Introducing Neville – the Duck

No, not Nev – Neville!

Neville is now reputed to have many thousands of followers. He’s the latest West Walyalup, Rottnest Island selfie celebrity.

Forget Roger, think Neville.

On an island with over 10,000 quokkas, you might think Neville is a cute quokka, but no, Neville is a duck.

Neville is a wild Australian shelduck, also known as an Australian mountain duck or guraga in Noongar.

These ducks are very common on Rotto. You’ll find them all over the island and especially around the salt lakes where they breed and feed on brine shrimp.

The pic that started it all. Posted during January 2024. Now the cover photo for Rottnest Island Community Page on Facebook Groups

In January this year, a duck (now known as Neville) landed on a boat moored near Rottnest Island and peered through a hatch at the humans below. Someone on board took his picture and posted it on social media. Then Neville and Neville look-a-likes began appearing on the Rottnest Island Community Facebook page and the Rottnest Island Accommodation Swap page and, of course Instagram, and maybe even Threads.

Neville is a very inquisitive and friendly duck; he visits boats, accommodation, and even interacts with beach goers.

It now seems he is also a magician and appears in several places at the same time.

One theory is that Neville was hand-reared by a family on the island. It is, of course, entirely possible that there are several friendly shelducks on the island that are mistaken for Neville and possibly harassed by over enthusiastic Instagrammers seeking selfie shots with him.

Shelducks mate for life; I have no idea of Neville’s age or if he has a significant other. Local artist Pip Phelps is planning a series of paintings dedicated to Neville who has now been hilariously named the unofficial Chairman of Rottnest Island.

It’s worth remembering that these ducks are wild animals and shouldn’t be fed human food or given water; they have salt glands (inbuilt desalinators) connected to their bills, which allows them to drink salt water. Shelducks eat green grass, algae, insects and mollusks. Feeding them encourages them to beg and makes them reliant on humans. Look what has happened with seagulls, ravens and quokkas begging for food on the island – we don’t need shelducks joining the fray.

There have been other celebrity birds on the island. 10-year-old Pete the Peacock, aka Henry, was the sole remaining peacock on Rottnest Island. He used to strut his stuff around the settlement but crowed for the last time in 2022 when the island reverted back to an all native A-Class Reserve. Watch out Neville!

Remember, it is illegal to feed wildlife on the Rottnest Island. Rangers can issue fines up to $10,000 for interfering with (including feeding) wildlife. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Parks and Wildlife Service have always urged people to refrain from feeding native animals.

That aside, people are fascinated with wild animals in suburbia; last week our John McGlue wrote a wonderful article, Fox on the Run, about a fox at Leighton Beach who plays with humans.

Recently, Flaco, New York City’s beloved owl died after crashing into a building. He had escaped last year from his enclosure at Central Park Zoo and had become quite a celebrity around Central Park.

Fremantle Shipping News wish Neville a long and happy duck-life – shelducks can live to be 19!

* By Jemima Drake (real name, maybe)


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