Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Badger

Yes! Believe it or not, badgers are apart of the wonderful world of mustelidae! If you don't know what a badger is, where have you been? These musties are all over the world! Well... maybe not everywhere. You won't find them in either South America or Australia, but if you are anywhere else, please watch where you are going. These guys don't like trespassers.

Although there are a number of different kinds of badgers, we generally imagine them with gray chubby bodies and interestingly placed white stripes that run vertical across their faces down to their necks. Although, the topmost line can sometimes run all the way down their backs depending on species. Their tails can be pretty long too--sometimes as long as 20 inches. That's no reason why you should step on it though. Really, why would you do that? Do you want to lose a foot?

Badgers are well known for being ill-tempered. In fact, we tend to use the word "badgered" when someone is being mistreated by some sort of brute. I love musties with reputations! It fits! Badgers don't like dealing with anybody that doesn't fit into their carefully planned life. Anybody who gets in the way of that will get acquainted with their teeth and claws.

If you have a lot of badgers in your area, that is actually a problem. You must understand that it isn't that these musties are looking for trouble. They just don't understand that not everybody means them harm. That said, if you invade their territory, you might be in for a fight. Badgers--especially when they are protecting children--will often fight to the death with trespassers, and they are very capable of doing this. If you were to send out a pack of dogs to kill a badger, the badger might just win the fight. They are very strong and have very tough skin that protects them from harmful bites. Additionally, these guys can run. Some can gallop up to a whopping 19 miles-per-hour. No, you aren't getting away.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that badgers can be domesticated. They actually become fairly docile, but I bet they could replace a guard dog if you wanted them to. Imagine trying to sneak into a stranger's house only to get a snarling badger in your face. Goodbye, face!

Alright! Time for fiction. In fiction, there are numerous badgers. I know everyone may think this is weird, but I have not actually read the Redwall books yet. Imagine that: a book about mice, and I skipped it. However, I have watched the animated cartoon series, and I remember liking this really fun female badger named Constance. She was a powerful and strong character whose temper often came in handy for the benefit of the other characters and a nuisance to the more villainous ones. I hear there are many other badger characters in the series as well.

Another story I only saw the movie for (what's wrong with me?) was "Fantastic Mr. Fox." The badger in this movie was named Clive and he was a lawyer. There is a pun in here somewhere. Ever wonder if he badgered his witnesses? I'd be insulted if he didn't!

In the Disney movie "Robin Hood," Friar Tuck was appointed the form of a badger. He even gets to lose his temper by the end of it; although, it just ends him up in jail. Unrealistic in my opinion. The badger should have won the fight.

Before I get ridiculed for never having read a badger book, I can proudly say that I have tackled at least two of them! "Sweet Briar Goes to Camp" by Karma Wilson! Okay, so this was an adorable children's book with pictures about a cute little badger girl who goes camping with all her animal friends, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a fun read! But wait... Now that I look at the book again, I think she's a skunk. Whoops. Forget the whole first part of this paragraph! I DID run into some badgers in the "Welkin Weasel" books by Gary Kilworth. Seriously, really badgers this time! They were very ill-tempered brutes who wanted to be left alone. At one point the main character, named Sylver the weasel, had to meet with one, and there was always the glaring possibility he was about to get eaten. In all instances, it is best to stay out of a badger's territory, even if he was friends with your dad--as was the case in this book.

In my "Adventures in Cottontail Pines" books, the town is actually protected by a badger guard. The reason for this is there is a very dangerous and evil wolf prowling about the outskirts looking for animals to eat. The wolf may be bigger and stronger than anyone in the town, but he is no match for a group of badgers. I think I got the idea of friendly badgers from the Redwall episodes I saw. I like them more as ill-tempered and tough good guys rather than cruel villains. What do you think?

There is no denying that badgers have a steep reputation for being quite "badgery." Their very names have become an adjective for bad behavior. But with all the badgers we have everywhere, it's a wonder we don't just ask them to go away. Well? Did you want to volunteer for the job? Didn't think so.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Decessus and the Jerboa

"Decessus and the Jerboa" A fable by T.K. Wade

A jerboa visited a graveyard to rebuke the death god, Decessus. “I will live long and not fall by your hands, for I do not believe in you.” Decessus replied much to the astonishment of the jerboa, “Believe in me or not, when your time comes, you and I shall meet.”

-Author Notes-
This fable was written as a part of what I call my "Tooth and Tail" universe where rodents are the people of the world. Decessus is the notorious god of death in this world. Jerboas are a type of rodent with a cute puff at the end of their tail. In this world, jerboas tend to have a very high opinion of themselves and often do not even acknowledge the gods. The exception is for their own god who is only known as The Great Jerboa. Interesting note: The Great Jerboa is actually just another god called Irritum--being the god of vanity. He is acknowledged by all other rodents and is mainly detested.

This fable is really written to denote the worthless vanity of the jerboas, as well as how the act of ignoring a god does not negate his existence. Thus the folly of the jerboa.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Tayra

This week, we have an interesting Musty to talk about. The Tayra [pronounced tie-rah] is a very unusual creature found primarily in the Americas. It is really the only Musty of its kind and does not have any cousins within its genus; although, there are a number of subspecies. It's just one big tayra family!

Tayras are very long and limber musties. I can actually imagine them eating their own tails twice over from how they can curl up into a perfect circle. They run about 28 inches in length from head to tail, and please understand that this tail is usually about 18 inches long--and quite bushy too! Long and flexible--what more could you want in a musty?!

Now... as you may remember from some of my other blogs, the great majority of these creatures are burrowers. I suppose that is how most people think of them as well. Weasels, stoats, and martens all love to dig underground and keep hidden until they are ready to go out and hunt. Where tayras do burrow now and then, that is not entirely what they are into. This creature actually loves to climb trees and sometimes even live in them.

The tayra has these fascinating short, curved claws which are not really all that great for digging. In reality, they are for climbing and running. Yes, you heard me. They are great runners! So... instead of being sneaky, these guys can actually chase their prey down--even if its straight up a tree!

A sort of comical thing about these guys is that they have a very wrinkly face. South American natives often refer to the tayra as a "cabeza del viejo" which literally translates into "old man head." Poor little guys! I actually don't think its that bad. How do you feel about it?

Tayras don't really exist in fiction. Hey, it happens. Sometimes, we just need to help the little guys out. I actually really like these musties, and despite them being hardcore predators, I do not see them as being ill-tempered as most musties tend to be. Tayras are actually very friendly when domesticated. They are playful and active which is not always the case with creatures like this.

If I were to create characters based on the tayra, I would make them lighthearted rouges. They are agile, dexterous, swift-of-foot, and generally very friendly with their peers. I think this musty creates a nice contrast to all those many species that tend to be sneaky and depend upon stealth to capture their prey. Here is one who dances about--flexibly avoiding harm--and if he has to, he can chase someone down. I think it would be fun to see this guy in action!

The tayra may not be a well-known creature, but it is certainly not one to dismiss. I have found that there are a lot of animals out there that could do with a little help getting noticed. I suppose that is why I call this blog a spotlight.

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

"The Mysterious Cave" has been published on Smashwords!

Awesome news! "Adventures in Cottontail Pines: The Mysterious Cave" is available FREE OF CHARGE on Smashwords! It can be downloaded in multiple formats at: 


Here is a synopsis:

Welcome to the magical town of Cottontail Pines, where animals talk, and there is always a friend around the next corner. In this story called “The Mysterious Cave,” Flopsy the bunny loses her special flower outside of the town’s border and convinces Blacky the grumpy skunk to help her find it. Unfortunately, the evil wolf, Fang, catches them out in the open and chases them into a cave. But this cavern is not as ordinary as you might think. In fact, the two animals might just find something magical! Find out what happens in this exciting and cute children’s story by T.K. Wade!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Mouse and the Rat

"The Mouse and the Rat" A fable by T.K. Wade

While gnawing on a delicious seed, a mouse noticed a rat scurrying around nearby. Wanting to give him a piece of his mind, he approached the rat and said, “You rats are disgusting. You should be more civil like us mice.” The rat smiled and thanked the mouse for his advice before promptly devouring him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Skunk

Now, here is a musty that I am sure you have heard of. The skunk is forever scent-nonimous with bad smells. Where the ferret just smells bad, the skunk has the frightening ability to pass on that trait to their enemies. Without getting too far ahead of myself, let's talk in more detail about the wonderful world of skunks.

Skunks are omnivores who enjoy a good walk through the forest. They pretty much go where they please, and don't worry too much about predators. Skunks are burrowers, and similar to their walking habits, they make their home anywhere they deem advantageous. I like this about skunks. It's not so much they are are defiant, but that they are just confident that no one would dare mess with them.

Skunks have a very cute stride. They walk kind of like a cat wearing baggy pants. Their tail bobs about this way and that which probably should act like a little waving warning flag to those who happen upon them. I've heard their personalities are very catlike. Some people have domesticated them for this reason. They are very independent and most often friendly as long as they are being fed on time.

Unlike what is often scene in cartoons, skunks don't carry their stink with them; although, I am sure they probably don't smell like flowers. Right under their iconic racing-striped tails, the skunks posses two anal scent glands that can fire off a rather nasty mixture of sulfur-containing chemicals such as thiols. The result of this is a smell that is so horrible and long lasting, it will entirely ruin the predatory ambitions of any animal attempting to kill the skunk. I have heard that a bath of tomato juice is the only way to relieve you of the smell, but this is just not true. It simply masks the scent temporarily.

The skunk is no stranger to fiction. In general terms, skunks were often shown in cartoons as cute but temperamental creatures who--although small--were to be feared for their terrible ability. In an old Uncle Remus story, a skunk wanted to stay with a bear in his cave to get out of the cold, but the bear would not let him for lack of space. Undaunted, the skunk explained that he was perfectly capable of making space, and after entering, he easily accomplished the task by driving the bear out. This is how the more generic skunks were commonly portrayed; however, the more mainstream skunks had an interesting variety as far as their personal temperaments.

In the Disney film "Bambi," the skunk known as Flower was anything but irritable. He was actually very shy and sweet. I dare anyone to watch this skunk in action and have anything but love for the little cutie! In the newspaper comic "Pogo," there was a very pretty french skunk known as Miz Ma'm'selle Hepzibah. I REALLY liked her as a feminine character. I never understood why she always courted with Porky Pine--being that he was such a grumpy person. Maybe, she wanted to bring out the best in him.

One show that I really enjoyed watching was called Skunk Fu. The main character, who was just called Skunk, was very eager and self-obsessed while being trained in the martial arts. His ego was often the cause of much of trouble in each episode, and he was usually tasked with cleaning up the very mess he made. I really like this character. The show had a great run, but it doesn't seem like anybody really talks about it anymore.

And now, I must tell you about a certain skunk that I have always been scent-a-mental about. Pepe le Pew! By far, this is my favorite cartoon character of all time. I also own every episode on DVD. I love this guy! He's a french skunk who continually falls in love with a poor cat after having a white paint mishap. Pepe is cute, passionate, and he has no idea what the word "no" means. When he falls in love, it's do or die! If it wasn't for that terrible smell coming from his rear, I don't think any girl could resist his charm.

In the show "Tiny Toons," there was a feminine version of Pepe Le Pew. She was a purple skunk by the name Fifi La Fume. Fifi was a girl who lived in a toxic waste dump; although, I don't think she really noticed how bad the smell was given she had her own problems in that area. She had some self-worth issues and was always looking for someone to be her boyfriend. Interestingly, she ended up with Hampton the pig who was a clean freak. I have always wondered abut this pairing but have not yet decided on its appropriateness.

Wow, look at all those famous skunks! I barely have time left for my own ideas! I personally already have a skunk in my published fiction. In my "Adventures in Cottontail Pines" books, I created a very grumpy skunk named Blacky. He was the local pessimist and always tended to make a big stink about everything. Get it?! I enjoy his character because he allows me to express a more selfish side which we sometimes see in children. That said, there is no doubt that he is still a good person at heart.

I love skunks. I have ALWAYS loved skunks. No matter how they are written into fiction, they are still amusing to us all. And besides, how awesome are those racing stripes on their tails?! Because they have made a name for themselves with their infamous tail spray, we will likely never be rid of them in popular fiction. And I am just fine with that!

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

To Have and Hold: A Poem of Rats

“To Have and Hold: A Poem of Rats” by T.K. Wade

We met in a crowded cage,
on a completely random day.
I never saw it coming.
He met me quite by chance,
with a handsome sneaky glance,
and asked, “Where are we to be going?”

“Going?” asked I then,
for I did not understand.
I had never seen him before.
He said, “Let me show you pleasures,
of great, unheard of measures–
conversed of only in lore.”

The quick well-spoken kind,
is not so easy to find,
and I found it hard to resist.
Although, I tried to flee,
so that I might soon be set free,
he caught me and said, “I must insist!”

When I asked him what he meant–
all my energy almost spent–
not to mention that I really didn’t care.
He peered right in my eyes,
and took me well-aside,
and this is what he had to share:

“I need you.
I want you.
I crave you in ways untold.
Come with me.
Play with me.
Only you do I wish to have and hold.”

The words Oh! seemed sincere,
and I don’t think I could hear,
all the alarms that told me not to go.
There was no way to resist,
those red eyes and with a kiss,
I had soon become a girl with a beau.

But one day I did see him–
I’m fairly sure I saw him–
in the arms of another female rat.
At first, I wasn’t sure,
for I thought him to be pure,
so I dismissed it as a simple misjudged fact.

But then there came a day,
that surely got right in my way.
This rat was seen once more with her.
And if there was any thought.
that my fears were but for naught,
he spoke these words as he stroked her velvet fur:

“I need you.
I want you.
I crave you in ways untold.
Come with me.
Play with me.
Only you do I wish to have and hold.”

And now I want him dead,
I want to crush his little head,
and never will the world bemoan him.
I entirely despise
his beady little eyes.
I wish to make him pay for his sins.

And if I get the chance,
to stab him with a lance,
he will have gotten off too easy.
For all the grief he’s caused,
I will likely never pause,
and I won’t be the least… bit… queasy.

I hate him.
I despise him.
I wish him suffering untold.
Break him.
Kill him.
Only him do I wish to have and hold.