Tag Archives: mermaids

A Modern Bestiary – J is for Jenny Greenteeth

1126931186_imefairy32She’s no friend of mine, Jenny Greenteeth.

For one thing, I cannot abide halitosis of a kind apt to peel the paint off the hulls of small boats and the walls of lakeside cottages.  Is it so much to ask that she brush those long sharp teeth of hers every decade or two?

I don’t mind her green skin.  It’s a natural hue, if not the most appealing.  Her long hair, too, is a feature claimed by many fae, though most of us keep it cleaner, and comb it with some regularity.


Something of a water hag, her appearance varies with her mood.  Here, Jenny is showing her irritability, hence the spiny character of her form.

Jenny Greenteeth, you see, doesn’t take well to noisy intrusions, and is apt to defend her watery home in the most direct of fashions.  Let an unwary child wander much too close to the edge of a pond or a stream and Jenny will probably snatch it up, pull it under, and drown the poor thing.


This is the sort of woodland pond Jenny favors, especially when it’s acquired a fine skin of green scum or duckweed, concealing its true depth.

Often called Peg Powler or Peg O’Nell, Jenny’s cousins include Jamaica’s River Mumma.


The River Mumma sometimes looks more like a mermaid, but often enough relies upon a long eel’s tail to propel herself through the deeper waters.  She is far more fastidious than Jenny, however, taking care to bathe daily.  She then likes to sit upon a sunny rock and comb her long locks.  If you happen to see her doing this, however, I’d recommend slipping away again and granting the Mumma her privacy.  If you make a sound and she spots you and manages to lock her gaze to yours, well, then you’ll wish you had listened to my advice.

Another of Jenny Greenteeth’s kin:  the Japanese kappa.


Here, twelve kinds of kappa are illustrated.  As you’ll have noticed, the kappa more closely resemble their preferred victims, children, than the fish or eels that Jenny tends to imitate.  You can spot them, however, by means of the small pool of water cupped by the tops of their heads.

It’s less certain whether the bunyip of Australia might also be a relative, given the wide variations in form and size reported by both Aborigines and whites in that country.


The eyes portrayed here strike me as pure exaggeration.  And really, that mouth doesn’t even appear to have teeth!  Very unJennylike!

Here in the Sacramento-San Francisco River Delta, Jenny’s found herself a home, though.  There’s more than a thousand square miles of meandering waterways to choose from, and lately the droughts have greatly reduced water flow through the whole estuary, provoking blooms of toxic green algae humans call Microcystis.  The stuff turns still waters into pea soup and will poison those foolish enough to drink it or go swimming in it.  Together with the mats of water hyacinth that clog many sloughs and canals, it provides concealment for Jenny and many of her other cousins.


One wonders if Jenny and her kin are actually encouraging blooms like this one in Lake Erie for the sake of added habitat, regardless of what it does to fish and farms and thirsty humans.

Best to provide some reserves in the wetlands, however.  When Jenny’s kind cannot find or create what they need, they’ve been known to make do in other ways – ways I’d rather not even contemplate!  I might have my complaints about human technology and their abominable obsession with cold iron but I will admit, I am rather fond of modern plumbing – so long as I don’t have to touch any metal bits.


Leave Jenny Greenteeth nowhere to go, and she’ll make you regret it!