Archive for the ‘events involving animals’ category

Ocean Sunfish Profiling!

October 17, 2020

Here at Foxsylvania, we decry the reporting of ocean sunfish for engaging in normal fish behaviors such as hanging around and swimming about. It would appear that some people in Massachusetts are freaked out by the appearance of ocean sunfish off their coast, and are dialing 911 and reporting them to the police. They seem to think that the sunfish are sharks or injured seals, or that they may be in some form of distress…

…well, the large bony fish of genus Mola are just fine, doin’ what comes naturally, and violating no laws. They are somewhat funny-looking as they lack a tail fin and so look incomplete, sort of like the AMC Gremlin of the sea. Their teeth are fused into a kind of parrot-like beak, adding to their alien, goofy appearance. Sunfish are so called because of their habit of basking on their side on the ocean surface as a temperature regulation mechanism since they will dive to depths of 2,600 feet or so on feeding forays, and it can be cold down there! So if you see the ocean sunfish which can weigh up to 5,000 pounds and measure over 10’ in length floating at the surface, rumors of their death are premature. They’re just catchin’ some rays, dude…

The authorities would request that the good citizens of Massachusetts not call 911 over sightings of ocean sunfish swimming and basking. The police, after all, have bigger fish to fry…

“Murder Hornets” Are Here!

May 4, 2020

Just when you thought that 2020 didn’t have much left to throw at us, we have a new horror. They’re big, and frankly they don’t look real…but Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia) appropriately nicknamed Murder Hornets, are a thing, and they’re invading North America… 🙀

Not to be confused with killer bees (so very yesterday), Murder Hornets are an invasive species native to Japan that have crossed over the Canadian border into the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., where they’ve been found in the state of Washington. An impressive two inches in size, Murder Hornets pose a serious threat to already beleaguered honeybee populations, which they can decimate within hours. These giant aggressive hornets bite off the heads of bees, then kind of mash up the thorax of their victims to take home to feed to their larvae. It all sounds like a bad SyFy channel movie…perhaps a script begs to be written for Killer Bees vs. Murder Hornets (No Matter Who Wins, We Lose)!

Now Murder Hornets have a stinger long enough to penetrate a typical beekeeper’s protective outfit, and the sting of multiple insects can be as lethal as snake venom. About 50 people are killed annually in Japan from the hornets, whose sting is likened by victims to having hot metal driven into the flesh. Experts advise, “Don’t try to take them out yourself if you see them. If you get into them, run away, then call us!” Sounds prudent to me, but the running away part might not be easy; they can fly at 25 mph. Serious efforts are underway to track and limit the spread of the insects before it’s too late…

It’s said that the hornets don’t ordinarily attack humans unless threatened. Be careful not to do this, knowing that the right lawyer could probably get a Murder Hornet charge downgraded to a Manslaughter Hornet offense… 🦊


Mummified Corpse Housing Wildlife…

September 12, 2018

Gentle readers, the following post falls into the category of morbidly fascinating grossness.  It may accordingly not be suitable for the young, the overly-sensitive, or those who are eating.  Please consider yourselves duly warned…

…now that I’ve peaked your interest, welcome to Vulpes’ Cabinet of Curiosities, ahahahaha!  As the eerie harpsichord music begins to play, let’s stroll to where a mummified human corpse was found hanging from a tree in a forest in southwestern Poland.  Said corpse was of the seasoned, vintage variety, with the deceased estimated to have been, well, hanging around for approximately 13 years.  The body was fairly intact due to its suspended elevation and the relative absence of scavengers there, plus the fact that it was clad in two pairs of trousers, which kind of held things together. 

Now in the thirteen years that our fellow had been kept hanging, his body had become home to bees, wasps, and even a squirrel! First discovered in 2016 and reported last month in the journal Forensic Science International, researchers said the discovery illustrates the “unbridled resourcefulness of wildlife,” namely that such creatures exploit even the most unlikely spaces to thrive.  “Human bodies, if they meet the requirements of organisms, can be a home for them,” noted study author Marcin Kadej from the Institute of Environmental Biology, University of Wroclaw, Poland, in a statement.

All of this begs the question, would you want your body to hang from the trees and be a home for the bees? – – No, I wouldn’t either…but join us for our next creepy crawl into the Cabinet of Curiosities, if you dare…

Mysterious Wolf-Like Creature Identified!

June 19, 2018


Well, campers, we had earlier reported how a large, wolf-like creature was shot and killed by a rancher in Montana, with its identity puzzling local wildlife experts, and causing a social media tizzy around the nation.– Was this creature a dire wolf?– –  An unusual bear? – – A hybrid?- – Bigfoot?  Following DNA testing at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory In Ashland, Oregon the results are finally in, and our mystery wolf-like creature is…(drum roll, please)...a wolf!

Hah! – – Bet you never saw that coming!  Confusion over the animal’s identity may have been caused by it’s external appearance, with the creature appearing to have short legs and big ears, but otherwise found to be a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.  According to a geneticist for the U.S. Wildlife Service, physical variations aren’t unusual for animals.  As with humans, we tend to have unrealistic expectations about animal appearances.  

So move along, folks…nothing to see here!  And there are still around 900 wolves roaming Montana…

Raccoon Climbs St. Paul Skyscraper!

June 13, 2018


Like some kind of furry ninja, a raccoon drew major attention for scaling an office building in St. Paul, Minnesota. Making it all look easy, she took a nap on a window ledge over 200 feet up, and later took a break to do some grooming…

…by this point the ‘coon was a social media sensation, but her career was cut short when she succumbed to the charms of traps set on the roof and baited with cat food. The daring lady Rocket Raccoon was safely released, none the worse for the wear…

(Please note: earlier press versions of this saga misreported the raccoon’s sex and the outcome due to available information at the time.)


“Animal Apocalypse” on Monsters & Mysteries Unsolved

September 27, 2016

Episode 10, Season 1 of Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved looked  at a global increase in animal die-offs, a phenomena referred to as the “Animal Apocalypse.”  Several examples of this were then investigated.

On New Year’s Eve 2010 in Beebe, Arkansas, blackbirds swarmed all over the town, impacting with buildings and other objects, and dropping dead on lawns and streets.  The next morning, residents found 5,000 dead birds in the city.  In a scene reminiscent of The X-Files, crews in Hazmat suits were called in, collecting the birds and taking them to a wildlife health center in Madison, Wisconsin where experts examined the bodies and found that birds were not ill but had impact injuries, dying from blunt force trauma.  The question was why had blackbirds bruised and battered their bodies in Beebe; nothing like a little alliteration to liven things up!  The best answer was that New Year’s Eve fireworks displays had scared hundreds of thousands of birds, forcing them into flight at night when the species couldn’t see, causing them to simply fly into things, which did not go well for them.  

Elsewhere in Ozark, Arkansas 80,000 drum fish were found dead along the Arkansas River. No abnormal toxins were found in the water, but examination of the fish revealed that they had over-inflated swim bladders, a condition referred to as gas bubble disease.  This condition was felt to have been caused by an abnormally high number of gate openings at a dam on the river.

Some entire species of bees are disappearing at a furious rate in a phenomena referred to as “Colony Collapse Disorder .”  Such things could pose a direct threat to the world food supply of fruits, nuts, and vegetables where pollination by bees is critical.  The mystery of the vanishing bees remains unsolved.  “White Nose Syndrome” has also ravaged bat populations in the eastern U.S., causing strange behavior such as bats flying out during the day and in winter.  Five to seven million bats were lost during the winter of 2008, with the afflicted bats showing a fungus which eroded through tissues and made them thirsty during normal hibernation times.

Time was given to a Pastor Wohlberg, who felt that species die-offs were part of Biblical end times prophesy.  By this viewpoint, it’s all a reflection of corruption of the Earth due to human immorality…

Wildlife die-offs have been noted globally, in countries that have included England, Brazil, Italy, the Philippines, and Peru.  Pandemics are likely to happen as animal diseases jump to human populations.  This occurred with the Black Death that ravaged medieval Europe, as well as with the 1918 Influenza epidemic, the West Nile virus, the Swine Flu, and others.  Pathogens getting into the human population increases every year, so we can reasonably expect more of the same in the future, with animal populations providing an advance warning.  

Cecil’s Legacy…

August 1, 2015



It’s heartening to realize that occasionally at least public outrage may be triggered by senseless acts of cruelty and violence against animals, and the illegal slaughter of well-known and beloved animal preserve lion Cecil by an American dentist in Africa has triggered spirited protests and heightened public awareness of both the problems of illegal poaching and the practice of trophy hunting.

The office of the Minnesota dentist involved has been the location of impromptu shrines, angry posters, and picketing, with Dr. Palmer himself in hiding, possibly to face extradition to Africa; over 100,000 signatures presently exist on an on-line petition urging such at this point.  Palmer’ s guides may face prison terms of up to ten years.   Trophy hunting is a nasty practice in which about 600 lions are killed annually, 2/3 of which make their way to America as an ornament for someone’s den or wall, a tribute to human arrogance, ego, and vanity. 

Many Americans simply don’t know that such things are going on, but due to the flap over Cecil’ s illegal hunting death even legal “big game” hunting businesses are starting to feel the pinch, some of which offer excursions to kill not only lions but also elephants and rhinos, for sufficient funds. Perhaps public shaming of participants in such ventures may make them less common…



“Fleshy Corpses” and Other Fun Things…

May 9, 2013

sea monster

– – I’m always interested in unidentifiable mystery carcasses washing up on shore!  It’s better still if bathers are on the beach when it happens.  Submitted for your approval is this rather ferocious and prehistoric-looking specimen which washed up on Pukehina Beach in New Zealand…and no, I did not make up the name “Pukehina,” although it serves my purposes well.  About 9 meters in length with the lower part of the body mostly entrails from an attack, speculations soon surfaced that the remains were some kind of sea monster.   It probably didn’t smell like roses, either!

A marine mammal expert, however, has identified the remains as most likely being those of a killer whale, or orca.  When creatures wash ashore in a severe state of decomposition, they really don’t look their best, you see, and may not even look much like they did in life.   Bizarre-looking carcasses have been misidentified as sea monsters or even dinosaurs for generations.  Some masses of tissue brought up by the sea are so far gone as to be called, “blobsters.”  

In 1896, for example, a massive, six-foot-high “fleshy corpse” came ashore at St. Augustine, Florida.  After lots of speculation and probably gagging, a naturalist of the time decided that it was some kind of giant octopus previously unknown to science.  Then in 2003, something 40 feet long weighing 13 tons washed ashore on a beach in Chile.  Labeled the “Chilean Blob,” the remains were determined to be whale blubber.   More recently in 2008, I’m sure we can all remember the Montauk Monster, although this was much more modestly sized, being by most estimations the remains of a raccoon or a boxer dog.  Hopefully some more good stuff will wash up sometime soon, giving us material to write about!

…Anyways, there’s gotta be a really memorable bad movie for the Syfy channel lurking amidst all of this talk of fleshy corpses and bizarre-looking carcasses…Attack of the Blobster, maybe, I dunno…

Cannibalistic, Jumbo Squid Invading California!

January 8, 2013

Humboldt squid– – It may alarm some to hear that hundreds of blob-like squid are invading California; on the other hand, some might think that this was inevitable, or that they might just be assimilated to become Californians.  The squid are big suckers known as Humboldt squid, who can reach up to six feet and weigh as much as 100 pounds.  They normally live at depths of 660 to 2,300 feet in the eastern Pacific.

Humboldts have been known to attack humans and are nicknamed “red devils” for their rust-red coloring and mean streak, and can hunt in schools of up to 1,200 individuals.  First washing up dead on the beaches off San Diego, California, the squid have been emerging from the depths recently, roughing up unsuspecting divers, some of whom report tentacles enveloping their masks and yanking at their cameras and gear…that’s right, squid thugs!  As the animals taste with their tentacles, they may be touching divers and their wet suits to determine if they are edible.

Humboldts are cannibalistic, and in addition to eating lanternfish, shrimp, and mollusks have been known to eat other Humboldt squid that have been captured in nets.  Over 800 of the jumbo squid were hooked in the Pacific Ocean off Orange County in Southern California in just 45 minutes last Saturday.  Gradual warming of the ocean, pollution, and over-fishing of large predators are felt to be contributing to the territorial expansion of the squid…

Take the Python Challenge?

December 31, 2012

python– – As if the ants at picnics weren’t enough, a family from Arkansas out for a picnic in the Everglades National Park in Florida was rudely interrupted by a 17-foot Burmese python slithering into their picnic area!  That could ruin your whole day, or at least your appetite.  The family caught the massive snake on camera, and a park ranger killed it.

Pythons are an invasive species in the United States, where the growing population of the snakes in Florida have devastated rabbit, fox, possum, and bobcat populations; even deer and alligators are not safe from them!  In January, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will host a 2013 “Python Challenge” to control the expanding python population, with a grand prize of $1,500 going to the person who kills the most pythons, and $1,000 going to the person who kills the longest specimen.  Where else but Florida, however, can you encounter a shark, a gator, a giant snake, and go to Disney World all in the same week?!

%d bloggers like this: