A bee brain is nothing to laugh at

Bees have a pretty complicated problem to solve: figure out which flowers have nectar, and when. Felicity Muth explores the latest research on bee cognition, and as you will see, it's pretty amazing.

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You know you think your dog looks guilty, but...

Does your dog really feel guilty?

Anyone who works with pets and their owners hears this statement MANY times: "He KNOWS he's done something wrong." It turns out that these doggy (and even feline) behavioral cues that many humans interpret as guilt have more to do with the owner's behavior than the pets. "Dog guilty look expert" DogSpies delves deep into this issue! A must read!

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How the chimp crossed the road is just as important as why

Turns out chimps cross roads in ways that increase safety and decrease the chance of getting hit by a car. Leaders organized troops to cross in groups, looking both ways first, and crossing quickly! You can read more here.

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Citizen Science at work! Roadkill reports

Volunteer reports of California roadkill in an online database has helped scientists find the "hotspots" where humans and wildlife are most likely to collide. This data may help with understanding which species are most at risk, enable better planning to save drivers and other animals alike via better signage, fencing and underpasses to keep animals off the road, as well as generate questions for future study, such as how this is impacted by our current drought. Very cool! Read more here.

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Cats and Squirrels here, reporting from sunny Melbourne, Florida at the Comparative Cognition Conference (CO3). But that is a story for another day! I spent last weekend in Atlanta doing so many cat-related things that I almost started purring on several occasions.

The IAABC Feline Behavior Conference (okay, it was just domestic cats) happened Saturday and Sunday (that's April 11/12) at some hotel in Atlanta. It was possibly the largest gathering ever of people who work professionally with cats (outside of veterinary conferences), including many cat behavior consultants, shelter workers, veterinarians, and pet sitters.

Things kicked off with a pep talk from Steve Dale on the current status of the cat in our homes, including some things (such as the Catalyst Council and the promotion of Cat Friendly veterinary practices) being done to improve the welfare of the cat.

IMG_4372 Then we heard from Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis on the social organization of the domestic cat. Contrary to popular belief, cats are not "asocial" - although their social structure is complex and not completely understood. Dr. Crowell-Davis shared a lot of information about matriarchal structures in cat societies and how cats form preferred associations. She encourages people to adopt related kittens together (why not a whole litter?) and basically put it out there - we are depriving cats of learning to be socially competent adults by raising kittens in isolation!! This talk was followed by an excellent overview of feline aggression and ways to work with it. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!

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No Friday Faves today: I'll be interrupting my usual programming as I get ready to head to the IAABC Feline Behavior Conference in Atlanta! I plan to give a full report in a blog post after the conference, and I will likely be live-tweeting from some of the talks - you follow along at @mikel_maria. And I will be giving a talk on Sunday about what makes cats and their owners unique...and sometimes difficult!

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Getting ready for all these conferences has made it hard to keep up with all the latest in animal behavior research! But there’s been plenty to talk about.

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Could kissing your dog solve your digestive problems?

Researchers at the University of Arizona are launching a study to examine whether dogs may transfer healthy gut bacteria to the humans they live with. Read more about the study here, and see the university website here.

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Dogs use different nostrils for different things

(Pretty sure we do too!) My fave in dog-blogs, @DogSpies covers research looking at how dogs use each nostril differently – among other things, dogs seem to use the right nostril for novelty, and the left to check out familiar things. Super cool, read all about it!

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It's been a while since I've updated you on the latest squirrel news, and there's a lot to say!

How did this squirrel get on a plane?

customsA stowaway on a flight from Costa Rica, this baby squirrel was turned over to US Fish & Wildlife. What happens to foreign squirrels? This one is going to be rehomed by the Houston Zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

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The cuteness may not last long, thanks to climate change

Everyone on the internet is agog over the adorable ila pika, an endangered small mammal that is part of the taxonomic order Lagomorpha (rabbits are also Lagomorphs). The ila pika is undeniably cute and undeniably in trouble. Due to climate change, these little guys are moving higher and higher to find snow. This is the first photograph of an ila pika in 20 years.

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How parrots' social lives prep them to mimic humans

Have you ever wondered why parrots tend to copy what their humans say? It has to do with their backgrounds as social birds, where they even have their own "names." Learn about Disco, an amazing parakeet, who knows over 100 phrases, and can even beat-box.

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Gosh, sorry to use such a tired old meme! But your friend at Cats and Squirrels has been a busy bee in 2015! It's all about the conferences!!

BA2014_newLogo_garamond_generic_fullname-logo120x490First of all, I've been Co-Director of a team putting together a conference called Beyond Academia, which will be happening here at UC Berkeley on March 16 & 17. I had no idea how much work (and money) is required to put on a conference! From wrangling a venue and catering AND 100 speakers, plus marketing, selling tickets, updating webpages, putting together programs, fundraising, and begging for free booze - it's been a major undertaking! But we are very excited about what we have put together, and it has been one of the most social things I have done as a graduate student.

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Urban coyotes

New York City's parks are seeing an increase in the coyote population. Experts recommend: leave them be. Bonus: they help control the rodents!

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Photo by Big Presh via Flickr/Creative Commons
Photo by Big Presh via Flickr/Creative Commons

I’ve previously blogged about musical animals, and many believe that musicality (at least to the extent we see in humans) is unique to humans. We love music so much that we seem very determined to try and see if other animals love it too. Music is commonly used as enrichment for captive animals, or music is forced upon other animals (for example, many folks who clean animal cages like to listen to music while doing so, and I know my kitties have to listen to a lot of punk rock, probably against their will!). But do animals LIKE music? A recent study, “Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music,” looked at whether cats enjoyed music that was designed to be “species-specific” in its frequency and other characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at what the research revealed! ...continue reading

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