Squirrels and pumpkins

Too lazy to carve a Halloween pumpkin this year? Let  a squirrel do it for you!

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pumpkinJust make sure they don't get their head stuck in it.

 

Bats would go trick or treating together...if they did that sort of thing

Scientists are learning more about the complex social life of different species of bats. Bats move around a lot, but they come back to roost with their BFFs - and some are co-ed while some prefer to hang out with bats of the same sex! These long-lasting relationships could have implications for disease-control and habitat needs. Read more about it here, or go to the source article here (thank you open access!).

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Zombies in real life

Animals (mostly insects) break their way into other animals' brains and control their behavior!! It's not a horror movie! This sh*t happens in nature! Disco snails, ant-decapitating flies, kamikaze crickets and more. Fascinating, and a little disgusting - a must read!!!

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The scariest research ever

Seriously, Science? has compiled some of the most terrifying scientific studies for us, in one convenient place. Exorcisms, ghosts and haunted scrotums (scrota?) throughout!

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With only one or two games left in the World Series, there are many baseball fans out there right now who aren't changing their shirts, or who are wearing certain colors every day, or are maybe skipping that shave...in the hopes of bringing their favorite team to a win. I'm more than a little excited because my team is in the running. But can any of us really help our team win through our behaviors?

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Animals experience the "Uncanny Valley"

The uncanny valley is that strange feeling you experience when you see something that is almost, but not quite, human-like, such as animation in a film or video game, or robotic movements that mimic our own. You may even experience this feeling when you see other primates. Some folks have suggested that "the valley"  may be what caused us to kill off Neanderthals (although I'm still looking for a more reputable source on this topic)!

Long story short, turns out that a recent study suggests that monkeys are also disturbed by almost life-like images of other monkeys. Marc Bekoff gives some nice explanations for why animals might be hardwired to look for stimuli that match expectations of what other members of their species should look or act like (or as another scientist points out, these likenesses may not be visual at all, but could be sound or olfactory-based).  Read it all here!

What does this mean for robo-squirrel?

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Once again, there is so much squirrel activity around the globe!

 Power outages

Squirrels shut off the power to over a thousand folks in Toledo, and left people with nine hours of no power in Luverne and Rutledge, Alabama. A squirrel was electrocuted and caused an “electrical smell” in Grand Haven, Minnesota, shutting off power at the local post office.

Finally, a squirrel in Rancho Cordova in California caused a fuse to blow that burst a gas line, causing not only a power outage but also a school cancellation. “The squirrel did not survive.”

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Why is there an alpaca in my grocery store?

What is the deal with emotional support animals? For the record, they are not the same thing as a service animal - but there's a lot of confusion about what is allowed and what isn't - and it's easy to fake a letter. Patricia Marx goes undercover and explores what happens when you bring a "therapy turtle" to a museum. Read here!

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Are you obsessed with your fitness tracker? What does the research say about how well they work? Read all about it here, in a post I wrote for the Berkeley Science Review.

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Giraffes: tall, quiet, understudied

NY Times featured a nice summary of what little we know about this beautiful and socially complex animal. Read about the giraffe here.

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Cats and urination outside of the litterbox.

Cat urination outside the litterbox can damage relationships and floors. Photo via InspectAPedia.

Cat urination outside the litterbox can damage relationships and floors. Photo via InspectAPedia.

Urination outside the litterbox is one of the most common behavioral reasons cats are abandoned and euthanized. Litterbox avoidance is a frustrating problem to live with, and damages property and the bond between an owner and their cat. While owners often attribute this behavior to a complex “revenge” plot by the cat (“he’s mad at me for x, y or z”), urination outside the box is typically caused by one of three things: something about the box the cat doesn’t like, a medical problem, or stress.

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Baby fish babbling

"Babbling" is the first stage of language development in humans in which infants make sounds that are considered pre-linguistic and practice for future chatting. Babbling has been found in several other animal species (including bats, monkeys and parrots), and now maybe in fish? Turns out that baby snapper (larvae) make "knocking" sounds that adults also use, which function to keep fish together in their schools. Read more here.

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Three weeks in squirrels

We're long overdue for a squirrel news update, and there's a lot to report!

Five amazing squirrel facts!

natgeoI won’t spoil all the fun, but my favorite is the fact that some squirrels hang fungi out to dry, essentially making mushroom “jerky” – gross (I hate mushrooms) but awesome. Read the facts here.

Ahoy, Matey

Why is this squirrel paddling around in the shallows of this beach in Wales? No idea.

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Controversial squirrel rescue causes more controversy

graceLast time I reported on Grace the disabled squirrel who a family had rescued and raised without a wildlife permit. Social media helped concerned folks get attention for this issue. The squirrel was seized by the state and brought to a wildlife rehab center. What is unclear is what will happen if Grace cannot be released back into the wild. Petitioners claim that in that case, the state will euthanize her instead of return her to her rescuers. Read about it here.

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