Archive for the 'Mammals' Category

Oct 25 2016

It’s Bat Week!

Published by under Mammals

In case you haven’t heard it’s international Bat Week.

This week, October 24-31, we celebrate furry flying mammals, learn about their benefits to mankind, and help them survive in our ever changing world.

Did you know these cool facts about bats?

  • There are more than 1,300 species of bats on earth, 40 in the U.S.
  • Bat wings are webs of skin between their fingers (forelimbs).  Bats have more bones in their wings than birds do.
  • Bats have “thumbs” on the leading end of their wings that help them grasp and climb. The tropical Spix’s Disk-winged Bat roosts on leaves so he has suction cups where his thumbs would be.  Click here to see.
  • According to batcon.org, some male bats sing like songbirds to defend territory and attract mates.
  • Most bats reproduce very slowly, only one pup per year.
  • An amazing number of bat species are threatened with extinction — even some that live in Pennsylvania.

Watch the video above to see Rodrigues fruit bats (they’re Critically Endangered) then stop by the National Aviary in Pittsburgh to see the Megabats shown below — Malayan Flying Foxes.

Malayan Flying Fox fruit bat being fed (photo by Denmarsh Photogtaphy courtesy the National Aviary)

Malayan Flying Fox fruit bat being fed (photo by Denmarsh Photography courtesy the National Aviary)

 

Happy Bat Week!

Malayan Flying Fox fruit bat, resting upside down (photo by Denmarsh Photogaphy courtesy of the National Aviary)

Malayan Flying Fox fruit bats at the National Aviary (photo by Denmarsh Photography)

 

Learn more about bats at Bat Conservation International.

(video from the San Diego Zoo, photos by Denmarsh Photography courtesy of the National Aviary)

2 responses so far

Oct 20 2016

Anniversary of The Fox

Published by under Mammals

Red fox crossing a street in Portugal (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Red fox in Denver neighborhood (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In autumn young animals leave their birthplace to find a home of their own.  Sometimes they wander into dangerous places — roads, for instance — and sometimes they surprise us.

Seven years ago this month a red fox wandered into my Pittsburgh city neighborhood and spent a couple of weeks in the block near my house.  Our first hint of her presence was the sound of her voice.

On this Anniversary of The Fox, read more about her visit at:

Mystery Solved

 

p.s. I’m only guessing she was female.  There’s no way to know.

(photo of a fox crossing a street in Denver, Colorado from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)

No responses yet

Oct 19 2016

Prevent Lyme Disease In Your Own Backyard

White-footed mouse raiding the peanut feeder at night (photo by Rob Ireton, Creative Commons license on Flickr)

White-footed mouse raiding a backyard peanut feeder at night (photo by Rob Ireton, Creative Commons license on Flickr)

If you live in a Lyme disease area and feed the birds, you might get Lyme disease in your own backyard.  Here’s what makes that possible and how you can make your yard safe.

When you provide food for birds, a lot of other animals eat that food as well.  Squirrels and chipmunks eat during the day.  The mice come at night, especially white-footed mice pictured above at a peanut feeder.

Animals live close to their food sources so they live in your backyard or even your house. Here’s a favorite mouse and chipmunk home — the nooks and crannies of stone walls.

Stone wall (located in Vermont, photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Stone wall (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 

The abundance of birds and rodents in your yard attracts predators: hawks, owls, cats and even ticks. You’ll see the big predators but you might not notice the tiny ones.  Adult black-footed ticks are very hungry in October and November so watch out.

Chart of black-legged tick life stages (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Birdseed –> mice –> ticks –>  Here’s the Lyme disease connection:  White-footed mice are reservoirs for Lyme disease so the black-footed ticks that feed on your backyard mice may be infected.

What to do?

It’s impossible to get rid of all the mice — even if you stop feeding the birds — but you can get rid of ticks, and that’s what counts in this battle against Lyme disease.

The mice will help you do it.  Mice like soft fluffy bedding in their nests and will carry it into their secret hiding places.  If you give them anti-tick bedding it kills the ticks on them and in their nests.

This ingenious defense is described here at TickEncounter.org.  In their photo below, a mouse is gathering anti-tick bedding — permethrin-sprayed cottonballs — from the blue-green tube.

White-footed mouse with anti-tick tube and cottonball bedding (photo from tickencounter.org)

White-footed mouse with anti-tick tube and cottonball bedding (photo from tickencounter.org)

You can make your own tubes (cottonballs, paper tubes, Permethrin) or buy them complete with instructions at ticktubes.com.  Be sure to read about this technique at Tick Encounter before you begin.  And then …

No more ticks!

 

p.s. You’ll see at Tick Encounter that July and August are the optimal time for setting out Tick Tubes.  Sorry my timing is off.

p.s. Be sure to read the comments about Permethrin hazards. It is very bad for pets!

(photo credits: Click on the images to see the originals in context
White-footed mouse at night by Rob Ireton, Creative Commons license on Flickr,
Stone wall photo from Wikimedia Commons,
Chart of black-legged tick life stages from Wikimedia Commons,
White-footed mouse with anti-tick tube and cottonball bedding from tickencounter.org
)

4 responses so far

Oct 13 2016

Chipmunks Are Packing It In

Published by under Mammals

Chipmunk with food in his cheeks (photo by Chuck Tague)

Chipmunk with food in his cheeks (photo by Chuck Tague)

If you haven’t seen a chipmunk all summer, I guarantee you’ll see one now.

The “chippies” are very busy getting ready for winter, running to and fro with their cheeks stuffed with food.  This vintage article from 2009 explains why they’re …

Packing It In

 

(photo by Chuck Tague)

No responses yet

Oct 10 2016

Why Are We Thirsty Before We Sleep?

Published by under Mammals

Glass of water (photo by Kate St.John)

Tall glass of water (photo by Kate St.John)

Have you noticed that you’re thirsty before you go to sleep?  Why is that?

A recent study published in the journal Nature might not provide the answer for humans but it feels right to me.

Researchers at McGill University noticed that two hours before they went to sleep mice drank more water than they actually needed.  The scientists restricted access to water before bedtime and the mice became dehydrated while they slept.  Obviously drinking water ahead of time is a survival mechanism.

But how did the mice know to drink so much?  Using ingenious tests the research team found that the animal’s biological clock was sending a “drink water” signal to the brain’s thirst center.

I’ll bet this is true of humans, too.  My biological clocks says, “Drink water” and so I do.

Read more about the study here in Science Daily.

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

No responses yet

Oct 08 2016

A Visit to Elk Country

Published by under Mammals,Travel

Bull elk grazing in a front yard in Elk County, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St.John)

Bull elk grazing in a front yard in Elk County, Pennsylvania, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St.John)

Last Tuesday Geralyn Pundzak, Kathy Miller and I made a one day trip to see the elk near Benezette, PA.  During the rut, September-October, the males pursue the ladies, spar with other males and “sing” a bugling love song.

Our first two stops came up empty and we began to worry that we’d miss them.  Geralyn, who drove us there, said she wouldn’t leave until she saw an elk. The pressure was on!

At Woodring Farm we heard an elk bugling on the hill above us.  He soon crossed the gravel road only 100 yards away, then stopped to bugle among the trees.  I was so excited I forgot to take pictures.

On our way to Dents Run we saw an elk lying down, almost on a front porch. Was he a statue?  No, his head moved!  We returned to an elk traffic jam and took these photos.

Bull elk in Elk Country, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bull elk in Elk Country, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bull elk grazing in a front yard, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bull elk grazing in a front yard, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bull elk in Elk Country, Pennsylvania, 4Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

Bull elk in Elk Country, Pennsylvania, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

In addition to the elk we enjoyed birding, scenic overlooks and the Field of Flowers at Woodring Farm.

A view of Elk County from Woodring Farm overlook (photo by Kate St. John)

Elk County view from Woodring Farm overlook (photo by Kate St. John)

.

At the Field of Flowers, Woodring Farm, Elk County, PA, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St.John)

At the Field of Flowers, Woodring Farm, Elk County, PA, 4 Oct 2016 (photo by Kate St.John)

Visit Elk Country now while the elk are bugling and the leaves are changing.

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

4 responses so far

Sep 16 2016

Cheeps Like A Bird

Published by under Mammals,Vocalizations

The birds aren’t singing and many aren’t even making contact calls but you’ll still hear something in the forest that sounds like a bird.

Listen to the video above as a chipmunk makes chirpy calls that resemble a northern cardinal — except that they’re too fast and “sweet.”

Chipmunks make sounds we don’t expect from such a small body.  Lang Elliott recorded three of them:  “chip”, “tock” and squeak.  Click here to hear.

Want to know what they mean? Jim McCormac explains them in Deciphering the language of chipmunks.

You’ll get a lot of practice with these sounds in the weeks ahead.  The chipmunks are in overdrive and very vocal, storing up food for the winter.

 

(video by PAphotofun on YouTube. Chipmunk audio by Lang Elliott via Wildlife of Connecticut website)

4 responses so far

Sep 04 2016

The Skunk Whisperer

Published by under Mammals

Skunk Videos, Day 3:

Skunks in the window well?

Yesterday’s long video showed Ray Kremer’s success in getting the skunks out of his window well but the comment on his video says they went right back in there the next day.

Here’s a guy who can “whisper” them out.

And he probably recommends a window well cover.

By the way, skunks can carry rabies without showing any symptoms.  Do not handle skunks!  This guy is a professional from SkedaddleWildlife in Ontario, Canada.

 

p.s. Don’t even dream of keeping a wild baby skunk as a pet. In most states it’s illegal. Where they are legal you must get a permit and must get the skunk from a breeder, not from the wild, to insure that the pet is not carrying rabies.

(video from SkedaddleWildlife on YouTube)

9 responses so far

Sep 03 2016

Skunks in the Window Well

Published by under Mammals

Skunk Videos, Day 2:

What happens when a skunk family gets into a place where you don’t want them?

Ray Kremer figured out an elaborate bucket scheme to get this family of five out of his window well.  He had to be careful!

The video lasts more than 11 minutes, the rescue took longer.  Ray explains in the video comment that the skunks jumped back into the well the next day.

What is it about window wells?

Tomorrow: The Skunk Whisperer!

 

(video by Ray Kremer on YouTube)

2 responses so far

Sep 02 2016

A Run on Skunks

Published by under Mammals

Today I’m starting a three-day extravaganza of skunk videos, inspired by this one that swept the Internet a few weeks ago.

Here a cyclist freezes in place when a very cute family comes down the path to visit him.  Yikes!  Don’t move.

Tomorrow:  What happens when a skunk family gets into a crawl space where you don’t want them?

 

(video posted by Recommended For You on YouTube)

5 responses so far

« Prev - Next »