Amazing Facts About Bengal Tigers

Bengal Tiger, Panthera tigris. See more interesting animalsBengal Tiger Panthera tigris, Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy John and Karen Hollingsworth, Fish & Wildlife Service Licensed under Public Domain

Some startling facts about tigers which will make you awestruck!

A little bit of fright, enough of a thrill, and the heights of imagination – all these work together during your Bengal Tiger sighting trip.

Voted as the world’s favorite animal, this tiger is the most varied cat on earth, and has many unique features and interesting compulsions. Less social, comfort loving and crepuscular, these wild carnivores have always been the center of attraction during all adventurous wildlife tours.

Let’s explore the twisting facts about this exclusive creature which will make you stunned.

  • Night vision of the tiger is approximately six times better than humans,
  • To mark their territories, they scratch trees and use their urine.
  • Unlike other members of the cat family tigers are good swimmers and can go easily inside water for cooling themselves and in the pursuit of prey.
  • A tiger’s brain may weigh over 300g which is believed to be the largest among carnivores after the polar bears.
  • Just like human fingerprints, the stripes on each tiger are unique.
  • For trapping their prey, tigers are often found imitating the sound of other animals. Bears constitute a major part of the tigers’ diet as very often their habitats overlap.
  • There are very small numbers of tigers who develop a taste for human flesh.
  • Tigers’ saliva contains antiseptic elements. That is why they lick their wounds to disinfect them.
  • Tigresses become fertile for only four to five days in the entire year.
  • Tigers can guess the gender, age and reproductive status of other tigers smelling their urine markings.
  • Tigers do not normally roar at other animals. Actually they roar to communicate with far-off tigers. Therefore, a tiger in attacking moded might hiss and fluff instead of roaring.
  • Unless a tiger feels threatened it does not attack humans as prey.
  • Tigers are territorial and love to live solitary lives except when mating. Each tiger has a specific territory and the area of a male overlaps with many other females.
  • Just like the young ones of the domestic cat, tigers are also completely blind for the first week of their life.
  • It takes 30-40 days for a human to die of starvation whereas a tiger will die within two or three weeks.
  • Tigers have a better memory than any other animals including humans. They have a hundred times better memory than dogs and dozens of times better memory than primates.
  • Tigers can run at a speed of approximately 60km/h for short distances.
  • Tigers are conscious about the rights of females and kids. That is why when several tigers assemble around a kill, they wait for the females and kids to eat first. Whereas, it is just the opposite in the case of lions.

A majestic creation of nature, India’s national animal the tiger, was brought to the verge of extinction due to the illegal human interference on their habitat. But the preventive steps taken by the Government of India, especially the Save Tiger Project has shown its colors. Today a total of 3200 tigers are found across the world out of which 1706 tigers are found in India with the highest density of tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park. To make India richer in the number of its tiger population, some popular national parks like Ranthambore, Corbett, Pench, Tadoba, Sundarban and Periyar also contributed significantly.

Anshul Srivastava is a wildlife enthusiast, who loves to wander around different wildlife destinations of India. At the same time, he has gotten a command over writing and thus, he pens down and shares his experience with the world.

Celebrate World Oceans Day 2014!

Join in celebration of the World Oceans Day 2014 this Sunday, June 8th!

Did you know that 71% of our beautiful earth is covered by ocean? We human land dwelling creatures only live on 29% of the earth while the oceans cover almost 3/4 of the planet. Yet almost 95% of the world’s oceans are still unexplored.

This vast watery world is teeming with life and is vital to the health and well being of the earth. The oceans play a role in many of the earth’s systems including regulating our climate and weather, generating most of the oxygen we breathe, and cleaning the water we drink. They also help feed us and offer a plethora of potential medicines.

See interesting Ocean animalsAnimal-World Celebrates World Oceans Day 2014!

Join us in celebrating the oceans, they are beautiful to behold and provide us with unlimited inspiration. And they also offer us opportunities for a better world. According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US Department of Commerce, one out of every six jobs in the United states is marine-related.

Here’s a few ways you can participate:

  1. The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network have created a site dedicated to World Oceans Day. They have a list of more than 600 events being held worldwide.
  2. The World Oceans Day website also encourages support through donations or with the purchase of a t-shirt or bracelet commemorating this day.
  3. Better yet, people are encouraged to spread the word by creating a “selfie for the sea!” It’s easy to participate, simply take a photo of your self doing something for the ocean, or making a promise to help the ocean. Then share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites and tag it #WorldOceansDay.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Snow Leopards, Elegant Asian Mountain Cats

See more interesting animalsSnow Leopard, Uncia uncia.
Photo Courtesy Jaro at Jo Company of Dublin, Ireland

Tracing the tracks of Snow Leopards in the alpine mountains.

Gorgeous and hushed as snowfall, the Snow Leopard is known all over the globe for its beauty and intangible behavior. The white-gray coat with black spots combines perfectly with the rocky mountains of Central and South Asia.

These wild cats love this kind of natural habitat. It offers them good cover to stay out of sight while hunting. Moreover, they are highly adapted to the harsh and arid climate of the mountains.

Some amazing facts about Snow Leopards:

Snow Leopard, Uncia unciaPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Bernard Landgraf, GNU Free Documentation License
  1. Like most wild cats, this magnificent mountain cat hunts at night. The most common creatures killed by these cats are wild goats, deer, pikas, markhor, game birds, rodents and hares.
  2. The Snow Leopard is scientifically dubbed as Uncia uncia.
  3. They are found at elevations as high as 9800 feet above sea level.
  4. These are the most mystical among wild cats. They have a stunning coat with black rosettes that helps them in disguise.
  5. These cats weigh from 30-55 kg, and the length of the tail measures from 80-135cm.
  6. They are considered excellent jumpers and bear a resemblance to leopards.
  7. Their paws are large and covered with fur, which protects them from getting injuries.
  8. The gestation period of a female is about 90 to 110 days.
  9. They can live up to 18 years, though some have been known to live up to 21 years.

Why Snow Leopards are endangered

This wild cat’s numbers are gradually declining, with its population in the wild estimated at around 6000. According to the International Union for the conservation of Nature and Natural resources they are listed as an endangered species.

There are a number of reasons why they are in danger, but humans are the biggest threat to Snow Leopards. They hunt them for fur, pelt and bones. Many people are found wearing coats and hats made from leopard skin, while on the other hand, the Chinese use their bones in medicines. Not only this, humans also cause immense damage to their habitats and food sources.

When there is no or limited prey left in the wild, they are forced to venture out of their designated habit into human settlements where they start killing and eating the farm animals of villagers, such as goats and sheep. In response the local people kill these straying cats to save their stock.

Cites, another respected organization, puts a lot of effort into discovering creatures that could be in trouble. It protects the endangered species and forbids trade of animal species or their body parts.

Saving them from extinction

The Snow Leopard was first listed as an endangered species in the year 1972 and since then its population has been on the decline. The very old and respected Snow Leopard Trust works exclusively to save the endangered cat and its home. Right now the trust focuses its attempts in countries like Kyrgyzstan, India, Pakistan, China and Mongolia. It raises money through fundraising events, donations and by selling products online, and is maintained by the other organizations.

There are many organizations working together to make important contributions to the conservation of the endangered Snow Leopard. Conservation groups in many countries where these wild cats survive are working with the farmers to help improve the situation and minimize the problem of human-snow leopard conflicts. The herders and farmers have been taught how to protect their livestock areas against these creatures.

Where Snow Leopards Live

One can witness these top predators in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Bhutan. The likelihood of encountering one of these wild cats seems like a fancy dream. Spotting it in its high, overwhelming habitat will be a real reward for anyone.

On a tour to India, don’t miss out on visiting the famous Hemis National Park where snow leopards are found. Some of other renowned national parks are Khunjerab National park, Pakistan; Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal; Katun Nature Reserve, Russia and Sarychat- Ertah State Nature Reserve, Kyrgyzstan.

The existence of this elusive animal is significant as it signifies the health of the surroundings and the preservation of the snow leopard cannot be successful without the help and support of the local people. Make an effort to protect the wild cat, “Uncia uncia“, and its habitat. They need your love!

Contributing author Tanmay Sharma is a wildlife admirer and very passionate about wildlife tourism.

Animal Love, adorable but contagious!

May 8, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Featured Pets

Goldfish TypesPhoto courtesy David Brough

Watch out! Love in the animal world is going around… and it’s catching!

Mild symptoms of contagion might just be a smile on your face, but in worst case scenarios you may experience uncontrollable laughing, or even guffawing. And smiles, too, are contagious to other people!

Being an animal lover, however, is perhaps one of the best epidemics imaginable!

Animals and pets are good for your mind, good for your body, and good for your spirit. Studies have shown that keeping pets relieves depression, improves marriages, and kids with pets tend to function better. Caring for a pet also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improves heart function!

Cuddling releases serotonin and oxytocin, which can help improve our moods and fight depression. Smiling makes us look more attractive, feel younger, and adds years to our lives. It also releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin, which all together relieve stress and make us feel good.

The animal world is such an important part of human life! A synergy between people and animals has existed for thousands of years and has been crucial to the development of the human species. Throughout history the interconnection with animal life has helped humans learn and adapt, and become the most dominant life force on planet Earth.

So with all this animal love going around, make way for happiness! Embrace the animal world, get the contagion, and have an awesome life!

Kissing a pig!

Little boy kissing a pig at the Redneck Petting Zoo.

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” – Winston Churchill

Kissing Fischer’s Lovebirds

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.” – Alfred A. Montapert

Fischer's LovebirdsPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Peter Bekesi

Kissing a camel!

Man kissing a camel near a Sphinx in Cairo.

Everybody knows how to love a dog… but how about a camel? "It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb, because it is dumb to his dull perceptions." – Mark Twain

Man kissing a camel near a Sphinx in CairoPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy David Dennis

Kissing Prairie dogs

"All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it." – Samuel Butler

Kissing Prairie dogsPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Brocken Inaglory

Kissing Horses.

“When animals express their feelings they pour out like water from a spout. Animals’ emotions are raw, unfiltered, and uncontrolled. Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys and their grief the deepest and most devastating. Their passions bring us to our knees in delight and sorrow.” – Marc Bekoff

Horse BreedsPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Daniel Johnson

Loving a best friend!

Chesney is pushing around his new found kitten friend Joey, who was orphaned at just two-weeks old!

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Photo Via dailymail.co.uk

Loving those less fortunate!

German shepherd named Leo is protecting and guiding a young cavalier King Charles spaniel that is almost completely blind.

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too." – Samuel Butler

German shepherd named Leo is protecting and guiding a young cavalier King Charles spaniel in England that is almost completely blind. Photo Via pawnation.com

 

Bug up close and personal!

These two are going at it "eye-to-eye"! Some insects can taste with their feet or legs too!

"Only your true friends will tell you when your face is dirty."

Up close and personal, going at it "eye-to-eye"!Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy OakleyOriginals

Kissing a crocodile!

A Malaysian man kissing a crocodile in a zoo.

"Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened." – Anatole France

Kissing a crocodilePhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Osm agha

Love = hanging out with friends!

Koko is a 35 year-old lowland gorilla who enjoys a heart-warming relationship with kittens.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – George Orwell, Animal Farm

Kissing and snuggling a cat!

"…loving and caring for my beautiful daughter, Devi."

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog (or cat!) could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz

Types of pet catsPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Flower.dicicco

Kissing a Seal!

"Angels walk among us, sometimes they are unseen and have wings, and sometimes they pant and lick our faces." Jonathan Brooks

“You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”
– Paul McCartney

Kissing a Seal. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Topory

A Bubble Eye Goldfish sums it all up…

"Animals never worry about Heaven or Hell, neither do I, maybe that’s why we get along." – Charles Bukowski

Bubble Eye GoldfishPhoto Wiki Commons, Courtesy Angie Torres

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Rhino Bond with the Kaziranga National Park

One-Horned Rhino, Rhinoceros unicornis. See more interesting animalsGreater One-Horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, Photo Source, Flickr

The instinctive bond of One-Horned Rhinos with Kaziranga National Park.

“The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.” – David Attenborough

Rhinoceros, commonly known as rhino, is a name used for the uneven-toed ungulate animal that belongs to the family of Rhinocerotidae. The largest of the rhino species is the one-horned rhino. A single glimpse of this majestic wild animal is enough to enthrall a nature aficionado. The exotic one-horned rhinos are the pride of India and were once present in the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent. However, the rhino population in the country has been depleted because of the continuous poaching.

Interesting Facts About One-Horned Rhinoceros

One-horned rhinos are herbivorous animals that have a thick skin on their body. There are a good number of one horned rhinos in India owing to extremely effective conservation efforts taken by the authorities. Greater one-horned rhinos are creatures who love solitude. They are principally grazers, with their diet almost completely consisting of grasses and leaves, fruits, tree branches, shrubs, and aquatic plants.

This animal has a great sense of hearing and a wonderful sense of smell. Hence, they can find their companions with no trouble. Rhinos go around in the search of food when the climate is a bit cooler and they avoid the heat of the afternoon. They submerge themselves in water when the temperature is high in order to avoid direct exposure to severe heat. The greater one-horned rhinos are expert swimmers and can feed underwater as well.

The one-horned rhinos at Kaziranga National Park are poached extensively for their horn as it is believed that their horn is useful in making medicine. They went to the brink of extinction because of these killings. To prevent them from disappearance, the government of India has employed many conservation projects. Several protected areas are taking essential steps to conserve this amazing wildlife species. Most prominent of them is Kaziranga National Park!

Kaziranga and One-Horned Rhinos

The legacy of India lies not just in its imposing monuments but also in its natural wonders. Kaziranga National Park is a protected area in India that has conserved the wonders and beauty of nature. This park is well known for its commendable and huge wildlife assortment and is a well-respected natural center for varied wildlife species in the country. It is situated on the bank of the huge Brahmaputra River in the districts of Nagaon and Golaghat, Assam. This intriguing protected area is also famous for the conservation of great number of one-horned rhinos. In the year 2012, the population of one horned rhinos in Kaziranga was expected to be 2,329. This park was set up in Assam to save the population of one-horned rhinos from harm.

Almost two-thirds of world’s rhino population resides in the immensely widespread areas of Kaziranga National Park. Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, also known as Lady Curzon, visited this region in the year 1904 and she later pioneered the conservation work in this park. Kaziranga is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been thriving in the conservation of the animal species. This national park has become an essential element of Assam tourism in modern times, since a large number of wildlife buffs swarms it every year. One-horned rhinos enjoy an ultimate and ideal environment in this park, where there are enormous spans of greenery and glinting water bodies. Several wildlife safaris are carried out all through the tourist seasons to facilitate wildlife lovers in watching the one-horned rhinos up close. These safaris or guided tours are conducted with the help of jeeps or elephants.

Several confines have been positioned to guard this national park from being contaminated or causing any sort of annoyance to its exotic flora and fauna. Loads of wildlife aficionados broaden their support in a number of ways for improving conservation practices for the one-horned rhino and generating more employment prospects. As a result of such actions, the population of one-horned rhinos has improved to a substantial degree over the years. The significant factor that creates a center of attention for visitors the most is the vista of one-horned rhinos that can be seen in a large number of areas in this beautiful wildlife sanctuary.

More info about Kaziranga National Park

How to reach:

  • BY ROAD: Kaziranga is located 217 kms east of Guwahati. There is around a 4 hour drive from Guwahati on NH-37, to reach the park. This park is well connected with the cities like Tezpur (80 kms), Jorhat (97 kms) and Dibrugarh (250 kms).
  • BY AIR: The nearest airport from Kaziranga is Guwahati (217 kms).
  • BY RAIL: Nearest Railhead is in Furkating (80 km) from where a tourist can take any mode of transportation to get to Kaziranga.

Best time to visit:

Kaziranga National Park is open for the wildlife admirers and nature lovers from 1st November to 30th April every year. It is rampaged by the floods during monsoon season. Overfilling of vacationers for the duration of December and January encumbers a private experience. Hence, the months of February and March are the best months to pay a visit to Kaziranga National Park.

Kaziranga is an ideal abode for one-horned rhinos. A visit to this arresting park crowns the minds of wildlife lovers with spellbinding sights of this mammoth creature that one can treasure for a lifetime.

Anshul Srivastava is a wildlife enthusiast, who loves to wander around different wildlife destinations of India. At the same time, he has got a command over writing and thus, he pens down and shares his experience with the world.

20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Horse Lovers, people with a passion for life

March 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Horses

Horse people honor and celebrate just about everything, but with a wonderful horseman’s twist!

Horsemen and women are passionate about anything horse. Websites, facebook pages, and blogs dedicated to horse lovers are filled with pictures and quotes that embrace the finest qualities we each strive for.

Strength and courage, passion, love, hard work and endurance spread across the pages. But the simple everyday riches of life are also embraced like smiles, spring, horse shedding season, and even the fact that it’s a Friday! Quickly I find myself being drawn in, and loving it!

I was so fortunate to be raised in a family where horses were a big part of our activities. My father, raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana, felt horsemanship was a fundamental part of life. Trail riding, cattle herding, and rodeos were all part of our fare.

The short summer seasons were filled with exploring on horseback, heading out with a packed lunch, and swimming gear incase we chanced upon a stream or pond. During the long winter season, the horses were kept at a highland ranch, where moving cattle between pastures was an ongoing affair. With 10 children, local ranchers loved to have us show up at branding time. All those extra hands helped the work go smoothly and quickly. Then the arrival of springtime had my brothers trying their hands at bronco busting in local rodeos. All these wonderful parts of a young, blossoming horse person set the stage for my life as a passionate horse lover.

Light Horse - AndalusianLight Horse – Andalusian.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Tanja Mikkelsen

Owning a Horse… the ultimate passion

Horses are still used for ranching and other types of work, but the joy of riding and keeping them as companions is what stirs the hearts of even more people today. Each horse breed has its unique abilities and charm, and there’s a horse for every type of person.

Getting the right horse depends on what you imagine doing with it. There are many types of horses, each with their individual breed characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and vary greatly in height and size, as well as temperament. Be patient and take the time to determine what you want, because owning a horse is not only a fabulous experience, but a big responsibility.

Horses are commonly divided into three groups; Light Horses, Draft or Heavy Horses, and Ponies.

Draft Horse - Gypsy Vanner named BonanzaDraft Horse – Gypsy Vanner named Bonanza.
Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Maria Wahlberg of Sweden
  • Light Horse Breeds – The majority of the riding horses are found in the light breeds. All Light Horses originally descended from the Arabian type. They have great strength and stamina, and depending on the breed, can be used in a variety of show disciplines, with some specialized as racing breeds.
  • Heavy Horse Breeds – The heavier types, commonly known as Draft Horses were developed from the bulkier equines found in the northern hemisphere. They generally have a quiet calm temperament, but they are big and strong.
  • Pony Breeds – Ponies on the other hand, are small. The Pony Breeds are durable horses that evolved smaller in stature, but strong and hardy, because they came from areas where there was often inferior nutrition and harsh environments. They are very durable and usually require less care than the other two groups, but they are also more independent.
Pony Breed - Shetland PonyPony Breed – Shetland Pony.
Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy ken taylor

Horse paraphenalia… extending the passion

Whether you own a horse or not, once you become a horse lover you’ll find yourself drawn to anything that has to do with horses. I find myself perking up with interest when watching movies or television, whenever a horse comes onto the scene. The super bowl halftime is a favorite, just to see those beautiful Clydesdales in the Budweiser commercials. A recent episode of the fantasy drama “Da Vinci’s Demons” even includes an Andalusian, the beautiful Pure Spanish Horse.

The Internet is great for finding all sorts of tack, equipment, and riding gear. But it is also a great place to find all sorts of cool horse related accessories, knickknacks, and collectables.

I collect Painted Ponies from the popular “Trail of Painted Ponies” project. Rod Barkser, a writer who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, started the project. He was actually prompted to begin the Trail of Painted Ponies project because of a public art exhibition entitled “Cow Parade” that he came across while passing through Chicago during a research trip. He was charmed by these artistically transformed cows, and took it to a new level. He was inspired by the ponies of Santa Fe, and today many artists submit designs for competition, and the results are wonderful pieces of collectable art!

There are too many different types of collectibles to even begin to outline them here. But if you are a horse lover and collector of horse related art, accessories, and collectables, you can check out the horse section of a website called The Collectionary.

The Horses Collectionary is a growing library of horse collectibles and nostalgic items that are fun to peruse, and you can join and share your collections as well.

Happy horse loving, enjoy your passion!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Insects and bugs are on the menu, hungry?

March 18, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News

Insects are also good foods for reptiles and amphibiansInsects to eat at a market stand in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy An-d

Is it time to revisit the Paleo Diet, and go beyond to a diet of insects, bugs, and arthropods?

The idea of snacking on bugs reminds me of Pumbaa in the Lion King movie, smacking his lips and contentedly saying, “Slimy… yet satisfying!” Bugs are small compact packages of food packed with nutrition. But are they scrumptious? That depends on where you live and how you were raised.

Imagine sitting down to the dinner table where the usual fare is accompanied with a selection of succulent dishes concocted with bugs. That may make you a little squeamish if you didn’t grow up with it. People in Western cultures tend to be abhorred by the idea of eating anything that crawls around with six, eight, or more, legs. Yet there are many cultures where the consumption of bugs is commonplace.

Bugs are eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. It’s estimated that between 1,400 to 2,000 species of bugs are eaten in more than 100 countries. These include butterflies and moths, beetles, ants, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, termites, cicadas, dragonflies, and more. Even before hunting or farming became prevalent methods of food production, insects and other creepers are believed to have been an integral part of the human diet.

Bugs and the Paleolithic Diet

The latest diet craze, the Paleolithic Diet, takes it cues from the Stone Age. The recently popular best seller by Dr. Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet, reflects this age as the idea behind this diet. Basically, if our early ancestors couldn’t have eaten something, than we shouldn’t be eating it today.

Cordain and other Paleo Diet advocates and researchers emphasize early man as skilled, aggressive hunters, feeding the tribes on meat. Paleo Diet advocates make an excellent point. Hunting and gathering were not only a primary part of our evolution, but are still vital practices throughout the world today.

According to Daniella Martin, in her article The benefits of eating bugs, Meet the new Paleo diet, “Cordain suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, early humans ate this Paleo Diet for 2.5 million years.” And he further points out that farming, popular for only the last 10,000 years, is just a “drop in the chronological bucket when compared with the millennia leading up to it. He further says that “the hunter-gatherer diet our ancestors lived on is far more deeply and indelibly imprinted into our DNA than our habits of the last few thousand years.”

Yet Martin’s article is very insightful on another front, that of bugs! She suggests that in the long evolution of man, there are piles of evidence indicating that early man may very well have gotten a significant portion of their diet from insects and other creepy crawlers.

She describes how early hunters could score a big game kill on average only about 20% of the time. If this had been their only food source, they would have starven. To feed the tribe in between kills their regular fare would have to include lots of food items they could gather and forage. She says these would include tubers and greens along with small animals, the bulk of which would be insects and other invertebrates.

Skewered locusts, Beijing, ChinaSkewered locusts to eat in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv

Bugs, nutritious and delicious

The practice of humans eating bugs for food is called Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

An Entomophaga diet primarily consists of insects, those six-legged creepy crawlers with two antenae, but it also includes certain arthropods. Arthropods are not insects but are still creepers. These include arachnids like spiders, tarantulas and scorpions, and myriapods like centipedes. Crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp are also arthropods, but they are not included in the definition of Entomophagy. Animals that eat insects are known as insectivores.

The nice thing about eating bugs, from a nutritional standpoint, is they have so many of the things that the human body needs. They contain protein, iron, calcium, the healthy unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), and other nutrients.

Martin says they are a much higher quality food compared to things like leaves, fruits, flowers, and nuts. Plant sources do contain many of these same nutrients, but in a much smaller concentration. She indicates the difference is because “insects are a two food source — they themselves have eaten, and thereby concentrated in their own tissues, the nutrients found in plant sources.” For people, this higher concentration means less work for the same nutritional benefits.

Deep fried giant waterbugs, ThailandDeep fried giant waterbugs (Lethocerus indicus) are often seen at local markets in Thailand. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Takoradee

Bugs, on the market

There are some food bugs available in the US, but these are mostly found in specialty restaurants or as novelty snack items. Some of these delectable items are:

  • Chocolate covered insects: These edible, farm-raised insects include scorpions, superworms, silkworms, bees, ants, and crickets.
  • Crickets: Farm raised crickets can be found flavored with salt & vinegar, bacon & cheese, and sour cream & onion.
  • Larvets Worm Snacks: These edible, farm-raised larva are flavored in cheddar cheese, BBQ, bacon & cheese, and Mexican Spice.
  • Casu marzu: More commonly known as maggot cheese, this is a cheese laced with maggots.
  • Insect Lollipops: Transparent candy lollipops that have scorpions (the harmless California scorpions), mealworms, or crickets encased inside a delicious candy coating.
Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli)Diverse Emperor Caterpillars (Imbrasia ertli) known as Mbinzo. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Francis Hannaway

Insects and other bugs are a delicacy, and often a staple in many countries throughout the world. Here are some good food bugs, starting with mealworms and crickets which pet keepers in the US are very familiar with, and ending with some familiar arthropods:

  • Mealworms: (Netherlands) Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. These are good sources of protein, copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Crickets: (Taiwan) Crickets are one of the most common food items in this country. (NE Thailand) Crickets laden with eggs are considered a tasty snack in this country.
  • Ants: (Malawi) Candied ants are a favorite in Malawi. (Thailand) They consume Weaver ant eggs in this country.
  • Flies: (Malawi) They use flies to make fly pancakes!
  • Fried spiders, CambodiaFried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon, Cambodia. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Mat Connolley
  • Grasshoppers: (So. Mexico) In Southern Mexico grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, called chapulines, are widely consumed.
  • Locust: (Thailand) Locusts feed primarily on the leaves of rice plants, they became a staple when they experienced a major locust problem in this country.
  • Termites: (South America, Africa, parts of Indonesia) Consuming termites is commonplace. They are rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty and amino acids, and high in protein, most with about 38%, but a species found in Venezuelan, Syntermes aculeosus, contains as much as 64%.
  • Cockroaches: (Thailand) They eat many types of insects in this country!
  • Giant Water Beetles: (Thailand)
  • Stink Bugs: (Asia, South America, Africa). These insects are rich in nutrients including protein, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Skewered scorpions, Beijing, ChinaSkewered scorpions to eat, in Donghuamen, Beijing, China. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy istolethetv
  • African Palm Weevil: (Africa) This insect is fatty along with potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, several amino acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Mopane Caterpillars: (So. Africa) Mopane caterpillars are the larval stage of the Emperor Moth Imbrasia belina.
  • Maguey Worms: (Malawi) (Mexico) Maguey Worms are the larvae of a giant butterfly, the Tequila Giant Skipper Aegiale hesperiaris.
  • Witchetty Grubs: (Australia) This is a staple in the diet of the aboriginal people.
  • Tarantulas: (Cambodia) These are favored delicacies here!
  • Spiders: (France) Some spider species are dipped in chocolate and fried as treats. (Africa) Spiders are regularly mixed into all the meals.
  • Scorpions: (Singapore, Beijing) These are a common food, usually fried and then skewered.

Bugs, solving the world’s food crisis

In a world pushing a population of 8 billion, and expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 according to the United Nations (UN), food resources are becoming stretched. Insects and other creepers are highly nutritious, readily available, and have a very efficient reproductive capacity. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

In his article, Why Insects Should Be in Your Diet, biochemist and entomologist Dr. Aaron T. Dossey says insects “hold great promise for thwarting an impending global food crisis” and he believes that they “can realistically become an important part of our future.”

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Brilliant New Soft Coral Species Discovered, Psammogorgia hookeri

February 17, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Aquariums, Corals Mini-Reef

Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea WhipsPhoto Courtesy Yuri Hooker Peru Underwater

A beautiful bright red coral species, described as Psammogorgia hookeri, has been found in the Peruvian region of the Eastern Pacific!

It was the brilliant reddish color of this soft coral that first caught the attention of Yuri Hooker in 2002, and he collect the first specimens at that time. Hooker came across it again in 2008 while he was researching marine sponges, and at that time he was able to collect new specimens.

Dr Yuri Hooker is a biologist and naturalist at the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University in Lima, Peru. In an article published by El Comercio, A new species of coral inhabiting the waters of Paracas, he says that with the 2008 specimens he began to “start the scientific process of identification and description”. It was then validated as a new soft coral species in 2014 by Odalisca Breedy, a research specialist in Octocoral Taxonomy at the University of Costa Rica (CIMAR), and her associate Hector M. Guzman, a marine biologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Scientific description

This new coral species has been named Psammogorgia hookeri in honor of Dr Yuri Hooker. Breedy and Guzman describe this honor in their report, A new species of alcyonacean octocoral from the Peruvian zoogeographic region, published by Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014, as bestowed “in recognition of his (Hooker) indefatigable and valuable contribution to the knowledge of the marine invertebrates and natural history of Peru.”

Breedy and Guzman, both experts in soft coral taxonomy and ecology, identified this new species based on colony characteristics and examinations using both light and scanning-electron microscopy. This species is described as a member of the Alcyonacea order of soft corals in the Holaxonia suborder of gorgonians. It belongs to the Plexauridae family, which are soft corals that form branching colonies and are often known as sea rods or sea fans. Within this family it is placed in the genus Psammogorgia, which now contains 14 described species, with Psammogorgia hookeri being the newest member.

Distribution

The discovery of this new soft coral has created quite a stir. The rich coral red coloring makes it an undeniable beauty, but it seems to have a very limited occurrence. It has only been found from Isla San Gallan, in the Paracas National Reserve. This reserve is located in Ica, Peru and contains the Paracas Peninsula, coastal areas, and extends inland into the tropical desert areas.

This vibrant coral is thought to possibly be endemic to the Paracas National Reserve. During his research, Hooker says he has traveled almost all of the Peruvian coasts, from Tumbes to Tacna, but has only found these soft corals in the Paracas region.

The waters of this region are cool in contrast to the more congenial waters of other eastern Pacific tropical regions, where temperatures can exceed 82.4° F (28° C). Breedy and Guzman say, “the diversity of Peruvian shallowwater octocorals may be low, but species and ecosystems have adapted to dramatic coastal oceanographic changes.” They suggest that both “seasonal and inter-annual upwellings” and El Nino impact the region, changing the surface temperatures of the water. That in turn creates a “turbid green-to-brown ecosystem”, and thus effects the bio-productivity.

Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea WhipsPhoto Courtesy Yuri Hooker

Description and habitat

Breedy and Guzman describe Psammogorgia hookeri colonies as small, bushy, and branching. They are about 3″(8 cm) wide with branches that reach about 7 3/4″ (12 cm) in length. They are a bright coral red color with translucent polyps.

The scientists described the coral’s colony habitation as clusters on rocky ledges and cliffs, and then spreading along the substrate. They say that areas they inhabit are generally “surrounded by other organisms such as sponges, worms, sea urchins and brachiopods among other sessile creatures.” However this coral is not a shallow water species. It has not been found at depths of less than 65′ (20 m).

Availability

Interestingly, this soft coral has been seen attached to mussel shells in local fish markets! However its availability for the reef aquarium is pretty slim right now, as finding Psammogorgia hookeri specimens in fish stores or online is difficult, if not impossible.

Learn more about the types of soft corals categorized as Gorgonians at Types of Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea Whips on Animal-World, which also includes coral guides for different species with pictures, background information, and the aquarium care needed for keeping them in a mini reef.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

PlanetXingu Project, A win for Catfish and the Xingu River

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Catfish Varieties: Royal Plecostomus, Panaque nigrolineatusRoyal Plecostomus or Black Lined Panaque, Panaque nigrolineatus. Color forms of this species are found in the Rio Xingu. Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs.

Two Thumbs Up! To Planet Catfish and the PlanetXingu Project

Planet Catfish and founder Julian Dignall truly deserve our praise and recognition for their successful fundraising project, PlanetXingu. Julian conceived PlanetXingu almost a year ago to help research into the Rio Xingu in Brazil.

PlanetXingu has been a great success. Big kudos to these guys in the UK for stepping up to the plate. Hundreds of aquarists and fish lovers became engaged and donated both money and time to the project. They not only reached, but exceeded their $11,000 goal!

Julian will be hosting an exciting event this coming Sunday, Feb 9th, 2014, where you can meet two of the major players on the project, Mark Sabaj Perez and Nathan Lujan. There will be two online sessions , one at 1900 GMT and the other at 1900 EST. Sign in at: http://tinychat.com/planetcatfish

The project evolved due to the plight of the endemic and migratory species of the Xingu River in Brazil. The Brazilian Government is currently constructing the Belo Monte Dam on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries, the Xingu River. It is estimated by Amazon Watch in their article, Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam, Sacrificing the Amazon and its Peoples for Dirty Energy, that this will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam.

This project brought to light many concerns over the impacts this will have on communities, rivers, and forests throughout the Xingu basin. Amazon Watch says it is designed to divert 80% of the river’s flow, “devastating an area of over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest”.

Dignall envisioned bringing together a communty of fish lovers and scientist to the aid of Rio Xingu. His inspiration was to help assist both researchers in the field as well as those that keep and breed Xingu basin species in captivity. Thus the launch of the PlanetXingu fundraising project in March 2013. The aim of the project was to raise $11,000 by January 1, 2014 to purchase equipment for studying the river before, during, and after the dam’s construction. You can learn more about PlanetXingu on Planet Catfish’s An Introduction to the project.

We are proud of the efforts of Julian Dignall and Planet Catfish, not only on the PlanetXingu project, but for their years of online information. Their website originated in 1997/98, at about the same time as Animal-World. With well over 2400 catfish varieties, it is a great resource for pictures and taxonomical information on catfish species, and one of our premium references. In fact one of our super team members, Ken Childs, who has over 2 decades of fish experience in the wholesale arena, provided numerous catfish pictures to their database.

Learn about the history and background of catfish on Animal-World, along with aquarium guides for the different kinds of catfish: Catfish Varieties, Fish Guides for All Types of Catfish

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

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