Monthly Archives: November 2010

Mustelids RULE

Holy moly, folks. Winter brings with it low-lying clouds and I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but those low, fat clouds make my head fuzzy! I’m also fighting a bug in the lungs so thanks for coming back when I’ve been gone for so long. :) Today is about MUSTELIDS!

Mustelids are one of my favorite groups of wildlife, mainly because I think badgers, wolverines, and otters are super cool.

Mustelidae is a group of carnivorous mammals, some of which are adapted for semi-aquatic lifestyles. They feature long bodies and short legs, and strong jaws for crushing.

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[Naturalist Notebook] Rubber Boas Arrive

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The bouncing babies arrived yesterday afternoon, pretty chilled. They seem to have recuperated now and are quite active, especially when exposed to human skin (ie delicious mammal body heat).

Rubber boas are nocturnal, live-bearing members of the boa constrictor family. They don’t get much longer than about two feet and they’re pretty much the most non-aggressive snakes in the world. When threatened, they curl up, and tuck their heads beneath their bodies. They then expose their little blunt tails, which look exactly like their heads, to the threat. A bony plate in the tail protects their delicate insides from mouse bites, bird beak jabs, and other small traumas. (You can see a pic of one of these guys doing the display here) The second pic may give you an idea of why they’re called “rubber” boas; their extra skin curves into rolls where they twist!

Rubber Boas specialize in nest-raiding. They’re small and great at burrowing, so they easily get into rodent nests to pilfer babies. They’ve also adapted to survive long periods without tons of food because it’s not always easy to come across nests or itty bitty rodents. In captivity, they retain their instinct to raid nests and sometimes enjoy “finding” hidden pinkies. I found this rabbit toy and decided it looked like a nest to me, so next time I feed, I’m going to put the pinkies in here and see if the snakes go for it.

I’m really excited about these little critters, but I have to find a secure tank for them – rubber boas are master escape artists!

You can bet your bottoms you’ll be hearing more about these little guys in the future. In fact, they need names. I have a male and a female.

Any suggestions? :)

(See more here!)

Transgender Day of Remembrance

“Transgender” is a word that much of society still shies away from, but today is Transgender Day of Rememberance and I’m going to use this opportunity to educate you about some little-known facts surrounding transgender youth. These are children just like yours, and they’re in trouble. They need our help.

1. Suicide is the NUMBER ONE cause of death for transgender youth. More than 80% of transgender kids think about killing themselves and around a third of them attempt it. This number is drastically reduced when they are accepted by their families and others around them.

2. 1 in 250 kids are transgender.

3. Transgender kids are not confused; the adults around them are confused and usually project it onto the children.

4. Transgender kids are not mentally disturbed and they are not suffering from a mental illness.

5. Transgender kids are just like every other kid on the planet: curious, hopeful, and worthy of love, support, and protection.

If you don’t know what “transgender” means – or even if you think you do – or you simply want more information, I encourage you to visit TransActive, where these facts come from. Educate yourself and those around you, and help to spread acceptance and understanding in your community. These kids need our help just like any other child being bullied by peers, adults, or society.

Weekly Photo Wunderbar

“Grossest Creatures” Photoset

My best friend sent me a link to this because she – obviously – knows me very, very well. It’s from a couple of years ago on Popular Science, and while some of these critters don’t really fit into the “gross” category for me, they are definitely all interesting.

Like this tongue louse.

Yes, you read that correctly. Upon first look at the image, I thought to myself, “Well that’s not terribly gross.” But then I read about it, and, truth be told, it made me gag a little. No pun intended.

Check out the awesome photoset here: Popular Science: Nature’s Grossest Creatures.

Oh, and if you want more freaky-deaky, by all means, go to Ugly Overload and eat your ugly-loving heart out.

From the Deep

Weekly Photo Wunderbar

I know it’s winter. It’s just, I’m not quite ready yet.

Here’s some Prickly Pear (Opuntia fragilis species) in bloom. Can you even believe that cactus can be so beautiful?


Baby Birds 101 – To Rescue or Not to Rescue?

Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.

Baby finch. Author photo.

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[Bird Video Series] #5: Bower Birds Love Blue

Bower Birds Love Blue concludes our week of bird videos! As a visual person, I find it nice sometimes to take a break from reading and processing, and just watch the behaviors in their natural settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed these clips too.

Bower Birds are known for several things: 1) amassing a lot of stuff with which to impress their potential mates, 2) erecting impressive structures out of sticks (complete with support beams) and 3) stealing blue things from humans.

This is a group of species that go to an enormous amount of trouble to attract and please a mate: with Bower Birds, it’s not just about having good-looking feathers. Some species build piles of beetle wings that iridesceĀ in the light, while others thatch entry ways in which they hope to mate. Today you get two videos, and I won’t apologize for featuring David again. I just won’t.

[Bird Video Series] #4: Golden Eagle Flying Camera

This clip from the BBC features Steve Leonard and a gorgeous Golden Eagle named Tilly. Golden Eagles are gregarious enough to be glove-trained and are known for their use as hunting companions in Mongolia. The Golden Eagle is, in fact, used all over the world for hunting due in part to their ability to acclimate to human handling. Bald Eagles, on the other hand, have a reputation for being less tolerant of people.

Check out this great video footage of what it looks like to be a Golden Eagle. Some fun things to note are Tilly’s tail and how small adjustments are made to help navigate, and how she constantly makes small movements with her head to utilize her remarkable vision. Raptors like eagles have some of the best eyesight in the world, in part because they have two fovea per eye (humans have only one per eye) and a higher concentration of cells in those fovea. Enjoy!