Do you know ... how many critter species do we share this planet with?" more
We all know the diversity of animal life on this planet is incredible but just HOW diverse is it? Science has been pondering this question for over 250 years but we are still dealing with much estimation and speculation.
What we DO know as of 2019 .... 1.5 million animals have been identified and scientists believe that to be just 14% of all animal life on Earth. They estimate that as many as 86% are still to be identified on land and up to 91% in the oceans.
Of that 1.5 million ....97% are invertebrates and just 3% are vertebrates.
To remind you ...
Looking at the incredible task of counting ALL living things, adding plants, fungi and microbes into the equation, we could be looking at up to 1 trillion species but that’s for another Do You Know!
However estimated the current count is of life on Earth, it goes without saying that humans occupy a very small percentage of that total and yet can cause vast destruction and disrepair to our fragile planet. We are asking you to be mindful of our place among all living things and treat our planet with great respect and care. MANY MANY other lifeforms are relying on clean and safe environments.
Do you know ... are bees really essential to human survival?" more
The simple fact of the matter is that bees are responsible for the pollination of 1/3 of the all crops humans eat today.
Not only that but they an essential part of the rich biodiversity of life on Earth so not only are we endangering OUR survival but that of all critters.
Jonas Salk put it very succinctly... “If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappear from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”
So yes ... they ARE absolutely essential to survival!
Do you know ... are bats blind?" more
No ... they actually have very good eyesight.Though they use echolocation (a form of sonar) to navigate at night, their eyes are fully functioning and with their excellent hearing they are incredible hunters both day and night.
“Blind as a bat” actually means “you can see very well!”Other “batastic” facts:
- Known to share food with other bats.
- No bat makes a nest.
- Blood sucking bats make up only 3 species of over 1300.
- Baby bats are called “pups”.
- Incredibly essential to ecosystems ... 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollinations.
- Without bats we wouldn’t have chocolate!
- Just as important as bees as pollinators.
- Natural pest control ... each bat eating thousand of bugs each night.
- Disease is their biggest threat ... white-nose syndrome.
- Most live 20 years in the wild.
- They are the only flying mammal.
How to help our wonderful bats? ... put up bat houses!
Do you know ... what it means for a species to be "endangered?" more
This is a term we hear almost everyday but do you know the specifics regarding it's depth of meaning, use and underlying importance?
"Endangered" refers to a species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
And who exactly makes these determinations?
Since 1964, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has been compiling data on over 96,500 species. Of those, 26,500 are considered threatened today.
The health of a species put them into one of 8 categories:
(EX) Extinct - No individuals remaining.
(EW) Extinct in the Wild - Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalized population outside its historic range.
(CR) Critically Endangered - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
(EN) Endangered - Very High risk of extinction in the wild.
(VU) Vulnerable - High risk of extinction in the wild.
(NT) Near Threatened - Likely to become endangered in the near future.
(LC) Least Concern - Lowest risk. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.
(DD) Data Deficient - Not enough data to make an assessment of its risk of extinction.
(NE) Not Evaluated - Has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.
On the IUCN Red List, a species is "threatened" if it falls into one of these categories:
* Critically Endangered
Many things play into the endangering of a species:
* Habitat destruction through human intrusions such deforestation, mining, farming, development
* Climate changes
* Disease or predation
* Competition from invasive species
For species specifics.... please visit https://www.iucnredlist.org
Do you know ... are eagles found world wide? more
There are 60 species of eagle ... most of these being found in Africa and Eurasia. 2 are found in North America, 9 in Central / South America and 3 in Australia.
There are 4 general groups that eagle are placed into, generally divided by diet or physical appearance. There are fish eagles (11 species), booted eagles (28 species), snake eagles (15 species) and harpy eagles (6 species).
Size and power are the 2 most identifiable attributes that set the eagle apart from the rest of the raptors. They have heavier beaks then most birds of prey and incredible eye sight.
The Philippine eagle is generally considered the largest eagle in the world with a 6.5 foot wingspan and standing 3 feet tall. They can weigh up to 16 pounds. As so many other animal species, human interference and environmental destruction has reduced their number to just 200 in the wild.
The more you learn about these majestic birds, the more you will love them! For a complete list of eagles around the world and their conservation status, please visit www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/list-eagle-species.
Do you know ... what do Bees, Bonobos and Orcas have in common? more
They all live in matriarchal societies! That is to say, theirs are societies where females are held in higher status than males and hold primary positions of power.
Honey Bees ..... The hive is ruled by the queen bee with 95% of the remaining hive being workers, all female! The remaining 5% are the drones.
Bonobos ... Not only are they our closest genetic relative, their social status is determined by the mother.
Orcas.... Found in every ocean on Earth, the grandmother of the pod runs the show! Pods of orcas are made up of mother, daughters and sons. Females can live up to 40 years past menopause, bringing their vast knowledge of survival tactics to the success of their pod. Orca males move to their mate’s grandmothers pods once they have matured.
Other animal species functioning under strong matriarchal systems:
Elephants .... The oldest female leads a herd of immediate relatives. Her memories of water holes and travel paths are priceless to the survival of the group. When she dies, her place as leader of the herd is taken by her first born daughter. Males leave after 12 - 15 years.
African Lions .... The pride is typically made up of related females. The females, in addition to raising the cubs, do the majority of the hunting, being lighter and more agile.
Lemurs ... Females are given the choice of mates and food. They will stay with the group for all of their lives whiles males change groups frequently.
Do you know ... how can owls fly so quietly? more
Owls are often referred to as silent hunters ... what enables them to do so? Their feather and wing shape is the answer!
When most typical birds fly, their wing shapes produces air turbulence, and thus sound, while in flight.
Owls, on the other hand, have feathers that are serrated at the very edge. These little combs breaks up the turbulence and the minimal sound made is absorbed by the unique texture of the owls wings. Owls also have a larger wing to body size ratio thus allowing them to fly slower then others birds ... more gliding, less flapping, less noise.
Many scientific studies have come to the conclusion that this silent flight serves 2 purposes: it keeps the prey from hearing their approach AND it allows the owls to stay attuned to the prey. Neat little fact, you can tell what time of day an owl hunts by looking at it's eye:
- Black eyes ... hunt at night (Nocturnal)
- Yellow eyes, daytime (Diurnal)
- Orange eyes, dawn and dusk (Crepuscular)
Other cocktail party facts:
- Can move their heads ... no, not 360 degrees (they can only do that once as a local master falconer is known to say)
but a good 270 degrees due to increased numbers of vertebrae in their neck.
- A group is called a parliament
- Rarely build nests of their own
Check out some owls you may not know ....
- Eurasian Eagle Owls .. wing spans up to 6 feet
- Oriental Bay Owl ... very unusual
- Northern Pygmy Owl ... only 6 inches long
- Tawny Fish Owls ... a fish eater!
- Blakiston's Fish Owl ... largest living species of owl
- Barn Owl ... most widespread
- Spectacled Owl .... if there was ever an animal that looked like Muppet, this is it!
- Collared Scops-Owl ... and insect eater
- Burrowing Owls ... live in prairie dog holes
Do you know ... can reindeer fly? more
Only under very special circumstances!! :) In1823, flying reindeer
were introduced to the world through Clement C. Moore's poem " A Visit
from St.Nicholas" ..... Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid,
Dunder (Donner), Blixem (Blitzen). People became so mesmerized with
the animals in the story, not everyone realized that there really were
such critters as reindeers/caribou in the wild!
- Reindeer and caribou are closely related, so close that many scientists consider reindeer to be merely domesticated caribou but research is on-going and there will be more information on that in the future.
Do you know ... How do animals survive the cold winter months? more
Hibernation: this is a voluntary behavior that leads the animal to bulk up prior to the cold season to be able to live off stored fat and drop their body temperature to near climate numbers for months at a time. Bears are considered highly efficient hibernators as they drop their temperatures only slightly and can are easily awakened. Like most hibernators though, they can spend up to 7 months without sleeping, drinking or producing waste. Smaller animals that do lower their temperatures to near freezing, will wake every few days to eat then lower their temps and repeat the cycle. Critters: Bears, chipmunks, ground bees, snakes, bats, wood frogs, gila monsters, turtles and groundhogs!
Torpor: this is an involuntary state that many animals go into during cold nights and is experienced by birds, rodents and bats and is usually less than 24 hours in duration.. Their activity is normal during the daytime hours but will enter a state of torpor during the cold nights. It can often be used to wait out periods of reduced food supply. Critters: Raccoons, squirrels, mice, hummingbirds, chickadees, and skunks!
Estivation: as a side note, with climate changes we are facing, for animals that must survive long, hot, dry climates, the term estivation describes periods of inactivity and lowered metabolism. Critters: salamanders, snails, crabs, mosquitos,desert tortoises, fat-tailed lemurs, and hedgehogs!
(Installment 6 of 6) Can hear through their feet? YES! ... elephants have exceptional hearing but are also able to "hear" low frequencies which travel from sensors in their feet up to their middle ear.
(Installment 5 of 6) Afraid of mice? Well ... it has been shown that elephants will back away from mice when in close proximity.
(Installment 4 of 6) Too heavy to swim? NO!... They love the water and can swim for hours. They can even smell a water hole up to 5 miles away.
(Installment 3 of 6) Rarely forgets? YES!! ...elephants have superb memories as their life depends on it out in the wild. Water is scarce and water holes come and go. The matriarch of the herd must remember where that water can be found. They are also very social animals, living in herds of typically 10 females and their calves, and have shown the ability to recognize other elephants that they met years prior.
(Installment 2 of 6) Use their trunks as a straw? NO! ... their trunks are actually elongated noses and they use it to breathe. Needing 30 - 60 gallons of water daily, they will easily scoop water up in the lower part of their trunks and spray it up to their mouths
(Installment 1 of 6) Love peanuts? NO! ... not only are peanuts not found out in the wild, these would barely make a dent in the elephants sizable appetite! Elephants need over 300 pounds of food daily. They much prefer to fill up on hay, grains, fruit and vegetables.
Do you know ... why chameleons change color? more
Most people will say that they change color to blend into their surroundings but, actually, the opposite is true! When you think about it, it is most likely that they already are blending into their habitat. So why the colorful routine? Emotional and phycological needs seems to play a key role. They are communicating in one way or another. Temperature, light and mood! Darker shade to absorb heart when cold ... Lighter color to cool off and multi-color to attract a mate! Watch this National Georgaphic video on how cameleons change colors VIDEO
Do you know ... Coastal Wolves? more
Found on the Pacific coast, these wolves get up to 90% of their diet from the ocean. Distinctively different from coastal wolves in their DNA, they are physically smaller and great swimmers. Current studies show that mainland and coastal wolves live very different lives.Coastal wolves swim from island to island off the coast of British Columbia ... swimming recorded distances of up to 7 miles from coast! These wolf populations are unprotected and at one time were found from northern California to Alaska but are losing their habitat as are so many animals.
For more information see: https://www.raincoast.org/projects/wolves/
Do you know ... are bats blind? more
ALL bats can see. Some species of bats actually see three times better than people do! Most bats use a combination of echolocation and vision when hunting. Pair that with excellent sense of smell and hearing and these beautifull creatures are well equipped for the marvelous role they play in the ecosystem.
Do you know ... do mice favor cheese? more
This myth goes back centuries...it may have come from cheese being an available food before refrigeration...meats and grains would have been stored away while cheese would have been left out on a cupboard. Cheese is certainly not a part of their natural diet. Scientific test have actually shown them rejecting cheese all together in favor of peanuts, fruits, veggies and even chocolate!
Do you know ... do goldfish have poor memories? more
Tests have proven just the opposite! In feeding trials, escape route tests, and maze running, results show memories of up to 5 months or more. This may have you consider your tank set-up for your beautiful gold friend.... the more complicated you can make the setup, the happier and more active your fish will be! As a matter of fact, if you can keep changing it up, it will be even better!
Do you know ... are dogs color blind? more
They do not see as wide a range of colors as we do, but they are definitely not color blind. Studies show that they see a dichromatic range in the yellows and blues of the color spectrum. This is good to know when choosing items in your dogs world... you might want to avoid red and green, as they will appear just a murky brown for them. It certainly does explain why dogs always seem to love those yellow tennis balls!!
Do you know ... how similar are humans and chimpanzees? more
We share about 96% of our DNA with them but ancestrally, we split into separate branches of the family tree about 6-8 million years ago. Here's a fact sheet from our favorite primatologist, Dr Jane Goodall ... http://wiki.janegoodall.org/wiki/The_Chimpanzee
Do you know ... are carrots the preferred food of bunnies? more
In the wild, rabbits will eat greens before anything else. Very few will find carrots laying around for them. For domesticated bunnies, carrots should be kept to a minimum due to high a sugar content. Bugs Bunny crunching on a carrot is due more to a scene from It Happened One Night (for those of us who remember it!) than actual food preferences.
Do you know ... are pit bulls a dangerous breed? more
People definitely feel strongly one way or another on this question. As our answer to this, we offer 2 opinions from organizations that should know what they are talking about.
AKC Breed Standards http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/american-staffordshire-terrier/
ASPCA Position Statement http://www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-pit-bulls.
Do you know ... do ostriches bury their heads in the sand? more
With the ability to run up 40 miles an hour and weigh up to 320 pounds, their need to hide in the sand from predators is pretty unlikely. See Past Animal of the Month
Do you know ... can you get warts from a toad? more
Warts are caused by a human virus and can not be blamed on the poor little toad family.
Do you know ... do camels store water in their humps? more
It is actually a fat deposit and allows them to go without eating for up to three months, if needed.
Do you know ... are elephants the only animal that can't jump? more
They are joined in that lack by sloths, hippos, giraffes and rhinos. This whole question certainly paints an interesting picture in your mind though, doesn't it?
Do you know ... do bees die after they sting you? more
One species out of 20,000 species does die after stinging. The others do not.
Do you know ... whose feather is that? more
For great feather identification information, peruse the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Feather Atlas! Feather Atlas
Do you know ... is that a moth or a butterfly? more
The odds are that it is a moth as they make up a good 90% of the Lepidoptera order. That leaves just 10% being butterflies. But if you not playing the odds, there are other ways to tell the difference.
Butterflies: Metamorphosis: egg to caterpillar
and in turn a chrysalis … then flight! Diurnal … spotted during your
daytime walks. Wings upright and in a V unless sunning. Antenna look
like a little club … wider at the tips. Thin bodies. Usually bright,
Do you know ... should you feed bread to ducks and geese? more
We love ducks and you CAN feed them....just NOT people food. Human foods aren't nutritious enough for animals and may cause a deformity called "angel wing" in ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl who are fed white bread, popcorn, crackers, or other people food. Instead... Look for waterfowl feed or duck pellets at feed stores. Also, seedless grapes cut in half, shredded kale, Swiss chard or romaine lettuce, and grains, including wheat, barley and oats. Make sure anything you feed is BITE-SIZED to avoid choking...Our feathered friends thank-you!"
Do you know ... should you take indoor spiders outside when you
want to relocate them?
Not usually! There are actually species of indoor spiders and those who thrive being out in the wild. Indoor spiders: Our houses are their houses! Their main job is to eat other insects that invade our homes ... NOT to eat us! Not only that, but they were here first ... tracing their ancestry back about 300 million years ago, pre-dinosaur, pre-us! They have been part of our households since Roman times ... so you get the idea that taking these homebodies OUTSIDE is really not going to help them! As Rod Crawford, curator of arachnid collections at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, says “ You can’t put something BACK outside that never was outside in the first place! Only about 5% of spiders you seen indoors have ever set foot outdoors.” Benefits to keeping these critters around? They will keep down the number of littler critters and keep you from having to use any kind of chemical insecticide and that’s a win-win situation! So .... what SHOULD you do if you are really just fine with having them hang out in your house but don’t exactly want to have them too close? They tend to like rooms where they can find water which is why you apt to find them in shower stalls and sinks. They do not crawl out of water pipes but merely get themselves stuck on slippery porcelain surfaces. Try relocating them to a room further from your living space and let them do their bug hunting there. Another thought? Be familiar with the poisonous spiders in your own locale and know how to identify them. All the rest? Enjoy them! Myths abound about these arachnoids but be assured, they aren’t attacking and they aren’t biting you! They are filling a necessary niche in your home’s ecosystem! Keep in mind .... there is an old superstition that if a spider crawls in your pocket, you will always have money! Makes you want to make friends with your nearest little spider! :) "
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