onsdag den 9. september 2009

You have to know where to look!

During the summer stories about giant dooglike footprints (Baskerville anyone?), kept popping in Djursland, which is a peninsula in western Denmark. The prints were being described as 20-25 cm across, and though claw marks were apparantly obvious, a reporter from a local newspaper started talking about lions, tigers and other kinds of mysterious and dangerous animals. His evidence was, that he had gone out and found the biggest dog in the area - an irish wolfhound, and it's paws were considerably smaller than the reported size. I suggested, that an irish wolfhound though big and tall and long and slightly scary looking is a very big dog, is it also rather slim for its size, and might not necessarily have the biggest paws in the neighborhood.

So I went and had a look,and it turned out that the tracks were smaller than reported, though with 15-20 cm still quite big, and that at least three different dogs in the area had paws within that size range - a mastiff, a st. bernhard and a cross between something or other. I was able to match the mastiff's tracks to a least three of the sightings - apparantly nobody had paid any attention to the facts, that there were human tracks right next to the dogtracks.

It just goes to show - don't trust reporters, and look in the right places.

onsdag den 2. september 2009


I have just returned from a meeting in the local history society in the area of Copenhagen where I live. All very good fun, but as always, the interesting things happened afterwards. I started chatting to a 92 year old guy about strange animals, and as always, when I meet new people, asked him if he had seen any strange critters or heard stories about them. The answerwas no, but then he asked me, if I had heard about rat kings - those strange groups of rat, all stuck to each other by their entangled tails. I acknowledged that I knew what he was talking about, and then he started telling me about his childhood in Reersø, a smal peninsula on the west coast of the island of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located on the wet coast.
Apparently he and several of his friends knew how to make rat kings. At that time rats were common - brown as well as black rats - and it was considered almost a duty of any boy to kill and torment as many rats as possible. Every now and then they would catch a number of rats and tie their tails together, and have fun watching the animals trying to break free of each other. Sometimes they would get bored of their game and kill the animals with sticks or stones, but every now and then they would just leave them.
And in every case - or so he claimed - the rats just lived on, probably because the other rats fed them. In most cases they just ignored them, but in one case he told me he found one of these ratbundles in a cellar, caught them and decided to have a closer look. It turned out, that the string they had originally used, had rotted completely away, and the tails were just glued together by dirt, blood, foodremains, dried faeces and so on.
Could it be, that some rat kings are actually man made?

tirsdag den 1. september 2009

The prodigal cat

Being interested in mysterious phenomena ensures that you always get some rather strange letters and weird e-mails – and phone-calls, although they can be a bit of a drag, especially when some nutter calls you at four in the morning wanting to discuss the latest news from the dimension where he forgot his mind the last time he was on a picnic. But usually it is interesting and funny.
Today someone sent me a clipping from the danish newspaper Ekstrabladet from june. 25th. concerning a cat which had been reunited with its owner. Nothing special there, I hear you cry, except for the fact that the cat disappeared from said owner 10 years ago.The cat disappeared without a trace from its owner’s home in Egernsund in southern Denmark in 1999. But lo and behold – in the middle of June it was found in the town of Tinglev, about 40 kilometers from Tinglev. The owner had trouble recognizing her cat, as it was in a rather poor condition, but a number tattooed inside the cat’s left ear clinched the matter. After ten years of absense, Emma the cat was home again.