Author Archives: jane

Male Eastern Box Turtle in MD

I spotted this Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina) near my blueberry bushes this past summer. I presume he was looking for some of the fallen fruit to eat.

I know it is a male because of the depression in his bottom shell (called a plastron). This depression is not present on all box turtle males however. (But if you see this depression, it is a male.)

This box turtle was another species I recorded for the Maryland Amphibians and Reptiles Atlas (MARA).

I hope you too continue to learn about Maryland reptiles and amphibians!

Cone Tree Craft With A Surprise

I wanted something to decorate the kids table for Christmas dinner this year and this is what I came up with. It is a festive forest of wrapping paper trees with a surprise inside. You can make them too. Hide the treat/ gift inside or place it in the trunk of the tree. If it is inside, kids will have the fun of “unwrapping” the gift. If you place the gift in the trunk, kids can take the tree home as a party favor. You decide.

This is also a great project to do on Christmas day! Use different pieces of wrapping paper after opening your Christmas presents. Let the kids make a lot and decorate the house with these festive trees.

You will need: scrape pieces of wrapping paper or brown packing paper, salvaged paper cups, toilet roll tubes, and some glue or paste. A treat or small toy is optional. If you use new paper cups you are missing the point of this project. I don’t like disposable paper cups but sometimes it is necessary when out. I save those cups for future craft projects like this.

Different cups will make different sized cones. Experiment to see what size paper is needed for the size cup you are using.

They look stylish without a stem too.

Decorative Swags Made With The Sweet Little Pinecones Of Hemlock Trees

Finding and gathering the pine cones is half the fun of this project.

This is what a Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) plant looks like. It is native to some parts of Maryland, as well as, much of New England.

I collected these during a visit to NH.

These are simple to make. Tie the pinecones to a string one at a time; working your way along the string.

I don’t think I captured just how cute these swags are but I think you get the idea.

Northern Short-tailed Shrew Found In Maryland Yard

The Northern short-tailed shrew Blarina brevicauda and the Southern short-tailed shrew Blarina carolinensis are hard to tell apart unless you are an expert. For the rest of us, we can make an id by the range. The Northern can be found in MD but the Southern is not. I discovered it while emptying a large container of soil.

It didn’t want to stay still for a photo. It soon scurried off.

This guy was about 3.5 inches long.

“Northern Short-tailed Shrews have poisonous saliva. This enables them to kill mice and larger prey and paralyze invertebrates such as snails and store them alive for later eating.”

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Jar Of Opossum Bones: Halloween Décor

This jar of opossum bones is appropriate for Halloween décor; don’t you think? This is the month we choose to display gross/ cool science things like this.

Want some real icky bones for display? If you live in or near the woods, you might also come across a dead animal. You can cover it with chicken wire or something to prevent it from being carried away in the night. I covered the body of this opossum with a metal milk crate. I weighted down the top with bricks. Nature will take care of decomposing all but the bones. It won’t take long. (I’m not at all suggesting that you kill an animal just to have the bones! Also, there are laws against having migrating bird parts of any kind; even if the cat brought it in.)

You might even come across some bones, a skull, or a turtle shell- and dead bugs (plenty of ick appeal).

Strangely, this dead opossum was on my driveway one morning. Not sure what killed it.

I think the skull and teeth of this opossum are particularly interesting- and gross.

Whenever we have young guests over, they have a good time checking out all the weird things we have displayed in jars. Perhaps I’ll share more pictures in another post- including: the bones of a diamondback terrapin that I found (apparently it was trapped behind where rocks are placed along the shoreline to prevent (naturally occurring) erosion, a petrified mouse, snake skin, deer teeth from a road kill…

Too gross?