Pizza rat vs. Milkshake squirrel
I love urban wildlife and the way they have adapted to exploit the resources available to them in the environment, like human food waste. This week, pizza rat and milkshake squirrel highlighted rodents' ability to carry large food items, and digest a variety of foods.
Domestic cats put close relatives at risk
The Scottish wildcat, closely related to the domestic cat, has been on the verge of extinction for a while now, due in part to urbanization, and hybridization with our own pet cats. Now domestic cats have not only shared their genes, but their diseases, and now a Scottish wildcat has tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Possible solutions: vaccines, neutering pet cats, keeping pet cats indoors!
Scientists in New Zealand came up with a multi-task battery of cognitive tests to measure "general intelligence" in animals (these tasks included memory, motor skills, and symbol learning). They did these tests on wild robins, who were temporarily captured to participate in the study, and then released. Results suggested that some birds were "smarter" than others, and that the better they did on one task, the better they did on others!
On another note
I know I usually just post about animals, but this week the Guardian posted a lovely, haunting photo/video essay on the Nevada Test Site, where nuclear weapons were developed and tested for forty years (with the occasional explosion still scheduled there).