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What Animal Ate my Mango?

Or, Possums, Raccoons and the Hazards of Tropical Fruit Trees in Florida!

mango

We have a beautiful mango tree that so far has brought only one mango a year to fruition. This I pamper for several months, investing gallons of water and some of my best compost to help it grow and ripen. Last year, the mango disappeared while we were on a trip to Kansas City. But the year before, it ripened lusciously and we enjoyed it in fruit salads for two days.

This year, my single mango began to ripen while we were still at home, and I kept a careful  eye on it. Critters love mangoes, and probably smell the beguiling fragrance for blocks.  One morning I glanced out towards the tree and noticed a mysterious object on the ground, half green,  half brilliant orange. Oh No! I  walked  slowly  towards the tree’s drip line to confirm the tragic loss. But before I tossed the remains into the compost, I examined it carefully. A few scratch marks, some chewed off mango meat – not too bad! I brought it inside and sawed off the mangled part and sliced the rest into a glass bowl.

Possum or raccoon, I’ll never know. But I can’t blame that mysterious furry thief. It was delicious!

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The Owl Across the Street

About a week ago my husband and I stopped by to visit my Aunt Margie in Jacksonville. The plan was to take her out to dinner, but she stepped outside without her keys and we were locked out instead.

owl

Ed to the rescue. Aunt Margie, who just turned eighty-two, sat on the front stoop with me and while we waited while Ed went to call a locksmith. “I just can’t believe I did that!” She was humiliated, but I enjoyed listening to the crickets and frogs, and talking about my Uncle Ed who passed away a couple years ago. “He’d be pacing up and down the sidewalk!” she chuckled. “It’s a good thing Ed (referring to MY Ed) is even-tempered.”

But something happened to make this little incident well worth it. A very large owl settled on top of a telephone pole across the street. I couldn’t believe my luck! “Margie, look at that huge owl!” She could not see it, but I assured her it was there, and stepped across the street to get a better look. He flew to a neighbor’s oak tree after he caught wind of my interest.

“Margie, if you hadn’t locked us out, I never would have seen that owl. ”

“Oh Dear Gussie,” she chuckled.


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Hyena Makes a Good Companion?

I met a zookeeper one time who told me an interesting story about a hyena. I have to admit I’ve always been a little repelled by these animals. I thought of themas being  grotesque scavengers, emitting that hideous laughing sound as their only way to communicate.

hyena

I asked her what kind of personality the hyena she took care of had. “He was the sweetest animal with the most placid personality.” This surprised me, to say the least! These are large animals, that look like they could take your arm off with one playful nibble.

“He was as gentle as a big dog,” she told me.

It just goes to show that having pre-conceived ideas are pretty useless. Although, in the presence of a hyena I would still tend toward caution. But I like the idea of a big, gentle hyena. It’s somehow comforting to know that when it comes to the personality of wild animals, things are not always as they seem.

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Bo Obama

Bo seems like the perfect name for the Obama’s new pet, a Portugese Water Dog. I’m amused by the idea of a dog moving into the white house, clueless as to the importance of his new home and owners. I’ve been aware of this breed for many years, as I’ve made custom Portugese Water Dog jewelry for proud owners of this breed for a number of years.

dog at the beach

I only wish the best for Bo and his new home. My kids were just a little younger than the Obama girls when we got our first pet, a funny little Tabby cat we named Molly. She became an important part of our family, sharing our lives for almost 15 years.

No matter what your politics, we should all wish the Obama family a happy and long relationship with their newest member.

Link:  http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/543334

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New Amphibians Discovered

Madagascar is at the top of my list of countries to  visit. This is because of the animal life, unique to this island country. All those amazing chameleons and lemurs – Wow! But now they’ve come across some new amphibians. I checked it out at the national geographic site and was amazed by this gorgeous frog. Can you imagine coming across a creature like this on a hike?

frog

The photo I chose to go with this post is not a frog from Madagascar, but he’s still awfully appealing. I’ve been a big fan of all sorts of amphibians since girlhood. When I was just 10 years old, I collected frog eggs in jars, watching over them through the early spring when I let the baby froglets go.

Life on this planet is amazing.

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Thoughts on the Frozen Baby Mammoth

I read the most incredible article in this month’s National Geographic.  It was the story of the two reindeer herders who came across a baby mammoth carcass in Siberia back in the spring of 2007. What was unusual about this find, as opposed to others, was how complete it was. One scientist exclaimed that he could even see the eyelashes!

mammoth skeleton

I’d heard about the baby mammoth, but this was the first time I’d seen the photos. They really were remarkable; an actual glimpse into the past of our planet.

Now’s there’s talk of cloning a mammoth. I’m not so sure that’s a great idea. As much as I’d love to see a real, living mammoth, I strongly believe that they’ve had their day. I think it’s more to the point to save their living descendants, the African and Asian elephants of today.

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Honey Bees in Spring

Whenever I see a honeybee on a clover, I breathe a little sigh of relief. One of my relatives on the other side of Florida once mentioned to me that she planted a garden which never produced any squash. Anyone who’s ever planted zucchini knows the problem is not  that you can’t get any vegetables from it. Pretty much the exact opposite is the case!

honey bee

But my aunt, a real thinking octogenarian, traced it to the malathion spraying the state was doing to kill fruit flies a few years earlier. “I never saw any bees after that,” she told me.

I’ve planted a garden this year, but I’m holding my breath until the squash flowers present me with some  baby zucchinis. I’ve got loads of cherry tomatoes, so I figure the bees must be around. If I lived in the country, I  I’d have my own bee hives.

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Hissing Cockroaches Make Oddball Pets

Most people have heard of the hissing cockroach. There area people who swear by them as calm, good-natured pets. I have my own opinions on cockroaches of the American persuasion, but I know little about these creatures from Madagascar. Except, of course, that they hiss. Have you ever heard one?

They look about the same size as our euphemistically named “palmetto bugs” here in Florida. But that is one insect I will never feel fondly towards. The only other cockroach with which I have any familiarity with are the smaller, very sneaky brown bugs that inhabit certain dwellings in more northern climes.

Perhaps this is why, after 10 years of living in Florida, I still harbor such tender feelings toward northern California. I never once met up with a cockroach there.

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A Very Old Octopus

There’s a very recent report of fossil Octopi having been discovered in rock! This is terribly rare, since the death of an Octopus normally results in complete disintegration of the boneless body. This is an exciting find for the paleontology communities and animal geeks like me.

Before this discovery (in 95-million year old rocks found in Lebanon) scientists only had one other set of octopus fossils to study.The early octopus family tree consists of relatives with fleshy fins along their bodies, but these recently discovered fossils look just like their modern descendants. This makes sense since octopi are the superheroes of their environment, perfectly suited to living under extremely high water pressure and able to squeeze through openings no bigger than a quarter. (Even a 600 pound monster!) Why change such a great design?

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