'/> Amazing Animals: 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Seven Life Lessons My Cats Taught Me

I have two cats which I consider not only companion pets, but more of advisers. They have taught me things that formal education deprived me. These cats are more like angels than domesticated felines. I believe God uses them as instruments to guide my way to live a joyful life. Read on to learn the seven life lessons my cats have taught me.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

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Watching my cats playing on the lawn helps me realize that these felines never worry. Unlike us, that waste much of our time worrying about the present, past, and the future. Hearing about approaching weather disturbances like typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the likes, get us easily bothered and spend a lot of time pondering what to prepare if such calamity arrives. In so doing, we deprive ourselves of precious time that should have been spent productively for today.

My two cats live for the day. ‘Kuskos’ spends much of his time on the lawn watching for possible prey to get trapped in his self-made trap, yet he never worries nor gets anxious if he can catch another victim the next day. He’s just contented of what the day offers him. My cat taught me to live for today and not be anxious about tomorrow, because God is always in control of everything.

Eat What is Served at the Table

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I take my hat off for ‘Kiskis’ – when the day brings in unsavory situations, he just keeps his cool and takes it all in stride. Fate at one time had been cruel to this cat. As an adventurous kitten, he was run over by a speeding car and suffered dislocated hind limbs. But in spite of having an abnormal movement, he never questioned God. He still remains the playful, sociable cat and the endearing Big Brother to his younger sibling ‘Kuskos’.

What lesson did I learn from my cat’s behavior? God has a Divine plan for each one of us–good or bad, they all fit to solve life’s puzzle. We have two options to choose from, be content and take things as they come, or have a life centered on complaining, ranting, in anger or full of woes.

Show that You Care

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I am just too lucky to have two thoughtful and loving cats. There was a point in my life that I’d almost lost a left leg because of diabetes. For almost three months, I was bedridden after an operation, but my two cats constantly visited me each morning. They always MEOW to catch my attention and always gave me some licking of the face. Isn’t it such a good gesture for them to remind me that they care? They have open my eyes on what genuine relationship is – where Love, Trust and Care are integral ingredients to foster one.

Show Generosity Without Expecting Anything in Return

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Another life lesson that I’ve learned from my cats is the divine virtue of sharing unselfishly and going out of your way to lend a helping hand to those needs without expecting anything in return. My cat ‘Kuskos’, being the more aggressive between the two, always share with his brother ‘Kiskis’ whatever catch he had done for the night. Be it a big rat or just a small bird – and my you, he never gives his brother leftover. He always shares unselfishly whatever he has and never expects anything in return.

Don’t Let the Sun Sets on Your Anger

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The most remarkable thing about my cats is their ability to spring back from problems. Seldom would I see them being offended. Yes, I do tease them, at times I let them sleep outside of the house. There was also a time, that instead of the usual cat food, I gave them toy meat.. They do get mad or show anger, but after a few hours, they forgave me and return to their normal behavior. What I’ve learned from my cats is that they don’t hold a grudge. Isn’t it nice that we too can learn how to forgive others.

Be Content!

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I don’t pamper much my cats. No fancy bedrooms for them, just a place that suits their needs. They don’t live an elaborate lifestyle. They don’t have expensive mouse toys, instead they're just happy playing with an old plastic ball. Ah! These cats learn to like what they have. We can ponder on this saying…“We can dream to have what we like, but we must also learn to like what we have”.

Accept Who You Are

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Though they can’t talk, but their behaviors lead to one thing… my cats are just happy for who they are! They have learned to accept the facts that they are stray cats – not knowing who their parents are. I believe my cats knew they are not the same breed as my neighbor’s Siamese cats. Nevertheless, they carry themselves as if they are the most beautiful and intelligent cats in the neighborhood. ‘Kuskos’ and ‘Kiskis’ know that they are love by my family, just the way they were made. We can take a cue from their behavior- we should hold ourselves in high-esteem, confident enough to accept that each one of us was created uniquely by God.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The 10 Most Loved Water Dogs

These dogs were developed to be effective land and water retrievers and they passed the grade with flying colors! Read on to learn more interesting facts about these 10 most loved water dogs.


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The Wetterhoun (translated into English as the Frisian Water Dog) is an excellent water dog developed about 400 years ago in the Dutch province of Friesland. This breed is traditionally used effectively as both a land and water retriever. The Wetterhoun was specially developed to hunt otters and other water fowl. A medium-sized dog, adult males measure this breed measures between 55 – 59 centimeters (21.6-23 inches) at the withers. Average weight between 25 – 35 kilo (55 and 77 pounds).

The Wetterhoun has thick and curly coat except for the head and legs, where the coat is shorter and smoother. Coat colors range from solid black or brown, brown with white or black and white. It has large head, deep set eyes, strong neck and muzzle, rounded chest, and very strong legs. The long tail is rolled alongside the croup.

The breed is intelligent, independent-minded and active. It requires an assertive and firm owner. The dog suits to any kind of environment, but requires lots of exercise and regular walks. It needs little grooming. Bathing should be done only when very necessary. The Wetterhoun can live up to 12 to 13 years.


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The Barbet, French word “barbe”, which means beard, is a medium-sized French water dog. It was developed and used as a waterfowl retriever in the marshes, and wetlands in France. The breed measures between 58 to 65 cm (20.5-25.5 inches) tall for males and weighs between 17 to 28 kg (35-60 pounds). A rare breed that generally comes in black, brown or black and white. Grey and white are extremely rare.

It has a long, woolly, and curly coat along with a beard. It has a large, slightly rounded head; round nose, medium-length muzzle, sturdy legs, webbed feet and a hanging or slightly curled tail. It is an intelligent, loyal, joyful and a carefree breed of dog. It is comfortable in a home with a large, fenced yard. It also suits in close quarters, provided it gets regular walks and outdoor exercise. The breed is prone to ear infections and hip dysplasia. The lifespan of the Barbet averages 13–15 years.

American Water Spaniel

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The American Water Spaniel is a rare breed of spaniel developed in Wisconsin, USA during the 19th century as an all-around hunting dog. A medium sized dog that measures between 38–46 cm (15–18 inches) at the withers and weighs around 11–(25–45 pounds).

The breed’s unique double layered coat can come in brown, dark chocolate or variety of brown related shades. Depending on the coat color, the eyes can come in dark brown, yellow-brown or hazel-brown. It has a broad head, squared muzzle, black to brown nose and long, hanging ears.

The American Water Spaniel is active, muscular and hardy. It is an intelligent, friendly, and a very enthusiastic breed of dog. It will suit well in an apartment as long as it gets enough exercise. A light shedder, it needs brushing twice a week. Bathe only when necessary. The life Expectancy is about 12-15 years.

Spanish Water Dog

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The Spanish Water Dog (SWD) is a medium-sized dog developed in Spain. The SWD was primarily used as a water dog and herding sheep. Adult males normally measure 44 to 50 cm (17 to 20 in) at the withers and weigh between 18 to 22 kg (40 to 49 lbs).

A curly coated breed, it comes in a variety of colors: beige, brown, solid black, white, bicolor or tricolor. This breed has a robust body, medium-sized head, short neck, expressive eyes, well-formed teeth, slightly sloping croup, and tail is set at medium height.

This loved water dog is affectionate, loyal, intelligent and diligent. He is versatile and easily trained. The SWD can adapt to almost all environments as long as it gets plenty of exercise and a daily walk. Life Expectancy: About 10-14 years.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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The Chesapeake Bay Retriever or “Chessie” was developed in the United States Chesapeake Bay area during the 19th century. An extraordinary swimmer, it was originally bred to hunt waterfowl under adverse conditions, often retrieving several hundred birds per day.

It is a medium to large sized dog where adult males measure 58-66 cm (23-26 inches) at the withers and weigh between 29-36 kg (65-80 pounds). The waterproof double coat feels slightly oily — dense wooly undercoat and harsh outer coat. The coat can come in three basic colors: Brown, sedge and deadgrass. The head is round, yellowish or amber eyes that are very clear, and a medium short nose. The tail is thick at the base and tapers to the end.

The Chesapeake is an intelligent, affectionate, alert, and water-loving breed of dog. It adapts to most living environments: Indoors or outdoors, medium to large yard. However, it needs regular, longer periods of exercise to avoid getting involved in destructive behaviors. The breed is prone to hip dysplasia, cataract, and Type 3 von Willebrand disease. Life expectancy: 10-12 years.

Curly Coated Retriever

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The Curly Coated Retriever (or Curly) is a large, hardy dog originally bred in England as early as 1860. The tallest of the retrievers, it was used primarily for upland bird and waterfowl hunting. The breed measures 63-69 cm (25-27 inches) at the withers and weigh between 29-36 kg (65-80 pounds).

The breed is easily distinguishable by its crisp curls and water-resistant coat that can come in black or liver in color. It has almond-shaped eyes; small, hanging ears, teeth that meet in a scissors bite and curly-haired tail.

This dog is affectionate, loyal, intelligent, confident, loving, and excellent with children. It is also an agile, graceful and elegant dog. This breed is highly-energetic and loves to swim. The Curly will do best living in surroundings with large yard. It needs a lot of exercise and a daily walk. This breed is prone to epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and eye problems. Life Expectancy: About 8-12 years.

Irish Water Spaniel

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A dog of ancient lineage, the modern breed as we know appeared in Ireland in the 1830s and was originally used as land and water hunting dog. The Irish Water Spaniel is that is the largest amongst spaniels. Adult males measure between 51-(20-23 inches) tall and weigh around 20-30kg (45-65) pounds.

The Irish Water Spaniel can easily be recognized by some distinctive features, namely: the smooth “rat tail”, the entirely smooth-coated faced, and its liver-colored, water-repellant double coat consisting of dense curls. The IWS has brown almond-shaped eyes, long ears that are set, large dark-brown nose, straight front legs and hairy webbed feet. The clown of the spaniels, the IWS presents a picture of an intelligent, active, smart, loyal, and a loving family dog.

This breed adapts well in a large environment or with at least an average-sized yard. It needs plenty of daily exercise or long, brisk walk. The coat needs to be trimmed regularly. The IWS is prone to hip dysplasia, ear infections, and eye problems. Life Expectancy: About 10-12 years.

Lagotto Romagnolo

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The Lagotto Romagnolo which means “lake dog from Romagna,” is a small/medium sized dog, that originated from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The breed was originally developed as a retriever or a hunting dog. Today, the Lagotto is often used to hunt for truffles.

A stocky, hardy muscled dog, the breed normally measures 43–48 cm (17–19 in) at the withers and weighs between 13–16 kg (29-35 lb). The thick, curly coat comes in white, brown or off-white. The big, brown eyes can be dark yellow or dark brown in color. It has a big head and a powerful neck.

The Lagotto is a good pet, and an excellent family dog. It is an affectionate, happy, loyal, gentle, keen, clever, agile and obedient dog. The Lagotto would do okay in an apartment, but needs plenty of exercise. Its dense, curly coat needs regular care. It is prone to hip dysplasia and Benign Juvenile Epilepsy. Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years.

Standard Poodle

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The Standard Poodle is a medium to large-sized dog that traces its origin in France. Known throughout Western Europe since the 15th century, the breed was originally used as a waterfowl retriever and gun dog. To note, there are three recognized poodle type: The Standard Poodle (over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulders), The Miniature Poodle is 15 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders, and The Toy Poodle is 10 inches or under at the highest point of the shoulders.

The Standard Poodle has a squarely built body, a long head and muzzle, a fairly broad, deep chest, and a well proportioned sturdy neck. The skull is moderately rounded, a dark oval-shaped eyes, and curly or wavy coat. It comes in all solid colors such as: apricot, black, blue, brown, cream, gray, or silver. The coat requires grooming and must be clipped every six to eight weeks.

This breed is valued for its intelligence, grace, nobility, cheerfulness and loyalty. This breed can suit fine in an apartment provided it gets sufficient exercise and a daily walk. The standard poodle is prone to cataracts, skin allergies, ear infections, and hip dysplasia. Life Expectancy: About 12-15 or more years.

Labrador Retriever

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The Labrador Retriever (also Labrador, or Lab for short) is a relatively large dog that originated on the island of Newfoundland, Canada in the 16th century. With its signature webbed paws, the Lab was originally used for retrieving fishnets. There are two types of Labradors, the English Labrador (heavier, thicker and blacker in appearance) and the American Labrador (tall and lanky).

The Labrador is a medium-sized dog where males that typically measure 56-61 cm (22-24 inches) tall and weigh between 27-34 kg 960-75 pounds). A most distinguishing feature of the Labrador is its short, dense, weather resistant coat. It has a broad, clean-cut head, strong neck, powerful jaws, thick nose, friendly eyes, and straight tail. Labrador Retrievers come in black, chocolate and yellow.

Typically, Labradors love to play 'catch and retrieve' games and love to swim. Labradors are an intelligent, even-tempered, outgoing, kind, and sociable breed of dog. This breed will adapt well in an environment with average-sized yard. Labrador will be fine in an apartment provided it gets ample exercise and gets a daily walk. Labradors are prone to eye disorders and hip and elbow dysplasia. Its double coat is easy to groom. Bathe or dry shampoo only when necessary. Life expectancy: About 10-12 years.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10 Foods That Could Kill Your Dog

If you are a dog owner, then you should know a cardinal rule; know what you can and can't feed your dog. You would say that as long as I stick to a pretty decent doggy diet, my dog would be fine. You are so wrong!

The truth is: there's a lot of foods you probably didn't know about that can actually be really bad for your dog. These foods include some that are perfectly healthy for humans. Perhaps you know by now that feeding your 'man's best friend' chocolates and milk is a big taboo. For those surprised to learn about this stuff, let me educate you.

My Mini Pincher - Achilles

Chocolate is one of the most common foods that is bad for dogs for it contains caffeine and theobromine which fall under the methylxanthines category. If eaten by a dog, chocolate can cause vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pains, muscle tremors, elevated body temperature, irregular heart rhythm, seizures and death.

How about milk? Puppies drink milk from their mothers after they're born. However, like humans, dogs can also suffer from lactose intolerance. Also, milk contains milk sugar that dogs don't have the enzymes to break down. Feeding your dog milk could result to vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. While it's not immediately life-threatening, it can contribute to serious bacterial exposure in dogs that could eventually lead to disease.

Aside from chocolates and milk. Here are 10 more foods you should avoid feeding your dog.

1. Cheese

Like milk, cheese also has sugars and fatty components that dogs don't have the necessary enzymes to break down. Eaten in excess, cheese and other dairy products, can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

2. Onion

While onions are a good spicy stuff, they can do more than just make your dog cry. Why? It contains compounds that can be harmful to dogs if ingested enough. Onions can damage red blood cells in dogs causing them to become weaker and less mobile.

3. Garlic

Consider your dogs vampires and keep them away from raw garlic as much as possible. Garlic contains compounds that are strong in toxicity. Same effect with onion, your dog will be be tired and reluctant to move. In severe cases, a blood transfusion might be required.

4. Coffee

Coffee contains a stimulant known as Methylated xanthine. This methylated xanthine stimulates the nervous system in dogs, that could lead to vomiting, restlessness, heart palpitations and even death.

5. Yeast dough

Chichay - Achilles sister

The raw yeast dough from making bread can ferment in a dog's stomach, becoming toxic. Yeast dough can expand in your dog's stomach or intestines and create a large amount of gas in the digestive system. The reaction can result in severe pain and a potentially ruptured stomach or intestinal tract. Vomiting, abdominal discomfort and lethargy can also occur.

6. Bacon

Foods rich in fat, like bacon, can lead to the disease pancreatitis in dogs. Once a dog has developed pancreatitis, their pancreas' become inflamed and stop functioning correctly. This leads to all sorts of problems with digestion and nutrient absorption.

7. Grapes

Grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. While its currently unknown what chemicals and compounds are in grapes that cause toxicity in dogs, the results of consumption can be pretty devastating. Grapes and raisins can cause rapid kidney failure. Also, it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and lack of appetite. Death from kidney failure may occur within three to four days.

8. Macadamia nuts

Recent studies showed that macadamia Nuts can be incredibly harmful to dogs if eaten. Just like grapes, the toxic chemicals found in macadamias are still unknown right now, but they are known to cause a toxic reaction to dogs if ingested. Dogs will develop weakness and an inability to walk, specifically in their hind legs. Also could lead to vomiting, chills, and hypothermia.

9. Avocados

Avocado leaves, pits, bark and fruit contain a toxin called persin. They can cause upset stomachs in dogs, breathing difficulties, and fluid buildup in the chest.

10. Apple cores

The core of an apple (as well as apricots, peaches, pears, and plums) contain cyanogenic glycosides which is also known as cyanide. Some of the symptoms that come from ingesting the toxin are dizziness, hyperventilation, seizures, collapsing, hyperventilation, and even coma.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Six Cute Animals Listed as Endangered Species

A short list of six cute, but endangered animals.

Indeed, these amazing and fascinating animals are cute… but if we continue to invade and destroy their natural habitat, then their cuteness will in the near future just be good for museum attractions.

Red Panda

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The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), also known as the Lesser Panda, is a small arboreal mammal native to the cool temperate bamboo forests in China, Myanmar and Nepal. A close relative of raccoons, it is the only extant species of the family Ailuridae, with two subspecies recognized: Western Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) and Styan’s Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens styani).

Slightly larger than a domestic cat, Red Pandas, are about 50 to 65 cm (20 to 26 in) in head-body length and about 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) long, bushy tail. Adults weigh about 5.4 to 9 kg (12 to 20 lbs). They have soft, dense red-and-white fur. They have a round head, pitch black eyes, black nose and medium-sized upright ears. Their long bushy tail is marked with six alternating brownish-yellow transverse rings. They have short, black legs with the paw soles covered with thick fur.

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Red pandas are solitary, territorial animals. Studies have also revealed that these quiet arboreal creatures are both nocturnal and crepuscular animals. They are excellent tree climbers and specialized bamboo feeders. However, unlike the Giant Panda, they are also feeding on berries, birds, eggs, flowers, and other small mammals.

This cute animal has been listed as Endangered by IUCN. The estimated population is around 10,000 mature individuals. Though protected in all range countries, their numbers in the wild are declining due to habitat loss (deforestation) and rampant hunting and poaching. Red pandas are able to reproduce at around 18 months of age, but has a naturally low birth rate (usually single or twin births per year). Average life span in the wild: 8 years.

American Pika

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The American Pika (Ochotona princeps), is a small, cute member of the rabbit family found in the mountains of western North America. They are well-adapted to cold climates thus, inhabit rocky mountains and high-elevation boulder hillsides. Although American pikas live in social groups, they are territorial and will guard and defend their own territories from intruders.

These endearing mammals have an almost egg-shaped body, grayish-to-brown fur, with large, round ears. The hind feet are rather short, ranging from 25 to 35 mm (1-1½ in) long, with densely furred soles, and with no visible tail. They usually measure from 162 to 216 millimeters (6-8 inches) in body length and weigh about 170 grams (6 ounces).

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American pikas feed primarily on grasses and herbs. They are often called ‘ecosystem engineers’ because of their extensive haying activities. Since foraging for food is extremely difficult to obtain in winter, they will consume some food on the spot and will carry a big portion away and stored in a pile or “haystack.” They breed in spring and produce between two and five in a litter.

As they reside in the high and cooler mountain regions, they are said to be the first victims of global warming. Rising temperatures threaten their haying activities by shortening the period available for them to gather food. Furthermore, global warming can also cause the animals to die from overheating. In 2010, the US government considered, designate the American Pika under the US Endangered Species Act.


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The Kinkajou (Potos flavus), sometimes called the ‘honey bear’, (a name it shares with the sun bear), is an arboreal mammal found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. The only member of the genus Potos, Kinkajous have many features and traits resembling those of ferrets or monkeys, they are actually related to the raccoon.

These cute animals have woolly fur (an outer coat of brownish-gray overlapping a gray undercoat. Eyes are large, small ears and short legs. Adults weigh about 1.4–4.6 kg (3–10 lb), measure 40–60 cm (16–24 in) in body length; in addition the long, prehensile tail measures 40–60 cm (16–24 in).

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A nocturnal and an omnivore, Kinkajous feed on flowers, fruits, nectar and at times frogs and small insects. They mate all year and give birth to a single or at times two cubs. They can live up to 20 to 25 years in captivity. Though they are not listed as an endangered species, but if rampant and uncheck hunting for their fur and meat continues, then soon they will be one. Also, they are hunted for pets.

Tree Kangaroo

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Tree Kangaroosare macropods aptly adapted to living in trees. The majority of the 14 extant species inhabits the rainforests of New Guinea, far northeastern Queensland, and nearby islands; however, several species also occur in the lowlands, in particular the Lowlands Tree-kangaroo. These cute animals are clumsy on the ground, but are known great leapers. The Matschie tree kangaroo can leap 18 meters (60 feet) to the ground from trees without getting hurt!

Depending on the species, adult ones can weigh up to 14.5 kg and can measure from 41-77 cm head to body length; in addition to a tail length of 40 to 87 cm. Females are smaller than males. Unlike their close cousins, their arms and legs are about the same length. They also have teeth that are adapted for eating and tearing leaves. And much stronger hind feet helpful in climbing the trees they inhabit.

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Tree Kangaroos are herbivore and feed mainly on leaves and fruit – at times will also feed on flowers, grains, sap, and even bark. Females give birth to a single offspring (joey) after a gestation period of about 44 days. Young stay with their mothers until they are about 18 months old. Average lifespan in captivity: Up to 20 years.

Tree Kangaroos have suffered from loss of habitat and uncontrolled hunting; and many species are considered threatened and suffered a drastic decline in numbers. The Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo is critically endangered (possibly extinct) with as few as 50 individuals remaining.

Long-Tailed Chinchilla

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The Long-tailed Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera), also called the Common Chinchilla, Chilean, coastal, or lesser chinchilla, is native to Northern Chile inhabiting barren, arid areas of the Andes at elevations of 3,000 – 5,000 m. Three extant species are commonly recognized: The La Plata type, the Costina type and the Raton type.

It is about the size of a small rabbit with a broad head, large black eyes and fairly large mouse-like ears. Adults measure about 225-380 mm in head-body length and weigh about 500 – 800 g. Unusual for mammals, chinchilla females are significantly bigger than males. This cute animal has a small, slender body; strong hind legs and a bushy tail measuring up to a third the size of its body. The soft silky hair is bluish, pearl or brownish grey in color at the dorsal side and yellowish white in color on the belly. Each hair usually has a black tip, and has more than 50 hairs from a single follicle.

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In their natural habitat, long-tailed chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks. They are most active at dawn and dusk. Their diet consists of roots, tubers, bulbs, fruits, mosses, seeds and small insects. Females can breed any time of the year where the average litter size two. In the wild, they breed between October and December. Long-tailed chinchillas can live up to 10 years in the wild. Though known for being a popular pet, the Chilean chinchilla population is rapidly decreasing due to over-hunting for its fur. The long-tailed chinchilla is endangered only in the wild.

Black-footed Ferret

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The Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes), or commonly called the American Polecat, is a member of the weasel family native to central North America. This cute animal requires prairie dog burrows for shelter. It is typically nocturnal and solitary, except during the mating season.

The Black-footed Ferret has a tan-colored coat, slender body and a blunt head. The forehead is arched, it has a long neck, ears are short and erect, and a short muzzle with few whiskers. The legs are short with hairy feet and the toes are armed with sharp, arched claws. Males measure 38 to 50 cm 915 to 20 in) head-body length, and a tail about 11 to 13 cm (4.25 to 5 in) long.

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Black-footed Ferrets spend most of their time sleeping in underground burrows and only hunt for food at night. Its diet consists primarily of prairie dogs, but also known to hunt birds, ground squirrels, rabbits and small rodents. Mating Season starts on March-April and after a gestation period of 41-43 days litters are born. Average litter size: 3-4 kits. Lifespan: 3-4 years in the wild; 8-9 years in captivity.

It is listed as endangered by the IUCN. Primary causes of mortality include habitat loss and human-introduced diseases. Only 18 remained in 1986. These last remaining ferrets were captured and a breeding program was started in several North American zoos Today, their population numbers around 750 individuals in the wild, and another 250 living in captive breeding facilities (2008).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10 Remarkable and Fascinating Butterfly Facts

From the rarest butterfly to the biggest but endangered species — here is a list of 10 remarkable and fascinating butterfly facts.

The Largest Butterfly

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The female Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) is the world’s largest butterfly. This huge, poisonous butterfly has a wingspan reaching up to 30 cm (12 in.) The species is native to lowland coastal rainforest in New Guinea. Females are larger than males. They have cream-colored bodies and brown wings with white patches. Male Alexandra Birdwing has a bright yellow body and with green and blue marking on its wings.

The Smallest Butterfly

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The Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis) is the smallest butterfly in North America and considered the world’s smallest butterfly species. It has a wingspan of about 1.2 – 2 cm (1/2 – 3/4 inch.) The species is widespread in North America inhabiting wastelands, salt marshes and deserts. The western pygmy has copper brown wings marked with white coloration at the base. Also, the wings’ outer margin has a row of black spots.

The Longest Life Span

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Aside from being the most beautiful of all butterflies, the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has the longest life span amongst the butterflies. the migrating Monarch butterflies can live up to 12 months. During their migration that can cover over 4000 km, these remarkable butterflies can live up to 12 months. The adult has black body with patches of white. It has a wingspan of 8.6 -12.4 (3 3/8 – 4 7/8 in.)

The Morning Cloak

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The Morning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), is considered the longest living butterfly in North America. The species may live up to 11 months. The species can easily be recognized by its dark brownish-maroon wings marked by yellowish border. This big butterfly has a wingspan of 62–75 mm. Mourning Cloaks prefer gardens, parks, open woods, and ponds as habitat.

The Shortest Life Span

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Some butterfly species such as the Small Blue Butterfly, Copper Butterfly and the Spring Azure (photo above) have the shortest life span — lasting just a few days! The Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) butterfly is widespread throughout North America. Its habitat includes swamps, freshwater marshes and old fields. Males have blue upper wings and grayish-white hind wings marked with small black dots. It has a wing Span of 2.2 -3.5cm (7/8 – 1 3/8 inches.)

The Most Widely Distributed Butterfly

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The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), also called the Cosmopolitan Butterfly, is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world., The species is widespread throughout occurs North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia – except Australia and Antarctica. In general, this butterfly is mostly black, brown, and orange with some white spots. The Painted Lady prefers backyards and meadows. It has a wingspan of 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in). Adults can live 2–4 weeks.

The Most Common Species

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The Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae) is the most common species of butterfly around. The species is widespread across Europe, Asia and North Africa. Its preferred habitat includes: gardens, open fields, roadsides and parks. In general, Cabbage White are mostly white with black spots on its upper wings and yellow-green hind wings. It has a wingspan of 32–47 mm (1.25–2 in).

The Rarest Butterfly

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The endangered Palos Verdes Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis)is the world’s rarest butterfly. It is native to the Palos Verdes Peninsula in southwest Los Angeles County, California. The butterfly was believed extinct, but was rediscovered in San Pedro in 1994. This blue beauty has a wingspan of only 25–30 mm. The male’s dorsal wings is bluish in color while the female has more brownish-gray color. Both sexes have chalky gray ventral wings marked with dark spots enclosed by white rings.

The Fastest Flier

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Again, the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) holds the record for the fastest flight, which has been clocked with a top speed reaching 20 mph in still air. Noted for their lengthy annual migration, these beautiful and colorful butterflies can fly a 1000km non-stop!

The Transparent Butterfly

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The Glass Winged Butterfly (Greta oto), better known as the “Snow Fly”, is a brush-footed butterfly found in Mexico through Panama. Its transparent, fluffy white fur wings lack the colored scales found in other butterflies. This ‘little mirror’ has a wingspan of 5.6 to 6.1 cm (2.2 to 2.4 in). It has a dark body and the opaque -bordered wings, tinted with red or orange, are dark brown in color.

The Night Flier

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Some butterflies will fly at night. An example is the Northern Pearly-eye (Enodia anthedon).The species is found in North America, inhabiting woodlands, open spaces, and along streams. A territorial butterfly, it has ears on their wings so it can avoid bats. The butterfly’s upper wings are purplish brown in color with submarginal eyespots. The hind wings are brown. It has a wingspan of 4.5 – 6.7 cm (1 3/4 – 2 5/8 inches.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Six Interesting Animals That Start with The Letter X

Can you give me five animals whose names start with the letter X? Your guess is as good as mine. But I can give you two — a popular aquarium fish and a weird breed of dog. Surprisingly, there are at least 25 animals that starts with X. Here are some of them.

X-Ray Tetra

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The X-Ray Tetra (Pristella maxillaris), also as known as the Golden Pristella Tetra, is a small species of schooling fish that inhabits the coastal waters of the Amazon River. It is the most sought after freshwater fish kept in artificial aquariums today. The most characteristic feature of this colorful fish is its near transparent body, which serves as protection from predators. Furthermore, the species sports a very captivating color pattern – a strikingly banded dorsal and anal fins painted in white, black and yellow color.

Also, the caudal fin has a striking light red or pink coloration, and has a re-tipped tail.

The X-Ray Tetra can reach 5 cm (2 -3 inches) in size. Typically, both sexes are very similar in appearance, though females are much larger and rounder than males. Like other tetras, the species mainly feed on small insects, aquatic plants, small shrimp, worms and other planktonic animals.

Xantus’s Hummingbird

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The Xantus’s Hummingbird (Basilinna xantusii) is a medium-sized hummingbird found only in Baja California. These husky birds inhabit bushes, forests and home gardens. It can reach 8–9 cm long, and weighs about 3-4 g. Adults typically have overall green plumage with cinnamon brown underparts. Other distinctive features include: white eye stripe, large red bill capped with black tip, and orange, Rufous tail. Using a long extendable tongue, these birds sip nectar out of plants. They also take some small spiders and insects like crickets and termite.


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Xenops is any of three extant species of passerine birds in the bird family Furnariidae. The species inhabit tropical rain forests of Mexico, Central America and South America. The three species include: Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus), Slender-billed Xenops, (Xenops tenuirostris), and Streaked Xenops (Xenops rutilans.) The species, known for its fast, sharp-sounding song, measures about 12.5 cm (5 in) long.

This lesser-known bird is easily recognized by its near flat beak with upward curved tip (except in the Slender-billed Xenops), long tail, buff or Rufous wing stripe and brown underparts. It feeds mainly on insects (especially ants) by hammering open decaying stumps or bare twigs.


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Xenopus is any of 20 extant species of highly aquatic frogs in the Xenopus genus. Collectively as African Clawed Frogs, the species are native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Xenopus, in particular (Xenopus laevis), is studied for biomedical research.

The genus Xenopus has flattened, oval-shaped and sleek body. The eyes are set on top of the head. All species have no moveable eyelids, eardrums and tongues. It has powerful webbed toes, with three of the toes on each foot have striking black claws. Adult frogs rely on their small forelimbs to forage for food.


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Xerus is any of the four species of African ground squirrel found throughout southern Africa. These squirrels prefer grasslands, open woodlands, or rocky country, living in burrows. They live in colonies with comprising about 19 to 20 individuals in a group. Their diet includes: grasses, fruits, seeds, grains, roots, and occasionally, eat insects, small vertebrates and bird eggs. The South African Ground Squirrel does not hibernate.


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The Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo, is a hairless breed of dog native to Mexico. Also known as Mexican hairless dog in English speaking countries, the breed comes in toy, miniature and standard sizes. The breed ranges in size from about 10 to 14 inches (toy), 14 to 18 inches (miniature) and 18 to 23 inches (Standard). Average weight is from 4 to 20 kg (10 to 50 lbs.) Color ranges from black, grayish black, bronze, red, or slate gray.

Xolo dog has a sleek, hairless body with a small amount of short, coarse hair on the head and tail. It has a smooth head, long neck, almond-shaped eyes, wrinkled brow, large bat-like ears, and a low-set tail.

The breed is noted for its calm demeanor. The Xolo is agile, alert, athletic, loving, loyal, obedient, and highly intelligent breed of dog. It suits well living in the house, and needs a moderate amount of daily exercise. Just remember, the breed is sensitive to sunlight, so avoid leaving him outdoors for long periods during the day. The coated and the hairless variety of Xolo are very easy to groom and care for. Bathe the dog weekly in order to keep his skin clean. Life Expectancy: About 15 and up to 20 years.

Check out the entire Animal Alphabet list here:
Amazing Animal Alphabet Series 1
Amazing Animal Alphabet Series 2

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Grant’s Zebra: The Smallest and Most Widespread Zebra Species

They may be small in structure, but their imposing black and white stripes dominate the steamy plains of Africa. Learn more about the fascinating Grant’s Zebra.

A member of the horse family, Zebras are any of three species that roam the plains and mountains of Africa. These include the mountain zebras, the Grevy’s zebra and the plains zebras of which there are three subspecies. There are three living sub-species of plains zebra: the Grant’s Zebra, Chapman’s Zebra, and Burchell’s Zebra. Each sub-species with slight variations in color and stripe pattern.

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The Grant’s Zebra (Equus quagga boehmi), the smallest and most widespread species are normally found in grasslands. This fabulous animal has a robust body with white or dirty-white fur marked with extensive bold black and white vertical stripes. These vertical stripes run and grow wider as it painted the animal’s front and belly. The stripes become horizontal on the legs, and diagonally on the rump. It has an erect mane and large donkey-like ears marked with thick fur inside.

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These amazing animals live in herds and graze on long, coarse grasses. They will graze arranged in a circle with their heads pointed out. This positioning helps them to recognize potential predators more quickly. A stallion leads a herd comprising 7-8 mares and a number of juvenile offspring. Each herd can merge to form “super herd” that may number up to 300 individuals.

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Adult males measure to about 120-140 cm (47-55 in) at the shoulder and can weigh up to 300 kg (660 lbs). Females reach sexual maturity at about 3 years. The gestation period lasts about 11-12 month, then an offspring is delivered. sis about A single offspring is born after an 11-12 month gestation period. On average Grant’s zebras can live up to 20 years.

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