Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe hares live in forests and prefer thick brushy undergrowth. They are primarily a northen species that inhabits boreal forests all the way up to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Hares are a little bigger than rabbits and have taller hind legs and longer ears. Snowshoe hares have especially large, furry feet that help them to move atop snow in the winter. Their snow-white winter coat turns brown when the snow melts each spring. Snowshoe hares are nimble and fast, which comes in handy when they are being preyed upon by lynx, fox, coyote, and even birds of prey.

To learn more about snowshoe hares, visit

- photo from National Geographic

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lynx, the "Snowshoe" Cat

The lynx is any of four medium-sized wild cats. The cat is characterized by its long ear tufts and short (bobbed) tail with a black tip. It has unusually large paws that act as snow shoes in very deep snow and its thick fur and long legs make it appear larger than it really is. Lynx live 10-15 years and eat mainly snowshoe hares, but they also eat mice, red squirrels and other small mammals. Generally solitary animals, lynx hunt and travel alone, and are more active at night.

The lynx is endangered, and is protected from all hunting in the U.S., except in Alaska.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Animals In The Snow

Today starts The Jungle Store's series "Animals in the Snow". Now that winter is in full swing and the snow is here (at least it is in the Midwest), we'll be taking a look into the lives of the critters who tough out the worst winter weather with the help of Mother Nature.

During the winter, an extra layer of fur or feathers grows on the paws or feet of some animals, such as the lynx, hare, ptarmigan, snowy owl, and grouse. This helps even out the animal's weight so it will keep from sinking in the snow. And that's just one example of how animals survive the coldest months. Come back to learn about the lynx, the "snowshoe cat", tomorrow!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! Fun Turkey Facts

Here are a few fun facts about turkeys that you can share with your family and friends during Thanksgiving dinner. To learn even more about turkeys, visit the turkey animal facts page.
  • Turkeys have heart attacks. When the Air Force was conducting test runs and breaking the sound barrier, fields of turkeys would drop dead.
  • Turkeys can drown if they look up when it is raining.
  • Turkeys spend the night in trees. They fly to their roosts around sunset.
  • Turkeys fly to the ground at first light and feed until mid-morning. Feeding resumes in mid-afternoon.
  • Gobbling starts before sunrise and can continue through most of the morning.
  • A wild turkey has excellent vision and hearing. Their field of vision is about 270 degrees. This is the main reason they continue to elude some hunters.
  • A spooked turkey can run at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. They can also burst into flight approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds.
  • In 2007, the average American ate 17.5 pounds of turkey.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, roughly the size of a large dog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What Sound Does a Giraffe Make?

Have you ever wondered what sound a giraffe makes? Giraffes are usually silent, but they do make noise in certain situations:

~Calves (baby giraffes) bleat and make a mewing call.
~Cows (female giraffes) seeking lost calves bellow.
~Courting bulls (male giraffes) sometimes let out a loud cough!

Also, giraffes have been heard snorting, moaning, snoring, hissing, and making strange flutelike sounds!

Recent research has shown evidence that the animal communicates at an infrasound level.

Know someone who loves giraffes? This giraffe Christmas ornament might be the perfect gift this holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is Obama Getting A Hairless Puppy?

A hairless puppy might become the new White House hound. A Peruvian association is offering U.S. President-elect Obama's family Machu Picchu, a hairless, hypoallergenic puppy. This could be the perfect choice for Obama's daughter Malia, who is allergic to most breeds.
View a video of the hairless puppy here:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick Animal Fact: Mosquito

The next time you go camping or spend a long day outside, remember not to wear the color blue, or you might get eaten alive! Mosquitos are attracted most to the color blue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quick Animal Fact: Goldfish

The goldfish is the only animal that can see infrared and ultraviolet light!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Freakish Animal Facts

For Halloween, I thought I'd share with you some freakish animal facts for your entertainment.

  • The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.
  • The heart of a shrimp is located in its head.
  • The sex organ on a male spider is located at the end of one of its legs.
  • Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.
  • Some frogs are able to be frozen and then thawed, and continue living.
  • A cockroach can survive for about a week without its head before dying of starvation.
How's that for freaky?! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quick Animal Fact: Giant Squid

A giant squid's eyes are the largest of any animal, having a diameter of 15 inches.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Ladybug

Many people are fond of ladybugs because of their colorful, spotted appearance. But farmers love them for their appetite. Most ladybugs voraciously consume plant-eating insects, such as aphids, and in doing so they help to protect crops.

Ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed. By the end of its three-to-six-week life, a ladybug may eat some 5,000 aphids.Ladybugs are also called lady beetles or, in Europe, ladybird beetles.

There are about 5,000 different species of these insects, and not all of them have the same appetites. A few ladybugs prey not on plant-eaters but on plants. The Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle are destructive pests that prey upon the crops mentioned in their names.

Ladybugs appear as half-spheres, tiny, spotted, round or oval-shaped domes. They have short legs and antennae.Their distinctive spots and attractive colors are meant to make them unappealing to predators. Ladybugs can secrete a fluid from joints in their legs which gives them a foul taste. Their coloring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: "I taste awful." A threatened ladybug may both play dead and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself.
Shop online for ladybug-themed items at The Jungle Store.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unlikely Relatives: Whales & Hippos

Did you know that the hippo's closest relative is the whale? The two mammals share a common ancestor that lived about 60 million years ago.

This ancestor evolved into two groups of animals: early cetaceans, which became whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and a group of unusual land animals.

The only surviving descendent of these land animals is the hippo, making its distant cousin the whale its closest surviving relative!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby Zebrafish Have Rhythm!

A new study shows zebrafish have rhythm, and it may be a survival mechanism. After being taught a "rhythm" using flashes of light, the larvae "remembered" the beat pattern for 20 seconds after the flashes ceased. This finding suggests that the fish possess a sort of mental metronome that can help them evade predators.

With each light "beat", the baby zebrafish wiggled their tails and experienced activity in their brains that possess visual information, the optic septum. When the researchers turned the lights off, the fish continued to wag their rears and show signs of brain activity in time with the rhythm.

Dragonfly larvae are the chief predators of zebrafish babies. By learning the dragonflies' rhythm, zebrafish may anticipate their enemies' next moves and act to escape the attacks.

From National Geographic News

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Caterpillars Build Silk Alarm Systems

According to a news story written by Matt Kaplan for National Geographic News, scientists just discovered that metalmark moth caterpillars can build their own versions of home security systems out of silk. Previously, only spiders were thought to be able to detect tremors in their webs caused by foreign objects. The study could shed light on the evolution of animals that use silk to detect intruders.

Metalmark moth caterpillars are known for building protective shelters made out of silk on the leaves where they dwell. The larvae chew small holes beneath the shelters to escape when danger nears.

The research will appear next month in the journal Animal Behaviour. For more information on this study, visit National Geographic News.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out-Of-Place Penguins Get Flown From Brazil to South Atlantic

Almost 400 penguins that had mysteriously washed up on Brazil's beaches were transported south on an air force jet Saturday. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that the penguin release was the largest ever in South America. Experts hope a small group of older penguins released along with the young ones will help guide them south to the Patagonia.

Magellanic penguins breed in large colonies in southern Argentina and Chile and migrate north as far as southwest Brazil between March and September.

Environmentalists say it is not known why the penguins were stranded so far north, but some suggest the birds could have been carried beyond their usual range by a flow of warm water.

source:USA Today

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fun Hummingbird Facts

* Hummingbird’s consume half of their weight in food daily.

* Hummingbirds are found only in North America and South America.

* Hummingbirds travel at an average 25 miles per hour, with wingbeats of anywhere from 10-15 per second in the Giant Hummingbird, up to 80 per minute by the Amethyst Woodstar.

* A hummingbird can starve to death in as little as two hours, if still active.

* Hummingbirds are so small, that an insect, the Praying Mantis is its natural enemy.

* It's the only bird that can hover, and fly backwards as well as straight up or down.

* Hummingbirds can't walk.

Need facts about another animal? Visit The Jungle Store's Animal Facts Page! If you still can't find what you're looking for, email with your questions.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Watch A Panda Grow!

At birth, a panda is only about the size of a stick of butter. Take a look at the changes that occur from birth to four months!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Unusual Animals: Pangolin and Tarsier

At first glance, the pangolin looks kind of like an ant-eating dachshund in an aardvark suit. It's a scaly, short-legged mammal that comes out at night to search for bugs. It has no teeth, but its sticky tongue can stretch two feet long. Shy and quiet, a pangolin will curl into a ball when frightened. They are most closely related to the American badger (carnivora).

Thanks to the tarsier's huge round eyes and long toes, this creature resembles a tiny alien. This squirrel-sized primate is notable for its night vision and its ability to turn its head almost all the way around (they eyes are too big to move). It lives entirely in trees; on the ground it can only hop. Tarsiers can catch prey like birds, jumping from tree to tree. Of all the primates, the tarsier has the longest continuous fossil record, indicating that it hasn't changed much in 45 million years.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unusual Animals: Kiwi and Okapi

One look at the rounded brownish body of the flightless Kiwi bird will tell you where the kiwi fruit got its name. The kiwi bird itself was named for its memorable call. A kiwi weighs from three to nine pounds, depending on the species, and has a long beak with nostrils. It is endemic to New Zealand, and the country uses the bird as its national symbol. Unfortunately, all species of Kiwis are endangered.

The Okapi looks like it might be part zebra and part giraffe. In fact, it is related to the giraffe, but it stands just five feet high at the shoulder and has a much shorter neck. It has a red-brown body and dazzling white stripes on its legs and bottom. The Okapi is native to the Ituri Rainforest in central Africa.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Unusual Animals: Jerboa and Kinkajou

The Jerboa's long, powerful back legs make this mouse-sized rodent a jumping wonder—it can leap ten feet in a single bound. Fortunately, its long tail helps it balance. A jerboa never drinks, relying only on the moisture found in the bugs and plants that it eats. It lives in deserts and salt marshes throughout Norther Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

With its slim dark body and clever paws, you can see that the kinkajou is related to our raccoon. The kinkajou's long grasping tail helps it travel around its home in the rainforest trees. Although its diet is varied, its love of honey earned it the nickname "honey-bear."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unusual Animals: Civet and Echidna

The civet is a silky cat-shaped mammal that is remarkable for its beautiful spots, raccoon-like face, and unusual scent, which was once used in making perfumes. Civets grow two to three feet long (not including the long tail). They will eat most anything, from meat to fruit.

The spiny echidna is one of only two monotremes (egg-laying mammals). It spends most of its time alone, burrowing in the ground and catching insects with its long sticky tongue. Echidnas grow about 18 inches long and have a simple oblong shape.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Unusual Animals: The Bongo and The Capybara

The bongo is known for its graceful, spiraled horns and beautiful striped hide. Timid, well camouflaged, and mostly nocturnal, it is one of Africa's most mysterious animals. The largest of all forest antelopes, bongos measure up to four feet at the shoulder. Their color becomes darker with age, until old males are almost black. Bongos are found in rain forest with dense undergrowth, specifically in the Lowland Rain Forest of West Africa and the Congo Basin to the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan.

Is it a four-foot-long guinea pig? No, this short-tailed, sleepy-eyed beast is a capybara—the world's largest rodent. Its semi-webbed feet help make it a good swimmer, and it spends much of its time around water or wallowing in mud with other capybaras. They can survive completely underwater for five minutes!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pet Safety During Hurricanes

When Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana, it was the first time in history that pets have been a priority in an evacuation. In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, animals hadn't been allowed on buses or rescue boats, forcing some people to choose between staying with their pets and hopping a ride to safety. Luckily, new procedures were in place to take care of pets and their owners after Hurricane Gustav.

After Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah and Ike have threatened the East Coast here in the United States, I thought it would be wise to go over how to keep your pets safe during a hurricane.

  • Acquire a pet carrier or cage for EACH dog, cat, bird or small animal. Make sure it is large enough for each pet to comfortabley stand up and turn around inside. Exceptions can be made to house more than one animal per carrier but DO NOT mix different animal species together. Frightened animals may exhibit behavior changes.
  • Take time to familiarize your pet(s) in the carrier or crate until it feels secure and comfortable in it.
  • Vaccinate your pet(s) by June 1. Consult your veterinarian for the neccessary vaccinations for each pet. Healthy pets have a greater chance of surviving the stresses of a storm. Infectious diseases can become a BIG threat following a disaster. Rabies exists in the wildlife and without proper precautions is fatal to people and animals.
  • Provide Identification! The better animals are identified, the greater the chances of reuniting them to their original rightful owners. Current license and rabies tags on a properly fitted collar, by micro-chipping or tattooing. Using more than one ID can improve the odds. Consider placing an ID tag with an out-of-state contact name & address along with your local information on its collar. Don't forget to place ID on the carriers!
  • Photos! Take clear, color photos (frontal, left and right sides) and store with your pets license, health records and ownership papers in a waterproof carrier to take with you.

Make Your Pet Emergency Kit

-Carrier or portable kennel for each pet.
-Pet(s) ownership, registration, photos, health papers
-A leash and properly fitted collars/harness to restrain each pet
-Non-spill food and water dishes
-Water in non-breakable containers, 14 day supply (double what your pets consumes on an average day)
-Food supply (14 day)and manual can opener
-Special medications, dosage and care instructions
-Grooming equipment and hygiene items
-Toys, blankets and special comfort itmes
-Cleanser and disinfectant to properly handle wastes
-Newspapers/litter, scooper, plastic bags for wastes
-Pet First Aid Kit


  • Bring your pet(s) indoors when a hurricane warning is declared. Reassure your pet(s) with a soothing manner and voice. Remember your pets can feel your stress and emotional state.
  • Do not leave a dog with a cat even if they are normally friendly with each other. The storm can alter animal behavior and instincts will override any training.
  • If you must evacuate, take your pet(s) and their emergency kits along with you. If it is unsafe for you to remain, it is unsafe for your pet(s) as well.
  • When a tropical storm is named, call ahead and make reservations at a motel/hotel located away from coastal and river areas. Ask the number of pets allowed and fees. Some motels/hotels will change their policies and accept pets in an emergency situation, but call ahead first.


Provide a Safe Environment! Clear an area free of debris. Use restraint measures to limit animals to "clean" areas and prevent injury to your animals (leashes, fencing). Spoiled foods need to be stored in durable plastic bags (eg. 4 mil plastic bags) or containers until trash pickup resumes. Bleach sprinkled over spoiled food can help reduce odors. Domestic and wild animals will be confused because of the loss of their territoral markers. They will be attracted to poorly disgarded food, potenially becoming a threat to family and pets or becoming ill themselves.

If your pet is hurt or lost, listen to emergency broadcasts for the ANIMAL HOTLINE. Special community Bulletin Boards for animal relief information will be posted, when possible, during times of severly limited communications in your area.

National Lost Pet Hotline: 1-900-535-1515

National Found Hotline: 1-800-755-8111

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Two Abused Elephants Reunited after 23 Years

I recently read a heartwarming story in Reader's Digest about the reuniting of two elephants after 23 years of abuse at the Elephant Sanctuary. Here's the beginning of it. Read the full story of Jenny and Shirley here!

A circus refugee, Jenny had often been tied up for 23 hours a day or crammed into small train of cars traveling from one city to the next. After suffering a crippling leg injury, she was dumped at a dog-and-cat shelter, which was ill-equipped to care for an elephant, let alone an ailing one. An animal rights activist contacted Buckley, who brought Jenny to Hohenwald.

When Jenny was released into the sanctuary, that’s when she stumbled on a friend from the past...but would they remember one another?
The Carol Buckley Elephant Sanctuary, started in 1995, offers what Buckley considers the three staples for a happy elephant: freedom from dominance, room to roam and lots of other elephants. At the 2,700-acre preserve, the 19 African and Asian elephants in residence are allowed to exist as they would in the wild. Elephants in zoos and circuses are typically moved with a tool called an ankus, a nasty-looking wooden shaft with a metal hook protruding from the top. It’s banned at the sanctuary. Instead, there is a system where dominance does not exist at all, and elephants have the option to refuse to cooperate with humans.

Read more about elephants on our Elephant Facts page.

View more pics of the Elephant Sanctuary here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mixed Dog Breeds: Augi

The Augi is a cross between an Australian Shepherd and a Welsh Corgi. Isn't the Augi above a cutie?! Very intelligent and energetic, this dog requires daily exercise outdoors and lots of love! Luckily, the Augi is easy to pottytrain and can learn advanced commands with little trouble. The breed is eager to please and has some of the herding tendencies of the Australian Shepherd.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mixed Dog Breeds: Chi-Poo/Wapoo

Perhaps one of the cutest mixed dog breeds ever (in my opinion), the Chi-Poo or Wapoo is a cross between a Chihuahua and a Poodle.

The Chi Poo has a shoulder height of 6-15 in (15-38 cm) and weighs 2-17 lbs (1-8 kg). Chi Poos from Toy Poodle crosses are smaller than those from Miniature Poodle crosses. The Chi Poo’s body and head shape can vary from Chihuahua to Poodle appearance depending on genetic influence.

Because of the Poodle within the breed, the Chi Poo is usually a light shedder, making it a good match for allergy sufferers.

The Chi Poo is intelligent, lively, and highly affectionate. They are very devoted their owner, some tend to bond most closely with one person. Chi Poos tend to follow their owner from room to room, eager to play or cuddle up. They love to amuse their owners with clever antics. Some Chi Poos tend to bark frequently. Chi Poos are good natured and highly friendly due to the Miniature Poodle influence within the breed. They are affectionate with strangers, dogs, and other pets. Young children should be supervised around the Chi Poo to ensure they treat the dog with respect.

The Chi Poo has a lifespan of 10-15 years. Chi Poos can suffer from health problems affecting either of their parent breeds, including snoring and wheezing, dental problems (dental chews or tooth brushing several times a week is recommended), cataracts, glaucoma, ear infections, and obesity.

The Chi Poo is intelligent and eager to please, making it easily trained. A gentle approach is recommended.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mixed Dog Breeds: Puggle

This week we'll be learning about some of the popular mixed dog breeds.

Today, meet the puggle! A puggle is a mixed breed of dog created by mating a pug and beagle. They are an energetic, sweet-tempered, intelligent, curious and social breed. They have a thickset body, short coat hair, deeply wrinkled forehead, short legs, a curled tail, and drooping ears. They grow to be 15-30 lbs. and approximately 13-15" tall. They do shed, but the shedding can be helped by brushing.

Puggles are fairly easy to train. The one challenge puggle owners often face is trouble with potty training. Puggles respond best to reward and repetition as they are stubborn.

Some Puggles do howl on occasion, when they get excited. They can inherit this trait from the beagle.

Here's a picture of Mouse, my coworker's puggle/rat terrier mix. Isn't he cute?!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adorable Animals Week: Odd Couples

This week it's nothing but adorable animals on The Jungle Store blog! Today, we have an odd couple: a cat who's "adopted" a rabbit after its mom died. It's amazing how the cat accepts the rabbit into her family.

Of course, odd couples have happened many times before in the animal kingdom, like when this mother tiger adopted piglets, or when this pony acts like one of the dogs. Have you seen any odd animal couples yourself?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Equestrian Olympic Events

Along with sailing, equestrian is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against each other. Inspired by the chariot races of the ancient Greek games, it is also the only Olympic sport in which humans and animals are teammates. The horses are considered athletes (as they should be), and they receive their very own medal.

Riders compete in three disciplines—dressage, jumping, and eventing—and are awarded individual and team medals.

In dressage (derived from the French verb "to train") a horse-and-rider team receives scores based on a series of set movements. The movements test the horse's strength, suppleness, and obedience and the rider's ability to guide the horse through the test with subtle cues. The horse-and-rider team should present harmony, lightness, and free-flowing movement. The competition is held in three rounds. The third round is a freestyle test set to music, first introduced in 1996, that is scored both for technique and artistry.

The discipline traces its roots to Xenophon, a Greek horseman and historian, and to 17th- and 18th-century cavalry officers who considered the maneuvers a valuable training method. In fact, only commissioned officers of the military could compete in Olympic dressage competitions from its inclusion in 1912 until 1952.

In the jumping event, competitors complete a course of 15–20 obstacles within a specific time. The object is to navigate the course with the fewest penalties, which are given for knocking down obstacles, balking at jumps, or falls by rider and/or horse. The obstacles include fences up to 5 1/4 ft. high and 6ft. wide. A tie for first place is settled by a jump-off over a shorter, faster course.

Three-day eventing is the most grueling of the Olympic equestrian events, combining dressage, show jumping, and a cross-country phase. On the first day, riders demonstrate the training and obedience of their horses in a dressage test. The next day they compete in the exciting cross-country phase where they gallop 5,700m over varying terrain and jump up to 45 obstacles. While these obstacles are not as high as those in show jumping they are more solid and include ditches and fences in water. On the final day horse-and-rider teams compete over a show jumping course. This last phase demonstrates the fitness of the horses and how quickly they can recover from the previous day's trial. Eventing competitors do not win points, but instead incur penalty points during each phase. The winners are the rider and team with the fewest penalty points.

For the 2008 Olympics, equestrian will be one of the few events not to be contested within the city limits. Instead, such events will be held in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. The jumping and dressage events will be held at the Shatin Olympic Equestrian Venue, an 18,000-seat outdoor arena that was once part of Shatin Racecourse. Air conditioned stables four blocks long, and with the capacity to hold up to 200 horses were constructed for the competition, along with a number of other amenities for competitors. The cross country events will be held at a venue constructed on the Bead River Country Club and Hong Kong Golf Club.
Want to support the United States Equestrian Team? Visit their official site and contribute today!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Animals of China: Giant Panda

The Summer Olympics are well underway in Beijing, China, and this week I'm going to talk about the animals of China. The first animal that probably comes to mind is the Giant Panda (Ailuro Poda melanoleucd), so we'll start with it.

The Giant Panda is only found in China. It is also an endangered species. For exhibition, reproduction and research, 240 Giant Pandas were captured from the wild, but at present time only about 100 still survive in zoos and natural breeding centers. Shanghai Zoological Park began to raise Giant Pandas in 1957. Up to 1994, 15 babies were born, but no baby survived. From 1990, they cooperated with Chongqing Zoo on the Giant Panda's reproduction, by the way of offering a male Giant Panda, Chuanchuan. Up to 1995, three babies were born. Two belong to the Chongqing Zoo and one belongs to the Shanghai Zoo. They named him Cong Cong.

See The Jungle Store's Panda Fact Sheet for more information.

Friday, August 8, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: The Games Start Today!

It's Lucky 8/8/08 and the Summer Olympics have begun! I hope you've enjoyed my posts about animals who would win gold "if animals competed in the summer olympics". In case you missed them, here's a rundown of the animal olympic champions:
Aquatics - Diving: Anhinga, Swimming Races: Sailfish, Synchronized Swimming: Schooling fish
Boxing - Kangaroo
Fencing - Horned Animals
Weightlifting - Rhinoceros beetle
High Jump - Cat Flea

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: High Jump

The cat flea is smaller than a match head but it can jump 33cm in a single leap. This is equivalent to a high jumper soaring some 400 meters (approximately 1300 feet) into the air! The flea has a unique catapult system, in which a trigger mechanism extends the hind legs in less than a millisecond.

Monday, August 4, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: Weightlifting

The 2008 Summer Olympics is only five days away, and today we have a champion for weightlifting in the animal kingdom. The rhinoceros beetle is the strongest animal on Earth. This might be hard to believe, since the beetle is extremely small. But the definition of strength we're using here is one of proportional strength. An African elepant can only carry 25% of its own weight, while the rhinoceros beetle can carry 850 times its own weight. That would be like an elephant carrying 850 elephants on its back!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: Fencing

I will just let this video speak for me today. Here are some animals that would be fierce competitors in fencing if they competed in the Summer Olympics. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: Boxing

When it comes to boxing, kangaroos, would take the gold. Male kangaroos often "box" amongst each other, playfully, for dominance, or in competition for mates. The dexterity of their forepaws is utilised in both punching and grappling with the foe. But the real danger lies in a serious kick with the hindleg. The sharpened toenails can disembowel an opponent. This is one animal with which you wouldn't want to find yourself stuck in a ring. However, kangaroos very seldom attack humans unprovoked.

Here's a clip of two kangaroos "boxing":

Monday, July 14, 2008

If Animals Competed In The Summer Olympics: Aquatics

With the Summer Olympics coming up in 3 weeks, I thought it would be fun to see which animals would most likely win which sports events. If you visit the official Olympics Web site, you can see a list and descriptions of the sports and disciplines we will see in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Today, let's investigate which animals would win in the aquatics sports of diving, swimming, and synchronized swimming.

The anhinga would win gold in the diving competitions, with its graceful movements both in and out of water. Anhingas dive and pursue fish underwater, propelled by their feet, their wings often partly spread. Anhingas often swim with the body submerged and head and neck above the water, slowly submerging to stalk fish, hence the nickname "snakebird".

The sailfish would take the lead in the swimming races. It is the fastest animals in the water at 70 miles per hour (113 km per hour) – the same speed in the water as cheetahs attain on land.

As for synchronized swimming events, schooling fish would most certainly win. Schooling fish respond quickly to changes in the direction and speed of their neighbors. Anyone who has seen a school of fish can attest to their ability to change direction swiftly while still retaining their closely knit swimming pattern. They can move from one configuration to another and then regroup almost as one unit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beyond Dorothy And Toto: Kansas' State Reptile

The Ornate Box Turtle (or Terrapene ornata) is Kansas' state reptile. These "decorated" turtles are yellow and brown. When you see one, you can easily tell its gender. Males have bright red and orange eyes, repeated on the front legs, face and neck. Females have yellow in these areas, and have slightly larger bodies than the males.
Can you tell the genders of the two below?
Photos by Bob Gress

If you said the first picture is the male, and the second one is the female, you are correct!
If you look closely at the shell segments (scutes), you can see annual growth rings. If you count the number of rings, you can get a fairly accurate idea how many years the turtle has lived through. Box turtles may live over 30 years.
Ornate box turtles eat insects, spiders, worms and some vegetation. In autumn box turtles hibernate underground by digging themselves holes a few inches below the surface.
What makes these box turtles so unique is the hinge in the lower shell that allows them to fully withdraw their extremities into the protective inner shell. Predators have nothing to snap onto, so they get frustrated and leave, and the turtle lives.