Mama Red-eared Slider Laying Eggs

Saw this female red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) laying eggs outside our apartment here in Florida recently. Managed to get a video clip! Unfortunately we’ll be moving before they hatch so we won’t get to see that.

[youtube http://youtu.be/M3JGXh7zudc]

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A Mammoth Discovery!

Scientists in Russia recently uncovered one of the best preserved mammoths ever found! This mammoth had not only well preserved tissue but also liquid blood. Attempts have been made in the past to clone extinct mammoths for the purpose of studying them but this may be one of the best chances yet. Only time will tell. Check out the news story below:

My favorite president, The Wilderness Warrior

Written by Douglas Brinkley, The Wilderness Warrior tells the life of my favorite president, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy was one of the most conservation friendly presidents, growing up with an avid interest in wildlife, nature, and the world around him.

71SqeeKwwaLThe book, whose full title is The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, starts all the way back in Teddy’s childhood. Though it was a long read, it was definitely worth it. I learned so much that I never knew before about this great man and the things he did to try and protect America’s wilderness. It was fascinating reading about his upbringing and his family and the influence they had on him. Had we been children at the same time, I am certain we would have been best friends. As a child he set up his own little natural history museum in his house with specimens he would find. His family traveled a lot and he saw much more of the world than many people today have, even with modern transportation options.

A known game hunter, he is famous for refusing to shoot an American Black Bear which had already been captured, beaten, and tied up, knowing it wasn’t sporting and wash’t fair to the bear. That is how toy bears came to be known as “Teddy bears”; they were named after Teddy Roosevelt.

As I said before, it is a long read, and to look at the size of the book may be daunting, but it really is worth it. I read it on my Nook e-reader so I didn’t have to lug the big hard copy around. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the national park system, conservation, and history.

Baby Bunny or Squeak Toy?

It’s Spring time. Baby season. Everywhere you look you see baby animals. Unfortunately, your dog sees them too. This post is inspired by a story my dad recently told me. My parents have two dogs, not big burly outdoor dogs by any means. One is a Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix) and the other is a Bichon Poo (Bichon Frise/Poodle mix).

Why can't they all just get along? Source Link

Why can’t they all just get along?
Source Link

Well, these two like to think that they’re big burly dogs and so every chance they get, they are exploring our yard. This Spring, the Bichon Poo found a bunny nest (yes, bunnies make nests). That led the Cockapoo to also find the nest, and he likes to eat everything. He picked up a baby in his mouth and started parading it around the yard. That’s when my dad heard the blood curdling cry of a baby bunny. That is not a sound you ever want to hear, my friends. It will break your heart. What an awful evolutionary adaptation for these babies to sound like squeak toys when attacked by a dog.

Well, my dad grabbed that rabbit from the dogs mouth and set it outside the fence. There was another one dead by the nest. Not an hour later, the baby that was placed outside the fence returned to the yard, and my dad once again removed it.

What he didn’t realize is that bunnies do make nests. The baby was only trying to return to its home. I hope to provide a few tips for preventing a clash between your dogs and the babies. They are high stress, and likely the reason the first bunny in my story died is that he was scared to death. The bunny that was left alive after the encounter with the dogs was then hopping across the patio when a feral cat lept out and ate it.

First of all, if you notice baby rabbits in the middle of your yard clumped together in a worn down patch of grass or small ditch, realize that they are probably in a nest patiently waiting for mom to get home and not orphans needing to be rescued. If you remove them, you may be kidnapping and they need their mom. Keep an eye on the nest a few days and if you don’t see the mom return ever, you should call your local wildlife rehabilitation center before removing the bunnies.

Baby Bunny Nest Source Link

Baby Bunny Nest
Source Link

Second, the easiest way to prevent a clash is to simply keep your dog out of the yard until you notice the bunnies are gone. It shouldn’t take too long for them to grow up enough to venture out. In the mean time, restrict your dog to the front yard if the nest is in your back yard, or vice-versa.

Another option, if you can’t for some reason keep your dog away from the yard with the nest, is to try and block the nest from your dog. You can get some wire fencing with gaps big enough for a mom to get back to the babies and set that up around the nest. No matter what you attempt to use to block the nest from the dog, it needs to have an opening big enough for the mom to return and it needs to allow natural sunlight to enter. Your dog is probably bigger than the mama bunny so this shouldn’t be too difficult to do. Blocking the nest isn’t fool proof so you still should keep an eye on your dog, just in case.

And lastly, just a final note for you, keep your eyes opened for nests when mowing the lawn. When I interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center a couple of summer ago, a baby bunny came in with his ears mowed off because the lawnmower went over the top of the nest. He was the only survivor and he didn’t escape with his ears.

Hope this helps!

One last thing: Please please please don’t allow your cat to be an outdoor cat. They kill birds, rabbits, and more and it isn’t necessarily safe for your cat either. There are many animals that carry disease that may harm your cat. Growing up I had a neighbor whose outdoor cat was killed by a coyote. It’s just a good idea to keep your cat inside. Stepping off my soap box now.

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: The Ozark Hellbender

The first species in my Weird Wildlife Wednesday series is the Ozark Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi). This organism is one of the world’s largest salamanders and the largest in the United States. It is only dwarfed by its cousins in China.

The Ozark Hellbender Source: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/amphibians/ozhe/ozheFactSheet.html

The Ozark Hellbender
Source: USFWS Ozark Hellbender Fact Sheet

The Ozark Hellbender tops out at about 2 feet in length and is found only in Arkansas and Missouri in a region known as the Ozarks (that’s how they got their common name). They are aquatic and spend their long lives in rivers and streams. They were recently listed as federally endangered. Amphibians, including Hellbenders, are highly susceptible to environmental toxins, especially aquatic species. The Hellbender breaths partially through its skin, a phenomenon known as cutaneous respiration. The Hellbender’s many wrinkles and folds increase it’s surface area for breathing. You are very lucky if you get to see one of these guys in the wild, as their numbers are growing fewer and fewer.

Source: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/esday/MOOZHE.html