Monday, November 30, 2015

Is Honey Good For You?

Honey - Nature's Best Medicine?

Is honey good for you? Considering that honey is sweet, golden and delicious, it may be a little hard to believe that there could also be a plethora of health benefits of honey to go with it, but there are! Honey is one of the oldest medicinal substances known to man - even the ancient Egyptians knew that honey was good for your health, and useful in treating a variety of ailments.

Read on for the truth about why honey is good for you, honey-based remedies for simple health complaints, and a few bits of honey trivia along the way. You'll soon find that there's not much honey can't do!

Photo in Public Domain from Pixabay

5 Reasons Honey is Good For You 

Honey is a natural sweetener - it's easier for the body to use than white sugar or other processed sugar substitutes. Great for diabetics!

It contains a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, zinc and potassium.

 It's antibacterial properties are so strong that honey never, ever spoils. Remember those Ancient Egyptians we talked about? Their honey is still good.

When applied to the skin, it clears away breakouts, pimples and evens out oiliness and dryness. It's the ultimate face mask!

 It's gentle on the stomach because it's pre-digested by bees, and can be used to help a number of digestive complaints.

Honey Can Clear Skin Problems 

You might have heard of manuka honey - it's the stuff health professionals and beauty experts rave about! In addition to the normal antibacterial properties common to all honeys, manuka honey contains small amounts of other (perfectly safe) compounds which actively help clear up a variety of skin conditions. It's been proven to be effective in fighting acne, clearing up rashes caused by bacteria (including athlete's foot) and also helps in reducing the severity of sunburn and minimising the appearance of newer burn scars.

Manuka honey can be used every day in the same way you'd use a moisturiser with no ill effects. In fact, you'll look and smell great! (Perfect for attracting fellow honey lovers).

You can also eat it, but it doesn't taste as good as some other honeys. It's as effective as any other honey in relieving internal complaints, though.


Local Honey Helps With Hayfever 

 If you suffer from hayfever and pollen allergies, and can get your hands on some locally produced raw honey, do so. Raw honey contains small amounts of local pollens, so you get just a small amount of exposure every time you eat it. If you make it a regular part of your diet, you can lessen your sensitivity to pollens, and be much happier over the spring!

Honey might be good for you, sure, but do you actually want to eat it? Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

8 Unlikely Australian Animals to Avoid

Do you fancy the idea of cuddling a koala or patting a kangaroo when next you visit Australia? Sure, they're cute and they look harmless, but even these iconic critters can give you a bad scratch -- or worse. Never mind poisonous snakes and deadly spiders; the average overseas traveler might run into more trouble if they cross paths with some of Australia's more unusual garden wildlife. To stay safe, simply keep in mind these common-sense tips, and you should have no trouble with these animals that tend to bite, scratch, sting or claw any unsuspecting and trusting tourist.

Ixodes Holocyclus / paralysis tick by Alan R Walker
 under CC BY- SA 3.0
 1. The paralysis tick, a member of the arachnid family, is similar to scorpions and spiders. It hitches a ride on the fur of small marsupials like bandicoots and numbats. As part of its life cycle, a female needs to feed on blood before laying her eggs. Ticks burrow their sharp mouth-parts into the soft skin of their unsuspecting human host, usually in the neck or the groin. If a tick is disturbed by scratching, it can quickly secrete infected saliva into the wound and cause a reaction, such as simple itching, a form of Lyme disease, paralysis, meat allergy or even life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Ticks are found in most bushy Australian backyards, so before you venture outside, make sure you use a high-quality personal insect repellent and check    your skin for ticks afterwards.  

2. Kangaroos are usually docile creatures. Both red and gray kangaroos are a staple of many wildlife parks and zoos, and they usually love a scratch behind the ears. However, all kangaroos tend to get antsy during mating season, especially the big-muscled males. When provoked, they can hold their victim tight with their arms and rip the soft belly skin open using the large claws on their toes. Even a female kangaroo is willing to attack anything that endangers her defenseless joey. Dogs have been known to have been held underwater and drowned in lakes or dams after chasing after a large kangaroo. So go ahead and give "Skippy" that ear scratch, but don't approach big males or mothers with young in the pouch.  

3. The duck-billed platypus lives in quiet streams and billabongs. It's a strange-looking and shy, elusive creature -- which is just as well, as both sexes carry a sharp spur on their back legs. The male's spur contains a poison that won't kill a human, but nevertheless it causes excruciating and incapacitating pain and swelling at the puncture site. The platypus will likely keep out of sight if you wander nearby, but it's best to stay out of any billabong you come across, just to be sure.  

4. Wombats are heavy, slow-moving marsupials that dig big burrows and come out at night to eat native grasses and roots. Though usually placid in nature, they have been known to claw and bite if cornered. They can even display a surprising turn of speed, and despite its heavy bulk, an enraged wombat could easily bowl a person over and cause significant injuries. The rule is: give all wombats a wide berth, and definitely don't put them in a corner.  

A cassowary Wiki Commons CC BY 2.0
5. The cassowary is a large and flightless bird that lives in thick, tropical rain forests and forages on berries and fruit. Their wings are almost non-existent, but they sport long and powerful legs ending in sharp claws on their toes. Although they'd much prefer to live a peaceful life, the cassowary when threatened has a reputation for attacking people and domestic animals. It leaps up and kicks out like a kung fu master and can cause serious injury, and occasionally, death. Next time you are exploring Australia's jungles, keep in mind that this angry bird can run faster than any panicked human. Climb the nearest tree and hope it soon gets bored and goes looking for food.  

6. Butcher birds and the Australian magpie enjoy fearsome reputations during nesting season. To protect the young chicks in their nests, they swoop down from tall gum trees toward passing humans and strike with their sharp, hooked beaks. This often results in a bleeding cut to the head, or much worse, damage to vulnerable eyes. Wary locals take to wearing bike helmets with large cartoon eyes painted on the back as a way to deter the attacking birds. This works for a while, but these animals are no bird-brains. Both the butcher birds and magpies will soon cotton on to this ruse and attack you anyway.  

7. Fruit bats, as their name suggests, don't drink blood. But these cute and fox-like mammals can carry rabies-like diseases called Lyssa virus or Hendra virus. Well-meaning people attending to an injured bat are at risk of being bitten or scratched and therefore contracting these dreaded conditions. Unexpected contact with infected bat urine or blood can also transfer the diseases. One unlucky person was even attacked by a deranged, sick bat that deliberately flew down from a nearby tree to viciously bite them! Three people have been recorded as contracting Lyssa virus and all three have since died. Stay safe; don't touch any injured bats and give all fruit trees a wide berth.  

Bull ant closeup By Matt Inman under CC BY-SA 3.0
8. Australia hosts many of the biggest carnivorous ants in the natural world. Some large and aggressive species, including bull ants and jumping jack ants, can swarm over their victim and cause multiple painful bites and stings. These can result in simple redness and swelling at the sites or a serious case of anaphylactic shock in susceptible individuals. If you are planning a picnic, try not to spread your blanket over an ant nest by mistake. Also, forget bringing along meat sandwiches unless you are prepared to share them with a ravenous horde of very large and angry biting and stinging ants.    

Australia is a vast and varied wonderland and a magnet for many an overseas traveler. When you next drop in for a visit, by all means avoid the usual suspects like sharks, crocodiles and red-back spiders. But don't forget to add creatures like kangaroos, bats and the platypus to your list of animals to avoid. Even the most ordinary of Australian suburban backyards can host huge meat-eating ants, infected fruit bats and swooping, sharp-beaked butcher birds. But don't let any of these critters put you off your holiday in Australia. Simply follow some basic safety tips and you should be fine.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The World's Deadliest Animals

Dangerous, Poisonous and Venomous Creatures: the World's Deadliest Animals  


Discover some of the deadliest animals in the world.  


Many of the world's deadliest animals are tiny, look quite placid and are great at camouflage. These deadly animals lurks where you least expect them, and if you are not careful, or fooled by their tiny size, they may sneak up on you and kill you. You see, these deadly animals are extremely poisonous and venomous. The world's deadliest animals are full of bad surprises. Come with me and meet some of the world's deadliest animals.

The Puffer Fish, also known as fugu 

Source: Wikimedia Commons - Photo credit: Uploader1977

One of the deadliest animals in the world, the puffer fish can look relatively harmless at first because of its small size. But don't let its size fool you! If you're able to catch this little guy, then you'll be in for a long bout of agony as the dozens of small spines that run the length of its body poke and tear your flesh. Animals that eat the puffer fish are in for even more pain. If they don't choke to death on the spines, then the puffer fish's startlingly strong poison (it is the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the world) is sure to finish them off. It's so strong that it has even been known to kill humans who dare to eat it. Some of its internal organs ( ovaries, liver and the intestines ) and its skin are toxic due to the presence of tetrodotoxin. Death by suffocation occurs when the diaphragm muscles are paralyzed. The tetrodotoxin contained in the puffer fish is extremely potent, luckily it can only kill you if you eat it. Fugu is an expensive delicacy is you are brave enough!

The Stone Fish: Another World's Deadliest Animals  


Placid, cute and deadly Another dangerous fish, the so-called stone fish's sting is so painful that many of its human victims cry out to have their affected limbs amputated. To make matters worse, it also employs a method of camouflage as a defense mechanism and can be almost invisible when hovering next to stones (hence its name). Unlike the puffer fish though, its poison is actually in the form of a venom which is released into predators (or unsuspecting feet) through a series of long spines on its back. If you're ever in Australia be careful, they live in both rivers and along the ocean shore. You definitely don't want to come home from a vacation with a story of a stone fish sting to tell!

Play "spot the stone fish" game. Image credit Will Pittenger under CC By-SA 3.0

Blue Ring Octopus  


@Steve Childs under CC by 2.0
Yet another creature on the world's deadliest animals, the terror of the deep blue sea. You don't even have to come face to face with the blue-ringed octopus to know that it's poisonous. The vivid blue rings which line its back (and for which it is named) just look poisonous. And the animal is. The blue-ringed octopus is right up there as one of the ocean's deadliest animals. Though it is a fairly docile creature and won't attack unless provoked, its venom is fatal to humans. To make matters worse, there is no known anti-venom. If you ever see a blue-ringed octopus, then you better run (or swim) as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

Blue ring octopus pictures
No bigger than a golf ball, this cute and innocuous looking, but deadly, little sea creature is found in Australia. The blue ring octopus is usually placid and non-aggressive. Unfortunately for you, it likes to hide itself by flattening its brown body. So when you see it it's usually too late. When threatened its body will color up, and the cute Blue Ring Octopus will kill you. It has enough venom to kill 6 fully grown humans, there is no antidote to a blue ring octopus bite.

Poison Dart Frog 

Ollver Castadena under CC By 2.0

Oh yea, that little frog is on the list of the world's deadliest animals! Poison dart frogs are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in the world and for very good reason. Cute as these little guys might be, they pack a poisonous punch (they aren't called poison dart frogs for nothing) and some subspecies are lethal to humans.

Native peoples in the South American forests where the dart frogs live have actually rubbed the poison on the tips of their spears (and darts) for hundreds of years. Luckily though, poison dart frogs are usually vivid in color (yellow, blue, green, and red) so they are easy enough to spot and detour around.

The Sea Wasp (a species of Box Jellyfish) 



From Wiki Commons under CC By-SA 2.0

 The sea wasp really does pack one heck of a sting! The sea wasp is found in tropical location such as Hawaii, the Philippines and Australia. Their venomous strings are painful and deadly. Each Sea Wasp tentacle has 500,000 venom filled needles. It can extend its tentacles up to 3 meters!

Since the mid 1950s there was at least 5,500 deaths because of them. Even dead onesp, found on the beaches, can sting (the jellyfish's long tentacles house the poison and even severed tentacles washed up on beaches can cause quite a pain). It's extremely potent venom is almost unbearably painful to humans and in many cases is lethal.

Swimming areas where the jellyfish is often found have recently become equipped with nets (to ward the creature off) and anti-venom (for emergency first aid).

The Inland Taipan: Most venomous land snake


Meet the most venomous land snake worldwide. Snakes have always been considered dangerous and devilish animals in many circles and the inland Taipan is no exception. This slithery creature is actually the deadliest snake in the world. Native to Australia, it primarily feeds on mice and other small rodents in the area. In fact, the inland Taipan keeps to itself so much that the only recorded human bites have been on the scientists studying the snake. And lucky for them, the anti-venom was always close at hand so there have been no recorded human deaths to date.

@ g_kat26 under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Inland Taipan's venom is 50 time more toxic than the cobra's. If untreated, its bite can kill an human in 45 minutes! It won't attack if left alone. This venomous snake is another dangerous beast native to Australia. Depending on the season, it will be green or brown and the Taipan's length can reach 6 feet 8 inches. Pray you don't meet on of these deadly snake!

Watch one of the Most Venomous Snake in the World, the Inland Taipan - Don't try this at home! 

Brazilian Wandering Spider


Joao P. Burini under CC BY-CA 3.0

An aggressive spider deserving its spot on the world's deadliest animals list Even just this animal's name, the Brazilian wandering spider, sends shivers down your spine, doesn't it? To make matters worse, this highly venomous spider is also very defensive - if you bug it, then you're going to pay. Even though a lot of people consider almost every type of spider creepy and crawly, the wandering spider is one of only a few species lethal enough to kill a human. Brazilian Wandering Spiders are found in South America. Their bites are responsible for more human deaths than the bites of any other spider species. They wander the forest floor and hide under rocks or wood pieces. They don't make webs of lairs. They are aggressive spiders and are known to attack on sight. Their venom cause muscle paralysis leading to asphyxiation.

Video of Brazilian Wandering Spiders - Don't watch if you suffer from arachnophobia (walking bare feet in there...seriously? This guy must be mad) 


Marbled Cone Snail , Sneaky snail! 



Photo from public domain
Snails probably aren't one of the first animals that you think of when you think "world's deadliest animals," but the marbled cone snail (an ocean-dwelling species) is surprisingly so. Marbled Cone Snails are found in warm saltwater environments. These small snails can be extremely dangerous. The little bugger actually uses a nifty method to deploy its venom. It has a needle-like tooth and a venom gland that actually act much like a miniature harpoon. But the pain from one of its "harpoon" stings definitely isn't miniature. It is very painful and can even result in death. One drop of venom can kill 20 adults! The toxin cause tingling, swelling, pain, and numbness, and eventually muscle paralysis, vision changes and breathing failure. The cone snail's harpoon has even been known to pierce wetsuits - it is just that strong. Although only 30 human deaths have been reported, it is still an impressive little bugger.

The Mosquito: The world deadliest creature?   

Although not technically animals, mosquitoes had to make the list. Mosquitoes are actually one of the most dangerous types of creatures in the world because they are so small, so common, and there are so many different types. In fact, they have probably killed more humans than all of the other animals on this list combined. They aren't really that dangerous in themselves, at least individually, but the deadly diseases that they carry and transfer to humans through bites are. Malaria and dengue fever are two of the most common diseases transferred by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also carry many different variation of encephalitis, yellow fever and many more deadly diseases. Luckily for humans, in most populated places forms of mosquito control are in effect. Their numbers are both artificially and naturally reduced (through introduction of predators such as dragonflies), and a number of medicines and vaccines are available to protect people from their bites. Still, they kill 2 million people a year. In most countries, mosquitoes are just annoying, but in third world countries, they are deadly killers.

 I a wonder how people in Australia survive!

 They got their share of world's deadliest animals! Australia is home to the Box Jellyfish, the blue ring octopus, the stone fish, the inland Taipan. I mean even their snails are dangerous (yep they do have those Marbled Cone Snails there)!! So would you  move to Australia?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Frilled Shark Photos Diet and Habitat

Frilled shark head
Source: OpenCage 
 [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

A Rare Opportunity A living frilled shark!

In 2007, Japanese marine park staff at Awashima Marine Park had a rare opportunity to view the ancient predator of the continental shelf, the Frilled Shark. The captured female specimen came within human reach because she was obviously close to death. This species habitat is well beyond the reach of humans as it lives in depths of 400 feet to 4,200 feet. This unusual fish takes the name "frilled" shark because of its eel like appearance with collar like gills in rows, with a single dorsal fin and a caudal fin. It is in a family of its own and at least one Japanese scientist believes it should be in an Oder of its own. The Chlamydoselachus anguineus is in a category of its own, unlike other ancient extinct species it is doing fine.

Chlamydoselachus anguineus
 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
The Frilled Shark caught by Japanese marine park staff was initially discovered by local fishermen. Routinely, sick or dying Frilled Sharks end up in fisherman nets. It is the first time an ill Frilled Shark lived long enough to transport it to the Marine saltwater aquarium, and allow scientists to observe it swimming around. It died within a few hours, but the opportunity to observe the rare fish up close at the surface is unmatched. Contrary to the statements made by some public members, the Frilled Shark would not have left its comfortable habitat in the depths of the ocean if it were not already dying. Many comments criticized the marine park officials for interfering with the Frilled Shark. These comments were unwarranted.

Watch A Living Frilled Shark

The Frilled Shark At A Glance

Chlamydoselachus anguineus (mouth and teeth)
Source: Wiki Commons
The Frilled Shark has over 300 tiny trident-shaped teeth aligned in 25 rows. It feeds primarily on other creatures of the deep, like rays and deep sea squids. Its snake like appearance allows it to surprise and overtake its victims.

It measures approximately six feet in length. It is an awesome, frightening looking specimen, but there is no evidence it attacks or even likes humans. The chances of meeting one on the hunt is unlikely because humans cannot exist in the depths of the sea tolerated well by the Frilled Shark. There have been 264 specimens of the Frilled Shark examined by scientists in Sagura Bay in Japan. According to scientists in Japan there may a close relative located in waters in Southern Africa.

Frilled Sharks Diet Or: Will Frilled Sharks Have You For Lunch?

If a frilled shark swam into a restaurant, then they’d most likely order a hearty helping of squid. Even though you probably aren’t going to find these strange-looking creatures in a restaurant anytime soon, they definitely do spend most of their feeding time munching on squid and other cephalopods. A frilled shark’s mouth is the perfect squid-catching device because of its long needle-like teeth that are excellent at snagging the tentacles and soft bodies of its prey.

No one knows for sure what type of squid frilled sharks prefer because they have so infrequently been observed feeding. But, by looking inside their stomachs, scientists have found that they eat quite a bit more slower-moving species of squid than faster-moving ones. This is likely because frilled sharks are not very strong swimmers. They are great hunters, but their bodies are not made to fly through the ocean at breakneck speeds.

Instead, the frilled shark hovers in the dark depths of the ocean waiting for unsuspecting prey to come too close. When a squid (or other prey animal) is close enough, the shark lunges out like a snake lurching out of its coil. If the frilled shark is lucky, this sudden, lunging movement is enough for it to snag its dinner in its wide-open jaw.

Chlamydoselachus anguineus
Most of the time frilled sharks stick with squid for their meals, but, sometimes, they branch out a little. They’re not picky eaters and will eat pretty much anything that they can get their mouths on! In addition to squid, frilled sharks commonly munch on small bony fish and other small species of sharks. Their jaws can open wide enough to swallow animals half their size, so they’re in luck when they really need a big treat!

Because the frilled shark is so rarely observed, no one is completely sure how it captures its prey. While the snake-like lunging action is the most widely agreed upon theory, a few others have been put forth. One of the strangest of these is that the frilled shark is actually able to close off its gills and suck water (and prey) towards its mouth. Thinking about this is intimidating in any respect.

Frilled sharks are one of the oldest known ocean animals. Scientists believe that their species may be over 150 million years old! Though their feeding habits might be a little strange, they have definitely stood the long test of time. It definitely doesn’t look like frilled sharks are going anywhere soon.

By Franz Theodor Doflein (1873—1924) [Public domain]
Source: Wiki Commons

Books About Frilled Sharks

The anatomy of the frilled shark chlamydoselachus anguineus Garman
The Bashford Dean memorial volume : archaic fishes / edited by Eugene Willis Gudger. 1937, American Museum of Natural History. 174 pages with plates and figures.

The Natural History of the Frilled Shark Chlamydoselachus Anguineus
The Bashford Dean Memorial Volume Archaic Fishes, Article V.  74 pages.

A Bat Trivia

Are You Batty? A Bat trivia 

What would Halloween be without visions of scary little bats flapping overhead? Love them or hate them, bats are one of the most vilified creatures on the planet. Ironically, bats are also one of the world's most essential animals. They consume enormous numbers of insect pests, disperse seeds and pollinate many plants. Bat droppings are used in many useful products like antibiotics and fertilizers. However, bats are becoming endangered throughout the world because of misinformation, disease and habitat loss.

Big Eared Townsend Bat (public domain)

 A Trivia About Bats

 How much do you really know about bats, these misunderstood Halloween icons? Take this ten question trivia quiz to find out.

1. How does a vampire bat approach its sleeping prey to feed on its blood and what is its prey of choice?

2. What U. S. city has the largest urban population of bats and what kind are they?

3. To what species do bats belong and what unique characteristic do they have that no other members of this species possess?

4. How long can a healthy little brown bat live?

5. Where and when was White-nose Syndrome, a fungus that has been killing large populations of bats in the U.S., first discovered?

6. Name the largest bat on the planet and its typical wingspan measurement.

7. How many offspring does a female bat give birth to at one time? 8. How large is the tiniest bat known on the planet and where does it live?

9. Are bats blind?

10. What two characteristics make it highly improbable for a flying bat to get stuck in a human's hair?

Answers to the Trivia - How well do you know your bats

1- A vampire bat walks quietly on all four legs (the only bat that can do so) to sneak up on its sleeping prey. Its preferred prey is a sleeping farm animal like a cow or a pig. Contrary to popular belief, vampire bats do not stalk human beings.

2- Austin, Texas has the largest urban population of bats in the U. S. They are free-tailed bats from Mexico.

Interesting book about Texas bats: Bats of Texas (W. L. Moody Jr. Natural History Series)

3- Bats are the only mammals with the innate ability to fly.

4- The common little brown bat found across North America can live for over 30 years.

5- White-nose Syndrome was first discovered in upstate New York in 2006.

6- The largest bat on the planet is the Indonesian fruit bat, known as the flying fox. It can have a wingspan over 6 feet (1.83 meters) wide.

7-  A female bat gives birth to only one offspring at a time.

8- The tinniest bat, hence the tinniest mammal known on the planet, is the bumblebee bat of Thailand. Weighing only about 0.07 ounces (2 grams), it is endangered due to habitat loss

9-  No, bats are not blind. They can actually see better than humans at night, although they are color-blind.

10- In addition to having excellent night vision, bats have sophisticated radar called echolocation which enables them to distinguish insects and avoid obstacles as thin as a human hair.

Amazing Octopus Videos

Amazing Octopus Videos and Fascinating Octopus Facts 

Watch fascinating octopus videos showcasing abilities, intelligence and learning capabilities of the octopus. As you will see in these octopus videos, they are much more than slimy brainless creatures. Octopus can learn, use tools and extraordinary defense mechanism. you will be blown away by these unique octopus videos.

Octopus, Escape Artist Extraordinaire: a Videos Tribute

If every prisoner in the world suddenly turned into an octopus, then we would be in serious trouble. These underwater creatures are master escape artists - perhaps the best in all of the animal kingdom. If every prisoner in the world suddenly turned into an octopus, then there wouldn't be a single occupied jail cell anywhere! Though this isn't likely to happen soon, it doesn't make the escape abilities of an octopus any less amazing.

Octopus Videos: Watch Octopus Squeezes Through the Tiniest of Openings 

An octopus can flatten its body down and squeeze through the tiniest of openings. An opening the size of an apple is large enough for an octopus that weighs over one hundred pounds and measures over ten feet in length to squeeze through. They can do this so easily because they are invertebrates, or animals without backbones. In fact, an octopus doesn't have a single bone in its body! Other than its hard bird-like beak, its body is entirely soft. Octopus

Watch A 600 Pounds Octopus Squeezing through a Quarter Size Passageway 

It takes more than just a desirable body to be a master of escape though. Luckily, octopuses are also extremely intelligent animals. An octopus can open latches and screw lids off jars. A few have even figured out how to open empty pill bottles that have child safety lids. Some of the scientists studying them have a hard time doing this!

Videos: Octopus Intelligence in Action - Watch an Octopus Solving Problems. MUST SEE

The Octopus and the Coconut Video

The Octopus has an Amazing Memory

 Once you escape, you need to know the quickest way to safety. At the slightest hint of danger an octopus can immediately swim straight home, even if it had been wandering aimlessly for hours. They can do this because they have amazing short-term and long-term memories, and can recall environmental landmarks with ease.

Master of Camouflage: Octopus Videos

It's always smart to have a few tricks up your sleeve if you often find yourself in dangerous situations. Even though an octopus doesn't wear sleeves, it has the tricks covered! An octopus is a master of camouflage. At a moment's notice it can change its color and texture to match its surroundings. Some species can even change their appearance to look like the predator of the animal that was about to eat them.

 If you're ever swimming and see a moving rock, you better check to make sure it's not actually an octopus! A common camouflage trick that octopuses use to move through dangerous water is to mimic the color, texture, and shape of a rock, while slowly walking across the ocean floor.

It is well-known that an octopus can eject a blackish ink when in danger. The ink clouds the water and makes it easier for the octopus to quickly escape. Along with making it harder to see, the ink cloud also reduces the predator's ability to smell. Sometimes the predator is so confused that it even thinks the ink cloud is the octopus and attacks that.

Smart Octopus

For some strange reason, this octopus video is my all time favorite and I just can't stop laughing 

Mimic octopus pretending to be a flatfish 

The Bats of London

Go See Bats.... Real Bats in London 

Throughout London, you can find several species of bats. Most people aren't even aware that the bats are there. One charity devotes its time and energy protecting these little furry creatures.

Find out more about these unique mammals and the charity that protects them, The London Bat Group. Listen to sounds they make and learn details of their lives.

Types of Bats Found in London: Some Species You Are Likely To Meet in London

Here’s a few species you can commonly find in London. Complete list of all species and more details about each type can be found on The LBG‘s website.

Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Source: Wiki Commons
 Pipistrelle: Pipistrellus sp.

The Pipistrelle has a wing span of 19 to 25cm. They weigh about 6gms. This makes them UK’s smallest but most common species of Bat. They are usually found feeding in small local parks that contain ponds, lakes or waterways. They feed on midges. They roost in modern houses using the clean cavities found at the edges of the roofs.

Myotis daubentonii
Source: Wiki Commons

Daubenton’s: Myotis daubentonii

The Daubenton’s bat can be found where there are large ponds, lakes, rivers and canals. Their wingspan is between 24 and 27cm and they weigh in at between 7 to 12gm. They roost in trees and feed on midges and small flies.

Nyctalus noctula
Source: Wiki Commons
Noctule: Nyctalus noctula 

The Noctule has a wingspan of between 32 and 40cm and they weigh approx. 18 to 40gm. The roost in trees and will fly great distances in order to feed over lakes and rivers.












Listen to the sound of a Pipistrelle 



List of Places to See Bats in London

They can be found in many places throughout London and here is a short list of some of these places. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Regent’s Park
St James’s Park
Hampstead Heath and Highgate Ponds
Fryent Country Park
Hawkwood Estate, Petts Wood

About The London Bat Group 

For over twenty years The London Bat Group has been working to protect the bats of London. Through its website, training, surveys and exclusive events, they've been campaigning to protect these furry critters throughout the City of London. They have been serious decline in bat's population recent years due to intensive agriculture, damage to their roosts and poor management of parks and open spaces. The London Bat Group hope to raise awareness of this problem and to improve the overall management of London’s parks. Bats population is an excellent way to monitor the quality of our environment and their present decline is a strong indicator of how and why immediate improvement is needed.

They regularly: Campaign to increase the management of Bats in many of London’s open spaces. Monitor their population in London. Train people to help. Create awareness and knowledge of Bats by running events which include walks and talks. You can help support the Group by joining them via their website . Membership fees are very reasonably priced and well within most people’s budgets.

Some Bat Facts 

Bats are more closely related to us then they are to mice.
They are not blind.
They can live up to 30 years.
There are seventeen species of Bats in the UK and over half breed in London.

Learn More 

Bats: illustrated guide bat species in Britain, Europe 
Native bat species of Britain: pictures, images, habitat, life cycle, identification guide,

The Bats of Britain 

Bat Conservation Trust
The Bat Conservation Trust was formed in 1990 as an umbrella organisation for the rapidly growing network of bat groups, providing support, training and advice. BCT now acts as the national voice for bat conservation.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Great White Sharks Facts

@Jim Agronick / Shutterstock

Jaws made them famous overnight but what do you know about great white sharks?

 The Great White Shark AKA White Death With its ferocity earning it the moniker of “white death,” the great white shark is one of the most ferocious predators found in the ocean. Choosing to live in coastal, marine areas, this giant hunts and feeds upon fish, marine mammals and even birds, whenever caught! It is known to attack humans, even though it prefers other prey and only does so when provoked, or if no other feeding option is present.


How Big is the Great White Shark? 

 Gigantic in size, the largest measured specimens had a total length of 20 feet [6 meters] and weighed-in at a massive 5,000 lb. [approx. 2,270 kilogram] mark! The average length of a Great White Shark is between 13 and 17 feet long.

5 Great White Shark Facts 

1- It takes about 9 years for it to reach maturity.
2- Every year they will grow approximately between 25 and 30cm.
3- A female can only have babies two times in her lifetime.
4- A litter will usually have between 7 and 9 pups.
5- They have 5 gill slits. Are You Brave ?

This Great White Shark Looks Happy To See You ! 

Poster available on AllPosters

Would you Swim with Sharks ? 

The great white sharks like to live in coastal and offshore areas that have temperatures ranging between 12 – 24o C [54 - 75 o F]: Atlantic Northeast and California [USA]; Dyer Island [South Africa]; New South Wales and South Australia [Australia]; New Zealand; Japan; and some parts of the Mediterranean, where occasional specimens have been spotted.

Wiki-Carcharodon carcharias

 Known for their vociferous appetites, great white sharks prefer large hunting grounds frequented by other fish and mammals such as seals and dolphins. Their success as predatory animals is due to a number of reasons.

The Great White Sharks Diet

Like all other sharks, great white sharks can sense minuscule amounts of electricity produced by organisms, right down to half a billionth of a volt! Movement by an organism generates a tiny amount of electricity and the great whites, using their body’s lateral lines can pick it up. This allows them to home in on their prey without the prey being alarmed. Evolutionary adaption has also given them the strange ability to regulate their body temperatures: some parts are kept warmer by blood flow whereas the rest of the body remains at sea temperature. Their body coloring also works in camouflaging them by giving them an overall mottled appearance. And the sleek lines of their bodies allow them to move very fast, virtually undetected by the hapless prey until they move in for the kill.

Scary great white shark image - Just look at those teeth ! 

They have around 3000 teeth! These are on lots of rows. The front 2 rows are used to grab and cut prey . The other rows of teeth are used when the front ones drop out or are broken or worn.

Great white shark poster available on Amazon

Another Interesting Fact - They do swim a lot! 

Great white sharks are also prodigious swimmers and scientists have been able to track journeys of over 20,000 kilometers undertaken within a year! That is a whole lot of distance to cover on round trips from coasts of South Africa to Australia.

The Fins...... 

The fin that you can see in the pictures below and is usually the first indication of a shark is the dorsal fin. They also have 2 fins on their sides which are called pectoral fins.

Fishing Humor

There have been many claims of larger Great White Sharks, among them a 41.2 foot Great White Shark caught by a fishing trawler at Azores Island. Most of these stupendous claims have never been proved....some got Guinness record status only to be removed in later editions.

So would you like to see a great white shark up close?

No way, I wouldn't get close to anything with that many teeth.... 
Yeah, if protected by a shark cage



AFRMA Fancy Rat And Mouse Day: January 21st

AlexK100 [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

January 21st is AFRMA Fancy Rat And Mouse Day

The AFRMA (American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association) is a non-profit, international organization that was founded in 1983. It's members work together to promote the breeding of fancy rats and mice and they help educate breeders in the proper methods for raising healthy litters.
They also help educate pet owners in the proper care and handling of these cute little pets and help increase awareness of their unique qualities as companion pets.

The AFRMA also sponsors several competitive shows, similar to dog shows, throughout the year and they offer a newlsetter for members. The newsletter is titled, "Rat And Mouse Tales" and it includes medical and genetic information, articles and stories, a Q & A, and show rules and regulations.
Sounds pretty official doesn't it? And it should. Fancy rats and mice are more than just your garden-variety rodents. In fact, they've never even seen a garden. Instead, they're cute, domesticated little creatures, and they're just looking for a happy home and a caring owner.
Are you ready for a new pet?

Longhair fancy rat byssonya [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What Are Fancy Rats and Mice?

Fancy rats and mice have been bred to the specifications of a breeding association, like the AFMRA or the National Mouse Club in England. They're not wild animals at all. They weren't captured in a barn or a field and then sold in a pet shop.

Fancy rats and mice are bred in captivity and they're completely disease free. And if you're worried about the rats that started the Black Plague way back when, forget it. Those rats weren't carrying the disease. It was the fleas that were riding along on those rats that carried it.

Typically, these rats and mice are larger and calmer than the rats and mice you buy in the pet store. However, they're just as playful and fun!

Again, fancy rats and mice are disease free and they carry no fleas, ticks or other parasites. They're genetically bred to highlight specific characteristics and they're the friendliest, most social little pocket pets you'll find.

A Rainbow of Colors

You'll find rats and mice in a rainbow of colors and a variety of coat types. There is no one color that makes the best pet. They're all equally Happy-Go-Lucky little guys.
Exotic colors include: Siamese, Blue, Silver Black, Silver Fawn, Lilac, Cinnamon, Black-eyed White, Cinnamon Pearl, Lynx, Silver Agouti, Silver Lilac, Blue Point Siamese, Capped, Variegated, and Blaze.
Some of the fancy colors include: Coffee, Cream, Beige, Silver, Dutch, Variegated, Siamese/Himalayan, and Spotted Tan.
Coat styles include: Satin (very shiny), Long Haired, Frizzie (curly coat), Hairless, or a combination of the above.

Housing Your New Fancy Mouse

Rats and mice are playful, active little creatures so make sure they have plenty of room to move around. And toys, too! Lots of toys!
Use hardwood shavings, paper shavings, or special bedding pellets in the bottom of the cage. Never use cedar or pine shavings. They may smell nice to you, but they're toxic for your pets.
You'll need a clean water bottle and a clean, sturdy, non-tip food dish. Your new pets will also love someplace to sleep. You can buy nesting material at your local pet store or, if you have access to it, mice love fresh hay. You can use a variety of household objects for sleeping boxes: toilet paper rolls, PVC pipe, butter tubs, etc.
A rodent's teeth never stop growing, which is why they're always gnawing on something. It's important to provide something they can chew on at all times - wooden gnawing toys, or even chew  sticks for dogs .

It's important to house your new pets in a cage that they can't gnaw through. But a simple wire cage can be too drafty.  The newer cages that have a hard plastic bottom with a raised edge help prevent drafts and their powder coated wires are gnaw-proof and resist corrosion. Plus, the removable plastic tray makes them easier to clean. The best way to make sure your new Fancy Rat or Mouse stays healthy and happy is to always keep his cage, toys and accessories clean!

Supplement Their Diet

You should always have clean, fresh food and water available at all times.
But your new-found friends will also enjoy a little variety.
Fancy rats and mice also like small amounts of:

  1. Salad greens
  2. Fresh fruit - especially bananas and avocado
  3. Fresh vegetables - especially raw broccoli and corn on the cob
  4. Whole wheat bread
  5. Dry, no sugar cereals
  6. Popcorn

How To Train Your New Pet

These little pocket pets are the ideal pet for you if you don't have the space for a dog or cat, or you don't have the time for housebreaking and leash training and all the other training that goes along with those larger, four-legged friends.

And they're excellent first pets for children. Dogs and cats can sometimes be a little demanding or aggressive around children but domesticated rats and mice are much easier to care for and they have a calmer personality. Once your children understand that the new fancy pet will only bite when they're scared or angry, and that even if they do it's just a little nip, then they'll have a fun-filled relationship with their new little pocket pet.

Fancy mice, and especially rats, can be trained just like dogs. They'll answer to their name, you can teach them to come when called, you can train them to sit, and run through a maze - they're highly intelligent little creatures!

But first, you need to bring your new pet home, introduce him to his new home, and let him relax and find his way around for about a week.

During the first few days, hand feed your new pet as much as possible. Simply place some food in the palm of your hand, hold you hand inside the cage and let him come to the food. In the beginning, it may take a while - don't push it. Let him sniff around your hand and get used to you and soon enough he'll feel comfortable.

Next, hold the food in your hand just outside the cage and call him by name. Eventually he'll feel comfortable enough to come outside his cage to get the food.
Always use your pet's name, just like you would when training a dog. And, just like a dog, rats and mice like to be rewarded with little treats while they're learning. Cheerios, especially! But don't be offended if you pet won't eat the treat you offer while he's sitting in your hand. Some rats and mice like to take their treats back to their cage because they feel safer there

You can even train your pet rat to ride on your shoulder and a pet mouse likes to ride in your pocket. Start by sitting quietly, next to his cage, a place the little cutie on your arm and coax him to your pocket or shoulder with a treat. Be careful, though. Move slowly until your pet gets comfortable. You don't want to scare the poor little guy and have him fall off. It doesn't take much to hurt these little guys.

Facts About Zebras

@Galyna Andrushko/ Shuttertock

Introduction To Zebras

The zebra are one of several wild mammals that are related to horses and have a distinctive coat of dark stripes against a light background. They are widely known for their beautiful striped pattern which is unique to each individual, much like fingerprints are to people. They are one of the more popular and beloved animals in the animal kingdom and their coat is so uniquely fascinating and striking that designers have copied the striped pattern and used it for clothing, handbags and even home decor items. It is said that their stripes help to camouflage them in the brush and protect them from predators such as lions, hyenas and wild dogs. They inhabit the plains and brushlands of eastern and southern Africa as well as mountainous regions. Zebras and African wild asses are the only members of the horse family native to Africa.
Like their relatives the African wild asses, they have a stocky build, muscular bodies and a stiff short mane that stands erect. Their long tail, which ends in a tuft of hair, is used to swat away flies and other insects that pester them. Their hooves are narrower than those of horses but are larger and more rounded than those of asses. Animals in the horse family are known as odd-toed ungulates which basically means a hoofed animal. They have one toe on each foot, large heads with broad noses and large ears that they can turn in virtually any direction. Their eyes are located to either side of their head which provides them with a wider range of vision. They have excellent eyesight in both day and night and also have a keen sense of hearing, smell and taste. They are a bit jumpy and nervous but seem to have very unique and playful personalities. They are extremely social animals and spend quite a lot of time grooming one another.

Just the Facts: Families in the Wild- A full DVD filled with zebras facts

53 minutes DVD entirely focus on zebras and how they live in "family". Fascinating film for both kids and adults.

Types of Zebras And Range Maps

There are three kinds of zebras living at present. A fourth kind of zebra, the Quagga, became extinct in 1883. The Quagga was striped only on the head, neck, and shoulders and the rest of the body was reddish brown.  Learn more about the Quagga: Quagga
Quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct sub-species of zebra.

3 different zebras


Grevy's zebra by bobosh_t ( [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Plain zebras By Rose Davies from Oxford, UK (Zebras) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Mountain zebra By Tanweer drmc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Where to see zebras in the wild

Plains zebras: plain zebras, also commonly known as Burchell's zebra, are typically found grazing in

Plain zebras map

the savanna and grasslands in south and east Africa. They have wide black and white stripes covering their bodies from their face right down to their hooves and even have a striped mane that matches the pattern on their neck. They form strong social bonds with other zebras and live in small groups or harems to large herds.

Grevy's zebra: the largest of the living zebras is Grevy's zebra. It stands 4 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 600 pounds. They are known as the imperial zebra with numerous narrow stripes on the head, body and legs and a broad black stripe running down the back. Grevy's zebras are usually found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. They are considered to be an endangered species along with the Mountain zebra. Grevy's zebras are not social in comparison to the other two species and do not live in harems.

Grevy's Zebras Area
Grevy's zebra: the largest of the living zebras is Grevy's zebra. It stands 4 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 600 pounds. They are known as the imperial zebra with numerous narrow stripes on the head, body and legs and a broad black stripe running down the back. Grevy's zebras are usually found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. They are considered to be an endangered species along with the Mountain zebra. Grevy's zebras are not social in comparison to the other two species and do not live in harems.

Mountain zebras: Mountain zebras are located in the mountainous regions of southwest Africa, live in small family groups and are considered an endangered species. They are distinguished from the other varieties of zebra by a fold of skin on the neck called a dewlap and are the smallest of the zebras measuring less than 4 feet tall at the shoulder. Hartmann's zebra is a subspecies of the Mountain zebra.
Mountain zebras area






A Zebra's Diet

Zebras are herbivores feeding primarily on 50 different kinds of grasses. They have strong incisor
Two Common or Burchell's Zebras Grazing Among Wildflowers poster
teeth that are excellent for chewing and grinding their food and they have been known to occasionally eat shrubs, bark, herbs, twigs and roots. This diet of extremely low nutritional value sustains them due to their adaptive digestive system. They spend about 18 hours a day grazing and eating grass which makes up about 92 percent of their diet and they are able to digest large amounts of grass in a 24 hour period. Herbs and shrubs make up the balance of their diet and they have been found to dig up roots with their hooves when grass, leaves or shoots are not readily available. Zebras also require water every day with the exception of Mountain zebras who can go from two to five days without water.

Breeding and Baby Zebras

Female zebras, or mares, mature much earlier than males and may have their first offspring around the age of three. Males are not ready to breed until around age five or six. The gestation period is approximately 12 to 13 months before a mare will give birth to one beautiful striped bundle of joy.
Posters: Zebras Poster Art Print - Zebra And Baby, Kevin Schafer (12 x 9 inches)
  1. Baby zebras are called foals and are born with brown and white stripes rather than black and white.
  2. Just like horses, foals are able to stand, walk and nurse shortly after they're born. They will be running alongside Momma within an hour after birth.
  3. Foals begin eating grass just three days after they're born but are not fully weaned for 11 months.
  4. Foals eat some of the adult's dung for about three and a half months for the bacteria which is necessary to digest food.
  5. Mares are extremely protective of their offspring and can become aggressive toward other zebras in the herd. They spend a lot of time sniffing and licking their foal.
  6. A mother recognizes her foal by smell for the first several days and then will know it by sight based on its unique stripe pattern.

Watch this newborn zebra


Zebras In The Wild / Zebras In Captivity

More interesting facts about zebras

Zebras may live for 28 years but for many their lifespan in the wild is shortened to an average of 12 years due to predators. They are very fast and can reach a speed of 40 miles an hour on hard-packed ground. Although they have a strong vicious kick, they are defenseless against their principal enemy, the lion. Because they are curious, zebras are easy prey for hunters who kill them for their meat and their hides which make durable striking leather. They are also threatened by different types of environmental changes mainly due to changes in ranching and farming.
Zebras do well in captivity and can be seen in nearly all zoos and circuses. In the wild they travel in bands ranging in size from about ten to hundreds of individuals. They sometimes join herds of other grass-eating animals such as the antelope, giraffe and wildebeest. Although diseases of domestic cattle have killed thousands of zebras, they are resistant to African diseases that are fatal to horses. For this reason, attempts have been made to tame zebras and to cross them with horses. Tame zebras, however, have proved to be stubborn, like mules, and untrustworthy. Successful mating between zebras and horses is possible, producing zebroses or horsebras, but hybridization does not appear to be practical.

Zebras On The Move

Watch the complete video for free on NatgeoTV
Or buy your own copy on DVD:Zebras on the Move