Category Archives: Flora + Fauna

Frogs

We’re here today to shine a good light on yet another F subject that is often overlooked, disparaged, undervalued, and sometimes even stepped on* by accident. Yes: frogs are for the most part what one might consider gross. No doubt their wild, unpredictable hopping can be unsettling. And yes, some are so butt ugly they may make you want to vomit. They have the dubious distinction of being on the short list of animals that have been used as Plagues.

But you know what? Frogs are also pretty awesome. A vastly underrated species if you ask me.

Let’s celebrate our amphibian friends by pointing out some of their more flattering features.

FANCY FROGS

Holy cow have you seen some of these poison dart frogs? These crazy-colorful beauties that mostly live in Central and South America got their name from the heyday of when people were using the frogs’ poison in their blowdarts** to settle various scores.

Have a look at some of these punams! But don’t touch, lest you end up looking like Martin Short in whatever terrible 80s movie that was with Danny Glover when he gets stung by all those bees.

Cobalt Dart Frog

Cobalt Dart Frog

Green & Black Poison Dart Frog, highly dangerous due to its striking resemblance to a delicious Andes Mint.

The Green & Black Poison Dart Frog, highly dangerous due to its striking resemblance to a delicious Andes Mint.

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Frightening Fish

Under the sea, under the sea… Life is de bubbles, under the sea.” – Sebastian the Crab

Despite Sebastian the Crab’s misleading portrayal in The Little Mermaid of life under the sea being some sort of delightful Calypso paradise; the reality is not quite so idyllic. The truth is that there are many alarming things lurking under our waters. Let’s have a look at some of the creatures you should be aware of.

Sebastian the Crab: Delusional or purposely creating misleading perceptions of life under the sea?

Sebastian the Crab: Misleading us about life under the sea?

Lungfish (freshwater) – This living fossil is a true horror monster brought to life. Certain kinds of lungfish are able to bury themselves in mud for months on end to survive a drought. That’s right, this little freak show doesn’t even need to live in water, it can just sit there waiting and lurking… eager for the chance to chomp you with its razor teeth. Oh yeah they can also walk on land and live for like a CENTURY.

lungfish

lungfish

Lungfish are found in Africa, Australia and South America, and despite being so awful looking, are actually eaten by some people. I’ll gladly leave them alone if they pledge to do the same for me.

Oarfish – Whenever something washes up on a beach that is even slightly reminiscent of a sea monster, it is always an oarfish. Every time. The next time you see one of those “Sea Monster Found?!” stories on Yahoo, don’t get your hopes up it’s totally just a dead oarfish.

wow, just wow.

Oarfish: wow, just wow.

These mysterious, elusive creatures can grow to more than 50 feet in length, fueling speculation that they were probably the “sea monsters” spotted by early navigators… OR WERE THEY???

No you’re right they probably were just oarfish.

Ocean Sunfish – These are so weird aren’t they? They look like those bullets from the original Super Mario Brothers with little flippers attached.

Look out Mario!

Look out Mario!

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Florida Manatee Fights Forced Ridings

An open letter from a manatee upset with the recent trend of people trying to ride manatees. 

Greetings humans and other land-based creatures. I come to you today with a heavy, four-chamber heart. I want to address a delicate issue that demands the immediate attention of the international community – including those above the water and those under it as well.

We manatees unequivocally condemn and formally denounce all attempts to ride on us, and demand you stop this degrading practice at once.

Is it not enough to mercilessly run us over with your massive boats, hunt us for our precious body parts, or throw tantalizing non-food items at us that look just enough like lettuce to be confusing? Must you humiliate us further with this abhorrent behavior of trying to ride us? We will tolerate this no longer.

Perhaps you are thinking, “What are you gonna do about it manatees? You’re so big and slow we can do whatever we want to you.”

Yes, we are generally speaking a lumbering, peaceable species. But we should not be provoked. We are far more patient than your hot-tempered, destructive race, but we can only be pushed so far.

How will the manatee community respond if this shameful practice continues, you ask? While nature has neglected to give us a substantive means of self-defense in terms of brute force or physical combat, we do have options available to us that we will not hesitate to mobilize, should our hand (we say “flippers” but I’m using your language here for clarity) be forced.

Our serene countenance and adorable looks have endeared us to many of our aquatic brethren; some of whom are quite protective, vengeful and ill-tempered. We have friends who are highly venomous or pointy-billed, and some who have large, sharp teeth. We have developed excellent relations with the infamous candirus of South America, who delight in swimming into human bodies and exiting in shall we say, the most sensitive, painful way you can imagine.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

These are not threats. We manatees have been backed into a corner and pushed to the brink by your hurtful, gross conduct; much of which seems to take place in the region you call “Florida,” but we call “Warm Grass Munch World.” If the attempts to ride or mount us in any unauthorized manner continue, we will respond with swift, immediate action. We will respond with “ocean justice,” which is like your “street justice” or “prison rules,” but much more brutal. Do not be surprised when shark attacks increase, sailfish impalings become more commonplace, or your hospitals begin to fill with wailing, crotch-bandaged candiru victims.

You have been warned.

We are a simple species. We basically just float around and eat vegetation. We’re not hurting anyone. It is true that we produce a shocking amount of horrific gas — but does that make us unworthy of basic respect or decency?

I end with saying we are not so different. I have learned much about your ways. We both wean our young on milk, breathe air and struggle with body image issues, we both enjoy swimming and munching on lettuce – and dare I say we both want generally the same things for our young. Mammal to mammal, I ask for an immediate end to this undignified, uncalled for practice of trying to ride the noble manatee. I assure you we will afford the same respect in return.

 — Grassman the Manatee

Sad manatee photo via manatee.net

Sad manatee photo via manatee.net

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Filed under Flora + Fauna, Florida

Feeding Frenzies

Thanksgiving-time is upon us. In this fair season where we may be tempted to overindulge in foodstuffs, we thought it might be nice to show some footage of beasts more gluttonous than ourselves.

Why?

1.) We are all about feeling better about ourselves

2.) Because shame is a powerful motivator

So please enjoy these clips of ravenous animals chowing down without restraint. May it serve as a reminder to show a modicum of discipline during times of abundance. And also as a reminder to never trust cunning, deceptively bloodthirsty porpoises.

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Filed under Flora + Fauna, Food

Flamingos

As a proud Floridian, I stand by one of our most iconic symbols: the flamingo. This noble creature has served as a spokesman for some of our finest institutions, such as Miami Subs and the Florida Lottery, shown tremendous grace over being turned into a lawn ornament, and brought a certain amount of class to a place where we used to just scream at horses to run faster.

Whether selling discount gyros or gracing lawns, flamingos are elegant creatures that deserve our full support.

Despite consistently having the smelliest quadrant at our local zoo (don’t even try to blame those swans you share the pond with), we stand with you, flamingos – albeit far away and not downwind. If it wasn’t for the Fennec Fox, you’d definitely be our official animal. Actually that’d probably make more sense as we’re not a Moroccan blog.

The majestic flamingo taking flight. We’re all rooting for you this week!

In all seriousness, this is a big week for flamingos. The BBC ran a great story detailing a gigantic flamingo love fest that is supposed to start happening this week in Tanzania. So everyone keep it down and keep your fingers crossed for lots of successful breeding of lesser flamingos. Unfortunately these critters are close to being endangered.

!BONUS FLAMINGO FACTS!

1. Scientists appear to have named the different kinds of flamingos based on their awesome-ness, you’ve got: lesser flamingos, greater flamingos, and then of course, AMERICAN FLAMINGOS.

2. Apparently the Romans of old used to enjoy eating flamingo tongue.

3. Flamingos can live up to 40 years!

4. They get their pink color from the things they eat, such as Big League Chew**, and other flamingos**.

**Not a real flamingo fact

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Filed under Flora + Fauna, Foreign Lands

Five Fluffy Animals

I want to start with an acknowledgement that fluffy animals are not the sort of manly thing we usually discuss around here. But if having a daughter has reminded me of anything, it’s that fluffy animals are indeed delightful. I don’t care who hears me say that.

We’re gonna take this even further… Not only are we presenting a list of 5 of the world’s fluffiest animals, we are ranking them according to snuggle-ability; meaning the animals we’d most like to snuggle.

Of course this is a bit arbitrary but those are the parameters as set by my lil’ pumpkin – who you DO NOT want to cross.

Without further ado let’s continue the time-honored art of making arbitrary lists about animals!

5. Hedgehog– Most of us think of Sonic when we think hedgehogs. Athletic, spry, highly motivated ring-grabbing heroes… Man what a misleading portrayal. It turns out that real hedgehogs are hilariously fluffy globs of slothful helplessness. Perfect for snuggling though.

No chance he’d make it around one of those loop-de-loops and defeat Dr. Robotnik.

4. Bear cub (black, brown or polar) – There’s just something so alluring about danger-snuggling something so powerful that could potentially eat you like a flopping salmon.

3. Golden Lion Tamarin – Despite a traumatic childhood event involving a ferocious monkey attack (“Surely this monkey tethered to a tree outside our shady hotel here in Costa Rica is tame and trustworthy? OH NO HE BITES GET HIM OFF AHHH!!!”), this little fella could be the bridge I need to turn my night terrors into sweet dreams.

2. Arctic Fox – I had a business idea a couple years back where you charge people to take naps with a skulk of arctic foxes. (Any angel investors out there want in on the ground level of an exciting opportunity???) Living in Florida and finding out that arctic foxes are extremely aggressive face-rippers have hampered this initiative’s progress.

1. Red Panda – Red Pandas might be the cutest animals in the world. Relatives to the larger black and white pandas, raccoons, and of course Mario from Super Mario 3 (after getting the leaf), I wouldn’t mind having to vacuum all that red fluff out of the carpet if a pumpernickel of pandas* came to visit.

*Since red pandas tend to be solitary creatures and therefore don’t have a group nickname, let’s just go with “pumpernickel of pandas” for now. 

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Filed under F Lists, Fatherhood, Flora + Fauna

Falconry

By: Paul Washington

Although it is only the second most popular method of capturing wild game that starts with F,* falconry deserves its day in the sun, that day being today.

Falcons wear leather helmets as an homage to the last time Notre Dame football was relevant. (ND Zing!)

Falconry is as old as time. (Editor’s note: many different types of birds of prey can be used in falconry, including hawks, kestrels, owls and eagles). According to Wikipedia, falconry may have begun in Mesopotamia some 2,000 years before the time of Christ.**  Given the prohibitive cost, it was practiced primarily by noblemen in medieval Europe and the Middle East who had the resources to acquire the birds and the time and space to train them.  With the advent of firearms, the use of trained birds for acquiring meat for the table declined.  Go figure.

Fast-forwarding to the 21st Century, a handful of folks still practice the time-honored art of falconry.  Like anything else that’s fun, becoming a falconer involves a significant investment of time and money and requires federal and state licensure. Continue reading

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