Monday, December 30, 2013

The United States First Spanish Donkey

George Washington owned the first Spanish donkey in the United States.

 Picture from Communio

 In 1785, George Washington was sent a gift of two Spanish donkeys from Charles III, the King of Spain.  Charles III learned that Washington wanted to breed mules for work on the Mount Vernon plantation, and promptly sent two prize mules (which were not permitted to leave the country) across the Atlantic Ocean.  Sadly, only one of them, Royal Gift, survived the trip.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Things A Dingo Mother Does For Her Babies

The female dingo obtains some of the moisture she needs to produce milk for her puppies by eating their droppings.

 Picture from NY Times

Both male and female dingoes take responsibility for rearing their young. Both parents will collect food for their pups, traveling long distances from the burrow and leaving potential prey nearby and untouched, so the pups can later learn to hunt it for themselves, but is the female dingo who provides them with milk. Although fully weaned, a pup may still approach its mother for regurgitated food.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Modern Day Cow Milking

It used to take a person one hour to milk six cows by hand.

 Picture from The Milk Run

Today, a person can milk 100 cows in an hour with modern machines.  Before modern milk delivery and dairies, if a person was traveling and wanted milk, they had to bring their cow along with them on their journey.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chubby Cockatoos

Cockatoos are prone to becoming overweight.

 Picture from Cockatoo Sanctuary

If their diets aren't carefully monitored, captive pet Cockatoos have been known to gain weight and sometimes become obese. Cockatoo owners are encouraged to offer their birds access to minimal seed and a variety of fresh, bird-safe fruits and vegetables. In addition to restricted seed intake, Cockatoo owners are also cautioned to reserve items such as nuts and breads for treats.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Go Ahead, Chow Down Mr. Caterpillar

 A caterpillars one and only job is to eat as much as it can.

 Picture from Amazing Butterflies

During the larval stage, the caterpillar must consume enough to sustain itself into adulthood. Without proper nutrition, it may not have the energy to complete its metamorphosis, or may be unable to develop eggs as an adult. Caterpillars can eat an enormous amount during a life cycle stage that typically lasts several weeks. Some consume 27,000 times their body weight during this life phase.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Canada Geese Nest Guardians

While the female Canada Goose incubates the nest, it's up to the male Canada Goose to protect it.

Picture from Arkive

Canada Geese often build their nests on the ground near water leaving them open to predators.  While they prefer a spots with an unobstructed view in multiple directions, it is the male's job to guard the female and the nest.  Soon after they hatch, goslings spend most of their time sleeping and feeding and will  remain with their parents constantly

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bobcat Enemies

  Several causes are well known for bobcat deaths, but human beings tend to be the biggest contributor.

Picture from Animal Kingdom Inc.

Due to the fact that bobcats are still hunted for their pelts in 38 states as well as Canada and Mexico, human beings are their main predator.  Aside from humans, adult bobcats are threatened by mountina lions and wolves while bobcat kittens fall prey to large owls, coyotes and foxes.  Diseases such as rabies, and other conditions caused by parasites are also cause for bobcat deaths. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A "Flying Rodent" No More

Bats are more closely related to humans and other primates than they are to rodents.

 Picture from Discovery Kids

While they might look like a rodent, several evolution studies indicate that the Old World fruit bats and flying foxes may actually be descended from early primates such as lemurs. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adolescent Apes

Apes have a long childhood.

 Picture from Fine Art America

Great apes are born helpless and must be carefully nurtured by their mothers from the moment they are born.  A great ape is always with its mother during its first few years of infancy, and remain close for the years following, until it learns how to behave in it's community.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tiny Falcons

American kestrels are the smallest falcons in the Americas.

American kestrels are seven to eight inches in length, and have a wingspan of less than two feet, making them very small for a bird of prey.  Females tend to be larger then males, but still come under a foot in length.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Beneath The Aardwolf's Burrow

 The word aardwolf means "Earth wolf" in Afrikaans.

The aardwolf was given that name because of how they live underground in burrows.  While underground, the aardwolf uses it's large ears to hear termites and hunt them.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sink Your Teeth Into This Wolf Fact

Wolves can crush large bones in just a few bites.

 Picture from Vital Animal

The wolf's jaw can exert 1500 pounds of pressure per square inch, twice the jaw pressure of a German Shepherd.   Wolves have 20 teeth in the upper jaw and 22 teeth in the lower jaw, for a total of 42 teeth.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

That's A Vole Lot Of Babies...

Voles are the most prolific breeders in the rodent family.

Picture from FCPS

Voles produce between three and five pups per litter and up to 17 litters in a year.  A female vole can have 80 offspring in a year! However, since the vole has a wide variety of predators, including large birds, most only survive a few months in the wild.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Takins aka The Goatelope

Known for having things in common with both goats and antelopes, the takin is sometimes referred to as a goat- antelope.

Picture from Zooborns

Most closely related to goats and sheep, the takin is a large, muscular, hoofed animal. The takin nose is long like a moose, horns look like a wildebeest’s, body is bison shaped, it has a bearlike tail, and mountain goat feet and agility.v Their combination of features has also earned them the nicknames "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat".
large, muscular, hoofed mammal

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inside A Sperm Whales' Head

 Sperm whales' heads are filled with a mysterious substance called spermaceti. 

 Picture from Monterey Bay Aquarium

Scientists have yet to understand its function, but the fluid—which hardens to wax when cold—helps the whale alter its buoyancy so it can dive deep and rise again.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sea Turtle's Nesting Behavior

Little is known about why sea turtles nest on some beaches and not others, but majority of female sea turtles return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest.

 Picture from Active Rain

Not only do they choose the same beach to nest each time, they often return to a spot within a few hundreds yards of their last nesting location. Sea turtles are generally slow and awkward on land, and nesting is exhausting work.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Getting A Grasp On The Red Panda's Wrist

The red panda has a modified wrist bone that acts as a sixth digit or thumb.

 Picture from Ingrid Vekemans

It shares this trait with the Giant Panda, both of whom are big bamboo eaters.  The modified wrist bone is what allows them to hold onto the bamboo while chewing it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Egg Dumping

Female quails have been known to participate in "egg dumping".

Picture from Tall Timbers

Egg dumping is where a female quail lays eggs in a nest other than it's own.  This is why sometimes you'll find a quail's nest with upwards of 25 eggs in it.  Typically a clutch (group of quail eggs) varies in size between 10 and 20 eggs.

Friday, November 22, 2013

That One Time Of Year You Can Tell Penguins Apart

During mating season is the best time to tell male and female penguins apart.

Picture from Kimball Stock

For the most part, penguins look almost identical, making it very difficult to determine their sex.   However during mating season the males sometimes leave muddy footprints on the back of their female mates, making it much easier to tell the sexes apart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Osprey's Migration Miles

An Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15-to-20-year lifespan.

 Picture from Birding In Maine

Scientists track Ospreys by strapping lightweight satellite transmitters to their backs. The device cab pinpoint an Osprey's location to within a few hundred yards and lasts up to three years. During a thirteen day span in  2008, one Osprey flew 2,700 miles—from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, to French Guiana, South America. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Night Hunting Ocelots

Ocelots do their hunting in the dark at night.

Picture from National Geographic

During the day, ocelots rest in trees high above the ground.  At night however, they use their excellent hearing and eyesight, along with great speed and agility to hunt their prey in the dark.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Musky Rats?

Ever wonder where Muskrats get their name?

Picture from Wildlife Photography

Muskrats are named for their resemblance to stocky rats, with small eyes, long tails and very short, rounded ears, as well as from the musky odor produced by their scent glands. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Territorial Mole Tunnels

Each mole has it's own burrow system.

 Picture from Green Heritage News

These tunnels are about five centimeters wide and can be over seventy meters long.  The vary in depth from just beneath the surface of the ground, to seventy centimeters deep.  While the territories of several moles overlap, the moles themselves will not enter another mole's tunnel and will avoid each other if they can.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Little Lemmings

Lemmings are very small creatures measuring usually between three and six inches long.  However, the smallest lemming measures only eight centimeters!  

The wood lemming is the tiniest of them all, measuring anywhere between eight and twelve centimeters long.  They typically weigh less than one ounce as well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Keeping Baby Koalas Safe

Even though most people refer to Koalas as bears, they are actually marsupials.  

 Picture from Stanford

This means their young are born immature and they develop further in the safety of a pouch, being carried around by their mother.  In the pouch, it attaches itself to one of the two teats which swells in its mouth, preventing it from being dislodged from its source of food.  The joey stays in its mother's pouch for about six or seven months, drinking only milk.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Impala Hydration Habits

Impalas usually wait until the hottest part of the day to hydrate.

 Picture from Nottens

Predators, such as lions, leopards and cheetahs, frequently wait around waterholes at dusk in order to  pounce on impalas.  By waiting until the hottest part of the day to drink, the predators are at their most sluggish, leaving the impalas able to drink more leisurely.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Eye Spy A House Fly

House flies only have two eyes, but within those eyes are thousands of individual lenses.

Picture from Dirt Doctor

These compound eyes are capable of detecting both the polarization of light and color spectrums that can not be seen by the human eye.   House flies meticulously groom around their eyes by using their forelegs to remove any material that they come into contact with.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slimey Hagfish

In self defense, hagfish produce slime.

 Picture from PHYS

When harassed, or when predators or other fish are trying to steal their food, a hagfish's glands secrete a stringy protein that expands into a transparent, sticky substance when it comes in contact with seawater. 
 To prevent choking on its own slime, a hagfish can “sneeze” out its slime-filled nostril, and tie its body into a knot to keep the slime from dripping onto its face.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gabbing With Gorillas

Gorillas have several different ways of communicating with each other.

 Picture From Wildlife Trails

One gorilla will communicate with another by using gestures, body postures, facial expressions, vocal sounds, chest slaps, drumming and even odors.  Although they can't make the sounds of human speech, gorillas are capable of understanding spoken languages and they can learn to communicate with sign language.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Albino Frogs

Albino frogs are a fairly common occurrence.
Picture from Asia Finest
It is not uncommon for a recessive gene to be present in many different species of frogs, causing them to be born without normal pigmentation.  These frogs will have redish eyes and a white or pinkish coloring to their skin.  Like the eyes of human albinos, they tend to be highly sensitive to light.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Emu Feathers

The feathers on the emu are unique in the fact that there are two feathers to a single quill.

 Picture from Carolina Emu

Feathers on an emu range greatly in size and texture.   The smallest emu feather may only be an inch long and very soft while the longest feathers are 18 inches or more and feel like straw.    However, they all have the double plume, or two feathers coming out of one shaft.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bald Eagle Babies

 Bald Eagle babies look quite different than their parents, color wise. 

 Picture from Wild Nature Images

Young birds have mostly dark heads and tails with their brown wings and bodies mottled with white in varying amounts. Bald eagle babies attain adult coloring, including a white head, in about five years.

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Than Just A Cat Nap

On average, cats spend 2/3 of every day, or roughly fifteen hours sleeping. 

 Picture from Stuff Point

That means a nine-year-old cat has been awake for only three years of its life.  Like people, cats either doze in a light sleep or sleep very deeply.  Also like people, thier sleeping habits are affected by the weather.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Athletic Ability Of The Dynamic Dhole

Dholes are incredibly athletic.

Picture from WAZA

Aside from being great swimmers and fast runners, they are also incredible at jumping.  They can jump nearly seven feet straight up in the air.  These skills are critical when it comes to hunting in a pack.
Dholes are incredibly athletic. They are fast runners, excellent swimmers, and impressive jumpers. These skills are critical when the pack is hunting. In some protected areas, they share habitat with tigers and leopards. - See more at:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spotted Cougar Kittens

A baby cougar's spots fade over time.

 Picture from KVAL

Cougar kittens are born with black rings on their tails and spotted coats. These spots fade to dapples around nine months of age. By the time the kittens are twenty-four to thirty months old all signs of these dapples will disappear, which is roughly around the time the cubs reach sexual maturity.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Color Changing Cicadas

 Albino cicadas do not exist.

Picture from The Atlantic

Sometimes when cicadas first emerge they are white in color.  Over a period of time, their bodies gradually become darker.  Some take longer than others, and some die before the change can occur leaving them as a white corpse.  If they don't die before their color changes, they will eventually turn black and orange.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Keeping Caribou Warm

Caribou have unique hairs that provide them with excellent insulation due to their ability to trap air.

 Picture from Minnesota Zoo

Keeping them warm in cold climates, these unique hairs also help keep them afloat in water.  Caribou tend to be very strong swimmers and are able to move across rushing rivers and even frozen ice with ease.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Butterfly Bathroom Usage

 Adult butterflies never excrete waste, they use up all they ingest for energy.

 Picture from Texas Butterfly Ranch

As adults, butterflies consume only liquids.  They sip water from damp patches for hydration and then feed on nectar from flowers, which is where they obtain sugars for energy as well as sodium and other minerals necessary for reproduction.
Many adult butterflies never excrete waste—they use up all they eat for energy - See more at:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Loudest Animal On Earth

Blue Whales are not only the largest animal on Earth, they are also the loudest.

Picture from Bay Schools

The call of the blue whale reaches levels up to 188 decibels.  A jet reaches up to 140 decibels, while a shouting human can reach up to 70 decibels.  Sounds over 120 decibels are extremely painful to the human ears.  A blue whale's amazingly loud whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reestablishing The Bibly

Due to habitat changes and loss, as well as competition with other animals, bilbies are slowly becoming endangered.

Picture from ABC

A national recovery plan is in place to help save bilbies, including breeding them in captivity, monitoring the current population, and reestablishing bilbies to where they once lived. Some have even gone as far as to start handing out bibly chocolates, as a substitute for the Easter Bunny.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orioles Are Drawn To Dark Fruit

 Baltimore Orioles are fans of dark colored fruits.

 Picture from Carolina Bird Club

Most fruit eating birds, like robins, tend to graze on any fruit they can find.  The Baltimore Orioles however, prefers only ripe, dark-colored fruit like mulberries, red cherries and purple grapes.  They'll ignore the lighter colored fruits like green grapes and yellow cherries, even if they are ripe.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rarest Snake In The World

The Antiguan Racer is the world's rarest snake.

Picture from Fauna & Flora

In 1995 there were no more than 50 Antiguan Racer's left in the world, but over the years they have started to make a come back.  In 2010 it was estimated that the snake's population had grown to over 500.  These snakes can only be found on tiny Great Bird Island, a small island off the coast of Antigua.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crows Who Keep Put

Crows are usually permanent residents as they do not migrate.

 Picture from Planet of Birds

As long as there are a few trees to perch in American crows can live just about anywhere, with parks and lawns in suburban areas being a popular choice.  The largest species of American crow tend to reside in the northeast part of the continent, steadily declining to the smallest species that live nearly as far southwest as western Mexico.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Antisocial Aardvarks

Aardvarks are not social and only get together during the breeding season. 

Picture from Wikipedia

Due to their solitary, nocturnal lifestyle, not much is known about their mating or about the rearing of their offspring. After a 7 month gestation, one young is born, usually in October or November. The young is about 6 pounds at the time of birth. By 6 months of age, the young aardvark is capable of finding its own food and will leave its mother to dig its own burrow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Zebra's Protection From Predators

A zebra's stripes serve as a kind of protection from predators.

Picture from The Animal Files

When zebras are grouped together, their combined stripes make it hard for a lion or leopard to pick out one zebra to chase. Zebra stripes are unique to each individual, and researchers in the field have used zebras’ individual stripe patterns for identification.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Water Buffalo Bone Usage

Water buffalo are often hunted for their horns and bones.

 Picture from Goodlawd

The bones and horns are often made into jewellery, especially earrings. Horns are used for the embouchure of musical instruments, such as ney and kaval, which are very common in Turkish cultures.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Storks: Bringing Around Babies Since The Victorian Times

The legend about storks bringing babies got started in Victorian times. 

Picture from Bird Life

When a child asked, “Where did I come from?” the parents simply said, “The stork brought you.” This tied in nicely with the fact that European white storks often nests on the roof and chimney of houses in the spring, a time when many babies are born. The bird became a symbol of fertility and is considered good luck.
The legend about storks bringing babies got started in Victorian times. When a child asked, “Where did I come from?”, the parents simply said “The stork brought you.” This tied in nicely with the fact that European white storks often nests on the roof and chimney of houses in the spring, a time when many babies are born. The bird became a symbol of fertility and is considered good luck. - See more at:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stinky Sleep Scavengers

Skunks are scavengers when it comes to finding a place to live.  The often invite themselves into the home of other animals.

Picture from Animals & English

Skunks usually nest in burrows constructed by other animals, but they also live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings. In colder climates, some skunks may sleep in these nests for several weeks of the chilliest season.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scorpion Survival Technique

Some species of scorpions are able to change their metabolic rate.

 Picture from Animal World

Changing their metabolic rate allows them live on one meal per year and even survive being stored in a freezer overnight.  When put in a freezer overnight, they can quickly thaw out and return to their normal life just by being put in sunlight.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Raccoon Mortality Rate

Infant mortality is high amongst raccoons.
Picture from SB Wildes

It is not unusual for only half of the young raccoons born in one year to survive.  If the young are able to live past the first year, their life expectancy is only between 1.8 to 3.1 years.  Numerous factors are taken into consideration when determining that number, including traffic volume, hunting and weather severity.