Bites at Animal Planet

30 Oct

Bats Need Love Too

Halloween is upon us, and what animal is more a symbol of the holiday than the bat? It's also Bat Week, a designation created to help raise awereness about how awesome bats are, how important they are to us, and to help people realize that most of what you THINK you know about them is wrong. Read on to have all of your bat myths dispelled!

3642531568_a1a9253ef2_bPhoto by Mark Evans via Flickr Creative Commons.

Did you know?

  • Bats are diverse. With over 1,000 species, bats are the most diverse group of mammals.
  • Bats are not rodents. They're not even closely related to rodents. They belong to the mammal order Chiroptera (rodents belong to the order Rodentia), so calling them "flying rats" is flat-out wrong.
  • Bats eat more than mosquitoes. Some bats do eat mosquitoes, but that's not all they eat. Most species in North America feed primarily on insects and help control populations of beetles and moths that are agricultural pests. Other species feed on flower nectar and are important pollinators. Some eat fruit. There are other species that specialize in feeding on fish, frogs or small mammals. And of course, there are three species of vampire bat that feed on the blood of other animals.
  • Bats aren't blind. All bat species have eyes and none are blind. Many species do primarily rely on echolocation to find their prey.
  • Bats won't get tangled in your hair. Bats sometimes swoop close to people, likely in an effort to catch mosquitoes trying to bite us, and so it's possible that behavior inspired this myth.
  • Bats are not dangerous. While bats can carry rabies like most other mammals, your chances of being bitten by a rabid bat are exceedingly low. That chance goes down to zero if you never try to handle a bat. A bat can't bite you if it doesn't touch you, and the only way that will happen is if you try to touch it. Here's how to remove a bat (or bats) that get into your home.
  • Bats are in trouble. Over six million bats have died in North America in just the last few years. The deadly killer is a disease known as white-nose syndrome that mysteriously appeared in 2006 and proceeded to wipe out mass numbers of bats. Biologists are still trying to figure out what white-nose syndrom is and how to stop it.
  • Bat boxes do work. Many people try to help bats by putting out bat boxes, only to be disappointed when bats don't move in. Bats boxes do work, but you have to have the correct model and you have to mount it properly. Here's a good tutorial on building and mounting a bat box.

So there you have it: bats are awesome! If you're still not convinced, watch this video of an orphaned bat responding to its caretakers, and your heart will melt. 

  

 Adopt a Bat with the National Wildlife Federation.

29 Oct

Happy National Cat Day! Celebrate With On-Demand Kitten Snuggles

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Mormo Banez/Veer

National Cat Day might just be our favorite day here at Animal Planet (there are a lot of cat people here) and we're so excited to help you celebrate as well!

Today, Uber is letting you order a car that will deliver kittens directly to your office for some quality snuggle time. As Uber explains via their blog, this is how it works:

  1. Open your Uber app between 12 pm & 4 pm.
  2. Request the “KITTENS” option in your app. In NYC or DC? Enter promo code kittensnyc or kittensdc to unlock the option in your app.
  3. Once the kittens arrive, you and your friends will get to enjoy 15 minutes of kitten cuteness! PRO TIP: Make sure to have an enclosed space purrrfect for playtime! In New York City, kittens can only be delivered to offices.
  4. The best part? In most cities, kittens are eligible for adoption.

For just $30, you get 15 minutes of quality time with the kittens. Even better? Every dollar from your visit is donated to a participating shelter in your city. Uber expects the demand to be high, so while you may not get a chance to cuddle up with these cuties, you can still do your part by visiting participating shelters:

If we haven't quite convinced you yet, maybe Uber Spokescat Princess Monster Truck will change your mind...

And if the kittens aren't available where you are, you can track all the fluffy moments via the #UberKITTENS tag on Twitter right here!

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28 Oct

Puppies do the 'Shake' in Photographer's New, Adorable Book

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Hans, Boxer Pit Mix, 12 weeks (By Carli Davidson)

While we're in the midst of all things terrifying and beastly with the live zombie cam and Beastly Nights, we thought it would be good to take a break and feature something cute. And Carli Davidson's new book Shake Puppies is perfect for just that! You can pick up your own copy here, but we've got a sneak peek for you.

The book features about 70 puppies and Davidson photographed about 100 - each puppy requiring about an hour of photo shoot time.

"Shake Puppies was inspired by my friend Hanna Ingrams’s second grade class," Davidson said. "I showed the students a test presentation for Shake the day before it released, and their reaction was so moving that I decided to ask my favorite audience and professional connoisseurs of all out joy—kids—for a critique. What did they want to see? Their response: puppies and colors!"

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24 Oct

This is Why You Shouldn't Ever Run From a Bear

 If you encounter a bear in the wild, you should never run from it.  Here's why.

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This video from KTUU.com had this caption:

"Billy Adrian says he was in a vehicle driving at about 25 to 30 mph along Dead Man's Curve in Kodiak when he and other vehicles saw a brown bear 'just running' alongside the road Thursday."

Bears have no problem sprinting at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Humans aren't even half as fast.

Tips for hiking in bear country:

  • Do research and know if bears are active in the area you're hiking.
  • Make noise while you're hiking to alert bears to your presence. Bears generally avoid people and dangerous encounters are more likely to happen if you surprise a bear.
  • Carry bear spray.
  • Don't hike alone, or at a minimum make sure others know where you are hiking and when you should arrive at your destination.
  • If you encounter black bear clap and yell to scare the bear away, and slowly back away from it. Black bears are afraid of people and will run away if they can. 
  • If you encounter a brown (grizzly) bear slowly back away but don't try to intimidate it. Grizzlies will attack if they feel threatened so trying to scare one away like you would a black bear could actually trigger an attack. If attacked by a grizzly, play dead so that the bear no longer sees you as a threat.
  • Never run from a bear, which could stimulate its predatory instinct to chase you.
  • Most importantly, remember that bear attacks are extremely rare. You have more chance of being injured or killed driving your car to the grocery store than you ever would from a bear.

15074449878_485aa9132d_kPhoto by Sandy Brown Jensen via Flickr Creative Commons.

Adopt a bear and protect wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation. 

23 Oct

Which Breed is the 'Hot Dog'? New Book Tracks Data

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Click to see a higher-res version. Courtesy of HarperCollins

In addition to being animal lovers, most of us here at Animal Planet are creative types who find inspiration from a variety of places - the news, the Web, other TV, books - you name it! So when David McCandless's new book Knowledge is Beautiful came across our desks, we obviously geeked out.

Even greater was that McCandless's visually appealing infographics played to our animal-loving-side as well. We loved looking through his "Best in Show" graphic (shown above) to learn more about specific dog breeds. Using data that ranked dogs by popularity, intelligence, etc., McCandless was able to show which breeds come out on top, which ones are perhaps overlooked and others that were rightly ignored. It's an interesting look at how breeds "rank" compared to one another. Perhaps we can see about adding in his information to our Dog Breed Selector...

To see more of McCandless's beautiful infographics, check out his blog. You can also purchase your own copy here.

Learn more about the Border Collie, the "Hot Dog!" in the above infographic, below!

22 Oct

Meet the Hellbender

Just in time for Halloween, I introduce you to the hellbender.

No, it's not one of Satan's minions or a CGI monster. It's a type of salamander native to the streams and rivers of eastern North America.  Despite its demonic-sounding name, this spectacular amphibian is completely harmless to people. Yet the species is rapidly declining due to human activity such as deforestation, erosion and chemical runoff into our streams--which is the real horror story.

Watch this video put out by the Forest Service and partners about one of North America's most fascinating and little-known wild animals.

 

The Last Dragons - Protecting Appalachia's Hellbenders from Freshwaters Illustrated on Vimeo.

Here's a close up of the ancient beauty of the hellbender, an animal perfectly adapted to and camouflaged in its environment.

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Photo by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr Creative Commons. 

Save Appalachian streams and the hellbenders that live in them with National Wildlife Federation.

21 Oct

BREAKING: There Are Now Only 6 Northern White Rhinos Left On Earth

According to a tragic report by our friends at The Dodo, there are now only 6 northern white rhinos left on Earth, after one of the last two males died of unidentified causes last Friday. From The Dodo:

Northern-white-rhinos-dodo

By Melissa Cronin

Over a million years ago, the northern white rhino roamed across Chad, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. In 1960, there were about 2,000 of them. In the 1970s and ‘80s, poachers reduced their population from 500 to 15. Now, there are only six members of the species left.

That number had been seven until Friday, when Suni, a 34-year-old male who was the first northern white rhino to be born in captivity, was found dead by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The cause of death is unclear. What’s worse, Suni was one of two breeding males in the world.

"Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race," the conservancy said in a statement.

Continue to the Full Report at The Dodo >>

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21 Oct

Apes, They're Just Like Us - They Make Campfires, Roast Marshmallows

THE REAL APES OF THE PLANET premieres tonight at 8 p.m. E/P
Only on Animal Planet

In Iowa, a 33-year-old male bonobo named Kanzi picks his own food for a picnic. He lights his own fire, toasts marshmallows — and, even extinguishes his campfire after he's done. WOW. See for yourself:

The large human brain gives us the evolutionary edge over other species, but studies show that almost everything we have learned has been handed down from our primal ancestors. In the new two-hour documentary, THE REAL APES OF THE PLANET, Animal Planet travels around the globe for an unprecedented look at some of the various 400 specimens that make up the primate family and the surprising way our behavior mirrors theirs.

THE REAL APES OF THE PLANET explores the surprising and mind-blowing similarities that humans share with our fascinating primate cousins. Passing on family traditions and grooming practices as well as ingenious survival tactics and the primates' ability to solve complex problems and form communities with a hierarchy system, the special highlights devoted parenting to fun-loving kids. Viewers also witness how, akin to humans, apes may demonstrate deceitful behavior to get what they want, overindulge in life's pleasures and not always get along.

Real-apes-marshmallow-video
Photo: Animal Planet/DCL video screengrab

In addition to Kanzi's story, chimpanzees, with their highly intelligent minds, in Uganda demonstrate their problem-solving skills and tool use when posed with a honey challenge. The long-tailed macaques in Thailand find a clever way to floss after a meal, and an orangutan in Borneo maintains her personal hygiene with a little soap and water. White-faced capuchins in the rain forest of Costa Rica uncover the secret that the sap of the Guyabano tree acts as a mosquito repellent if rubbed on their fur. THE REAL APES OF THE PLANET uncovers how these animals are individuals with their own personalities and why brainpower is essential to primate survival.

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SEE THE REAL APES OF THE PLANET IN PHOTOS >>

 

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21 Oct

Hundreds of Salamanders Gather on Steps

What would you do if you woke up one morning and found THIS in your stairway? 

Ringed Salamanders MO
Photo by Missouri Department of Conservation via Facebook.

That's exactly what happened to one St. Louis area homeowner. No, these are not snakes, or even reptiles. They are an amphibian species called a ringed salamander.

The Missouri Department of Conservation posted this picture of the gathering--which is called a "congress of salamanders"--to their Facebook page and had this to say about it:

"Our St. Louis office got a call last week from a homeowner who had this pile of ringed salamanders trapped in an outside stairway. In autumn they travel by night to fishless woodland ponds where they may congregate by the hundreds for breeding. The salamanders were moved to a nearby fishless pond so they could continue.... If you see activity like this, let us know so we can help wildlife get back on the right road."

I'm most impressed with the homeowner, who did the right thing by contacting the Missouri Department of Conservation instead of a pest control company.

Amphibians like salamanders are on the decline globally. They are affected by habitat destruction, collection for the pet trade, climate change, pollution and disease.  Their sensitive skin aborbs toxins from the air and water and as a result, amphibians are considered "canaries in the coal mine" because their presence is an indicator of the health of the greater environment. If you have them in your neighborhood, that's a great sign.

Find out what you can do to help amphibians from the National Wildlife Federation. 

20 Oct

Special Testing Begins To See If Texas Dog Has Ebola

More than one week after going into quarantine, the dog of a Dallas nurse that contracted Ebola has begun the testing phase to determine whether or not he has the virus.

Bentley, a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, was moved into a special kennel where officials can watch him and periodically collect samples of his waste for testing, according to a statement from the City of Dallas. Like humans exposed to the Ebola virus, Bentley will be monitored for 21 days.

The dog’s ordeal began earlier this month when his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola after contracting the virus from a patient at a Dallas hospital. Pham has since been transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for continued monitoring.

To learn more about Ebola and its tie to dogs, be sure to watch a CNN interview with Monsters Inside Me host Dan Riskin. And if you’re interested in diseases tied to animals and parasites, visit the Monsters Inside Me page on AnimalPlanet.com for photos, videos and more. You can also watch a new episode this Thursday at 10/9c.

about the blog

Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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