Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Check out that Werewolf Cat, man. Just Werewolfy as all get out. It’s scientific name is Lykoi, which is cool but not nearly as cool as Werewolf Cat. Roughly translated, Lykoi means “wolf cat” in Greek. Lykoi cats are derivatives of feral cats, and as such they have retained their strong prey drive. They very much enjoy stalking other smaller animals and children, so if you get one you best keep an eye on little Ainsley and your pet Chiweenie. Anywho, Werewolf Cat.

I shall henceforth start a movement to make these name changes.

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Cows can talk to each other using their moos, a new study has claimed.

Researchers in Australia studied Holstein-Friesian cows and found that the animals can communicate with each other, and respond to positive and negative emotions. Scientists from the University of Sydney used a special programme – dubbed the ‘Google Translate for Cows’  to analysis the pitch of their moos.

Alexandra Green, the study’s lead author, said: “They have all got very distinct voices. Even without looking at them in the herd, I can tell which one is making a noise just based on her voice.”

The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that cows can express a range of emotions, including distress, excitement and arousal.

Nothing sexier than an aroused cow, huh? Anyway, has there ever been a more obvious result to a study than finding out that cows talk to each other? Of course they do. All animals do. Hell, I once saw a gerbil tell a tufted titmouse a story about a sea urchin. Seriously though, this study was a complete waste of time. And there’s one sure-fire way to tell if animals can communicate with not only each other but humans as well – LISTEN TO THEM.

PS- “The Pitch of Their Moos” sounds like a critically acclaimed Indie movie.

PPS- If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times. A hundred years from now we’re going to know things about the intelligence of animals that would astound us if we knew them today. 

Check out the Bilby, man. Just as cute as the dickens. Bilbies are also known as the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot which is cool as hell. They’re believed to have inhabited Australia for up to 15-million years, and I’m no expert but that seems like a long time. Bilbies are featured in the songs and stories of Aboriginal Australians, because of course they are. Bilbies co-existed with Aboriginal people for 60,000-years, but in the 200-years since Europeans arrived they’ve been pushed close to extinction and that makes me sad. Save the Bilby! The Bilby is about the size of a domestic cat and typically lives for about 10-years. Anywho, Bilby.

[click and scroll for some amazing Bilbiness]

Dude, that’s a 5-foot tall stork, bigger than a damn 6th grader. I’m telling you man, the glaring, dark stare of a 5-foot tall stork can be a frightening thing for a weary traveler. These bad boys can exhibit territorial tendencies, as seen in an infamous incident that occurred at the Belize Zoo. Their stork exhibit now features a roof above the visitor viewing platform after a Jabiru Stork tried to stab an unsuspecting patron with its freakin’ 14-inch-long bill. Jeebus. Jabiru storks are native to Central and South America, where they typically feed on small mammals, fish, amphibians and the ocassional lost toddler. Anywho, Jabiru Stork.

Check out that Flower Mantis, man. How have I missed this guy? Just stunningly beautiful like you read about. The little dude climbs up twigs of plants and sits there, imitating a flower and patiently waiting for its prey. It then sways from side to side, and soon various small flies land on and around it, attracted by the small black spot resembling a fly on the end of its abdomen. The Flower Mantis at once seizes the bug and the party’s over. Diabolical. Anywho, Flower Mantis.

So over the weekend I attended a local basketball game and as always The Spark accompanied me. Sparky usually goes with me unless I’m going to be out of the car a really long time or if the weather is too cold or hot. Anyone who has seen my car knows the backseat (and sometimes the front passenger side) is basically Sparky’s territory and is always filled with a doggie bed and some comfy blankets. Anyway, the game ended around 9:30pm and I set off to meet some friends at a local establishment.

However, as I drove there Spark hopped up between the seats and nudged my ear with his snout, his way of telling me he needed to use the bathroom.

Well, I was in the middle of town so I made the quick decision to pull into the new library’s parking lot. Of course the place was empty and also had plenty of grass for Spark to do his business, which he did.

Keep in mind that Sparky is generally well behaved so unless I’m in a high traffic area he’s rarely leashed. Plus he looks both ways before crossing the street, so there’s that. And yes, I’m serious.

Anyway, as we walked back to the car Sparky spotted a little Weiner Dog in somebody’s front yard, and before I could stop him he ran to the street, checked for traffic, and headed to meet a new friend. Just as I trotted over to get him, a man opened his door to let his pup back in, not even looking down as his little Weiner Dog ran back into the house. He head was actually turned back inside like he was watching the TV or something.

You know where this is going, right?

Yep, Sparky walked right into the house with his new buddy.

And just as I was about to yell something, to my horror the man shut the door behind him.

Let me tell you, although the Spark is a constant source of entertainment with his neverending antics, this was certainly a new one.

All I could do was speedwalk up to the door, give it a knock, and try to explain myself.

Guy, opening the door about 3-inches: “Can I help you?”

I swear to you the dude was oblivious. He had no idea my dog had snuck into his house.

Me: “Uh, I was walking my dog and he went into your house.”

Guy: “What? How? What do you mean?”

Me: “He saw your dog in the yard and when you opened the door to let him back in he walked right in behind him. I’m serious. He’s in there.” 

But the guy still wasn’t buying it. I’m pretty sure he suspected I was a serial killer trying to con my way into his house.

Guy: “There’s no way. I would have seen him. Also, my dog’s a she.”

Well, that certainly explained a lot. But seriously, at this point I was starting to get a little upset. I mean, the guy was being very nice, but there was zero chance I was leaving without my best friend.

Me: “Listen, I’m telling you he’s in there. His name is Sparky. I’m going to yell for him.”

Guy: “Sure, give it a try.”

Me: “SPARK! Get out here!”

Of course, the next thing you knew Sparky and his new sweetheart came strutting around the corner, happy as larks, grinning the way dogs do. The guy was incredulous and amazed that Sparky had pulled that off. Being dog people, he and his wife (no, she hadn’t noticed either) gave Spark a belly rub and a treat before we went on our way.

The Spark. He’s the only one I know who can sneak into a stranger’s house and leave with a belly rub and a milkbone.

 

 

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?

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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.


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