Friday, May 09, 2008

Red Vole Family Planning Active!!

I have questions about natural history, kids:

1. Are spiders clean?
Here's the backstory on that one. Last week I was up late reading when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of something out rambling around on the carpet. When I moved, it went under the couch. I thought it was a mouse. It was not a mouse. When it rambled out again I saw that it was a bigass honkin funnel spider. (Incidentally, funnel spiders only have two speeds: full stop, and deedledeedledeedledeedledeedledeedle. )
I finished my glass of water and popped the glass over him so he wouldn't run around up on my face in the middle of the night; which if you don't take proper precautions they totally will do. If you see a spider late at night and you don't stick a waterglass over it, three hours later you'll be asleep and they'll be right on your face with a little spider can of spray paint tagging the crap out of you, looking up your nose and yelling stuff and then running to the other nostril to listen to the echo. Spiders will mess with you like that.

The next day I took him outside and let him go where he could funnel away to his little hearts content. Meanwhile I was left with an empty glass in my hand and the question: If I was to fill this glass with water and drink the water, would I come down with some kind of horrible spider-bourne disease?

Well? Spiders strike me as a pretty clean animal; you never see them clustering around dog crap or hauling old burger wrappers around. Then again, they do eat flies, which are filthy, and bees, which have venom. And maybe this venom and stuff seeps into their little spider selves and turns them into little 8 legged bags of pestilence. This was a pretty substantially sized spider too; like I said, I thought it was a mouse at first. I don't know. I got a clean glass out of the cupboard anyway.

2. Platypus...oids. Need the info. Like, what is the collective noun, for starters.
a. Are they nice?
If you ran onto one while you were out popping for bass or whatever, would it attack you? And would you be too busy laughing to defend yourself while they tunneled in through your abdominal wall and started gnawing on your lungs? Because they kind of look like something that might do that. They do.
b. Do they make a noise?
It would tickle my fancy if they quacked. That would be so awesome. But it would also be cool if they barked like a dog, too.
c. Could you have one for a pet?
Because I would own one. Oh hell yeah. I would take it on walks, and I would tote it around in a carrybag when it got tired. It could ramble around my house on its little stubby legs, wagging its flappy tail, barking and quacking. I would make it a nice pond out in the back yard . I would name it 'Howard'.

And yes I know they have a poison spur on their back legs. I don't necessarily see that as a drawback. "Do I think Christ ever walked the Americas? Here, hold Howard while I mull that one over."

3. Wild Hedgehogs.
a. Can you just go outside and pick one up off the ground like a baseball? You see naturalists doing this all the time in television shows.
b. Are they nice?
c. Could you have one for a pet?
d. If you pick up an adult hedgehog, do the spines come out and stick in you like a porcupines?Because that would suck. Bigtime.

Seriously, folks, this stuff bothers me. (I used to worry about ducks' feet getting cold in winter. Oh, the SSA will fill you in AT LENGTH about that one.) I've gone so far as to look all this up on the Innerknot and there is Jack Shit out there. This is the kind of thing that people need to know, though! What if you went out and, like, saw a hedgehog and thought 'Well, I'll just pick him up' and it leaped up and stuck on your face and laid eggs down your esophagus? Or you drank out of a glass that spiders had been yippy-yodelling around in and you croaked off horribly and nobody knew why? And then they drank out of the same glass and WHAMMO the same thing happened? This could be happening every day! Similarly, your platypus might have really bad traits that might make it an unsuitable pet. Maybe it would lift its platyleg on the furniture or play in the toilet or make long distance calls. People need to know.


  1. "Spiders will mess with you like that..."
    Well, they will if you've been on the Benzedrine! Seriously. When I was a little girl and dead-scared of spiders, I read that spider visions(horrible ones!) were a common reaction to Benzedrine. So I resolved never to become a night-swatting student on bennies!
    And for platypus, try
    At the place we lived before moving up here, we had platypus in the creek.Sorry, you're not allowed to have 'em as pets. Shame, cos they would be way cool!(They don't bark.)

  2. Dinah: do you know, I was just about to email you and ask you to read this because I KNEW that you'd have the straight poop on the platypets? although now I am totally bummed. I WANT a platypus. They are cute and fat. and odd.//
    I used to go to group therapy with a girl who had a deathly fear of spiders...not a daytime fear, but she had horrific night terrors that involved spiders. she was very irritating and now i wish i'd known about the benzedrine because i would have totally messed with her. Or at least thought about it. a lot.

  3. omfg...i have not laughed like that in a long crack me the hell up...just so you know...hedgehogs make pretty good pets my cousin had one and while it would shed the needles and they stick in your feet when you have carpet...they are pretty harmless and make a good pet...i don't know about wild ones...but hers was cute as all get out...
    omg...i have tears i have been laughing so hard...

  4. Do spiders sniff each others butts like dogs do?


    I rest my case.

    They're clean.

  5. If spiders start messing with you and running up your nostrils and yodeling at all hours, you can feed them drug-dosed flies and mess them up right back at them.

  6. Morgan11:51 PM

    Well, at our house we say platypuses, nobody has slapped us with a ruler for getting it wrong so far.
    As for the platypus voice, my bloke was once swimming in a river and met a platypus, which he picked up of course. He reports the fur was very soft indeed (if a bit wet) and it made a sort of chirping squeak noise. I die of jealousy every time he tells that story, I’ve only seen them through the glass at the zoo. It’s illegal to keep them as pets here in Australia, but it you somehow snuck some breeding stock over to the US I’m guessing you’d be allowed to have them as pets. You lucky bastards are allowed to have sugar gliders as pets after all (most unfair I think).
    Oh, and I don’t know if spiders are dirty but prepare to be horrified .

  7. I can pass on the following Intel.
    Little Lloyd the canine horror
    1.eats spiders at any oppertunity , he regards them as snacks, and sadly hasn't croaked yet , so we can assume they are not deadly.
    2.Lloyd's only friend (no one else likes him) is a hedghog that waits for him on his nightly walk , Lloyd carries the hedgehog around clenched in his mouth , and doesnt get spines stuck , so we can assume the spines dont come out.We can also assume that sadly hedgehogs are not deadly.
    3.A platypus with a piosoned spur sounds more promising , but sadly are not to be found quaking or croaking in the Dorset countryside

  8. Miss MJ , The Beast doesnt sniff butts
    However the Beast is well Dirty
    ***does bump and grind***

  9. You seem to have a weird attitude towards the animal kingdom. On the one hand you calmly put a glass over what appears to be a small dog with eight legs and then go to bed. I would have Superglued the glass to the floor and then irradiated it for an hour before running over it with a steamroller. God, I hate spiders! They scare the living crap out of me.
    On the other hand, you fear that ickle baby hedgehogs might leap up at you and embed themselves in your face and oh-so-cutesy platypussies might tunnel into your body and eat your lungs.
    For the record, platypies don't bark, meeaow or even speak Spanish. They just make little grunts. Howard is a truly great name but I wouldn't have one for a pet and take it for walks - unless you can hold your breath underwater for an hour.
    1. Hedgehogs ain't clean - lovely though they are they are flea-ridden.
    2. Spiders NEVER wash their nasty little clawed leg-ends after they've been to the toilet.
    3. Ducks can stand on ice for ages because they have antifreeze in their feet (seriously!!!!). Don't believe me? Then look at this:

  10. I ssed to feed a hedgehog who I called Marvin who came to our garden, but he just disappeared after a couple of weeks. Ungrateful sod.

    I recently read that some people have been keeping miniature albino hedgehogs as pets, although it's strongly disapproved of by hedgehog experts.

    Erm ... we may have a wasp nest outside our bedroom window. Dunno if I want to think of them as pets.

  11. Beast: Fine somewhere else to shake that thing.

    By the way, I find it entirely laughable that you claim to have a gym membership.

  12. Well, I never used to wonder about this stuff, but I will now. It'll probably keep me up at night.

    Thanks. Thanks a lot.

  13. So, re: spiders. You're basically asking if something that IS a cootie has cooties? Dude. The very fact that it is a spider justifies sterilizing applications of iodine and hot water to your drinking glass as far as I'm concerned. Save you pondering energies for the platypii.

  14. my 2 pence:
    Re: platypi--
    they are very nice, and very shy and reclusive. About the only way to spot them in the wild is to sit very, VERY quietly on the back of a slow-moving river and wait. For hours. And even then you probably won't see one. I suspect this is why they've survived so well; they stay the fuck away from everything.
    I don't know if they make a noise. Probably no one does. IT's a bit of a 'tree falls in a forest' thing, y' know?
    No, you could not have one for a pet. It would kill you in your sleep. (It's always the quiet ones you gotta watch out for.)

    Re: wild hedgepiggies
    They are GREAT!
    I met a wild hedgepiggie when I lived in Machester. It was hanging out in the garden in the evening eating slugs off the flowers. Good hedgepiggie! It was very happy to let me (and the 4-year-old girl with me) pet it. There was great abundance of slugness, and all were happy. (All of us, that is, not the slugs. They were not happy. They were eated.)

  15. Me again. Great link to the worm and the huntsman! It was probably those spiders that got me past my fear of them. We used to reckon we could teach them to play piano cos they can just about span an octave!
    And, by the way, they are very clean; after sucking the juice out of their victims, the spiders "lick their fingers" as you might say. Oh can hear them walking down the wall!

  16. Great! Now I am going to be up all night wondering if a spider is going to yip yodel up my nose. I wonder where they buy their tiny little spray cans of paint???

  17. Spiders are horrible, but they are clean because they're always in the damn bath.

    Platyduckbils look very sweet, but I've never seen one in 'real' life so don't know if they really real or a hoax. They look like a hoax.

    Hedgehogs are equally friendly and eat slugs and steal cat food. They have lovely soft fluffy tummies but are covered in ticks which are bad for horses.

    Badgers are vicious sods that try to eat your rabbit and not at all friendly and stupid neighbours who think they're Bill Oddie should be shot along with the badgers.

    did you mention badgers?

  18. but badgers have cute noseses!

  19. Beast is withholding my patch Mrs Fn! have words will you?

    Could you do a little condensed post of your last four?I'm having trouble keeping up ;)

  20. Anonymous6:25 PM

    i want a platypus and a hedgehog. not spiders though. those suckers totally freak me out.

    get a turtle and a kitten. the combo of those two things out to keep you going.

    anyone else starting to fear for those poor dogs' lives after spending so much time with beast?

    i fear snakes more than spiders. i had a friend who had a python named jezebel. that snake was HUGE!!! i was like, that sucker even looks at me, and i'm gone.

  21. Anonymous6:27 PM

    kittens look all cute and fluffy too, but get ahold of a wild one, and them little suckers turn violent. that reminds me...

    beast, i need to you to catsit for me.

  22. I will be delivering you patch this week Mr F .
    Pinky , no way , I dont like cats

  23. Beast, if you don't like cats, why do you keep asking to see my pussy?

  24. Ok the beast has been researching , there is no agreed plural for the duck billed paltypus , scientists use the term platypuses , platypi is psuedo-latin thus best avoided.
    The Platypus has been heard to emit a lowl growl when disturbed and various other squeaks and mutterings.
    MJ's Pussy has also been heard to emit a low growl and various other slurpings and sqeakings
    Maybe they are related

  25. Platypussys have poisonous spurs! They're the textbook version of a Heinz 57 eh?
    They are taxonomically Classified under WTF?

    Arthropods have a copper-based oxygen-carrying protein (Blue-blood) unlike humans that use hemoglobin which uses iron that makes it red....
    they are definitely from Outer Space!

    Hedgehogs are so cute..
    Richard Gere can thank his lucky stars that he preferred Gerbils...
    luck of the draw I guess.

  26. if you lick the platypus does it make you trip out? hmmm...