One of my favorite activities, as a boy, was to go out into the woods next door and turn over rocks and logs, looking for salamanders. There were a lot of them around, but it was always a big event when I found a red salamander–Pseudotriton ruber ruber, to the salamander cognoscenti.
The young ones are a brilliant orange-red with black spots; as they age, they grow darker. They aren’t very common, so it’s always worth a “Yahoo!” when you find one. They eat bugs, like the globalists say we should. But I could never get any of mine to eat, so I always had to let them go.
These are gorgeous little animals, they don’t bite, they were twice as big as any other kind of salamander I could find, and it’s a pleasure just to see one. I’ve never found one anywhere in this neighborhood. But there was a little swamp behind the Studnickis’ house (great for ice-skating in the winter) and they seemed to like the damp environment.
My parents never understood why I wanted to bring these home,. but they didn’tc complain about it.
I’ve always liked toads; they have a lot of personality and make pretty good pets. Here’s a toad demonstrating one of the secret techniques of Toad-Jitsu–burying himself in sand to elude a predator.
The biggest, fattest toad I ever saw was camped out under the electric bug zapper by night at the Sea Spray Motel, Beach Haven–snapping up every bug that fell onto the shuffleboard court. Did he have it made, or what?
The second-biggest were the ones in Aunt Louise’s garden: “hoptoads,” she called them. Something about her garden really drew the toads. Well, she was an awfully nice lady. Toads pick up on that.
“How the dickens should I know?” growls an irritable Mr. Nature. He’s been working on this blog, too, and it has made him cranky. In a few minutes he calms down.
The answer to the question is, “Well, they sort of sleep, but not like we do.” That is, they rest. They might find a cranny in a coral reef, or an old tin can, and hole up there for a while–where they can breathe more slowly and not have to exert themselves. The hard part of being a fish is there’s always something or someone trying to eat you. So just floating around or lying on the bottom fast asleep is a pretty sure way to wind up out of the saga.
Watch your goldfish carefully and see if they have down time. That’s them sleeping. Sort of.
I love the little American anoles, often called “chameleons,” which they’re not. They don’t have the magic tongues. They’ve got to sneak up on insects and quickly grab ’em before the bug can assess the danger.
All it takes is keen eyesight, patience, and superb muscular coordination.
Note: I passed up video of a savannah monitor lizard eating a rattlesnake. I had a savannah monitor once and I wouldn’t dream of feeding her rattlesnakes.
The best lizards to feed are iguanas. They can eat whatever you’re having for supper. Polish off a bowl of raspberries in seconds flat.
I wonder how many anoles you’d need to patrol your house and keep it bug-free.
Summer-time is click beetle time! Any child, cat, or dog could tell you that. My cat Buster could be entertained by a click beetle all day. Boing! Another click beetle springs into the air.
I am often asked if it’s possible for a human to learn how to spring high into the air from a prone position, like a click beetle. To get an answer to this question, send a check for $50 and a self-addressed stamped envelope… (that’ll be enough of that!).
Come home with this in your pail, and you’ll be famous!
Some fossils look so weird as to be not of this earth. The ancient amphibian Diplocaulus, with its boomerang-shaped head, is one of them.
Fun Stuff God Has Done: the Diplocaulus
Why did Diplocaulus have such a funny-shaped head? To discourage predators from swallowing him head-first? We really can’t know unless we find some live ones somewhere and observe how they live. But that’s always hard to do unless you’re in a movie.
You’d think a hippo would be way too fat to generate any speed. Boy, would you be wrong.
The hippo in this video hasn’t yet opened his throttle all the way, but he’s already much faster than you will ever run. Hippos also tend to be irritable if they think you’re encroaching on their territory. Believe it or not, statistically hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa.
Posting a still photo of a flying fish made me want to see video of flying fish.
Jambo, Mr. Nature here. Flying fish are abundant and spectacular; but having never been to sea, I’ve never seen them. I used to be fascinated, reading Kon-Tiki, by these edible little fish who used to launch themselves out of the water and wind up in the frying pan.
God’s stuff–always a treat to see it.
P.S.–Stay tuned! When I get back from the bank and the supermarket, etc., I will have a huuuuge nooze item for you (another nice mess blown up in the bad guys’ faces).
Jambo, Mr. Nature here! And I haven’t seen any predators in our neighborhood lately. Especially hawks. Where have our hawks gone?
Well, we now have crows. Lot and lots of crows. And crows don’t like predators. Instead of just putting their names on a registry, the crows chase them out. This seems to work very well. Maybe the crows are smarter than we are.
Before I get into any low-down, dreary nooze–if I get into it at all today–here’s a sure harbinger of spring: you can hear the spring peepers.
My editor, Susan, has a patch of boggy ground next door; and when the peepers come out of hibernation to mate and lay eggs, Susan calls me on the phone so I can hear the peepers singing.
God has not troubled Himself with giving them a calendar; He has created them so that they never miss their time.
God’s stuff always works. It’s our stuff that has all the problems.