Sunday, February 28, 2010

ABC Wednesday: G is for Gerbil

Two Mongolian Gerbils - the gerbil species that's most common as a pet. They are cute, curious and can be tamed easily and they don't sleep all day - did I mention they were curious? They will come to look what you're doing, especially when they know that they might get a treat. Here's a video of Ares (almost eight years old at that time) grabbing a piece of wafer and runnig with it - I might decide to take it back after all.

Like most rodents, they are very social and should never be kept alone. Unfortunately, excessive breeding for colour and not for health or character has messed up both their social behaviour and their lifespan. Groups of more than two gerbils are unstable and usually fall apart after some time and introducing gerbils to each other is very complicated. Ares with his eight years was a big exception from the rule, these days Mongolian gerbils often die with two or three years...five years used to be normal.

Gerbils are a huge family with more than 100 different species. For example, there are Fat Sand Rats who have appeared in the pet trade a while ago. Unfortunately, they need a highly specialized diet and are very prone to diabetes, most people who buy them have no idea what they are getting into.
Duprasis are gerbils, too, they are also known as Fat-Tailed gerbils for a reason. The tail is used to store fat for hard times. Duprasis run up to 14 kilometers (about 9 miles) per night and need a huge cage if you want to keep them as pets. They also love and need animal protein in the form of insects, preferably living ones.

My favourite gerbil species are Bushy-Tailed Jirds.
They are about the size of Mongolian gerbils, but more slender and they climb much better, balancing with their long tail. Bushy-tailed jirds need a big, tall cage, I simply converted a closet.
Whenever I open the doors, the jirds will come and see what's going on and will climb around on me. They don't like being petted because it gets their fur greasy, but they can get really tame anyway. But as with all pets, make sure you do a lot of reading and research beforehand! Check animal shelters and private rescues, even for exotic species. This Persian gerbil has been given up for adoption at a shelter near me for example (by someone who thought he had a Mongolian gerbil...he clearly didn't have much interest in his pet)

See what else G stands for at the ABC Wednesday meme

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ABC Wednesday: F is for Flying a Broom

This is the USS Pampanito in San Francisco, a WWII submarine that's now a museum ship. She's flying a broom - this is a sign that she did a clean sweep, a completely successful mission (click to see a bigger picture). In WWII, that meant that every attacked ship was destroyed.
You can find out more about the USS Pampanito here - if you have the chance and are interested in submarines, I really recommend a visit. Being used to the small German subs, I was surprised how spacious she is and I was amused by the fact that there actually was a icecream-maker on board.

Find out what else F stands for with ABC Wednesday

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Camera Critters: Mole Crab


This weird critter is a mole crab, a member of the Hippoidea superfamily. I don't know the exact species, but I found it on a beach in Oregon, so it might be an Emerita analoga. The folks at the awesome Oregon Coast Aquarium identified it for me, I had never seen one before.
There were a ton of them moving around in the sand, getting uncovered by the waves and then digging down again in a flash - at first I wasn't even sure what I was seeing.

Mole crabs cannot walk, just dig through sand and they live on plankton they filter from the water. They are totally harmless and cannot pinch.

More critters can be found over at the Camera critters meme

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ABC Wednesday: E is for Exterminate!

I love Daleks and it so happens that one of my favourite songs also features them and their Exterminate! I just saw RoterSand perform live on Sunday and this song is always great.

What else does E stand for? Find out at ABC Wednesday

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Camera Critters: Little Panda

This is a Red or Little Panda or Firefox. His scientific name is Ailurus fulgens, which means Shining Cat. Despite the common name, it's not really related to Pandas or other bears, but to skunks and racoons. It has a family of its own that contains only the Red Panda and no other living species.

Like the Giant Panda, it eats mainly bamboo and has a false thumb (an elongated wrist) that allows it to grasp and manipulate its food. Red Pandas are threatened by loss of habitat and they are being hunted for fur and the pet trade despite being protected. They breed more successfully than Giant Pandas in captivity, though. The Red Panda Network is a project for the research and conservation of Red Pandas.

More cute critters over at the Camera Critters meme!

photo taken at Hagenbecks Tierpark, published with kind permission

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Breeding mice for your snake

I noticed that a lot of people find my blog when they look for instructions on how to breed feeder mice for snakes ect. Here you will find a website dedicated to different mouse species and it has a section on how to breed feeder mice here
It's the website of the rescue organisation I belong to, the Mousehole. We are working on translating our German website into English at the moment, so there will be more content to come!

Friday, February 5, 2010

ABC Wednesday: D is for Dragon

Here be dragons!
Dragons living in the water
the Australian water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) - a semiaquatic agama species, excellent swimmers

flying through the air
(not my photo, was made by Firereptiles) - a flying dragon (Draco volans) that can glide with those folds of skin that are held open by the ribs and can be folded back into the body

living in the desert
a bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

and really big, dangerous ones, the closest to an actual dragon we can get these days
A Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) in the London zoo, one of the very few zoos to keep these magnificent animals. They are fast, can bring their prey (anything from small reptiles to horses and water buffalo) down easily with a swipe from their tail and their bite is toxic, not to mention the bacteria in their salvia.
They are also among the largest living reptiles, up to 9 ft long and the heaviest, weighing up to 150 lb. Like all monitor lizards, they are highly intelligent and unlike other monitors, females can lay fertilized eggs without mating (parthenogenesis). Highly unusual for reptiles, Komodo dragons will play with things they find in their habitat, at least in captivity.

What else does D stand for? Find out at the ABC Wednesday meme

Monday, February 1, 2010

ABC Wednesday: C is for Captain Kirk


C is for Captain Kirk and for El Capitan. It's a 3000 foot granite monolith in Yosemite and Captain Kirk climbs it in Star Trek V - The Final Frontier. It's a highly enjoyable scene in an otherwise pretty bad movie, especially the roasting of marshmelons a bit later.
Kirk: What are you doing?
Spock: I am preparing to toast a marshmelon.
McCoy: Well, I'll be damned. A marshmelon. Where'd you learn to do that?
Spock: Before leaving the ship, I consulted the computer library to familiarize myself with the customs associated with 'camping out.'
McCoy: Well, tell me, Spock. What do you do after we toast the marsh— er, marshmelons?
Spock: We consume them.
McCoy: I know we consume them. I mean after that.
Spock: Oh. I believe we are required to engage in a ritual known as the 'singalong.'

I geeked out just a tiny bit when I stood in Yosemite valley and looked up at El Capitan, I'm a big Star Trek fan and it was cool to see it for myself. Not that El Capitan would need a movie to make it cool. Here's another view, with Half Dome on the right in the background.

What else does C stand for? Find out at ABC Wednesday