Sunday, September 30, 2007

White Tigers - Fact Vs. Fiction

Today is Tiger Day. An effort begun to make people aware of the need to save tigers. Read more here.

So today I thought I would focus on White Tigers. I discovered they are NOT a subspecies of any tiger, but a genetic defect. This video tells a little bit more about white tigers and what's fact and what's fiction.

For further information check out Big Cat Rescue.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

European Brown Bear

These bears are not as simple as they seem. Today when looking up European Brown Bear, I found they are considered a subspecies of brown bear, which I already talked about with Grizzlies and Kodiaks. But look how many other subspecies of brown bear there are: Siberian Brown Bear, Atlas Bear, Gobi bear, Himalayan Brown Bear, Carpathian Bear, Marsican Bear, Mexican Grizzly Bear, Tibetan Blue Bear, Syrian Brown Bear, and Hokkaido Brown Bear! I’m not even going to ask why a bear labeled “blue” is in this group!

One last comment. My understanding is that brown bears have been extinct in England for 500 years!

Bearly done,

Jungle Jane

Friday, September 28, 2007

Asiatic Black Bear

Looking much like the American black bear, the Asiatic Black Bear has a distinctive white or cream V mark on its chest, much like an insignia that a superhero wears.

It has larger ears and a lighter muzzle. Asiatic black bears, also known as Himalayan black bears, are primarily herbivores.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

One long snout

The Sloth Bear of India is a nocturnal bear. And it’s a noisy one. A sloth bear sucks up insects from their nests much like a vacuum cleaner. It grunts, snorts, and snuffles when reaching into trees for fruit or digging for termites, grubs or beetles.

I wanted to find a video of that, but unfortunately couldn’t, so guess you’ll have to use your imagination.

Jungle Jane

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The little bear

I think it’s the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where I first saw Malayan Sun Bears. These bears are the smallest of the big bears with an average weight of less than 100 pounds. As their name implies they are from Southern Asia.

Look at the length of this bear’s front claws and tongue!

And I thought my dog's tongue was long...


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Can you bear more bear?

I know I blogged about bears a couple weeks ago, but turns out I missed a number of bear species. So for the next 5 days, I’ll cover the others. (And, if after those 5 days I’m still missing bears, please let me know!)

The only South American bear is the Spectacled Bear. The markings around their eyes, that give them their name, can be used to identify individual bears. Not all of them have the markings reminiscent of glasses, however.

These bears, although omnivores, prefer fruits and bromeliads.

This video tells more about the spectacled bear, also known as the Andean bear.

Since Paddington Bear—you may remember the stories from when you were a kid—came to England from Peru that would make him a spectacled bear, too! According to this article, Paddington will be appearing on the big screen, though no date was specified.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Long-legged dog

From South America comes the Maned Wolf, a long-legged dog. Red like the fox, it has black legs and mane. Looks out of proportion, doesn't it?
Unlike the other dogs, the maned wolf does not hunt in a pack. They eat berries, fruit, rodents, rabbits, and insects.
Jungle Jane

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Indian Wild Dog

In Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, he refers to a red dog—the Dhole. They are about the size of a collie, rather fox-like or coyote-like in appearance. They make some strange nondog sounds. Listen to them in this video—at one point they sound more birdlike.

I think I'm going to have to go back and reread the novel...


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Splotchy coat

Lycaon pictus (Latin for “painted wolf”) is an apt name for the African Wild Dog. Their fur is mottled in shades of tan, brown, black, and white. They have dark circles around their eyes. The ends of the African wild dogs' tails are mostly white--kind of reminds me of flags.

Here’s an amazing video featuring a pack of African wild dogs. Make sure you watch all the way through to the end.

Incredible, huh?

Jungle Jane

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tame, but not domesticated

Smaller than the dingo, and perhaps a subspecies, but perhaps not since scientists are undecided, the New Guinea Singing Dog has a unique howl. The howl has been likened to the song of a Humpback whale or a bird’s call.

Another interesting fact is that their eyes reflect bright green at night.

This video gives a good look at the NGSD and discusses some issues.

Until this week, I'd never heard of these dogs. Had you?


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Australia’s native dog

A coyote? A wolf? A domestic dog? The Dingo, Australia’s native dog, can look like either of the three, but like the first 2 is a wild animal. If taken young (before 6 weeks) from the litter, they can be trained as pets. Dingos are good tree climbers, poor swimmers, and do not bark, but howl instead. Dingos also mate for life, an obvious difference from domesticated dogs.

When I was a teen, we talked about Dingos, but what we meant was Dingo boots. Hmm, wonder if the term originated in Australia . . .

Probably showing my age,

Jungle Jane

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Too adaptable?

Coyotes in the desert weigh about 20 pounds, but the mountain variety can weigh 50 pounds. They can adapt to living around humans, but that’s when they often view small pets as prey.

A little over a year ago, a friend and I glanced out her dining room window to see a coyote in her backyard in Leawood, KS (part of the KC MO metro area). We wondered if a gate had been left open in her yard and checked. Nope. The coyote leaped over her 3 foot fence to get in and out. So I did some research. Coyotes can easily leap an 8 foot fence!

Here’s a link to a video about discouraging coyotes in your neighborhood.

Despite the danger to pets, I do get a thrill when I see one.

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quite vocal

The largest of the canine family is the wolf. Gray wolves can be gray, black or white. Red wolves have coats ranging from yellow to black. They are smaller than the gray wolf, yet still bigger than a coyote.

Wolves are noted for howling. Listen to these little guys (6 ½ weeks old) trying to join in.

Cute for 26 seconds, but would be annoying for much longer.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Not so medium

When I was looking for my last dog, I decided I definitely wanted a mixed breed. My previous dog had been an American Eskimo, and while beautiful, we’d had some problems with him. So I started going to the local pound and area shelters to find a medium size dog. What I found was a lot of “Kansas brown dogs.” I thought it was a cute label they’d come up with for non-identifiable breed mutts.

Eventually, I ended up at Wayside Waifs, a great shelter in Missouri. I fell in love with a German Shepard, golden lab (and probably something else) mix of puppies. Finally decided to take the female puppy home. She’ll be 3 in January and is a great dog. Even my cats like her. Notice though, she is NOT medium sized.

I was really impressed with the material Wayside Waifs sent home with us. We learned we might have been able to deal better with our previous dog’s behavior, if we’d known some of the dog facts they shared with us. It’s too much info to cover here, but they have a great article library, which also has links to other sites. Check it out if you are having any dog problems of your own.

Jungle Jane

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Will the real fox please stand up?

The Red Fox is the most common fox and can be found in many places in the world. It has even been imported to Australia.

Part of the dog family, red fox stalk prey like a cat. They also can hear low-frequency sounds very well, so can hear small animals digging underground. This enables the fox to dig in the dirt or snow to catch prey.

I’ve seen them a couple times in urban areas, but they don’t hang around long.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Think the giant panda is cute? Check out this guy!

Slightly larger than a domestic cat, the Red Panda, also eats bamboo and is from China. Kind of looks like a cross between a raccoon, a fox, and a panda, doesn’t it? But no relation to the first two, or even cats, though it does wash itself like cats do. This little guy is also endangered.

Watch some red pandas at play.

Cute, huh?

Jungle Jane

Friday, September 14, 2007

Looks cute and cuddly, but . . .

So we often just call them pandas, but their correct name is Giant Panda. panda
Their Chinese name, Daxiongmao, means "large bear cat." This endangered animal eats 40 pounds of bamboo a day, but even though it is mostly a vegetarian that doesn’t mean its not dangerous to humans. It is a real bear after all!

Watch this!

And those were just babies!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The most common bear

Black bears are the smallest and most common bear in North America (at a later date, we'll discuss nonAmerican bears).

My sister is always nervous that she’ll see one when hiking in the woods. In fact, so nervous that she sees lots . . . well, lots of “stump bears” (bears that don’t move and on closer examination turn out to just be tree stumps).

I used to live in a heavily treed neighborhood 25 miles outside of Seattle. One day I pull out of my driveway and look down the street to see this weird looking dog. As I got closer I suddenly realized it was a young black bear on all fours ambling across the road from one empty lot to another. I didn’t stick around to see if Mama was right behind him!

Black bears are usually 4 to 7 feet long. They weigh between 125 and 500 pounds, depending on age, season, and food supply. Very well fed bears can be heavier, closer to 900 pounds. The one I saw was probably about 2 ½ feet long. (I didn’t pick him up to see how much he weighed!)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another brown bear

Grizzlies ARE brown bears, which I hadn't realized, until today when I started looking up information on brown bears. ”brown

A subspecies of brown bear is the Kodiak. The other day I thought I was starting with the largest bear, when I talked about the polar bear, but a website I came across today said the Kodiak is the largest. (So, I never said I was an expert!) A Kodiak bear on its hind legs can be over 10 feet tall! They're 5 feet when on all fours. Yikes! I’m only 5’ 4” . . .

Kodiak bears are omnivores, who actually spend more time eating grass, plants and berries than meat and fish. Speaking of fish, here’s one of my favorite “bear” videos.

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No close encounters, thank you very much

The grizzly bear is sometimes called the silvertip bear, and, is known for its massive size. Males can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and stand 8 feet tall on their hind legs. Females are almost half that size. The ones in the states aren’t usually this large, but in Canada and Alaska they get really big! The hump on their back which makes them so recognizable is a set of muscles for digging.

I remember grizzly bear stories that my seventh grade teacher (formerly of Montana) told. What stuck in my mind was how he told us when hiking you don’t want to accidentally sneak up on a grizzly by walking too quietly, so some hikers carried bells or made sure to talk loud enough to give bears time to move out of sight of the path. So today I did some research on what works and here’s a good site:

My reaction to all this is don’t hike in bear country! In fact videos like this one are good enough for me. . .


Monday, September 10, 2007

The (Polar) Bear Necessities

I just love that song from the Jungle Book movie, but I won't sing it for you... So instead this week we'll talk about some bear facts. We'll start with the largest bear, the polar bear.

The polar bear Latin name is Ursus Maritimus, which means “sea bear.” They can swim at about 6 miles per hour. Their paws are so big they function like snowshoes. Watch a mother and her two half-grown cubs in action as they walk across the snow in this video.

Polar bear live in the arctic, the Northern Hemisphere. Some commercials and cartoons show polar bears and penguins together, but in real life that would never happen since they live on opposite ends of the earth.

Jungle Jane

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A whale of a smile

The beluga whale is a white whale that primarily lives in the Arctic. Its name comes from the Russian word for white. In size, the average 14-16 feet (males) with a maximum length of 20 feet and 13-14 feet (females), with a maximum length of 17 feet. They weigh in the 3000 to 3,300 pound range.

Belugas can nod and turn their heads, unlike most other whales whose neck vertebrae are fused. They also don’t have dorsal fins, which allows them to go under the ice more easily.

About 20 years ago I got to see one face-to-face in the Long Island Aquarium—lovely! See if this video clip makes you smile.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Let me check your back

Remember how we’ve talked a time or two about individual animal identification? I just found out that the humpback whale has its own ID - the shape and color pattern on its dorsal (upper) fin and flukes (tail)! Researches can use this fact to tell humpbacks apart. Pretty cool, huh?

Yesterday’s orca could be measured in pounds. With these guys that’s not so workable, since they weight 25 to 40 tons! Even a baby humpback (calf) weighs almost a ton. Adult males measure 40 to 48 feet long and females, 45 to 50 feet. Calves range from 10 to 15 feet.

Here’s a beautiful video done by Cousteau divers.

It made me think of the 20 year old movie, Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home – where they come back to earth to get a whale to take to the future. I remember the whale’s name, Gracie, whom Spock said was pregnant, but I’d have to watch the movie again to see if she was a humpback or not, but I think so. Guess that’s my homework assignment . . .

Jungle Jane

Friday, September 7, 2007

Not really a whale…

Orcas, or killer whales, have striking black and white markings. You, like me, may have seen them perform at places like Sea World. Aren’t they beautiful?

Orca are carnivorous hunters and are sometimes called "the wolf of the sea." They prey on sea lions, elephant seals, harbor seals, porpoises, squid, sharks, fish, penguins, smaller whales, such as belugas and narwhals, and even large baleen whales.

Orca actually belong to the dolphin family. Warm blooded, males (bulls) average 19-22 feet and usually weigh between 8,000-12,000 pounds. Females (cows) are smaller, averaging 16-19 feet, weighing between 3,000-8,000 pounds.

Some day I’d like to be close enough to see one in the ocean. But for now this incredible video from National Geographic will have to do!

Jaw dropping,


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Not Jaws!

There are more than 350 species of shark, but only a handful are dangerous to humans. The two largest, the basking shark and the whale shark, only eat small creatures like plankton.

How large is the largest? The whale shark is about 40 feet long. The smallest shark, the dwarf shark, is only 10 inches long.

Did you know that sharks can see better in the dark than cats? But better yet, they can detect electrical fields. Their electro-perception organ is called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. If shark stop swimming, they sink, since they don’t have swim bladders like most other fish.

Pacific Islanders once worshipped the shark god Kamohoali'i. Was that out of fear? They are pretty fearsome looking!


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Flying through the water

A group of stingray is called a “fever,” which is an interesting choice. Stingray can be as small as the palm of your hand or as big as 14 feet long! (That includes tail.) Speaking of tails, that’s where a stingray’s stinger is. Stingers grow like fingernails, but can be barbed, serrated, or razor-sharp.

Stingray are very flat, which makes it easy for them to hide on the ocean floor, where they bury themselves in the sand. The most common reason for them to sting a human is because they get stepped on!

In Finding Nemo, Nemo’s teacher is a ray.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Let me check your head

It’s not quite as good as a fingerprint, but individual seahorses can usually be told apart by their coronets (the top of their head that almost looks like a crown).

You may know that it’s the male seahorse who becomes pregnant. But did you know their eyes move independently? There are times I think that would be an advantage, but it’d probably just confuse me.

There are about 35 species of seahorses. In size they range from ¼ inch to a foot. Seahorse are at threatened status.

Jungle Jane

Monday, September 3, 2007

Look at ‘em go!

Sea Turtles come in a variety of sizes and colors. The largest is the leatherback which can be 4-6 feet long and weigh 440-1115 pounds! Whoa! The smallest sea turtle species is the Olive Ridley—they’re only 22-30 inches long, but still a respectable 65 to 110 pounds.

I think Crush and his family in the movie Finding Nemo are green sea turtles.

Unfortunately, all species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. The following is a video of baby Kemp’s ridley sea turtles being released by Sea Turtle Inc., a sea turtle rescue organization.

Wish I’d been there. Looks fun to watch.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Starfish, not a fish

Since we were in the sea yesterday, I thought we’d stay there this week.

Let’s start with the Starfish or Sea Stars. As you probably know they are not actually fish at all, but echinoderm, closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars. Think how they get stiff when taken out of the water.

Sea Stars have no blood and they don’t have a brain! Though they do have quite a complicated nervous system. Sea Stars have spiky skin and move on tube feet. You can see the feet in the video below where one has been turned upside down. If you wait a few seconds, once the people quit touching it, you can see the Sea Star move across the sand.

Cool, huh?

There are over 1800 varieties. The crown-of-thorns starfish are wiping out coral reef in several areas of the world. I knew sea stars were predators, but didn’t know they could be dangerous. This particular guy is even poisonous, but, fortunately, the only starfish who is.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Dangerous to have babies!

Early sea-farers called the Octopus (family Octopoda) the “Devil Fish.” They are kind of strange looking, with their 8 arms. I can’t say they create “warm fuzzy feelings” in me like many other animals do, yet, they are interesting. Some people have even kept them as pets, though they don’t have a long life span.

There are over 200 different species of Octopus. My understanding is that they are broken into two groups:
• Cirrata: Finned octopi who live at depths between 1,000 and 24,000 feet
• Incirrata: non-finned shallow water dwellers

Octopi crawl or swim, walk, and use jet propulsion to get around. Though some have been seen to “fly” as they blast themselves out of the water to escape a predator.

Reproduction causes death in octopi: males can only live for a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch. No wonder octopi don’t live long!