Episode 014: Toucan Keep A Secret

In this episode, Randi regains control of the podcast and Nathaniel returns to his lowly co-hosting duties. Oh, and also they talk about toucans.

Show Notes

Toucans! Can’t live with them (they’re terrible pets) and can’t live without them (their poop builds forests!).  They are also one of the more delightful animals Randi and Nathaniel have talked about to date: they playfight with their bills, they grace the boxes of some of our favorite cereal, and they have feather-esque tongues. Tune in to find out if toucans are great, or just okay.

Episode 013: Aye-Aye Carumba

In this episode, Nathaniel and Randi discuss the adorable aye-aye. Nathaniel takes over hosting duties, so you know what? No show notes this week. ‘Cause Randi ain’t gonna write nothin’ if she ain’t in charge. ‘Cause Randi ain’t gonna write nothin’ if she ain’t in charge.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nathaniel has a natural phobia of microphones. When called upon to host this episode, he agreed to do so only on condition that he be allowed to perform his lines from an adjoining room, with the result that portions of his performance are nearly inaudible, while Randi’s voice remains a model of crystalline perfection throughout. Please consider this a blessing in disguise rather than the unfortunate technical error it technically is.

Episode 012: This Man…This Mongoose!!!

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel discuss the mighty mongoose. You know, like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi!

Show Notes

Let’s just get to the good part: mongooses are resistant to the neurotoxins in snake venom. That means if they were a comic book character, they would be Anti-Venom (or possessed by the Anti-Venom symbiote, if you’re a pedant).  Like all delightful animals, mongooses have an anal scent gland. They use this gland to mark territory and indicate receptiveness to mating. Mating must be fun, since mongooses giggle during it. Mongooses also feature prominently in some folklore and mythology–for instance, the Egyptian god Ra would transform into a giant mongoose in order to fight the evil god Apopis (why wasn’t that in Gods of Egypt?!). Many ancient cultures also revered mongooses as protectors due to their resistance to snake venom. Tune in to find out if mongooses are great, or just okay.

Episode 011: Sea Wasp. Sea Wasp Run.

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel discuss the peerless sea wasp. Sea wasps have been described as “the most lethal jellyfish in the world,” which seems super-duper fun.

Show Notes

Sea wasps are a type of box jellyfish. They are also incredibly venomous, and have been responsible for about 63 deaths in Australia since 1884. Adult jellies are known as medusas, which is pretty rad.  Join us for a romp of an episode in which Nathaniel has a hard time feigning enthusiasm and Randi has a hard time justifying the existence of such a beast. We also take the houseboat out from the Thames for the day, and interview two sea creatures with privileged upbringings and noticeably inconsistent accents. Tune in to find out if sea wasps are great, or just okay.

Episode 009: Stand by Your Mantis

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel discuss Praying Mantises. You know, those super cute critters that featured heavily in a season one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Show Notes

There are so many interesting things about praying mantises: their hunting tactics (they have surprisingly good eyesight), their anatomy (their heads can rotate 180 degrees!), and their cultural significance (many ancient civilizations believed them to be powerful). Of course, our super mature hosts focus on how they do it. So much so, in fact, that this episode features a new song and segment: “How Do You Think They Do It?” Seriously, praying mantises occasionally (not always) practice sexual cannibalism. How can that be ignored?? Join Randi and Nathaniel as they marvel over this insect, debase themselves with tomfoolery, and interview a plucky young mantis by the name of Smoochy P.  Tune in to find out if praying mantises are great, or just okay.

Episode 008: Cassowary and Peace

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel discuss the cunning cassowary–that’s right, that awful flightless bird that lives in the land down under. Cassowaries have the reputation of being quite dangerous, although a human hasn’t been killed by a cassowary since 1926.  The fear of cassowaries probably comes from their horrific, Uma Thurman-esque feet, which include “a long, straight, murderous nail which can sever an arm or eviscerate an abdomen with ease.” Join Randi and Nathaniel as they marvel over this horrible reminder of the tyranny of dinosaurs.

Show Notes

Guys, cassowaries are terrifying. They can run over 30 mph (that’s around 50 km/h for those of you who live in a country that’s never been to the moon), they have a vertical jump of almost five feet (1.5 m), and they can swim so you can’t count on jumping into water to escape them. That said, the majority of cassowary attacks are on dumb-dumbs that try to feed them. So don’t do that, you dumb-dumbs, okay?  Cassowaries are mostly frugivorous, and they swallow fruit (including bananas) whole. Their poop spreads the seeds of these fruits, so cassowaries are kind of like terrible, loud Johnny Appleseeds. There are three species of cassowary; of them, only one is endangered: the southern cassowary. Vehicles are the largest threat to cassowaries, which–to be honest–kinda diminishes their intimidating nature. Tune in to find out if cassowaries are great, or just okay.

This episode includes the following segments:

“I Think I Could Take It” — Nathaniel believes he’s finally hit pay dirt when he’s hired by vintner Cassius the Cassowary to work at an Australian vineyard.

“What Do You Think it Tastes Like?” — Randi shares a recipe for Cassowary Stone Soup.

Episode 007: Breaking Badgers

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel explore the wonderful, funderful world of European badgers. European badgers are native to most of Europe, as well as parts of Asia (which is why they are sometimes referred to as the Eurasian badgers). They are also notorious homebodies, which is why the European badger can only teach our plucky hosts two things: “to dig, and love your home” (per The Once and Future King).

Show Notes

European badgers are the most social animals we’ve discussed so far. They live in clans (groups of up to 23), and their homes (known as setts) are often passed down from generation to generation. They also occasionally share their setts with rabbits and foxes. European badgers are exceptionally fastidious, and will frequently clean out the bedding of their setts. European badgers are not just on the crest of Hufflepuff–they are also present in Irish mythology, in which badgers are shapeshifters, as well as German folklore, in which the badger is a peaceful Philistine. Despite their overwhelming charm, European badgers are considered dangerous pests by many, which is why the have been the subject of culls. Many notable Brits, including Brian May and Sir David Attenborough, have spoken out against badger culls. This, of course, only serves to multiply the ethos of European badgers. Tune in to find out whether European badgers are great, or just okay.

This episode includes the following segments:

“What Do You Think It Tastes Like?” — Randi shares a post-World War II recipe for badger, which calls for three pounds of flour and eight pounds of badger meat. Yeah. Sounds delicious.

“I Think I Could Take It” — Nathaniel finds himself in a pickle–a badger baiting pickle!

Episode 006: Live Nude Nudibranchs

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel lose their damn minds over one of the coolest animals ever: the nudibranch. Nudibranchs are commonly called sea slugs, but they are actually gastropod molluscs. While they are born with shells, they shed them after their larval stage. More importantly, nudibranchs are the Kirby of the animal kingdom.

Show Notes

Nudibranchs are some of the brighter citizens of our oceans. I mean, they’re not smart–they’re just really colorful. Furthermore, there are over 2300 known species distributed throughout warmer parts of the ocean. Most species of nudibranchs are benthic, meaning they live on the ocean floor. There are a few species that swim in the water column, and then there are the glaucus nudibranchs, which swim upside down below the waterline. The most obvious feature of the nudibranch is the cerata, which are the rubbery looking appendages that grow out of the back of the nudibranch (the nudiback?). Join Randi and Nathaniel as they marvel over nudibranchs: their cerata (which in some species can store the venomous nematocysts from their prey), their ‘speech’  (there are some records of captive nudibranchs making clicking noises), and their sexual habits (google pictures plz). Tune in to find out if nudibranchs are great, or just okay.

This episode includes the following segments:

“I Think I Could Take It” — Nathaniel finds himself dueling a nudibranch.

Special Guest Interview — Randi interviews Dudibranch the nudibranch, an unaccountably lovable spokes-mollusc.

Episode 005: A Flash in the Pangolin

In this episode, Randi and Nathaniel explore the enchanting world of pangolins. That’s right, pangolins–that adorable animal that looks like a mixture of an armadillo and an anteater, though in fact they’re only very, very, VERY distantly related to them

Show Notes

Guys, this is it–the episode in which our intrepid hosts get serious. Pangolins are adorable, but they’re also incredibly endangered. There are a few factors that lead to this: First, pangolins are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a host of ailments. As a result, they are one of the most highly trafficked animals in the world. Second, pangolins are also eaten as bushmeat in parts of Africa. Third, pangolins are very difficult to breed (or even keep alive) in captivity. They are insectivorous, or more specifically myrmecophagous, meaning they only eat ants and termites. To compound this limited diet, they are prone to stenophagy, meaning they will only eat certain species of prey (kind of like how Nathaniel’s diet, or a small child’s, is limited to chicken nuggets and pizza). Sir David Attenborough listed pangolins as one of the ten species he’d like to save from extinction. Join Randi and Nathaniel as the discuss why this animal is–without question–great, and not okay.

This episode includes the following segments:

  • “I Think I Could Take It” — Nathaniel tries to outwit a couple of circus pangolins.
  • “Don’t Eat This Bird; Don’t Eat This Best” — Randi discusses the impact of consumption on pangolins. She references two accounts of people eating pangolins: a Vice article, and a travel blog.