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A news site about animals

Capybaras Loose in Toronto!

At Toronto’s High Park Zoo, two capybaras, the world’s largest rodents, have escaped into the city. Despite being actually fairly massive, the partners in crime – actually named Bonnie and Clyde – have yet to be captured by authorities, who have spent the last three weeks(!) trying to hunt them down.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/capybaras-escaped-toronto-zoo-largest-rodent-on-earth/

They’ve settled into big city living well, and haven taken to Twitter to share their exploits. One of the escapees was caught in a trap, at one point, but was able to wiggle free. The pair of capybaras have occasionally been spotted by pedestrians but are, at present, still on the lam.

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/two-worlds-largest-rodents-run-toronto-zoo/

“Capybaras are pretty adaptive animals,” Luciano Verdade, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, told National Geographic. “Although they are relatively large animals, they can be deceptive in the proximity of humans.”

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/capybaras-escaped-toronto-zoo-largest-rodent-on-earth/

They normally eat grasses native to their South American habitats, but they’re able to eat other vegetation. They can even switch between being active during the day and night, and they are semi-aquatic, which means they could evade capture by quickly diving deep underwater. The most immediate threat to the AWOL capybaras is dodging vehicles while crossing roads.

 

We’ll try to keep track of Bonnie & Clyde, Capybaras at large.

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/two-worlds-largest-rodents-run-toronto-zoo/

http://www.highparktoronto.com/zoo.php

https://twitter.com/torontocapybara

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/06/09/near-miss-as-capybara-slips-out-of-trap.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/capybaras-escaped-toronto-zoo-largest-rodent-on-earth/

 

Tender Loving Chinchilla (That’s What TLC Stands For Right?)

I am weakened by the cuteness of this chinchilla, (known for their ultra-soft velvety fur) enjoying a nice grooming session with it’s human. I hope your weekend has been just as relaxing.

Thank-you YouTube Channel MangO for this video; it is a ding-dang-dorable!

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFUE77Rmh-o

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8X-2JKgWybITpkyu4WvYaA

 

New Rodent Species Discovered

An international team of scientists has discovered a new species of wild rodent in a remote mountainous area of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The creature had eluded discovery for many years by mainly foraging for food among the roots of trees.

Known as Gracilimus radix, this slender rat inhabited the thick forests at the slopes of Mount Gandang Dewata on Sulawesi Island. The region has long been considered a hotbed for various creatures.

Photo by Kevin Rowe. Source: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/151625/20160420/meet-the-slender-rat-a-new-rodent-species-discovered-in-indonesia.htm

According to the research, published in the Journal of Mammalogy, the slender rat belonged to a new genus of its own since it had such a vastly different anatomy compared to other wild rodents. This placed the animal on a separate step in the taxonomic rankings just above a new species.

“We discovered the new genus and species doing mammal surveys in 2011 and 2012 on Mt Gandang Dewata,” Kevin Rowe, a biologist from Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia said. “This marks the third new genus and fourth new species discovered there in the last four years.”

Photo by Kevin Rowe. Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/nature/article/2016/04/20/brand-new-mammal-species-joins-ranks-biology

Rowe added that aside from the five rodents they came across with, there are still a number of other rat species waiting to be discovered in the wilderness of Sulawesi Island.

He explained that identifying these creatures will not only provide researchers with new insight regarding the origin and evolution of native rodents in Australia, but it will also allow them to understand how animals are able to evolve in response to challenges presented to them by Nature.

After conducting several genetic analyses, the research team found that the Gracilimus radix is closely related to the Sulawesi water rat (Waiomys mamasae), which was first discovered in 2014. The slender rat and the water rat belong to the same rodent group that can only be found on Sulawesi Island.

 

Unlike most other wild rodents that are mostly carnivorous, the slender rat was revealed to be omnivorous.

Rowe pointed out that despite being close relatives, the Gracilimus radix and the Waiomys mamasae are very much different from one another. The slender rat evolved to become more adept at living on land, while the Sulawesi water rat developed skills more suited for swimming and living in the water.

 

It’s amazing to me that there are still unknown mammals unknown to science. There is so much we still don’t know!

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/151625/20160420/meet-the-slender-rat-a-new-rodent-species-discovered-in-indonesia.htm

http://jmammal.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/03/23/jmammal.gyw029

http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/nature/article/2016/04/20/brand-new-mammal-species-joins-ranks-biology

 

Hamster Coachella

Feeling the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because you’re not at Coachella (a huge music festival in Indio, California) this weekend? Don’t worry, these hamsters will show you the basics of what happens there, in their adorably comical way.

 

 

Thank-you YouTube Channel Super Deluxe for this hilarious video parody.

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

https://youtu.be/v8uZKJD-FtA

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeJLx_Dy_icz3oDHhJeMe9g

 

The Capybara Spa

Japan has taken the concept of the Cat Cafe one step further. They have invented the Capybara Spa. Now you can go for a soak, while watching capybaras soak right along with you… through plate glass, that is.

Source: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/03/25/love-capybaras-now-you-can-take-a-hot-bath-while-watching-them-bathe/

Nasu Animal Kingdom in Tochigi Prefecture, about a two and a half hour drive from Tokyo, will be opening its “Kingdom Hot Spring — The Capybara Bath (Ōkoku Onsen Capybara no Yu)” on April 23, to give visitors to the park a chance to take a bath while watching capybaras do the same.

Source: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/03/25/love-capybaras-now-you-can-take-a-hot-bath-while-watching-them-bathe/

It plans to have three to four capybaras each just outside the men’s and women’s baths for guests to observe, and we have a strong feeling that these furry fellas will thoroughly captivate and entertain visitors.

Source: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/03/25/love-capybaras-now-you-can-take-a-hot-bath-while-watching-them-bathe/

Nasu Animal Kingdom boasts that the bath is the only one of its kind in the country [maybe the world? Can’t imagine there would be many hot springs where  you can see capybara bathing], which should make it all the more attractive to capybara fans.

So, what do you say to a unique bathing experience at an animal park? The hot water and the sight of the capybaras are sure to help you relax and soothe any tense muscles!

 

Happy Bun(rodent)day! (|^_^|)

 

http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/03/25/love-capybaras-now-you-can-take-a-hot-bath-while-watching-them-bathe/

 

Groundhog Predicts Early Spring

Happy Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil emerged this morning from his tree trunk home at Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and did not see his shadow, predicting an early Spring. Yay! I hope Phil’s prognostication comes true this year.

Today is the 130th Groundhog Day, celebrated annually on February 2nd. The event typically brings out 30,000 revelers to the small, west-central Pennsylvania town. It has become a television staple at the beginning of one of the coldest months of the year. In addition to the celebrated rodent, the pageant features an entourage of city elders in old-fashioned dress and top hats, presiding over the festivities.

Why groundhogs? Because they hibernate.

“February 2nd is historically touted to be the day that the groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.” -Adapted from “Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992″ by Bill Anderson

 

http://www.groundhog.org/

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/02/465253970/groundhog-day-punxsutawney-phil-did-not-see-his-shadow

http://www.newsweek.com/renowned-groundhog-punxsutawney-phil-does-not-see-shadow-predicts-early-spring-422024

 

Squirrel’s Eye View

A squirrel POV video has been very popular this week, of a squirrel stealing a GoPro camera up into a tree with him. If you haven’t seen it, here it is: https://youtu.be/f5pWODpIZ4s

What most people haven’t seen, is this “behind the scenes” video, of how the videographer (youtube username: Viva Frei) was able to get the squirrel to take the camera in the first place, to make this awesome video. So, here’s your answer:

 

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

Rodents Show Empathy for Loved Ones

Intelligent animals are known to show empathy for loved ones. Now, according to new research published in the journal Science, consoling behavior has been observed in a rodent as well: the prairie vole.

Meet the Prairie Vole, found in central North America.

“Consolation behavior promotes stress reduction of one by another. We know that consolation occurs in humans and apes. Burkett et al. observed that within a pair of monogamous prairie voles, an unstressed partner increased its grooming of a stressed partner. Furthermore, the unstressed partner matched the stressed partner in its stress hormone response. Thus, consolation may be more common than assumed in animals, and prairie voles may prove a useful model for understanding the physical and neural mechanisms underlying consolation behavior.” -Science, Vol 351, Issue 6271, p. 375

 

Prairie Voles are monogamous, and mate for life.

 

Researchers say the findings, published Thursday, could help scientists better understand human disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, in which a person’s ability to sense the emotions of others is disrupted.

 

The secret to empathetic behavior is in the hormone oxytocin, which promotes maternal bonding and feelings of love. Scientists at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, in Atlanta, Gergia, created an experiment in which they isolated prairie voles from others they knew. These rodents were an ideal candidate for the experiment, as they mate in long-term monogamous pairs and raise their offspring together.

Then they gave one prairie voles a series of mild shocks before returning it to its loved one. Once reunited, the unaffected rodents swiftly began to lick and groom the fur of the animals that were in distress after the shocks.

They “licked the stressed voles sooner and for longer duration, compared to a control scenario where individuals were separated but neither was exposed to a stressor,” said a statement from Emory University.

Consoling behavior was also not seen in prairie voles that were unfamiliar with each other before being separated.

Knowing that the receptor for oxytocin is associated with empathy, researchers decided to block this neurotransmitter in the brains of some of the animals. They found that blocking oxytocin caused the animals to stop consoling each other.

“Many complex human traits have their roots in fundamental brain processes that are shared among many other species,” said co-author Larry Young, director of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University.

 

Love the Prairie Vole <3

Young said his research points to a potential role for oxytocin in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, though more work is needed.

“We now have the opportunity to explore in detail the neural mechanisms underlying empathetic responses in a laboratory rodent with clear implications for humans.”

 

May this research someday help the countless people afflicted by human disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, and may their ability to sense the emotions of others be no longer disrupted.

 

Happy Bunday (|^_^|)

 

http://news.discovery.com/animals/rodents-show-empathy-for-loved-ones-in-pain-160122.htm

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6271/375

https://www.tumblr.com/search/prairie%20vole

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prairie_vole

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12117501/Animals-more-capable-of-empathy-than-previously-thought-study-finds.html

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v16/n7/full/nn0713-779.html