Thursday, May 28, 2009

I have a new idol

Her name is Robyn Rhudy and she knows everything about almost everything that I have a passion for -- animals, with emphasis on fish, with a special love for the Plecostomus. I stumbled across her page when searching for info. on Plecos and found that she is very much to fish what Nat Baldwin is to rats. And to top it all off, she is (like Nat) a hell of a writer - at least in the 'how to' genre. For somebody that is trying to convey what would otherwise be dry information, she weaves in subtle humor in short, simple sentences of superfluous but amusing tidbits. (ie. After arranging her live rock, she says, "There is some coralline algae and some green fuzzy algae too. A long brown worm (looked like a freshwater blackworm) came out and flailed around, and then I think it died.") I'm referring to the content on her web site, but she also has a book on fish pond care I intend to order.

She is several things I wish I were, including a scientist, an expert in fish care, and an entertaining writer. I don't think I am capable of becoming the first (I can always pretend, just like I pretend I am a cop by wearing an NYPD shirt around the house), I hope to someday become the second, and I strive daily to be the third. We are both sci-fi fans, though. (We could totally be best friends.)

So here is her web site, for anyone else interested in the care of fish and some other animals. She has great pics of her tanks as well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green Spider

I found this spider on my back porch and cannot figure out what it is. Does anyone know?

Friday, May 15, 2009

A snake that plays dead

These are pictures of a snake that explored my backyard for a good while this afternoon. As you can see, the Mocking Bird wasn't too happy. When the bird tried to frighten the snake off, the snake flattened his head and neck. I did some research, and concluded that this is a Western Hognose snake. Hognose snakes eat mostly toads and frogs, but will eat some birds and other small mammals. This snake is easily identifiable by its upturned snout, stout body, and ability to flatten its neck and head, much like a cobra. It is non-venomous, however, and if its flattening and hissing doesn't frighten you away,it will roll over and play dead. If you try to turn it upright, it will roll back over and attempt to fool you again -- ridiculous and endearing, if you ask me. Here is a video of one playing dead.

Pardon the quality of the pics with the bird -- I took them in a hurry through the screen.

[update: I have been informed by Jon Downes, director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, that this snake isn't entirely harmless. Here is what he says: "Members of this genus have enlarged maxillary teeth and possess a slightly toxic saliva. In a few cases involving bites from this species, the symptoms reported have ranged from none at all to mild tingling, swelling and numbness. Nevertheless, they are generally considered to be harmless."]