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Unexpectedly Funny Things to do with Hamsters When You're Bored

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hamsters – they’re adorable and surprisingly good company too. Here we take a look at some unexpectedly funny things you can do with hamsters when you’re bored – and throw in some cool facts about hamsters at the same time!

1. Amuse Him With Your Office Anecdotes
Hamsters love to hear what went on at the office. In fact they like nothing better than a long and intense monologue. Start with the time you got to work and give him a blow by blow account of the day’s activities. You can even tell him those secrets that you can’t tell anyone else, like who is having an affair with the boss. Hamsters love gossip!

Bat World Sanctuary


In 1989, Amanda Lollar discovered a bat dying on the sidewalk.  Distressed that any creature should have to expire in such a way she took it home to allow it a dignified send off.

However the bat, which she christened Sunshine, survived due to Amanda’s care and was the catalyst for Bat World Sanctuary, which Amanda founded in 1994.

This short film by Brett Kessler takes a peek in to this world of injured, orphaned, and non-releasable bats in Mineral Wells, Texas.

I’m Just a Shark


Imagine if a representative of the group of fish we refer to as ‘shark’ could address us, what would it say? This ageless creature might have some things to say which would make us sit up and pay attention, surely? Shot and written by Pascale Briançon, I’m Just a Shark does exactly that and although I am naturally disinclined towards anthropomorphism this has a certain profundity which makes it gripping from start to finish.

Directed by Julien Marckt with the voice of Daniel Njo Lobé, this may be putting words in to the mouth of an entire group of animals… but what words they are.

The Scottish Fold – Owl Cat Extraordinaire

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Scottish Fold is something of a special breed of cat.  Seeing one for the first time you are drawn to its round facial features and, in the back of your mind, a thought nags you that something seems to be missing. Then you realize – it’s all about the ears.

Galapagos


Have you ever wanted to travel to the Galapagos and witness for yourself all the marvel of natures to be found on those (not so these days) isolated islands? Well, courtesy of Tom Pinsard, now you don’t have to.  Just sit back and enjoy this serene and gorgeous tour of the Galapagos Islands.  It may not be quite the same as going there yourself, but it’s the next best thing.

In Between: The World of the Musk Ox


In between refers to the fact that although most consider the Ice Age over, it is really still dying out – not quite disappeared for good. Yet many of the animals we associate with it, the saber-toothed cats and the woolly mammoth have long since gone the way of the dinosaur. One creature still persists in the Arctic – the Musk Ox. This beautiful short, photographed by Rolf Steinmann, shows a world unknown to most of us.

The Ant With a Door for a Head

Monday, 14 December 2015

Cephalotes is a broad genus of ants.  They are heavily armoured – it makes you wonder just how formidalble they would look if we were the same size. The amazing thing about many of them is the head – used to plug a gap as it were.  Above is an ant of the species Cephalotes varians.

The Crabs that Build Their Own Galaxy

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Small hermit and soldier crabs in Malaysia and Australia build their home digging a deep hope in the sand on a beach. They got a good idea of how to move sand up during his construction. Down in the hole this crab is making sand balls and later push them up to the surface, 2-3 balls at a time. Pushing sand ball more far from the hole they form a kind of sand ball flower or sand ball galaxy.

Up close you can see the almost perfectly spherical balls that the crabs engineer.  They are meticulous in their method to say the very least.

Dolphin Army


A huge pod of Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) makes its way up the East African Coast each year in the search of Sardines. Follow them for a short part of this journey to see what they find in this wonderful short by Simon Buxton. It was filmed off the Wild Coast Region - an unforgiving area with big seas and cold water.  Thank goodness sardines come in cans for us!

Mallorca's Living Fossils


Thought extinct thousands of years ago, the Mallorcan midwife toad was discovered alive and well in the 1970s.  Its lifecycle is astounding considering it lives among pools in the mountains of this Spanish island.  Oh and the male carries the eggs around his hind legs while they develop! This and other members of the living fossil club are featured in this fascinating documentary short by Rachel Ledbetter.

Cats and Other Cool Customers Banned from Casinos

Friday, 6 November 2015

There are stories, urban myths and then there are legends.  One such legend is that cats are banned from casinos because they are too good at playing poker.  Although this is an entertaining theory you have to remember one thing – cats don’t have opposable thumbs and so playing cards would be difficult, if not impossible, for them.  Were cats to choose to gamble it would be better for them to play online casino games at Netbet.  Only a gentle pad of the paw is necessary to place a bet online.

In truth, casino managers have to be careful and there are some people who, frankly, you would pay to stay away.  Take TV and stage illusionist Derren Brown.  He has shown his card counting abilities on the TV on a number of occasions so when a casino in Birmingham (UK) got wind that Brown was planning to pay them a visit they promptly informed him that their blackjack tables would be out of bounds to him.

Not only that, they had the magician escorted from the premises – perhaps him even being in the vicinity gave them enough cold shudders to arrange his premature departure from the casino.  An over-reaction? You might think so until you realise that the establishment was about the last place in the UK to have banned him,

There are some people you would think a casino would welcome with open arms.  Take the world-famous singing group One Direction.  Last year they were staying in a Las Vegas hotel which had a casino attached.  What fantastic free publicity! However, after someone did a quick calculation the casino realised that all the members of the group were still under 21 (the legal age for gambling in Nevada). Cue a rush to get the boys out of the casino and in to the fresh air!

Of course, sometimes people do have to be quickly and politely removed from even the politest of establishments and that must be a sight to behold for curious onlookers.  However, what I would really, really like to see is how the manager of a casino might react if four feline friends did indeed enter the place and make their way, coolly slinking through the lines of slot machines, to the blackjack tables!


Image Credit

Hey! A Dog isn't just for Christmas - it's for Halloween Too!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Every year on October 31 the ghouls and ghosts rise - and people make fools of themselves all over the world by wearing ridiculous outfits.  Well, Halloween isn't just for humans, you know!  Here we bring together some wonderful shots of pets of all sizes (OK, dogs - they are the only ones who seem to be able to put up with it!) in their Halloween outfits.  Enjoy this great set of pictures of the dogs of the world dressing up in their Halloween costumes.

Nico and the Turtle

Saturday, 10 October 2015


The times when you can pinpoint the actions that you made which changed your life forever are sometimes hard to pinpoint.  Not so for Australian conservationist and filmmaker Jase Kovacs and his partner Jolene, both of Team Labyrinth.  They sail around south east Asia, investigating ecological issues and bringing attention to small and underrepresented community conservation organisations.

During their journey they came across young Nico who had rescued an incredibly rare hawksbill turtle from his father’s fishing nets at Dahican Beach, Mindanao, Philippines.  So far, so good but the events which unravel over the next few days might actually make you believe in fate.

Watch as Ants Attack a Large Millipede and Use Amazing Team-work to Drag it Away

Sunday, 6 September 2015


This is something else.  Belgian freelance photographer and environmental engineer Stephane De Greef captured this footage in Cambodia.  A group of Leptogenys ants decide to attack a recumbent millipede.  What happens next is astonishing.

They surround it (in what can only be called a militarily disciplined fashion), then go in for the attack with one of their number attacking the head (surely the most vulnerable part).  The millipede's reaction is immediate and desperate.  However, the ants soon have the upper hand and drag their hapless victim away by assembling chains made up of themselves.

There is no music or narration here, but if you are in a certain mood then you can use the on-screen notes as visual prompts to become your very own David Attenborough. "Deep in the jungle of Cambodia..."

Whale Haven: Where Whales find Sanctuary


Off the shore of Campania Island in Canada’s British Columbia is a place where whales of many species find sanctuary. Northern resident killer whales, the fish-eaters, come together to form superpods.

On some days more than fifty individuals follow the salmon migration into the mainland fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest. The transient killer whales, the marine-mammal eaters, are forever travelling between seal and sea lion haul-outs, teaching the young how to hunt.

Yet there is trouble in this resplendent, tranquil ocean paradise.  This short film by Pacific Wild shows us what the future may hold in store for these magnificent creatures.  Click on the HD symbol at the bottom right of the video for its full awesomeness (if your device will take it!).

Breakfast at Giraffe Manor

Sunday, 23 August 2015


Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya was built in the 1930s but today its main purpose is somewhat different to its original design.  It serves as a sanctuary for a herd of Rothschild’s Giraffes, a highly endangered species and the manor has been involved in their conservation since the 1970s.

Photographer and author Robin Moore captured these wonderful shots of the giraffes – seemingly in their element and completely at ease with the tourists around them.  In fact, to the giraffes, the presence of a few people seems to be just a minor complication in their quest for food!

It just goes to show that conservation takes many forms. In a perfect world, perhaps, there wouldn’t be a need for places like Giraffe Manor yet with their numbers declining rapidly, anything which draws attention to their plight has to be applauded.

The video was produced for "This Happened Here" on the Seeker Network from Discovery featuring Robin’s images and video from Giraffe Manor.

Ecdysis: When Growing Up is More than Skin Deep

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Many invertebrates go through a process called ecdysis.  Taken from the ancient Greek the word means, literally, to strip off.  It leaves behind an exuviae (often spelled with the final e omitted), the remains of the exoskeleton which has been shed, often with related structures still attached. For some invertebrates it can be a regular occurrence to facilitate growth.  For others it can be part of a series of instars which culminate in the emergence of the finished, adult form.  It is a fascinating process where beauty can be found in the grotesque. For these animals, however, the process of growing up is far more than simply skin deep.

Essentially, ecdysis is the molting of the cuticle, the tough multi-layered cover outside the epidermis that provides protection as an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton must be shed as it constrains growth. First, the cuticle separates from the epidermis – yet the arthropod remains inside for now - this is called apolysis. Next, a hormone called ecdysone is secreted from the epidermis. It fills the gap between the old cuticle and the epidermis which is known as the exuvial space. The enzymes in the hormone are not activated until a new epicuticle (the outermost waxy layer of the arthropod exoskeleton) is formed. Once this is done they kick in and the lower regions of the old cuticle are digested. Finally the process of molting can start.

What on Earth is this Swan Doing?

Friday, 7 August 2015


I was recently on vacation with my family in Chester (North England) and on one of our walks along the local canal we came across this swan. He (or she) seemed intent on swimming up and down alongside a barge. Our best guess was that the swan was trying to catch small insects that, for whatever reason, were congregating there. Is there anyone out there who can confirm this? Is this normal swan behavior?

The Solitary Bee: Wonderful Short Documentary

Sunday, 7 June 2015


Did you know that the UK has over 250 species of bees and that the majority of them don’t live in hives but live their lives alone?  This wonderful documentary by Team Candiru follows first Red Mason Bees and then others as they struggle to find resources, avoid death and create new life.  If you love nature the next seventeen minutes are going to seem like a few seconds.  Enjoy!

Plus if you want to learn more about the bee hotels included in this documentary then whey not visit our feature article on them?

I’m New!

Thursday, 28 May 2015


If you have had a stressful day then grab a drink, sit back and just take this all in.  Created by Sander van Schie, this short film simply allows us to watch as new life takes to the water in the form of ducklings and baby coots.  That’s pretty much it (except an appearance by a heron!) but that is all you will need – hopefully – to unwind and simply enjoy this marvellous example of what nature has to offer us.

Manta Ray Rescue


Every year millions of animals die as a result of items being discarded in to the ocean.  In this case it is a tangle of fishing line which has managed to wind itself around a huge manta ray.  The animal must have been in agony – as the camera comes closer you can see the huge rips in its skin caused where the line has driven inwards.  It must have only been a matter of time before the pain and the wounds bettered the manta ray and it died.

Fortunately, it was encountered by a group of Undersea Hunter divers at Cocos Island off the shore of Costa Rica.  They were able to cut the manta ray free with a diving knife, releasing it after goodness knows how long.  One can only ponder on the ability of a large fish, such as the ray, being able to experience relief or even gratitude but it certainly seems to know that it has been released from its bondage.

This extraordinary footage was made by Paul Slater and Don Shellhammer.

Sanctuary of 700


Cats, cats, everywhere!  If you feel overwhelmed by two or three cats paying you attention then perhaps you should look away now!  Cat House on the Kings in California is currently home to 700 cats and kittens which, for a number of reasons, have lost their own place of safety and need somewhere to stay before they are adopted.

It’s quite a sight as the place has a no-cage policy which means that the cats are free to wander everywhere which, being cats, of course they do!

Run by the redoubtable Lynea Lattanzio, The Cat House began life over two decades ago and despite initial problems with permission to provide shelter to so many cats, has gone from strength to strength ever since.  Ms Lattanzio’s ultimate aim is, frankly, to go out of business.  Through educating the public she wants the need for this kind of place to become a thing of the past.  Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons she ain’t.

Elizabeth Nelson, a graduating film student at Northern Arizona University, visited this fascinating place and created this lovely short documentary.  Although The Cat House does do tours, most of you reading this will be far away from California. So, take a guided tour around the facility and meet the staff, including Ms Lattanzio who tells us how the whole thing started.

The word sanctuary doesn’t fully or properly describe this place.  It’s a veritable Shangri-La for cats.  You can also learn a lot more about it at its website, The Cat House on the Kings.

Cool Facts about Snails

Saturday, 2 May 2015


If you have ever wondered how snails get about, which of their ‘eyes’ they use to see, how strong they are or even how long they live then you have come to the right place! This is the first episode of The Macro Life by Rubber Knife Productions and features all those essential facts about snails that you always meant to ask but never quite got around to.  With a jocular narration by Jeremy Linn, this look at the macro life of snails is hugely enjoyable.

Watch as Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks Save their Ducklings from an American Alligator


The black-bellied whistling duck makes its nest as high as possible to avoid predators.  As you can see here, the bird house wasn’t exactly planned for this family!

Yet when the time comes for the ducklings to leap from the safety of the box in to the water the last thing the parents want is all their hard work to disappear in to the belly of an American alligator.  When it looks as if this is likely, the plucky parent leaps in to action and drives away the reptilian onslaught!

This remarkable footage was shot and edited by Tara Tanaka

Skeletorus! Amazing New Species of Peacock Spider Discovered

Saturday, 18 April 2015

It is, of course, just a nickname.  In September 2013, American PhD student Madeline (Maddie) Girard from Berkeley in California and her Sydney friend Eddie Aloise King alighted upon five males of a hitherto unknown species of peacock spider in Wondul Range National Park in Queensland, Australia. They were not able to resist a nod to He-Man’s primary adversary in the Masters of the Universe franchise, Skeletor (left). The bold, skeleton-like aspect of the male spider demanded a designation both apposite and memorable.

Girard took one of the spiders to Dr Jürgen Otto, handing it over with the words approximating to “This is what I call Skeletorus. When you look at him you will know why.”  Although professionally an acarologist (he studies mites and ticks), Otto is fascinated by the peacock spider and is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the genus.  He and David Hill, the American editor of the journal Peckhamia that specialises in the publication of articles on the jumping spider family, began studying this species in preparation for a scientific description.

The scientific name arrived at – its binomial nomenclature – is a little different to Girard’s creative nickname. This incredible new discovery has been named Maratus sceletus by Otto and Hill. Maratus is a genus of Salticidae which means that this is a peacock spider, one of the jumping spider family. Sceletus is Latin for (you probably know or have guessed this already) skeleton, which Otto and Hill thought it resembled more than the fictional character. Although Skeletorus was a strictly working name, it may, however, be the name that’s going to stick.

The Frog Photographer

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Director Thaddeus D. Matula followed conservation biologist, amphibian specialist and nature photographer Robin Moore into the heart of the Costa Rican rain forest on the Osa Peninsula. The Osa is a mecca for biologists as it is home to 2.5% of all the world's unique species. Robin sets out to document some of its smallest four-legged inhabitants including the poison dart frog which has a very distinctive call! This amazing project was selected for the launch of BBC Earth.

Monster Fish - In Search of the Last River Giants

Saturday, 11 April 2015


Are there still enormous fish swimming in our lakes and rivers?

To find out the answer you will have to watch this short film animated by Daniel Gies.

It was made for the National Geographic Museum.

This is a beautifully made piece.  I am sure you will enjoy this.

Why Sharks Matter

Thursday, 9 April 2015


It’s ironic that movies like Jaws present sharks as ravenous maneaters when the real villain of the piece is… you guessed it.  The human population of the planet eats hundreds of thousands of sharks each year – more specifically their fins.  Often what remains after the fin is removed – the bulk of the shark – is simply dumped back in to the ocean.

The shark has been the apex predator in the Earth’s oceans for 400 million years – the species has been around since before the dinosaurs.  Yet if we remove the shark from the oceans – and that seems likely if the demands from ravenous sharkeaters for shark fin soup persists – what will happen to the rest of the ecosystem?

Sign the pledge to ban the trade of shark fins in Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey: sharks-racingextinction.nationbuilder.com

Baby Elephant’s Bathtub is a Tight Squeeze


Kids are kids, whatever the species.  So when this baby elephant at the Elephantstay sanctuary in Thailand saw his bath being filled his first reaction is, like any sensible child, to make a run up to it and dive in head first. 

Unfortunately there comes a time when one outgrows the paddling pool and this pampered pachyderm hardly fits!
I never knew that elephants were capable of such contortions (but the older one in the background is doing its best been there done that air of nonchalence.

Lembeh Straits, A Macro Symphony

Monday, 6 April 2015


The red ‘orang-utan’ crab that you can see in the picture on the left is so tiny that its home is a discarded Coca-Cola bottle top.  The shrimp that you will see after it is barely 4mm tall. 

Such is life in Malaysia’s Lembeh Straits and these two creatures along with all the others in this underwater macro short, filmed by Kay Burn Lim, make for fascinating viewing. To paraphrase a commenter, it makes one aware of the incredible diversity of life in our oceans and the paramount importance of preserving it.

Happiest Video EVER!


The folks at Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary in Australia have called this the Happiest Video Ever which is something of a claim.  However, I do believe that you will find the hyperbole warranted.  This video shows many of the inhabitants of the farm sanctuary which currently provides life-long love and care to over 250 rescued animals.  Watch it and I dare you not to go “aaaaw” at least five times!

Dolphins: The World's Best Surfers


You can find the world’s best surfers at Dolphin Cove near Esperance in West Australia but don’t expect to see any surf boards – the clue is in the name.

This remarkable footage captured by Jennene and Dave Riggs who have been wildlife filmmakers since 1998 shows a pod of dolphins simply enjoying themselves with what nature provides.  If we can’t have lives spent quite in the same pursuit of happiness then at least we can share the pleasure of watching our dolphin friends having fun.  Who was it who said we were the most intelligent species on the planet?

Why the Loggerhead Shrike is Also Known as The Butcher Bird

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Some animals have a reputation that they did nothing to warrant.  Not so the Loggerhead Shrike.  It has an alternative name which it richly deserves.  It is called the butcher bird and anywhere it is common in North America its prey are left out to dry in the same way that a butcher might hang his meat.

Image Credit andymorffew
Image Credit Hunter Desportes
If you can’t see a loggerhead shrike then you will know if one is about if you check and barbed wire or sharp, pointed vegetation.  If you see the impaled remains of insects like the grasshopper then although you might suspect it to due to the exertions of some willful boy it is much more likely to be the handiwork of the butcher bird.

Quiz: Can You Name These 20 Common North American Backyard Birds?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Can you name twenty of the most common North American birds?  Certainly if you live there you should be able to name a good number of these beautiful avian species.  You might see a few of them if you look out of your window right now – if you are lucky and it’s not the middle of the night.  Even if you don’t live in America you will be able to guess a number of these because they might just be found in your backyard too!

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).



Would you like to do another quiz?
Fifteen big cats and wild cats are to be found here - but can you guess the species? Click here or on the picture to do the quiz.







Image Credits
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,6 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 20

Quiz: How Many of these Endangered Mammals are Left?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Fifteen species, fifteen multiple choice questions. Yet how many of each species do you think still exists in the wild? 

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many others chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).



Would you like to do another quiz?

If this quiz has left you a little depressed (the numbers of some of the species are of massive concern to everyone, after all, then try a quiz which, it is hoped, can only raise the spirits.  Fifteen big cats and wild cats are involved - but can you guess the species? Click here or on the picture to do the quiz.

Image Credits
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

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