Killer Cone Snails

Cone snails expose their prey to a massive dose of insulin that sends the fish into a low blood sugar state, making them easier to kill. Are the fish just "hangry"?

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Like us, chimps like to talk about food

A new study found a relationship between the types of chimps calls, and their discovery of delicious fruits. Seems like they might be talking about the quality and quantity of the fruit on a tree.

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Sister fish stick together

Cichlid fish are really cool! Recently, it was discovered that among African Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, the females are the ones who disperse, not males. In groups of fish, DNA analysis revealed that small females tend to hang with their bigger sisters. This kind of sibling-shoaling was not found in males of the same species.

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It's Squirrel Appreciation Day! What could be better than getting caught up on all the latest squirrel news?

Imaginary squirrels can be helpful or harmful

housefireA man heard a sound at night that he dismissed as the pitter-patter of tiny squirrel feet. He went back to sleep and woke up when the sound was much louder and he realized that in fact his house was on fire. Luckily, he was not injured, although the home was a goner.

In Omaha, Nebraska, an intoxicated man who was causing a disturbance told police he was on the run from a “pink squirrel with sharp teeth.” He was later taken in for psychiatric evaluation.

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Squirrels are gonna shut you down

Squirrel-related power outages recently happened in Redding, CA, Charleston, RI, Tampa, FL (again!), Forest Park in Cincinatti, OH (leading the local high school to be dismissed early), Santa Clarita Valley, CA, and Kansas City, MO.

“Chicken of the tree”

Eating squirrel is gaining popularity, it’s not just for J-Law and rednecks any more. The lean meat is supposedly gamey but tasty. I’m a veg, so I won’t be trying it out. You can even buy it on-line.

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Grey squirrel invasion

The grey squirrel controversy continues, with the UK about to spend millions of tax payer’s money to kill grey squirrels in order to protect the endangered red squirrel. Some of that money will also go toward squirrel birth control. Some people are unhappy (at least about the cull, I’m not sure if the Catholics will opposed birth control for squirrels).

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Meanwhile Europeans fear a grey squirrel invasion of their own, with the French and Swiss up in arms about Italian grey squirrels hitting their turf (note, they are actually American squirrels who were brought to Italy many years ago).

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Squirrel sports

No we’re not talking about a sports event interrupted by squirrels, we’re talking about a competition designed FOR squirrels. This awesome British dude created an assault course in his back yard, the Squirrel Grand Nutional. It’s almost as good as the feral cat fish-lifting competition.

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kittyweight

Photo Ops

Holiday Stocking

stockingA little post-holiday joy, as if you haven’t had enough of santa, a cute squirrel playing with a stocking.

New meaning of “robo-squirrel”

roboNo, not the Republican-labeled "government pork" study - squirrels will eat from a giant horsehead mask, a squirrel head mask, so why not a robot mask?

Mom with babies

Watch a mama squirrel move her babies, then take a well-deserved nap.

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A squirrel makes a snowball

Or this photo was completely a set up

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Have you ever been peed on by a squirrel?

Twiggy the famous squirrel apparently loves waterskiing and water sports.

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Have you ever seen a squirrel tongue?

It’s a bit strange.

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“Shocking” incident

The Irish News reported that this park squirrel “shocked” children by climbing all over them looking for food. I guess nothing shocks me much anymore. At least not when it comes to hungry squirrels.

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Look up! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…squirrel nest!

If you take a moment to look up, you will likely see a drey (a squirrel nest) or two dotting the trees.

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Predator vs Prey

Bobcat carries dead squirrel around

bobcatKitty’s gotta eat

Flipping out

Watch these ground squirrels practice their evasive leap maneuver to avoid a simulated snake. These squirrels are known for throwing rocks at snakes, and perhaps even taunting them with their tail flagging.

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Who is predator and who is prey?

Eagles chase this squirrel out of their nest – squirrels are known for making snacks of birds’ eggs.

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Squirrel fashion

I’ve previously written about squirrel sweaters. Dita Von Teese (who is she again?) made a splash recently with this squirrel-skirt.

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Belding’s Ground Squirrels – in decline – and eating each other?

cannibalNote that this click-bait title is misleading, there is nothing about squirrels eating each other in this article. It does talk about the impact of climate change on this little rodent friend, and the impact of the BGS on the local crops.

 

 

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squirrellyproposalSquirrel Appreciation Day is January 21! I'll be reminding you of some squirrel awesomeness from the past, and don't worry, I will be updating you on all the latest squirrel news this week too.

First, throw back time! Here's  an interview with California magazine that I did almost two years ago...about....squirrel hunting? And other squirrelly things.

 

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Rats do better with a friend

Rats exploring a new environment do better with a buddy. Scientists measured rats second exploration of a novel space either alone or with another rat. Rats who had a buddy on that second trial were more exploratory, and the effect lasted through a third solo trial. Read more!

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Whats up with cats and the full moon?

full moonIf you could KNOW any one thing about cats what would it be? What is the biggest feline mystery of all? I recently came across at least one big mystery that has people turning to Google for answers.

Last week I read an article about the effects of the full moon on animal behavior (including humans). We still don’t know for sure what (if any) effects the lunar cycle has on behavior, just a lot of anecdotes and suspicions. A 1985 study, “Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy” found nothing more than some bad methodology correlating the moon cycle with criminal activity, hospital admissions and other problematic behavior.

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Meet the Tarsier - they always look surprised to see you

A tiny, carnivorous primate with big eyes, these nighttime creatures are both cute and vicious. Learn more about them!!

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Photo by Andrew/Polandeze via Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo by Andrew/Polandeze via Flickr/Creative Commons

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our pet cats are predators at heart, especially if you just fill their bowl of kibble every now and then. But beneath that fuzzy, cute exterior is a potentially vicious killer, even if your cat doesn’t have the opportunity to practice mass destruction of small animals. That’s where playtime with interactive toys comes in! But more on that later!

There are two major categories of predators: specialists – those who hunt just one or two prey types; and generalists – animals with a broad diet or who may show a wide range of prey preferences within a species. Both types are likely related to prey available, and how an animal has adapted over time to that prey availability. These preferences could be learned during development, such as when a mother cat brings injured prey to her kittens, or could be a response to changes in the environment. If prey abundance changes, predators have to change their responses too…or go hungry.

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Bees need a break after all that social time

Bees sleep more after hanging out with bees than they do after spending time alone - five hours more! It could be the flood of information they have to process after encounter so many of their colony members - the extra sleep may help with learning and memory. Read more here!

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voxWho would have guessed that the big research questions of 2014 would be all about cats (okay, I’m biased)? Do cats really love us? Do they recognize our voices? Do they hate petting? Why do they love boxes? Does anyone understand them (even our vets?)? Why are cats so mysterious???

the cutI wrote about several cat studies that came out in the last year or so: on whether cats ignore us when they hear our voices, whether cat bites are related to depression, whether play can prevent behavior problems, how people feel about stray cats, how little veterinarians know about cat behavior, and of course the yet-unpublished study claiming that cats aren’t attached to us.

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What? Last Friday Faves of 2014?

Did Santa leave an assault course for your backyard squirrels?

One of my fave blogs, GrrlScientist, proposes a squirrel maze as a lovely alternative to the chemistry set as a family science project. I couldn't agree more!

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