Friday, February 28, 2014
The Wapaloosie is another "fearsome critter" invented by 19th-century lumberjacks. In this case, though, the term doesn't seem fitting -- the Wapaloosie isn't frightening at all. In fact, the diminutive beast is completely harmless. Physically, it resembles a mouse, combined with the long body of a dachshund. It climbs trees by arching its spine like an inchworm, moving slowly but surely up the trunk. Though it lacks a squirrel's speed, the Wapaloosie is more sure-footed, due to spiked toes that prevent it from falling.
The Wapaloosie puts these adaptations to good use. In fact, it has to -- the creature only feeds on tree-dwelling fungi. Sometimes these grow far above the ground, so the Wapaloosie would starve were it not a good climber. The animal's tree-scaling behavior is so important that it has become instinctual. It is said to climb during its sleep, as soon as it's born, and even (most strangely of all) after death.
The story goes that an enterprising woodsman shot a Wapaloosie looking to make some mittens. Unfortunately, despite the creature's soft fur, these turned out to be completely useless. As soon as the lumberjack picked up his axe, the gloves crawled off his hands and up the wooden handle. Whenever he would rest his hand on a tree, the gloves would leap off and try to scale it. Eventually, he was forced to abandon them in a ditch -- and last saw them climbing over fallen logs.
Read more about the Wapaloosie:
Image (public domain) from http://www.fearsomecreaturesofthelumberwoods.com/images/wapaloosie_small.png