Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild Fact #993 - Coyotes End Up Badgering Their Prey

Good news folks, today is 2 for 1 Tuesday! That's right, Wild Fact #993 isn't about just one animal but about a partnership between two animals.

**Cue the Entrance Music for Teammate #1 **

Weighing in anywhere between 15 and 46 pounds, known for its speed, agility and persistance . This cunning animal often uses clever products from ACME in order to try and catch the roadrunner. Mother Nature gives you The Coyote!

The Coyotes' partner this evening weighing in between 15 and 20 pounds, known for its fierce demeanour and mad digging skills, please welcome The Badger.

If you combine a quick and agile coyote with a strong digger such as the badger then ground squirrels everywhere had better be on Red Alert. This is exactly what has happened in nature. Coyotes and badgers have been known to form short term partnerships (i.e. less then a few hours) to hunt pesky little ground squirrels (apparently, the one in the famous vacation photo that just went virile managed to escape the grasp of both animals - Click Here For Story). This doesn't give the ground squirrel many options. Now if it runs the coyote will manage to capture it and if it tunnels underground then the badger will step up to the plate. It is usually only a single coyote that will team up with a single badger and this doesn't necessarily always happen. These two may very well go their own way and hunt alone or in some cases may even attack each other. When the badger and coyote hunt together it marks a partnership that can be very effective with benefits to both parties. Not since "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan has there been a better tag team combination.

If you want to see a short clip on the coyote hunting without the help of the badger then check out this YouTube video:

YouTube Video

Did you find this post interesting? Already know about this Wild Fact? Do you have a suggestion for a future Wild Fact? Comment and let me know!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild Fact #994 - Good Vibrations

The Red-eyed Tree Frog resides in the rain forests of Central America. I believe Telus has made these frogs popular, but what animals haven't Telus made popular (I personally like the jumping goats). These frogs rely heavily on camouflage in order to survive their predators. During the day they will practice their yoga by tucking in their bright orange feet under their belly. As well, they will cover their blue sides with their legs and obviously close their bright red eyes. By remaining motionless they are able to elude any potential predators. But the question I ask is how do their newly laid eggs survive? See the red-eyed tree frog simply lays their eggs from the trees for six days before they hatch. This is almost as easy as stealing candy from a baby for the hungry snakes and wasps that feed on the eggs. As you might have guessed, these babies have a trick up their sleeve. If the eggs are attacked the embryos are able to hatch immediately (up to two days premature) and drop safely into the water below. Granted, this is a pretty impressive feat but how do the young know they are being attacked? Maybe it is a heavy wind or some light rain that is bouncing off the trees. Well, like the Beach Boys said "I'm picking up Good Vibrations" and that is exactly what these frogs do. They are able to feel the vibrations in the egg jelly. By distinguishing how often the vibrations occur and how long they last they are able to tell if it is a legitimate attack. They even react differently to different predators. For example, when a snake attacks they will all try to squirm free; however, if it is an individual wasp then only the neighbouring embryos will hatch and escape. This is a behaviour that has obviously developed over time and appears to be successful since these tiny little frogs are still getting high paying jobs doing ads for major companies.

I don't endorse Telus (or any other company) but if you want to see these tree frogs at work then check out the following YouTube video.

Was this post interesting? Did you already know this? Have a request for future Wild Facts? Let me know!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wild Fact #995

And You Think Your Job Stinks!

At the request of one of my readers I am going to complete a post on an important insect. As well, this post will make up for the one I missed earlier this week. This may not be the nicest and most politically correct post, actually this might just be my crappiest fact yet. I was asked to dedicate Wild Fact #995 to the Dung Beetle! I am sure everyone knows that dung beetles are capable of rolling manure into large balls and using this for food. But did you know that there are three main categories of dung beetles? Yes, we are aware of the more famous "Rollers" which roll the dung into their brood chambers as a food source for their young; however, there are also the "Tunnellers" which simply bury the dung wherever they find it. Finally, there are the "Dwellers" which don't roll or tunnel, but just enjoy living life to the fullest in animal manure. Eventually, there may be a fourth group of dung beetles but the research is still preliminary. In January 2009, a paper was published which has identified a dung beetle that has given up the smelly day job of feeding off of manure. Instead this type of dung beetle has actually become predatory and now feeds off of millipedes. I am sure there will still be some discussion has to the accuracy of this paper and if you are interested you can find out more here:

Although, this predatory dung beetle is interesting I wanted to give you a bit more information on the "Rollers". This type of dung beetle uses its legs and mouth parts to create their giant ball of manure. The dung beetle can create a ball that is up to 50 times its weight (that is equivalent to a 200 lb person rolling a 10 000 lb ball). The male and female dung beetle will roll the ball in a straight line despite any obstacles that may be in their way (so make sure you get out of the way or else you may end up covered in manure). Along their journey they have to be aware of pirates as other dung beetles in the area may try to steal their ball of dung. If they manage to get by the "dung muggers" then they will find a soft spot in the ground and bury their prized possession. Once the dung ball is secure in the brooding chamber the two beetles will celebrate their victory by mating. Although, the fun doesn't last for long as the two beetles now have to prepare their brooding ball so the female can lay her eggs. This will provide a valuable source of nutrients to the larvae of the dung beetle. The larvae will grow up feeding off of this dung ball until they become adults and start the process on their own. Some adult dung beetles will stay with their brooding ball to protect their young as they grow, while others move on.

I know this beetle has been the butt of many jokes over the years but their service to humankind is valuable. Without these dung beetles the earth would be overflowing with manure so next time you are on a farm, make sure you thank these little recyclers for helping us out.

If you are interested in watching some interesting crap then check out this YouTube video on the dung beetle:

Did you find this post interesting? Any requests for future Wild Facts? Let me know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wild Fact #996 - The Prey Always Gets Stuck with the Bill

Since University, I have always been intrigued by the Platypus. The unique appearance and being one of the few venomous mammals is interesting enough to make my 1000 Wild Facts list, however, this post will be about how the platypus detects their prey.

The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal that lives in Eastern Australia. It is the only mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young and it is an important part of much research on evolution (due to the unique characteristics). The platypus feeds by swimming in streams and rivers and digging in the stream bed with it's bill looking for insects, crayfish, tadpoles, worms, small fish, etc. Although it is thought that the platypus has excellent eye-sight and can hear very well it does not use these senses to feed. In fact, the platypus will close its eyes, ears and nose as it dives in the rivers. So how do they locate their prey? Great question! The platypus will use it's duck-like bill to detect electric fields generated by contacting muscles of moving prey. This electrolocation method is unique and allows the platypus to detect the distance and direction of their prey. The platypus is the only mammal capable of using electrolocation. Other animals that have electro-receptors include sharks, catfish, sturgeon and lamprey.

For more information on the platypus, I suggest picking up the following book:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wild Fact #997 - These Hooves are Made for Walking

Well, I just got back in from three days of field work (which is why I missed Wednesday's interesting fact.... I will make it up, I promise). While I was ATVing through the mountains of the Yukon I had the opportunity to come across a Caribou. This got me thinking that I should post a fact about Caribou, so Wild Fact #997 will be for the Caribou on the mountain top! As a side note and to clear up any confusion, Caribou and Reindeer are the same species (Rangifer tarandus), however, there are several different subspecies, which cause them to look and behave differently. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Santa's Reindeer are of the subspecies "saintnicolas magicalus". I have had this argument with co-workers in the past that Reindeer and Caribou are two separate species so I figured I would clear this up for anyone else.

Onto Wild Fact #997! Did you know that Caribou (Reindeer) hooves will adapt to the season? That's right, in the summer the footpads on their hooves will be soft and spongy to provide some additional traction on the moist, soft tundra landscape. Once winter rolls around, the pads on their hooves will shrink causing the actual hard rim of the hoof to be exposed. This portion of the hoof is ideal for cutting through the ice preventing them from slipping. As well, Caribou will use this exposed rim to dig through the snow in order to reach their favourite food, Reindeer Lichen.

Again, this is just another example of how animals adapt to their environment in order to survive.

For more information on Santa's Reindeer - Check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wild Fact #998 - Deep Sea Attraction

Okay, so I was going to write about the interesting adaptation of Angler Fish using fluorescent light (caused by bacteria) to attract it's prey; however, I figure everyone has seen "Finding Nemo" and knows about the anglerfishes feeding habits. What you may not know is how these fish mate. The anglerfish that get all the starring roles in kid's films are females, as only they have the luminescent bait that attracts their prey. Males have no need for this type of fishing gear since they are much smaller than the ladies. The males are a parasitic fish that depends solely on the females to survive. Once the male matures he will seek out a companion and will bite her with his small hooked teeth (no, not in a kinky way). Once he bites her an enzyme is released that breaks down his mouth and her skin causing the two fish to fuse together (and you thought a wedding ring was permanent). Eventually, the blood vessels of the two fish join and the majority of the males organs disappear, with the exception of the testes. Basically, the only purpose the male anglerfish serves is to provide sperm to the female as she matures. At any one time, the female anglerfish may have up to six male fish attached to her. My guess as to the reasoning for this bizarre mating behaviour has a lot to do with the environment that anglerfish reside in. The dark, cold, deep and vast depths of the ocean are not a hospitable place and finding suitable mates may be difficult. By employing this mating method the females are almost guaranteed to have a suitable mate on hand when it comes time to reproduce thus keeping the population healthy.

I bet this post has given you a whole new opinion of the term "Free-loader"!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wild Fact #999 - How do Giraffes Communicate?

For centuries it was thought that giraffes were mostly silent except with the odd hiss or grunt, however, recent science has shown that giraffes are able to communicate over very long distances using "infrasound". This is a very low frequency that can not be heard by the human ear, however, it is able to travel up to hundreds of miles away from the source. Giraffes are considered to be social animals with a very loose structured herd. This implies that other members of the herd are scattered over the vast landscape (i.e. African Savanna). In order to be able to communicate with other members of the herd, giraffes make a very low drum beat sound which can be heard miles away. This communication is necessary for mating (how else can they use cheesy pick up lines?) as well as a defense mechanism. Giraffes, however, are not the only animals that drum to their own infrasound beat. Other animals that use this type of sound include whales, elephants, hippo's, rhino's and even alligators.

If you are looking for more information on Giraffes then please check out:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Beginning of Wild Facts

Hi Everyone!

Well, this will officially be my first blog and the launching of a project of mine. My goal is to research 1000 different and interesting wildlife facts. I will be presenting one every week-day. Even though it is a weekend, I figure I will present my very first interesting factoid today, but first lets give all of you a little bit of information about me. My name is Nathan and I have a Bachelor of Science degree with a specialization in Wildlife and Habitat Ecology. I currently work as a Senior Habitat Biologist for the Canadian Government. I wanted to start this blog since I have always been intrigued by the different behaviours of various species of wildlife. I figure this project will allow me the opportunity to explore this passion of mine and perhaps educate some people along the way. I hope everyone is able to appreciate the evolutionary advances of a variety of animal species that not only help them survive but flourish. All right, enough of the formal introduction, lets get onto the interesting stuff.

Wild Fact # 1000

Ants - Formic Acid
Throughout my studies I have always enjoyed learning about the some of the smaller animals in the world that people may find disgusting. Of course, I am talking about none other than insects. So I shall start the blog with an interesting fact about Ants! Numerous species of ants are able to produce a chemical called formic acid (often used as a preservative) for a variety of purposes. Research has shown that they will mostly use this chemical to defend against predators by spraying it from specialized glands. Ants have also been known to utilize this specialized secretion in capturing their prey. All they need to do is make a small cut on its food and spray the formic acid rendering its prey defenseless. Ants may also use this secretion to help mimic the fabled Hansel and Gretel. Ever wonder how an ant can travel so far from home and find it's way back?? Well, part of that answer lies within this special secretion. Much like leaving breadcrumbs they follow the trail of formic acid back to their ant hill and they don't need to worry about birds eating their "breadcrumbs". If you are interested in reading another interesting paper on the ant's use of formic acid then check out this link:

Well, there is Wild Fact #1000 and I am sure they will only get more bizarre and intriguing as I conduct more research.

I hope you enjoyed the first post and make sure to check back for Monday's Wild Fact.