All the Animals VIII

August 2020

Lisa asked me what animals I have seen while hiking or backpacking.  Not at all strange that we were hiking at the time.

I viewed almost all of these creatures while hiking, and almost all of the spied animals are made of living flesh.

Behold the sixth in a series of columns enumerating these critters.

I like animals.


52 stag beetle

Y’know, there is actually a stag beetle club.  It’s in London.  A stag beetle club!  Isn’t that just too delicious.

It’s not that they go stag, it’s that the pincers that grow out the front look so much like the antlers of a stag, a male deer.  These scary claw things are actually the beetle’s overly large jaws.  They come into play during courtship — be careful not to poke her, so to speak — and to wrestle other beetles.

Pittsburgh

July 2020

53/1 salamander

Salamanders look like lizards, slender with blunt snouts, short limbs projecting perpendicularly from their bodies and a worthy tail.

The legendary salamander has been linked to fire, one of the four elements.  Fire is associated with the qualities of energy, assertiveness and passion.  You know how passionate salamanders are.

50 points to anyone who can name the other three elements.

Angeles National Forest

California

April 2011


53/2 salamander

Quebec Run Wild Area

Pennsylvania

May 2007


53/3 salamander

Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

South Carolina

June 2004


53/4 newt

A newt is a salamander.

Quebec Run Wild Area

Pennsylvania

July 2012


53/5 eft

I’ve heard that an eft is a newt in its juvenile stages, a teenager.  Could be.  You could say that an eft is a newt and a newt is a salamander.

Mohonk Preserve

New York

May 2019

54 cactus

Clearly not an animal, but what the heck.  It’s happy.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Texas

March 2013

55 picnic table

As long as we’ve broken the mold by including the non-animal cactus, I might as well introduce you to a little scene I title, Where Little Picnic Tables Come From

Bradys Run County Park

Pennsylvania

December 2006

56 a former bird

And this is all that’s left of it.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

Pennsylvania

May 2004

57 Jean-Clawed

Jean-Clawed

58/1 chicken

There are chickens, many chickens.

Key West

Florida

February 2018


58/2 chicken

“Gravity Hill is a phenomenon.  Cars roll uphill and water flows the wrong way.  It’s a place where gravity has gone haywire.”

Gravity Hill

New Paris, Pennsylvania

June 2015

Some of us are afraid of bear, some of us are not.  For those who might be a little unsettled, let’s start gently.

59/1 bear

Half a bear.

U S Space & Rocket Center

Huntsville, Alabama

November 2011


59/2 bear

This one, too, seems harmless.

Kennebunk Service Plaza

I-95 southbound

Maine


59/3 bear

Riverview Park

Pittsburgh

January 2020


59/4 bear

I don’t know, honey.  It’s a Saturday afternoon and the lawn is mowed and the laundry is done.  I know.  Let’s build a bear in the back yard.

Baker Trail

Pennsylvania

July 2019


59/5 bear

This very large fellow, I admit, is in the zoo.  You’re safe.  So is he, other than the humiliation.

Pittsburgh Zoo

July 1981


59/6 bear

This is a real bear.  This is her home.  I appreciate that she let us visit for the short time we were there. 

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia

June 2016


59/7 bear

These are real bear.  First, here’s Mom, making sure nobody messes with her brood.

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia

June 2016


59/8 bear

And here’s Junior, curious.

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia

June 2016


59/9 bear

This character, even though he lives in the zoo, still qualifies as a genuine Don’t Mess With Me kind of guy.

On the scale of bear, our beloved black bear (which comes in a variety of colors such as black, brown, blonde and even silvery-gray with a blue luster) is the safest, most gentle of the ursines.  Then you have your grizzly.  Mean sons of bitches.  Do not mess!  They will take you down without a second thought.

And now you have polar bear.  Just forget about it.  They make grizz look like choir boys.

Pittsburgh Zoo

Pittsburgh

July 1981

snakes

A lot has been written and believed about snakes.

.  A bowl of milk will attract snakes.

.  If you cut off a snake’s head, it will stay alive until sundown.

.  If threatened, a mother snake will swallow her young.

.  If you kill a snake, its partner will come after your sorry ass.

.  To escape a predator, the Pennsylvania Hoop Snake will bite and latch on to its own tail forming a circle.  Then it can roll down a hill to safety.

.  A rattlesnake’s age can be determined by counting its rattles.

.  Angry snakes chase people who get too close.

.  Snakes are poisonous

Every one of these statements about snakes is untrue, so much hogwash, codswallop, humbug, bull, horsefeathers, monkeyshine, antics and otherwise nonsense.

But the last one, “snakes are poisonous,” requires explanation.  To put a fine point on it, snakes are venomous, not poisonous.

“Poisonous” indicates that toxin is ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  “Venomous” means the toxin is injected into the bloodstream.  This involves fangs and stingers.

A man, a woman, a snake.  And there was an apple thrown in to that story somewhere.  Mythically speaking, the first snake lived in the Garden and was literally a reptile.  Or maybe it was a representation of some sexually related folderol.  It could be that the snake represented Satan.  In Greek mythology, Gorgons were frightful women, sometimes with wings, who sported hissing, wriggling snakes growing from their heads instead of hair.  They were so appalling that if you should catch their gaze, you would instantly turn into stone.  Yow!

60/1 snake

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia

July 2019


60/2 snake

Quebec Run Wild Area

Pennsylvania

July 1997


60/3 green snake

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia

May 2011


60/4 snake

Rachel Carson Trail

Pennsylvania

May 2020


60/5 snake

Laurel Highlands

Pennsylvania

July 2018


60/6 snake

Boyce Mayview Park

Pennsylvania

September 2013

61 damselfly

Damselflies have been around for at least 260 000 002 years, give or take 20 minutes.  This one?  Not quite that long.

Baker Trail

Pennsylvania

July 2019

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