Friday, May 31, 2013

A Manatees Limited Range of Motion

The manatee only has six cervical vertebrae, therefore it can not turn its head.

 Picture from Manatees.Net

 Most mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, which allows them to turn their head in order to see behind and to the side of them.  However, with only six, the manatee must turn it's entire body when it wants to look around.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lies About Lemmings

Lemmings became the subject of a popular misconception that they commit mass suicide when they migrate. 

It's not a mass suicide, but rather the result of their migratory behavior. Their strong biological urges prompt some species of lemmings to migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Lemmings can swim and may opt to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat. In such cases, many may drown if the body of water is too wide.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Isolated Impala Babies

During breeding season the female impala is able to delay giving birth for an additional month if the conditions are harsh.

Picture from One Kind

Typically after six or seven months the mother will isolate herself from the herd to give birth.  If weather and territory conditions are not ideal, the female will hold off on giving birth until things improve.  After giving birth the female will keep the fawn isolated for a few days before returning to the herd.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fly by day, rest at night

Much like a human with a normal routine, houseflies are only active during the daytime hours.

During the overnight hours, houseflies find peace while resting at the corners of rooms, ceiling hangings, cellars, and barns, where they can survive the coldest winters by hibernation.  When spring arrives adult flies are seen only a few days after the first thaw.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Toxic Toads and Frogs

Many frogs have a mild toxic substance in their skin that serves as a defense to potential predators.

Most frogs and toads have large poison glands located on the sides of their heads and elsewhere on their bodies that secrete mucus and a variety of other toxins that make their skin slippery to hold, distasteful or poisonous.  Some frogs, such as the poison dart frogs, are especially toxic.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Emu's Role Reversal

The roles are reversed when it comes to breeding for emus.  

Unlike most other animals, it is the female emu who must compete for a mate.  Once the male has chosen a mate, the two will breed frequently, with the female laying up to 20 eggs during the summer months.  Also opposite from the traditional gender roles, it's the male's job to incubate the eggs after they have been laid by the female, who will leave the nest to find another mate.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eagles Everywhere!

Over 25 countries use some variety of an eagle in their national symbol.

Picture from All About Birds

Including The United States, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Iraq, Panama and Russia.  The eagles can also be found in various uses throughout history.  For example, Napoleon I used the Roman Golden Eagle as the symbol of his new French empire.  Also, during the 1930s and 1940s Hitler's Nazi Germany used a black eagle with its wings outstretched and clutching a swastika as its insignia.  While there are numerous college sports teams with an eagle as the mascot, only two major league teams use one.  The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and MLS's D.C. United.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cougars...On The Hunt

While cougars eat every day, they only hunt once a week.

Picture from Pawlore

For the male cougar, they will usually hunt and kill a large animal once every two weeks.  For females raising young, the time frame shrinks to once every three to four days.  Once the kill has been made, the cougar will drag it's kill to a preferred spot, cover it with brush and return over the following days for feeding.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Cicadas Are Coming!!

The Cicada invasion expected this year is being referred to as "Swarmageddon", with billions of the critters taking over the East coast.  

 Picture from Magicicada

The brood of cicadas that’s currently working its way out of the ground between Georgia and Connecticut is one of the largest of the fifteen U.S. cicada broods.  For 17 years, they've been sucking up fluid from plant roots and waiting for their biological alarm clock to ring. The bugs emerge in droves when the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Caribou Shoes

Much like women who change their shoes from boots in the winter, to sandals in the summer, Caribou hooves change with the season.

Picture from Tumblr

In the summer, when the tundra is soft and wet, the footpads become sponge-like and provide extra traction. In the winter, the pads shrink and tighten, exposing the rim of the hoof, which cuts into the ice and crusted snow to keep it from slipping. This also enables them to dig down through the snow to their favorite food.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Baby Blue Whales

Next time you step on the scale and see you've put on a little weight think about this...Blue whale calves gain 200lbs a day, every day for their first year.

Picture from Antarctic Animals

When born, blue whale calves are already 23 feet long and weigh 5,000 pounds, making them larger than most adult mammals. A calf will live off its mother’s milk for the first six months of life, consuming over 100 gallons of it per day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lord Baltimore's Bird

 The Baltimore Oriole's name has a rich historical back story.

 Picture from

Named because their colors are similar to those on the coat of arms of famous politician Lord Baltimore, the Baltimore oriole is one of the most recognizable birds in the United States.  The Baltimore oriole shares its range with the similar-looking Bullock’s oriole and frequently hybridizes with it. At one time these two birds were thought to be a single species known as the northern oriole.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crows and Carnage

The American Crow has gotten a bad rap over the years for it's roadkill eating habits and is commonly referred to as a scavenger.  Truth is, carnage is only a very small part of it's diet.

Picture from All About Birds

 Though their bills are large, crows can’t break through the skin of an animal, therefore they must wait for something else to open a carcass or for the carcass to decompose and become tender enough to eat.  Crows will feed on scraps of human food, seeds, nuts, acorns, eggs, stranded fish and other grains.  They also prey on mice, frogs and other small animals. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Aardwolf Fun Fact

 The aardwolf is in the same family as the hyenas, however there are many differences between the two.  For starters, the aardwolf has a more slender muzzle, sharper ears and a long mane down the midline of it's neck and back.  But the easiest way to tell the difference, is to take a gander at it's feet.

Picture from Aardwolf Alpacas

In comparison to the hyena,  the aardwolf is less of a runner, so the aardwolf's front feet have five toes each, unlike the four-toed hyena.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Anteater's Non-Paw Crawl

While it might not look like it from a distance, an anteater actually does not walk on it's paws.

Picture from Houston Zoo

Instead, with the claws curled up into the paws, it walks on its "fists." This helps to keep the claws sharp so the anteater can dig into ant mounds or defend itself from predators.  It is important for an anteater's claws to be as sharp as possible as it often has to fight off jaguars and pumas.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cheetah Chat

A cheetah while ranking among the more vocal felines, can not roar.

Picture from Live Science

Cheetah's make numerous other noises, such as chirping, churring, growling, and purring.  A mother cheetah chirps when she's trying to locate her cubs.  Churrs are emitted during social meetings.  You'll often hear a cheetah growl when they are annoyed or face danger.  And just like a kitty, a cheetah will purr when it's content.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Getting Over The Hump Of Camel Myths

Baby camels are born without a hump. They won't develop one until they start eating solid food.

 Picture from HD Wallpapers

Contrary to myth, water is not stored there. A camel's hump is made up of fatty tissue that can be converted into energy and water. As the camel draws upon these energy reserves, the hump shrinks. If the fat deposits are truly depleted, the hump will flop over and hang down the camel's side. A week of food, water and rest will restore a camel's hump to its proper shape.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Canadian Geese - Mates for Life

The Canadian Geese share an important feature with some of their feathered friends.  Like Swans, Black Vultures, Turtle Doves, and Bald Eagles, the Canadian Geese mate for life.

Picture from IBC

Typically during the second year of their lives, Canada Geese find a mate. They are monogamous, and most couples stay together all of their lives. However, if one dies, the other may find a new mate.  Males and females almost always pick a mate who is very close to their own size.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Be Kind To Animals Week

Sunday kicked off "Be Kind To Animals Week"!

While we think you should be kind to animals every week, this week in particular is designated to commemorate the role animals play in our lives, promote ways to continue to treat them humanely, and encourage others to do the same.

Click here to learn more about Be Kind To Animals Week!

Beautiful Butterflies

Butterfly wings are actually clear. Their colors and patterns are made by the reflection of the scales that cover them.

These scales are pigmented with melanins that give them blacks and browns. Blues, greens, reds and iridescence are usually created by the micro-structure of the scales instead of the pigment.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nationally Specially-Abled Pets Day

Every year May 3rd celebrates Nationally Specially-Abled Pets Day.  Founded in 2006, this day is dedicated to these incredible and heroic animals, as well as educate the public about caring for specially-abled pets.

Here are a few of our favorite pictures of adorable specially-abled pets!


Baby Bats

A baby bat will have plenty of siblings in it's life, but none the same age.  

Female bats generally only give birth to just one pup a year.  Some belief this is because of the mother's need to fly to feed while pregnant.   Female bats nurse their young until they are nearly adult size, because a young bat cannot forage on its own until its wings are fully developed.  Infant mortality is high, (if a baby bat looses a grip on its mother or roost, it will fall and die) but bats that reach maturity can live 30 years or more.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beavers Senses Shutdown

A beaver has the ability to shut down two of their senses, smell and hearing.

A beaver’s nose has a special inner flap that seals out water when the beaver is submerged. Adult beavers can hold their breath under water for 15 minutes.  Beaver ears also have inner flaps that seal out water when they are swimming. They have oversized auditory canals, which allow them to pick up sounds and vibrations under water that may indicate danger.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Zombees are real!  Not the walking dead type zombie, but there is such a thing as a zombie bee, or "zombees" as they are also called.  

Honey bees  in Washington that were acting strangely, were tested and scientists discovered that they had been infected by the parasitic fly apocephalus borealis (also known as the zombie fly). Those bees infected by apocephalus borealis have been dubbed as "zombie bees," or "zombees".  The infection has spread to Oregon, California, and South Dakota. Tests are being conducted on bees in several other states to determine if the bees there are infected.  Bees infected with the apocephalus borealis fly cannot spread the infection to humans.