Friday, January 29, 2010

Camera Critters: Orang Utan

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Tuan, the adult male of the Sumatran orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus abelii) group at Hagenbecks Tierpark. He's growing the typical cheeks of an adult male, here's how he loooked like last summer
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Toba, one of the older females and the dominat one. She's holding a twig in her mouth that she used earlier to get some honey out of a hiding place, it's part of the enrichment program for the orangs.
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Bella, the second oldest orang utan in captivity as far as I know. She's definitely the oldest to give birth, at 44 years in 2005 to her latest child, a daughter named Harapan.
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Toba and Tuan sharing some food.
Here you can see some great photos of their enclosure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ABC Wednesday: B is for Bug

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Not just any bug, but a true bug: a Twin Spotted Assassin Bug. It's an African species and they prey on other insects and invertebrates, sometimes killing prey that is as big as they are.

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They are easy to keep and make fascinating pets. Although they have an extremely painful bite and can spray you with defensive liquid, they are not at all aggressive and prefer to hide. I've seen people handle them, but I prefer not to. They breed readily in captivity, as demonstrated by the pair above.

They lay beautiful purple eggs and after a while, tiny assasin bugs hatch:
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They will stay that colour until their first molt, then they turn into a deep purple until their last molt when they grow wings. Since they are very social, it's possible to raise the nymphs together or even together with the adults. I've seen assassin bugs share meals lots of times. Here's one feeding on a cricket:
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What else does B stand for? Find out with ABC Wednesday

Monday, January 18, 2010

MyWorld Tuesday: Kemnader See

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The Kemnader See is a water reservoir fed from the Ruhr, near Bochum. It's a walk of about 8 kilometers all the way around. There were tons of people out and about, enjoying the sunshine, although the weather was freezing.
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Gulls, swans, ducks and coots were waiting to be fed or just hanging out on the water.
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Flying a kite to the moon...
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See other peoples' world over atMyWorld Tuesday

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Camera Critters: Budgies

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I grew up with budgies, we almost always had a pair. When I moved out, I didn't own budgies for two years or so and then one day, I realized that i missed their constant chattering. So Ernst moved in with his buddy Martin. Martin died, but Ernst is still around, eight years old
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Susi came next, with her partner (also already dead) - they were given up for adoption because (gasp!) they were too loud. Hello? Who would think: yeah, I'd like nice quiet birds, so I'll get budgies? Susi's about five years old now and she is Ernst's partner, but likes to flirst with the other males.
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Then came Igor
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and Anton, adopted out because of the new family dog. They had been with the family for only about a year, the dog must have come as a surprise.
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Frida came last, the people brought her to the shelter and told the staff that she had been found. Which may be true, but I do wonder about the cage full of expensive toys that came with her. I don't think she brought those in a suitcase when she flew away. Frida also had a huge growth on her nose, like this - it's called hyperceratosis and it's often a sign that the bird has hormonal problems or nutritional deficits. The growth fell off after some time and hasn't grown back since (but if you have a bird with a similar condition, by all mean see an avian vet to find out exactly what causes it!). Frida had probably been a single bird all her life and she was a social cripple with no idea how to behave and she didn't call or chatter, not one sound. She got aggressive when the others tried to interact with her, but after a while she learned. Now she's vocalizing just as much as the others and plays and flirts with the males, a normal and happy bird.
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In the summer, she likes to bathe in a piece of salad (but never in a dish of water, all my budgies refuse that for some reason). Her beak must have been broken once and there's only one half left that grows too long and needs to be shortened, a procedure we both hate. She's a feisty bird who will threaten to bite you as soon as you get near her.
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See more feathery and furry critters over at the Camera Critters meme

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Camera Critters: Bearded Dragon

If you came across this post while looking for info on cohabitating bearded dragons and hermit crabs, find out here why this would be a bad idea.
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This is my bearded dragon Ruebe, an eight year old male Pogona vitticeps. There are seven species of bearded dragons, but P. vitticeps along with the smaller P. henrylawsoni are the two usually kept as pets.

They are friendly lizards are usually are really tame, but they need lots of room and lots of light. If you want to keep a bearded dragon, prepare for a marked rise in your electricity bill because one fluorescent tube and a heat spot just isn't enough. Think heat spot, UV light and really bright HQI or other metal halide lamps in at least a 100 gallon tank for a single dragon. You often read a recommendation for a 50 gallon as a minimum, but in my opinion that's way too small. Ruebe lives in a homemade 340 gallon (8x2.5x4 ft long, wide and high) and he certainly uses all that room and loves to run and climb.
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Adult dragons eat mainly leafy greens and vegetables and only about 20-30% insects, with juveniles it's just the other way around. Ruebe gets a variety of insects (roaches, crickets, locusts ect.) twice a week and veggies the rest of the time, with the occasional diet day. He loves red and especially yellow flowers like pansies and nasturtiums.
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I got him when he was year old from friends who had bought two dragons who both turned out to be male. That is not a good combination since males will fight once they have reached maturity. P. vitticeps is mainly solitary in the wild, but in captivity you can keep a male with two or more females if you have enough room (and a spare tank in case they don't get along, which can happen even after a time of living together peacefully). It's nothing I would recommend for a beginner, though, since it's easy to miss the signs of stress in case they don't get along too well. Oh, and all dragons must be the same size because they are well known for eating other lizards up to 2/3 their own size...

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Here you can see why they are called bearded dragons. That's a sign of dominace and Ruebe does it almost every morning, along with nodding vigorously at us to show us that he's the dominant dragon in the house. If the dragon is stressed or angry, the beard can turn pitch black.
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They can change their overall colour, too. Ruebe is a dark grey in the morning when he's still cold and often turns almost white once he has warmed up.

If you plan to get a dragon yourself, here are some websites that will help you getting set up for your new pet:
Bearded Dragon.org - full of informative articles, with a very active forum. A good place to start looking for a dragon instead of a pet shop - there are many dragons looking for new homes.
Tosney's Bearded Dragon Care more helpful articles, especially the stuff on brumation
Iguana Den is meant for Green Iguanas, but it's an excellent source of information about what greens and veggies to feed to your dragon
anapsid.org is THE website for any reptile owner, it has a ton of information of any subject you can think of including a list of herp vets, which is really important - normal vets have no clue what to do with a sick reptile