Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat

Mediterranean Horsehoe Bat

Mediterranean Horsehoe Bat

Mediterranean horseshoe bats are a rare type of horseshoe bat. The ‘Mediterranean’ part of it’s name is because they are found near the Mediterranean and enjoy vacationing in the Riveria.

The ‘horseshoe’ part of their name is because they wear horseshoes on their feet. I’m totally kidding; they don’t wear horseshoes. That wouldn’t work because they weigh around 10 grams, so horseshoes would be too heavy to fly with, and they don’t walk well, so there you go. Horseshoe bats are really named so because of the shape of their noses. This shape helps them with echolocation of food (insects, preferably moths and beetles). They emit a noise through their nose, the noise bounces around the cave they are hanging around in (literally), and is then bounced back up to its large ears. It can then “see” its surroundings through the sound waves, pinpointing it’s prey. In flight, they flutter or hover and are excellent fliers.

They are also pretty cute:

ARKive video - Lesser horseshoe bat hibernating in cave

 

Near Threatened

Przewalski’s Horse

Przewalski Horse

In the Chinese calendar, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. People born in horse years are innovative communicators, clever, cheerful, and are triumphant in what they do. (Sam, you are a Rooster and your next “Year” will be in 2017.) I bring this up because the Przewalski Horse is indigenous to Central Asia.

However! It is extinct in the wild due to hunting, interbreeding with domesticated horses, the regular things that humans do to make animals extinct. However! There are about 1,500 P. Horses in captivity and they are being reintroduced into the wild again to graze the windswept steppes of central Asia. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute successfully bred a foal through artificial insemination, which gives hope to increasing herd numbers. Go SCIENCE!

The real question is, “How do you pronounce Przewalski?” (The name of the Russian explorer who “discovered” the breed.)

shuh-VAL-skee 

Still unsure of the pronunciation? Just use ‘P. Horse.’ It is acceptable among smart people and people who can’t pronounce Polish.

Endangered

Toulouse Goose

Toulouse Goose

What does it mean to be domesticated? Well, in a very simplified way, it means to be a wild animal tamed through several generations to live in close proximity to humans. Dogs and sheep were among the first animals domesticated by humans.

Animals on the farm: okay to talk to or pet, and maybe share your lunch with. Domesticated.

Animals in the wild: Well, if you see an animal in the wild and it doesn’t run from you, it might be domesticated, or it might want to eat your face off.

The Toulouse Goose is domesticated. Very domesticated. They originate from the city in France called “Toulouse,” where they are known as “L’oie du Toulouse.” The French people love animals. To eat. For example, they love to eat “foie gras,” which is made from goose liver. But I don’t want to go into the manufacturing of foie gras because it’s horrible and sad. I will, however, talk about how domesticated the T. Goose is: they’re so domesticated that they are very trusting, calm, and quiet. They don’t need a pond, but enjoy one for fun. They live on average for 10 years, but up to 22, as long as a French person doesn’t want to eat their liver.

Least Concern

Elephant Shrew

ElephantShrew_flat

In the mid-13th centuries the shrew was believed to have a venomous bite. People were afraid and superstitious of the tiny mammal, and therefore when a woman acted anything but docile, she was referred to as a “shrew.” It was implied that she was a “peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman.”

But the shrew is not poisonous. They are like moles or mice. The Elephant Shrew is actually not a “true shrew.” They eat insects and have scaly tails like a opossum and sometimes hop around like little rabbits. They are pretty cool. In 2009, an Elephant Shrew was born at the National Zoo which is rare: 

So go right ahead and call me a “shrew.” Because I will take that to mean I am monogamous, industrious, and independent, with a flexible nose.

 

threat-categories-VU

 

 

Red Panda

Red Panda

What do you get when you mix a cat, a raccoon, a panda(?), and a wheelbarrow full of CUTE? Dat is wight. A wittle wittle wed panda. Srlsly, dees itty bittle faces are so umpy bumpy cuteypants. It’s wediquwous. 

The Red Panda is known by various names in Asia (where it “immigrated” from) such as the “Lesser Panda” (which I feel is unfair and unreasonable), the “Red Cat-Bear” (thanks, Captain Obvious), and my favorite the “Fire Fox.” The Red Panda is a nocturnal and omnivorous animal. They live in cold mountain climates and keep warm by using their BUSHY WUSHY STRIPEY tails as a pashmina and wrap themselves up. They also like to play Mahjong and listen to spoken word beat poetry.

Oh. And of course, like all cute animals who don’t kill for fun, they are considered vulnerable on the IUCN conservation list. Once again, deforestation threatens to make these unique and ADORABLE animals extinct in the wild.

Come on, people, let’s get our acts together.

Guinea Baboon

Guinea Baboon

Ah. The gentleman Guinea Baboon. “Why are they gentlemen?” you ask. Let me tell you…

The Guinea Baboon, unlike most of its primate relatives, doesn’t live in a tree swinging around, playing, joking, and throwing poo. No. The Guinea Baboon does all that from the ground. They are very civilized that way. They are very well spoken and courteous mammals. With just a mere look, they can express that you’ve disturbed, offended, or threatened them in a way that they do not appreciate. If you find yourself on the other end of this look, be ready to get slapped.

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

One of the most commonly heard noises you will hear in the woods, near a body of water, at night, in the Eastern United States, is the trill of the Eastern Screech Owl.  Eastern Screech Owls are usually monogamous, but sometimes the male is a sex-starved jerk and will mate with a second female.

These owls also regurgitate all the non-digestible things they eat, like the beaks of other birds, or the fur or bones of small mammals, in oval barf-pellets. They like to eat smaller birds, which is gross if you think about it. If you want to witness some of these puke-packets, you could build a nest box near some trees and maybe an Eastern Screech Owl will move in and eat all the small mammals near your house.

Grevy’s Zebra

Grevy's Zebra

There are three species of zebra. The one with the largest ears, thinnest stripes, and Frenchest name is the Grévy’s zebra.  And like the French, they have an attitude. One reason for the ‘tude is they are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. And really, that’s the only reason that matters.

Each Grévy’s zebra, like all zebras, has a distinct pattern of black stripes, which allows their friends to figure out who they are in a crowd. Many an awkward situation has been avoided because of these individualistic markings, mostly between male and female herd members. They have style, class, and a great sense of humor.

Koala

Koala

Koalas are not bears; they are actually quite nice most of the time. They sleep a lot because they mainly eat eucalypt leaves which are toxic to most animals and kind of crappy in terms of nutrients. So the koalas sleep to conserve energy. Plus, if you lived in Australia and wore a fur coat, you’d probably sleep a lot, too. They are in the elite class of animals known as Marsupials. Marsupials live primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia, and have pouches where they carry their babies. They always have change in their pouches for vending machines and are happy to lend you a mirror to check and see if you have any leaves in your teeth.