How do you make a collar for a creature that’s all neck?

Standard animal collars such as designed for dogs and cats as well as other legged animals are not designed for the body style of a snake because the snake has no external appendages. … The concertina motion of a snake coupled with an ability to alter the shape of its circumference enables it to move through and escape any known annular restraint such as a neck-style collar.

Donald Boys’ snake collar, patented in 2002, includes a “concertina movement neutralization device” that prevents these escapes so you can take your snake outdoors. “A reptile getting more sunlight will have a better skin condition than one kept in the dark.”



Brice Belisle’s 1997 patent application is admirably concise: “The invention relates to clothing for transporting and displaying small pets while worn by a person.”

The “pet display clothing” can accommodate mice, hamsters, gerbils, snakes, and “possibly even insects.” “Fluid wastes tend to gravitate to the pocket,” we note with some concern, but the whole contraption can be rinsed with a faucet.

So now you can visit your friends without leaving your pets — and without sacrificing style: “The vest could be provided with sleeves to form a coat or jacket and be of increased length to form an overcoat.”

Fuel Efficiency


In 1995 Nicole M. Dubus patented a fork with an electronic timer that indicates when it’s okay to take another bite.

“The present invention can assist people to be more aware of their eating habits and pace themselves between bites, thus slowing down their rate of consumption and helping them change their eating habits to more healthy and enjoyable ones.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We never repent of having eaten too little.”

The Frog Barometer

Take one of those small green frogs which are found in hedges, put it in a white glass bottle, the neck of which must be large enough to receive the little animal tout a fait a son aise. Previous to its being let down, put in the bottle some earth and water to the height of about four fingers breadth; and also a little wooden ladder that may reach from the bottom to the lower part of the neck. Let the bottle be properly stopped with a piece of parchment, pricked with a pin so as to admit the air. As long as the weather continues fair, the frog stands a-top of the ladder, but goes down into the water at the approach of rain. You must from time to time, that is, every week or fortnight, change the water. Many of those animals have been known to live three years without any food.

The New Lady’s Magazine, April 1789

Fall Apparel


Paul Kinnier’s leaf-gathering trousers, patented in 2003, replace tiresome rakes and noisy blowers:

“The instant invention consists of modified pants or trousers that are fitted with a net between the leg stalls thereof so that leaf collecting and gathering can be accomplished by walking.”

Presumably they’d also be useful in catching cats.

The Carisbrooke Donkey


The well at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight is 200 feet deep, so the residents raise water using an enormous wheel driven by a donkey, a practice that dates to at least 1690.

“While it is not claimed that the same individual donkey has drawn its water all of these years,” wrote a correspondent to American Machinist in 1904, “the claim is made that the duty of drawing water from this famous well descends from father to son, and is never shared outside this one royal family of donkeys.”

“One ass has been known to perform this service at Carisbrooke for fifty years, another for forty, a third for thirty, and a fourth had performed it for ten years at the time of the writer’s last visit,” wrote Caroline Bray in 1876. “The dates are marked down inside the door of the well-house.”

(“The donkey was continuing his labour and looking towards the well when the question was asked, ‘What is he looking at?’ ‘He is looking for the bucket,’ said the man; and, in fact, as soon as the bucket appeared the donkey stopped, and very deliberately walked out of the wheel to the place at which he stood at our entrance, knowing full well that he had done what was desired.”)

Gripping Pages


Mark Twain found it exasperating to compose a scrapbook using mucilage and glue. In order to “economize the profanity of this country,” in 1873 he patented a “self-pasting scrapbook” whose pages are already covered with adhesive — the user simply moistens a portion of the page to paste in each piece.

You know that when the average man wants to put something in his scrap book he can’t find his paste — then he swears; or if he finds it, it is dried so hard that it is only fit to eat — then he swears; if he uses mucilage it mingles with the ink, and next year he can’t read his scrap — the result is barrels and barrels of profanity. This can all be saved and devoted to other irritating things, where it will do more real and lasting good, simply by substituting my self-pasting Scrap Book for the old-fashioned one.

Twain called it “the only rational scrapbook the world has ever seen.” It proved to be his only profitable invention, selling still in 1912. One wag called it “a book to which readers could easily become attached.”

Absentee Herding


In 1980 Lem Madden invented a remote control for a horse. The rider operates an electronic transmitter, and the horse is fitted with a receiver that controls the reins. Optionally the receiver can be fitted with a remote-controlled bat for striking the animal and a speaker for giving voice commands.

Who would use such a thing? “An elderly person may be physically unable to mount and rein a horse by himself,” yet need to control it in order to accomplish chores. And “there are those who desire to break and train animals, but who are unable to do so because of the hazards involved with such tasks.” Fair enough.