Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Free sheep for everyone; London’s furry-clawed crab invasion; Diamonds sparkle on netball court; and Minecraft’s mega milestone.


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Learn more about the Chinese mitten crab:

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Hands up who out there thinks they would like a sheep? Big, fluffy outer coating of cuddly wool, makes a cute baa-ing sound – maybe has a tendency to pooh a lot? Well if you think you’d like a sheep – and more importantly if your mum and dad are happy for you to have one – farmers all across the country are giving them away for free.

Now why in the wide world of agriculture would a farmer be wanting to give away their sheep for free? Well the thing is: after last summer when we had so much rain, which created lots of grass for sheep to eat, farmers increased the number of sheep they have on their farms. But now with the wacky weather predictions suggesting we’re in an El Nino cycle – in which there likely won’t be a lot of rain, and so less food for livestock to eat – farmers are looking to reduce the number of animals on their farms.

And get this: it’s estimated there are 79 million sheep on Aussie farms at the moment. So, if Australia’s population is 26 million – give or take – that means two sheep for everyone! Now where I am going to put that sheep? 



If you’ve been near a television or radio this week, you’ll know that the situation in the Middle East continues to go from bad to worse. 

On Monday, the country of Israel sent troops into neighbouring Gaza – forcing the evacuation of some half-a-million people.

Luckily here in Australia, we’re far removed from the sorts of problems that people there are facing right now. But we’re sending all our best Squiz Kids wishes to all the people affected by the situation there – and all those here in Australia with family members there. 



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in London, England – in the River Thames, to be exact, where the river has been overrun with furry-clawed crabs. 

Now – I know that conjures an image of a super-cute crustacean – but these crabs, also known as Chinese mitten crabs – are anything but cute. 

In fact, they’re what’s known as an invasive species .. which is to say, they’re not native to England or the River Thames, they have been introduced to that habitat – and they are crowding out and taking over the animals that otherwise live there. We’ve done an excellent Squiz Kids Shortcut on Invasive Species – which I’ve linked to in today’s episode notes. 

So what’s the problem with these furry-clawed crabs? There are three main ones: 1. they eat native wildlife such as snails; 2. they burrow deep into embankments causing them to collapse, leading to possibility of flooding – and 3. They can lay up to 1 million eggs at a time. Yikes! 

The government there is now looking at the best ways to control them. Crab Control .. it’s like Paw Patrol but with claws.



It seems like every time you go to bed, something big in the sporting world has taken place by the time you wake up.

Take for instance the Cricket World Cup currently being played in India – where Australia has made up for its less-than-stellar start and beaten Sri Lanka thanks to a stirling effort by spin bowler Adam Zampa who took four wickets, despite having a dodgy back.  The Diamonds, Australia’s netball team, have also chalked up a win against New Zealand’s All Ferns in the Constellation Cup – all but sealing the deal for us to win the cup as it moves now to New Zealand for a final two games. Good news also for the All Blacks – New Zealand’s men’s rugby team – who have advanced to the semi-finals of the rugby world cup in France. But play of the day belongs to the Afghanistan men’s cricket team who pulled off the upset of the World Cup by beating England .. in the understatement of the year, Afghanistan’s captain said his whole country will be happy and proud of the win. 



Attention all Minecrafters … there was big news in the land of the world’s most popular video game yesterday when it was announced it had broken a new record to sell more than 300 million copies worldwide. 

It makes Minecraft officially the best selling single video game ever … with its closest rival being Grand Theft Auto V – or GTA as its known to those in the know – which has sold only a measly 185 million copies. And yes, for those of you paying attention – that’s an example of me using sarcasm.

Our friend Mario, however, holds the record for the best selling video game franchise. A franchise is a series of games under the same banner. And in the case of the Super Mario series of games, it’s sold more than 800 million .. that;s a whole lot of Bowser and Princess Peach .. 



From master storyteller Kate Camillo comes the enchanting new children’s book, The Puppets of Spelhorst.

Five puppets – an owl, a king, a wolf, a girl and a boy – are locked in a trunk by a grumpy old sea captain then carried off together on the adventure of a lifetime – learning along the way the importance of friendship, patience and optimism.

Illustrated in stunning  black and white by Julie Morstad – this is a book that’s destined to be classic on any family bookshelf. 

If being transported to imaginative new worlds by the creator of such family classics as The Tale of Despereux and The Magician’s Elephant – sounds like something your family would like – then The Puppets of Spelhorst is just the book for you.

Add it to your family’s bookshelf now or put it on your Christmas wish list!. I’ve stuck a link to it in today’s episode notes .. Available in all good bookshops from today.


This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. In which river in London have furry-clawed crabs become a problem?
  2. Which country beat England in a big upset at the cricket World Cup?
  3. Which popular video game just clocked up 300million sales?





It’s October 18  … the Socceroos are playing England at Wembly in an historic friendly this morning – even as we go to air .. plus it’s High School Musical star Zac Efron’s birthday. 


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … Tex from Cannon Hill, Banjo from Newrybar, Lucy from Sydney, Neil from The Ponds, Roman from Burpengary, Thomas from Mareeba and Bill from WA. 


Belated shoutouts go to… Amelia from The Gold Coast, Kavish from Sandhurst, Drae from Coledale, Ari from NSW, Elise from Forest Lake, Xavier from Goodna, Thomas from Pitt Town and Stephen listening over in San Francisco.


 And classroom shout outs go to … Class 3T and Mrs Bell at Presbyterian Ladies College in Sydney, Ms Semeniuk’s class at Penrith South Public School, class 5R at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Albion Park, class 3W with Ms Winterbine at Valentine Public School, class 4B at Niddrie Primary School, class 6K with Mrs Hyland and Mrs C and St Rita’s Primary School in Victoria Point, year 7 English class with Ms Hooi at All Hallows’ School in Brisbane and lastly today class 3A with Mrs Lim at Camp Hill Primary School. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Thames
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Minecraft