Readers’ wildlife videos

Today we have two—count them, two—videos.

I had forgotten about the backlog of wonderful videos by the late Ecuadorian naturalist and photographer Andreas Kay, but he posted quite a few before he died at only 56. I’ll parcel them out over the coming months.  Here are his notes on a remarkable caterpillar that almost certainly deters predators by mimicking a snake. Note that, relative to the body, the “snake head” is upside down so, when presented by a clinging caterpillar, it looks like a right-side-up head.

Snake-mimic caterpillar, Hemeroplanes triptolemus, Sphingidae from the Amazon rainforest near Puyo, Ecuador. When disturbed this larva of a sphinx moth expands and exposes the underside of the first body segments, mimicking a snake head with black eyes and even light reflections. Sometimes it also strikes like a snake to deter predators such as lizards or birds. Photos here.

And Rick Longworth made this video, complete with music, of a den of foxes (mom plus kits). The play behavior of the kits is adorable. Rick’s notes:

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes). At the end of May, I noticed a group of about 5 or 6 young foxes across the Snake River at a distance of about one third of a mile from my back deck. The mother had dug a den in an earthen mound at the end of a utility road between two farms. At maximum magnification, the uneven heating of the atmosphere made the image quite unsteady.

15 Comments

  1. Posted June 26, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I love your articles but can’t look at the pictures. I am so afraid of bugs and spiders. The only reason I am afraid of caterpillars is because of the one I saw once who ate my entire tomato plant. That thing was huge and I cannot get it out of my mind.

    • Posted June 26, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Before I got to the end of your penultimate sentence, for some reason I felt sure you were going to say that a caterpillar ate your entire family. Weird thought.

      • GBJames
        Posted June 26, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Stine is a plant!

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted June 26, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          Must be. Do not watch “Mothra” even though Mothra is a beneficient monster, she begins life as a giant caterpillar.

      • Posted June 26, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        The freaking thing was big enough! It was disgusting and horrifying!

        • Mark R.
          Posted June 26, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          I bet it was a tomato horn worm. They are huge and scary looking. Big red faces that look like an angry tomato.

          • Posted June 26, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

            I’m telling you when I think about it I want to vomit then run!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 26, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    The caterpillar is astonishing.

    I recall Dawkins’ book Greatest Show on Earth has a beautiful photo of the amazing snake mimic caterpillar.

  3. Terry Sheldon
    Posted June 26, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Love the videos. I was once privileged to observe a den of fox kits playing outside their burrow. I was only about 100 yards away and got to watch them for several minutes until mama got a bit skittish and shooed her babies inside. Twas in the day before cell phone videos were possible, so no record of the event.

  4. boudiccadylis
    Posted June 26, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Regardless of the photo issues the playing fox is delightful. My fox experience is with zoos so this video is especially nice. Thanks

    • rickflick
      Posted June 26, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I had reservations about submitting the foxes, but I decided the antics would justify it.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted June 26, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Love the young foxes playing. At around .44 it seems that one of them does an almost somersault but hard to tell.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 26, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          I’d say you’re right.

  5. Posted June 26, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Great stuff! That is one of the best snake mimics ever.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted June 26, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Great videos. Thanks! I’ve seen coyote pups play like that as well.


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