Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Monday, August 1, 2011

Video of the Day: Muppet Chickens Sing "Baby Face"

Statler: Now why would they have the chickens sing "Baby Face"?
Waldorf: The alligators were sick.
Statler: That makes sense!

Breed of the Day: Bombay

    The Bombay is a sleek and muscular cat with great big copper-colored eyes and a shiny, midnight black coat that gleams like black patent leather. The combination is spectacular and resembles the mini-panther that the late Nikki Horner had in mind when she began developing the breed in 1953. The Bombay is a man-made breed developed from crossing black American Shorthairs and sable Burmese. These purring bundles of love want to be with you all of the time and as close as possible, reveling in your company.
    Nikki Horner had in mind a cat that resembled the black leopards of India and named the breed she developed after the city in India. She wanted a cat the sleek, short tight coat of the Burmese in the darkest black from the American Shorthair with eyes like newly minted pennies. Her early efforts were unsuccessful but undeterred as she kept trying to create her vision and the combinations she used in the beginning of 1965
led to success. Horner had been breeding cats since she was 16 in the 1970s, when her creation was finally accepted for championship competition, she stopped breeding. Other breeders had fallen in love with the stunning breed with its fabulous personality and worked to keep the breed going.
    Major influences in the breed's progression and popularity were Herb and Suzanne Zwecker. They also developed new lines with new combinations of the Burmese with the American Shorthair. Shawnee and Road to Fame are found behind many of today's Bombay for championship competition in June 1979.
    The Bombay combines the easy-going nature of the American Shorthair with the inquisitive, loving personality of the social Burmese. They love to be in your company and will greet you joyously at the door, and they will greet visitors with the same loving enthusiasm. Expect your Bombay to be as close to you as possible whether it is perched on your shoulders as you walk around, rubbing around your ankles, purring, while you make supper, cuddled into your lap while you watch television or read a book, or snuggling up against you under the covers in bed like a hot water bottle. The Bombay loves the entire family and is particularly good with children since it is always ready to play. It also gets on well with other family pets if give the proper introductions. Their craving for company means that they are unhappy if left alone for long periods, so consider getting another cat if you will be gone most of the day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Video of the Day: What Parrots do when Their Owners are Away

On the internet, no one knows that you're a parrot.

Breed of the Day: American Bulldog

Country of Origin: United States
Group: Working; unrecognized by the AKC
Purpose: Wild/feral hog hunter, livestock guardian, watchdog
Average Life-Span: 11 to 12 years
Acceptable Colors: Solid white or white with patches of black, brown or red
Grooming: Brush weekly, being sure to wipe down the wrinkles with a wet wash cloth
Height/Weight: Dogs, 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder, 75 to 125 pounds; Bitches, 20 to 25 inches at the shoulder, 60 to 100 pounds.

    All-around working dog is an apt description of the American Bulldog. Originally brought to the American South by English working-class immigrants, this breed helped farmers and ranchers with many everyday tasks such as driving cattle and catching wild or feral hogs and guarding the property. Today's American Bulldog is still used as an all-purpose working partner, guard dog and family companion. They are loyal and confident, with a large head, thick, muscular neck, wide nose, powerful jaws and a solid but agile build. Due to an emphasis on ability rather than looks, the height, weight and even appearance can vary among individual American Bulldogs. The American Bulldog's short, stiff coat is most commonly white with brown, black or red blotches. This brave, determined breed benefits from plenty of socialization and training from an early age. Although its strong protective instincts may cause it to be reserved with strangers and possibly aggressive towards other dogs, the devoted American Bulldog demands to be with its family and adores children.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Video of the Day: Fire-Breathing Cockatiel

Cockatiel breathes fire

Species of the Day: Chacoan Horned Frog

Scientific Name: Ceratophrys cranwelli
Family: Leptodactylidae
Adult Size: 3 to 5 inches in length
Range: Native to the Gran Chaco region of Argentina
Habitat: Inhabits a wide variety of environments, from dry savannas to seasonal wetlands

    The Chacoan horned frog, also called the Cranwell's horned frog, is a terrestrial frog endemic to the dry Gran Chaco region of Argentina. Like most members of the horned frog family they are often referred to as "Pac-Man" frogs because of their resemblance to the video game character and their voracious appetites. Also, like most horned frogs, they are beautifully colored, and come in different color patterns and varieties through selective breeding. Chacoan horned frogs are ambush predators and so spend most of their time lying in wait for prey to come to them. This being said, they require very little space and will thrive in a 10 gallon aquarium with moist ground coconut husks lining the bottom about two to three inches deep. Chacoan frogs hardly ever present feeding problems in captivity and can be fed a variety of prey items such as crickets, cockroaches, mealworms, feeder fish and occasionally pinky mice. Keep in mind that these frogs will pretty much eat whatever they can overpower, which includes other frogs, so they should be kept separately. Prey items should be gut loaded to make them more nutritious as well as dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements for proper bone growth.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Video of the Day: Duck Attacks Rooster

A plucky duck has a rooster by the tail until the rooster finally turns and puts it in its place!

Species of the Day: Costa Rican Red Tarantula

Scientific Name: Brachypelma angustum
Range: Forests of southern Mexico and Central America
Type: Terrestrial
Diet: Appropriately sized insects
Adult Size: 3 1/2 to 4 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 80 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 75 to 80%
Temperament: Semi-docile and nervous
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic deli container with holes, adults can live in a 5 to 10 gallon tank; floor space is more important than height. Substrate can be 2 to 3 inches of peat moss or potting soil. Logs, driftwood and cork bark make good hiding places.

    Although they do not have red bodies, Costa Rican Red Tarantulas are appealing, medium-sized tarantulas. They get their name from the thick, red hairs on their legs and abdomen. Costa Rican Red Tarantulas actually have a black to dark brown overall body color. They resemble the Mexican Red-Rump Tarantula although the Red-Rumps are larger. These spiders are not as docile as most others in the Brachypelma family of tarantulas, but they are just as rewarding, and like them are prolific hair kickers. They are also a little smaller than most Brachypelma tarantulas, but are still heavy bodied. Costa Rican Red Tarantulas can be pretty hard to find but surprisingly are not usually expensive. If you're a beginner, but looking to move on to a slightly more difficult-tempered tarantula, the Costa Rican Red Tarantula is a good bet!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Video of the Day: Top Gear: Porsche Challenge

The Top Gear hosts James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond are all given the challenge of finding a second-hand vintage Porsche using only 1,500 British Pounds.

Species of the Day: Black Mamba

Scientific Name: Dendroaspis polylepis
Family: Elapidae
Adult Size: Averages about 8 feet in length, sometimes growing up to 14 feet in length.
Range: Ranges southward from central and eastern Africa in Somalia and Ethiopia to South Africa
Habitat: Prefers dry woodlands, shrubby savannas and coastal bushlands over more arid, desert-type habitats. Although persistently arboreal when active, they seek refuge in burrows, tree cavities or termite nests.

    The Black Mamba is a long, slender snake; in fact, the longest and one of the most deadly in Africa. It is also the fastest snake in the world, able to travel at speeds of 10 to 12 miles an hour. It's name is actually derived from the black lining in the mouth rather than the color of the body, which varies from a dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal grey. Appropriate for a snake of it's reputation, the head is described as being shaped like a coffin. When provoked, the Black Mamba with raise the forward third of its body off the ground and flattening their  necks into a narrow but discernible hood, gaping their mouths and hissing loudly just like their cobra cousins.
    That being said, these snakes should only be kept in zoo conditions or by hardened enthusiasts that are well educated and practiced in the keeping and handling of such venomous snakes. These snakes require tremendous amounts of room to be happy, with adults living comfortably in a 125 gallon aquarium at the minimum. Black Mambas are extremely intelligent snakes and so are great escape artists and you will need a very secure enclosure for them. A trap-box with a locking door in the enclosure is a must for any venomous snake as it will provide a way to keep the snake in a safe and secure place and allow the keeper to safely clean and work around the enclosure. The trap-box will be most readily accepted in a quiet area of the enclosure and always in the same place. This short profile is not to be used as a venue to describe safe handling of this species, if there are any. These snakes are fast and agile, making clamp-sticks and snake hooks risky to use and trap-boxes the safest option. Sturdy, well anchored branches for climbing should be used for climbing, keeping the enclosure simple to facilitate safe handling. Cypress, fir, aspen chips are excellent choices for substrates. A large water bowl should be provided for the snake to soak and drink from. Keeping the snake well hydrated and the humidity in the enclosure fairly high will help assure complete, healthy sheds. Unlike most snakes, Black Mambas have a very high metabolism and will require feedings about twice a week of appropriately sized rodents. Black Mambas are also active year around and go through no brumation period.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Video of the Day: Bearded Dragon Feast

A juvenile bearded dragon participates in one of his favorite past times. Eating.

Species of the Day: Desert Tortoise

Scientific Name: Gopherus agassizii
Family: Testudinidae
Adult Size: 10 to 14 inches long, 8 to 10 pounds
Range: Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southern California, southern Navada and Arizona with some isolated populations in Mexico.
Habitat: Inhabits areas occupied by creosote bushes, yucca trees and grasslands associated with alluvial plains. The Sonoran populations can be found on the slopes of rocky washes.

    The Desert Tortoise is native to the Mojave desert and Sonoran desert of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Their shells are high-domed and are a greenish-tan to dark brown in color. Males are generally larger than females. In years past it was a relatively common practice to pick up a desert tortoise when they were found because of their docile nature. Due to education and conservation, this has slowed down considerably. Even so, it is still suspected that there are more Desert Tortoises in captivity than there are in the wild. They are now protected throughout their ranges and are listed at threatened. It is a federal offense to take them over state lines or take them from the wild. They are also not allowed to be sold or traded, but can be adopted through various rescue groups. The Desert Tortoise always does best when housed in a large, secure enclosure outdoors. Despite being very adaptable, they do not tolerate the cold and damp. If given free range of a well-planted backyard or enclosure, the require minimal care. Desert Tortoises should be maintained almost exclusively on grasses and weeds. It is important to mix in variety so the diet can be supplemented with dark leafy greens and vegetables, and fruit only on occasion. Desert Tortoises are strictly herbivores; they should not be given any animal protein in any shape or form. Even though this is a desert dwelling animal, water should still be available at all times.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Video of the Day: Dramatic Prairie Dog: James Bond Edition

The classic "Dramatic Prairie Dog" video with a James Bond motif!

Breed of the Day: Blanc de Hotot

    The Blanc de Hotot is a large, white rabbit with thin, black eye-rings around each eye. The breed was developed in Hotot en Auge in Normandy near the port of LeHavre in northern France. The Blanc de Hotot (White of Hotot) was developed by Eugenie Bernhard, chatelaine du Calvados. She kept a large rabbitry of Flemish Giants and Great Papillion Francais (Checkered Giants) and is the second woman ever to be credited with developing a new breed of rabbit.
    Bernhard's breeding goal was a rabbit for meat and fur, with a white coat and black eyes. Sometime around 1902, she crossed the Papillion with White Vienna and Flemish Giants, but progress toward her goal was slow. She saved only the lightly marked animals that were the product of 500 crosses, and by 1912, was eventually able to produce the Hotot that we see today. Bernhard continued to be troubled by the thin, black eye-rings. The breed was shown for the first time in 1920 at Exposition Internationale d'Aviculture in Paris as the Geant (Giant) Blanc de Hotot. The French rabbit governing body recognized them as a breed on October 13, 1922. The first french standard does not mention the eye-rings, but instead specifies black eyelashes and lower eyelids that were more or less colored grey. The Blanc de Hotot was brought to America in 1921, but they soon died out. Switzerland imported them in 1927, and it was the Swiss that appreciated the eye markings. During World War II the Blanc de Hotot nearly vanished in France, Holland and Germany.
    In 1978, Bob Whitman of Texas imported 8 Blanc de Hotots. The breed was recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association's standards on March 5, 1979. Because of the very small gene pool and a body type that greatly needed improvement, breeders began crossing Blanc de Hotots with Blue-eyed White Beverens, White New Zealands and White Satins. It was not until 2004 that additional Blanc de Hotots were imported into this country from Germany, Holland and England.
    The breed is known for its lustrous fur, an abundance of guard hairs that gives the fur a frosty white sheen, and the striking eye-rings, which should not be over an eighth of an inch wide. Rigid selection is necessary to assure proper markings. The Blanc de Hotot is a large rabbit with bucks weighing 8 to 10 pounds and mature does 9 to 11 pounds. They are an active and hardy breed and are easily raised in all wire hutches. They make fairly good mothers, have good-sized litters and the young grow quickly. Despite a recent increase in importation into the United States, the breed is globally endangered.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video of the Day: Yet Another Scare Compilation

A bunch a people getting their kicks to the music of Frank Sinatra

Species of the Day: Bibron's Gecko

Scientific Name: Pachydactylus bibroni
Family: Gekkonidae
Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches long
Range: Southern Africa
Habitat: Arid environments containing rocky outcroppings

    The Bibron's Gecko is a moderate-sized, thick-toed gecko with a stockier build than most other geckos. Males are generally larger than females. It has a brown base color with a beaded dorsal pattern with horizontal black stripes and white dots. The belly is white or a very light brown. Hatchling geckos will have more solid patterns, becoming paler and more broken with age, with females sometimes lacking the white dots. The Bibron's Gecko is both terrestrial and arboreal. It is territorial, with males being especially aggressive towards one another, so they should be kept separately. These geckos are very fast runners, so care should be taken when handling to prevent escapes.
    This hardy wall crawler is simple to keep if a few basic criteria are met. Being nocturnal, Bibron's Geckos spend the majority of the day out of sight in a favorite hiding place. These can be in rocky crevices or between slabs of tree bark. Then they will come out at night under cover of darkness to hunt. Coarse sand or gravel works well as a substrate, with various rocks and pieces of driftwood covering the floor for climbing. A water bowl is not necessary as long as the terrarium is misted every day to allow the gecko to drink up the water droplets off the rocks and walls of the enclosure. Bibron's geckos are insectivorous, with crickets and meal worms providing the bulk of the diet, but supplementing with various other insects is always a wise course of action. Day time temperatures can reach the low 90s F, but preferred nighttime hunting temperatures should be in the 80s or even the 70s.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Video of the Day: Dancing African Gray

Boy, this parrot really likes the Eurythmics!

Breed of the Day: Birman

    The legendary Birman takes your breath away with its stunning pointed, semi-longhaired coat and bewitching deep sapphire eyes. The silky coat is light in color and ideally misted with a golden hue. They have white gloves on all four feet and white laces up the backs of their hind legs contrasting with the main point color. These gentle cats have a stocky build and a powerful musculature, which is kept in fine condition through their love of play.
    The Birman has a lovely legend about being raised by the Kittah priests in their temple in Burma. The story tells of a golden-eyed, white cat that stood guard over his dying holy master and was transformed into a cat with a dark brown head and dark brown legs and tail, but his coat became a creamy color with a golden glow from his master's golden goddess. As his master died and his soul passed on to the cat, the cat's paws and hocks, where he sat on his master's chest, stayed pure white as a sign of his master's purity. As the cat gazed up at the golden goddess, his gold eyes turned into a beautiful sapphire blue, the same as his master's goddess. There are many versions of the legend, and this is just a very short one. As for fact, the Birman was first recognized and shown in France in the 1920s. England then recognized the breed in 1966. The Birman was first imported into the United States in the 1960s and was recognized and shown in 1967. The Birman is now recognized and loved world-wide. The breed has consistently remained in the top 10 most popular cat breeds for many years.
    The Birman is a great family cat. It dwells peacefully within a single cat home or a home with multiple cats. With a constant response from his owner when the cat meows, the Birman can become quite a talker. If you prefer just the quietness of his purr, lack of response will easily discourage the cat from vocalizing. With lots of love, good food, regular grooming and proper health care, the Birman makes an all around perfect pet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Video of the Day: Caique Loves Pens

Some Caiques tend to covet and collect certain things, like this White-Bellied Caique who has a fondness for ball-point pens.

Species of the Day: Azuero Conure

Scientific Name: Pyrrhura eisenmanni
Adult Size: Just over 8 1/2 inches long; 54 to 70 grams
Adult Coloration: Both adults mostly green; black/brown forehead and crown to nape; frontal band to lores and around the eyes thin and red; buff/white ear coverts; faint blue nuchal collar; darker brown upper breast scalloped with white; dark green/blue lower breast scalloped with buff/white and yellow; green wing bends; black bill; bare, gray/brown eye ring; eyes are brown/yellow.
Call: Calls made in flight are short; some single loud notes from birds contacting the flock; while perched, harsh guttural notes; soft notes while preening

   Like its cousin the Painted Conure, this is an active, shy and nervous parrot; new birds are easily stressed and quite susceptible to disease. However, once acclimated, they lose all their shyness and can become friendly, playful and sweet-natured pets. Azuero Conures are particularly smart, and can learn simple tricks with the greatest of ease.

Captive Status: Almost unknown in captivity.
Average Life-Span: About 12 to 15 years
Housing: Large cage or aviary no less than 6 1/2 feet long
Diet: Fruits such as apples, pear, papaya, bananas, oranges, pomegranates, and kiwis; vegetables such as carrot, celery, green beans and peas in the pod, and fresh corn; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, kale, dandelion greens, sowthistle, Romaine lettuce and chickweed; seed mixes such as spray millet, millet, canary seed and smaller amounts of oats, buckwheat, safflower and small amounts of hemp; supplement with soaked or sprouted sunflower seeds, cooked beans and pulses, boiled maize, limited cubed hard cheeses and complete pellets.
Enrichment: Enjoys chewing. Provide untreated flowering tree branches such as fir, pine, willow and elder branches, wooden or vegetable-tanned leather toys, foraging/puzzle toys, ladders, swings, a variety of perches and ropes. Also provide small water bowls and overhead misters for bathing.

World Population: Less than 2,000 left in the wild
Threat Summary: Habitat destruction.
Range: Southwest Azuero Peninsula and Central Panama
Habitat: Found up to 5,445 feet in elevation in humid, hilly forested areas, forest margins and sometimes nearby partly cleared areas
Wild Diet: Feeds on fruits, flowers, seeds algae and invertebrates.
Ecology: Flocks usually stay in one area, may move depending on the availability of food. Usually seen in pairs or small groups, sometimes seen in flocks of up to 20 individuals. Stays up in the forest canopy where it is camouflaged amongst the foliage. Noisy and visible in flight.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Video of the Day: Welcome to the World, Tortoise!

A time-lapse video of a hatching tortoise

Breed of the Day: Alaskan Klee Kai

Country of Origin: United States
Group: Non-Sporting; Unrecognized by the AKC
Purpose: Companion
Average Life-Span: 10 to 13 years
Color: All colors permissible so long as the mask on the face is distinct and clearly visible with a contrasting lighter color on the throat, chest and underside.
Grooming: Heavy shedder; Brush frequently. Bathe only as needed, or ideally twice a year.
Height: Up to 17 inches at the withers
Weight: 10 to 25 pounds

    The Alaskan Klee Kai is an extremely rare breed of dog of the spitz type. The name Klee Kai is derived from Alaskan Athabaskan words meaning "Little Dog". The breed was developed to create a companion-sized version of the Husky, resulting in an energetic, intelligent apartment dog that still retains the regal appearance of its northern working heritage. The breed was developed in Wasilla, Alaska during the mid 1970s by Linda S. Spurlin after she observed the result of an accidental breeding of a Husky and a small dog of an unknown breed. The Alaskan Klee Kai was further developed by breeding huskies with Schipperke and American Eskimo Dog to bring down the size without having to create genetic dwarfism by inbreeding. As a result and relative to other new breeds, the Alaskan Klee Kai is remarkably free of genetic defects. However some health conditions linked to the breed include juvenile cataracts, liver disease, Factor VII deficiency, pyometra, luxating patellas, cryptorchid, cardiac issues including PDA and thyroid diseases including autoimmune thyroiditis. Going through a responsible breeder who has their sires and dams health tested and registered with the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) for cardiac, patellas and thyroid health. Alaskan Klee Kais are now accepted by CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) if they have passed their OFA and CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) eye exams.
    The Alaskan Klee Kai is a highly intelligent, active and curious breed. Unlike Huskies, which they closely resemble, Alaskan Klee Kais are typically stand-offish and cautious around unfamiliar individuals, which makes them excel as watch dogs despite their small stature. However, because of this they will need continual socialization throughout their lives. Also, unless they are properly introduced and raised with smaller pets (cats, birds, rabbits, etc), they have strong prey drives and my injure or kill them. Alaskan Klee Kais are distinctly intolerant of being mistreated (poked, pinched etc.) by children and may get nippy with them, unlike the Husky, which is considered to be great with children. Even so, they make great pets for families with responsible children. They have a high drive to please their owners and so excel at obedience classes as well as many other types of activities. Just because they can be kept in an apartment doesn't mean they don't still have all the energy of their working breed heritage. They will need lot of exercise to burn off all of that energy and prevent behavioral problems. Highly active Alaskan Klee Kais will greatly benefit from agility courses and competitions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Video of the Day: Another Common Pinktoe Video

Another nice, informative video of the Common Pinktoe tarantula

Species of the Day: Cane Toad

Scientific Name: Bufo marinus
Family: Bufonidae
Adult Size: Usually measure up to 8 inches in total length, with one specimen recorded as 15 inches long.
Range: Native to the extreme southern United States and Central and South America. Introduced in the islands of the Pacific, the Caribbean and most notoriously in Australia.
Habitat: Inhabits both tropical and semi-arid environments

    The Cane toad, also known as the Giant Neotropical toad or Marine toad, is a large, terrestrial toad native to Central and South America and southern Texas, but has been introduced to various islands throughout the Pacific and the Caribbean. The Cane toad is a prolific breeder and an opportunistic feeder. It will eat both dead and living matter, and there large size allows them a much greater prey variety. They will eat anything that they can overpower, including vertebrates. The Cane toad, along with their tadpoles, are also highly toxic, possessing poison glands in the lumps behind their eyes. Because of their voracious appetites, they have been introduced to many habitats to combat crop-damaging insects, but this plan has had catastrophic effects, especially in Australia. The Cane toads would compete for food and breeding areas with native amphibians, easily pushing them out and taking over. Also, because they are so toxic, they have no predators to keep down their exploding numbers. If you are going to keep these toads, take care that they are never allowed to escape and never release them into the wild.
    The Cane toad can be kept simply in captivity when provided with a few basic requirements. A large plastic storage bin will work as an enclosure, with the lid being modified to allow for proper ventilation. Of course, a large aquarium a minimum of 35 gallons works just as well, but will be more expensive. Damp paper towels provide a suitable substrate, but will have to be changed frequently. Two to four inches of peat moss or ground coconut husk will also work well for a substrate. A large water bowl will also be necessary to ensure proper hydration. Room temperatures in the mid to upper 70s are suitable for this species, with higher temperatures being avoided, as this can stress the animal. Cane toads eat a variety of food under captive conditions. As with many amphibian species, they can be maintained solely on crickets. Supplementing crickets with Super Worms, Earthworms, large Silk Worms and captive-reared Tomato Hornworms will ensure that the toad will maintain proper body weight. The diet can also be occasionally supplemented by pinky or fuzzy mice, but not too often to prevent obesity.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Video of the Day: Monitor Omelet

A video tutorial for those stubborn monitors who love eggs, but wont eat their bugs.

Species of the Day: Curlyhair Tarantula

Scientific Name: Brachypelma albopilosum
Range: Montane and cloud forests of Central America
Type: Terrestrial
Diet: Appropriately-sized insects along with the occasional lizard or pinky mouse
Adult Size: 5 to 5 1/2 inches
Growth Rate: Slow
Preferred Temperature: 70 to 85 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 75 to 80%
Temperament: Docile and calm
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic deli cup with air holes, adults can live in a 5 to 10 gallon tank; floor space is more important than height. Substrate should be 2 to 3 inches of peat moss or potting soil. Logs, driftwood, cork bark, etc. all make good cover and hiding places.

    The Curlyhair tarantula is an ideal tarantula species for beginners because of its docile temperament and relatively large size. Although fairly common and easy on the wallet, this species is more than just a brown tarantula. Up close, Curlyhair tarantulas have long, beautiful gold and tan hairs covering their entire bodies, hence their name. The legs are a darker brown in contrast to the bronze carapace. It's a fine looking spider without being exceedingly colorful. They are very hardy tarantulas that make lasting pets. They also make great teaching tarantulas since they are very tolerant of being handled, and also seem to have more personality than the conventional starter species, the Chilean Rosehair tarantula. Overall, Curlyhair tarantulas are great for everybody, novice or expert, and yours can easily become the favorite in your collection.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Video of the Day: Macaws Playing Catch

Macaws love to learn tricks, just like this Greenwing Macaw and Blue and Gold Macaw playing catch with a rolled-up sock.

Species of the Day: Ball Python

Scientific Name: Python regius
Family: Pythonidae
Adult Size: Average 4 to 5 feet in length
Range: Occurs in sub-Saharan central Africa, and can be found from Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Sierra Leone and Liberia on the west coast, east to southern Chad and Uganda.
Habitat: Grasslands and savannahs.

    Ball Pythons, also known as Royal Pythons, are native to central and western Africa. They get their name from the defensive behavior of curling into a tight ball with their heads tucked in the middle. Ball Pythons are one of the most popular pet snakes because of their docile temperaments and manageable size. Selective captive breeding has produced over 100 unique color variations and patterns to choose from, making them a beautiful and rewarding animal to keep. Ball pythons do not need much space, but the enclosure needs to be secure and well ventilated to provide the right humidity levels and to prevent escapes. A 20 to 40 gallon aquarium with a locking screen top is ideal. There are many acceptable substrates you can use including aspen shavings, cypress mulch, newspaper or paper towels, or astroturf. The enclosure can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, so long as the snakes needs are met: a proper temperature gradient, 2 hide boxes and a heavy crock full of fresh water. Optimal temperatures for ball pythons should be between 75 to 88 degrees F. The best way to provide heat to your snakes is through an undertank heating pad put under one side of the enclosure to proved a hot side and a cool side for your ball python to regulate its body temperature. There should also be some sort of hide box both on the cool end and the warm end of the tank so that the snake feels secure. Ball pythons can be maintained exclusively on appropriately sized rodents for their entire lives, but will sometimes accept feeder chicks.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Video of the Day: Dirty Jobs Bloopers

Some outtakes from another one of my favorite shows, Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe

Species of the Day: Common Snapping Turtle

Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
Family: Chelydridae
Adult Size: 12 to 15 inches with some individuals being up to 19 inches. Generally no larger that 35 pounds in the wild, but some captive specimens have grown to 90 pounds. Males are generally larger than females.
Range: Natural range covers the entire eastern United States and southern Canada, extending from Nova Scotia and Maine in the northeast, to Florida in the south, and eastern New Mexico and eastern Montana in the west. Introduced into the Rio Grande river in New Mexico, and habitats in California, Oregon and Washington.
Habitat: Generalist. Found in lakes, farm ponds, shallow wetlands, small streams and river systems. Commonly found moving overland in search of new bodies of water.

    The Common Snapping turtle is a large freshwater turtle known for its belligerent disposition when out of the water. This species is much smaller and has a much wider natural range than it's cousin, the Alligator Snapping turtle. In some areas they are hunted quite heavily for their meat, a popular ingredient in turtle soup. These turtles have lived for up of 47 years in captivity, with wild specimens only living to be about 30. That being said, snapping turtles do not make good pets. Their powerful, razor-sharp beaks and long, highly flexible necks and mobile heads make them nearly impossible to handle safely, as they can reach right around to the hands of its keeper and deliver a nasty bite. Because these turtles have evolved in such a way that they cannot properly fit inside their shells, they are much more aggressive than other turtles and can even shoot their heads out and snap in the blink of an eye. Also, their claws are very long and sharp and capable of inflicting serious damage.
    If you must have one, however, keep in mind that along with their atrocious temperament, their living requirements make them difficult animals to keep. They need huge amounts of space to be happy, such outdoor ponds or large stock tanks. The water should be deep, but shallow enough for the turtle to be able to stretch it's neck up to the surface to breath. The preferred water temperature should be around 75 to 87 degrees F, and these turtles do occasionally bask in the wild and will need a basking area with both a 90 degrees basking spot and full-spectrum UVB/UVA lighting. The habitat must be both extremely sturdy and secure, as Common Snapping turtles are surprisingly good climbers. Common Snapping turtles are considered omnivorous, but mostly prefer animal protein to the aquatic plants that it sometimes consumes in the wild. Along with various leafy greens and lettuces, any cooked lean meat, such as chicken, turkey and fish are all excellent staples. Good supplements include large night crawlers, pinky or adult mice and commercial turtle pellets.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Video of the Day: Cockatoo Musings

More Goffin's Cockatoo babble

Breed of the Day: Beveren

    The Beveren was recognized in 1898 and was named after the town of its origins in the Waas region of western Belgium. The original color was a blue that was that mostly came about through selection of the self-blue St. Nicholas (St. Niklass). The early blue Beverens showed varying depths of color, but the preferred color by the furriers was a light lavender-blue. Early weights for the breed were also controversial issues and two types would eventually emerge: the Standard Beveren and the Giant.
    Blue Beverens were imported into Britain by Mrs. A.M. Martin and showed for the first time at Norwich in 1905. Though the judges did not care for the breed initially, this soon changed. On May 29, 1918 in Birmingham, 17 people met and founded the Beveren Club. The breed quickly grew to become the most popular fur breed in the United Kingdom. The strong Beveren Club began to recognize other breeds of fur rabbits and in 1925, changed its name to the British Fur Rabbit Society and later to the British Rabbit Council.
    Both Standard and Giant Beverens arrived in America about 1915, but were listed in the standards under the spelling of "Beverin". By 1919, the United States had a number of all blue rabbits: the American Blue, Beveren, Giant Beveren, Barbancon Blue, Blue Imperial, Blue Vienna and Blue Flemmish Giants. Edward H. Stahl of Holmes Park, Missouri imported the blue-eyed white Beveren in 1933 from England where they had appeared as Sports (mutations) in 1916. A black breed known as the Sitka, which was already in America, became known as the Black Beveren. For some reason the breed never became popular.
    Today's Beveren is recognized in three color varieties; solid blue, solid black and blue-eyed white. The fur has a gentle rollback and the coat should be dense and glossy. Fur length is rather long at 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. This breed has a pronounced mandolin-shaped body with mature bucks weighing in at 8 to 11 pounds and does at 9 to 12 pounds. They are certainly a multi-purpose rabbit used for meat and fur. Litters are large, the young grow fairly fast and the does are typically docile and make good mothers. The Beveren is a hardy breed that is easily reared in all-wired hutches.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Video of the Day: Confused Cockatiel

This cockatiel is a little muddled at hearing his owner's voice on an answering machine.

Species of the Day: Bearded Dragon

Scientific Name: Pogona vitticeps
Family: Agamidae
Adult Size: Up to two feet in length
Range: Central and inland areas of Australia
Habitat: Interior deserts to coastal woodlands

    Having owned one myself, there is not enough to be said about the bearded dragon's potential for becoming a cherished family pet. They are known as one of the all-time best pet lizards. They come in three distinct personalities to fit the needs of any owner. Twangs, as I call them, are alert and active almost to the point of being hyper, perfect for the reptile owner wanting a rambunctious pet to watch all of their antics. Then there are the boring bearded dragons, who love nothing more than laying around like a pet rock, for the owner wanting a sedate pet to sit in their lap and watch television with them. Last but not least, are the cuddlers, a great mix of the two former personalities, that are best for families with children. Cuddlers are alert, confident and happy dragons with a twinkle in their eye. They are always interested in whats going on around them and seem to genuinely enjoy being around their owners. Bearded dragons certainly are a joy to watch, whether it be them chasing down and eating crickets in a frenzy or their interesting social behaviors, such as arm-waving, head-bobbing or push-ups.
    Captive-bred bearded dragons are very common in pet stores and through private hobby breeders, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Their manageable size, relative ease of care and their moderate life-spans (6 to 10 years), make them great starter reptile for people just coming in to the hobby. However, their spacial requirements are quite large, a 55 gallon aquarium being the minimum size for a pair of adults. Bearded dragons love to climb, so some sturdy branches should be provided for enrichment, along with rocky piles and crevices to hide in. Sand mixed with untreated potting soil is a common substrate for adult bearded dragons, with news paper or paper towels being safer for babies, who may accidentally ingest the sand and get impacted. Bearded dragons are desert dwellers and enjoy high temperature gradients between 80 and 90 degrees F, with a basking spot of 100 degrees F. UVB and UVA lighting is a must for these lizards, assisting them in synthesizing in Vitamin D3 and aiding in calcium absorption for proper bone growth. Bearded dragons are omnivorous, enjoying both plant matter and animal protein in varying degrees depending on their age. Young bearded dragons will require more protein while adults will eat a 50/50 mix of insects and greens. Bearded dragons have voracious appetites and will readily accept any appropriately sized insects and the occasional pinky mouse of feeder anole.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Video of the Day: Araucana Chicken

This is a breed of chicken called the Araucana, which are simply adorable with their tail-less look.

Breed of the Day: Bengal

    Loved by those who appreciate it's inquisitive and loving nature, the Bengal is a medium to large cat renowned for its richly colored, highly contrasted coat of vivid spots, rosettes or marbling. Originally developed from crosses the domestic cat and Asian Leopard cat, the Bengal is the only domestic cat that can have rosettes like the markings on leopards, jaguars and ocelots. Today's domestic Bengal cat comes only from breeding Bengals to other Bengals and requires no specialized care. Since their beginnings in 1986, the Bengal's regal beauty and alluring charm have quickly made it one of the most popular and sought-after breeds. Employing scientific insights and a cooperative spirit, Bengal breeders continue to develop these stunning cats with careful selection for temperament, health and beauty.
    Throughout history there are indications of a profound human fascination with the large and small wild felines that inhabit the jungles and forests of the world. In 1963, Jean S. Mill crossed the Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic cat. This was the first effort to use hybrid offspring to create a breed of domestic cat with the loving nature of a fire-side tabby and the striking look associated with wild felines. The modern Bengal breed traces back to cats bred by Mrs. Mill beginning in the early 1980s. The breed's name is a reference to the scientific name of the Asian Leopard cat, Prionailurus bengalensis. The hybrid crosses are registered as Foundation (F1, F2 and F3) Bengals, and are not eligible to compete in the International Cat Association's (TICA) conformation rings, with only the females used for breeding.  Accepted as a new breed in TICA in 1986, Bengals gained championship status in 1991. They are now one of the most exhibited breeds in TICA.
    While you can train a Bengal to have good manners, they are an active, inquisitive cat that loves to be up high. If you don't like cats that climb all over the place, a Bengal probably isn't for you. Bengals are busy bodies by nature. They are very affectionate and can be a "lap cat" whenever THEY want to be, but in general their idea of fun is playing, chasing, climbing and investigating. They'll often save cuddle time for when they want to sleep. Many Bengals enjoy water and may join you in brushing your teeth or even in the shower. Some Bengals are more vocal while others are quiet. For families or individuals who enjoy a rambunctious, funny, beautiful and dynamic feline companionship, consider the Bengal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Video of the Day: Spyker C8 Car Review

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson test drives the super car Spyker C8 and scrutinizes the cool design by the revived Dutch car company.

Species of the Day: Australian King Parrot

Scientific Name: Alisterus scapularis
Adult Size: Over 16 inches long; 195 to 275 grams
Races Including Nominate: 2; A.s. scapularis, A.s. minor
Adult Plumage: A.s. scapularis: Male- red head, neck and underparts; blue band on the base of the neck; back and wings dark green; wing has silver-green band when folded; blue lower back and rump; black tail tinged with blue; upper mandible orange-red with a black tip, lower mandible is black with an orange base; yellow eyes. Female- green head and upperparts; red lower breast and abdomen; silver green wing band is minimal or absent; dark green tail with a pink tip; gray bill; yellow eyes. A.s. minor: Both adults the same as scapularis, but smaller in size.
Call: Flight calls are shrill and somewhat loud. Alarm calls are a harsh and metallic shrieking. Males give high pitched, flute-like notes when perched.

    Captive-bred Australian King parrots make calm and relatively quiet household pets. They have a limited talking ability and normally prefer not to be handled, but they do bond readily to people and can be very sweet and devoted. Will tolerate other species outside of the breeding season.
Captive Status: Fairly common as pets in Australia; less so elsewhere
Longevity: up to 25 years in some captive individuals
Housing: Walk in aviary; minimum length of 10 feet
Diet: Small seed mix such as canary seed, oats, safflower and hemp; spray millet; limited sunflower seed (dry, sprouted or soaked); sprouted or cooked beans and pulses; boiled maize; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, sowthistle, dandelion greens, chickweed; vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, green beans and peas in the pod; fruit such as apple, pear, banana, cactus fruits and oranges; nuts such as lightly cracked hazelnuts, pecans and roasted peanuts; complete kibble.

World Population: over 50,000
Range: A.s. scapularis: Southeastern coast and eastern-central mainland Australia; A.s. minor: Northeastern Australia
Habitat: Occurs up to 5330 feet in elevation. Found in a variety of habitats from high, forested areas to lower, more open spaces. During the breeding season, birds are found in more dense forest such as wet sclerophyll forest, gullies, eucalyptus woodland and savanna woodland bordering with riverine forest. Also, outside of the breeding season, they are found in cultivated lands, parks, orchards and sometimes backyard gardens.
Wild Diet: East fruits, flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, insect larvae, buds and other vegetation. A favorite is a species of mistletoe, Viscum album. May eat some food crops.
Ecology: Seasonally nomadic to a degree. Usually found in pairs or small groups, or post-breeding flocks of up to 50 individuals. Conspicuous when not feeding, weary and quiet while eating. Gathers in groups to feed in the morning, then sits quietly through the heat of the day, becoming active again in the late afternoon.
IUCN Rating: Least Concern
CITES Rating: Appendix II
Threat Summary: Population appears stable but may have been affected by the wild bird trade and habitat loss to some degree

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Video of the Day: Beardie Bath

It's always important to give your bearded dragons a good soak, but some can learn to be adept swimmers.

Breed of the Day: Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog

Country of Origin: USA
Group: Working; Unrecognized
Purpose: Cattle herder, livestock guard and companion
Average Life-Span: 10 to 13 years
Color: Blue/grey merle to black or tan to dark brown
Grooming: Brush weekly with a curry comb and wipe down with a wet wash cloth. Bathe as needed.
Height/Weight: Males: 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder; 70 to 90 lbs. Females: 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder; 55 to 75 lbs.

    The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog was developed in the southern enclaves of the United States during the 18th century. The breed originated from crosses of the now extinct White English Bulldog and one or more of the local herding breeds such as the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Black Mouth Cur. The breed has been known by a series of names such as the Otto, Cow Dog, Silver Dollar and Catahoula Bulldog. It was originally bred for the sole purpose of coursing and catching wild and unruly cattle, afterward establishing itself on many farms, ranches and plantations as an all-around utility dog (guard dog, herder and varmint patrol). It was not bred to put on threat displays or even look a certain way, but it did need the right equipment to take care of its real bulldog duties. It needed to be strong enough to catch and hold ornery cattle and athletic enough to catch feral hogs. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is a functional and exaggerated bulldog with a square head, broad chest and prominent muzzle. It is dutiful, highly trainable, possessive and attentive, which makes them eager companions for the family. They are protective of their property and establish territories at a young age. They are not suitable for kennel situations, preferring the role of devoted family companion. These bulldogs are intelligent, athletic and aloof with strangers. Training and socialization are recommended at an early age. The Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog is hardy, resistant to disease and requires minimal grooming.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Video of the Day: Tennis Ball Parrot

A male Eclectus parrot loves to play with tennis balls and rough em' up!

Species of the Day: Barking Tree Frog

Scientific Name: Hyla gratiosa
Family: Hylidae
Adult Size: 2 to 2 3/4 inches
Range: Found in the most part in the southeastern United States as far west as extreme eastern Louisiana and as far north as southeastern Virginia
Habitat: Barking tree frogs utilize both arboreal and terrestrial environments. During dry periods they will burrow into the ground or hide under surface cover to avoid dessication.

    Barking tree frogs, one of the larger tree frog species found naturally in the US, are a colorful species, with a predominantly green dorsal coloration that is typically broken up with scattered dark spots. At night or during periods of stress, the color will change from green to a deep purple or brown. Males can be differentiated from females by the presence of a green or yellow throat.
    Barking tree frogs can be kept quite easily in captivity, when provided with a few basic requirements. A variety of substrates will suit the needs of these frogs, including simple paper towels to more natural substrates, such as peat or green moss, ground coconut husks or a mixture of ground coconut husks and orchid bark. It is important to have a drainage layer at the bottom of the enclosure, which can be made using either large-grade pea-gravel or expanded clay pellets, and then covering this with fiberglass window screening to prevent the finer substrate from filling the gaps in the drainage layer. Suitable plants include philodendron, pothos, Aglaonema, dieffenbachia and other large-leaved, sturdy plants. It is also important to provide a large, clean water dish to allow them to soak regularly.
    Crickets make a good staple food item when supplemented with meal worms and small silk moth larvae. Barking tree frogs have a voracious appetite and can become obese if over-fed. Gut loading food items with vegetables and commercial gut-loading food will provide a more nutritious meal for your frogs. Dusting food items with a vitamin/mineral supplement is also a good idea with this species, especially for younger animals still going through periods of rapid growth.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Video of the Day: Sports Bloopers

Sometimes, in the great game of soccer (or football if you live outside of the US), accidents happen, and not everything goes as planned. But you should still always look on the bright side of life!

Species of the Day: Martinique Pinktoe Tarantula

Scientific Name: Avicularia versicolor
Range: Tropical areas of Martinique, Guadeloupe and possible the surrounding Caribbean islands.
Type: Arboreal
Diet: Appropriately sized insects, and the occasional pinky mouse of feeder lizard
Adult Size: 5 to 6 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 80 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 75 to 80%
Temperament: Docile but nervous
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic deli-cup with holes, and adults can live in a 5 to 10 gallon tank; height is more important than floor space. 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, potting soil or wood chips can be used as a substrate. Branches, live plants, vines, etc. can be used as cover and provide a base for the web.

    The Martinique Pinktoe tarantula has to be one of the most beautiful tarantula species in the world. When the spiderlings hatch out, they are a brilliant blue, and by the time they reach adult size they are a gorgeous combination of greens, blues, reds and even purple. These attractive tarantulas cannot be kept communally like their cousin, the Common Pinktoe. The Martinique Pinktoe tarantula is a docile but skittish species that can be quick to run if disturbed. This still does not eliminate it from the beginner's category, but there are easier species out there. These colorful, fairly large tarantulas create strong webs in tree bark in the wild, and they will do the same in captivity if provided with branches or cork bark. Poor ventilation is a death sentence for the Martinique Pinktoe tarantula, like many other tropical arboreal species. If the air in the tank is damp and stale, it could encourage molds to grow and invade the tarantula's lungs. For good reason, the Martinique Pinktoe tarantula is one of the most sought after tarantulas in the hobby.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Video of the Day: Spoon Parrot

Another video of a parrot "helping" in the kitchen, this time an African Gray Parrot.

Species of the Day: Baird's Rat Snake

Scientific Name: Pantherophis (Elaphe) bairdi
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: 2 to over 4 feet long
Range: Western region of Texas, south into Mexico
Habitat: Rocky, wooded areas and upland deserts

    The Baird's Rat snake is a colubrid species found in the United States in the Big Bend region of western Texas as well as in northern in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. The species is named for American zoologist Spencer Fullerton Baird. There are no subspecies currently recognized. Adults can reach lengths of 25 to 55 inches, with some individuals reaching up to 6 feet in length. The color pattern consists of an orange-yellow, or a darker salmon ground color overlaid with four darker stripes that run from the back of the head to the tail. The belly is generally gray to yellow, darkening near the tail. They are typically the more pleasant tempered of the rat snakes, rarely biting unless improperly handled. Housing for any rat snake is very simple. Cages should be escape-proof, well ventilated and roomy, with a hide box and a large, heavy water crock for drinking and soaking. A 20 to 40 gallon tank is perfect for an adult snakes, with aspen shavings, newspaper or paper towels as a substrate. These snakes do best with ventral heating options, such as under-tank heating pads, placed on one end of the enclosure. Their primary diet in the wild consists of rodents and sometimes birds, with younger individuals feeding on lizards. Captive individuals can be maintained solely on appropriately sized rodents or even feeder chicks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Video of the Day: Caique Helps with the Dishes

Caiques love to be a part of all family activity, even "helping" clean up after dinner!

Species of the Day: Common Musk Turtle

Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
Family: Kinosternidae
Adult Size: Up to 4 1/2 inches long
Rage: Found throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada (Ontario), stretching from Maine to Florida and west to central Texas
Habitat: Generalist. Found in lakes and ponds with abundant aquatic vegetation. Also frequents rivers and streams. Can occur in permanent wetlands without dry seasons.

    The Common Musk turtle is also known as the "Stink Pot" turtle for the musky odor it emits from glands on its plastron as a defense mechanism. Common Musk turtles can stretch their necks out quite far and can turn their necks around behind then to deliver a pinching bite to the fingers of the person holding them. However, they settle down quite well in captivity, and some captive bred animals can actually become quite friendly toward humans and will stop emitting the foul smell. Because of their small size, they make great pets.
    Common Musk turtles are capable swimmers and do well in aquariums that contain deep water, however be provided with some structure, solidly stacked cinder blocks or submerged logs work very well, so that they may rest with just their hands sticking out of the water. From the thick algae that covers the carapaces of wild individuals, it would seem that they don't bask very frequently, but should still be provided a basking light as well as UVB/UVA lighting. As well as submerged logs, stones and cinder blocks, plants, either real or plastic (non-toxic) should be provided for more cover and hiding places.
    Common Musk turtles are generally carnivorous. In the wild they often crawl along the bottom of a pond or stream in search of aquatic insects, worms and especially snails. Live or dead fish along with other carrion are scavenged when available. Captive individuals will eat various insects, earthworms, and chopped fish. Although a young Musk turtle may be given as much food as they can consume, rationing to a good meal once a week for adults can combat the obesity that some turtles seem to be prone to.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Video of the Day: More Monitor Feeding

Hand-feeding your monitors from babies is one of the best ways to turn them into the tame puppy-dogs that they can be as adults.

Breed of the Day: Belgian Hare

    The Belgian Hare rabbit is the breed responsible for the domestic rabbit movement in the United States. Although the original rabbits can be traced to Belgium, the credit for their perfection must be given to the British. The London Zoological Gardens imported a few rabbits for display as early as 1865, but it was Winter "William" Lumb and Benjamin Greaves who had the greatest impact on the development of the breed after their importation of several animals from Antwerp in early 1873. Some claimed the Belgian Hares were actually a fertile mule (a cross between a rabbit and a European hare), however, Winter Lumb prevailed in his stand that it was a rabbit, pure and simple, that was bred to resemble a wild hare.
    The first Belgian Hares reached America in 1888, when E.M. Hughes, of Albany, New York imported a few animals. Hughes, along with W.N. Richardson of Troy, New York and G.W. Felton of Barre, Massachusetts, sounded the first rabbit club in America, The American Belgian Hare Association. The club only lasted a year and was later replaced by another club, which was organized in 1897. What became known as the "Belgian Hare Boom" took this country by storm. From 1898 to 1901, many thousands of  Belgian Hares were imported into America. The British firm, Sutton & Company, alone "safely conveyed" over 6,000 Belgian Hares to the United States in 1900. Rabbits were changing hands for hundreds and thousands of dollars, with a record price of 5,000 dollars paid for one male in 1900. Large companies dealing with Belgian Hares were established and Belgian Hare clubs could be found in nearly every major city. Millionaires of the day, such as J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, H.M. Flagler, Dupont and the Guggenheims, saw the money making potential of this popular rabbit. Los Angeles County alone boosted over 60,000 animals in 1900. The market had become so heavily saturated, however, that prices for stock dropped to less than $25.00 for a fine exhibition animal. Despite the fact that Belgian Hare was a common menu fare, the breed continued to decline due to the development of other, more commercial breeds. By the 1940s, Belgian Hares became a scarce animal in the showrooms of this nation, as it had throughout the world. Dedicated fanciers worldwide struggled to keep the breed from extinction.
    Belgian Hares are a very racy and fine-boned breed of rabbit, with a deep rich red color that has a black-waved ticking to the fur. The type and fur qualities are lost when crossed with other breeds. While not considered the hardiest of breeds, they are an active rabbit that typically requires wooden floored hutches heavily bedded shavings and straw. Belgian Hares do not do well with extremely high humidity and temperatures. They are fair mothers and litters will average four to eight kittens. Youngsters are slow to mature. Mature bucks and does will weigh 6 to 9 pounds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Video of the Day: Tarantula Dance

A common pinktoe tarantula doing its happy dance as it spins it own dinner table out of silk so it can enjoy its cricket

Species of the Day: Beaded Lizard

Scientific Name: Heloderma horridum
Family: Helodermatidae
Adult Size: The various subspecies usually grow between 24 to 30 inches long but occasionally reach 4 feet in length
Range: Western coast of Mexico from southern Sonora, south to an isolated population in central Guatemala
Habitat: Mesic forested hillsides with pronounced wet and dry seasons

    The beaded lizard is a species of venomous lizard found principally in Mexico and southern Guatemala. It is one of two species of lizards, along with the Gila Monster, that has developed an overt venom delivery system. The beaded lizard is larger than the Gila Monster but has duller coloration; black with yellowish bands of differing width depending on the subspecies. A specialized predator that feeds primarily on eggs, nesting animals and their young, the primary use of its venom is still a source of debate among scientists. This venom, however, has been found to contain several enzymes useful for manufacturing drugs in the treatment of diabetes, and the research on the pharmacological use of its venom is ongoing. Threatened throughout its range by illegal poaching for the pet trade and habitat loss, the beaded lizard is a CITES protected animal. The Motagua Valley subspecies (H.h. charlesborgeti) is one of the rarest lizards in the world, with a wild population of fewer than 200 animals. The beaded lizard is also surrounded my myth and superstition in much of its native range. It is incorrectly believed to be more venomous than a rattlesnake, that it can cause lightning strikes with its tail or make a pregnant woman miscarry my simply looking at it, and as a result the local people will kill them on sight.
   As captive animals, their sometimes sour tempers and venom commands respect and they should not be handled casually. The beaded lizards venom is a weak hemotoxin and although deaths in humans are rare, it can cause respiratory failure. Almost all documented bites (8 in the last 100 years), resulted from people harassing the animals by prodding them with a finger or foot. As stated before the their are many pharmacological properties to this venom relating to diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease and even HIV/AIDS. One study done in 1996 revealed that a certain hormone in the saliva binds to cell receptors from breast cancers cells and my stop lung cancer. Long-term captive lizards may become sluggish and seemingly tame, but they should never be trusted to not deliver a lightning fast, bulldog-like bite. Beaded lizards are most active when temperatures are in the 80's F, regardless of what time of the day it is, so a temperature gradient in this range, with a basking bulb at one end of the enclosure works best for these lizards. Now these lizards are semi-arboreal and at the same time prolific diggers, and so can be hard on their environment and need a strong, solidly built enclosure with sturdy climbing branches and a good burrowing substrate mix of untreated soil, gravel and mulch. A heavy ceramic bowl will serve as a good water bowl and a hide box constructed of sturdy wood will complete the set-up. Captive beaded lizards will eat frozen chicks and rodents along with eggs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Video of the Day: Tortoise at Play

Here is an African Sulcata, actively chasing after his ball to the best of his ability

Breed of the Day: Balinese

    In a nutshell, the graceful Balinese is a Siamese with a a long coat, but they are so much more! The long coat of this affectionate cat flows over the lithe body without obscuring any of its elegant lines. The fine-boned, slim Balinese has the grace of the dancers of Bali and its athletic body is covered with a long, silky ermine coat. Its sapphire blue eyes sparkle with intelligence and curiosity as it surveys its surroundings, but at a moments notice the Balinese discards its regal bearing to engage in clowning around with a favorite toy. It's princely demeanor and fluid grace constantly remind one that its ancestors were considered sacred in Siam, surrounding it with an air or royalty.
    The early history of the Balinese is unknown although sporadic to it occur from very early on. Some say there is an ancient Chinese tapestry depicting a longhair, an 1871 Penny Illustrated magazine contains a reference to a longhaired Siamese and a CFF registration record for one in 1928. While longhaired kittens sporadically, the history of the Balinese starts with the first breeding programs in the 1950s. Two Siamese breeders, Marion Dorsey with her cat Rai-Mar in California, and Helen Smith with MerryMews in New York, both fell in love with the beauty of some of the longhaired kittens that showed up in their litters and decided to develop more of the lovely cats. Helen Smith is responsible for coining the name Balinese to reflect their grace and elegance that reminded her of the Balinese dancers. The Balinese was originally recognized in four colors: seal, blue, chocolate and lilac. In 1979, red and cream along with the tabby pattern were also accepted, rounding out the color palette to include red, cream, tortoiseshells and all color combinations as both solid color points and tabby points. More recently, these colors in combination with white were accepted, widening the color spectrum to include bi-color points. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed for competition in 1979.
    Balinese have extremely loving temperaments and bond closely to their families. They will be your best friend and want to be involved in everything you do from "helping" you make the bed to joining in on all kinds of games. These gregarious cats a very vocal, although the voice is softer and less insistent than that of the Siamese. They do demand a lot of attention and get into mischief and so should not be left alone for long periods of time. They love to play and can make a toy out of anything and amuse themselves for hours. Balinese get along well with children and other pets, fitting in easily into any home family or home situation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Video of the Day: Macaw Gets Shot!

Cockatoos dance, Amazons sing, African Grays talk and Macaws seem to be best at learning tricks, making them common preforming or circus birds.

Species of the Day: Austral Conure

Scientific Name: Enicognathus ferrungineus
Adult Size: A little under 13 inches long, weighs 160 grams
Subspecies: E. f. minor 
Adult Plumage: E.f. ferrungineus: Both adults a dull green in color with soft black/gray barring; red/brown forehead and lores; red/brown patch in the center of the abdomen; brown/red tail; dark grey bill; grey eye ring; red/brown eyes. E.f. minor: Both adults a darker green; abdominal patch a darker brown/red and less extensive, sometimes absent; smaller in size.
Call: Shrill calls made in flight; alarm calls more strident/urgent; also some calls harsher and grating. Some melodious cries made as well.

    Quite rare in captivity, the Austral Conure makes a sweet and lovable companion. They have an easy-going disposition and are most active in the evening times, which makes them great for people who are away during the day. They are very friendly, fun-loving, inquisitive and even mischievous. They are only moderately noisy and most aren't very nippy, and they can be kept communally in an aviary type set up.

Average Life-Span: 15 to 25 years
Housing: Large, suspended cage or aviary a minimum of 9 feet long.
Diet: Fruit such as apples, pear, oranges, bananas, pomegranates and cactus fruit; vegetables such as carrots, celery, green beans and peas in the pod; leafy greens such as Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, sowthistle greens, dandelion greens, chickweed; Seed mix containing canary seed, millet, oats, buckwheat, safflower and hemp seeds; and soaked and sprouted sunflower seeds, cooked beans and pulses, boiled maize, small amounts of cubed hard cheeses and complete commercial bird kibble.
Enrichment: Provide overhead misters or a water bowl for bathing, untreated flowering or budding branches, a variety of perches, untreated wooden toys, vegetable tanned leather toys, puzzle/foraging toys, heat sterilized pine cones, ladders, swings and ropes.

Range: E.f. ferrungineus: Southern Chile in Aisen and Magallanes, and southern Argentina from southwestern Chubut south to Tierra del Fuego. E.f. minor: Central and southern Chile from O'Higgins south to Aisen and the eastern slopes of the Andes to southwest Argentina from Neuquen south to western Chubut.
Habitat: Found up to 2,000 feet in elevation mostly in wooded country, also in more open habitat and cultivated areas. Occurs at sea level in the southern parts of its range
Wild Diet: Mainly a seed eater, but also eats bamboo, nuts, acorns, fruits, berries and leaf buds. Also seen taking pollen and nectar from native plants such as Nothofagus and Araucaria
Ecology: Seen in flocks of 10 to 15 individuals but groups of up to 100 individuals can also be seen. Nests in tree cavities using thin bits of wood and other bird's feathers to line the nest.
Threat Summary: None at present
IUCN Rating: Least Concern
CITES Rating: Appendix II

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Video of the Day: Drinking Leopard Gecko

Many reptiles will suck up a little water at a time and raise their heads, much like a bird, but leopard geckos have the adorable habit of lapping up water like cats and dogs

Breed of the Day: Akbash Dog

Country of Origin: Turkey
Group: Working; unrecognized
Purpose: Livestock guardian  
Average Life-Span: 10 to 11 years
Color: Solid white
Grooming: Brush weekly, bathe only as needed
Height/Weight: Dog- 90 to 140 lbs, 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder; Bitch- 75 to 105 lbs, 27 to 32 inches at the shoulder

    An ancient breed out of Turkey, the Akbash Dog is a striking white flock guard that has recently made a name for itself on American farms and ranches, where it protects its owner's livestock from bears, wolves and coyotes. As with many other white, flock guarding breeds, these dogs were raised with their charges, usually sheep, from puppy-hood. The Akbash breed is well known for their intelligence, bravery, cunning, independence and loyalty to their herds. As such the Akbash Dog is uncommon as a companion dog since they are largely bred to think on their own, and therefore make a sometimes difficult dog when it comes to training and obedience. They prefer large areas and may become discontent and exhibit behavioral problems if relegated to a pen or small yard, and Akbash dogs require tall, secure fencing for best containment. The Akbash is not a breed for everyone. It is a working breed that is happiest when given a herd to guard, or at least when kept mentally engaged.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video of the Day: Mythbusters Bloopers

Just some outtakes from one of my favorite shows

Species of the Day: Argentine Horned Frog

Scientific Name: Ceratophrys ornata
Family: Leptodactylidae
Adult Size: Rarely larger than 4 to 6 inches
Range: Colombian and Argentine regions of South America
Habitat: Moist grasslands and croplands near semi-permanent bodies of water

    Argentine Horned frogs, also known as Pac-Man frogs, a very common in the pet trade. Horned frogs are named for the fleshy points that some species have over each eye. They are moderately sized, with females being bigger than males. Horned frogs are usually a bright grass-green in color with brownish-red and yellow spots, while some come in different shades of brown markings. Green and brown as well as albinos are all common and easy to find in pet stores. Horned frogs are ambush hunters, so they are generally not very active, preferring to sit and wait for food to come along. A pair of Horned frogs can be kept in a 15 to 20 gallon aquarium, provided that they are the same size and well fed, as these frogs are prone to cannibalism. The set up can be a plain habitat with just half an inch of water in it, a terrestrial habitat or half and half. Because of the sedate nature of these frogs and their enormous appetites, they are also prone to obesity, so it is preferred to provide a terrestrial habitat with a good burrowing substrate for exercise. Coconut husk or potting soil containing no vermiculite, perlite, or fertilizers make good substrates. The substrates should be kept moist with out it getting water-logged or too dried out. If it clumps easily in the hand without squeezing out any water, then its good to go. Feeding these frogs rarely presents any problems. A meal of a few smaller prey items is preferable to just one large one. Juveniles should be fed more frequently than adults, with adults only needing to be fed a good meal once a week. A variety of insects should be offered, along with the occasional pinky mouse.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Video of the Day: Cockatoo Babble

Goffin Cockatoos are well known for the babbling noises they make that sound like they are telling an engaging story

Species of the Day: Common Pinktoe Tarantula

Scientific Name: Avicularia Avicularia
Range: Tropical areas of Brazil, Trinidad, Guyana, French Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela and throughout the Amazon Basin.
Type: Arboreal
Diet: Appropriately sized insects and the occasional feeder lizard or pinky mouse
Adult Size: 4 1/2 to 5 inches
Growth Rate: Moderate
Preferred Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees F
Preferred Humidity: 78 to 82%
Temperament: Docile and active
Housing: Spiderlings can live in a clear plastic container with holes. Adults can live in a 10 to 40 gallon tank; height is more important than floor space. Common Pinktoes can be kept communally if they are provided with adequate space, food and plenty of places to hide and if all the tarantulas are the same size.
Substrate: 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, potting soil or wood chips
Decor: Branches, live plants, vines, etc. make good hiding places and bases for webbing.

    This species of Pinktoe tarantula, known simply as the Common Pinktoe tarantula, is widely available, docile, beautiful and can be a little speedy. Although generally easy to care for, they can become more of a challenge if more than one are kept together in a terrarium. Unlike other tarantulas, the Common Pinktoe may be kept communally if done properly. Ventilation is very important with this species, and many people have lost tarantulas due to poor air quality. These tarantulas need higher humidity than most other species, and if the air in the tank is damp and stale, molds can grow, making it a dangerous environment. Overall, the Common Pinktoe tarantula can be an inexpensive and rewarding tarantula species for beginners and experts alike.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Video of the Day: Jedi Bird

The force is strong in this one...

Species of the Day: Taiwanese Beauty Rat Snake

Scientific Name: Orthriophis taeniurus friesei
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: Averages 6 feet in length; occasionally exceeds 8 1/2 feet in length
Range: Occurs only in Taiwan
Habitat: Generalist. Occurs in wooded areas, agricultural lands and along water courses. Semi-arboreal.

    The Taiwanese Beauty Rat snake is a species of long, slender, semi-arboreal snakes native to Taiwan. Their average length is about 5 to 7 feet, with an  unofficial record of just under 1 feet. It is a beautiful snake, with a ground color of yellowish-brown to olive, with jet-black patterns throughout the body. The markings on the back almost always consist of two pairs of black, round spots, which join together. From each eye there is a dark stripe, which extends to the corners of the mouth.
    In captivity some individuals tame down to be very nice pets, but others have been known to be quite temperamental even many years after capture. Wild collected specimens are often very defensive and may even injure their snouts by striking against the glass of the terrarium, which means that they will bite the unwary hand that ventures into the enclosure while cleaning or delivering prey items. Wild caught Taiwanese Beauties are also heavily parasitized, dehydrated, emaciated and difficult to acclimate. Many have problems shedding and most will not feed readily at first. Going through the trouble and higher price of captive-bred individuals is a much better choice, and well worth it to have a calmer and pre-acclimated snake. Captive-bred specimens are seasonally available and come in both normally colored snakes and albinos. Captive-bred hatchlings will readily accept pinky mice and grow rapidly. Adult snakes will eat breeder-sized mice and appropriately sized rats.
    This is an active, alert and shy snake. It should be provided a large enclosure containing a hide box and assorted visual barriers such as cork bark or sterilized driftwood. One or two babies can be housed in a 10 gallon terrarium, but due to their rapid growth rates, it will be less expensive to just house them in the adult sized enclosure. A pair of adults can be housed in a 50 to 125 gallon terrarium. If provided with sturdy branches, a well-adjusted snake will climb on them, coil up and rest. Cypress, fir, aspen chips or bark mulch are all excellent choices for substrate. A temperature gradient of 76 to 82 degrees F during the day and as low as 68 degrees F at night is ideal for these snakes. A basking spot of 88 degrees F should be provided during the day periods. A large water bowl kept scrupulously clean should always be provided and should be large enough for the snake to be able to soak in and submerge its whole body.