Feb 18 2014

Pine Martens


In  An Innocent in Scotland, the author describes the scene from one of the bed and breakfasts he lodges at:

‘On a lamp table in the dining room there’s a little stuffed [taxidermied] animal, some kind of weasel sitting there with a little bushy tail and the sweetest look on its face.

“Who shot that little fellow?”

“That cute little fellow ate my hens,” said Louise. “And what’s more, he also ate my pet duck.”

“What was your pet duck’s name?”


“Nice name.”

“It was a nice duck, but it met a bad end.”

“How did this tragedy come about?”

“These little pine martens, they go into the hen house and they kill for the sake of killing. After all the hens are dead they go.They don’t even eat them. Same with my pet duck. These are murderous little varmints — these pine martens are the Nazis of the animal world.”‘

David McFadden in An Innocent in Scotland, p. 150

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Aug 24 2013

Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome

A humorously named but very sad real disease that affects domesticated African Pygmy hedgehogs.

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Mar 14 2012

Donkeys, horses, asses, and mules: part 1

For those of you confused about the difference between donkeys, asses, and mules (I assume you can identify horses), this is for you. I hope I get all the terminology right, because each creature gets it own word based on gender, species, parentage, and whether or not it (in the case of males) has been gelded (I guess this is why they don’t use the generic dog and cat term ‘fixed,’ as ‘fixing’ a horse would be quite different than ‘breaking’ it). Female horses are called mares, and male horses that are still able to reproduce are called stallions, and those that have been gelded are called geldings (gelding is a very euphemistic term, in my opinion).

A donkey is the same thing as an ass (Equus asinus, from which we get our word asinine). A male donkey is called a jack. Therefore, a jackass is not just a donkey, but a male donkey. Females are called jennies.

A mule is the offspring of a jackass and a mare. A hinny is the offspring of a jenny and a stallion. Mules may be either gender (males are called johns, females are called mollies), but they are almost always sterile (johns are always sterile, mollies are almost always sterile). Technically a john refers to a gelded mule, but as male mules are always sterile, they are always supposed to be gelded.

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