Mr. Nature Bonus Video: Snake Plays Possum, Too

Yesterday we posted a video of an opossum fooling two dogs by playing dead–“playing possum.” The act can fool humans, too.

But voila! Here’s a harmless little snake that does the same thing. If he feels threatened, the hognosed snake will put on a fierce threat display; and if it doesn’t work–well, then it’s time to play dead. Upside down, tongue hanging motionless: he’ll even release a chemical that makes him smell dead.

Hognosed snakes in zoos and homes stop playing dead because they don’t feel threatened anymore. As the top item on their menu is live toads, I don’t recommend them as pets. But it’s cool that God gave two such widely unrelated animals the same almost-unique from of self-defense.

 

Oscar-Winning Possum

“And now, the winner of an Academy Award for best portrayal of a dead opossum, would you please welcome… a live possum!” [Near-hysterical applause]

I mean, did these dogs get hosed or what?

But they mustn’t feel too bad about it. One morning I found a dead possum at the bottom of my garbage can. Oh, spiffy. Looked like he’d been dead for several days. Heck, he was stiff! For lack of anything better to do, I tipped the garbage can over and let it lie there while I went in search of a shovel. I got back just in time to see the possum marching out of the garbage can. He saw me, too, looked up at me and showed his teeth. You’re welcome, I’m sure.

Mr. Nature: Camouflaged Flounder

Jambo! Mr. Nature here–with a reminder that even though our key social and political institutions can be debauched and broken by human wickedness and stupidity, and stolen out from under us by Democrats… God’s stuff still works.

Behold the flounder, which most of us know best as fillets in the seafood section of our supermarket. Many of us have caught them on hook and line. But how many of us have ever seen them change color? Well, not many, because it happens underwater.

But change color they do, like the chameleon, like the octopus; and being flat, with both eyes on the same side of the head (the top side), helps them to hide in the sand. Oddly enough, when they’re born, the eyes are on opposite sides, like they are in other fish. They migrate as the flounder matures. Actually I think that’s even more remarkably odd than the color-changing.

All these weird little things about the flounder–put them all together, and you have a very successful fish.

 

Where It’s Always Groundhog Day

The man in this video is trying to tame a young wild groundhog. He’s obviously making progress. You can do this with squirrels, chipmunks, and wild rabbits, too.

I hit a home run in a softball game once, courtesy of a groundhog. I hit the ball and it rolled into a groundhog burrow under the left field fence. No ground rule covered that rather unusual situation, so the homer was allowed.

It’s not like I did it on purpose, y’know.

Bouncing Baby Goats

Need some joie de vivre in your life? Find some baby goats and set ’em up with a couple of old tires and a makeshift see-saw and just watch the fun.

Notice these little guys get into head-butting long before they grow horns. I wonder if there’s a way to get them out of it.

Cat Luvs Rhinoceros

I remember when rhinos were described as animated tanks that’d attack anything that crossed their path: practically brainless, not nice at all.

That was all bunk.

Jean-Pierre Hallet (Animal Kitabu) said practically any animal will respond to kindness and affection. And to prove it, he tamed a full-grown rhino named Pierrot. He used to ride on Pierrot’s back.

So the cat found this orphaned rhino calf a soft touch. As you can see.

Cats & Dogs &… Tanks? (Did He Say ‘Tanks’?)

If you ever visit the Aberdeen Proving Ground, you’ll see a lot of vintage tanks that’ll make you wonder how anyone ever managed to get inside them and fight a battle–and how they ever got back out. But as you can see in this video, cats don’t have that problem. Neither do chihuahuas.

But we also have a couple of guinea pigs, a hamster, and a parakeet trying their luck at armored warfare. Guinea pigs really do seem to get the hang of it. The hamster is hopeless. Try to keep him out of your order of battle, if you can.

Fox Steals Golfers’ Balls!

(Sorry for the headline! I couldn’t resist. But it’s not inaccurate.)

This golf course is in Montana, but it’s not the only golf course in America where this peculiar thing has happened.

A fox is collecting golf balls. They haven’t yet been able to find where he’s stashing them. But they have him in camera picking up balls that are in play and making off with them.

What do you suppose he’s doing with them?

How to Handle a Monarch

Yesterday I was outside, writing, and it was a sunny morning but, well, cold. Sitting in my chair in the shade, I was cold.

I chanced to look down, and was surprised to see a beautiful monarch butterfly clumsily trying to crawl over the grass. I wanted to help, but sometimes when you intervene in nature, you make things worse. Eventually Mr. Do-Good won out. I decided the monarch’s problem was that he was too cold to function properly–but I could fix that.

The thing to do is to let the butterfly crawl onto your hand. Monarchs have a lot of self-confidence because they know the birds won’t eat them–not unless they want to get sick. Monarch butterflies are pull of nasty milkweed juice, which they absorb as caterpillars.

Once I had the monarch perched on my finger like a canary, I brought him to a warm and sunny place and got him to crawl onto a plant. He rested there for just two or three minutes, flexing his wings in the sun–and then took off, last seen flying over the roof on his way to wherever he was going. And I felt blessed.

We once fished one of these out of Barnegat Bay and let him rest in our boat until his wings were dry and he could fly away.

God’s stuff is just so wonderful.

The Call of the Pika (Did He Say ‘Pika’?)

I’ve long thought these pikas were about the cutest little animals you’d ever see. Distantly related to rabbits, they look more like tailless mice or hamsters, only with bigger, rounder ears. They do look cuddly, don’t they? And they make this call that sounds like “Eep!” Wasn’t there a pitcher, long ago, who made a sound like that every time he threw the baseball?