MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Sep 2011 (14)

Chook-Chook!

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
2 September 2011
Comments
Comments (10)

My friend Jen recently introduced me to a card game called Chook-Chook! through a much-loved set passed down from her great aunt, still played with competitive vigour at family gatherings. Described as "an interesting & amusing parlor game for young and old", it's actually a raucous free-for-all in which you trade chickens and sell their eggs followed by convoluted accounting in shillings and pence.

After a couple of rounds of this splendidly noisy and frantic card game I was hooked and wanted to know more. It seemed there might be a set somewhere in the museum's collections, and sure enough, we have a lovely set.

  Chook-Chook! box Chook-Chook! box. The label shows a farmer running after a squawking chicken. (HT 4667).
Image: Joanne Ely & Sally Jones
Source: Museum Victoria
 

According to BoardGameGeek, Chook-Chook! was published in 1920. I've now seen three different types of packaging; this early one on Flickr looks to be the oldest and perhaps original style. Jen's set looks a bit more recent than that and her dad remembers playing it with his cousins in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There are advertisments for Chook-Chook! peppered throughout Australian newspapers in the National Library of Australia's Trove newspaper archive but its publisher and country of origin are unclear.

I think it's probably a local game since the word 'chook' seems a very Australian term (although it does have UK origins). I wonder too whether any other country would devise a game where you play at being a poulterer and you squawk chicken breeds.

Chook-Chook! cards The cards of Chook-Chook! The English Game is one of the breeds of chicken that players rear.
Image: Joanne Ely & Sally Jones
Source: Museum Victoria
 

If you'd like your own game of Chook-Chook! (and I heartily recommend it) the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine holds a scan of the cards once hosted by the former Melbourne City Museum. However it's missing a scan of one crucial card – the one that tells you how much your eggs sell for each month. Here it is from MV's Chook-Chook!:

Monthly egg price card The all-important Chook-Chook! card detailing monthly prices for eggs.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Do you know anything about the origins of Chook-Chook!? 

Links:

Wellcome Library blog: From the Game of Goose to Snakes and Ladders

Bug of the month

Author
by David P
Publish date
1 September 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

Prior to becoming a keeper with the Live Exhibits team at Melbourne Museum, my knowledge of grasshoppers was quite limited. Locusts were probably the type of grasshopper of which I was most aware, due to their high numbers during the warmer months. They are also responsible for the must-have car fashion accessory adorning the front of vehicles, in the form of flywire to stop cars from overheating. In truth, locusts are just one of an estimated 700 species of grasshopper in Australia.

Common Toad Hopper The Common Toad Hopper (Buforania crassa) is an inquisitive creature.
Image: David Paddock
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Live Exhibits keeps many different types of grasshoppers and I am quite intrigued by them all, but the species which first caught my attention was the Common Toadhopper (Buforania crassa) from Central Australia. They are not particularly big - females are approximately 60mm long and males 40 mm long - and contrary to their name they rarely hop or jump, preferring to walk around. They have been described as an inquisitive grasshopper and that is what drew me to them. As with pets at home, if you are looking after an animal and you buy it a new toy or feed it a new food then you hope that they will enjoy it or get a reaction from it. I found that not too long after I added food they would be on it or in it. This included pollen, orthopteran mix (made up of muesli, fish flakes and other ingredients), and various forms of foliage, such as abelia, emu bush, acacia, and callistemon. You soon find out that they have their favourites - I would say that callistemon is in the top two.

Common Toad Hopper eating callistemon Common Toad Hopper (Buforania crassa) eating callistemon, one of its favourite foods.
Image: David Paddock
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Like most grasshoppers, Common Toadhoppers use camouflage to hide from predators. As you can see from the picture, once they are perched on a rock or stick during the daylight hours they can be very difficult to see. If they are brought up on a light sand substrate then their colours will reflect that.

Common Toadhopper camouflage Common Toadhoppers are masters of camouflage. Their colours can vary depending on what colour substrate they are brought up on.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Camouflaged Toadhopper Toadhopper perfectly disguised to match the branch it's sitting on.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Their reproductive cycle is very interesting. Grasshoppers generally breed in the summer months with the male perching on the female's back, either mating or guarding her from other males. The female then deposits her eggs in the soft sand and plugs them with a foamy substance. Our toadhopper populations here at Melbourne Museum vary seasonally and in some enclosures we currently have none at all, but we can see where females have deposited their eggs. Grasshopper eggs are good at withstanding drought periods. Normal incubation time for Common Toadhoppers is 1-3 months but it can be as long as 1-2 years, the eggs simply waiting for the right conditions. We can recreate those conditions, simulating warmer days with longer heat and light periods, and heavy rain through flooding the enclosures with water. Then hopefully not too long afterwards, little toadhopper nymphs will appear and even though they may not live up to the second part of their name, these grasshoppers certainly love eating grass.

young Common Toadhopper. A young Common Toadhopper.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the meantime, come along to Melbourne Museum and visit our male Common Toadhopper, featured in the arid section of our Habitats display in Bugs Alive!.

arid habitat display Toadhoppers are in the arid habitat display in Bugs Alive!.
Image: David Paddock
Source: Museum Victoria
 

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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