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Facts about Animals
13 years ago
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Why do some animals hibernate in the winter?

Grizzly black bears, hummingbirds and squirrels hibernate in the winter because a long, chilly season of little food and warmth is no picnic for these animals.

Unlike the warm seasons of spring and summer that provide an unlimited amount of food for these critters, the winter season only provides a cold, frozen ground where food is extremely scarce.

In addition, the wintery days are frigid and short while the hours in the dark night seem to drag on for a chilly eternity. Searching for grub often leaves the stomachs of these animals empty because by the end of their search their bodies end up burning more calories than the animals get back from the food when and if any is found. So instead of starving or freezing to death, these animals decide to pack in all in for the long haul and hibernate during the winter months.

Hibernation helps these animals survive in the roughest and toughest conditions. By hibernating, an animal decreases its body.s energy needs to a bare minimum. Hibernation is a process of lowering an animals body temperature and slowing down its heartbeat into order to conserve energy during times of scarcity and stress.

Every animal hibernates in different ways. While squirrels can wake up every four days to grab a bite to eat and take a trip to the bathroom, black bears can stay dormant, or inactive, for up to seven months with no food, water, or visits to the bathroom.

13 years ago

Do the humps on camels hold water?


The humps on a camel's back are actually huge heaps of fat and flesh that can weigh as much as 80 pounds in a healthy camel. These humps help camels survive for weeks without food and water.

When water and food become scarce on the deserts where camels roam, the fatty humps serve as stored food and are used for nourishment. As the camel's body metabolizes or uses up the humps' stored fat, the hump becomes smaller and flabbier. So the longer the camel goes without eating, the smaller its hump gets. The size of a camel's hump helps determine a camel's health, food sources, and overall well-being.

These humps, or reserves of fat, are the reason why camels can go for days without water and food. While humans are supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, camels can go without water for up to 2 weeks!

Camel characteristics:

  • Camels are the only animals with humps.
  • Got milk? Camels can produce up to 600 liters of milk a year.
  • Camels can close their nostrils.
  • Camels eat just about anything. When camels are really hungry and there is no food around, they won't think twice about gobbling up people's tents, sandals, or blankets.
  • Camels as professional boxers? In some countries camels are a source of entertainment. For example, camel fighting attracts audiences of all ages in several countries around the world.
  • Are camels faster than a speeding bullet? Well not quite. But camels can run just as fast as horses, if not faster. Similar to horse races in the United States, camel races are a popular sport in Morocco.
13 years ago

What animal has the largest eyes?

The eyes of the giant squid (Architeuthis dux) can be up to 25 centimeters (ten inches) across, about the size of a volleyball.

Those large, sensitive eyes are useful in the dark waters where the giant squid lives, 200-700 meters (660-2,300 feet) below the surface of the ocean.

How big does it get?

  • Up to 18 m (59 ft)
  • Up to 900 kg (1,980 lb, nearly 1 ton)

  • Giant squids are among the world's most mysterious megafauna (large animals). So far, no live specimen has been captured. They live in deep oceans all around the world, along with at least ten other species of very large squid.

    Like other cephalopods such as octopi, giant squids have complex, well-developed brains. They are ferocious predators, but they are also pursued and eaten by large cetaceans such as sperm whales, some of which show the obvious scars of giant squid sucker disks.

    13 years ago
    BIG EARS, SMALL BRAIN People are fascinated by creatures with big brains. Elephants (average brain weight = 6,000 g; ~13 lb) and sperm whales (average brain weight = 8,000-10,000 g; 17-22 lb) have the largest brains of all animals and of course have very large bodies. Humans and dolphins have the biggest brains compared to their body sizes. The adult human brain (average brain weight = 1,400 g; ~3 lb) makes up approximately 2% of the total body weight. Which animal do you think has the smallest brain?

    Perhaps the distinction of the vertebrate (animal with a backbone) with the smallest brain is the deep sea fish called "Acanthonus armatus." This fish lives on the ocean floor at depths between 1,700 and 3,700 meters. A fish with a body weight of 140 g has a brain that weighs only 0.0035 g. On average, the brain of this fish makes up only 0.0247% of its total body weight.

    What this fish lacks in brain, it gains in its ears. The inner ear of this fish is huge! In fact, it has two structures (the semicircular canals and otolith) in its ear that are many times larger than its entire brain! The semicircular canals and otolith are important for maintaining balance. Scientists think that these large "ears" are used to detect and gather prey on the ocean bottom. In all animals, the brain is an organ that requires many nutrients. Perhaps because this fish lives at the bottom of the ocean and is not very active, it does not need a large brain to survive.

    I don't know about you, but I prefer the human arrangement: small ears and big brain.

    Reference: Fine, M.L., Horn, M.H. and Cox, B. Acanthonus armatus, a deep-sea teleost fish with a minute brain and large ears. Proc. Royal Soc. London B230:257-265, 1987.

    The Irish Wolfhound
    13 years ago
    Irish Wolfhounds are living symbols of Irish culture and the Celtic past. Once called "The Great Hounds of Ireland", these massive, muscular dogs are the largest of all breeds. The average adult weighs between 105 to 150 pounds. They have a rough wiry outercoat and a softer undercoat. Their coat color can be solid or brindle in assorted shades of gray; white to wheaten (beige) to sandy beige, or varied tones of brown and black.

    They are an ancient greyhound type breed. According to Irish lore and legend, ancestors of the Irish Wolfhound were guardians and companions of ancient Irish kings and valued by Celtic chieftains as dogs of war. The first authenticated reference to the breed was recorded in 391A.D. in ancient Rome in a letter from a Roman Consul thanking his brother for a gift of "7 Great Irish Hounds." Ownership in Ireland was originally restricted to Irish nobility. The dogs' chains were made of precious metals and they wore collars studded with gemstones. They were given away in large numbers as gifts to foreign emperors and kings.

    For centuries the hounds were highly prized for their hunting abilities. They were used in Ireland for hunting Irish stag, deer, elk and wild boar and for hunting the wolves that infested large areas of Europe. Wolves and elk disappeared from Ireland and by the late 1700's the Irish Stag was hunted to extinction. With the dwindling amounts of wild game plus excessive exportation of the dogs as gifts to European royalty, the number of Irish Wolfounds steadlily declined. During the Irish famine of 1844 to 1846, the breed became nearly extinct.

    A British Army officer, Captain George Augustus Graham, is responsible for reviving the breed. He obtained descendants of a dog said to be the last true example of the Irish Wolfhound. By breeding them with Scottish Deerhound and other breeds which the Irish Wolfhound most probably had been crossed, he eventually achieved specimens that bred true to type. In the 1870s Irish Wolfhounds appeared for the first time as a separate breed in a Dublin, Ireland Kennel Club Show. The first Wolfhounds were registered by the AKC in 1897. The Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland was formed in 1925 and The Irish Wolfhound Club of America in 1927. According to the AKC Standard, the Irish Wolfhound is a dog "Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight."

    These slightly shaggy dogs are intelligent, good-natured gentle giants with sweet dispositions. Despite their size, they are quiet indoor dogs who thrive on human companionship . They are sensitive, affectionate pets who love everyone in their family .... other dogs, the new kitten ... even the family parakeet. They're especially sweet and responsive to children. They bond easily and become devoted guardians of the children they love.

    They do, of course, need lots of space to accommodate their size. The Irish Wolfhound is a fairly expensive dog to properly maintain. Medications like heartworm preventative and flea protection that are given according to a dog's size will be two to three times as much as for an average dog. They need super size crates, extra large pet beds, and more food than typical large breeds.

    All dogs need a balanced diet from a high quality pet food, but this is of utmost importance for a rapidly growing giant breed puppy. Follow a diet recommended by your dog's breeder or your veterinarian. Feeding adult wolfhounds twice a day, dividing the recommended daily diet in two, is recommended to prevent bloat, a deadly condition that can result from overeating or eating too fast. As with many giant breeds, Irish Wolfhounds have short lives. Sadly, their average lifespan is only about 6 to 8 years. A high percentage of Irish Wolfhounds suffer from cardiac disease. Heart failure is one of the major causes of death. A yearly health check is very important. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and Lymphoma are the most common cancers diagnosed in the breed. Other common health issues are Bloat, Von Willebrands Disease (a bleeding disorder), Hypothyroidism, joint diseases such as Osteochondrosis, Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, and Epileptic seizures.

    13 years ago

    The Buzzard, The Bat, and the Bumblebee


    If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

    The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

    A Bumblebee if dropped into an open tumbler will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

    In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat and the bee. They are struggling about with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is right there above them.

    13 years ago
    Guess what? Cats came across the Bering Strait too
    Friday, January 6, 2006

    Cats crossed the Bering Strait just like the ancestors of American Indians supposedly did, according to research published in today's issue of Science. Based on DNA analyses of the 37 living species of cats, researchers said the first cats crossed from Siberia to the Americas about nine millions years ago. As sea levels rose and fell, the cats migrated back and forth, contributing to the variety seen today, the researchers said. As one example, the cheetah now found in Africa actually originated in the Americas three million years ago before crossing the Bering Strait back into Asia, according to the analysis.
    12 years ago

    - Seahorses do not have scales, instead they have tiny bony plates covering their bodies

    - The male seahorse looks after the eggs, but goes a step further and actually giving birth to them, releasing up to 200 baby seahorses from his pouch.

    - The female visits the male every day, curling her tail around his while both change colour

    - The babies cling to their father for a while then swim away

    - Seahorses swim in an upright position

    - There are 35 different kinds of seahorse

    - Many seahorses can change their colours in a matter of minutes, from black or grey, to bright red and yellow

    - The seahorse can remain still for very long periods of time, secured by its prehensile tail and well camouflaged amonst weeds, eelgrasses and corals

    Camels have 3 eyelids
    12 years ago

    Desert winds often blow sand into the air. To protect their eyes, camels have long eyelashes (A) that catch most of the sand. If sand gets into an eye, a camel has a third eyelids to get it out (. Like a windshield wiper on a car, this extra eyelid moves from side to side and wipes the sand away. The eyelid is very thin, so a camel can see through it. In sandstorms, camels often close their third eyelid and keep walking. You might say that a camel can find its way through a sandstorm with its eyes closed



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