Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Animal Oddities


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The following is an email sent to me by Graham, with some additional pics and comments from moi . . .

Thanks Graham, see you at trivia tonight.

😊

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Hi Mr O,

After coming across another amazing animal story, I thought you may find some of them interesting 🤔

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The salt mining elephants of Kenya.


On Mount Elgon, however, the only natural source of salt is more obscure – it is found in deep, natural caves in the side of the mountain. Herds of elephant enter these caves, and walk as far as 15 meters into the pitch darkness to find a salt seam in the rock.


Additional comments:

Tusking the rock for salt


In Mount Elgon National Park on the Kenya-Uganda border, elephants have learned to quarry sodium-rich rocks on the base of a 24-million-years-old extinct volcano called Mount Elgon. The elephants use their tusks to break off pieces of the cave wall, which they then chew and swallow, leaving long scratch marks all over the cave walls. The elephants chisel the rocks for several hours and eat large quantities of salt at a time, since they usually do not return until several weeks later. The elephants have a voracious appetite for salt. One young bull elephant at the Aberdare National Park in Kenya was observed to consume 14 to 20 kg of salty soil in 45 minutes.

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The clay eating parrots of Peru.


You may or may not have heard of the famous clay licks in the Amazon rainforest: exotic parrots gather here daily to eat the clay, creating the perfect destination for travellers to observe the dozens (sometimes hundreds) of individual birds that flock here.


Additional comments:


Originally it was thought that the clay might help remove toxins, such as naturally occurring tannins, that the birds ingest from plants.  More recently, studies show that the birds in Peru may be using the reddish-brown muck to help augment a sodium-poor diet, that the western Amazon basin is lacking in salt. The farther an area is from the ocean, the more its rain may lack salt, plus in inland areas with high rainfall, sodium may leach out of the soil.

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The dam climbing ibex of Italy.


Each day the Alpine ibex goats, which typically live in very steep and rocky terrain at altitudes of up to 4,600 metres, climb the sheer drop dam like it's nothing, just to lick saltpetre and other minerals off the walls.


 Additional comments:

I have written about these dam goats (ha ha) previously, click on the following link for that post:




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The Fainting Goats of Tennessee.


The Tennessee Fainting Goat goes by many names—Myotonic Goat, Nervous Goat, Wooden Leg—and receives its claim to fame from its strange habit of falling down stiff when startled.


 Additional comments:

See a video of the fainting goats by clicking on:

Myotonic goats are known as “fainting goats” because when something surprises or frightens them, their muscles go stiff for a short time, and they fall over! The reaction doesn’t hurt, and it’s not really fainting. Usually the animal stays awake and just bounces back up once the stiffness goes away. The locking up is caused by a rare genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. It makes the goats’ skeletal muscles, especially in their back legs, suddenly tighten up and then slowly loosen again. Lots of other animals can have this condition too, including people, horses, dogs, cats, and mice.


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The sand bubbler crabs of Thailand.


Like a lot of the most fascinating art forms, particularly ones that use nature as its medium, the sand bubblers delicate creations are fleeting, each time high tide returns, their sand ball arrays crumble and are washed away.


 Additional comments:

Sand bubbler crabs (or sand-bubblers) are small crabs that live on sandy beaches in the tropical Indo-Pacific. They feed by filtering sand through their mouthparts, leaving behind balls of sand that are disintegrated by the incoming high tide.





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The butterflies of Rhodes.


The Valley of Butterflies, also known as Petaloudes Valley, on the western side of the Greek island of Rhodes, is home to thousands of butterflies of the Jersey Tiger Moth who make their annual appearance after the rainy season.


 Additional comments:

The Oriental sweetgum trees in Petaloudes Valley give off a scent that attracts the moths and creates a unique biotope. Owing to the increased number of visitors, the Euplagia are facing population issues as they have no stomach and when disturbed tend to fly frequently and thus deplete their energy.


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The snow monkeys of Japan.


The park is home to over 150 wild Japanese monkeys (Japanese Macaques) or often called Snow Monkeys. At the park site, there is a pool with natural hot spring where monkeys bathe just like a human.


 Additional comments:

Jigokudani Monkey Park was founded by Sogo Hara in 1964 in an attempt to keep local macaques from harm.

Monkeys have lived in this area of Japan for a long time, but sixty years ago, their home in the forest was threatened. Trees were being cut down to build ski lifts for resorts, and as the monkeys’ habitat began to shrink, they travelled towards Jigokudani, otherwise known as the Valley of Hell.

Why such a dramatic name? This area of the country is full of mountains and volcanic activity, which means that in the winter, you can witness huge plumes of steam emanating from the hot springs that pool around this region.

As the monkeys moved closer to humans, they found themselves within a short distance of several farms. Suddenly, food was in plentiful supply, and the macaques were all about stealing the farmer’s apples. These farmers, unsurprisingly disgruntled, went on to petition the government about the situation, and were granted permission to kill the monkeys in order to protect their land.

When Sogo Hara found out about this, he created Jigokudani Monkey Park to keep the monkeys from harm. For months on end, he’d place apples in a nearby valley beside a hot spring, until eventually, the monkeys learned to stick around and avoid the farmland they’d been tearing apart.

And as for the whole bathing in an onsen thing? At some point, the apples in the valley began to fall into a nearby hot spring, and the monkeys started taking a dip into the water to fish them out. Macaques had not, until this point, ever been observed in onsens, but it turned out they kind of liked being warm in the winter.

And so a tourist attraction was born.



 

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The tree climbing goats of Morocco.


Found in the small village of Tamri in Morocco, these goats climb Argan trees in search for food. Argan berries are about the best food a Tamri goat could imagine, and to reach the fruit requires them to be adept in an extraordinary balancing act that’s quite unexpected from a hoofed animal.


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