Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Wallaby

I was unsure if I should spotlight the wallaby because there is not as much to say about them. This may also prove to be a very short spotlight as well. What can I say? I like the name! So, what is a wallaby?

A wallaby is the informal designation given to a macropod that is smaller than your common kangaroo. The term is sometimes called wallaroo which I also find cute. Generally, these creatures have a body length that can go up to just under 4 feet. They can be found in both Australia and New Guinea. They are herbivores as well.

Apparently, these guys tend to do be fairly social and "bunch up" in different places such as watering holes. But they also tend to do this in the middle of civilization like they own the place. Imagine waking up having a bunch of little wallabies lounging around your front lawn and eating your plants bare. Animal control do their best to keep them in the bush where they belong, but you can't stop it from happening all the time.

Unfortunately, their small size makes them prey to smaller predators such as dogs and foxes. They can still fight it out, but it works better when they are in groups. Another problem they have are cars. They tend to hop across roads suddenly in big groups, and drivers may not see the stampede coming in time. On the plus-side, they are certainly in no position to go extinct with what great numbers they possess.

Okay, straight to fiction. Wallabies make for great children's literature. The name is fun to say, and their smaller size is excellent to help the child relate to it. There seems to be a very strong fallowing among writers to write wallaby fiction for just this reason.

The only wallaby I knew from Television was Rocko from the 1993 cartoon "Rocko's Modern Life." This was a very, VERY weird show that still carries weight with all the grown-up kids of today. The reason for this was there was a lot of adult humor tossed into the show. Almost all the characters in the show was remarkably strange... EXCEPT Rocko. He was the most mild-mannered character of all living in an insane world. He really did try to accept and even figure out this world too which was part of his charm.

When I saw this show growing up, I really related to him. Sometimes, the world does seem like it makes no sense, but we still have to try and figure it out. There is no point in going mad over stuff you don't get. Rocko did this, and he was the one shining light of the show. You wanted to stay by his side and try and figure it all out with him. There was something strangely comforting about the character. He definitely belongs in the marsupial hall-of-fame.

My personal feelings on wallaby fiction is that they should be social trouble-makers. This is--of course--if I was to base them off the real thing. They would form gangs and run around trying to own the place. Interesting when you consider that a group of wallabies are known as a mob.

So, that's all I got for the wallaby. It was a short spotlight, but I had to give Rocko his due respect. There are many more marsupials on the way--many of which I am sure you will find quite fascinating.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Crikey!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Koala

I just know that there is some person out there who is surprised to read that the koala is not a bear but--in fact--a marsupial. So why do so many people call them "koala bears?" Simple! They look like bears--big-nosed, frowny, tree-climbing bears. This is one of the reasons I have said that there is a lot of diversity when it comes to marsupials. The koala looks nothing like a kangaroo other then the fact that they are also macropods--this meaning that the females have pouches for their young.

The koala is a chubby animal with a general body length of 33 inches. They can also weigh as much as 33 pounds. (That's right; the same number for both.) They have very dark, curved noses which is one of their most noticeable features when contrasted to their beady, little eyes. They also have very rounded, fluffy ears which adds to their iconic appearance. Their "hands" have something you may find weird and wonderful. They have two opposable thumbs which assists them with climbing trees. Just to clarify: that is two thumbs and three fingers. The idea of this makes me think it would feel weird to have one grab my arm. The koala also seems to have a perpetual frown on his face. No joke in the world is clever enough to fix this. Don't even try.

Now, for the fun part: personality. More often then not, koalas are personified as being very sleepy. Is this based on reality? The answer is: yes! Koalas are one of the most useless animals ever created--as they pretty much remain asleep for 20 hours every single day and only wake up to do a bit of eating. As I am sure 4 hours of eating eucalyptus leaves must be very tiring for them, they pretty much have to sleep off all that hard work. Yes, I know it must sound like I am being mean to the poor things, but the truth is that I really am being mean to them.

Another hilarity about the koalas is how amazingly stupid they are. As a matter of fact, the koala has one of the smallest brains in proportion to body weight of any mammal anywhere! "Why is that?" you must be wondering. Apparently--and I am not making this up--their skulls have to be extra thick because they have a tendency to fall out of trees a lot while they are sleeping. These guys come with their own black box!

Like many marsupials, they can only be found in Australia; however, koalas are generally found on the eastern side. As I previously suggested, they absolutely love eucalyptus trees. It's like cheese to a mouse for them. But you may be surprised that they do have a social period of their day. They all get together and make noises at each other for no more than 15 minutes, then its back to sleeping! It's good to see animals so active in their community.

Koalas are no strangers to fiction. I have a few that I love personally. The first of these would have to be the 1987 cartoon "Adventures of the Little Koala." This show was actually an anime that was produced in Japan after all the girls there went nuts over some koalas that were showcased in one of their zoos. The series was actually a major influence on me. I ended up writing my "Cottontail Pines" stories with much drawn from that show. It brought together many cute animals living together in an adorable village, which is similar in aesthetics to what I have done.

In 1984, I was introduced to another translated anime called "Noozles." Let me be clear: I love this show. There is not a day that goes by that I want to get this show on DVD; however, it just doesn't look like it will ever happen. This was both a children's show and a scifi all in one. It was about two trans-dimentional koalas who travel to our world and make friends with a young girl. In the presence of adults, they turn into plush animals, and the girl can bring them to life by pressing her nose against theirs. They have strange magical powers that are indigenous to their race, and sometimes they would take the girl to their world which was really, REALLY strange. I'm talking "Alice in Wonderland" strange! It was brilliant, and I--to this very day--think fondly of it.

In 1981, the world was introduced to "The Kwicky Koala Show." This was weirdly a Hanna-Barbera show done by Tex Avery. It is very similar to his Droopy cartoons. Kwicky Koala is a very slow-speaking creatures that constantly outwits a wolf by being able to run away super fast. It's cute! Sadly, Tex died during this project and it only produced 16 episodes.

There are more--I assure you--but I am leaving you with my favorites. Koalas are really well-loved. Despite the fact they are quite stupid, they are cute, and in this world, being cute is enough to save you from extinction. For me, I see them as lazy good-for-nothings, and I would write them that way. They seem to be competing with sloths for who can sleep longer. I have not actually written a koala into a story yet, but believe me, I am quite capable of doing so.

Whatever you think of the koala, they are quite amusing. It is fun to look at them hanging around their tree... for a little bit, anyways. I mean--after all--we can't just stand there and watch them sleep all day. We have things to do in this life. Let us strive to be better than the koala. Let us try and be smarter as well. Just remember that the difference between humans and the koala is that the koala can't help it.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Zzzz.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Kangaroo

Kangaroos are likely the most common animal we think of when the country of Australia comes up in conversation. There is a reason for that. They are entirely endemic to to that country. You will not find them anywhere else unless they are visiting as tourists generally accompanied by Jack Hannah. Just because they are only in one spot on the earth does not mean they are endangered. Quite the opposite. If you go to Australia, that place is infested with them!

They are not small either. Many kangaroos can go as high as seven feet. That is taller than most human beings! Pretty scary when you consider they stand upright like a person. Although, it is quite illegal, boxing matches were often arranged between a human and a kangaroo. The marsupial would nearly always win and sometimes kill the poor fellow who thought he could best the animal.

Kangaroos fight mainly by kickboxing. This is even worse when they get a running start. Kangaroos have extremely powerful legs which allow them to hop very fast--sometimes up to 25MPH! I once saw a video of a golfer who was trying to scoop a golf ball out of a water trap. A kangaroo came out of nowhere and kicked the man so hard that he flew into the water head first. It was hilarious, plus I don't think the kangaroo had a good reason to do it other than it was Wednesday.

Another aspect of the kangaroo that I am sure everyone knows is that they have a pouch on their belly--well, at least the females do. Kangaroos are apart of a family known as macropodidae, or you can just call them macropods. This means a number of things; however, the real focus of it is they have large pouches that have an opening which is horizontal to the body. It is a very useful tool for a mother.

The female's pouch is not simply for carrying their young. When the young kangaroo is born, they are placed in the pouch where the female's nipples are located. They latch onto them and the nipple swells up essentially trapping them there where they are fed milk whenever they need it. Unfortunately, if they break free of the nipple early, they die. When they grow up, this pouch serves as a wonderful pocket to ride in. Sound's fun, doesn't it?!

There are so many other things I want to mention about the kangaroo, but I just don't have time. Believe me, I will tell you about them in later spotlights, but for now, I have a very arduous fiction segment to contend with. Kangaroos are everywhere in fiction. I am sure everyone has a famous kangaroo that they love. For me, I grew up with the characters Kanga and Roo in the Disney "Winnie the Pooh" series of movies and shows. Kanga is the mother, and she exemplifies everything a mother should be perfectly. Roo is the perfect child, and I would have loved to have grown up with him. I have yet to read the books, but it is VERY high up on my list right now. I am likely to read them in a month or so.

"Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown" is a very cute Australian cartoon series from 1998 which features two kangaroos and a number of other Australian creatures. Skippy is actually a park ranger and his friend Matilda is remarkably cute. The only problem with the show that I had was the opening intro sequence is way too long. It was so long that by the time the actual episode began, I nearly expected to see credits rolling. Still, this is a fun little show for children.

In 1936, Terrytoons brought up Kiko the Kangaroo--a lovable marsupial who really knew how to throw a punch. I have seen a number of these cartoons and am very sad that he did not really last very long--only 10 short films! I always thought his momentary confusion about how things worked was cute. He had some very funny facial expressions which he really needed since he never ever spoke a word.

Here is a personal favorite of mine. In no less than two "Legend of Zelda" games, a lovable kangaroo by the name of Ricky appeared. He was both a supreme hopper and fighter and was rather proud of his abilities. He even allowed Link to ride about in his pouch while he dished out justice to all the monsters.

In the Johnny Bravo episode called, "Pouch Potato," Johnny is actually adopted by a mother kangaroo which is almost just too sweet to express in words. There are some images that are hard to get out of your head, and seeing a mommy kangaroo dote over someone like Johnny is one of them.

I have personally written a number of kangaroos into my literature. My unpublished story "Sugarfangs" has a very eager, overprotective kangaroo mother who doted much to harshly over the protagonist boy. It was all about how too much mommy can be a bad thing. In my published book "Wild," I had a short story called "Motherhood." In it, a mother kangaroo had a 30-year-old son still in her pouch which was to all a disgrace.

I also have a personal character I like to draw named Tooie Kangaroo. She is an anthropomorphic, large-breasted kangaroo who loves going on adventures. She is also a barbarian and very strong; although, she fails in the intelligence area. Often times, I have made her very stupid. She is currently appearing in a web comic called "The Questionable Quest," which I will link at the bottom of this blog. Tooie has been so popular that no less than 20 people have asked me permission so they can draw a picture of her themselves. Now, that's just awesome.

Kangaroos are big, bad, and awesome! They represent so many things--power, speed, motherhood. They are extremely inspiring; however, they're are many types of kangaroos that I will be spotlighting later. Stay tuned for more or else you might go hopping mad!

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Also, if you want to see Tooie Kangaroo's web comic, you can access it by clicking on the following link: http://tooiekoie.tooiekangaroo.com/ G'day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Love of Marsupials

Whenever I think of marsupials, the two words that come to my mind are "Australia" and "Big." I think ever since the movie "Crocodile Dundee" came out, we have seen Australia as a big, dangerous place with big, dangerous animals, and the only way to survive there is by being a big, dangerous human being. And I am sure there is some truth to this--at least, for some of the less civilized areas. I actually found out that when you get off of a plane in Australia, you are commonly offered crocodile attack insurance. Enough said!

The most well-known marsupial is most certainly the kangaroo, and kangaroos are very big. I have been so fascinated by the marsupial that I have created a semi-popular character named Tooie who is a very large kangaroo girl. She was fairly well-liked, and many people drew fan-art of her over the years. However, there are far more marsupials than the kangaroo, and they are all quite interesting in their own way.

As a matter of fact, I have to say that marsupials tend to be very distinct of each other and often quite weird. I really do mean weird--by the way. Some of the stuff I read... Well, let's just say it gets freaky. There is a lot of diversity in this group, and that is the fun of it. I think most of all, that is what I really love about the fascinating world of the marsupial!

Marsupials also have a good number of well-known species which also have their place in fiction. I run into them quite a lot! I have also used a number of marsupials in my own fiction. Generally, they do make for interesting characters, and their personalities can be quite varied to fit the original animals.

Next week, I will be introducing you to them. There aren't quite as many as with the rodents and the musties, but I think the sheer diversity of the group will make up for what they lack in numbers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mustelidae Spotlight: Potamotherium

So, this is the very last Mustelidae Spotlight that I will be writing. It has been a lot of fun for me to learn about the musties and all their dirty deeds. I think the contrast between the rodent spotlights and these blogs should be pretty clear. The musties lean more towards bad behavior. Both, however, seem to have their good fellows, and I find that very interesting.

For my final mustie spotlight, I bring you the prehistoric creature known as the potamotherium. Bones of this animal were first found in 1833 and have since been located in Europe and North America. They look a little like otters that have been stretched out like a rubber band. In fact, they probably are related to otters as they were believed to be semi-aquatic; although, there are many disagreements in this matter.

I remember having this problem back when I spotlighted the guinea pig. This is one of those animals that people argue over what they really are. The official call is that they are, indeed, mustelidae; however, others suggest that they may be related to sea lions, and even other say that they are actually early bears. So, what is my opinion?

My opinion is that they are VERY CLEARLY musties. Yes, there are some weird aspects to them, but if I am to go by the artist renderings alone, they clearly resemble all those creatures I have been spotlighting. Of course, my opinion means very little in the legit world of science.

What little research I have of the potamotherium is that they have a very flexible backbone which would make it very good at swimming. It also apparently had a poor sense of smell; however, it made up for it with excellent sight and hearing. Although, I could not figure out what its diet was, I think it is safe to assume that he would hunt up fish and small animals that live near the water.

I want to believe that the potamotherium was playful, but I am leaning towards it being more of a nastier demeanor than the otters. The only reason I say this is because I have trouble seeing happy, playful animals during the age of the dinosaurs. Maybe, they were playful, but I just don't see it.

Fiction-wise, I see them as being very a tribal and dangerous people. They live near rivers and are very hostile towards invaders. Who knows, maybe they originated the Weasel War Dance! Either way, that's how I see it.

For those of you who have been reading my spotlights--especially those who have been following me all the way back when I was doing my Rodent Spotlights--I just want to express my great appreciation for sticking around with me. I really enjoy these animals, and I am very happy to learn about them and share them with the world in my own screwball way. I promise that there will be more spotlights coming very soon. I hope you will all come back to see what shenanigans I get myself into. But for now, I must bid a fond adieu to mustelidae!

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Au revoir!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mustelidae Spotlight: Ekorus Ekakeram

Ekorus ekakeram--or just ekorus for short--is the scientific name for a prehistoric mustie who sadly does not walk our world anymore. Bones of this very interesting species have been found in both North America and Asia. Although they don't actually have a proper name, I am quite fond of ekorus. I think it sounds pretty jazzy. What do you think?

One thing you will find with prehistoric musties is how big they are. If you remember my rodent spotlights, this does seem to be a trend with prehistoric animals. I actually find the idea of it fun. Lord knows I would love to see a giant mouse running around the world today. In the case of the ekorus, this guy had a shoulder height of 2 feet. They had long legs and could likely achieve a decent speed. The modern musties generally have short legs and are more sneaky than fast--with few exceptions.

So the ekorus was more of a leopard style hunter. He would chase them down and tackle. Like most musties, they had some very nasty jaws that were very good for subduing prey. I looked into what kind of prey they likely hunted. The only two things mentioned was a three-toed horse called a eurygnathohippus and a large pig called a nyanzachoerus. However you look at it, it seems like the ekorus went after big game, and that is pretty cool. I am fairly certain that no modern mustie would go after a horse. Well... maybe a honey badger, but only because he doesn't give a crap.

That is all I know about the ekorus, but I don't think its really all that lacking. You get a pretty good feel for how they would likely have behaved when they were still alive. You really have to consider the fact that they were still musties, and there is a very awesome predatory side to being apart of that group. Mix that with the power, speed, and the relative size of a leopard, and you got a very interesting character for fiction.

Let's anthropomorphize this fellow for a moment. I actually see the ekorus being a strong force for villainy but not at all a mastermind. I see them more as sub-boss toughies that are very good at killing. I can even imagine them with armor and weapons. They are very big and strong. They still have that sneaky side that makes them clever enough to be a force to be reckoned with. I really like this, and I wouldn't mind if I saw a picture of them set up this way. It would likely be an interesting story too.

The ekorus is no longer here, but that doesn't mean he wasn't cool. Still, when you consider how crafty and dangerous the little ones are--not to mention stinky--it is probably a good idea we don't have to deal with the giant ones now-a-days.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com, or just carve it into a stone slab and send it via pterodactyl. Ug.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Least Weasel

I'd like to take a moment to warn everyone that I will be bringing the Mustelidae Spotlight to an end within the next month or so. I am simply running out of musties to write about. There are still several that I wish to bring to the spotlight, so don't run away just yet!

This week, I want to bring you a very cute little fellow: the least weasel. I almost didn't see this guy as he is very tiny. The males range from 8 to 10 inches, and the females can only be as big as 4.5 to 8 inches. How very tiny! And I think that their minuscule size is really their most noticeable quality IF you actually are able to notice them.

Least weasels are natives of Eurasia, North America, and North Africa. They commonly have a brown coat with a white belly. They also have a white winter coat which is similar to the stoats. I think either looks pretty good on them. It's safe to say that the least weasel is cute. How could something so small be ferocious?

Well, in a way, he kind of is. As tiny as this mustie is in size, he is actually very good at killing. Yes, most of what he kills are mice and other rodents, but they also--very professionally--go after larger prey such as hares and medium sized birds. That is very unusual if you consider that a hare is one of the larger, bulkier class of rabbits. Pretty good for a itty bitty weasel who hops around wherever he goes. Yep, he really does that!

The least weasel has its place in fiction. In Ancient Macedon, if a women got a head ache after washing her face, she might assume that a least weasel had been using the water as a mirror beforehand; however, she would not dare mention the weasel's name for fear that he will become vindictive and destroy all her clothing! Goodness! In Greece, there was a similar story about a bride who's bitterness turned her into a least weasel who would go about destroying the clothing of other brides-to-be.

In a story by a Roman author called Pliny the Elder, a least weasel managed to destroy a basilisk (basically a large reptilian monster) by his odor alone. Even weirder, the Chippewa believed that a least weasel could slay a half-beast creature called a wendigo by scurrying up his anus! Lastly, in the English Civil War, least weasels were believed to be the familiar of witches.

I have actually read a novel that had a least weasel as a prominent main character. In the "Welkin Weasels" series by Garry Kilworth, there was a very tiny weasel named Miniver who was very cute and still a very capable and resourceful animal in the team. In the book, they commonly referred to her as a "finger weasel" which was likely a more adorable way to explain what she was.

So what about me? I find it very amusing that something so small can be so brave and capable. I can see how these little creatures can be a strong force of either good or evil. They have a way to get things done despite their size, and that is what makes them so much fun. Least weasels may be small, but they can still be taken seriously. And they have proven it!

Thank you for reading this blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com.