Nature: A Wolf Spider’s Babies

I have to confess to a touch of arachnophobia. But you have to admire the mother wolf spider’s care for her babies. Please honk if you have counted the babies. Imagine having to care for that many at once!

If a baby should fall off, the mother spider stops what she’d doing to look for it and get it back onto her back. You have to admire that.

This is Mr. Nature with a little bit of God’s stuff–a spider that parents like a mammal. Be kind: these spiders eat nothing but bugs that we’d just as soon be rid of.

Do Worms Have a Death Wish?

Worms invade campus – The Wayne Stater

I have often wondered why worms crawl onto blazing hot sidewalks and fry themselves into oblivion.

Jambo! Mr. Nature here, to answer all our nature questions.

Going by what I’ve read, worms in the ground get thirsty and crawl out of the earth when it rains, because they need the moisture. Then it stops raining, the sun comes out, the sidewalk heats up, and it’s ballgame over for the worms. They find themselves too far from the grass and ground, and just can’t get back. If you pick them up and put them back, they’ve got a chance.

I was hoping for a more intriguing theory. This one does the poor worms little credit. And where would we be without them aerating the soil, etc.?

From now on I’m going to put them back.

Cobras, Beware!

Jambo, bwana! Mr. Nature here; and today’s safari takes us to Africa to see the secretary bird.

This bird spends most of its time stomping through the grass on its ultra-long legs, flushing out small animals to eat. It seems to have a special fondness for poisonous snakes. The secretary bird can fly, but where’s the fun in that? Obviously the really good meals are found on the ground.

These are very dangerous snakes that the secretary bird hunts, kills, and eats. Bugs and mice are also on the menu, but apparently there’s nothing quite as tasty as a nice cobra. The birds are fast and skillful, and their skinny legs make difficult targets. The snake really doesn’t have a chance.

Mr. Nature: Red-Backed Salamander

Really, I just don’t feel like writing nooze today. It’d just be more of the same old **** anyway, wouldn’t it?

Instead, let’s admire some of God’s handiwork–like, for instance, red-backed salamanders. Once upon a time you could find these little guys all over the place, you didn’t even have to go into the woods. Now it’s been years since I’ve seen one, even in the woods. I blame herbicides and pesticides for that: people love to drench their stupid lawns with chemicals.

Redbacks belong to a family of salamanders that’s been very common and successful in North America–the lungless salamanders. Yes, we said “lungless.” The embryos have lungs, the adults don’t. They breathe through their skin. God has not explained why He made them that way.

These pretty salamanders could be found under logs and rocks in people’s back yards and gardens, at the edge of the woods, on hillsides–any place where they could enjoy a moderately moist environment. There was always a temptation to take them for granted because they were so common.

And now, of course, we can’t seem to find any.

Intermission: A Busy Bird

I am way behind today, gotta somehow write a Newswithviews column, so while I get to work on that, Mr. Nature has provided you with this nice video of a mother cardinal feeding one of her babies… one seed at a time. Looks tiring! It’d be so much easier if they could use bowls and spoons, but we know of no birds who enjoy those amenities. Anyway, you can enjoy this video while I tackle a column for tomorrow.

Bonus Video: Snake Plays Dead

You have to hand it to the hognose snake. He’s not poisonous, but he pretends that he is; and if that doesn’t work, he plays dead. It must convince somebody, somewhere.

Bonus Video: Frog Changes Color

(Enough with the nooze already!)

I love grey tree frogs. They’re very tame, they’ll perch on your finger like a parakeet and eat out of your hand… and they can change color. The frog in this video is green, but by and by he changes back to grey.

I had several of these once. They used to line up on a perch in my lizard cage and sing together. My housemates came after me with torches and pitchforks, so I had to let them go. The frogs, that is–not the housemates.

I know better now. I’d keep the frogs.

Don’t Let This Happen to You!

The tiger salamander is one of the largest salamanders in North America; and if you find one, and insist on feeding it an earthworm, you may find he’ll bite the hand that feeds him.

Y’know, for the hundreds of hours of my boyhood that  I spent looking for salamanders, I never once found a tiger salamander, although they’re supposed to be not that uncommon in New Jersey. Mostly I found just those little redbacks; a tiger must be as big as 20 of those guys.

So I’ve never been bitten by a salamander, but I’ll bet the tiger’s bite packs a wallop. It just might be worth getting bitten if you can have a close encounter with one of these impressive critters. Like, how bad can it be?

Mr. Nature: The Leopard Seal

We’ve just got to have drama, don’t we? Antarctic exploration has been rather tame since Admiral Byrd’s time… and you know how that dries up the funding.

Voila! The leopard seal is transformed into a life-threatening menace of Antarctic waters! Fall into that water and you’ll be dead before any leopard seal can find you. Look at all the thermal gear the diver in this video has to carry.

These seals eat penguins. I read a lot of books about Antarctica and none of them featured any hair-raising encounters with leopard seals. But now the New Zealand Dept. of Conservation says otherwise.

Well… “a few attacks”… and one, just one, fatality (“snorkeling in Antarctic waters”). We are not told who, if anyone, witnessed these incidents. But we are told to “stay at least 20 meters away” from any leopard seals we might encounter. I don’t expect to run into any in New Jersey.

Why do I think we’re being taken for a ride? And not by any seals, either.

Amazing Video: Hippo Chases 3 Lions

You’d think three lions would be pretty safe together–who would dare attack them?

One angry hippopotamus, that’s who.

The lions wished to swim across a stream. The hippo didn’t like it. One strongly suspects the lions were lucky to get out of there alive.

We don’t have these problems in New Jersey.