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Nature

29 Jun

Bizarre Creature Has a Snake Head and Spider Tail (VIDEO)

What fresh horror is THIS?

A recently discovered species, the split-tailed horned viper, has the head of a venomous snake and a spider for a tail. No, it's not some experiment from The Island of Doctor Moreau or the latest cheesy CGI movie monster, it's an actual living creature with a truly stunning adaptation.

Watch this video to learn more about this wonderfully bizarre snake. 

No matter how terrifying this snake is on the surface level, you can't help by marvel at the power of evolution when you see it in action. It is perfectly adapted to survive in its desert environment and lure in its bird prey with its spider-decoy tail.

It's a reminder to us all that even animals that are scary looking or potentially dangerous to humans are still amazing and important and worth our protection. Few other groups of wildlife are more maligned--unnecessarily--than are snakes

 

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Photo by Omid Mozaffari via Flickr Creative Commons.

 Protect Wildlife With the National Wildlife Federation.

24 Jun

Snake Eats Egg Off Kitchen Counter (VIDEO)

Many snakes feed on bird eggs. The eastern rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is one of them. Coming upon this snake species feeding on an egg isn't all that surprising. This is not, however, something you expect to see in your kitchen!

I have to give props to the couple in the video above, who walked into their kitchen to see just that. Many people would have freaked out and either fled their house in an irrational panic, or gotten out a shovel and bashed the snake, which is equally irrational.

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Eastern rat snake by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClaren via Flickr Creative Commons.

Eastern rat snakes (formerly known as black rat snakes) are one of the most common species found across much of the eastern United States and as such, one of the most commonly encountered snakes.

They are also not only 100% harmless to people, they are hugely beneficial to us. That's because, as their name suggests, in addition to feeding on bird eggs, rat snakes feed on rodents. They are Mother Nature's way of making sure that populations of rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels and chipmunks, as well as rabbits, don't get out of control. And that's a good thing.

That said, while we're all about encouraging people to respect and enjoy wildlife, we don't want it in our house. On our kitchen counter. Eating eggs.

So here are some tips from the National Wildlife Federation on how to keep snakes from entering your home, and what you should do if they do.

22 Jun

Mama Rabbit Takes on Snake

Never underestimate the power of maternal instinct. This dramatic video shows a black rat snake trying to make a meal out of a baby rabbit. The mother rabbit had other ideas.

Female rabbits give birth to their babies in a shallow depression in the vegetation, which they line with their own fur. They then leave them hidden there, only returning at dusk or dawn to nurse the tiny bunnies. This is a tactic to avoid revealing the presence of her helpless young to predators.

Rabbit vs. Snake
A mother rabbit defends her young against a snake.

Sometimes predators still find the babies. In this particular case, the snake's plans were dashed when mama rabbit discovered what was going on, and laid a major trouncing on the hungry reptile. Notice the fighting tactic of the rabbit. She grabbed the snake in her teeth and then kicked with her powerful back legs. Her back feet are equipped it needle sharp claws. 

It's important to remember that it's totally natural for snakes to feed on baby rabbits, and in fact when they do so they're fulfilling their important ecological role of keeping populations of rabbits under control. If you're a gardener, you know the havoc that a too many rabbits can wreak. So don't hate the snake and remember that it needs to eat too.

Help Protect Wildlife With the National Wildlife Federation. 

4 Jun

Following Bison Attacks, Yellowstone Asks Tourists to Practice Common Sense, Follow Safety Guidelines

FOOTT.03351
Bison at Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Jeff Foott

Officials at Yellowstone National Park are urging tourists to keep their distance from bison following two separate attacks on tourists at the park recently. Rangers are asking tourists to practice common sense and have been passing out fliers warning visitors of the potential threat of the animals, the Associated Press reports.

The most recent attack occurred Tuesday, when a 62-year-old Australian man got within 3-5 feet of the animal in order to take a photo on his electronic notepad, the AP reports. According to the park, you shouldn't be any closer than 25 yards. Earlier in the month, a 16-year-old girl from Taiwan was gored by the animal when she turned her back in order to pose for a photo. Both were taken the hospital and released.

According to the AP, tourism to the park is up 18 percent from the same month last year.

"There's just a lot of people around, and the temptation is there when a bison looks calm," Yellowstone spokesperson Traci Weaver told the AP.

Bison can run up to 40 miles per hour and male American bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

Yellowstone National Park is home to many species and tourists need to be aware of other animals in the area as well. According to Tech Times, more than 500 black and grizzly bears inhabit the area and have been known to threaten visitors who have gotten too close. About 13 packs of wolves also call the park home, and about 15,000 elk roam the area as well.

For more safety information, head the the Yellowstone National Park page.

Learn more about bison at Yellowstone National Park:

22 May

Meanwhile in Australia, It's Raining Spiders

Spider-webs
Reuters/Daniel Munoz

In case you missed the story this week, it's raining spiders in Australia -- millions and millions of spiders. And not only are the residents of Goulburn, New South Wales, dealing with these critters falling on them from the sky, they have a sticky situation with all the webbing left behind.

So what's happening? LiveScience called on Rick Vetter, a retired arachnologist at the University of California at Riverside, who said residents were most likely witnessing a very common form of spider transportation. Called ballooning, it entails a spider intent on migrating to new digs climbing up high, releasing its silk, and then jumping.

Continue reading >

22 May

Photographer Makes Amusing Supermodels Out of Backyard Squirrels

Sure, they can be a nuisance sometimes (especially when they get into your garage and chew through your heavy-duty buckets of bird seed), but squirrels can also be fun to watch. 

It's especially interesting to witness a squirrel exploring its environment, and photographer Max Ellis has captured those moments creatively and brilliantly in his photos. Says Max, "The squirrels in these images live in the big trees behind my garden. They come every day to see whats new and investigate it." He uses props, food and occasionally fishing line to create his squirrel scenarios, and the squirrels do the rest.

Genius. Enjoy, follow @junkyardmax on Instagram, and see more at maxphotographic.com.

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Credit: Max Ellis/@junkyardmax 

Continue reading >

21 May

Paddle Boarder Checked out by Orca (VIDEO)

 

Luke Reilly was paddle boarding just off the beach in New Zealand when he got a surprise visitor: an orca.

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are incredibly powerful predators, preying on everything from stingrays to salmon to seals and even giant baleen whales. While human encounters with apex predators might generally be cause for alarm, in this case, Reilly seemed more an object of curiosity than potential prey. Orcas, though at the very top of the marine food chain, don't consider humans food and wild orcas have never attacked a human. (We, on the other hand, pose a significant threat to orcas in the wild.)

That's reassuring to know, especially when the curious whale swam right up to the paddle board and gave it an investigatory nibble.  

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Photo by Kat Kellner via Flickr Creative Commons.

Help the National Wildlife Federation Save the Endangered Orcas of Puget Sound.

H/T to Huffington Post

13 May

Too-Close for Comfort Tourists Aggravate Bears at Yellowstone (VIDEO)

You may have seen the video gone viral the last few days, captured by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, of what appears to be a black bear with cubs, chasing after tourists at Yellowstone National Park:

A mama bear appears to be chasing tourists across a bridge, defending her cubs, as most media outlets are reporting. However, the bear and her babies were most likely aggravated by tourists who got too close for comfort for the sake of photo opps, encircling the group.  According to a report by National Geographic, the mama bear and her cubs in an attempt to flee, took a wrong turn onto the bridge, and were surrounded by tourists blocking their way.

Bears-yellowstone-video
Photo: YouTube video image

The lesson here? Respect wildlife in parks and give them a safe and secure distance to graze and roam.  Like, 300 feet minimum. MINIMUM!  If you really want that killer photo to post to your Instagram, invest in a zoom lens. You can read up on Bear Safety on the National Park Service's website here. >>

 

Continue reading >

13 May

Bobcat and Coyote Face Off in Suburbia (VIDEO)

Bike ride interruptus

Posted by Jon Snow on Monday, May 11, 2015

 

This is a pretty amazing video! The bobcat and the coyote featured both have wide ranges across the country, living close to humans, sometimes even in our cities, towns and backyards. But both are also extremely elusive. They are usually nocturnal and go out of their way to avoid being seen by humans.

So this video captured by a cyclist at River Legacy Park in Arlington, Texas is an extremely rare thing. Not only is it rare to see one of these animals in the daylight, right out in the open, but to see them both together is nothing short of a once in a lifetime wildlife encounter.

Bobcats and coyotes are both medium-sized predators that compete with each other for prey. All cats are strict carnivores, while coyotes have a more varied diet and can consume everything from plant material to insects to the rodents, rabbits and other small animals also fed on by the bobcat.

The video certainly answers the question of who's the "top dog" in this competition between carnivores--and it isn't the coyote!

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Photo by Linda Tanner via Flickr Creative Commons.

 

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.

 

12 May

This Owl Doesn't Need Enemies With a Friend Like This (VIDEO)

 

With a friend who projectile poops on him, this owl doesn't need enemies!

As funny as this video is, it's actually a normal part of being a young bird. The only job baby birds have is to eat and grow and, yes, poop. Getting pooped on by your sibling is just part of growing up for most birds.

These two owls are no doubt siblings who have recently fledged and left the nest. Their parents are nearby still feeding them and watching out for them while they learn to fly and eventually to hunt on their own.

It's a dangerous time for young birds, but also a totally normal part of growing up. Never try to "rescue" fledgling birds like this that have left the nest on their own. They have a greater chance of survival under the care of their parents compared to a human trying to finish raising them. Here's a good guide for what to do if you find a baby bird out of the nest.

Even if their siblings sometimes poop and them and then flee the scene.

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Photo by Andrew C via Flickr Creative Commons.

 Adopt an Owl with the National Wildlife Federation.

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