Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

For readers of Shoe: Untied that are from areas other than Southern Ohio, the mascot of the local school where I taught and coached for many years is a Bearcat. I actually wrote about our mascot in a blog entitled The Origin of the Bearcats and the Black & Gold. However, do any of you know what a Bearcat actually is? Let’s take a gander . . .

An actual Bearcat is a glorious creature. It has a body like a small bear and a tail like a monkey, not even kidding. It’s scientific name is Binturong, which is cool but not nearly as cool as Bearcat. They have long, low, stocky bodies covered with coarse, shaggy black fur tipped in gray, so they sometimes appear speckled. Long ear tufts protrude from their small, rounded ears. Just look at that guy on the right. Their faces have slightly lighter fur and stiff, white whiskers that can reach up to 8-inches long. They grow to be about 6-feet long including the tail and weigh between 25 and 50 pounds.

Binturongs live in the dense tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and are not often spotted in the wild. They’re currently classified as vulnerable, with populations declining more than 30% over the past 30 years. The main threats to binturongs are habitat destruction, hunting, and the wildlife trade, and that’s just sad. Save the Binturong, man!

Their secretive nature has kept many aspects of their behavior hidden until recently, but my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied has unearthed some fascinating nuggets for your perusal. Read on for my list of facts that make the Bearcats a weird, awesome and wonderful animal . . .

1. Although the Binturong is also known as the Bearcat, it’s not closely related to bears or cats. The Binturong belongs to the Viverridae family, an ancient group of small to medium sized mammals found only in the eastern hemisphere. A bunch of them live in Vietnam.

2. The meaning of the word Binturong is unknown. The language it was derived from is now extinct. That means it goes waaaaay back.

3. Binturongs are in the order Carnivora, but they mostly eat fruit. In the wild, they eat a varied diet which can include carrion, eggs, plant shoots and leaves, small invertebrates, fish, birds, small mammals, and fruits like the strangler fig. In captivity, a Binturong could enjoy dog food, leaf-eater biscuits, ground meat, carrots, yams, tomatoes, apples, bananas, and their favorite, grapes.

4. They smell like buttered popcorn. True story. Like other members of the Viverridae family, the Binturong has scent glands, which are located just under its tail. As it moves about, the Binturong drags its tail, marking branches and foliage in its territory. To humans, the smell is reminiscent of buttered popcorn, but to other Binturongs it communicates that the area is occupied and they should move along. It can also help male and female Binturongs find each other when they want to mate. Cool.

5. Binturongs make lots of noises to communicate. A happy Binturong will chuckle (seriously), but an irritated one will utter a high-pitched wail or growl fiercely, sort of like Monica, a girl I dated in college. On the prowl, it may periodically produce a series of low grunts or a hissing sound made by expelling air through its partially opened lips, also reminiscent of Monica. A female Binturong in the mood for love will purr. Again . . . never mind.

6. Binturongs live high in the forest canopy and rarely come down to the ground. They are excellent climbers, moving slowly and cautiously through tree branches, aided by strong feet with semi-retractable claws. Their hind legs can even rotate backwards so their claws still have a good grip when climbing down a tree head-first. Due to their large size, Binturongs cannot leap between trees; they must climb down to the ground to move from one tree to another. Binturongs even sleep high in tree branches, curling up with their heads tucked under their tails.

7. They have prehensile tails. The Binturong is the only Old World mammal and one of only two carnivores (the other is the kinkajou) with a prehensile tail. Its tail is almost as long as its body and acts like another limb when climbing. At the tip of the tail is a leathery patch for extra traction when gripping branches. The binturong’s tail might be its most important climbing tool. Even when sleeping, its tail is anchored securely around a branch.

8. They walk like bears. Binturongs walk flat-footed, like bears and you and I. This results in an ambling, side-to-side gait. A strut if you will. Bearcats are cool.

9. Females can delay implantation of an embryo. Binturongs mate throughout the year, yet most births occur between January and March. Scientists think this means Binturongs are one of the approximately 100 mammal species capable of delayed implantation. Say whu-u-u-u-u-t? This allows them to mate whenever they encounter a male, but time the birth of their young to a season with favorable environmental conditions. Bearcats can control when they give birth. That’s wild, man.

10. Binturongs have a special relationship with the strangler fig. Binturongs play an important role in their rainforest habitats by spreading the seeds from the fruits they eat in their droppings. This is especially true for seeds of the strangler fig, which cannot germinate without assistance. The Binturong is one of only two known animals with digestive enzymes capable of softening the tough outer covering of the fig’s seeds. This special relationship makes the Binturong a keystone species in the rainforest ecosystem.

And finally, get this – Bearcats have 5 toes. This means all those paws you see on our school’s walls, shirts and other logos are wrong. The paw prints actually look this:

We need to fix this. It’s not too late, people!

Check out that Chevrotain, man. Just as cute as a button. They’re also known as a Mouse-Deer, which is adorable as hell. The Chevrotain is so elusive that scientists had long feared it was extinct after none had been photographed for decades. But as The Washington Post reports, the first images taken of the mammal in nearly 30-years prove that the species is still alive in the woods of Vietnam. The little guy is about the same size as a rabbit and is the smallest hoofed animal on Earth. Long live the Mouse-Deer, man. Anywho, Chevrotain.

No biggie, just a Beluga Whale playing fetch like the damn family Golden Retriever. Now explain to me how this doesn’t require reasoning and rational thought. Anyhoo, that’s a Beluga Whale playing fetch, kids.

Sometimes the narrator makes a video substantially better. This is one such video.

Good boy Monster. Good boy.

Oh for the love of God this is all we need right now, a Man-Fish swimming around in China. And if there’s one there’s more, kids. That’s just science. What’s next? Pig-Faced Chimpanzees? Horse-Faced Gerbils? The mind reels, man. If I was swimming and that Koi-Beast rolled up beside me I’d die on the spot. Holy Hell that’s horrifying.

PS- Don’t tell me those are just markings on that fish. That’s a damn demon face and you know it.

PPS- China’s been on a roll lately, amirite? Must be the a nuclear plant leak or something over there.

Yep. There they are.

Newsweek: A colony of up to 1-million Cannibal Ants trapped in a nuclear bunker for years have escaped, scientists in Poland have said.

The ants, which had no food source other than their dead nestmates, were first discovered in 2013 were found to be solely made up of worker ants meaning they could not reproduce—how their numbers grew so large was a mystery.

The team, led by Wojciech Czechowski, from the Museum and Institute of Zoology and the Polish Academy of Sciences, were carrying out a survey of bats living in an abandoned Soviet nuclear bunker when they came across the wood ants living in an ammunition bunker where nuclear weapons were once kept. The ants had no access to the outside world and appeared to have come from a nest above that was positioned over a ventilation pipe. When the ants fell down the pipe, they were entombed in the bunker.

However, after returning to the site two years later, scientists found the colony was not only still there, but that it had grown in numbers. This was despite there being no obvious food source, no heat and no light. A population estimate suggested there were at least 1-million ants living in the bunker.

In 2016, scientists found the colony was still there and the team set out to analyze its behavior. They installed a boardwalk that led to another ventilation pipe that the ants could use to escape the bunker. A year later, they returned to the site to find the colony had almost completely vanished. The team inspected the corpses that had been left behind and found bite marks and holes, mostly in the abdomen. This, they said, was evidence that the ants were eating their deceased nestmates in order to survive.

As far as I’m concerned Wojciech Czechowski of the Museum and Institute of Zoology and the Polish Academy of Sciences can go straight to hell. “Hey, check it out! A million Cannibal Ants trapped in a bunker! Let’s let them out!” Good God man. You had them right where you wanted them. Shoulda taken a flamethrower to those cannibals and called it a day. But nooooo. Now those things are going to spread from Poland to lay waste to Germany, swarm France, make one of those cool ant Living Rafts and land in Virginia Beach by New Year’s. Bottom line we’re all doomed thanks to our boy Wojciech. Sad really. Enjoy your next 7-weeks everyone. Happy Holidays!

Well, do ya?

[click and scroll]

You guys know how much I love these nature videos. Animals just being animals like you read about. The Battle at Kruger was amazing, and I’ll post it below. This second one features a lone Water Buffalo being attacked by a Lion, fleeing to the river for safety, getting attacked by a Croc, heading back to land only to be attacked by the whole damn pride. The Lions were being real badasses until the cavalry showed up, as you shall see. Nature, man. Never gets old.

Here’s Battle at Kruger Part 1. Wait for it.

Amazing. Click, scroll and enjoy.

New studies show that having a dog as an inside companion can lengthen your life by as much as 24%.

Yep, that’s a big Sea Turtle alright. She’s a Leatherback and she’s humongous. Thank God she made it safely back into the sea before some jackass tried to ride her like a horse or something. God bless her.

PS- Sweet Mother that’s a big, beautiful turtle.

SCMP- In a farm deep in the southern region of China lives a very big pig that’s as heavy as a polar bear.

The 1,102 pound animal is part of a herd that’s being bred to become giant swine. At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan ($1,399.00), over three times higher than the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.

While Pang’s pigs may be an extreme example of the lengths farmers are going to fill China’s swelling pork shortage problem, the idea that bigger is better has been spreading across the country, home to the world’s most voracious consumers of the meat.

Aaaand here we go again, messing around with genetics and whatnot. Seriously, what is it with people, building robots that act like humans, breeding giant animals, and otherwise tempting fate? Do we really need 1/2 ton porkers? Can’t we just breed more regular sized pigs? I don’t get it, man. We’re just asking for trouble. These beasts tried to eat Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, people! Imagine if a bunch of those things turned on us, like they inevitably will. Horrifying thought, really.

PS- I came up with a pretty solid “swelling pork problem” line but I couldn’t pull the trigger.

PPS- Sparky would go for the throat and take one of those things down in a heartbeat. Bacon for years.

Man, that was an awkward headline. Sorry. Anywho . . .

(BBC) –  A man who was gored by a bison in June took a date back to the same place – only for her also to be attacked.

Kyler Bourgeous brought Kayleigh Davis to the same trail at a state park in Utah with plans to watch the sunset. But when Ms. Davis ran a little ahead, she ended up alone with a bison who charged and flipped her into the air.

“I looked over my shoulder, seeing it get closer – and I looked again and it was pretty much right behind me. Right as I saw it, I flew up in the air about 15-feet,” Ms. Davis says.

She landed on her back and lay completely still – remembering what happened to Mr. Bourgeous – as the bison sniffed at her until he eventually left her alone.

Whew. Where to start. First of all, what are the chances this guy is tired of his girlfriend and wanted to end things for good? He takes her for the exact same spot and says, “Hey honey, you go on ahead. I’ll be along shortly.” Then boom, the bison does his thing like Kyler Bourgeous knew he would and Kyler is free as a bird.

Secondly, if it wasn’t a diabolical plan how stupid is this moron? His girlfriend wants to go on a date to watch the sunset and he says, “Great! I know the perfect romantic location! Let’s go to that place where I was gored by a bison!” It’ll be great!”

Finally, what are the percentages this bison heard that couple talking and attacked them because their names were Kyler and Kayleigh? I say 89%.

Good God.

Man, I thought that Mallard was a goner. Little dude just did a deep dive evasive maneuver and popped up unscathed, swimmin’ around like he owned the joint, apex predator be damned. And that shark has to be the butt of jokes back at the shark bar, amirite? Even the Pygmy Sharks are cracking wise and making fun of him. Guy may want to get away for awhile until he has his pride back. Sad really.

New Yorkers are nothing if not adaptable.

So yeah, I ran across this site called The Loon Preservation Committee and now I can’t get enough of loons, man. I swear I watched their Loon Cam for 7 1/2 hours straight last night. Just went into a trance like you read about. Anywho, the site has awesome links like “Mortality and Nest Failure”, “Loons and Lead”, and “Banding and Tracking Loons”. They even have a Loon Census and a link that shows you how to build Nest Rafts for Loons:


Dude, that’s a man-made Nest Raft for Loons. Cool. I guess nesting loons face a variety of challenges during their 27-day incubation of eggs. Loon nests are vulnerable to natural or human-induced water level changes that can flood nests or leave them stranded out of reach of parents, which makes me sad. Floating nest rafts rise and fall with water levels and help loons cope with these water level changes. Nest rafts also provide alternate nest sites to help loons displaced from traditional sites by shoreline development or recreational use of lakes, and offer protection from raccoons, eagles and other scavengers whose populations have increased due to the availability of human refuse.

They even have Loon Cruises up in New Hampshire on Squam Lake. The route of the cruise (which lasts 90-minutes) is chosen to maximize loon observations, because hell yes it does. Tickets are $27, which seems a little steep but how often do you get a chance to observe a loon up close? The answer is never, man. Can you say Bucket List?

Did you know that loons have solid bones, making them less buoyant? Because of this they are extremely powerful swimmers. They can also dive to depths of up to 200-feet for durations of up to 5-minutes which is freaking incredible. And get this – loons can achieve a flying speed of up to 80-miles per hour! Finally, the amazing loon can stay in the air for hundreds of miles in one flight! That’s crazy, dude.

And because their legs are located towards the back part of their bodies, it is very difficult for loons to walk or to take flight from land. In fact, it is often difficult for them to take off from water; the loon will usually need the help of wind. To take off, loons will need to use a runway – first they will figure out which way the wind is blowing, and then run straight into it while flapping their wings like a boss. Once they have enough air rushing beneath their wings, they can become airborne. Because of the loons need for a runway, they must be careful only to land in areas where there will be enough surface water for them to take off again.

You can find this and much more on the website. Here’s a link, because I know you’re dying to find out more about loons:

https://www.loon.org/

Enjoy!

Over the years I’ve told several stories that involved Jigger. Jigger was my brother-in-law and my principal, but most of all he was my friend. Whether it was going on vacations together, working together, or just hanging out, something interesting was always happening with him. If you don’t believe me, simply type “Jigger” into that search box on the left and hit enter. This site is full of Jigger stories.

For some reason this latest memory popped into my head the other day, and I’ve no idea why. It was the late 80s and Sis, Jigger, Twana and I had decided to take a camping trip through upstate New York.

Were we campers? We were not. Did we have camping gear? Nah. But hey, when Jigger got an idea in his head everyone sort of got swept up in the wave of his personality. It was that strong.

So, we went to K-Mart, bought some cheap gear and set out into the great unknown. The very first night we found a little campground somewhere south of Niagara Falls, parked our cars, set up or cheap little pup tents far away from anyone else, and built a fire. We were good to go.

Or so we thought.

It started around 10:00 that night as we were sitting around in our lawn chairs, having some adult beverages and cooking some hot dogs over the campfire. Somewhere, far in the distance, we heard a strange noise. It was sort of a faint wail, a cry of pain or distress from what sounded like an animal. We listened for a minute and dismissed it as being too far away to be a threat.

We chatted a few more minutes, then Jigger held up his hand to quiet everyone down, cocked his head, and said, “Is that thing getting closer?”

The answer was yes.

As we listened, the noise from the creature was indeed drawing closer and closer.

I guess we all stood up when the thing was maybe 100-yards out, wondering what the hell we were supposed to do. Find a weapon? Climb a tree? Run?

It turned out we didn’t have time for any of those, because before we could act it was upon us. There, bursting out of the woods, was an animal clearly possessed. It was a raccoon, and something was definitely wrong. Maybe it had rabies or something but that beast was crazed, man. It was running awkwardly, snapping its jaws and still screaming like a damn demented forest goblin.

The raccoon did a couple circles around the fire, sometimes on its hind legs, as we all darted around, high-stepping and screaming in panic, looking for somewhere to hide before the freak leaped up, ripped a vein out of one of our necks and killed us.

Then it turned, ran directly through the fire, and disappeared into the woods on the other side.

We all stood there in shock, staring at the smoke, sparks and flames the demon left in its wake as the wailing noises slowly faded into the night.

After a bit of time we started laughing, amazed at what had happened and how we’d reacted to it. And yes, we all decided it might be a good idea to sleep in the cars that night.

Those $12.99 K-Mart pup tents just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.

PS- The next morning I woke up to the sounds of Jigger frying bacon over the campfire and singing “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles, because of course he was. 

Bonus raccoon gif because raccoons are cool.

I was hoping the squid would make a run at that woman and eat her. My ears, man.

Adorable. Possibly rabid, but adorable.

In photos that have never been seen before, a couple inadvertently caught the rarest leopard in the world on camera. The Strawberry Leopard was spotted on the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve in South Africa by a motion triggered camera which was pinned to a tree. Gorgeous.

So occasionally I take Sparky to a local cemetery and let him run around a little, just to get some exercise and fresh air. Of course I pick up after him and to be safe I put his leash on if another person comes close to us with their own dog, but usually it’s just a relaxing time for him to smell the smells and hang out with me.

Usually.

The other day? Not so much.

You see, I parked in our usual spot, unleashed The Spark, and of course he leaped out if the car to do his thing. He sniffed around, going from tree to tombstone to crypt, tail wagging with that dog-smile on his face.

But then . . .

As I watched he stopped, stood still, his ears perked up, and off he went like a Jack out of Hell. He bolted over a slight rise and down the other side, snarling like a dog possessed.

I gave chase, calling for him to come back, but as I reached the top of the small hill I saw what Spark was heading for.

A burial.

In progress.

With people standing around solemnly listening to the preacher’s final words in honor of the deceased.

Oh good Lord.

I still have no idea what Spark was so upset about. All I know is that there I was, in a t-shirt, basketball shorts and sandals, sort of whisper-yelling for my dog to get the hell back to me as about 50-sets of grieving eyes stared at me.

Awkward.

All I could do was mumble a “I’m so sorry” several times as I scooped up my furry ball of terror and speed walked back over the hill to my car. Oh, and just before we disappeared Sparky gave one last yap at whatever the hell he was so upset about.

Me? I didn’t look back.

Very cool.

Capybaras are awesome creatures, man. Their calm and motherly nature attracts animals of all varieties to them, as is evidenced in the photos below. Some say they radiate peace, which is an amazing trait, but the truth is that in the wild Capybaras live in large groups so a female Capybaras take care of not only their own offspring but others as well. This helps them to be great mothers who will adopt just about any animal they encounter. In fact, animal rescue shelters will give young animals to a Capybara because they know it will do a great job of raising them. Capybaras, man. They’re cool.

Doesn’t look a day under 350. Seriously, that’s her though.

So I read an article the other day about a female Greenland Shark that was discovered in the Arctic Ocean and is estimated to be around 400-years old. 400-years! That shark was cruising the seas the same time the Mayflower was heading to America! Mind blown, man. They said Greenland sharks don’t even reach maturity until they’re 150. The lifespan also has something to do with the fact the sharks live in the Arctic Ocean at depths of 2000 meters, so this helps slow their metabolism and in turn the aging process.

Wild stuff.

Anyway, this led me to give orders to my crack staff here at Shoe: Untied to research the life spans of various animals. After a night of exhaustive research in our underground headquarters, here’s what they found. Keep in mind these are the known record life spans of these animals and the average lifespans are shorter.

Mayfly 

1-day

Live every day like it’s your last, Mayfly. Because it is.

Dragonfly

20-days

Housefly

35-days

Color me skeptical. I swear I tried to kill the same fly for 6-months a couple summers ago. Dude was taunting me. Fortunately he got too close and Sparky took him down.

Guinea Pig

4-years

Seriously? 4-years? Man, we’re sure setting kids up for disappointment, aren’t we? Just when they’ve really started to love little Boo Bear he kicks the bucket. Sad really.

Mouse

5-years

Rat

7-years

Say what? I thoughts rats lived much longer than that. I’m a tad disappointed.

Hummingbird

12-years

Rabbit

14-years

Sparrow

23-years

Tiger

26-years

Lion

26-years

So lions and tigers have basically the same lifespan. Not shocked.

Dog

29-years

Please, please let Sparky break this record. Please. Seriously though. Please.

The Spark.

Ant

30-years

The ant has the longest lifespan of any insect. Way to go, ants.

Eagle

32-years

‘Murica!

Cat

32-years

This is Nutmeg, who passed away quietly surrounded by family and friends last year. Rest in peace Nutmeg.

Boa Constrictor

40-years

Spider

43-years

This spider was a lab spider. It’s name was #16, which is unimaginative as hell. Why not Webster or Aragog or Hank or something? Anywho, #16 was killed by a wasp and that’s just an awful way to go.

This is #16. Seriously.

Grizzly Bear

44-years

Hippo

61-years

The hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500-people per year in Africa. Yikes.

Chimpanzee

66-years

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken students to the zoo and watched them jump up and down in front of the chimps, acting like chimps. And the chimp is usually looking back at them like this . . .

Andean Condor

79-years

Alligator

80-years

His name is Muja and he is still alive in Latvia. He was brought there in 1937 from America. You go Muja.

Actually Muja.

Cockatoo

83-years

Anybody remember Baretta’s cockatoo, Fred? Nobody? Never mind.

American Lobster

100-years

Olm

102-years

Killer Whale

110-years

Her name was Granny and she is feared dead after disappearing from her pod awhile back. I’m going to need a minute here.

Macaw

114-years

Her name is Charlie. She lives in England and is known for imitating Churchill’s rants about the Nazis. Charlie is awesome.

Meet Charlie!

Human

122-years

Her name was Jeanne Calment and she lived in France. And get this – when Jeanne was 12-years old she met Vincent Van Gogh. Sweet.

Box Turtle

138-years

I painted my name on probably 50 Box Turtles when I was a kid. Just a small “Dave Shoemaker” above the tail on the shell. Sooo, theoretically many of them are still out there roaming the Southern Ohio woods.

PS- Out of curiosity I looked up how far Box Turtles roam in their lifetime. Turns out they stay within 200-yards of their homes. Dang, some of those turtles could still be near me as we speak.

Crocodile

140-years

This guy lived in Australia and was named Mr. Freshie. Cool.

Geoduck Clam

160-years

No comment.

Sea Urchin

200-years

Bowhead Whale

221-years

Koi Fish

226-years

Tortoises

250-years

Greenland Shark

400-years

See my remarks above.

Ocean Clam

507-years

I know. Sort of anti-climactic that this guy is almost the oldest, no? Dude looks like a  . . . sorry, I can’t go there.

 

Again, I got nuthin’ here.

Turritopsis Nutricula Jellyfish

Immortal. Yep, you read that right. Since it’s capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. That’s nuts.

So there ya go, kids. That’s all my crack staff could come up with. Have a great day.

Check out this bird bouncing a golf ball off a cart path, man. Just having fun like you read about. I wish we all could be as happy as this bird bouncing a golf ball off a cart path. Animals, man.

PS- You fun haters that are telling me the bird thinks the ball is an egg and is trying to break it open can go straight to hell. That’s a bird having fun. End of story.

 


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