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Cute

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. 

2704086549_3b1780928d_b
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

#NothingButOctober: Feline All-Stars Show their #Catitude on the Animal Planet L!VE Kitten Cam!

Catitude30
Photo: Joseph Schaefer

Last night, the Washington Nationals finished their regular season in historic style with their first ever no-hitter. Delighting fans and pets alike, the Nats’ win made the biggest impression on five feline fans who are now meowing their support for the hometown team via the Animal Planet L!VE Kitten Cam!  

Streaming LIVE 24/7 from the Washington Animal Rescue League, Kitten Cam underwent a spirited baseball transformation and introduced a new team of furry players who are ready to showcase their #Catitude and rally their team to victory in the postseason. At press time, they’re running laps around their room, sleeping in player’s helmets, and cuddling up with two plush versions of their favorite Nationals teammates.

#Catitude
Meet the players on the APL!VE Kitten Cam

Now who may you ask are the five fantastic felines in the APL!VE starting line-up? We have the dynamic & adoptable team of Bryce Harpurr, Kitten Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermeow, Adam LaRoar, and Whiskers Werth.  And if those names look slightly familiar, you need not look any further than the National’s team roster for their human counterparts!

So this fall, step up to bat and hit a home run with the cutest players around!  Watch the baseball-lovin’ kittens of the Washington Animal Rescue League bringing their A-game and #Catitude straight to a screen near you on the APL!VE Kitten Cam.

 

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.

 

sea otter pup
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.

 

Continue reading >

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.

Continue reading >

19 Sep

When Giant, Mutant, Spider Dog Attacks ... And Is ADORABLE

We're feeling that crisp fall chill in the air and finally accepting that summer is over. And, although it's always sad to see the fun in the sun come to an end each year, there's a whole lot to look forward to come cooler months ... Suuuuuch as?

PETS + COSTUMES.

That's right. Not to jump the gun but Halloween is coming up — and it's NEVER too soon to start thinking about costume ideas. Especially, for your pets. And, ESPECIALLY for extravagant pranks like this incredible effort — meet SPIDER DOG:

What do you think of the prank? Too far?  Or, TOO CUTE? Post your opinion in the Comment Section below.

Spider-dog

Continue reading >

17 Sep

Tiny Hamster Takes On Competitive Eating Champion, Takeru Kobayashi

In one of the greatest internet moments known to mankind, a teeny, tiny hamster challenges the world-renowned competitive eating champion — master of all things hot and dog across all of Coney Island and the U.S. of A. — Takeru Kobayashi!

Can this hairball in miniature take down one of the greatest eaters the world has ever seen?! He may be petite but his appetite is not one to underestimate! Watch the unforgettable face-off:

Thank you, Internet. We <3 you, hamster ... and Kobayashi! WELL DONE.

Hamster-kobayashi-01
 Photo Credit: YouTube image

Hamster-kobayashi-02
  Photo Credit: YouTube image

Continue reading >

12 Sep

Too Cute: Giant Men Meeting Kittens for the First Time

C0n7o There are a lot of cat lovers at Animal Planet, so we all know how wonderful feline friends are despite the stereotype that follows them. But we couldn't contain our laughter when we saw this video of (giant) men meeting tiny kittens for the first time. I mean, how can you not love a kitten?

Watch for yourself:

Want even more cute? Tune in Saturday at 8PM E/P for an all-new episode of Too Cute: Pint Sized!

11 Sep

Bulldog Puppy, Late to the Party, Takes on #IceBucketChallenge

Bulldog-puppy-ice

Welp ... minus the bucket and water part. But this adorable clip is TOO CUTE to pass up!

Watch this precious little bulldog challenge one frigid adversary — brrrr! We'd much rather watch moments of cuteness like so, than dump a bucket of ice water over our heads.

We can't get enough cute bulldog clips here at Animal Planet HQ — here are a few awww-inspiring videos of the fun, silly and determined breed:

Continue reading >

6 Sep

Dog Books it for Ocean for One Last Summer Splash

If you've ever had a Labrador in your life, you're probably pretty aware of the fact that they LOVE the water.

Case in point, watch one Italiano pup named Walter make a run for it, straight for the sea - he knows the way! Summer may be over, but there's still time for one last dip in the ocean:

*SIGH* ... We know exactly how you feel, Walter!

Dog-loves-ocean
Photo: YouTube image

 

Visit our DOG BREED SELECTOR to learn more about the wonderful Labrador >>

 

6 Sep

Poop-Eating Pika Makes History

My friend and National Wildlife Federation colleague Beth Pratt-Bergstrom is a self-avowed pika lover. Pikas are small mammals that live in high-elevation cool mountains west of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. They are very, very cute.

Even though they look like it, pikas are not rodents. They belong to the taxonomic order called Lagomorpha and are closely related to rabbits and hares. They feed on on grasses and other vegetation, and spend much of their time gathering and hoarding plants in their rocky burrows, which they feed on during the long winter. You can often see them with their furry little faces stuffed with a huge amont of vegetation, scurrying through the rocks.

Apparently, that's not all they collect. Beth snapped this picture of a pika with what looks like a poop pellet in its mouth. She thought it was a funny and odd photo (right on both counts) but there's more the story than that. 

  

Pika Poop
Photo by Beth Pratt-Bergstrom.

 

From Beth:

Wow! Just heard from top pika researcher and my hero Eric Beever and he said I made a pika discovery! "I think this photo is the first photographic evidence of pikas moving / consuming fecal pellets of marmots." My contribution to science involves poop! How fitting.

Marmots are large members of the squirrel family that share the pika's habitat. Perhaps there's still available nutrients in the marmot droppings, and in nature such resources rarely go to waste. Lagomorphs are known for their coprophagia (poop-eating), and pikas are no exception, but usually it's their own droppings that they feed upon. More study is required to figure out what's going on with pikas in this regard. Science is cool!

Continue reading >

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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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