Saturday, 27 March 2010


I thought I should write something moral, so today I’m writing about the horrible statistics of tigers. As we all know they are on the endangered species list due to habitat destruction and poaching!!

But did you know in the last survey in India in 2007 there were only 1,400 animal remaining (that’s less than pandas!!).

Did you also know that there were at one point 8 different sub-species of tigers but now there are only 5? 3 species have become extinct in the 20th century thanks to humans.

Did you also know that there are more tigers in private captivity (as in people own them and not including zoos) than there are tigers in the wild? It’s estimated there are around 12,000 in the USA and 4,000 in Texas alone. Is that not disgusting? People keep these majestic animals in their back gardens while there are hardly any left in the wild!!! I think it’s truly sick that people feel the need to have such a beautiful animal just to make a statement about their own income and status!!

Just a little bit about tigers!!

Tigers are solitary creatures that live throughout Asia. They like to live in areas with good cover, a water source and lots of prey, so this tends to be around the edge of forests. They can grow to over 6 feet in length, 2-3 feet of which is their tail. They give birth to 2-3 cubs after a gestation period of about 16 weeks. The female then rears the cubs alone. The female can then mate again within 5 months, they are able to mate all year round but tend to between November and April. They can live up to 10 years in the wild and females are sexually mature at about 3 years old.

Another statistic for you; a genuine tiger skin coat will cost around about $10,000!! That’s also disgusting!!! I’m very fond of the quote (I’m not sure who said it):

“fur is worn by beautiful animals and ugly people”.

Oh and just one more thing, if you want to help you can adopt a tiger though the WWF who protect their habitat and stop poaching, Here!

chameleon video!!

I've found a great video for all of you. It's of a chameleon eating but it also has it in slow motion. Not only that but you can see their eyes moving beautifully and you get a great look at the feet!!

Friday, 26 March 2010


As I was talking about camouflage in my last post, my mother suggested I write something in the same vein! So today I’m talking about chameleons and the first thing I’m going to do is disband a common misconception:

Chameleons do not change colour to blend into their surroundings!!!!

That is a complete rumour, they change colour depending on their emotions. For example I know from personal experience that when they turn very dark green/black it means they’re pissed off and you better stop annoying them!!

Chameleons can come in a wide variety of sizes, anywhere from 3.3cm to 68.5cm. they all tend to have head or facial ornamentation (like horns, ridges or spikes), which are normally more prominent on males of the species. Chameleons are what is called didactyl, meaning on each of their feet their toes are fussed together to make the foot appear like a set of tongs, it appear that 2 toes on the outside of the foot are fused and 3 toes on the inside. This means they can grip very tightly to even very thin branches.

Their top and bottom eyelids are joined together with just a tiny little hole only big enough for their pupil to see through. They can control their eyes separately allowing them to look in 2 different directions at once. They can also swivel their eyes around to look in pretty much any direction. Unlike most reptiles they have very good eyesight.

Chameleons are notorious for having especially long tongues (sometimes longer than their body). They can extend their tongue so fast the human eye cannot see it and I hits they prey in a 30 thousandths of a second. Their tongue actually contains a bone at the base of the tongue to give it instant momentum. The end of the tongue is a club like shape covered in mucus, which forms something like a suction cup, the chameleon then quickly withdraws it into their mouth.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Zebras as promised!!

I mentioned in my panda rant post the first reason for pandas being useless is their colouring, I also mentioned that there was reasoning to zebras being black and white. Each zebra’s stripes are unique like human fingerprints. When the all the zebras stand close together in a dazzle together they sort of create an optical illusion, they blend together so it’s hard for predator to target an individual. It doesn’t quite make them look like one giant zebra but it does make it hard to tell where one zebra ends and the next begins. When a female gives birth to her foal she will keep it very close to her side so that the foal blends in with the mother and becomes less conspicuous.

The panda rant!!

Pandas have sort of become the symbol of animal conservation but they really shouldn’t be. This post is about what we called at college “the panda rant” that one of my teachers (Helen Willmetts-smith) gave to every class she taught. It explains why pandas are responsible for their endangered status; basically it’s about how shit giant pandas are and why they should be left to die out.

  1. They’re black and white, not exactly camouflage (and before you argue zebras are black and white they use their stripes as a sort of optical illusion that I will explain another day).
  2. They mark their territory by standing upside down and peeing up a tree, not the best position for a black and white animal!!
  3. They have a digestive system designed for meat but eat only bamboo, which is the probably one of hardest substance to digest in the world, they have to be eating for around 18 hours a day just to maintain their body weight. This is why they were originally not categorised as a bear because they didn’t appear to be carnivores but they should be.
  4. Naturally bamboo dies out then regenerates but this takes some time so naturally their food source will run out for a while.
  5. They don’t know how to have sex; pandas in a zoo in china actually had no idea how to copulate so they basically put on a video of pandas having sex to encourage them.
  6. They don’t have enough energy to support a foetus properly s they’re born extremely premature (normally at around only 95 days) and for the most part don’t survive. Also if they give birth to twins they WILL abandon one of them because they know they can’t support it!!
  7. When conservationist tried to release captive bread pandas into the wild the native pandas killed them, so they’re too lazy to hunt but not too lazy to kill their own species??
  8. They don’t become sexually mature until 20 years of age.
  9. The female ins only in heat for 2-3 days a year, not helpful when you’re a solitary creatures and need to find each other, impress the female and mate in that tiny space of time!!

So all in all they aren’t doing themselves any favours. Yes we’re not helping with pollution and deforestation but personally I feel our conservation efforts should be concentrated on a species that actually has a chance!!

So next time you feel emotionally manipulated by the WWFs adverts showing pandas just remember this or better yet think of the polar bears and other species that do everything they can to survive but thanks entirely to us they're dying out just as fast!!

Baby animals!!

Once again I’ve been thinking about all the ways animals are totally different and my favourite is in how they reproduce! That sounds a bit weird but when it comes to things like gestation animals do some totally strange stuff!! Plus we all know that baby animals are the cutest things in the world!

I’m going to start with one I found really fascinating when I first learnt about it. I am talking about the kangaroo. Did you know that kangaroos sort of have 2 uteruses and 2 penises? Yes it’s true. This allows the male to fertilise 2 eggs at one. One egg then begins to develop whilst the other’s development is halted and they remain in the uterus until the first joey is out of the pouch. Now back to the other fertilised egg, this develops into a neonate (also called a foetus) and is born at just 33 days. The offspring is only a few centimetres long, hairless, blind and has only stumps for hind legs. This miniscule creature then has to climb up its mother’s belly and into her pouch. The mother normally helps by licking a pathway through her fur for it to climb up. This takes about five minutes, but it must seem like forever to that tiny creature. The baby then attaches itself to a nipple and stays attached for the next 190 days and develops into a joey. To begin with it’ll only stick it’s head out to have a look around but when it feels safe enough it will get out periodically but return to the pouch. Eventually after about 235 days it leave the pouch all together and the mother can then allow the second embryo to develop. To be honest I thought this was a pretty efficient way of doing things!!

Next I just want to say a little something about snake reproduction. Like a lot of animals they are seasonal breeders but they will only become sexually recipient if environmental conditions are correct. In pet trade the breeders will begin to reduce the temperature, light period and food intake to bring them into what is called brumation (like being in heat with dogs). Now you all know it’s very hard to tell what gender a snake is just by looking as they have entirely internal reproductive organs, the only way to be sure is have a vet probe them.

Now I just thought I’d give you some lengths of gestation periods, as you’ll guess the bigger the animal the longer the gestation but some of these will surprise you:

  • Domestic mouse is 19 days.
  • Rabbit is 30-35 days.
  • Guinea pig is 68 days.
  • Chinchilla is 110-120 days.
  • Puma (a type of big cat) is only 90 days.
  • Horse is 330-342 days.
  • Giraffe is 420-450 days.
  • Polar bear is 240 days.
  • Elephant is 645 days (that’s nearing 2 years!!).
  • And humans are 254-294 days.

This post is also an excuse to post my favourite picture at the moment, which is of my friend’s 4 month old daughter who is just lovely!!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


I’ve been thinking about different adaptations that animals have and one common example of adapted feature can be seen in the eyes of different species.
Here is a picture of my snake fast asleep!! Yes she’s asleep even though her eyes are wide open. This is because snakes actually have no eyelids (as do fish). They have a layer of skin protecting their eyes. If you ever see the sloughed skin of a snake you will notice they shed every inch, including their eyes. In fact if you keep snakes it’s very important to check that they have shed their eyes properly as it can make sight difficult.

This is a picture of a vulture with it’s eye open, however you may notice it appears to have it’s eye half closed, vertically. This is called the nictitating membrane; many animals have it (including cats, frogs and sharks) but most commonly are birds of prey. The nictitating membrane is a semi-transparent (see through) second set of eyelids that cover the eyes while the bird is in fight. This prevents debris from getting in their eye but still allows they to see.

This is a picture of a camels eye. They don’t have unusual eyelids but have extra long eyelashes. This helps protect their eyes from sand being blown into it and causing them discomfort.

Now this is a picture of a gecko licking it’s own eyeball. And you thought it was impressive to be able to lick the end of your nose? Geckos, like snakes and fish, have no eyelids so they lick their eyes to keep them moist and clean.

While I’m on the subject I want to disburse one urban legend; the sight of the colour red enrages bulls in Spanish bull fighting rings. This is bollocks seeing as they’re red-green colour blind!! They’re enrages because they’re being jabbed in the ass with a pointy stick!!

Grey Heron

Ok so I haven't written anything on here in about 6 months, I've had very little motivation!! But I was prompted today when I saw a heron flying across the back fields for the first time this year so I thought I'd say something about them. I see them quite often round here but as we've had a particularly cold winter there haven't been any in months.

The grey Heron is native to most of Europe, Asia and even parts of Norther Africa, however during the summer months they can be seen as far north as the Norwegan coast and the Arctic circle. They're very common wadding birds and most of you will have seen them around if you've been to lakes or marsh land.
They stand at about a meter tall so they're easily spotted. they have a wing span of almost 2 meters. They're easy to identify when flying as they have a slow flapping motion unlike other large birds that tend to glide. You can also see their long neck is curled back in a sort of "S" shape.

For the most part they live on fish and frogs, caught out of the water with their long bill. However they will sometimes take small mammals, reptiles, and ducklings.

Sometimes people tell you to put a plastic heron next to your pond to discourage real herons from eating your fish, but to be honest it doesn't really work and neither does putting netting over your pond. My best advice would be not to keep fish in your pond at all!!