Bites at Animal Planet

Animals

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.

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

Nothing is Cuter Than This Baby Rhino Playing With a Goat

Today's installment of utter cuteness comes to us from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa.

The centre's mission is to conserve rare, vulnerable or endangered animals. A big part of their work is captive breeding of endangered species. While they specialize in cheetahs, the Centre cares for many other species as well, including Gertjie the orphaned white rhinoceros

Gertjie--nicknamed "Little G"--has a sad story that is all too common. He was found next to the body of his dead mother, who was killed and mutilated by poachers. They hacked off her horn for the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine black market.

Practiced throughout Asia, traditional Chinese medicaine holds that rhino horn is used to treat a variety illnesses--despite the fact that science has shown that it actually has no medicinal value and despite the fact that killing rhinos for their horns is illegal. Rhinos are rapidly declining and some species are close to extinction. Yet such is the power of tradition and faith.

White rhino
Southern white rhinoceros calf.

Luckily for Little G, he was rescued and brought to the Centre. White rhinos are the most social of the five rhino species, and even after Little G recovered from the trauma of losing his mother, it was evident that he needed companionship. So the folks at the Centre introduced Little G to a pair of goats, and a fast friendship was born.

Here is Little G frolicking with Lammie the goat. The joy the two animals are experiencing in this video is evident and infectious. Whenever I get down about the horrible things people do to animals, videos like this one and the story of Little G's rescue help remind me that there are still good people and good things happening in the world.

 

Photo by Vanessa via Flickr Creative Commons.

17 Oct

America's Cutest Channels Its Disney Side This "Howl-O-Ween"

Cruellatunein
A dalmatian dressed up as Cruella de Vil…the irony! (Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks)

Who says Halloween has to be spooky and scary? You’ll never look at the holiday the same way again when Animal Planet and Disney comes together Saturday for America’s Cutest: Disney Side Howl-O-Ween.

Hosted by actor John O’Hurley, the hour-long special will be chock-full of adorable pets showing their “Disney Side” dressed up as some of Disney’s most iconic princesses, pirates, heroes and villains. It was filmed in Walt Disney World during the park’s first-ever Disney Side Dog's Day, as 101 (what other number could it be?) dogs took over Magic Kingdom for a pet-tacular day filled with a doggie dance party and a parade down Main Street USA, led by the latest winner from America's Cutest Pet.

Which the winning pooch had a “hairy-tale” ending and won? You’ll have to tune into America’s Cutest: Disney Side Howl-O-Ween SATURDAY at 9/8c to find out! Until then, check out some amazing photographs from Disney Side's Dog Day and get the inside scoop on how the event went, courtesy of the Disney Parks blog!

Cute pets in costumes and the happiest place on Earth…what could be better?

14 Oct

(Adorable) German Shepherd Naps Like My Dad

Here's an adorable video of one tuckered out pup! He MUST be in a deep, deep sleep, dreaming of squirrels, fetching things and delicious, meaty treats ... It may be an oldie from last year but it's still CUTE AS EVER: 

Not to mention, he totally looks like my Dad napping on the couch on a lazy weekend. I LOVE YOU, DOG!!!

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14 Oct

Dog Survives Euthanasia Attempt

Blog-lazarus-500w
AP Photo/Jay Reeves

In what many are calling a miracle, an Alabama dog is surviving and thriving despite a euthanasia attempt last month.

The dog, now named Lazarus, was surrendered to a shelter Aug. 19 after its owner said they could no longer care for him. The dog was also injured having been hit by a vehicle, according to People. When nobody stepped up to adopt the dog despite several attempts via social media, he was set to be euthanized Sept. 10. According to the People article, an animal control officer witnessed the contract veterinarian administering the lethal dose of drugs and saw the dog put back into a kennel. When volunteers came back the next day, Lazarus was awake and had moved to an outdoor pen linked to the interior kennel.

No one is quite sure how Lazarus managed to escape death. Some claim it's a miracle. Other theories suggest that an improper dose was given or a vein dodged the needle. Either way, Lazarus is living a happy life with a foster family in Birmingham, Alabama.

Meet another miracle dog >>

Learn About the Michelson Found Animals Saving Pets Challenge >>

13 Oct

Dog In Texas Put Into Quarantine After Owner Gets Ebola

Blog-excalibur-spain-ebola-euthanize-A-500w.jpg
A makeshift shrine was made outside Excalibur's home. A sign above reads "Excalibur. You are free now. Rest in peace" (Photo Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Last week in Spain, a dog was euthanized out of precaution after his owner was diagnosed with Ebola. This week in Texas, a different dog will be spared from a similar fate.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings announced that a dog owned by a nurse with Ebola will be quarantined, according to The Dodo. The Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center will oversee the dog's care with assitance from government officials, as mentioned on Twitter.

The decision comes less than a week after Spanish officials decided to euthanize a dog named Excalibur after his owner became infected, despite protests and a petition signed by around 400,000 people.

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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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