Bites at Animal Planet

Weird

25 Nov

First Footage of a Monster from the Deep

What's believed to be first ever footage of a live, female anglerfish swimming at extreme depths has been recorded by researchers with the Monterey Bay Research Institute.  

AnglerfishThis species of anglersfish is known as the black seadevil. These terrifying-looking fish live in the deep ocean where no light reaches. The females have an appendage on their head with a bioluminescent tip. The glowing tip lures in potential prey just like lure on the end of a fishing pole, hence the name "anglerfish."

No one knows why so many creatures from the deep look like horror movie monsters. Perhaps our image of monsters is influenced by the human species' deep instinctual fear of the dark, cold depths of the ocean where we could never survive. Luckily, anglerfish are harmless to people. 

Regardless of human impressions of them, anglerfish are a fascintating species, as this video proves.

Protect wildlife 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.

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.  

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 >

5 Sep

Missing Cobra Found In California Neighborhood

Cobra
The missing albino monocled cobra (Photo Credit: The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control)

Families and their pets are safe to go outside after a missing cobra was found in the Los Angeles area.

Yesterday, the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control announced it found a loose albino monocle cobra days after it disappeared in Thousand Oaks, CA. Before the cobra disappeared, it reportedly attacked a dog, according to the Associated Press.

California prohibits private ownership of cobras, except for educational and scientific purposes, which then would require a permit. Authorities believe the cobra was kept as someone's pet. 

While the species isn’t known to be aggressive, it is venomous and will defend itself if cornered. Fortunately, the dog the cobra attacked suffered minor injuries.  

The monocle cobra can grow up to 4 feet long and is more active in the morning and evening when the temperature is cooler, according to authorities. The cobra was found just after 3pm, according to the AP.  

Want to learn more about cobras? Take a look at some videos online, and learn about the life or death situation one man faced with his:

2 Sep

Rare Blue Lobster Makes His Way to Maine State Aquarium

Apl-bites-blue-lobster-miss-Meghan-02 A rare blue lobster that was caught last week off the coast of Maine has now been given a permanent home at the Maine State Aquarium.

Fourteen-year-old Meghan LaPlante and her father Jay found the lobster - a 1-and-2 million find according to ABC News - in the traps on Aug. 23. LaPlante operates Miss Meghan's Lobster Catch.

The lobster's blue color is technically created by a genetic defect. Thankfully for this lobster, this defect ended up saving its life.

Want to see more awesome lobsters? Check out this video of a 29-pound lobster (most lobsters are only one to three pounds!):

5 Aug

RARE Wild Animals

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Long time readers know that I'm a naturalist National Wildlife Federation, one of Animal Planet's R.O.A.R. partners, and I sometimes highlight NWF's work in my Animal Oddities posts. In this post I want to give a shout out to a fellow conservation organizations, Rare.  Rare looks for proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders to inspire communities to adopt them and make them their own through its signature Pride campaigns. They are pretty awesome. 

And it just so happens that a lot of the species Rare works to protect through these campaigns are pretty odd. Here are two of the most unusual species they work with:

Leaf Cutter Ant
The Leaf Cutter ant is considered a delicacy in parts of South America.  During its reproductive season the Leaf Cutter ant’s abdomen swells and it flies around in a sexual flurry only to be caught and grilled by the local people.  An average nest of leafcutter ants contains over 5 million ants.  They are also known as 'parasol' ants because of the way they carry leaves above their heads.  The ants can carry over 50 times their own body weight.

Here's Jeff Corwin exploring these awesome ants.

Continue reading >

11 Jul

Could Sloths Hold the Cure for Cancer?

Just a few days ago, Vice News posted a 20-minute documentary about the rainforests of Panama and how they might hold the cures for diseases such as malaria, Chagas, and even breast cancer. Among the plants and animals highlighted in the documentary, the sloth, everybody’s favorite slow-moving critter, was one of the most important. But how could the laziest creatures of the animal kingdom possibly hold the cures for fatal diseases -- even cancer?

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The answer lies in their hair, which is especially adapted to carry algae which can only be found on the backs of sloths. Hair is usually smooth, but the hair of a sloth is cracked to accommodate the growth of algae and fungi. On average, a sloth could be carrying up to 85 different kinds of fungi whose compounds could help in fighting diseases. In the documentary, sloths are called, “little pharmacies,” and it isn’t far off from the truth.

Continue reading >

3 Jul

Roo and Penny: Unlikely Best Friends

Alicia Williams, a client services receptionist at Duluth Animal Hospital in Georgia, has a habit of rescuing animals that are in bad situations. Roo and Penny are two of Alicia's rescues that have developed a very strong bond with one another.

Continue reading >

6 Jun

What Could Kill a 9-Foot Great White Shark?

Eating-sharks-250For all those thinking the sharks may be the greatest predator in the water, new findings might cause a bit of alarm. There's something out there eating 9-foot great white sharks.

As part of a new shark tracking program, scientists tagged a healthy 9-foot female great white shark off the Australian coast. Then, four months later, the tracking device was discovered by a beach comber about two-and-a-half miles from where the shark was originally tagged.

When the scientists reviewed the recovered device, they found a rapid temperature rise - from the mid-40s to the high-70s - and a 1,900-foot change in depth. Both can be explained by the animal "living" within the stomach of something much larger. To date, this is all the information scientists have.

Is there a giant creature out there feasting on great whites? Watch the video below and decide.

Could it be megalodon?

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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