Thursday, July 10, 2014

Midsummer Bad Animal Roundup



Slate tells the truth about those hamsters in the cute viral videos: They don't eat burritos, they eat each other.

Researchers discover that chimps follow stupid fashion trends

Wired talks to a guy who dissected drunken birds 

And we can't pass up yet another cat burglar:
The Palmers have had Sienna for years, and when the feline was younger, she would bring home gifts: birds, rats, mice and moles, for instance. - See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-cat-burglar-stealing-gloves-1.1125900#sthash.OCrwYAX5.dpuf
The Palmers have had Sienna for years, and when the feline was younger, she would bring home gifts: birds, rats, mice and moles, for instance. - See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-cat-burglar-stealing-gloves-1.1125900#sthash.OCrwYAX5.dpuf
The Palmers have had Sienna for years, and when the feline was younger, she would bring home gifts: birds, rats, mice and moles, for instance.  
But Sienna is aging and has put on a few pounds, so Palmer suspects the gloves are easy "prey" for the calico.
"Seriously, I think because she's too fat now and can't catch anything, she's picked up this glove thing," Palmer says, laughing. "I'm just so happy it's not mice and birds anymore. ... I would hate it when she brought them home."
Less happy is the original owner of the stash of fifty gloves:
"It was a pretty expensive selection of gloves," she said. - See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-resident-wants-gloves-back-from-cat-burglar-1.1129034#sthash.66IG5zl9.dpuf
"It was a pretty expensive selection of gloves," she said. - See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-resident-wants-gloves-back-from-cat-burglar-1.1129034#sthash.66IG5zl9.dpuf
"It was a pretty expensive selection of gloves," she said.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bad Bird Book



Even if I wasn't brain dead from exhaustion and in need a vacation from the vacation I just took, there's nothing I could write today that would be more interesting than this post from Archie McPhee's Geyser of Awesome about the website The Mincing Mockingbird and their book Guide to Troubled Birds.

I'm going to hit Post now and spend the rest of the day ordering the book and reading the entire archive.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bad Animal News Briefs


Baby Moose Takes A Break in Hotel Lobby
Conference Services Manager Katie Nelson said it stayed in the lobby about 10 to 20 minutes, lying on the floor. She said it's a pet-friendly hotel and thought at first it was a dog that had gotten off its leash.
Beaver Attacks, Pulls Man Off Kayak
BayCreek Paddling Center trainer Nate Reynolds saw part of the attack.

"I heard my name called out from the shop and I ran out the door to see a guy getting pulled into the water," Reynolds said, describing the attack. "It was like watching a horror film."

Reynolds said Cavanaugh was able to get to his feet and approach the dock, but the beaver would not let go of him, so Reynolds hit the beaver with a nearby paddle several times.

"The paddle broke and the beaver let go," he said. "He kind of disappeared for a few seconds but came back up so I hit him again."
 Bear Chase at National Institute of Health

A black bear caused a commotion at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, a close-in DC suburb that is definitely NOT out in the country and is way too close for comfort to Animals Behaving Badly Headquarters.  During the chase the bear taunted NIH employees on Twitter:
@NIH_Bear 
Sometimes late at night, I sneak into your lab and recalibrate your instruments. Nobody suspects the bear.
When you're done with the monkeys, do you just throw them away? Because, I could totally go for some monkey. 
 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Animals Eating Things They Shouldn't


Today we have three very different stories of animals eating things they shouldn't be eating. The first is one of my favorite types: the charming zoo animal showing a crowd of naive animal lovers what nature is really like:

Polar bear eats peacock in Vienna zoo
Visitors were shocked to witness Lynn demolish the hapless bird, leaving nothing but a couple of feathers, before retiring for an afternoon nap.

It appears the unfortunate bird had taken a shine to the bear's new enclosure during the two and a half year construction period, and clearly had no idea its new residents weren't vegetarians.
From Pennsylvania, a headline that is perfect on its own:

Black Bear eats muffin, ignores police in Silver Spring

And finally, I highly recommend that you go and read this in its entirety, in which a scientist who is in denial about the dietary habits of walruses has to admit that they eat much cuter animals than just clams and other mollusks - and in fact, that science has been studiously ignoring the evidence for well over a century.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Canine classics


Some things never get old, and two of them are vulpine shoe-stealing and dogs driving cars (badly).

In England:
A fox is stealing dozens of shoes in a Leeds suburb and dumping them outside a woman's house.

The problem has become so bad that Elaine Hewitt has been forced to put a shoe rack outside her home in Horsforth so neighbours can reclaim their missing footwear.

Ms Hewitt said the vulpine crimewave began a few months ago when she found a single shoe in her back garden.

The fox is now leaving a shoe a day, ranging from sandals to work boots.

Ms Hewitt, who has seen the fox carrying shoes, said the animal favoured leather footwear and the shoes are not chewed or damaged.

"First of all we just collected them thinking they were too good to throw in the bin," she said. "We had a few phone calls from that and were able to give back and match up a couple of pairs.

"Then I decided the fox was a further afield than just around our immediate vicinity which is when I decided to put the table out on the street.

"The number of vehicles and passers-by who stopped to ask about it, to look and also to take their shoes back was absolutely astounding."

The fox appears to be the mother of five cubs and Ms Hewitt said she hoped the younger members of the family would not be taught about the shoe stealing habit.
And in Massachusetts:
Costello says it all started after he'd taken this normally frisky puppy for a walk by Bolivar Pond in Canton. He hopped into his car, and started it up, but Rosie had her own ideas.

"The dog jumped in and hit the gear shift and the car jerked and she fell on top of the gas pedal," Costello said. "It was just scary."

Then, he said, his puppy drove the car into the pond.

"The car went for a swim. We all did."

That's right: Rosie launched this car right into Bolivar Pond.

"[The] car was right here you can see the tracks," Costello said.

The 911 call even surprised Canton police.

"I've never heard of a puppy driving a car into a pond," said Officer Robert Quirk of the Canton police.
Despite the dangerous struggle required to save Rosie from the sinking vehicle, as usual, no one seems to blame the dog:
Canton police posted this lighthearted tweet, with a picture of the pup and a caption that read, "Perp says she was just going with the flow of traffic."

And Hermann says it's a day he won't soon forget.

"I work a lot of weekends and none as exciting as this one," he said.

As for Costello, the car - his daughter's - is a total a loss, but he says he has insurance. As for Rosie - she's ok - and unaware of all the commotion she caused Sunday.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Dead Duck Day Report

You can now read the full report of this year's Dead Duck Day, and the message I was honored to write, at this link.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Dead Duck Day!


It's a very special Dead Duck Day, because I have been given the honor of writing the message to to read at this year's ceremony. I'll post a link when it is available. In the meantime, watch this TED talk by Kees Moeliker, giant in the science of bad duck behavior and organizer of the event.


Get your own devilduckie here

Monday, June 2, 2014

Animals Where They Shouldn't Be


- In Florida,  a bear that was tuckered out after rummaging through trash cans found a hammock in one resident's backyard and decided to have a rest.
"He got in the hammock like he was a tourist or something," said Vincent James, who owns the home and the hammock. "Then something spooked him and he ran right back there. Then half an hour later I come back and I saw there he is in the hammock again."
As usual, authorities washed their hands of the matter, saying that they wouldn't do anything because the bear wasn't "threatening" anyone. So, sadly, James decided that his only defense was to get rid of his lovely hammock.

-In England, police got an unusual call: a squirrel had jumped into a woman's handbag and refused to leave.
 
Officers arrived and removed the rodent, but before you rejoice that officials did the right thing for a change, the plot thickens: this was a non-native, invasive gray squirrel:
Under section 9 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act, it is an offence to release a grey squirrel into the wild. According to Red Squirrels Northern England, an organisation which works to protect red squirrels: "This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it.
"You must not let it go as this act would be illegal."
In response to this, the police spokesman replied, no doubt with a wink:
 "I'm sure the squirrel in this case had managed to escape before a cage could be found."
And before you laugh that the woman called the police in the first place, read on:

-In Texas,  a woman was attacked by her neighbor's pet squirrel:
Elizabeth Orzechowska said she was unloading groceries from her car when she felt something climb up her leg.

"So, I looked down and it was a squirrel," Orzechowska said to Local 2. "It started running up my back, started scratching my back and biting my back."
Orzechowska went to the emergency room where she spent five hours getting stitched up and treated with antibiotics. She said she is in pain, her hands are swollen an she is unable to work. 
This incident belongs under today's heading because no one should have a pet squirrel in their home: it's illegal to keep one in Texas (and probably most if not all other places in the US.)  Knowing this, the woman released the rodent into the wild before it could be seized.

-Finally, from South Carolina, I leave you with this picture of an alligator at an outlet mall:








Thursday, May 29, 2014

Animal Home Invasions meet Clueless Experts


-Deer smashes into woman's home, jumps on her bed

We've seen this sort of thing before, but the interviewees in this news video are quite good at conveying the horror. "It sounded like a car crash," said one witness, as someone heroically followed a trail of bloody footprints - "It looked like a murder scene" - to find a 180 pound buck on top of an elderly woman in her bed. 

It's fortunate that citizens handled that situation well on their own, because in our next two stories, authorities are of their usual dubious usefulness.  In London, a fox was found sleeping in a couple's spare room:
Sarah Preddy and her partner Colin Linton were enjoying a Sunday morning cup of tea, when they discovered the ‘arrogant’ animal relaxing on the bed in their spare room after pet dog, Molly, became restless.

They said upon opening the door they saw bushy-tailed squatter had made itself at home on top of the duvet.

It apparently stayed at their house in Rosemary Avenue for another hour before it finally left, with Sarah’s step-sons managing to take photographs of the fox lying on the bed and then making its way out down the stairs.
Just as well they didn't ask for help because the supposed experts were clueless: A spokesman for the RSPCA said  "It is unusual for foxes to enter homes as by nature they will tend to avoid human contact. In the rare instances when they do venture into a home, it is likely they are attracted to food which has been left out." Apparently he hasn't read any of the four stories in this post of foxes in people's homes, three of which also involve them being in beds.

Finally, surprisingly soon after our last case. we've got a woman in Spain that was bitten by a snake in her toilet:

A poisonous snake is apparently living in the plumbing system of a block of flats in northern Spain, leading to one resident being bitten on the bottom as she sat on the lavatory and others using potties.

Iris Castroverde, 30, a hairdresser and mother of two young children, got the shock of her life when she felt a nip on her left buttock as she was seated on the loo.

The resident of a block in the small town of Naron, a suburb of La Caruna in the northwestern Galicia region, described how she heard a splash and then felt the pain in her bottom.

"When I turned around I saw a florescent yellow and green serpent about 20cm (8 inches) long disappear with the flush," explained the horrified woman.
Residents are pouring bottles of bleach and caustic cleaning products down the pipes in hopes of killing the snake. This approach doesn't seem particularly likely to succeed but I can't blame them for taking matters into their own hands, seeing the treatment the woman was given:
A hospital spokesman said: "We found four incisor marks in the buttock near the perineal area, and we followed standard practice for snake bites which includes a tetanus and rabies shot as well as administering an antidote. We had to remove the poison from the wound but some of it had spread into the body and we needed to give her an injection to counter that."
I'm mystified how they knew which antivenin to administer when reports are that the type of snake hasn't been identified and they're sure it's not a local species. You might be thinking that they are snake geniuses who know more than I do... except apparently they are unaware that reptiles do not get or carry rabies.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Aquatic attack squirrel and local news destroy my fantasy of Britain


Today was one of those rare days that I ran across an animal problem even I never thought to worry about. It happened in a swimming pool in Devon, England:
A squirrel sparked panic today after it dashed into a busy leisure centre before leaping in the pool and biting a swimmer on the finger.

When lifeguards tried to coax him out the creature leapt into the water and paddled around the deep end for several minutes.

A swimmer tried to fish the squirrel out of the water but was bitten on the finger before the animal scampered off through a fire exit.
Then to my horror, the "related stories" links presented with this article were a litany of problems that completely destroy my idyllic vision of the British isles. There's the seaside resort town in Cornwall that's battling a "plague of giant rats":
People living in the town say they have been plagued with the giant creatures and are worried the super-sized vermin are becoming increasingly bold.
Figures show the number of reported rats in the town has gone up 50 per cent in the last year.

Experts add that the rat population has been allowed to swell since the council stopped killing them for free.

One resident said: "I'm not happy with the situation. I have a daughter who's seven and she's seen dead rats in the garden. She's quite a girlie girl so she doesn't like them at all.

"They are massive - really big for a rat. Some of the cats that live further up the road would think twice about going after one."
And both of those rodent stories are nothing compared to this one:
Killer Asian hornet could arrive in the Westcountry 'within days'
Swarms of killer hornets that have plagued France could cross the Channel to the Westcountry within days.

Giant Asian hornets are responsible for the deaths of six people in France – and experts have warned that they could now be headed to the South of England.
The predators have jaws powerful enough to chew through regular protective bee suits and their venom, which they can spray, dissolves human flesh. If their venom lands in the eyes, the eye tissue will melt, according to a National Geographic documentary.
I don't know if you should reconsider if you were planning a vacation to England this summer - but if you go, seriously, don't ruin it by reading the local paper.


Squirrels should stick to their own facilities, like the one photographed by Jessica Lucia.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bad Animal Roundup



-At a university in Wales, final exams in languages and law were halted and had to be rescheduled when pigeons caused a disruption in the exam hall. As a student explained:
"There were two pigeons that somehow got in the room and they were on top of the organs in the back of the room and would not just shut up. I guess a few people complained and then they ended the exam."
-A particularly bad case of Snake in the Toilet in Singapore:
She had just sat down on the toilet bowl when she felt a sharp pain.

She looked down and saw a 1.8m-long python writhing in the toilet bowl, its jaws clamped on the back of her right thigh.
As usual, experts were no use - a pest controller called in failed to catch the snake, perhaps due to questionable loyalties:
"The python looked tired and scared," said the pest controller, who declined to be named.
-Angry beaver delays traffic, roams town chasing people in Canada:
An angry beaver was roaming around Miramichi on Tuesday, creating traffic delays and chasing onlookers.

Jim O'Neill was driving his taxi when he noticed a man being chased by a beaver off King George Highway on Tuesday.

"You look out the corner of your eye and see a beaver backing somebody up the driveway,” he said.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Dolphin deadly sin


This needs nothing additional from me except to say that I haven't been so pleased with a story for a very long time.

Greedy dolphin 'died of gluttony' say marine experts

A greedy dolphin “died of gluttony” after stuffing himself with so many fish he could not eat any more, experts have said.
The mammal, dubbed Monty, was found with his next meal stuck in his throat by marine experts. Experts carried out a post mortem at the scene and found his airways blocked by a dab starving him of oxygen.
Rod Penrose, Strandings co-ordinator for Wales, helped carry out the post mortem on Monty.
“Its stomach was crammed full of fish, and I don’t think there would have been room for any more,” he said. “So when it swallowed this last fish, it must have been pushed back rolled into a cigar shape, and unusually then lodged firmly in the nasal passages.
“I’ve heard of this happening before but have never seen it. So you could say that Monty was killed by gluttony”.

Heed the warning not to feed the dolphins in that sign photographed by mwms1913, they sure as heck don't need it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beware Birds


My original plan had been to make a big deal of this article:

California woman lives Hitchcock movie as birds swarm home

about a woman who's got what she claims are now a couple hundred chimney swifts in her house:
When Brown came home on Friday, the birds were everywhere: in her kitchen, behind the TV, under the couch, and on the ceiling fan - nearly 70 birds loose inside her home.
"I think the most horrifying was how they got in and the mess that they were making while they were here, because birds are scared and they are pooping," Brown said.
To clean up, Brown fired up her vacuum.
"But when I did that, I scared them, and they came flying out of the chimney, and you're just dodging these black birds, so we were just chasing birds all over the house. It was nuts. I just assumed they were trying to get away from the storm, Friday night."
But since Friday, Brown says they've been back, every night around 8 p.m., like clockwork.
But probably we should be more worried about this one:
 
Man hospitalized after bird attack

Any comments by me would only take away from the drama of these excepts from this tale of people being attacked outside a shop in Texas:
"I took off my cap and started waving them away," said Hines over the phone. "All of a sudden it was more than one bird."

First one bird, then in seconds, three others.

"He was running, and I mean running," said Sieger.

"Running for fear of his life," added Michelle Bradley.

And the birds were close behind.

"The more I tried to fight them off," said Hines, "the worse it got. It was like why were they after me you know."

"All of a sudden that bird hits him, and he went flying," said Sieger.

Benny was down, bleeding and unconscious.

Benny also lost a tooth. People inside the store heard the commotion. They rushed to help the man on the ground and called 911. But no one knew what happened to him, until they checked the video.

And this tale gets creepier because today it happened again.

"I felt something on my neck, and there was a bird coming after my ass," said Sieger.
 


Monday, May 5, 2014

Animals vs Cars Roundup


-In England, one neighborhood suffering a months-long epidemic of flat tires finally exposed the criminal by installing TV cameras - and by paying closer attention to what was going on than the human who was on the scene every time:
Recent analysis of the CCTV has revealed the culprit, a border collie named ‘Jess’.

The dog, who is owned by someone in the local area has been using her daily walk to bite the two nearside tyres of cars she comes across. This caused a slow puncture and by the morning the tyre is flat.

PC Simon Amos, who solved the mystery, said: “These incidents have been happening for the last six months, with many residents being very upset at the thought of someone targeting them and causing the damage deliberate.

“The dog had been seen approaching the cars and many believe that she was just sniffing at the tyres. It isn’t until you take a closer look , that you can see her biting the tyres."
-In Florida, peacocks are attacking cars - and have been doing it for years:
Jade Hays couldn't believe her eyes when she saw a bird going bonkers over her car. The peacock caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage. "For all that to happen -- on my new car. It upset me. I actually called my mom in tears," she said.

Neighbors say the peacocks also break rip through pool cages and damage homes.
And here's a warning if you're in the market for a used peacock - make sure you inquire about whether it has a record:
Over the past couple of years, animal control has removed a dozen peacocks from this area.  They are sold at auctions.
-Finally, in Maine, the problem is goats:
A pair of Richmond goats found themselves on the wrong side of the law recently after attacking a car on Marston Road.
The car owner reported the apparently unprovoked attack around 6:30 p.m. on April 19, said Richmond Police Chief Scott MacMaster.
“Apparently the goats got loose from the neighbors’ and were climbing all over his car,” MacMaster said.
As we've seen again and again on this blog, officials washed their hands of the situation, despite the fact that these animals are repeat offenders:
“The vehicle owner was going to get estimates and give it to the neighbor and hopefully take care of it civilly,” MacMaster said.
No charges have been filed against the goat owner or wayward goats.
The goats are familiar to local law enforcement.
“They have been known to get loose in the past,” MacMaster said.

 



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Animals are bad, but people don't help



A roundup of stories where there's ample blame to go around all the species involved:

In England, a colony of 300 bats that roost in the church roof can't be removed because they are a protected species, despite the fact that their excrement damages historic objects and - horror of horrors - they've made couples decline to hold weddings there:
 Bats "showering" parishioners with faeces and urine at a Norfolk church appear to have "more rights that the worshipping community", a vicar said.
In Canada:  In Vancouver new law banning old-style doorknobs in favor of level-style is supposed to help the elderly and disabled. But some warn that it's enabling a bad animal:
True, elderly and disabled people find it easier to operate doors with handles. But so do bears. In British Columbia, bears have been known to scavenge for food inside cars—whose doors have handles, knob advocates point out. Pitkin County, Colorado, in the United States, has banned door levers on buildings for this very reason. One newspaper columnist in the pro-knob camp has noted that the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park” were able to open doors by their handles.
And finally, in Brazil, the video above shows staff fleeing from an ox that invaded a hospital - with a soundtrack of their co-workers laughing as they review the security cam footage of the incident. The clip also won a competition on social media. We can only hope that Brazilian bovines don't have access to the Internet, because this sort of success can only encourage them.