Monday, December 31, 2007

African Animals

This is a really cool video of African animals accompanied by an Enya song. Watching it just makes me want to go to Africa and go on a safari to experience it myself!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll actually know the name of the oryx when you see him walk across in front of the ostrich. The zebra is not biting his fellow herd-mate, but grooming him. I loved the surprise of the hippos popping to the surface. And even baby hyenas are cute. This video reminded me of those African animals not yet blogged, so I plan to remedy that over the next few days.

If you’d like to hear some real African music while watching more animals, try this video of Kenya music. Warning: it’s 9 minutes long and there are sections with just bird sounds.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Easier for beginners

This female fish and her fry (babies) are Julidochromis Dickfeldi, an African Cichlid – photo courtesy of Derek Benjamin Lilly. Cichlids are one variety of freshwater fish. Other freshwater fish you’ll see in aquariums are angelfish, tetras, barbs, catfish, gouramis, danios, and guppies. People often have a community tank with a variety of kinds of fish.
For freshwater fish, you can easily have a 5 gallon tank—though the more fish you want, the larger the tank you’ll need. Just like with a saltwater tank, freshwater aquariums need filtration.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

For the experienced aquarist

Aren’t these saltwater fish in this photo by Dee Kull beautiful?

Saltwater tropical fish on the whole are more colorful than freshwater tropical fish. However, a salt aquarium takes more care than a freshwater tank. First off, you need at least a 30 gallon tank to maintain the proper environment. Saltwater fish need more space per fish and a better water quality than freshwater fish. Damselfish, clownfish, and gobies are hardy saltwater fish for the beginner aquarist.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Common pet fish

This photo by Renate Volz shows another pet’s fascination with goldfish. Goldfish are one of the most commonly kept aquarium and water garden fish. They belong to the carp family and are cold water fish. Though hardy fish, goldfish often don’t live as long as they should due to too small of an environment.

Goldfish and other pet fish should not be “petted” as this can damage or remove the protective slime coat on their skin.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Useful pet

This lovely gecko photo was taken by Dan Tombs. Geckos are small to average size lizards that are found in warm climates all over the world. There are 1,196 different species of geckos! They make chirping sounds to communicate. Some people keep geckos as pets. Many geckos have toe pads that allow them to climb smooth surfaces such as walls and even allow them to cross a ceiling. House geckos are valued as they eat insects.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another pet rodent

This photo by Dee Kull shows a typical gerbil stance—on the hind legs using the tail for balance. The bottoms of gerbil's back feet are furry.

Gerbils were once called desert rats. The gerbil subfamily includes about 110 species of African, Indian, and Asian rodents. The ones raised as pets in the US are Mongolian gerbils. (I had no idea!)

In their natural environment, Mongolian gerbils are mostly insectivores.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cockatiel

Bob is 9 years old. Thanks to Gerad on flickr for his picture.

Cockatiels are small cockatoos and are also known as quarrions and weeros. They are native to Australia. They have gentle and sociable natures which make them good pets although they can be quite noisy and are not good for small children.

Cockatiels are better at imitating whistles than speech.

They are easy birds for breeding—a clutch of cockatiel eggs is generally 4 to 5 thumbnail sized eggs.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas. See you on the 26th!

Jungle Jane

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Peekin' out of the Christmas decorations

Thanks to Rebecca on flickr for this image of Pigbert.

Guinea pigs are native to the Andes. Europeans started keeping them as pets in the 16th century. They weigh 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds and are about 8 to 10 inches long. They live an average of 4 years. Baby guinea pigs are called pups.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa’s helper rat

This rat’s name was Lefteye. His picture was taken and dressed up by his owner Reed.

Pet rats are known as fancy rats, not that they themselves are fancy, but that their owners "fancy" rats. Male rats are called bucks and females, does. Female rats are more active than male rats.

Pet rats live about 2 to 3 ½ years.

Friday, December 21, 2007

♪It's the warm and fuzzy time of year♪

This photo by Michael J Summerville of a cat in an inconvenient place is typical domestic house cat behavior. Mine particularly like the office chair in front of my computer. Especially my white cat that looks a lot like the one in this picture.

Cats walk directly on their toes. Unlike dogs and many other mammals, cats move both legs on one side, then both legs on the other side. They share this latter trait with camels, giraffes, and some horses.

These natural hunters may supplement their human-fed diet with prey such as small rodents. At night their light-reflecting eyes give cats an advantage over prey. I have one kitty who loves going after, and catching, the wild baby rabbits in spring and early summer. Of course, he has to bring them to us...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

♪Dachsing through the snow…♪

This dappled* dachshund picture is courtesy of owner Rejean Caron. Dachshunds have three varieties of coat: smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. There are standard size doxies and miniature ones.

I had no idea until today that they are hunting dogs as well as pets and are good at underground work and beating the bush. In fact their name simply translates as badger (dachs) dog (hund) as they were used in Germany more than 300 years ago to hunt badgers.


*The term dapple refers to the pattern of the coat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmouse

This mouse’s name is Pip. Isn’t she cute? (Click here to see more photos taken by her owner, Kirra Jayde.)

Mice that are bred for pets are common house mice. Mice eat grains, fruits, and seeds, and like sweets, though chocolate is toxic to them. Despite all the stories of mice and cheese they don’t actually like cheese.

Mice have been in a lot of fiction – two of my favorite are the Redwall stories by Brian Jacques and the Runt stories by Dan Schwabauer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ferret, er, Feliz Navidad

This picture of her ferret exploring the Christmas packages is courtesy of Rachel Leeman.

One website said that ferrets are the 3rd most common uncaged animal in North America (after cats and dogs, of course); another said they are the 3rd most popular pet. Ferrets are usually black, brown, gray, white or mixed though there are all white and yellow ferrets, too.

Ferrets are sociable, playful, curious animals. It’s really fun to watch them at play, especially when they do their sideways hop.

Ferrets sleep about 14 to 18 hours a day and are most active at dawn and dusk.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Bunny

Cute, huh! This picture is courtesy of owner Trucie Henderson.

Rabbits kept in homes as pets are typically called house rabbits. They need a pen at least 4 times the length of their body. Rabbits can be house broken and allowed the run of the house. They are very social animals and can get along with cats and dogs. However, it is not recommended to have a rabbit in a house with small children, as bunnies startle easily.

If you’re looking for a rabbit or bunny yourself, you might consider adopting one through the House Rabbit Society, an international nonprofit organization that rescues rabbits from animal shelters, or contact your local animal shelter to adopt a rabbit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas pets

I spotted a pet dressed up for Christmas so thought it would be fun to share photos of Christmas ready pets. I'll include facts of these common pets, too.

First up is this Teddy Bear Hamster, named Puschl, who is owned by Annia Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria. (Photo taken by Annia--thanks for sharing!)

I had hamsters when I was a kid and so did my daughters. I thought my mother would kill me when my hamster got ahold of a curtain and chewed off a 6" by 18" section to pull into his cage. Fortunately there was one more curtain panel left at the store, so we both lived. Phew!

Besides being chewers, hamsters are also climbers. Mine got out of his cage once and I woke up hearing him climbing through the open box springs of my bed. (It was an antique bed!) If you've ever watched a hamster in a cage for a while, you know they are diggers, too.

There are many varieties of hamsters; they can be black, gray, white, brown, buff, yellow, or red. Hamsters are ominvores, who can stuff their cheek pouches full of food to carry off and stockpile.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

♪ Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam…♪

We call it a buffalo, but the correct term is bison. There are American and European varieties, which are the largest land mammals in North America and Europe. Bison are grazing herd animals, which were almost hunted to extinction. The European bison is still endangered.

I've seen them in Yellowstone National Park and on buffalo farms.

Friday, December 14, 2007

♪…where the deer and the antelope play…♪

When we say antelope in this country we’re usually referring to a pronghorn (also known as pronghorn antelope). They are the second fastest land animal in the world and are nicknamed “prairie goats" and "speed goats.”

Pronghorns eat cacti, grasses, and plants. Their major predators are wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and of course, humans.

We used to drive through Wyoming a lot going to and from Denver to the west. One of our entertainments was seeing how many antelope we could spot. They have a tendency to blend in to the dry landscape. This picture was taken in Oregon in the sage brush - probably spring as green as it is.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dō, a deer . . .

There are a number of Deer species. We’re familiar with Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer since that’s what is native to North America. In Africa the Red Deer belongs to the same family. In Asia there are numerous species of deer: Siberian Roe Deer, Sika Deer, Thorold's Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, Chital, Hog Deer, Barasingha, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac (and I probably missed some). European deer include European Red Deer and European Roe Deer. Central and South American deer include: Taruca or North Andean Deer, Chilean Huemul or South Andean Deer, and the small Brocket Deer and Pudus, the latter being the smallest deer in the world.

Depending on species and where you live, male deer are called stags, harts, bucks, or bulls, and females are called hinds or does. In North American bucks and does are the most common terms.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Next biggest

Elk or wapiti are the 2nd largest “deer” after moose. They are native to North America and eastern Asia. There are four subspecies in North America and four from Asia. Unlike moose, elk are herd animals. The Roosevelt elk is the largest of the subspecies and is found west of the Cascade mountain range in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

During mating season bull elks antler wrestle and bugle. Listen here—it autoplays when you go to the website. The bull in the picture is bugling. Elk cows “bark” to warn of danger.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Largest North American land animal

I got to see moose when I visited friends in Alaska one summer. What I got relatively close to were calves and they’re plenty big. In Europe moose are called elk.

Moose males have flattened antlers, called palmate antlers. European, Siberian, and Scandinavian elk have less flattened antlers.

Adult moose are 5 to 6 feet tall at the shoulder! They weigh from 600 to 1180 pounds with the males on the heavier end of the range. Moose front legs are longer than their hind legs. They have good sense of hearing and smell, but are nearsighted.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the Hoof

Since it’s the season where reindeer are frequently mentioned, this week I thought I’d focus on hoofed animals—starting with the reindeer, but I’m not talking Rudolph. Wikipedia says reindeer and caribou are the same animal, but my other research gives conflicting answers, so I’ll discuss them separately.

In Russia and Scandinavia reindeer are domesticated. Wild reindeer are found in Norway.

Reindeer are good swimmers. Both male and females have antlers. Reindeer eat lichen, mosses, grass, birch and willow leaves, mushrooms and other tundra plants.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

movie star

I was first made aware of the Frilled Lizard in the animated movie “The Rescuers Down Under.” They made him such a cute character. But now for the facts.

The frilled lizard is also called the frilled neck lizard and the frilled dragon. His frill is activated by the lizard when frightened as he opens his mouth wide. As part of the bluff the lizard may hiss and jump towards the threat. The lizard prefers to run rather than fight and runs on its hind legs to the nearest tree which it rapidly climbs.

Until 1991, a frill-necked lizard was featured on the reverse of the Australian 2 cent coin.

Jungle Jane

Friday, December 7, 2007

It’s not really a beard

Bearded Dragons are native to Australia. What looks like a beard is a spiny pouch that the dragon expands to make him appear larger, when he is threatened. Sometimes the pouch is black which adds to the “bearded” look.

This photo my friend took in Australia is probably a Common Bearded Dragon. (His pouch is not expanded.) There are 8 species of bearded dragon and a variety of colors.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

This crest is only feathers

I had no idea that Cockatoos only occur naturally in Australia and nearby islands. I guess the fact that they are bred for pets has made me think they are common. 11 of the 21 species only occur in Australia. 3 occur in both Australia and New Guinea. The other 7 are from Indonesia, New Guinea and some other south Pacific Islands. Some species are black. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is the most common in Australia.

Cockatoos have a movable head crest.

Cockatoos are also an endangered species.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lowest known bird call

The Cassowary is found in Australia, New Guinea and New Britain. They are the 3rd largest flightless bird. All 3 species of cassowary have a hornlike crest, called a casque. Female cassowaries are larger and more brightly colored than males. A cassowary call is a low “boom,” sometimes described as “thunder in the distance.”

Cassowaries are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals to keep in a zoo. They have a dagger like claw about 5 inches long. When cornered or threatened, a cassowary kicks out and can inflict fatal injuries.

The Southern Cassowary is endangered.

I really like this head on picture!

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pied piper?

There are 9 subspecies of the Australian Magpie. Mature birds have red eyes. Immature ones have brownish eyes. Australian magpies have a warbling call. New Zealand poet Denis Glover wrote "’quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle,’ the magpies said.” Part of their Latin name means piper.

During nesting season, if a magpie feels threatened, they will swoop at the intruder and snap their beak. They come from behind so it can be a bit frightening. Hence this sign…

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another large bird

The Australian White Ibis has a mostly white body with a featherless black head. They average about 2 ½ feet tall. Their favorite food is mussels and crayfish. The ibis uses its long bill to dig up these delicacies. Unfortunately, they have recently developed a taste for human garbage and are making themselves pests in urban areas.
My friend took this picture at the wildlife park in Australia.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Largest bird native to Australia

Smaller than the ostrich, emus are the 2nd tallest bird in the world. They can reach heights of 6 feet 7 inches! Emus trot to cover ground at a good pace, but can sprint for short distances at 30 miles per hour. Like the ostrich, they do not fly.

Emus eat plants and insects.

Females lay an average of 11 eggs, each weighing 1.5 to 2 pounds! But it is the male emu who incubates the eggs.

I forgot to ask my friend if she fed this emu.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lacey feathers

We’re all pretty familiar with colorful peacocks, but how many of us have seen a white one? My friend saw one in Australia, but it’s not native. Gorgeous, though, eh? (This picture is courtesy of Nevit Dilmen.)

But is this peacock an albino or what? Not albino, just a color variation of the Indian Peafowl. These birds have blue eyes. White peahens are also pure white. White peachicks start out yellow with white wings.

Peacocks are the national bird of India. The Indian Blue Peacock is the one we see the most in this country.

The Green Peafowl is a separate species and naturally occurs from Myanmar to Java.