Friday, August 30, 2013

Playing Possum

Often accused of acting like it's dead, or "playing possum", an opossum is actually not faking it.

When confronted with a threat the opossum will launch into an involuntary response causes the animal to fall over, bare it's teeth, and even secrete a foul smelling fluid from its glands to make it seem less appetizing. Opossums cannot voluntarily wake up from this state and usually do not regain consciousness for 1-4 hours.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Not So Stubborn Mules

 Opposite of the common notion, mules are not really stubborn.

Picture from Tallahassee Museum

 Mules are very intelligent and the "stubborn" streak is just the mule's way of telling humans that things are not right.  They will do their best for their owner, with the utmost patience, but will resist when they feel that their owners are incorrect.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Llama Unusual Mating Habits

Llamas mate in an unusual way for large animals.

Picture from Wikipedia

Mating occurs with the female in a lying down position, otherwise known as a "kush" position.  The entire mating process can last anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes.  Both of these traits are rare amongst larger animals.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leopard vs. Cheetah vs. Jaguar

Leopards may sometimes be confused with two other large spotted cats, the cheetah and the jaguar.

 Picture from The Highlander

The leopard and cheetah co-exist together in Africa, while the jaguar typically lives elsewhere.  The patterns of spots is different for each of these animals.  The cheetah has simple black spots that are evenly spread.  The jaguar has small spots that are inside the polygonal rosettes.  And finally the leopard has rounder, smaller rosettes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jackals Prefer Young Prey

 Jackals kill almost exclusively small or young animals for their prey.

Picture from RetrieverMan

Jackals can best be described as opportunistic omnivores. They hunt small or young antelopes or domestic sheep. They also eat snakes and other reptiles, insects, ground-dwelling birds, fruits, berries and grass. Jackals kill small prey with a bite at the back of the neck, but have also been known to kill animals by shaking them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hyena & Dog Differences

Hyena are not related to dogs, although they do have some similar greeting ceremonies.

Hyenas are similar to canines in several aspects; both hyenas and canines are hunters that catch prey with their teeth rather than claws. Both eat food quickly and may store it, and their calloused feet are adapted for running and making sharp turns. However, the hyenas' grooming, scent marking, defecating habits, mating, and parental behavior are different from the canine.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Angry, Angry Hippos

Hippopotamuses are by nature very aggressive animals. 

 Picture from The Telegraph

Hippos involved in attacks on other animals are often either mature bulls, which tend to be very territorial and ill-tempered, or females, which are protecting their young.  Due to their ill temperament and great size, adult hippopotamus are not usually subject to predation by other animals, only humans.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Giraffe's Age Spots

As they age a giraffe's fur begins to darken.
Picture from Giraffes Online

A giraffe's color scheme varies considerably in pattern from one giraffe to the next, but consists of dark-reddish to chestnut brown blotches of various shapes and sizes on a buff ground color.  When the giraffe is young the coloring is light and begins to darken with age.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Feasting Flamingos

A flamingo gets it's pinkish or orange color from the food it eats.

 Picture from Otts World

Most flamingos we see are pink and that's because shrimp and other crustaceans are one of the primary sources of food.   They also eat algae, diatoms, and aquatic insects.  Flamingos that eat mostly algae are more deeply colored than birds that eat the small animals that feed off of algae.

AA flamThe flamingo’s pink or orange color comes from the food they eat, including algae, diatoms, and small aquatic insects and crustaceans such as shrimp. - See more at:

Monday, August 19, 2013

An Elephant's Hot Spots

Elephants can fine tune their body temperature using "hot spots" scattered around their bodies.

Picture from Spirit Animals

For years society believed that elephants flapped their large ears to help keep cool, but a 2010 study revealed that elephants are able to direct their blood supply to small patches of skin throughout their body known as "hot spots", which helps them lose heat.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Butt Breathers

Dragonflies breathe out of their butts.

Picture from Lee's Bird

Yep, it's true.  Dragonflies breathe through gills in their rectum.  Not only that, but they can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through their anus.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Crab's Teeth: Can You Find Them?

A crab’s teeth are found in it's stomach.

 Picture from Mike Delaney

Unlike human teeth, the teeth in a crab's stomach are not made of bone, but of a material called chitin, which is the same material that makes up most of a crab's shell.  These teeth are located in what are called "gastric mills" inside the stomach.
chamber called the gastric mill

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chemically Raised Chickens

More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.

Picture from Trust Organic Food

According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74% of the world's poultry meat and 68% of it's eggs are produced from intensive farming techniques.  This includes the heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land areas.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Black Death" Buffalo

The buffalo is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal.

 Picture from Wildlife Safari

Specifically the African buffalo is known as "The Black Death" or "Widowmaker" because it kills over 200 people every year.  Sometimes more people are reported killed by buffalo than any other animal in the area.  Because they are considered game, they have been known to attack those pursuing them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bluebird Building Behavior

 While the male bluebird is all about attracting the female to the nest, that's about the extent of his contribution to the nest building activity.

In the comical, typical male fashion, the male bluebird brings nesting material to the hole, but that's where his contribution to nest building ends.  He'll pop in and out, waving his wings while perched above the hole, but it's the female bluebird who actually builds the nest an incubates the eggs.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Woodpecker Teamwork

Male and female woodpeckers work together as a team to raise their young.

Picture from All About Birds

First the team of woodpeckers will work together to excavate a hole in a tree to use as a nest for their young.  The eggs will incubate in the nested cavity for about two weeks before it hatches.  Once hatched, the baby woodpecker emerges blind and without feathers. One of the parent woodpeckers will then venture out to find food for the baby while the other parent stays guard of it's young.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Walrus "Moustache"

 The bristles surrounding the tusks of a walrus that often give it a "moustached" look are called vibrissae.

 Picture from NY Times

There can be anywhere from 400 to 700 vibrissae in a row, usually 13 to 15 rows surrounding the tusks.  Though they are usually fairly short in order to avoid getting in the way of eating, the vibrissae can be up to a foot long.  The vibrissae are attached to muscles and are supplied with blood and nerves, making them highly sensitive organs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Tiger's Appetite

You might thing you have a big appetite, but a tiger can eat up to 60 pounds of meat in one night.

 Picture from Slideshare
 Most of the time a tiger will consume about 12 pounds of meat during a meal, but there are times when that number is significantly higher, reaching up to 60 pounds of meat at once.  Normally, the cat will eat until it is full, then cover the remaining carcass with dirt and leaves.  They will continue to feed of the same piece of meat until it is gone.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Squirrel Fire Safety

Squirrels are also a serious fire hazard when they break into buildings.

Picture from Ruth Miller

Squirrels often gnaw on the electrical insulation for power cables, which exposes conductors that can cause short outs and fires.  Because of this, squirrel nests inside buildings must be removed immediately.  Squirrel nests can also cause problems with noise, unpleasant odors and of course, excrement. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Roaming Rhinoceroses

 A rhinoceros will most likely only travel if it needs to find food, water or a partner.

Picture from Michael Farino

It is said that when food and water are both abundant, a rhino will have no incentive to travel, so they will stay in their favored localities.  Because rhinos do not need to drink everyday and generally have no major probably obtaining water, they will travel to find food or partners.  If it is during a dry season however, they will increase their range of travel from 12 sq. km up to 20 sq. km.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fast Falcons

 The peregrine falcon is the existing animal on the planet.

 Picture from All About Birds

 Peregrine falcons have been clocked at 242 miles per hour during their swooping dives and may be capable of reaching ever higher speeds.  It's speed is what allows the bird to capture prey much larger than itself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Porcupines Defense Against It's Own Pricks

Porcupines are the only animal in North America with antibiotics in their skin.

Picture from Animals Town

On the occasion that a porcupine manages to stick itself with one of it's own quills, the antibiotic in it's skin will prevent infection.  Typically the quills lay flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention to act as a line of defense.