Christmas Creatures

Happy December!! I’m going to be kicking off the Christmas themed posts now!

REINDEER
(Rangifer tarandus)

Relation to Christmas:
flj3snxf0jpoz4mnxjbp.jpgThe Reindeer are well known for pulling Santa’s sleigh.
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph

Fun Facts:
– They are known as Reindeer in Europe but Caribou in North America.
– They are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
– Santa’s Reindeer would all be female as the males of the species shed their antlers in winter.

reindeer-jg-4.jpgWatch Santa’s Reindeer do “The Super Duper Looper” in Santa Clause: The Movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


DONKEY
(Equus africanus asinus)

image-birmingham-donkeys-1465987874.jpgRelation to Christmas:
In Christianity, Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey.

Fun Facts:
– Donkeys large ears allow them to maintain their heat.
– Donkeys hate rain as their coat isn’t waterproof.
– You can have a Miniature Donkey, a Standard Donkey and a Mammoth Donkey.
– In Britain donkeys are required to have a passport.

donkey-vs-horse-2-Jean_Flickr.jpgListen to Little Donkey, the classic Christmas carol.

 

 

 

 


MOUSE
(Mus musculus)

Relation to Christmas:
close-up-of-a-house-mouse--mus-musculus--135602059-59dd295f845b340012697deb.jpg“Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”

Fun Facts:
– Mouse teeth grow constantly meaning they have to gnaw of things to keep them short.
– They have an average life expectancy of 9-12 months so some might never see a Christmas!

house-mouse-in-colorado.jpg

Read the full Christmas poem.

 

 

 

 


Honorary Mention

RANDALL’S PISTOL SHRIMP
(Alpheus randalli)

shrimppistolcandystripe.jpgThis little guy has won itself an honourable mention simple because of its colourings. These little shrimp look like candy canes!

 

 

 


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Lost Forever: Caribbean Monk Seal

Cms-newyorkzoologicalsociety1910.jpgIts time to look backwards at the animals of the past that couldn’t quite survive into our present. This week we will be looking into the Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropcicalis) and what ultimately led to its extinction.
The Caribbean Monk Seal went extinct in 1952 with the last confirmed sighting off Serranilla Bank. These seals used to inhabit the Caribbean Sea and they were the first type of seal to go extinct from human causes.

HABITAT & DIET
220px-Caribbean_monk_seals_New_York.jpgThey could be found in the water around rocky or sandy coastline and islands which they used for resting and breeding. Their diet is unknown but was believed to be eels, lobsters, octopus and reef fish.

MAJOR THREATS
Caribbean-Monk-Seal.jpg
The only known predators of the Caribbean Monk Seal were sharks and humans. They were hunted for their skins and oil and were also put in danger due to the fishing industry. It was ultimately the tough pressures from humans that led to their extinction.


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Animal Travels: France

With almost 250,000 square miles of space France is packed with wildlife from the Alpine Ibex to the Common Genet.


ALPINE IBEX
(Capra ibex)
MG_5228_950Pixels_WM.jpgListed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with a increasing population trend. There is estimated to be around 31420 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT, DIET & BEHAVIOUR
You can find an Alpine Ibex on open and rocky habitats at high altitudes. They feed on alpine grasses and are a diurnal species that is most active in the early morning and late afternoon.

MAJOR THREATS
Currently they are not believed to be facing any threats but there are concerns about their genetic diversity. Their habitats are surrounded by high densities of domestic goats and sheep which can carry a risk of parasites and disease.

CONSERVATION
The Alpine Ibex is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

BEECH MARTEN
(Martes foina)
beech marten.jpgThe Beech Marten is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with a stable population trend.

HABITAT
Beech Martens prefer open areas, however in countries such as France they are becoming more common in urban and suburban areas. In these countries they can be found nesting in attics, barns and even in car engine spaces.

MAJOR THREATS
These little animals can sometimes be persecuted as a pest and some of them also suffer from rabies.

CONSERVATION
Beech Martens are also listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

CHAMOIS
(Rupicapra rupicapra)
chamois-4-640x425.pngThis species is also luckily listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with around 440,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT & DIET
The Chamois likes to live on steep, rocky areas in the mountain and they feed on grasses, herbs, leaves, buds, shoots and fungi.

MAJOR THREATS
They are currently suffering from poaching and overhunting; and they are also facing competition from domestic livestock. There have also been outbreaks of pestivirus and sarcoptic mange in some populations.

CONSERVATION
Yet another species from France that is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

COMMON GENET
(Genetta genetta)
CommonGenet.JPGListed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List and with a stable population trend.

HABITAT & DIET
The Common Genet prefers wooded habitat and can often be found around water. They feed primarily on small mammals but they will also take birds, vertebrates, insects and fruit depending on the availability of prey.

MAJOR THREATS
The main threats for these animals come from road traffic collisions and hunting. They are killed for their meat, body parts, skin and fur.

CONSERVATION
They are mostly found in protected areas and they are also listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

ALPINE MARMOT
(Marmota marmota)
marmot.jpgThese little rodents are listed as Least Concern (YAY FOR FRANCE!!) by the IUCN Red List with a stable population trend.

HABITAT & DIET
They live in alpine meadows and high altitude pastures eating a fully herbivorous diet.

MAJOR THREATS
Alpine Marmots are hunting for their meat, fur and fat.

CONSERVATION
They mostly occur in national park and are listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

KINGDOM PHYLUM CLASS ORDER FAMILY
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

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Dog Breeds 101: Vizsla

Vizsla_SERP.jpgThe Vizsla or Hungarian Vizsla as it is sometimes known is a large sized breed in the Gundog group. They reach heights between 53-64cm and can weigh between 18-30kg; with a lifespan of between 9 and 15 years.

CARE
vizslasf2.jpgVizslas don’t adapt well to apartments and need a large sized house with plenty of garden space for them to explore. They are extremely energetic and need lots of vigorous daily exercise otherwise they can become hyperactive. Vizslas hate the rain and many will simply refuse to go out in it. In these instances, you could potentially use an indoor treadmill to help burn off some of their extra energy.

Grooming wise they are very low maintenance, just needed a brush once a week. The breed also is a low shedding breed so you are less likely to find hairs everywhere.

TEMPERAMENT
thumbs_1-forwardstance.jpgVizslas are a highly intelligent and loyal breed and so make great family pets and they are good around children of all ages. Their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, however they are a sensitive dog so they can be easily hurt. They can also suffer from selective hearing and stubbornness so consistent training is key. Unfortunately, Vizslas hate being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety.

 
HEALTH
Vizslas are considered one of the healthiest dog breeds, with a long life expectancy for their size. However like all breeds they are prone to certain conditions.

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Polymyopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dwarfism

I hope this post helped you decide on whether you have what it takes to adopt a Vizsla into your home.

If you need any more advice of information just leave me a comment and I will gladly get back to you.

If you’ve got a Vizsla I’d love to see some photos, you can leave them in the comments or send them to me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Animals You May Not Have Heard About: Jerboa

KINGDOM

PHYLUM

CLASS

ORDER

FAMILY

Animalia

Chordata

Mammalia

Rodentia

Dipodidae

The Jerboa is a strange animal, part kangaroo, part mouse and part bunny. Read on for some more facts!

THEY GET AROUND BY JUMPING

 

THEY DON’T DRINK WATER
r210584_808154.jpgInstead they get all their moisture from their food, which mostly consists of plants.

 

 

 

 

 

THERE ARE 33 SPECIES OF JERBOA
Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 15.46.34.png

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Animal Travels: New Zealand

New Zealand is probably less thought about than their big next door neighbours when it comes to wildlife; but with almost 103,500 square miles of land and a population of almost 5 million, this little island is no stranger to animals.

New Zealand is famous for its Kiwis and is home to 5 species of them:

  1. Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis) Vulnerable
  2. Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haasti) Vulnerable 
  3. Northern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) Endangered
  4. Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) Near Threatened
  5. Okarito Brown Kiwi (Apteryx rowi) Endangered

OKARITO BROWN KIWI
(Apteryx rowi)
120048Birds online CD1 084.jpgAlthough these kiwis are endangered they have an increasing population trend with around 200-250 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

HABITAT
The native population of the Okarito Brown Kiwi has now been restricted to 10,000ha of forest between the Okarito River and the Waiho River.

MAJOR THREATS
These kiwis are affected by habitat loss and predation of introduced mammals. Chicks are predated by stoats and some adults are killed by dogs and in road traffic collisions.

CONSERVATION
Operation Nest Egg has been put in place to help reduce the affects of predation. Eggs are removed from nests and the chicks are hand reared until they are large enough that they are no longer the prey of stoats.

NORTHERN BROWN KIWI
(Apteryx mantelli)
TeTuatahianui.jpgAgain, these kiwis are endangered but they current have a stable population trend.

HABITAT
These kiwis can be found in dense, subtropical, and temperate forests but can also occasionally be found living in shrub lands.

MAJOR THREATS
These kiwis face threats from the predation of dogs and ferrets.

CONSERVATION
These kiwis are also a part of Operation Nest Egg.

KEA
(Nestor notabilis)
kea-for-kate.pngThese birds have a declining population trend with around 3300 mature individuals remaining in the wild. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

HABITAT AND DIET
The Kea prefer high altitude forests and alpine basins, feeding on a diet of shoots and berries.

MAJOR THREATS
Climate change, deforestation and killings by farmers are the most current threats to the numbers of Kea.

CONSERVATION
Kea are listed on CITES Appendix II and there is a population census planned to take place soon to get a more accurate count of the remaining individuals.

HECTOR’S DOLPHIN
(Cephalorhynchus hectori)
hectorsjump_labelled_cropped_22629.jpgThese dolphins are Endangered with around 7500 mature individuals remaining in the wild and a decreasing population trend.

HABITAT AND DIET
Hector’s Dolphins inhabit the shallow coastal waters within 15km of the shore of New Zealand; feeding on squid and several species of small fish.

MAJOR THREATS
The largest threat to the Hector’s Dolphin is entanglement in gill nets. Around 60% of deaths were due to entrapment in gill nets.

CONSERVATION
They are listed on CITES Appendix II and they occur mostly in protected areas (consisting of two sanctuaries).

NEW ZEALAND SEA LION
(Phocarctos hookeri)
sea-lion565.jpgThese Sea Lions are Endangered with a decreasing population trend and around 3000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

MAJOR THREATS
Commercial sealing in the early 19th century until the mid-20th century depleted the population. They are also in danger from epizootic outbreaks.

CONSERVATION
The New Zealand government has protected these Sea Lions since 1881 and they are also covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 1978.

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Positive vs. Negative Training

DEFINITIONS

what-is-positive-reinforcement-training-for-dogs-51ee483b4146c.jpg
Positive Reinforcement
The process of encouraging or establishing a pattern of behaviour by offering a reward when the behaviour is exhibited.
Providing a treat when a dog ‘sits’ when asked.


Negative Reinforcement
The process by which an animal learns a behaviour to stop an unpleasant experience.
A dog learning to walk to ‘heel’ to avoid being choked by their collar.

Positive PunishmentConfusion-About-Negative-Reinforcement-During-Dog-Training-1.jpg
Presenting an aversive or unpleasant consequence after an undesired experience is exhibited.
Pulling on a choke lead when a dog is walking too far in front. Sending a dog into their bed or other room after excessive barking, biting or other undesirable behaviour.

Negative Punishment
Removing a reinforcing stimulus after an undesired behaviour is exhibited.
Removing a dog’s toy if they are chewing instead of playing. 

BUT WHICH METHOD IS THE BEST?

puppy  play.jpgSeveral studies have compared these different training methods to test their effectiveness. Lalli et al, 1999 found than the compliance of participants was higher when it produced an edible item rather than a neutral response such as a break.

Blackwell et al. 2008 sent out a questionnaire survey to dog owners to discover which training methods they used. 16% only used positive reinforcement, 12% used a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. 40% used a combination of all methods and 72% used some form of positive punishment. The mean number of undesirable behaviours was 11.3 per dog and formal training classes didn’t significantly affect the total numbers of undesirable behaviours reported. However, dogs that attended puppy socialisation classes were less likely to exhibit undesirable behaviours suggesting that socialisation at a young age is much more important than training in order to reduce the incidence of undesirable behaviours.

Unknown.jpegHiby et al. 2004 found that owner’s ratings of dog obedience correlated positively with being trained using rewards. They also found that when dogs were training using punishment, they were more likely to exhibit problematic behaviours; because of this it was suggested that positive training methods are more useful for the pet owning community.

Judging from the above studies, it seems that the best training method is positive reinforcement as a way to reduce undesirable behaviours; but perhaps the best way to avoid undesirable behaviours developing is to ensure that puppies are properly socialised from a young age.

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