Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Snow Wasset Sighting

Reading The Signs: Nobody has seen a snow wasset (Mustelinopsis subitovorax) in over a hundred years, and we thought they might be extinct, but new evidence points to a resurgence in the snow wasset population of northern Canada. Two weeks ago, not far from my home near James Bay, I found evidence of a snow wasset, captured in a dramatic scene played out in the snow (see photo).

A snow wasset hunts by tunneling unseen under the snow, like moles. Once he is near his target, he bursts out through the snow, taking his prey by surprise, and drags his catch back into his snow tunnel. The lower half of the photo shows feet and feather markings where a large bird – possibly a duck or a goose – was attempting to take off in the snow. The wasset hole is visible to the upper right. Signs of a scuffle and a few feathers left behind show that the wasset was successful in catching his prey.

Full-grown snow wassets can grow to about four times the size of an adult wolverine, and can take down prey as large as deer, elk and wolves. They live primarily north of the Arctic Circle, hibernating during the summer months. In the fall, their pelts turn white and they shed their legs, taking on the appearance of a large, fur-covered snake. Snow wassets have voracious appetites, and as they venture southward under the snow to feed, their range increases or decreases depending on the availability of game and climate conditions. Snow wassets were sighted in the James Bay area during the 1880s, but we’ve had no sign of snow wassets since then.

The snow wasset who made the tunnel in this photo is remarkable in several ways. First, it’s the only evidence we’ve seen in over a century that that snow wassets still exist.

Second, after a long absence, this tunnel was found in the James Bay area, indicating that snow wassets – or at least this one – may be on the move again this year, which could have something to do with changes in game or climate patterns. It also indicates that their preferred range has not changed since their last appearance here, which hints that snow wassets may be creatures of strong and fixed habits.

Third, and most important, the snow wasset who made this tunnel was on the small side, and probably a juvenile. This indicates that snow wassets may be breeding up again. Given that we thought they might be extinct, this is exciting news.

If you see evidence of a snow wasset in your area, please take a photo and send it to, along with details about when and where you found the evidence. We want to know whether there are more juveniles or adult snow wassets on the hunt this year, and where they are going. - FAUX, Senior Field Agent, Iranigami (Canada)


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.