Bites at Animal Planet

Animals

30 Sep

Meet the Carnivorous Kangaroo

Kangaroos are herbivores. Native to Australia, they've evolved to be grazers and browsers, feeding on vegetation much like deer in other parts of the world.

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Red Kangaroo. Photo by Mike Souza via Flickr Creative Commons.


When I stumbled on this footage of a young red kangaroo feeding on a seabird, I had to do a double-take. It sounds like something out of the plot of a bad horror movie, but apparently, there have been anecdotal reports of kangaroos eating meat. This seems to be the first time the behavior has been recorded.

Check it out:

No one really knows what might cause this unusual feeding behavior. It turns out that many herbivores have been documented feeding on meat, from cows to deer to elephants. 

It could be that this particular kangaroo was lacking some vital nutrient and developed a craving for meat that could supply it. It could be caused by some a mutation that drove this particular animal to go carnivorous. It's that kind of mutation that sometimes leads to entirely new species, if the mutation results in better survival and reproductive success for the animals that have it. I doubt it hunted the bird, but rather scavenged the carcass on the beach. Either way, it's pretty amazing to see this behavior captured on video. 

Nature never ceases to amaze!

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.  

30 Sep

Dutch Airlines Makes Cutest Beagle-Run Lost & Found Service Video Ever

Klm-royal-dutch-beagleWhat better incentive to fly an airline and leave something behind on the plane than having an ADORABLE beagle retrieve it for you?! 

Well ... unfortunately this program with beagle isn't real. :(  KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced the launch of a new Lost and Found program last week in a press release.  Sadly, the pup part is not true.  

But, well done, KLM on producing one super cute beagle video! And, hopefully you can make this video a reality someday because this idea is pretty brilliant:

 

Learn more about the sweet dog in our Dog Breed Selector >> And, watch a video about them below:

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30 Sep

Ten Reasons to Love Opossums

Opossums are one of the most common mammals in our cities and towns. The are really cool and interesting animals, but most people find them gross and scary-looking.  I'm here to throw a little love to these misunderstood creatures with my top ten reasons to love opossums.

10.  Opossums are North America's Only Marsupial.
Opossums are not rats or even closely related to rodents. They are marsupials. Most marsupial species live in Australia and like kangaroos or koalas, opossums have a very short pregnancy--just 12 days--and give birth to their young even before eyes or hind limbs have fully formed. With only front legs, the tiny babies must crawl into their mother's pouch, where they'll attach to a nipple and nurse while they continue developing.

9. Baby Opossums are Fluffy and Cute.
When born, baby opossums are hairless and only the size of a bumble bee. But by the time they're ready to leave mom's pouch after about 11 weeks, baby opossums have turned into adorable little balls of flull.

8. Baby Opossums Ride on Mom's Back.
Baby opossums get around by riding on their mothers' backs. Few things are cuter than seeing a dozen or so babies just hanging out on mom's back. 

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Mother opossum and young. Photo by Monica R. via Flickr Creative Commons.

7. They Break Records.
Opossums have 50 teeth in their mouths, more than any other mammal. 

6. Like Humans, They are Extremely Adaptable.
Unlike more finicky species, opossums don't require special foods or places to live. They'll pretty much eat anything from fruit to mice to insects (and yes, sometimes our trash). They're just as happy to sleep in a tree cavity as they are in an abandoned car. They might not be the most elegant of animals, but you've got to respect an animal that can live anywhere and thrive.

5. They Eat Garden Pests.
Opossums are great to have around the garden. They love eating slugs and other garden pests and can help keep populations of these critters down so your garden plants thrive.

4. They Utilize Trickery to Survive.
Opossums really do play dead when they can't escape from a threat. They flop over, roll their eyes in the back of their head, stick their tongue out, and release a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands. This behavior disarms the prey-drive of many predators that are triggered to attack prey that runs or fights back, and it can save an opossum's life. Check out this young 'one "playing 'possum." 

 

 

3. They Are Immune to Rabies.
Unlike most other mammmals, opossums don't contract or spread rabies. Their body temperature is slightly lower than that of other mammals, and the virus can't take hold. 

2. Opossums Eat Venomous Snakes.
Snakes don't stand a chance if there are opossums around. Opossums eat snakes, including venomous ones. In fact, they are generally immune to the effects of snake venom.

1. Opossums Destroy Ticks.
Opossums are masters at destroying ticks. This is because they are very fastidious animals, constantly grooming themselves and removing (and eating) parasites like ticks. One opossum can take out around 5,000 ticks each year. That alone makes them worth having around!

Even though they are extremely adaptable and a successful species, they sometimes get themselves into trouble and need a helping hand. Here's a video of one young opossum in need of rescue.

 

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.  

29 Sep

10-Year-Old Goldfish Gets Second Chance at Life with Surgery to Remove Brain Tumor

A 10-year-old goldfish named George received life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month, giving him a shot at another 10 to 20 years to live.

The goldfish, who calls Melbourne, Australia, home, developed trouble eating, swimming and interacting with other fish, over the past year.

His owners Lyn Orton and Pip Joyce took him to Lort Smith Animal Hospital, where Dr. Tristan Rich diagnosed the little fella. He gave Mum and Dad the option to put him to sleep or to try the delicate surgical procedure. They opted to see their pet get another chance.

Goldfish-1

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26 Sep

“Werewolf” Cat Breed Raises Questions And Curiosities

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Lykoi Cat (Photo by: Nelius Rademan/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

At first glance, werewolves and housecats go together like oil and water. But breeders have bridged the two into a new cat: the Lykoi.

The breed’s distinct look is due to a natural mutant gene variation that interferes with hair growth, resulting in a sparse, patchy coat, according to Nautilus. Not only does the Lykoi resemble a werewolf, it shares some similarities with dogs. Lykoi cats are particularly affectionate and known to follow their owners around.

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25 Sep

Guess What a Vet Finds 43 1/2 of in a Great Dane's Stomach?

When one family's beloved Great Dane fell ill, they raced him off to the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon. After examination and x-rays, the vet found this:

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Photo: Courtesy of DoveLewis

Oh, what's THAT, you ask? Well, on surgery and extraction, THIS:

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24 Sep

ROAD TRIP! Tia Torres + Team Are NYC-Bound to Meet Jon Stewart on The Daily Show!

Guess who's on the road and entering New York City today?! Tia and the Pit Bulls & Parolees crew have been driving northward from New Orleans to meet the forever brilliant Jon Stewart! So, CLEAR your evening plans and get ready to watch the meeting of two great minds.

Tia of course also has a few pups in tow — HOW do you travel with a handful of dogs?! With many, many "pit" stops. Here are a few snaps of her taking one of the many — in Pennsylvania:

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Sept. 25 UPDATE! Miss the show last night?! Here's the full interview:

 

Visit the Pit Bulls & Parolees site for more videos and get ready for Season 6, premiering Saturday, Oct. 4, @ 10PM e/p!

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23 Sep

Yao Ming Steps Up to Help Save Africa’s Elephants & Rhinos

  

Stop the Killing. Stop the Trafficking. Stop the Demand.

The new feature documentary SAVING AFRICA’S GIANTS WITH YAO MING is premiering on Animal Planet this November.  Narrated by the brilliant actor Edward Norton, the film follows basketball icon Yao Ming who travels to Kenya, home to the ancient Samburu people and a natural habitat of African elephants.

Elephants are part of the Samburu heritage and are critical to their livelihood. Poaching not only destroys the wild species but also the tribal villagers who depend on them. Yao meets with Sir Iain Douglas-Hamilton, renowned elephant expert who echoes WildAid’s dire conservation message, which he urges Yao to bring home and disseminate globally: it’s a race against time for these elephants; when the buying stops, the killing will too.

“The huge price motivates poachers to persist,” says Yao. “And if we buy ivory, it makes all of us killers as well.”

Every year, the death toll rises with 25,000 African elephants murdered last year alone, and 4.5 million killed in the last 60 years. These magnificent creatures are victims of ivory poaching, perpetrated by one of the most organized, widespread wildlife trafficking networks in history.

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Photo: Kristian Schmidt/WildAid

See More Photos of Yao Ming in Africa >>

Fortunately, Africa’s giants have their defender: basketball superstar and wildlife advocate Yao offers his unique combination of strength, vision and voice to serve as a megaphone to help spread awareness about the cruelty of poaching. 

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23 Sep

5 Facts You Otter Know About Sea Otters

Happy Sea Otter Awareness Week
Photo Credit: Rolf Hicker/Getty Images

It's Sea Otter Awareness Week, and we're otterly excited to put the spotlight on these amazingly cute and intelligent superstars of the marine world! On Animal Planet L!VE, we invite you to take a look into the natural habitat of California's southern sea otter on the LIVE Sea Otter Cam, powered by our partners at seaotters.com. While you watch wild sea otters swim, play and socialize on the cam, here are 5 exciting facts you otter know about sea otters!

1. Sea otters are social animals and a group of them is called a raft.

To humans, rafting is a sport or a leisurely weekend activity, but to otters rafting is a way of life!  If you see one otter, there’s a good chance that many more are swimming nearby.  Sea otters prefer to swim in same-sex groups called rafts. These groups can range from just ten otters to larger groups of hundreds or thousands. Something cute to note is that rafting sea otters can often be seen holding each others' paws to prevent themselves from floating apart while sleeping.

 

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Photo Credit: Arthur Morris/Corbis

 

2. Baby sea otters are absolutely adorable, but it’s hard work being a sea otter mom.

Can you imagine being a new mother and having to swim through waves with an infant sleeping on your stomach? Sea otter moms do it all the time.

 

Born in the water with only the ability to float, sea otter pups cannot swim until they reach 2 months old and shed their newborn fur coat (lanugo).  During this time frame, the female otter serves as her baby’s crib, ferry, groomer, and feeder

 

At 2 months old, an otter pup will learn to swim and dive on its own, but life doesn’t get any easier for mom until the pup is weaned after 6 months of age. This is due mainly to the fact that sea otters do not have blubber to keep them warm. In order to regulate temperature, an adult otter must eat approximately 25% of their body weight each day and that doesn't even include the additional amounts mothers need to eat to nurse their babies.

 

According to a June 2014 research study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, a female sea otter requires 14 hours of hunting per day to gain enough energy and nutrition to care for a 6 month old pup. Unfortunately, this means that otter mothers are more suceptible to health issues and mortality by the time the pup can be weaned. Some otters will abandon their babies to ensure their own survival, particularly when faced with food limitations within an area.

 

Since sea otters normally give birth to one pup every year, an otter mom's job really is never done!

 

3. Sea Otters are one of the few mammals on earth that use tools to hunt and eat.

Most of us will admire sea otters for their cute looks and silly antics, but they're also a smart species. They belong to a small club of mammals that use tools to hunt and eat. Since shellfish like clams and crab make up a large portion of their diet, sea otters have to find clever ways to crack their shells open. This is usually done by finding a rock, placing it on their stomach, and then hammering the shellfish into the rock until it yields the meat within.

 

Even cooler is the fact that sea otters have their own convenient hiding places for their favorite rocks. Each of their forelegs has a pocket of skin which can be used to safely store the otter's tool of choice and their freshly caught prey while diving to and from the surface.

 

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22 Sep

Meet Adorable Baby Hippo, Olivia, a.k.a. "Michelin Man"

FRIENDS! Drop everything! Take a break and LOOK at this adorable baby hippo! Her name is Olivia and she's a teeny baby pygmy hippo, born at the Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna, Sweden in August.

Parken-zoo-olivia1-500Photo: Courtesy of the Parken Zoo

The little love nugget was about 13 lbs. at birth. She's all wrinkles and nothing but CUTE — her caretakers have already dubbed her "Michelin Man."

Parken-zoo-olivia2-500Photo: Courtesy of the Parken Zoo

The endangered pygmy hippo is native to West Africa.  Olivia was born to her parents Anton (father) and Krakunia (mother) under a international breeding program. She will be sent to live at another zoo after 2 years under mom's care.

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