Archive | July 2017



Come hop aboard the possum bus!

This omnibus takes all of us

Mom-possum navigates the trail

With whiskered nose and long pink tail


All of us children clamber on  

We cling to her, a possum throng

No fights aboard this crowded bus

‘Cause momma is the boss of us


Our possum momma is so strong

To ferry all her kids along

And seat belts are superfluous

We’re safe aboard our possum bus


When we were smaller, we’d all crouch  

On lower decks, inside her pouch

But as we grew, we made the swap

And now we ride in style on top


— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud


The opossum is the only marsupial (or animal with a pouch) native to North America. This nocturnal critter finds a safe, dry hole in a tree or a log to make its home. It sleeps during the day and trundles about at night looking for all sorts of delicious things to eat: insects, mice, fruit, slugs and snails, dead things, even poisonous snakes (they are not affected by the venom). They eat just about anything and so are called “omnivores.”

This marsupial can hang upside down from its strong tail, (which is impressive) but cannot run very fast. It does not have big teeth or claws to defend itself against predators (animals that might want to eat the possum). If it feels that danger is near, sometimes it will lay down and play dead. It does not decide to do this; it is for the possum, a bit like fainting. It happens naturally when the possum is frightened. It even produces a rotting smell that helps to convince predators that the animal has been dead for too long to make a tasty meal.

The mom-possum is strong and takes care of her children by letting them ride in her pouch when they are small. When they have outgrown the belly pouch, they crawl up onto her back to get a ride through the forest on the momma-bus. A mother possum can carry up to fifteen baby possums as she trundles through the forest highways and byways.

Swimming Pinecones!

Wikimedia Commons

Pinecone Swimmer



The perky little pinecone fish

Is such a charming fellow

Diminutive but diving deep

With scales bright and yellow



Below his sloping, fishy chin

He plays the genial host

With glowing green bacteria


He’s like a deep-sea ghost



He hopes that with his tiny spines

You would not want to eat him

But with his luminescent charms

You really ought to meet him




From “Fishes of Australia”

–Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud








Pinecone Fishfacts:

The pinecone fish, sometimes called the pineapple fish, is a tough little deep-sea dweller that grows to about 5 inches or 13 centimeters in length. It is covered with bright yellow to orange hard scales, called scutes, that are vibrantly outlined in black accentuating its pinecone-like appearance. Its sharp spines and locking dorsal and pelvic fins discourage predators. If they attempt to swallow the swimming pinecone, they risk getting it stuck in their throat.

It prefers to live in rocky areas of the deep ocean with reefs and caves where it can hide during the day. The fish emerges at night to feed on brine shrimp, small fish and plankton that it attracts to its mouth by way of two glowing organs located on its chin. These organs house bioluminescent bacteria that glow an orange-yellow during the day and dim to a bluish-green at night. The bacteria benefits by having a host that provides it with an advantageous place to grow. The pinecone fish benefits by using the the glow to attract meals. This is called a symbiotic relationship where both organisms have something to gain from the relationship.