Phineas Walsh's most-desired animal abilities

Super Animal Abilities I Would Like to Have
by Phineas Walsh (narrator of Amphibian)

Sometimes I think about all the different abilities non-human animals have for finding food and escaping predators. Then I start thinking about how I'd like to have some of those abilities for surviving in my own hostile environment, mainly school. So I started a list of some of the animal abilities I think would give me a definite survival advantage. This is what I have so far:

The horned lizard's blood-squirting ability. A Texan horned lizard can squirt a stream of blood from the corners of its eyes up to five feet away. If I could do that, it would confuse my enemy and give me time to make an escape. I don’t think I'd want to have this power turned on all the time, though. There would be definite disadvantages of having blood shoot out of the corners of my eyes every single time I got frightened or attacked — I’d likely bleed to death.

The eyes of a bird. If I was a bird, I could see things eight times farther away than I can now. That's partly because a bird’s eyes make up 15 percent of its head weight but human eyes only make up 1 percent of their heads. Did you know the average human head weighs twelve pounds? When I think about how they figured that out, it gives me the creeps. I could definitely use super eyesight for spotting the bullies hanging out on the playground, looking for their next suspecting victim.

The cuteness of a harp seal. Scientists have shown that humans are less likely to harm animals with big eyes and round faces like human babies. It's definitely all about the survival of the cutest when it comes to humans. Researchers even found that some human mothers are more likely to abuse an ugly baby than a cute one. Judging from the looks of her new boyfriend, I don't think my mother cares all that much about looks — but I think it would be hard for her to get super angry with me if I looked up at her with big harp-seal eyes.

The camouflage of the cuttlefish. This fish has the best camouflage ability of any in the animal kingdom. Whatever pattern or colours it sees with its eyes it replicates on its body — even black-and-white checker patterns. I figure this ability would come in handy if a stranger comes into my school. During the safety drills, the teachers tell us all to sit together in the same corner of the room, but I don’t figure it’s good advice to line up all in row like the ducks in my friend Bird's shooter video game. It would be a lot safer if I could just become part of some kid’s drawing on the classroom wall.

The healing properties of a dog's saliva. I once read of a man who had flesh-eating bacteria on his leg and his dog licked it for hours each day and cured him. Saliva has a chemical in it called histatin that makes wounds heal faster. Humans have this in their spit too, but I heard dogs have more of it. I'm not sure why, but I’d rather a dog licked my wound than another human. I guess whoever you let lick you would have to be someone you trusted to just lick.

Want to hear more from Phin? Check out Carla Gunn's debut novel Amphibian.