Dibbler is the common name for Parantechinus apicalis, an endangered species of marsupial. It is an inhabitant of the southwest mainland of Western Australia and some offshore islands. It is a member of the order Dasyuromorphia, and the only member of the genus, Parantechinus. The dibbler is a small, nocturnal carnivore with speckled fur that is white around the eyes.
The dibbler is 10–16 cm long with a 7.5-12.0 cm tail; it weighs 40-125g. The distinctive features of this dasyurid include a white eye-ring, gray-brown fur flecked with white hairs, and a short tapering tail. It has strong jaws and large canine teeth for killing prey, which include small vertebrates such as mice, birds and lizards, as well as insects and other invertebrates. The breeding season for the species is March–April.(Read more at Wikipedia)
Links to Peel
On his return to the UK in 1967, Peel was delighted to learn that the dibbler (or speckled marsupial mouse) had been rediscovered by biologists. Influenced by the benign optimism of the early hippy era, he interpreted the discovery as a sign of hope that the human race would soon turn away from violence and destruction. On his Perfumed Garden shows on Radio London he talked about the dibbler and said he wanted to know more about it, so some of his listeners checked in reference books and sent him information. He read one letter from a listener on the show of 22 July 1967, and sounds excited as he describes the dibbler's appearance and behaviour ("nocturnal and highly active").
And I was looking at the cover of the Rolling Stones’ latest LP release in the States, which is called Flowers incidentally, and there was a picture of Charlie Watts on there looking unusually “dibblerian”, I think. And talking about dibblers, I hope you’ve been pestering London Zoo and Australia House. Write to London Zoo telling them we must have dibblers, because dibblers are essential. And write in to Australia House to find out more about them, because we’ve got so many people aware that they have returned to us, you see, and that they want to be with us again, which is a strange decision on their part, but welcome nevertheless.
The DJ also mentioned on the PG that he regularly visited the Small Mammal House at London Zoo and seemed to regard small mammals and sparrows as ideal inhabitants of the imaginary world created by himself and his listeners, as he says on the final Perfumed Garden, leading into Simon & Garfunkel's "At The Zoo", a song that mentioned hamsters:
Some of the happiest hours actually that we’ve had in the Perfumed Garden so far together, as far as I’ve been concerned anyway, have been when I’ve been talking about these tiny little things like dibblers and sparrows and mini-mice and gerbils and jerboas and all these other things – of hamsters, because I’m really insane about them, you know. I go to the zoo and I go to the small animal house and I see these little tiny things hopping about, you know, and they all bite their fingernails. You know, when they eat they all sort of hold it up in their paws, you know, and you hear them going [biting sound], like this with the food. And it’s marvelous – and they hop about and grin at you, you know, because they’re behind the glass and they don’t have to bother. And they really do know something, they honestly do, you’d be surprised.
Once Radio London had closed down and Peel had settled in London, he started to keep pet hamsters, and often mentioned them on air and in his Perfumed Garden columns in International Times. He also talks about dibblers in one column from December 1967:
A splendid man called M.K. Morecambe has made magnificent suggestion [sic] that Mount Many Peaks in the South of Australia be made a dibbler reservation. The same article mentions that when alarmed in any way the dibbler wisely seeks shelter by vanishing into loose litter on the ground. Those of you who have visited romantic Southampton Row and IT premises may be able to draw some interesting parallels from this.
But unfortunately for Peel's vegetarian beliefs, the dibbler turned out to be a carnivore rather than the gentle, quaint and exotic creature he had expected. Although he continued to keep hamsters, Peel seemed to forget about dibblers after 1968; they never became household pets and remain an endangered species to this day.