'/> Amazing Animals: January 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

10 Dog Breeds That are Worst Choices for First-time Dog Owners

There's no such thing as a 'bad' just bad training. And while we don’t disagree that a good owner along with proper training and socialization can make a world of difference, we have to admit that some dog breeds are best suited to experienced owners.

Nonetheless, in case you're a newbie and inexperienced dog owner, these dog breeds might not be for you until you have a couple of years of training tack under your belt.

No. 10: Saint Bernard

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The Saint Bernard is a huge and massive dog breed. This gentle giant stands 61 - 70 cm (25.5 - 27.5 inches) and weigh around 50 - 91 kg (110 - 200 pounds). A well-bred Saint Bernard is extremely gentle, calm, friendly, sensible, and very tolerant of children. The breed is slow moving, highly intelligent, extremely loyal and easy to train.

A Saint Bernard is a good choice - If you want a dog who...

• is massive, with a thick furry coat
• is kind and steady-tempered with everyone

However, this lovable giant requires a lot of work. And here's the challenge:

• heavy shedding
• Drools (and drools and drools) after eating and drinking
• A loud contented snorers
• Known to ingest items like socks and dishtowels
• Low tolerance for hot weather
• A good watchdog but an indoor dog as well. So, he takes up a lot of space in your house
• A massive dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
• Prone to serious health problems including skin problems, heart problems, and hip dysplasia
• A short lifespan (8-10 years)

No. 9: German Shepherd

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The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent, fun-loving, and loyal family pet. He is energetic, fearless, and known as a natural protector. The breed is well-suited to a wide variety of jobs: a guide dog, a military dog and a drug sniffer. German Shepherds can do almost everything - the ideal choice for many families.

However: German Shepherd is not your breed - If you don't want to deal with...

• Providing regular exercise and grooming
• Providing early and ongoing socialization
• Potential aggression toward other dogs
• Destructiveness when bored
• Constant heavy shedding - 365 days a year
• Prone to serious health problems including hip dysplasia and neurologic issues

No. 8: Australian Cattle Dog

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An Australian Cattle Dog is a robust, medium-sized dog known for its serious endurance. One of the most intelligent breeds, he has a reputation for being stubborn and energetic. This breed is very easy to train and best with a job to do. He is absolutely NOT an apartment dog

An ideal family dog - If you want a dog who...

• Has a short, easy-care coat that comes in striking colors
• Is absolutely loyal and obedient to its master.
• Protective, it makes a vigilant watchdog

An Australian Cattle Dog may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with....

• Heavy shedding
• Potential for excessive barking, often in a high-pitched voice
• Vigorous exercise requirements
• Destructiveness when bored
• Watchful and suspicious toward strangers
• Aggression toward other animals
• Prone to hip dysplasia and PRA. The merle-colored dogs are prone to deafness.

No. 7: Dalmatian

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The spotted Dalmatian was bred to work as a coach dog, running alongside carriages or horses, alerting coachmen to approaching highwaymen and warding off stray dogs. This breed is an athletic, dependable, high-spirited and playful dog.

A Dalmatian may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is medium to large and built like a sleek athlete
• Is loyal, playful, easy going and very dedicated
• Has a short easy-to-brush coat
• Thrives on vigorous exercise and interactive family activities

A Dalmatian may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• Constant shedding -- 365 days a year
• Stubbornness, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
• Vigorous exercise requirements
• Aggression when not socialized enough
• Too much barking when left alone too much
• Destructive when bored
• Prone to serious health issues including deafness, skin allergies, and urinary stones

No. 6: Weimaraner

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The Weimaraner is nicknamed “Gray Ghost” for his beautiful gray coat and habit of following his owner closely. The breed is highly intelligent, extremely energetic cheerful and affectionate dog. Though this dog is stubborn, given the proper training he is capable of learning and doing virtually anything.

A Weimaraner may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is odd-looking, with a gray/silver coat and eerie light eyes
• Has a sleek, carefree coat
• Is robust, powerful, brave, alert, protective and loyal - an ideal hunting companion
• Is highly energetic and thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
• Is watchful with strangers so makes a keen watchdog

A Weimaraner may not be the right dog for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• A strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident and athletic master who can take charge
• Vigorous exercise requirements
• "Separation anxiety" - when left alone too much
• Aggression toward cats and other small pets
• Reserved with strangers when not socialized enough
• Excessive barking when bored

No. 5: Rottweiler

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The Rottweiler is confident, courageous, protective, trainable, and loyal devoted to its owner and family. This muscular and powerful dog is typically calm, sensible, and serious (though some are happy-go-lucky clowns!) This gentle giant tends to respond quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment.

A Rottweiler may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is very affectionate to his master and family
• Is large, robust, and powerful
• Is calm, sensible, and confident
• Is handsome and easy to groom
• Makes an intimidating-looking deterrent

A Rottweiler may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• Vigorous exercise requirements
• A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet, lie on your lap, and lean his weight against your leg
• Slobbering and drooling (typically large males ) after eating and drinking
• Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover
• Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
• Potential aggression toward dogs with the same sex, cat, and other animals
• Destructiveness when bored

No. 4: Alaskan Malamute

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The Alaskan Malamute is a large, muscular and rugged working dog, best suited to people who love the great outdoors. The breed is intelligent, affectionate and extremely loyal toward its master and family. Alaskan Malamutes are very challenging to train and live with.

An Alaskan Malamute may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is furry, with a wolf-like appearance
• Looks imposing, so make an intimidating protector , yet is usually friendly with everyone
• Loves outdoor activities in cool climates

An Alaskan Malamute may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• Obedience training
• Very heavy shedding
• Vigorous exercise requirements
• Stubbornness, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
• Destructiveness and howling when bored
• Aggression toward other animals
• Dominant and possessive of their food - children and other animals should not approach an Alaskan Malamute who is eating

No. 3: Chinese Shar-Pei

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The Shar-Pei, with the wrinkled skin, "hippopotamus" head, is an intelligent, calm, dominant, and brave dog. It is active, easy-going playful and very loyal to its master. This highly territorial dog tends to bond with one person and aloof with strangers.

A Chinese Shar-Pei may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Has an unusual appearance
• Is medium-sized and sturdily-built
• Has a sober, confident nature
• Is extremely loyal to his master
• Is quiet and mannerly in the home
• Needs only moderate exercise
• Doesn't bark much
• Is naturally clean and easy to housebreak

A Chinese Shar-Pei may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• A high price tag
• Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
• Potential aggression toward people and other animals when not socialized properly
• Snoring and snorting sounds
• Serious (often chronic) health problems

No. 2: Chow Chow

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The Chow Chow with the lion-like ruff is an intelligent, dignified but stubborn dog. This teddy-bear looking dog must be accustomed to people at an early age so that their territorial instincts are properly discriminatory. The breed requires firm authority and training starting at puppyhood, before you get the results you’re looking for.

A Chow Chow may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is medium-sized, very stocky, cute and furry
• Is intelligent, confident, sober
• Is an imposing watchdog
• Needs only moderate exercise
• Is quiet and mannerly in the home
• Is naturally clean and easy to housebreak

A Chow Chow may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• Heavy shedding
• Regular brushing and combing (Rough variety)
• Stubbornness and requires a confident owner who can take charge
• Aggression toward other animals
• Serious health problems

No. 1: Akita

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There are two types of Akita; the original Japanese Akita or "Akita Inu" breed and an American strain, known as the "Akita" or "American Akita." Males measure 66 - 71 cm (26 - 28 inches) at the shoulder and weigh between 34 - 54 kg (75 - 120 pounds). females are smaller 61 - 66 cm (24 - 26 inches) and weigh 34 - 50 kg (75 - 110 pounds.)

The Akita Inu is alert, handsome, courageous, independent, calm, dignified, and quiet (seldom barks.) The breed is loyal, affectionate, playful, and will protect family members. New dog owners might think this is a desirable pet.

An Akita Inu may be right for you - If you want a dog who...

• Is large, handsome, robust and rugged, with a wolf-like appearance
• Has a thick coat that comes in many colors and patterns
• Looks intimidating so makes an effective watchdog
• Requires minimal daily exercise

An Akita Inu may not be right for you - If you don't want to deal with...

• Stubbornness requiring a confident owner who can take charge
• Possible aggression toward people when not socialized properly
• Aggression toward other dogs and other pets
• Heavy shedding

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Seven Animals With Exceptional Sense Of Smell

Science can quantify the brain's olfactory lobe and count the smell receptor cells in there, but it still can't qualify a smell in the lab. The human imagination is really constrained regarding animal senses. The truth is, the animal kingdom has plenty of creatures whose senses go beyond what human can conceive.

There are a number of animals with an extraordinary sense of smell that turn into their main weapon for survival. Most of these animals have poor vision and need to develop their ability to smell. In so doing, find themselves food and prevent themselves from becoming food (prey for other animals). Let us have a look at these animals who rely on their noses to win the race of survival.

1. Albatross

Smell dinner on the open sea

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Albatross is any of 21 large species of sea birds distributed throughout the southern Pacific. The male Wandering Albatross is one of the largest birds in the skies with wingspan reaching 3.5 meters or more in length. Albatrosses feed primarily on squid or schooling fish.

What is so unique about this seabird? Wandering Albatrosses have an exceptional sense of smell: so keen that they can smell fish from the air. Their nose can detect its meal some 20 kilometers away - well over the visual horizon.

Researchers have found that an albatross will change its course toward prey located well out of visual range. The birds can monitor a miles-wide swath of ocean as they fly in a single direction. For the most part, the birds flew perpendicular to the wind (crosswind). The tapered wings help the birds to glide through the air rather than flying directly upwind which uses much more energy. In many instances, the birds would stop flying crosswind and turn upwind or zigzag into the wind swooping down to snap a fish or other food source.

2. Eastern American Mole

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Smell In Stereo

The Eastern Mole or Common Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is a medium-sized, overall grey critter native to Canada, Mexico, and the eastern United States. The species prefers the loamy soils found in thin woods, meadows, pastures and field. It's large, hairless, spade-shaped forefeet are adapted for digging both deep and shallow burrows. The species feed mainly on earthworms.

The same question here, What's unique with the common mole? This animal is nearly blind, but owns a nose that can smell in stereo, a new study says.

Most mammals, including people, see and hear in stereo. For instance, stereo vision means that we see an object in three dimensions. But only a few mammals have been confirmed to have a stereoscopic sense of smell. That means that each nostril operates independently of the other, sending different signals to the brain that are then computed to determine the direction of the odor. The Common Mole — relies on the ability to distinguish between subtle differences in the intensity of smells at each nostril to locate food.

3. Male Silkworm Moth

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Best ‘mate’ detection

The Silkworm (Bombyx mori) is the caterpillar of a moth whose cocoon is used to make silk. This insect is also called the Silkworm-moth and the Mulberry Silkworm. It is native to Northern China.

What's so peculiar about this creature?

It is a fact that moths don't have noses, the silkworm moth included. But this insect have antennae covered in scent receptors. Male Silkworm moths use their feathery antennae to comb scent molecules out of the air as they fly, rather than sucking it up through a nostril. While they don't detect every scent well, male silkworm moths are able to pick up just a single smell – the one emitted by female moths. Wow! what an exceptional way to meet that future wife from 6-7 miles away. Indeed, the silkmoth is the champion smeller of the insect world.

4. Sharks

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Best lunch detector

There are more than 465 known species of sharks inhabiting in our oceans today. They are particularly well tuned for hunting. Most species of shark eat things like fish, krill, plankton, crustaceans, mollusks, marine mammals and other sharks. Sharks breathe with their gills, so their noses serve only to smell.

So what's new? Sharks have an exceptional very sense of smell that allows them to detect blood in the water from miles away. Also, some species are able to detect as little as one part per million of blood in seawater.

5. Dogs

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Target a Single Scent

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is man's best friend. But here's the twist. Human interprets the world predominantly by sight, whereas a dog by smell. So what! Here's the twist. Dogs have a keen ability to discriminate among smells.

While a dog's brain is only one-tenth the size of a human brain, the part that controls smell is 40 times larger than in humans. A dog’s sense of smell is about 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than human! A human brain contains more or less 5 million scent glands, compared to a dog, who has anywhere from 125 million to 300 million (depending on the breed).

The bloodhound exceeds this standard with nearly 300 million receptors. The bloodhound has the best sense of smell of any dog. It can stay on the trail of a person after several days, even if that person has walked through busy shopping centers and streets. Unbelievable!

6. Bear

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Champion sniffer

The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is a large-bodied, muscular animal that is quite agile. Black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. It has a very keen sense of smell - picking up a scent from over a mile away! Black bears have been observed to travel 18 miles in a straight line to a food source. It's not all about food, though -- male polar bears have been known to trek a hundred miles following the scent of a sexually receptive sow.

A bear’s brain is a third of the size of ours, yet the part devoted to smell is five times larger. They possess big noses and the inside surfaces of their nostrils are enlarged with folds that make room for thousands of smell receptors. Their sense of smell is certainly better than a bloodhound

7. Elephant

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Best smell in the animal kingdom

Now its out in the open. The African Elephant wins the award for the Best Smell in the Animal Kingdom. ext time you’re deciding whether to throw out some questionable produce, you might want to turn to an elephant. Researchers have discovered that African Elephants have the largest number of genes dedicated to smell of any mammal. Incredible sense of smell - five times more than humans and twice that found in dogs, and almost five times more than humans.

African Elephants exceptional sense of smell enable them to detect water sources as far as 19.2 km (12 mi.) away. A herd will use feet and tusks to dig waterholes for themselves. Their sensitive sense of smell to forage for food and identify family members.

In related research done in 2007, studies showed that African elephants can smell the difference between two tribes living in Kenya: the Maasai, whose young men prove their virility by spearing elephants, and the Kamba, farmers who usually leave elephants alone.

The reason behind these astonishing feat. Survival in the wild.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Cute Animals That Are Just Merry Mix-Up of Other Animals

Have you seen a platypus? If so, then perhaps you've wondered what kind of animal is this. As if it's a duck with a body of an otter. But this is only one of those merry mix-up of other animals. Mother Nature has lots to offers us - animals that look hilarious and some a bit terrifying. Check on the list below to learn more about them.

1. Pig + Squid = Piglet Squid

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Gosh! I am a little bit at a lost for words upon seeing the photo of this odd piglet squid! The way I look at it, this cute little creature resembles a Disney Toon pig without legs or somewhat a luminous squid with an upside down snout sprouting on its forehead.

But the real fact is, it's a species of squid known by the scientific name Helicocranchia pfefferi. Though the species inhabit all oceans, it is rarely photographed. It prefers to lurk far below the ocean surface (greater than 100 m or 320 ft.) Its habit of filling up with water and the funny location of its siphone with a wild-looking ‘tuft’ of eight arms and two tentacles had prompted scientists to name it the Piglet Squid.

The Piglet Squid has a different body structure from other type of squids. The average mantle length of an adult one is about 100 mm (4 in.) It has a large funnel with tiny paddle-like fins. The funnel doesn't have valves. The arms have suckers in the middle. They have bands on the side of the mantle. The species have small tentacles above their eyes. Also, those large Anime-inspired eyes actually twinkle, since they possess light-emitting organs called photophores.

Marine biologists still have a lot to learn about this cute sea creature, but 2two things are sure; First, in the water, the Piglet Squid has the tendency of swelling up and the piglet squid swims upside-down!

2. Deer + Mouse = Chevrotain

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The photo above looks deceiving at first glance: Cover the lower half of the picture with your hand and it seems to resemble a squirrel-size rodent, but setting your attention on its hoofed legs and you'll see - it's a deer.

The truth is somewhere in between: The Chevrotain, or Mouse Deer, is the world's smallest hoofed mammal. Chevrotains, also known as mouse-deer, are several species of small hoofed mammals comprising the family Tragulidae (order Artiodactyla). The extant species are found in dense forests in South and Southeast Asia, with a lone species, Water Chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus) found in the rainforests of Central and West Africa.

Depending on exact species, the Asian species weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg (1.5 and 17.6 lbs), and include the smallest ungulates in the world.[4] The African Chevrotain is considerably larger at 7–16 kg (15–35 lb). In addition, the Balabac Chevrotain (T. nigricans), which inhabits the tiny island of the same name in the far southwestern Philippines, is endangered.

Chevrotains are about 30 centimeters (12 inches) tall at the shoulder. The fur is reddish brown with spots and stripes of lighter color or white; the underside is pale. They are solitary or live in pairs, and feed mostly on plant material. Adult males have small, curved tusks protruding downward out of the mouth from the upper jaw.

Don't be fooled by this cute animal's appearance! This creature that's the size of a rabbit and resembles a merry mix-up of the two most timid animals on earth would be a pushover. Well, the adult males are equipped with a set of elongated, saber-like canine teeth. The males actually use these outsized fangs to fight with one another over territory and mouse deer ladies.

3. Monkey + Bat = Colugo

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It's a bird! It's a Plane... No Its a Colugo. My goodness, this creature looks like a vampire monkey in mid-transformation. Is this for real? Perhaps, it's just a monkey in a trench coat flashing gliding or some sort of kite made out of monkey flesh. Unfortunately, Colugo, also known as the flying lemur of Southeast Asia, is for real. For fact sake, Colugos closest relative isn't the lemur, not even the bat -- it's YOU!

Flying Lemur (Colugo) (order Dermoptera)are any of two species of tree-dwelling, gliding mammals found only in Southeast Asia and on some of the Philippine Islands. Both species are threatened by habitat destruction, and the Philippine Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus volanswas) was classified by the IUCN as vulnerable at one time.They are the most capable gliders of all gliding mammals, using flaps of extra skin between their legs to glide from higher to lower locations. While colugos are very agile gliders, they're really too heavy to fly efficiently.

Colugos measure about 35 to 40 cm (14 to 16 in) in length and 1 to 2 kg (2.2 to 4.4 lb) in weight. The head is small, with large, front-focused eyes for excellent binocular vision, and small, rounded ears.They have moderately long, slender limbs of equal length front and rear, a medium-length tail, and a relatively light build. The head is small, with large, front-focused eyes for excellent binocular vision, and small, rounded ears. They are shy, nocturnal animals that feed mostly mostly leaves, flowers, shoots, and fruits.

4. Prairie Dog + Armadillo = Pichiciego

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This cute animal is into Cosplay. Clearly, he's just a curious prairie dog that found the carcass of an armadillo and decided to try on the carapace and the claws. Ha, ha, ha...

But this one is for real too. This small animal is a Pichiciego (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or Pink Fairy Armadillo, from Argentina. This nocturnal creature is the smallest of all armadillos. The species is currently endangered due to human destruction of its habitat.

The Pink Fairy Armadillo lives in sandy plains, dunes, and scrubby grasslands. It feeds on insects, worms, snails, and various plant parts.

This cute creature is 90–115 mm (3.5-4.5 in) long, and weighs about 120 g (4.2 oz.) It has small eyes, a white silky hair and pale pink plates on the head and back. Also, the animal owns a flexible dorsal shell that is solely attached to its body by a thin dorsal membrane.

It has two massive sets of claws on its front and hind limbs combined with the peculiar formation of its carapace, help it to dig the burrows in seconds when it feels threatened.

5. Hamster + Pig = Honduran White Bat

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Look at this adorable hamster-like critter posing in front of a camera. Have you ever seen a pig nose on a little fuzzy creature before? Don't you want to hug it?

Actually, this cute animal is a freaking bat! The Honduran White Bat (Ectophylla alba) is a unique species of fruit-eating "tent" bat. So called for it has the ability to build its own home. It cuts the leaf off the bush it lives in and fold it over on top of itself, forming a tent, while it clings to the underside.

The Honduran White Bat has snow white to grayish fur and a yellow nose and ears. It is tiny, measuring about 1-2 inches (3–5 cm) in length and the weight is less than an ounce of .2 (6 grams). only 3.7-4.7 cm long. It lives in dense thickets of the rainforests in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama. Honduran White Bat feed mostly on fruit.

6. Goat + Elephant = Saiga

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Quick, Go watch the new Star Wars film and get to know more about this creature. Ha,ha.ha... just kidding. But this cute animal that resembles a goat/elephant combo is for real.

The Saiga (Saiga tatarica) is a critically endangered antelope that lives in the Mongolian and Russian steppes. Hundreds of years ago, the species inhabit most of Europe and North America, but with a short lifespan of only six to 10 years, its number dropped drastically in the last couple of years. Saiga inhabits grasslands, arid, savannas, and desert areas. The herd grazes grass and eats different types of herbs and shrubs including some that are poisonous to other animals.

The Saiga averages 0.6–0.8 m (2 ft 0 in–2 ft 7 in) at the shoulder and between 36 and 63 kg (79 and 139 lb)in weight. It is recognizable by an extremely unusual, large nose (proboscis) that hangs down over the mouth. The body is covered with cinnamon-colored fur and there is a small mane on the underside of the neck. Saiga has long, thin legs and robust body. This odd creature is a very fast animal. It can run up to 80 per hour, especially when it is trying to escape from the predators.

It is a very fast animal. It can accelerate up to 80 km per hour just to out-sprint its predators. The species is listed as a critically endangered species with less than 50 000 animals left in the wild.

7. Rabbit + Kangaroo = Bilby

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If, for one reason or another, you decided to take the big floppy ears of a bunny, the spunky look of a kangaroo, and the poker face of a possum, then the result would be this cute animal.

The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis),often referred to simply as the Bilby, is an Australian species of nocturnal omnivorous animal. They're members of the Bandicoot family. It lives in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. The range and population are in decline over the last 100 years due to habitat loss and competition with introducing animals.

Bilbies have long pointed snouts and compact bodies. Bilby measures between 29 and 55 cm in length and weighs between 1 to 2.4 kilograms (2.2 to 5.3 lbs). It has large ears, long silky fur and a long black tail. The coat is blue-grey with patches of tan and is very soft. The Bilby has strong forelimbs and thick claws. These marsupials are excellent burrowers. They are nocturnal omnivores that eat fruit, seeds, bulbs, insects and their larvae, and very small animals.

8. Ant + Bee = Velvet Ant

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As if regular ants weren't bad enough, science had to go and genetically merge them with bees to create this atrocity. Good thing, this cute animal won't try to steal your sweets because it can make its own honey. This is the Velvet Ant, and it's actually a wasp! Not a bee or an ant.

The Mutillidae are a family of more than 3,000 species of wasps whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. The males have two pairs of transparent black wings. A solitary wasp, this cute creature does not live in colonies or have a "nest". They are found crawling through lawns, digging around soil, or even in garages. Velvet ants are brightly colored. The male is half red and half black with dark wings, while the female is mostly red with some black. The adult velvet ants feed on nectar and water.

But we know what you're wondering: Can this thing sting me? They are not aggressive and will try to escape from you. However, females have a very painful sting if handled. This creature is nicknamed "the cow killer" because of the reputation of the female's sting. Studies have shown the sting is so painful that it could kill a cow. Many of the Velvet Ants can produce a squeaking sound when disturbed.

9. Snake + Anteater = Pangolin

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This is the kind of creature you only expect to see when you reach the end of the dungeon in a Zelda game. It resembles a snake that by some magic spell grew legs and a protective pine-comb-like shell -- you're probably going to need tons of bombs to kill this thing.

But, guess what, this is a real animal called the Pangolin-a mammal of the order Pholidota. Eight different Pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pangolin eats termites and ants.

A Pangolin has large keratin scales covering its skin. Its scales have the texture of a toenail and grow like one as well! Also, it has a huge snakelike tongue that, when unfurled, can actually be longer than its entire body. This “scaly anteaters,” can extend its tongue by as much as 40 centimeters (16 in). When threatened, this cute creature curls up into a ball and can even roll away from danger. It has short legs, with sharp claws, which it uses for burrowing into termite and ant mounds.

The animal size differs by species, ranging from 30 to 100 centimeters (12 to 39 in) long and weighs between 1.6kg (~3.5 lbs) to a maximum of about 33kg (~73 lbs). Females are generally smaller than males. Species vary in color from light to yellowish brown through olive to dark brown. Pangolins are nocturnal animals who use their well-developed sense of smell to seek prey. Lifespan is 20 years.

10. Zebra + Giraffe = Okapi

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Our last entry is perfect for nursery coloring books. Imagine how cute this animal if the legs are colored red or green. But, this beautiful and unusual animal is for real too. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, it looks like it must be related to zebras! But take a look at an okapi’s head, and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes. The okapi is indeed the only living relative of the giraffe.

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the forest giraffe, is a mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Okapis prefer altitudes of 500 to 1,000 meters. Okapi' most distinctive feature is its long prehensile tongue which it uses to grab onto leaves and branches. The tongue of the Okapi is in fact so long that they are one of the few animals in the world that are said to be able to lick their own eyelids and ear!

Okapis are 1.9 to 2.5 meters (6.2 to 8.2 ft) long (from the head to the base of the tail) and stand 1.5 to 2.0 meters (4.9 to 6.6 ft) high at the shoulder. They have 30to 42-cm-long tails. Their weight ranges from 200 to 350 kg (440 to 770 lbs). Okapis have long legs and robust body. They have reddish dark backs, with striking horizontal white stripes on the front and back legs. The body shape resembles that of the giraffe, except okapis have much shorter necks. Its sticky tongue is pointed and bluish-grey in color.

Okapis are classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List. They are endangered by habitat destruction and poaching. The world population is estimated at 10,000 individuals left in the wild.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Carnivores: The World’s Most Fearless and Ferocious Animals

Carnivores are considered the most fearless and ferocious creatures that humans have ever known. They have the built, power and stamina to lord it over hapless prey. These killing machines are gifted with special sensors, including an acute sense of smell, greater eye vision and ferocious teeth that comes in very handy for the kill. And they are blessed with swift, and graceful moves, adding to their predatory skills. Read on to learn more about these carnivores.

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Generally, carnivores, whether they are mammals, reptiles, insects or birds are meat-eaters. We will focus on a specific type of mammal that comprises the order Carnivora –which human deemed fascinating creatures.

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Built to Hunt

These carnivores are bunched together, for they all share a common characteristic –they strive for meat. However, not all of them are considered highly or specialized predators. For example, the Giant Panda is considered herbivore for it feeds on bamboo shoots. Bears and badgers are omnivores since they will eat anything edible. Nevertheless, these animals shared common features with true predators, thus are included in the same group as that of the carnivores. Shapes and sizes don’t matter, true carnivores share certain basic characteristics.

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Almost all carnivores share similar tooth structure. On each side of its top and bottom jaw, true carnivore has a prominent canine tooth, three incisor teeth, four small premolar teeth used for grinding, and three molars. In general, the pointed teeth (canine) are larger and much developed that the cutting teeth (incisor.) Canine teeth are very important weapons, acting as fangs to pierce the main arteries of the prey.

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The smaller grinding teeth (molars) looking like sharp, blade-like stuffs function as meat cutter or a slicer. With less mobile and with small grinding teeth, carnivores rely mainly on its specialized tooth structure to break down the meat into chewable chunks. Also, the tongue specially that of cats are equipped with horny, backward-facing tooth-like bumps.

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Mobility and speed is a must for carnivores! In their case, a skeleton with very restricted features is in place. A large collar bone for instance, can impede its body mobility, thus true carnivore has small collarbone or in some species physically absent. Carnivores typically differ in how they move or walk. There are two main types: the plantigrade species and the digitigrade species. Plantigrade -type of carnivores stamp the soles of their feet on the ground when walking, while the digitigrade-type ones walk on their toes. Digitigrades like dogs and wolves are better adapted for running.

A Sense of Survival

It is very important for carnivores have a good sense of sight, hearing and smell in order to survive in the wild. However, the need for these senses differ from animal to animal.

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Most of these meat-seekers hunt by night, and a good eyesight that could see prey at some distance is a must. Dogs and cats adapt to night vision: they have “taperum” an extra layer of reflective fibrous cells over the retina. These special cells concentrate or redirect the amount of light that enters the eyes. This is the reason why cats and dog's eyes glow at night.

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A number of carnivores do their hunting in dense vegetation using upgraded sense of hearing and smell. The changed is very noticeable in the species ear size and shape. Some species, like the fox, have directional ears, good at pinpointing the sound source with great clarity and accuracy.

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Other body parts aids carnivores to attain a very delicate sense of touch. Raccoons whiskers augment the animals need for a keen sense of smell. Also, these animals have sensitive nerve endings on the soles of their feet.

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For small carnivores like the Coati (Nasua narica) of Central America, having to blend well with its surroundings is very essential tool for survival. The ability to change color (camouflage) enables the animal to creep up on its prey unseen. Also, it serves as a defense mechanism to escape or free from harm from bigger predators.

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An Individual Identity

Since almost all carnivores are gifted with an acute sense of smell marking out the boundaries of its territory will come in very helpful. These fearless animals emit special and identifiable scents and rub a certain part of its body against any object to mark out the scope of its territory. In some species, these foul-smelling scents serve as a defense mechanism against larger predators. Some species like the skunks and polecats produce these scents through glands in the skin.

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Carnivores hunting style differs from species to species: lions go for ambush, cheetahs go for swift and stealthy pursuits and coyotes wolves and dogs leap on their prey.

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But there is one carnivore species that has the most adaptable hunting skills. The Crab – eating Raccoon can climb well and swim well in pursuit of its prey. It lives in areas near marshes, rivers and lakes — makes its home in the trees.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

10 Most Popular Chameleon as Exotic Pets

With over 180 extant species, Chameleons differ in color, size, and appearance. However, only a few species are readily available as exotic pets. Read on to learn about general descriptions of the 10 most popular chameleons kept as pets.

Prospective reptile owners must take a careful look at these reptiles — not all pet chameleons do well as companions. Some possess edgy temperament while others require more specialized habitats. Before deciding on what pet species to pick — read on to learn about general descriptions of the 10 most popular chameleons kept as pet.

Carpet Chameleon

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The Carpet Chameleon (Chamaeleo lateralis) is found in tropical rainforests, mixed woodlands, and prairies of Madagascar. A tree dweller (arboreal) species, adults measure 12cm to 15cm snout-to-vent (SVL) long. Males sport light green color with shades of blue around the eyes and feet. Females are dark brown to black in color. Males have white stripes on the mid-body, while females have a mid-body yellow stripe mark with multi-colored spots. Carpet Chameleon feeds on insects. Lifespan: 5-8 years.

They are active and hardy chameleons that do well as pets. This species require moderate to high levels of humidity. The enclosure should have dense foliage for climbing and a basking spot. Also, the species must be provided with moving or constantly dripping water supply. A cage of 40cm x 40cm x 60cm is adequate for an individual, but should be larger, if a pair is kept together.

Fischer’s Chameleon

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The Fischer’s Chameleon (Chameleo fischeri) is native to Kenya and Tanzania. Adults reaching 9 to 15 inches long. These two-horned reptiles are greenish-yellow in color. They feed mainly on insects such as small crickets, wax worms and fruit flies. Life span: 6-8 years. This chameleon makes a good lizard for beginner reptile owners.

These lizards do well in humid environments with a daytime temperature about 75* F. A 24 x 24 x 36 inches enclosure with plenty of space and hiding places is highly recommended. The enclosure should contain tree branches, live plants and thick foliage for perching. Housing must be provided with a container above the cage where water drips onto the leaves. Adults need a screen cage and are best kept solitary. Fischer females will lay only 10-20 eggs in a clutch and hatch at 5 to 6 months.

Flap-Necked Chameleon

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Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) is native to eastern and southern Africa. It is a large lizard, reaching 35 centimeters (14 in) long. The species color ranges from shades of green, pale yellow, or brown. The body is marked with a pale bar on the sides and the belly crest is white. These chameleons feed on insects like flies, grasshoppers and beetles. Females lay 25 to 50 eggs and may take 377 days to hatch in the wild. Life span: 2 to 3 years.

Flap-necked Chameleons do well in an enclosure 2′ x 2′ x 3′ in size. Also, it should be provided with real or artificial plants and vines. These hardy reptiles do well in a cage with around 75% humidity and a daytime temperature of around 75* F. They need Full-Spectrum lighting that emits UVB. A water dripper with a catch basin is a must for a constant water source.

Four-Horned Chameleon

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Four-horned Chameleons (Chamaeleo quadricornis), also known as Cameroon Bearded Chameleon, are native to Cameroon, Africa. These medium sized reptiles can reach to about 25-35cm (10-14″) long. The species usually have green and yellow-colored head with patches of blue, red or orange. Normally, “quads” sail-fin comes in pale-blue color, and a red or orange stripe runs down the middle of the body. The lizard’s belly is yellow to green in color. Four Horned Chameleon diet includes: beetles, crickets, flies, locusts, and wax worms. They live for around 5 years.

The Four Horned Chameleon is not a beginner species and are recommended only for experienced chameleon owners. Captive species must be kept cool, too much heat will cause stress then death. Minimum housing needs to be a full-screen 2′ x 3′ x 4′ in size. The enclosure must be provided by live nontoxic plants. The ideal captive temperature is around (55-75 F), and a relative humidity of at 88%. The cage must be provided with running water for the chameleon to drink from.

Jackson’s Chameleon

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The Jackson’s Chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii) is any of three species of medium-sized lizards native to East Africa. The species were also introduced to Hawaii, where established populations can now be found. Adult males measure to about 10 to 14 inches long, depending on the species. Male’s color range from a combination of blue, green, turquoise, and yellow. This three-horned chameleon typically has bright yellow crests. The species can live up to 9+ years.

Jackson’s Chameleons are hardy reptiles that sit well in captive environments with consistent care. They do well in screen enclosures (24″x24″x36″) with live vines and ample foliage. Housing must maintain a daytime temperature of 75 to 80* F, and a humidity level around 65%. For water source, the enclosure must be equipped with a drip system over the foliage within the enclosure. It is important to keep in mind that these lizards should be kept separately. Jackson’s chameleons feed on a variety of insects.

Meller’s Chameleon

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The Meller’s Chameleon (Chamaeleo melleri)is the largest species of chameleon in East Africa. The species inhabits bushy savannahs and interior mountains. A stout-bodied reptile, it grows to about 18 – 24 inches in length. Adults weigh between 300 to 500 grams. It has a small head and a stubby tail. Normally, the species come in deep forest green with white stripes. These lizards are strict carnivores, feeding on insects, caterpillars, spiders, worms and other smaller lizards.

The Meller’s Chameleon do well as exotic pets provided specific captivity requirements are met. These giant one-horned chameleons need a large enclosure. High daytime temperatures (80-85°F) are needed for the reptile’s enclosure as well as substantial hydration.

Oustalet’s Chameleon

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The Oustalet’s Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti) is a very large reptile endemic to Madagascar. Adults can reach 68.5 cm (27 in) long with a prehensile tail of up to 1.5 times the body’s length. It feeds mainly on insects using its long, muscular tongue. Life span: up to 12 years. Large enclosure is recommended with a relative humidity of 70%, and the daytime temperature around 80* F. Oustalet’s Chameleons do suit well for reptile owners looking for larger chameleons to keep as exotic pets.

Veiled Chameleon

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The Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus), also known as the Yemen Chameleon, is a large species of chameleon native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These reptiles prefer to live in trees, bushes, or shrubs. Males can grow to be 60 cm (24 inches) long. The species sticky tongue can be more than 1.5 times the length of their bodies. Generally, this chameleon is green in color with stripes and patches of brown, blue and yellow. Veiled chameleons are omnivores – feed mainly on insects but will occasionally eat the leaves, fruits and flowers of various plants. They can live up to 5 years.

As exotic pets, Veiled chameleons require specialized care and not a good choice as a beginner’s reptile. They must be kept separately in a screened cage enclosure (24″x36″x36″) with a suitable basking area. They need daytime cage temperatures around 80* F and a relative humidity of 70%. As water source, a drip or misting system is highly recommended.

Panther Chameleon

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The Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) is a relatively large species of chameleon widespread in the northern parts of Madagascar. It prefers semi-humid to humid habitats. The species is known for its brilliant color morphs. Males wear an imposing bony appendage “helmet”. On average, adult males measure around 45 cm (17 inches). Females are smaller, at about half the size. These amazing reptiles have keen eyesight, enabling them to see small insects as far as (5–10 m) away.

When kept as exotic pets, Panther chameleons require an enclosure (terrarium) that provide plenty of sturdy non-toxic plants and branches. Artificial plants may also be added. These lizards are territorial and should be kept individually. A daytime temperature gradient of 80* F and 70% humidity should be provided, with a basking spot at 95 F (35 C). They rarely drink from a standing water source, so the misting/drip system also serves as a water source. In captivity, Panther chameleons feeding on a variety of insects, including locusts, grasshoppers, fruit flies, roaches, silkworms, and waxworms. Life Span: approximately 5 years in captivity.