252 episodes

A podcast about living, extinct, and imaginary animals!

Strange Animals Podcast Katherine Shaw

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 118 Ratings

A podcast about living, extinct, and imaginary animals!

    Episode 246: MOTHMAN!

    Episode 246: MOTHMAN!

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    Don't forget our Kickstarter! I can't believe it reached its funding goal THE FIRST DAY!



    We're getting so close to Halloween! This week we'll learn about Mothman! Is it a moth? Is it a ghostly entity from another world? Is it a bird? (hint: it's probably a bird)



    Sandhill cranes (not mothmen):







    A Canada goose (not mothman):







    A great bustard (not mothman):







    A green heron (definitely not mothman but look at those big cute feets and that telescoping neck):







    A barn owl's eyes reflecting red (photo taken from Frank's Barn Owls and Mourning Doves, which has lots of lovely pictures):







    Barn owls look like strange little people while standing up straight:







    Barn owls got legs:







    All owls got legs:







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    This week for monster month, let’s cover a spooky monster with a silly name, mothman! We’ll go over the facts as clearly as possible and see if we can figure out what kind of creature mothman might be.

    First, though, a quick reminder that our Kickstarter is still going on if you’re listening to this before Nov. 5, 2021! There’s a link in the show notes if you want to go look at it. We actually reached our funding goal on the very first day, so thank you all so much for backing the project, sharing the project on social media, or just putting up with me spamming you about it all month.

    Now, on to mothman.

    As far as anyone can tell, it all started in 1966, specifically November 12, outside of Clendenin, West Virginia, in the eastern United States. Five men were digging a grave in a cemetery outside of town when one of them saw something big fly low across the trees and right over their heads. The witness thought it looked like a man with wings, but with red eyes and an estimated wingspan of 10 feet, or 3 meters. This definitely happened, even though it sounds like the opening scene of a scary movie.

    That story didn’t come to light until after the next sighting hit the newspapers and caused a lot of excitement. The second sighting took place only three days later near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the McClintic Wildlife Area. Locals call it the TNT area, since explosives were stored there during WWII. The TNT area is about 70 miles, or over 110 km, away from Clendenin, which has led to a lot of people discounting the gravedigger’s sighting. We’ll come back to that later, though.

    On Nov. 15, 1966, two young couples decided to go out driving. They were bored and it was a cold, clear Tuesday night. Remember, this was the olden days when there weren’t as many things to do as there are today. You could watch TV, but only if there was something you wanted to watch on one of the three TV stations available in the United States. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to go to a movie theater, and so on.

    Anyway, Steve Mallette and his wife Mary and their friends Roger Scarberry and his wife Linda went out driving that Tuesday night. Toward midnight, as they drove through the TNT area, their car came over a hill and they saw a huge creature in front of them.

    Some 35 years later, in July 2001, Linda gave an interview to the author of the book I used as my main reference for this epis...

    • 24 min
    Episode 245: The Devil-Pig

    Episode 245: The Devil-Pig

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    Don't forget the Kickstarter, as if I'd let you forget it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kateshaw/beyond-bigfoot-and-nessie



    Our next monster for monster month is the devil-pig! It's probably not a devil although it might be a pig.



    The Asian tapir and its remarkable snoot:







    The New Guinea carving:







    The "gazeka" as imagined in the early 20th century:







    Domestic and feral hogs are common in New Guinea:







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    Don’t forget that our Kickstarter is still going on to fund the mystery animals book Beyond Bigfoot & Nessie! There’s a link in the show notes so you can click through and look at the different tiers available. We’re doing really well so far, so thanks to those of you who have already backed the project or just shared it with your friends! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kateshaw/beyond-bigfoot-and-nessie

    Our next monster month episode is about a mystery animal from New Guinea. We’ve learned a lot about New Guinea’s birds this year, and it comes up repeatedly in other episodes too because it’s such a huge island with varied ecosystems. It also has steep mountains that have hardly been explored by scientists or even locals. If you want to learn more about New Guinea itself, I recommend episode 206, which is the first of our episodes this year about strange birds of New Guinea. But this week, let’s learn about the devil-pig! It’s also sometimes called the gazeka, but we’ll come back to that later.

    The story starts in 1875, when a man named Alfred O. Walker sent a letter to the journal Nature about a discovery on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. It wasn’t the discovery of an animal itself but a big pile of dung from an unknown animal. The dung pile was so big that the people who found it thought it must be from some kind of rhinoceros. The problem is that New Guinea doesn’t have any rhinos.

    The dung pile was discovered by a British expedition led by Lt. Sidney Smith and Captain Moresby from the ship H.M.S. Basilisk. After the report was published in Nature, a German zoologist wrote to say he’d been to New Guinea too and that the people living there had told him about a big animal with a long snout, which they referred to as a giant pig. It supposedly stood 6 feet tall at the shoulder, or 1.8 meters, and was very rare.

    If you do a search for the devil-pig online, you’ll see it called the gazeka in a lot of places. Let’s discuss the word gazeka, because it doesn’t have anything to do with New Guinea. In fact, it comes from an adaptation of a French musical called The Little Michus. I bet you didn’t expect that. The musical is about two girls with the last name of Michu. One girl was given to the Michu family as a baby by her father, a general, who had to leave the country. The Michus had a baby daughter of the same age, and one day without thinking the father decided to give both babies a bath at the same time—and mixed them up. So no one knew which girl was which, but they grew up as sisters who think they’re twins and are devoted to each other. The play takes place when they’re both seventeen and the general suddenly shows up demanding his daughter back.

    • 12 min
    Kickstarter bonus! The Ningen

    Kickstarter bonus! The Ningen

    THE KICKSTARTER IS LIVE AND I'M SO EXCITED!



    The Kickstarter campaign is HERE! If you're not sure how Kickstarter works, that's what we talk about at the beginning of this episode. I then go over the different rewards available and finally we have a very short chapter from the audiobook.



    Kickstarter FAQ



    I talk about the Kickstarter for way too long, so if you don't care you can jump ahead to 9:56 to listen to the actual chapter. Also, I am definitely going to re-record that chapter for the actual audiobook because I recorded it before I made adjustments to my mic.



    One of the pictures of a ningen you'll find online. It's art, not a photograph:







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to a special bonus episode of Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    Today is the first day of our Kickstarter to raise money to publish a book about mystery animals! It’s called Beyond Bigfoot & Nessie: Lesser-Known Mystery Animals from Around the World. This bonus episode will explain a little bit about how Kickstarter works and what rewards you can find in our Kickstarter campaign, and after that we’ll listen to one of the new chapters of the audiobook.

    In case you’ve never seen a Kickstarter before and aren’t sure how it works, it’s pretty simple. People who are interested in a project can pledge money and get different rewards, but Kickstarter only takes your money after the campaign is over and only if it reaches its goal. You can think of it as pre-ordering the book. You’ll need to make an account on Kickstarter to pledge, and please make sure you use an email you check pretty often. After the Kickstarter finishes, you’ll get an email asking for information so you can get your rewards. If you don’t reply to the email, you’ll never get your reward and I’ll be left stressing over it for the rest of my life.

    Our Kickstarter campaign starts today, Oct. 6, 2021, and ends on November 5, 2021, one month from now. Our goal is $1,500, which sounds like a whole lot of money and it is, but I think we can raise that much in a month. The money will allow me to pay for the cover art, pay someone to design the interior of the book to make it look good, and pay the fees required to self-publish a book, including getting an ISBN and things like that.

    The book is finished, and while most of it is taken from old episodes about mystery animals, I’ve revised the information as much as possible, rewritten it to make it fit better as part of a book, and I’ve added new chapters about mystery animals we’ve never covered in the podcast. It’s not just a copy and paste job, in other words. It’s taken me a long time to get it ready but I’m proud of it and I think you’ll like it. If you know anyone who’s interested in mystery animals but who doesn’t listen to podcasts, they might like the book instead.

    I have a bunch of rewards you can get for your pledge. The first tier is just one dollar for people who want to help but might not have a lot of money to spare. The reward for the $1 tier is your name on a page at the back of the book thanking you for your help. One dollar doesn’t sound like much, but it’s surprising how fast dollars add up, so don’t feel bad if that’s all you can contribute. I’m grateful for every single dollar.

    The next tier is a really fun one. If you pledge $5, you can get a birthday shout-out for yourself or someone else that will run in the episode the week before that person’s birthday. You can ask for up to three birthday shout-outs for one pledge and I’ll read the birthday names out at the beginning of that week’s episode. We’ll only be doing birthday pledges during 2022 and the only way you can get a birthday shout-out is through t...

    • 14 min
    Episode 244: The Wampus Cat

    Episode 244: The Wampus Cat

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    It's the beginning of MONSTER MONTH! This episode's not very spooky unless you're outside at night and hear a terrifying scream! To be fair, that would be spooky even if you don't know anything about the wampus cat.



    THE KICKSTARTER GOES LIVE IN JUST TWO DAYS!!



    Further watching:



    The Growling, Ferocious, Diurnal Kitty Cat: The Jaguarundi



    Further reading:



    My original article about the wampus cat will appear in Flying Snake #21. You can order it and back issues here and here.



    The cougar:







    A jaguar with her black jaguar cub (picture by Alma Leaper):







    The jaguarundi looks kind of like an otter:







    Jaguarundis come in different solid colors, including black or nearly black:







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    It’s October at last! Yes, that best of all months, MONSTER MONTH!

    This episode started out as an article I wrote for the magazine Flying Snake, which is an awesome little magazine that you might like. I’ll put a link in the show notes if you want to order a copy.

    Also, in only TWO DAYS we’re kicking off our Kickstarter to fund the Strange Animals Podcast book! It’s done and now I just need to pay the people who are going to make the cover and do the interior design to make it look great! The Kickstarter will go live on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 and will run through Friday, November 5, 2021, which gives you lots of time to decide if you want to back the project. On Wednesday I’ll be releasing a bonus episode to remind you that the Kickstarter has begun, explain exactly how Kickstarter works in case you’re not sure, and share a chapter from the audio version of the book about a mystery animal we’ve never covered before. If you want to look at the Kickstarter page now, though, there’s a link in the show notes so you can look at it and even set it so that Kickstarter will send you an email when the campaign starts. There’s an early-bird special that will only be available on the first day of the campaign, just saying.

    But right now, let’s kickstart monster month with an episode about the wampus cat! The wampus cat, or just wampus, has appeared in folklore throughout North America for over a hundred years and probably much longer, especially in mountainous areas in the eastern portion of the continent.

    The term actually comes from the word catawampus, probably related to the phrase catty corner. Both words mean “something that’s askew or turned diagonally,” but catawampus was also once used in the southeastern United States to describe any strange creature lurking in the forest. It was a short step from catawampus to wampus cat, possibly also influenced by the word catamount, used for the cougar and other large cats native to North America.

    Whatever the origins of the word, the wampus cat was usually considered to be a real animal. Some people probably used the term as a synonym for catamount, but many people firmly believed the wampus was a different animal from the cougar, bobcat, or lynx. It was usually supposed to be a type of big cat, although not necessarily.

    The word wampus also once referred to a dress-lik...

    • 21 min
    Episode 243: Bats and Rats

    Episode 243: Bats and Rats

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    Don't forget the Kickstarter, as if I'd let you forget it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kateshaw/beyond-bigfoot-and-nessie



    Let's pre-game Halloween and monster month with an episode about some Halloween-y bats and rats! Thanks to Connor for the suggestion!



    Further reading:



    Meet Myotis nimaensis



    Hyorhinomys stuempkei: New Genus, Species of Shrew Rat Discovered in Indonesia



    Fish-eating Myotis



    The orange-furred bat is Halloween colored!







    The hog-nosed rat has a little piggy nose and VAMPIRE FANGS:







    The fish-eating bat has humongous clawed feet:







    The crested rat does not look poisonous but it is:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    This week we’re getting ready for October by talking about a bat suggested by Connor, along with another type of bat and two rats. It’s the bats and rats episode ushering us into Monster Month with style!



    Don’t forget that our Kickstarter for the Strange Animals Podcast book goes live in just over a week! I know, it hasn’t even started yet and I’m already shouting all about it, but I’m excited! There’s a link in the show notes if you want to click through and bookmark that page.



    Also, I have a correction from our recent squirrel episode. Nicholas wrote to let me know that vitiligo isn’t actually a genetic condition, although some people are genetically slightly more likely to develop it. I think that’s what caused my confusion. Vitiligo can be caused by a number of things, but it’s still true that you can’t catch it from someone. I’ll include a more in-depth correction in next year’s updates episode.



    Okay, let’s start this episode off with Connor’s suggestion. Connor told me about a newly discovered bat called Myotis nimbaensis, and it’s not just any old bat. It’s a Halloween bat! Its body is orange and its wing membranes are black. It’s called the orange-furred bat and it lives in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea in West Africa.



    The orange-furred bat was only discovered in 2018, when a team of scientists was exploring abandoned mine shafts in the mountains, looking for the critically endangered Lamotte’s roundleaf bat. The team was surveying the bats in cooperation with a mining company and conservation groups, because they needed to know where the bats were so the old mine shafts could be repaired before they fell in and squished all the bats.



    Then one of the team saw a bat no one recognized. It was orange and fluffy with big ears and tiny black dot eyes, and its wings were black. They sent a picture of the bat to an expert named Nancy Simmons, and Dr. Simmons knew immediately that it was something out of the ordinary. Sure enough, it’s a species unknown to science. The team described the bat in 2021.



    Next, let’s talk about a rat. It was also discovered recently, in this case in 2013 and described in 2015. It’s usually called the hog-nosed rat. It lives in a single part of a single small island in South Asia...

    • 10 min
    Episode 242: Snakes with Nose Horns

    Episode 242: Snakes with Nose Horns

    Sign up for our mailing list! We also have t-shirts and mugs with our logo!



    Check out our Kickstarter pre-launch page!!



    Thanks to Max for suggesting the rhinoceros viper! We'll learn about that one and several other snakes with nose horns this week.



    The rhino viper, AKA the butterfly viper because of its beautiful colors and pattern:







    The rhino viper has nose horns (photo by Balázs Buzás):







    The West African Gaboon viper (Bitis rhinoceros), AKA the other rhino viper:







    The rhinoceros snake, AKA the Vietnamese longnose snake (photo taken by me! That's why it's kind of blurry!):







    The nose-horned viper is a beautiful snake:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    Just a reminder about our Kickstarter for the Strange Animals Podcast book! Check the show notes for a link if you want to look at the preliminary cover and maybe bookmark the page for when we go live in just two weeks!!



    This week we’ll learn about the rhino viper, which was suggested by Max, who at the time was almost eight years old but that was so long ago I bet Max is eight now or maybe nine or ten. Maybe thirty.



    The rhinoceros viper lives in forests in parts of western and central Africa, and can grow three and a half feet long, or 107 cm. It’s a heavy chonk of a snake but it’s beautifully colored, with big triangular blotches and smaller markings of red, yellow, black, and blue or green. If you look at one on a white background it stands out, but on the forest floor where it lives, with dead leaves and plants all around, it blends right in. It has rough scales that make it look bristly, called keeled scales. The rhino viper’s scales are so strongly keeled that they can cut your hand if you pet it. It’s not a good idea to pet wild snakes anyway.



    The rhino viper’s scientific name is Bitis nasicornis. At first I thought it was pronounced like “bite us,” which I thought was hilarious, and I was disappointed to find that it’s pronounced “bit-us,” although that’s actually funny too. Actually it's pronounced "bit-is." It’s spelled B-I-T-I-S. Nasicornis means nose horn, and it definitely has horns on its nose. It has a pair of horns, in fact, side by side, and they stick up and slightly forward. Some rhino vipers even have three nose horns. They’re not true horns, though. Instead they’re made of modified scales. They’re bendy like scales too.



    The rhino viper mostly eats rodents but will also eat frogs, birds, and other small animals if it can catch them. It’s an ambush hunter, meaning it hides among fallen leaves and waits for an animal to come too close. Most of the time it moves slowly, but when it strikes, it does so very quickly, in less than a quarter of a second. It has relatively mild venom, although some other Bitis species have venom that’s deadly to humans.



    The rhino viper spends most of its time on the ground, but it can climb trees if it wants to. The end of its blunt tail is even partially prehensile, meaning it can curl around branches to help it hang on. This is the closest thing to a hand that snakes have. It can also swim well.



    Sometimes the rhino viper is called the butterfly viper because of its colorful markings, and to stop people from confusing it with another closely related snake called Bitis rhinoceros. Rhinoceros also means nose-horn, by the way. B.

    • 10 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
118 Ratings

118 Ratings

Bran L K ,

Great animal podcast!

If you’re at all interested in animals, you’ll love it!

ART3RCADE ,

The best podcast out of them all

Some animal podcasts are imperfect in many ways in my opinion, sometimes the overall theme of the podcast. But this one is amazing! I listen to this practically every day and has boosted my knowledge on animals of the world that other podcasts struggled with to me, and nothing is better than having a relatable and often humorously sarcastic host (Kate Shaw in this case). Thank you so much!

Rae A-S. ,

BEST PODCAST!!!

This is one of my favorite podcasts—it’s consistant, fascinating content has gotten me through so much! I have learned so much about AMAZING animal, and Kate is amazing! Listen to this!!!

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