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?

Hard Working Decomposers: Carrion Beetles

In the month that we celebrate all things macabre, I thought I’d include a post on carrion beetles.

First off, carrion is the carcass of a dead animal. Vultures, hawks, eagles, Virginia opossums and carrion beetles will all eat carrion. Maggots of some flies also eat carrion. It is good that they do eat carrion because they help recycle nitrogen and carbon.

You may also be interested in my post (with cool pictures) of black vultures.

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

In addition to eating carrion, carrion beetles eat fly maggots. The flies come to lay their eggs on the carrion. The maggots (if not eaten by carrion beetles) will also feast on the carrion.

Ridged carrion beetles (Oiceoptoma inaequale) on a recently dead opossum.

They will mate (see in photo one beetle on another) and lay eggs. The eggs will hatch into larvae (the babies) and like their parents, eat carrion and fly maggots. Yum yum!

Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) Found In Southern Maryland Yard

I came across this little snake (A brown snake -Storeria dekayi) while weeding around my strawberry plants. This area had been neglected and was quite overgrown.

They only grow to be about 12 inches long.

These pictures are of the same snake on the same day. It is interesting the way the patterning looks different in some of the pictures.

Northern brown snakes like this one are live-bearing which means it doesn’t lay eggs.

Know Your Local Snakes: Baby Rat Snake

This cute little snake is a baby black rat snake and is also called an Eastern Rat Snake: Scotophis alleghaniensis). It is harmless. Often people see the pattern on its back and confuse it with a copperhead snake and kill it on site. An adult black rat snake is black on its back and has a white chin.

I found this guy on my porch by my front door yesterday.

In Southern Maryland where I live, the copperhead is the only poisonous snake.

Rat snakes and other non-venomous snakes have round pupils while Copperheads have an elliptical pupil like a cat’s eye. It looks like a small vertical slit in the eye.

If you aren’t sure what kind of snake you are looking at; it’s best to keep your distance.

Here is a guide to Maryland herps: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/herps/index.asp

Sepetember 21st Is International Day of Peace.

Make some doves out of recycled plastic and place them on your windows.

They look beautiful and they help prevent birds from hitting your windows.

Find plastic packaging to reuse like in the picture above. I also use white yogurt covers for the smaller doves.

You will find my dove stencils here.