus ballioli and porterus moustachus christchurchus will only allow individuals other than their own brood into their lair in return for shiny objects which porterus hoards behind their barricades.  porterus moustachus peterus, on the other hand, is often easily bribed with cake.

One of porterus moustachus’ greatest problems is the filling of its lair with a white, papery substance secreted by postmanus liberalis, a tall but harmless species with naked knees.  Luckily the adopted brood of porterus help to clear out the mess left by the unruly postmanus, often making many trips in and out of the lair per day.

After dark porterus moustachus’ most difficult protective duties arise, when incapacitated fresherus fresherus individuals which do not belong to its brood attempt to gain access to the lair, often tailing members of the real brood through the barricaded entrance.  Perhaps the most wary and ferocious member of the porterus species in this situation is porterus moustachus worcesterus, individuals attempting to enter after dark have rarely lived to tell the tale.  It is thought that this extreme behaviour by worcesterus might be due to the increased protection required for the rare grangerus watsonus member of its brood, a favourite of the local predators.  porterus moustachus rarely punishes members of its own brood, apart from in instances of involuntary vomit on the immaculate floor of its lair, such as that often produced by fresherus fresherus members of the brood.

It is not known how porterus moustachus reproduces; in fact females and young are rarely sighted in the Oxford jungle.  It is thought that males migrate; leaving their lairs to the care of the adolescent porterus alopecius, in order to breed with the more nomadic females, but this mysterious practice has never yet been witnessed.


PHOTO/Charles D P Miller