Learn More About Aardvarks

The name aardvark literally means “earth pig.”

When you take a closer look at it, you quickly see the resemblance. With its kangaroo-like tail and rabbit-shaped ears, many people assume it’s related to these animals, but it is not.

What You Should Know

The aardvark lives throughout Africa. You will typically find it south of the Sahara. Because the aardvark is nocturnal, they spend the hot afternoon in cooler underground burrows. Once the sun goes down, aardvarks use their sharp claws to find some of their favorite insect, the termite.

The aardvark forages in the forest and grasslands. They are known for traveling many miles during the night to find termite mounds. When the animal gets its tongue into the pile, it closes its nostrils to keep insects and dust from getting inside.

Aardvarks are solitary mammals and typically only come together when it’s time for mating. It’s common to see aardvarks stand at the burrow before leaving for a few minutes. That’s because they have limited eyesight and remain cautious against threats. They also block the burrow entrance when sleeping to protect themselves further.

What Sound Do They Make?

The aardvark is a quiet animal, but you might hear some soft grunting sounds while foraging. As they make the entrance for a tunnel, the grunts might be louder. The only time they make loud, bleating noises is when there’s a threat.

You can listen to the aardvark’s soft sounds while looking at a picture.

Group Characteristics

The aardvark doesn’t do a lot of traveling, except to look for food. It remains where it can burrow and hide.

The female aardvark remains pregnant for about seven months. Then, she gives birth to one baby at a time. This baby is referred to as a cub or calf. This small aardvark weighs a little more than four pounds when born.

The cubs grow fast. Once they are three months old, they get weaned. Then, at six months old, they leave their mom.

How Many are There?

Aardvarks were originally reported as having declining numbers, but that might just be because they don’t get seen often. Recent reports suggest that the numbers remain stable. The IUCN lists the species as least concern.

The biggest threat to the aardvark is humans. African tribes regularly hunt it for its meat and utilize parts of the body as charms. Some tribes believe that the aardvark’s teeth prevent illness. As far as natural predators, the leopard, hyena and lion often hunt aardvarks. Another problem facing this species is habitat loss. The more humans log, farm, build roads or create settlements, the more habitats are destroyed.

Watch a Video

In our first video from BBC Earth, we see an aardvark peacefully sleeping.

In the next aardvark video, we learn more about the differences between this animal and the anteater.

Pop Culture

The first time we remember seeing an aardvark in pop culture was with the 17 short cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark produced from 1969 to 1971. More recently, an aardvark is the lead character in the PBS series Arthur.

The aardvark is a popular animal in zoos because it doesn’t mind captivity. The first aardvark in a zoo is recorded as living at the London Zoo back in 1869.

Interesting Facts

When most people think about the aardvark, they assume it’s the same size as an anteater, but it’s actually larger. They common aardvark weighs 130 to 180 pounds, which means they weigh as much as a full-grown human. It also has stubby legs, beady eyes and an arched back. The aardvark has four toes on the front feet but five on their back feet.

Learn All About Abyssinian

The Abyssinian is a domesticated, medium-sized cat.

It features a long body and well-developed muscles. This cat breed is active and quite playful; don’t expect it to sit in your lap.

What You Should Know

The Abyssinian cat features smooth planes on the head. There’s a gentle dip on the head combined with larger ears. The eyes tend to look large in the cat’s face, but also show how alert this species is. What’s most unique about the Abyssinian appearance is the color. Most of the bands of each hair feature a darker color on its spine line. Then, the color softens on the underside of the cat, the inside of the legs and under the neck.

While the Abyssinian is now domesticated in America, it came from Great Britain back in the 1860s. The first known cat of this species was owned by Lord Robert Napier who found it during an expedition to Abyssinia. The first big struggle this breed faced was during the two World Wars; it was almost wiped out completely. Then, again during the 1960s, feline leukemia killed many of the cats in Britain. Abyssinians brought more to Britain after that in hopes of re-establishing the breed.

What Sound Do They Make?

The Abyssinian makes typical cat sounds. You will hear it purr, chirp and meow like all of the other species. Here is one example of the various, sweet sounds made by the Abyssinian.

Group Characteristics

Like most cats, this species remains pregnant for about 58 to 67 days. The Abyssinian typically has about six kittens per litter. On average, this cat will live for about 15 years. The Abyssinian does well with other cats, but especially enjoys the company of humans. It isn’t a lap cat but will follow the owner around and is exceptionally playful.

How Many are There?

There aren’t many projections about the population of this specific species. We do know that of all cat species, the estimates say there might be 200 million to over 600 million worldwide. There’s no threat to the domesticated Abyssinian because it lives in households.

Watch a Video

Check out this informative documentary on the Abyssinian cats.

If you want to see some adorable pets from this breed, this video of 10 funny cats should do the trick.

Pop Culture

You won’t find the Abyssinian cat in many movies and cartoons, but one of its most notable appearances occurred in The Cat From Outer Space (1978) from Walt Disney. Reports suggest that Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 (aka Jake) was played by two Abyssinian cats, one male and a female.

Interesting Facts

This breed often suffers from gingivitis and also serious periodontitis. Abyssinians also tend to have familial renal amyloidosis, which is a kidney disorder. They also suffer from blindness due to a mutation in the rdAc gene. Since detection services and tests are now performed, the instances of this mutation are much lower.

The Abyssinian cat species tend to reach about two feet long when fully mature. It will also weigh anywhere from six to ten pounds.

The ancient Egyptians thought that these cats held a relation to Gods. That’s why they spent time worshipping the Abyssinian. They also used them regularly for their hunting skills and to get rid of any pests in the field.

The Abyssinian cat is available in six colors. You will find cinnamon, ruddy, blue, chocolate, lilac and fawn as recognized colors but only five of them are allowed for competitions. Sometimes people think they have a silver color, but that’s just the skin showing through the fur.

Learn All About Adélie Penguins

The Adélie penguin might be small in size, but it’s mighty in spirit.

This penguin doesn’t take anything from any animal, even if it is bigger. It can hold its own on the Antarctic coast.

What You Should Know

Adélie penguins live among the entire Antarctic coast and are also found on the neighboring small islands. They feed on small aquatic creatures. Some of their favorite foods include shrimp-like krill, squid and fish. They will dive more than 500 feet in search of the food they want but typically stick to the shallower waters.

Adélies are efficient swimmers, just like most other penguin species. They will travel nearly 200 miles round-trip if they are hunting food.

What Sound Do They Make?

Adélie penguins will quarrel with one another. A chick’s calls are short and high pitched while the adult’s calls last longer and have a deeper tone.  You can listen to its adorable sound with this YouTube video.

Group Characteristics

Scientists studying the Adélie know a lot about the warm-weather behavior because that’s when they breed. During winter, they spend most of their time at sea in the ice and it’s often difficult to track their routes. On the penguins that have been followed, it’s notable that some travel over 700 miles from their breeding site.

During the spring season, they move to the rocky coastline and live in large colonies. These groups often include thousands of birds. They build a nest and line it with stones. Despite their waddle, they can walk long distances. Sometimes, they have to walk over 30 miles to reach the open water from their nest.

The male Adélie works with its mate to raise the young. The female lays two eggs and then both parents swap chances to sit on the eggs and keep them warm. Once the small penguins are born, it takes about three weeks before the parents will venture off without them. Still, the offspring stick close to the group for protection. After nine weeks, these young penguins can swim on their own.

The Adélie is the tiniest type of penguin in the Antarctic, but don’t let the small size fool you. They are known to be extremely combative. In fact, they slap researchers, seals and the larger seabirds with their flippers.

How Many are There?

Current estimates point to about 10 million Adélie, which is higher than it was before. Still, scientists continue to warn that the population is at risk due to climate change.

Adélie penguins find themselves as prey to many larger creatures. Some of their biggest nemeses are sea birds, killer whales, seals and orcas.

Watch a Video

In our first video, we get a glimpse of the Adélie penguins from National Geographic.

The second one shows what happens when one of these small creatures attacks an Emperor chick.

Pop Culture

The Adélie penguins have been showcased in more movies than you might realize. Most recently, they were the star of DisneyNature’s Penguins. It’s also interesting that this species is used as the lead stars of the Penguins of Madagascar despite the fact that they don’t live in Africa. In the feature film Happy Feet, we find three varieties of penguin: Emperor, Rockhopper and Adélie.

Interesting Facts

Adélie penguins got their name from a French Antarctic explorer named Jules Dumont d’Urville. When he discovered the birds back in 1840, he wanted to honor his wife, Adéle. Its scientific name is Pygoscelis adeliae which stands for rump-legged or brush-tailed penguins.

In total, there are 18 species of penguins worldwide, but only two calls Antarctica their home. The two species that both live and breed in this region are the Emperor and Adélie penguin.

Learn All About Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher is a loyal and curious breed of dog.

It’s fearless and doesn’t seem to realize how small it is. What’s most amusing about this dog is how serious it takes itself.

What You Should Know

The Affenpinscher is classified as a terrier and it was created to work like one. The purpose of breeding the original Affenpinscher was to exterminate pests from German stables back in the 1600s. the name itself means “ape terrier” or “monkey dog.”

The Affenpinscher eventually made its way indoors to get rid of mice. It was put in the stable during the day to find outside critters and brought indoors at night to keep the ladies of the house secure. The breed was welcomed into the American Kennel Club in 1936.

What Sound Do They Make?

Affenpinscher dogs take their role of home defender seriously. This causes them to bark at the first sign of alarm. Their stubbornness plays a role in the level of noise created, especially when you tell them to stop yelling and they don’t listen.

Here is an example of what you might hear when getting the Affenpinscher dogs excited.

Group Characteristics

Because of their background, it’s challenging to get the Affenpinscher to get along with rodent pets. That’s why they aren’t recommended with households that have gerbils, ferrets or hamsters. They do appreciate being in a home with other dogs and get along fine with cats.

They also aren’t too good with small children or toddlers. While the Affenpinscher will remain loyal to the adults in the home, they aren’t considered an ideal choice where little ones are concerned.

Breeding of the Affenpinscher isn’t a popular thing. In fact, in Britain, only about 30 breeders exist today. Furthermore, the Affenpinscher only produces a few puppies with each litter and these young puppies are blind when firstborn.

How Many are There?

We can’t get an exact number on how many Affenpinschers exist, but we do know that it is a dog people in America keep. According to the 2018 AKC Most Popular Breeds, this dog sits at spot number 148.

Watch a Video

Animal Planet put together an informative video on the Affenpinscher breed.

If you prefer something that causes you to laugh, there’s also a compilation of 25 cute Affenpinscher videos.

Pop Culture

The Affenpinscher isn’t a famous dog in movie or pop culture, but we have seen it a couple of times. First, in the 1986 movie Little Spies, the main dog appears to a mix, but there is only one Affen that appears in a quick scene.

It also seems that there’s an Affen mix in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).

Aside from movies and TV, in 2013 an Affen named Banana Joe took the title as Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show.

Interesting Facts

The Affenpinscher breed tends to reach nine to 11 inches tall and between seven and nine pounds in weight.

Because of its temperament, the Affenpinscher gets excited very quickly. If there is a perceived threat, it will get worked up and it takes time before it calms down. Even though it is a small dog, it will not think twice about fighting with a larger dog or animal.

The Affenpinscher was the basis for other popular breeds. Brussels Griffon, the German Silky Pinscher and smooth-haired German Pinscher all come from this dog.

For the most part, the Affenpinscher is a healthy breed. It sometimes suffers from hip dysplasia and slipped stifle. It also struggles to breathe in hot weather. Overall, the biggest concern for most of these dogs is suffering from cuts and fractures because they don’t have any fear.

Learn All About Afghan Hounds

The Afghan Hound is an eye-catching dog breed that gives an aristocratic appearance.

It’s regal and elegant complete with grace. Despite its royal presence, this breed can sometimes act silly but always remains loyal.

What You Should Know

The Afghan Hound is an old breed, possible even the oldest of purebred dogs. Some myths claim the Afghan Hound was the canine on Noah’s Ark. Because of how far it goes back, there’s no written history on its origins. All we know is that this breed was a hunting companion and loyal to royals throughout the ages.

We don’t see it enter the Western world until later in the 1800s. That’s when English officers returning from the expeditions brought the breed back to Europe. By the early 1900s, Afghan Hounds became their breed of choice.

The AKC first registered this breed in 1927, but it didn’t become popular with American owners until the 1930s. Even now, it requires a special kind of owner.

What Sound Do They Make?

The Afghan Hound doesn’t tend to bark often. It also has a low pain tolerance. Minor wounds seem to bother them excessively. This leads to plenty of whining from the breed.

If you want to hear what their whining sounds like, just watch this video.

Group Characteristics

This breed is loyal to one person, in particular. They don’t typically make a good family pet but will tolerate children. It doesn’t appreciate rough play and doesn’t want to engage with most people.

In fact, when guests arrive at the house, the Afghan Hound generally comes across as indifferent because it just doesn’t care about them. That’s why this dog is rarely used as a watchdog.

An Afghan Hound litter typically includes about seven puppies. All of these dogs are born blind.

How Many Are There?

We don’t know how many Afghan Hounds there are worldwide, but we do know they nearly disappeared during World War I. At this time, they are listed as #113 on the AKC Most Popular Breeds list.

Watch a Video

Here’s an informative video about the Afghan Hound.

If you prefer to laugh today, enjoy this funny compilation of Afghan Hound dogs.

Pop Culture

Because of its beauty and unique appearance, the Afghan Hound remains popular in TV and animation. Here are some places you might have seen one.

  • Sylvie in Universal Pictures’ Balto
  • 101 Dalmatians
  • 102 Dalmatians
  • Ruby in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure

In 2005, Hwang Woo-Suk, a Korean scientist became the first person to clone a dog. It was an Afghan Hound that he named Snuppy. A year later, he was dismissed from the university because he fabricated data, but Snuppy was a true clone – the first in history.

Interesting Facts

The Afghan Hound is as fast as a racehorse. It easily reaches speeds up to 40 mph when it wants to. The fastest horse in the world only reached 43.97 mph.

An Afghan Hound is known for long, flowing hair. While this gives the dog a regal appearance is also was designed to keep them warm in the Afghani climate.

Because an afghan is a sighthound, they tend to run often. As soon as they see something that interests them, they will take off in pursuit. That’s why owners must keep their Afghan Hound in a fenced-in yard or attached to a tight least. Furthermore, the Afghan Hound will run straight across a street without ever looking to see if something is coming. When this combines with their fast speed, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

All About the African Civet

Introduction

Imagine seeing an animal in the wild that looks like a feline, acts like a feline, but isn’t actually a member of the feline family.

The African Civet is a mammal that is known for its black and white markings and a black band around its eyes that make it seem like a raccoon. It’s a truly amazing creature that is under threat of deforestation in its native habitat in sub-Saharan Africa.

What You Should Know

The African Civet is usually found in the tropical rainforests of sub-Saharan Africa. These furry feline-like creatures are omnivores, but they prefer to dine on small rodents, snakes, and frogs. When they can’t find live prey, they have also been known to eat plant matter. The African Civet is a solitary animal that only comes out of its tree at night to hunt for its prey.

Instead of using its paws to collect and eat food, it typically uses its teeth. They have very strong jaws and a set of 40 teeth that allow the African Civet to enjoy a delicious meal. They have an average height of 17-28 inches and weigh anywhere between 3 and 10 lbs. The African Civet is also known for being a decent swimmer, and you will most commonly find them hanging out in the trees when they aren’t hunting for food.

What Sound Do They Make?

You can hear what an African Civet sounds like by clicking the link here.

Group Characteristics

Even though these animals are known for being solitary, they also are known to gather in groups of up to 15 members during the mating season. This is pretty much the only time you will see a group of African Civets together in a group. Other than that, they can be found hanging out alone in their trees when they aren’t mating or hunting for food. They are also very territorial creatures that are always marking their territory with a strong musk. This musk can be very powerful and has even been used to create perfumes.

A female African Civet will give birth to a litter of around 4 animals at a time. They will burrow into an underground nest previously created by another animal to raise her young in a calm and safe environment. The baby Civets are usually born with a lot of mobility and they can live up to 20 years. However, it’s important to note that habitat loss is a big threat to the African Civet population. Do what you can to contribute to the organizations that are preventing the deforestation and destruction of the beautiful natural habitats for these creatures.

How Many Are There?

There are plenty of African Civets in the wild and they are not considered to be at risk of becoming extinct anytime soon. Some of the main predators that the African Civet has to look out for include leopards, lions, and snakes.

Watch a Video

You can find some great videos of the African Civet by clicking on any of the following links:

Interesting Facts

The African Civet is interesting because of the strong musk called Civetone it secretes to mark its territory. They are known to secrete up to 4 grams of musk every single week in their efforts to keep other animals away from their habitat. Believe it or not, the musk that these animals secrete has been used to manufacture perfumes for centuries! Would you like to try it out on your next big date night?

They are also unique thanks to their exotic markings. You might have to do a double take if you see one in the wild, as many people believe that they look like raccoons when they first see them!

All About the African Clawed Frog

Introduction

The animal kingdom never ceases to amaze us, and the perfect example of this lies in the African Clawed Frog.

Sometimes, the smallest creatures in nature have to make up for their size with aggression. It’s a ferocious amphibian that is considered an apex predator in its natural environment.

What You Should Know

The African Clawed Frog is an amphibian that is found in eastern and southern Africa in areas with warm water and grasslands. It has permeable scales and typically is found in brown and greenish colors, however, albinos also exist. This frog is a pure carnivore and it loves to eat water bugs and small fish that cross its path in its underwater home. The African Clawed Frog will also eat things like spiders, worms, insects, and even it’s own skin! That’s right, this frog will often times eat its own skins after it goes through the natural process of shedding its skin.

They are small in size, coming in at about 1 inch to 5 inches in length and weighing about 1 to 8 ounces. It is a solitary creature that can enjoy quite a long lifespan. They will typically live about 8 to 15 years, with some African Clawed Frogs even making it to 30 years old. This frog lives its entire life in the water, only coming up for some fresh air every now and then. The African Clawed Frog does indeed have claws, which it uses to catch its prey and shovel the food into its mouth.

What sound do they make?

http://www.californiaherps.com/sounds/xenopus509.mp3

Group Characteristics

In terms of group behavior, the African Clawed Frog lives a fairly solitary existence. The female frogs are almost double the size of the males. After they mate, the female will lay her eggs in the water. The African Clawed Frog’s mating ritual occurs once a year. The female can lay thousands of tiny eggs on an underwater object she deems suitable. The eggs are held together by a jelly-like substance and will hatch into tadpoles that eventually become frogs. The young tadpoles will stay in the water until they are old enough to grow legs and leave. These frogs are known for having a long lifespan and can even make great pets. Some African Clawed Frog owners have reported that their pets lived for 30 years in captivity, which is a testament to how hearty the African Clawed Frog is.

How many are there?

The African Clawed Frog is not at risk of extinction, but the water quality in some of the areas that it calls home have decreased their numbers. These frogs have a bunch of potential predators that are looking to make them a quick snack. They are often eaten by small animals such as rodents, cats, dogs as well as lizards, snakes, birds, and other reptiles. Since these frogs like calling mud and muddy riverbanks their home, they are often times hidden from their predators. However, they will come up for air every now and then and put themselves at risk. 

Watch a video

You can find some great videos of the African Clawed Frog by clicking on any of the following links:

Interesting Facts

The African Clawed Frog has some truly intriguing facts to learn about. It’s one of the most ferocious amphibians on the planet and can definitely hold its own in the wild. Their claws are a unique adaptation that really helps them out with catching and eating their prey. Believe it or not, the African Clawed Frog is known for becoming the first pregnancy test for humans. One of the chemicals that human babies produce induce ovulation in the female African Clawed Frog, which is how they become a pregnancy test.

Snow Leopards — King of the Mountain

Habitat

Snow Leopards (also called the Ounce) are native to the mountains of central and southern Asia. 

Their home range extends into 12 countries: Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Kyrgyz Republic, India, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Tibet.  Snow Leopards live within a well-defined home range, though they do not aggressively defend their home turf when individuals enter their range.  

Population

The total wild population of Snow Leopards is between 3,500 and 7,000.  The amount of Snow Leopards living in zoos around the globe ranges between 600 and 700.  The country with the most Snow Leopards is also the country with the largest habit area per square kilometer: China.  China is home to between 2,000 and 5,000 Snow Leopards, and its square kilometer habitat area is 1,100,000.  The country with the fewest Snow Leopards is Uzbekistan with 20-50 cats, though their habitat area is significantly smaller at 10,000 square kilometers.  The correlation between population and habitat area is no coincidence.  If given a safe, large preserve, Snow Leopard populations thrive, which is why the work of environmental conservationists, who devote their life to protecting the habitat of Snow Leopards, is so important.

Appearance

They are medium-sized cats and do not roar like their other feline brethren. 

Snow Leopards are most famous for their beautiful fur, which has spots of black on brown atop a soft grey coat.  Their overall patterning resembles that of the Jaguar.  During the winter, the fur turns white to help camouflage them against snow.  Snow Leopards’ tails and paws are both heavy with fur to protect it from the cold, snowy regions of the mountains. 

They weigh anywhere between 77 and 121 lbs, and are distinguishable from other cats, not only from their markings, but by their longer tails that help them to balance on the sheer mountainous cliffs of their habitat.  When it is very cold on the mountains, Snow Leopards have been known to use their long tails to cover their mouth and nose from the frigid wind.  The male’s head is much wider and squarer than the female Snow Leopard’s head.  Their furry, large feel come in hand as snowshoes as they ascend mountains. 

During the summer, Snow Leopards live above the mountain’s tree-line at about 6000 m altitude, but in the winter, they descend into the forest at about 2000 m. 

Family

Snow Leopards live largely solitary lives, though the mothers sometimes keep their cubs for a long period of time in their mountain dens.  Mother Snow Leopards usually give birth to 2 to 3 cubs in their litters, but they have been known to birth as many as 7 cubs.

Eating habits

Snow Leopards are opportunistic feeders meaning they eat whatever they can find.  Oftentimes, they kill animals up to three times their size, which sometimes entails the domestic livestock of nearby farmers.  Whenever possible, Snow Leopards attack their prey from behind.  They have been known to jump as far as 14 meters, and that kind of agility is important when they ambush prey walking through the mountains such as boars and small rodents.

Lifespan

Snow Leopards usually live anywhere between 15 and 18 years, but have been known to live as long as 20 years.

Conservation

The Snow Leopard is an endangered species because poachers have long desired their pelts, which command high prices on the fur market.  The Snow Leopard population dwindled to 1,000 in 1960s.  Recognizing the crisis and impending extinction of the species, conservationists worked diligently to restore the Snow Leopard population, which has recovered slightly because of their efforts.

The most famous and consistently protected Snow Leopard areas are: Khunjerab National Park in Pakistan, Nanda Devi National Park in India, Hemis National Park in India, Chitral Gol National Park in Pakistan, Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, Qomolangma National Nature Preserve in Tibet, Valley of Flowers National Park in India, Tumor Feng Nature Reserve in China, Annapurna Conservation Area in Nepal, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in Nepal, Shey-Phoksundo National Park in Nepal, and the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in Mongolia.

Snow Leopards as mascots

Naturally, these beautiful, strong, agile cats are admired and act as mascots for several countries and organizations.  The Snow Leopard is the national symbol for Kazakhs and Tatars.  An image of the Snow Leopard can be found on Tatarstan’s coat of arms, and the Snow Leopard is the official seal of the city of Almaty.  Similarly, the arms of North Ossetia-Alania also contain the image of a winged Snow Leopard.  The brave Soviet mountaineers, who managed to scale all five of the Soviet Union’s 7000m mountain peaks were awarded the Snow Leopard aware for their fearlessness and dexterity, which mirrored the ability of the cats’.  The Snow Leopard is also the symbol of the Girl Scout Association of Kyrgystan.

Beautiful, strong, and endangered, these wonderful creatures need all of our help to preserve their habitats so they can thrive for generations to come!

Raccoons

Raccoons may look cute, but they can cause a lot of problems for your home.

Not only will they tip over your garbage cans, they can also cause property damage and nest inside your house. Raccoons seeking shelter can pry up roofing tiles and enter your attic. Once inside, they can leave urine and feces behind. 

While raccoons are generally not aggressive, they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. Children and pets can be injured if a raccoon attacks them. Raccoons also carry potentially dangerous diseases, including rabies, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.   

Here are four steps you can take to keep raccoons out of your house and yard.

Secure Your Garbage Can

When your trash cans are easily accessible, they will attract raccoons. If possible, keep your garbage cans in a secure place, such as inside your garage. If you must keep them outside, secure them with locking lids. Trash cans with non-locking lids can be secured with cinder blocks or bungee cords. You can also try spraying your trash bags and garbage cans with a liquid repellent. 

Keep Pet Food Inside 

If you have raccoons around, avoid leaving any pet food outside. Raccoons will help themselves to anything that’s edible. Bring your pet’s food inside before dark to keep the raccoons from eating out of your pet’s dish. If you have a bird feeder, place it somewhere that’s inaccessible to raccoons and spray the pole with liquid repellent. The repellent will deter the raccoons without affecting the birds. 

Gather Fallen Fruit

If there are fruit trees in your yard, clean up any fallen fruit as soon as you can. Raccoons are particularly attracted to sweet foods. They won’t just eat the fruit on the ground; they’ll also climb trees to eat the fruit on the branches. Try installing a motion-activated sprinkler at the base of your fruit tree to dissuade the raccoons.  

Seal Your Chimney

Your chimney is a preferred nesting place for raccoons. Make sure that you keep your chimney covered with a chimney cap. Secure the cap tightly to keep raccoons from pulling it loose and entering the chimney. 

While the tips discussed here can help if you have raccoons in your yard, the best course of action is to seek help from a pest control professional. An expert will have the tools and experience necessary to remove the raccoons from your property safely.  

Hamster

Anybody who owns a hamster already knows about their peculiarities.

However, those who haven’t had the pleasure of spending time with these furry bundles of playful energy may not be aware of their intriguing history and their oddities.

Here are five fun facts about pet hamsters.

1. Pet hamsters were popularized in the United States by one man, Albert Marsh. He received a hamster as payment for a gambling debt in 1946 and, after acquiring a few more, began breeding them in his home in Mobile, Alabama. Marsh then started advertising his hamsters in comic books, magazines, and livestock trade journals. In 1948, he published a book, The Hamster Manual, which sold 80,000 copies.

2. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures. They normally sleep during the day and are active in the evening and night. So they are perfect for the family that is absent from the house – at school or work – during the day and returns home in the evening. However, it’s not a good idea to keep the cage in your bedroom, as their nighttime activity could interrupt your sleep.

3. Hamsters are nearsighted and color-blind. They rely on smell and taste to find their way around. This suits their nocturnal nature and their natural tendency to live in burrows under the ground. Hamsters have scent glands in their sides that leave a trail on the ground, enabling them to retrace their steps in complete darkness.

4. Hamsters are solitary animals. A hamster experiences extreme stress when housed with others of its species. For that reason, it is normally not advisable to keep more than one hamster in the same cage. They will engage in bloody fights. In some situations, a mother will even harm its own babies.

5. Hamsters are hoarders. In fact, the name of the species comes from the German word “hamstern”, which means “hoard”. Hamsters have large cheek pouches – stretching down to their shoulders – in which they store food to bring back to the nest.

Hamsters can be delightful pets for adults or small children. Keep in mind that, like all rodents, they may bite if feeling threatened. If treated with care, they learn to accept human handling. Hamsters are clean, low-maintenance, generally healthy, and highly entertaining pets.