Posts Tagged ‘opossum’

(I was thinking about Inspector Clouseau, with the bumpf on his head…)

I came across an interesting book the other day: Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife by Marie Winn.

More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife

You should check it out as it’s chock full of interesting nature/science stuff. Plus, the author has an awesome blog: http://www.mariewinn.com/marieblog/

I miss going out on night hikes and monitoring frogs…sigh. There’s nothing better than being out in the park at night: no people, much less ambient noise, and it’s peaceful. Of course, some people are freaked out about being out in the woods in the dark. According to the author, there’s even a scientific name for this fear: nyctohylophobia. Usually, the worst thing that can happen to you in the forest at night, however, is that you will trip over something or get whacked in the face by a low branch.

Still, we all can give ourselves the heebie-jeebies at times. Years ago, I was frog monitoring (this involves walking a transect at night and counting the number and type of frogs we hear) with another park naturalist. For some reason, maybe too much caffeine or bigfoot stories, we both got spooked by a rustling off the trail in the bushes. It was like something was following us down the trail but hiding and lurking. Trembling, we both trained our flashlight beams on the sound. All of a sudden, something came out of the undergrowth with a crash. We both screamed and jumped about 4 feet in the air. It was an opossum. Admittedly a large one, but still, just an opossum. We told no one of our foolishness (until I blabbed today).

Oh, and don’t miss this blog:  http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/  with great pics of the birds in Central Park.

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Big Fish

Took a trip to one of my favorite places: The 577 Foundation

Usually, this is something that just the dog and I do every weekend (girl time!), but we were happy to have Greg along with us this time. The dog is bonkers about the geodesic biodome there (maybe all the rich, oxygenated air?), so we went in to feed the fish. There are some real monster koi in there…about 2 feet long! And, boy are they piggy (wait..can a fish be piggy…) eaters.

bear on bridge     One of the staff says that they have a real problem with people touching the koi. They often inadvertently rub off the protective “slime” or mucus from the scales of the fish which leads to infection on the fish (NOT people, silly) and can cause lesions to form. Lesson #1: Don’t Pet the Fish!

In case you needed a koi ID sheet, you can find one here. Selling and maintaining koi is a big business and they even have plastic surgery for fish:

“Fish diagnostics range from a basic exam ($40), blood work ($60) and X-rays ($55) to the advanced: ultrasound ($175), CAT scans ($250). Veterinarians tube-feed fish. They give fish enemas, fix broken bones with plates and screws, remove impacted eggs, treat scoliosis and even do fish plastic surgery — anything from glass-eye implantation to ”surgical pattern improvement,” with scale transplantation, scale tattooing or unsightly-scale removal.”

You should read the full article…it is truly amazing stuff! What I did not know was that koi are also considered nuisance / invasive species:

Koi have been accidentally or deliberately released into the wild in every continent except Antarctica. They greatly increase the turbidity of the water because they are constantly stirring up the substrate. This makes waterways unattractive, reduces the abundance of aquatic plants, and can render the water unsuitable for swimming or drinking even by livestock. In some countries, koi have caused so much damage to waterways that vast amounts of money and effort have been spent trying to eradicate them, largely unsuccessfully. Because of the danger to the environment koi possession is illegal in many parts of America, South America and Australia.

Good thing these are kept inside in a pond. We also went out to the river overlook and even though it was bitter cold we saw this fellow scurrying along:

possum A Virginia opossum! And quite a robust looking one, too. Generally, the ones we see around here have stumpy tails and mangled ears from loosing bits to frostbite. I used to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center and the joke was: “Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the opossum that it could be done!” If you see roadkill, chances are that it’s a possum…

Should you feel like becoming a card-carrying member of the National Opossum Society (yes, there is one) you can get a snazzy bumper sticker along the lines of “I Brake for Possums” or this fantastic picture only a mother could love.

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