Archive for the ‘animal behavior’ category

James Patterson’s “Zoo” is Coming!

June 26, 2015

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When the revolution comes, mammalian furries of different species will work together, communicate over distances, and intelligently coordinate devastating attacks upon humans that will utterly overwhelm and decimate them!

So is the general premise of Zoo, a popular 2012 novel co-authored by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. That novel is soon to become a television series on CBS, beginning this upcoming Tuesday evening.  Thirteen episodes are assured, with perhaps additional ones to follow should the series catch on.  Zoo will be set in a variety of different locations around the world rather than in a single unchanging site.  Lion attacks in Los Angeles, California will apparently be featured early on, but we will also see domestic cat attacks.

A renegade zoologist called Jackson Oz is a featured character, with such lines as “Animal behavior is changing!”  Will the humans listen in time? – – Don’t bet on it!  The novel was generally well-received by most, despite some junk science in it. While thus far I’ve only been able to view previews and trailers, you can bet that I’ll be glued to the tube this upcoming week to cheer for the home team!

 

When Turkeys Attack!

November 27, 2014

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The Destination America channel treated us to some strange, tongue-in-cheek fare the evening before Thanksgiving with a special styled somewhat like numerous others airing on that network, and called “When Turkeys Attack!”  The show used home video footage depicting wild turkeys chasing children, grandmothers, and grown men; one chased and kept up with a bicyclist for a short distance, while others attacked mail delivery vehicles in a territorial frenzy.

Now wild turkeys should be distinguished from domesticated turkeys genetically engineered to be walking hunks of meat; these are the descendants of theropods, a carnivorous dinosaur.  A wild tom turkey can stand about waist high on a human, and can drop kick you in the head.  This could be a bad encounter as the males have razor sharp spurs on the back of their legs that are 1-1/2″ – 2″ long.  They can flog you with their wings.  Turkeys will try to strike at your head, have acute hearing, and can read subtle behavior rather well.

How then does one defend against a wild turkey attack?  It was suggested that you don’t run and flee from them, but rather try to put a physical object between yourself and the offending turkey.  Don’t try to fend one off with a flipped jacket, which they may interpret as an invitation to attack. Cover your head, and try to kick at them.  In the words of one expert, “Some turkeys are territorial, some defend their women, some are just crazy!”  

Life Imitates Art…Again!

August 25, 2014


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In a memorable 2009 commercial for Sears Optical that we’ve posted about much earlier , a woman in dire need of an eye exam invites a raccoon inside her house, thinking that the raccoon was her cat.  In that commercial, the raccoon happily complies with the woman’s invitation to ‘snuggle with Momma,’ and pads into the house.

Real life encounters with a raccoon inside human habitations have not been so harmonious, however.  In February of 2014, a woman in Hingham, Massachusetts was attacked by a raccoon that entered her house through a door flap that her cat used to get inside the dwelling, biting and cutting the 73-year-old resident .   More recently in Hamden, Connecticut an 88-year-old woman was attacked August 24th by a raccoon she accidentally let into her house and then tried to pet, thinking that the animal was her cat.  The raccoon had followed the woman’s cat into the house, making scratching sounds outside a sliding glass door that the woman had thought emanated from the cat.  Thinking little of the woman’s affections, it bit her on the elbow, hand, forearm, lip, and chin.

The encounter didn’t go well for the raccoon, either. When police were summoned to the residence, it gamely charged two officers, who caught and euthanized the animal.  The outcome could have been vastly different with Rocket Raccoon, however, who could have taken those guys out without breaking a sweat, demonstrating his profound mastery of weaponry in the process! – – Oh, yeah!

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Woman Devoured by Vultures…

May 7, 2013

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) perched– – The following story I forewarn you is not for those of delicate sensitivities, good readers…but if you enjoy a good gross-out and are not yourselves eating, read on!

Nature can be cruel but it is efficient, and wastes nothing…and so it was that when a woman in France fell to her death off a cliff in mid-April, her body was devoured by vultures in just 45 minutes, before rescue workers were even able to reach the remains. The 52-year-old woman was hiking with two friends in the French Pyrenees when she plunged more than 980 feet to her death. By the time rescuers reached the body, there were only clothes, shoes, and bones left on the ground…

Griffon vultures were the species involved, and they are protected by law. The gruesome incident may further the cause of area farmers who want permission to shoot the vultures, claiming that the ban has led to a swelling in their population with livestock being threatened. Vultures have been deprived of animal carcasses due to a European law requiring farmers to burn the bodies of dead animals. In effect, this has turned the griffon vultures from scavengers to predators in regions of southern France and Spain, with livestock animals literally being eaten alive…

Palm Beach’s Sharks…

March 8, 2013

shark– – Just when you thought that it was safe to get back into the water again, tens of thousands of blacktip and spinner sharks are migrating north up the eastern coast of the U.S., shutting down beaches in Florida!

Now shark sightings are not uncommon for South Florida beaches, and their migration is an annual occurrence.  What’s uncommon, however, is that the migration usually starts and ends sooner, well ahead of spring break season.  Blacktip sharks only account for 20% of unprovoked shark attacks in Florida, but with 15,000 sharks counted by researchers and some less than 200 yards from shore, lifeguards aren’t taking chances…

Feline Terminators…

January 31, 2013

blofeld-cat– – It’s been said that were videos about cats and pornography eliminated from the internet, there would be little left!  While appealing and loved by many, cats can at times also show a darker side.  Here we see the lap cat of Bond arch-villain Blofeld.  Cats have demonstrated abilities to be efficient predators, as has been recently noted by research conducted by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.  

The study found that previous wildlife mortality estimates owing to feline predation were way too low.  Cats, primarily un-owned, feral ones, are felt to be responsible for the deaths of 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds, and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals annually.  If 2.3 billion birds are killed by cats, this would mean that 1 in 10 birds are taken by cats every year. 

In New Zealand, cats are considered an invasive species, and have prompted environmentalist/economist Gareth Morgan to push for much tighter controls on the island nation’s cat population expressed through a “Cats to Go” campaign.  Rather than declaring open season on cats, however, the program advocates neutering cats, keeping them indoors, and not getting any new ones. 

The American study does not recommend any drastic schemes to cut down on U.S. wildlife deaths, but rather calls for “conservation and policy intervention” in order to reduce environmental impact.  It should be pointed out that humans are responsible for most modern animal extinctions, whether through hunting, habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, or other environmental disruptions…

 

The Python Purge Proceeds…

January 18, 2013

Florida python hunt– – The month-long python purge is in progress in Florida, with about 800 intrepid hunters in pursuit of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Burmese pythons who live in the Everglades where they are an invasive species and decimate natural populations.  The pythons are elusive, however, and not that many carcasses have been turned in to date.  Recommended methods of dispatching them include shooting or cutting off their heads with a machete; the “captive bolt” method is also mentioned if the device can be attached to their heads to destroy their brains as one would a zombie. 

If encountered, the pythons are unlikely to engage in a death struggle with their pursuers, and most will likely either remain where they are spotted or seek to escape.  Most are thought to have been spawned from pet shop purchased snakes that either escaped or were released by their owners into the wild when their size exceeded expectations.  A carnivorous, apex predator, the pythons have been known to consume prey as large as deer and alligators…