Monday, August 31, 2009

Fox in sheep's stolen clothing

When we previously encountered a fox that stole a hundred shoes in Germany, there was no indication that it was the start of a trend, but might today's story show that foxes around the world have designs on all parts of our wardrobes?

Charlottesville Daily Progress - Charlottesville and University of Virginia police on Wednesday brought in trappers to catch a fox near Lambeth Field that acted oddly aggressive to passersby and bit two people.

“There were four calls to the Emergency Communications Center and at least two people reported being bitten by the fox,” said Ric Barrick, Charlottesville spokesman. “Another report said the fox was acting strangely and another said it took someone’s sweater.”

On the bright side, wildlife experts seized the opportunity to educate people about wildlife, including the following important points:

“People should let wildlife go its own way,” said Ed Clark, director of the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro. “There’s also no way to be sure that a fox that’s trapped in the area is the fox that was acting aggressive, unless it’s wearing the sweater.”

No report on why anyone was wearing or carrying a sweater on an August day in Charlottesville, VA, where another blog reported the temperature in the 90s, nor on whether the sweater was actually wool, so maybe I better check to see if my poetic license is up to date and would cover this post title.

Well-dressed Japanese foxes by Flickr user St Stev.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Revenge of the Cow or political statement? Bovine blind-politician-tipping

OK, a cow knocking over a bicyclist is one thing. Bicyclists can be pretty annoying, what with riding the wrong way down the street, ignoring traffic signals, and wearing those idiotic skin-tight shorts.

But knocking over an old blind man? On his birthday? Even if he is a politician, that is pretty impressively low. And yet in this article from the BBC, it's the damn DOG that everyone seems most concerned about:

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett is recovering after being injured by a charging cow in Derbyshire.

The incident happened on Saturday while the Sheffield MP was out walking on his 62nd birthday with his guide dog Sadie in the Peak District.

It is believed the cow ran at the dog and while trying to protect her, the blind MP fell and was trampled.

He suffered a broken rib and "painful bruising" but was declared well enough to attend a Labour Party meeting later.

Alison Pratt, from the National Farmers' Union, gave the following advice to others should they find themselves in a similar position.

"The best thing to do is to let the dog off the lead so it can run away because obviously a dog can run faster than you," she said.

"The next thing to do is to get quite quickly to the edge of the field, collect the dog and leave."

All I have to say about that is that I've told my dogs, if a cow comes after me, you better expect that you're going down too.

Bad attitude cow by Flickr user RachelJ

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pick on someone your own size!

In a milestone for this blog, we present our first evidence that even extinct animals were a bunch of bums.

Tyrannosaurus rex: mighty carnivorous giant, battling fierce rivals to the death! Or... not so much. It turns out that T. rex must have been another of those species with a spectacular press agent, because in reality, you know what they killed and ate? Little tiny babies.

TELEGRAPH, UK - Research into the predatory habits and diet of the biggest of the dinosaurs has concluded that T.rex and other members of its carnivorous theropod family preferred to dine on juveniles, preferably small enough to eat whole.

It shatters the notion that the giant battled with animals of a similar or even larger size, an image reinforced by its portrayal in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park. David Hone, a British palaeontologist working in China, believes the Tyrannosaurs preferred to prey upon small and unwary baby rivals rather than their fully-grown parents.

His study, carried out with Oliver Rauhut of the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology in Munich, suggests baby-eating was a common behaviour among the large predatory dinosaurs, offering a possible explanation why so few juvenile dinosaurs have been found in fossil records.

Yeah, we always suspected something was funny about those little wimpy arms.

Girly T. Rex by Flickr user fluttergirl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Be careful where you stick your hands

This blog couldn't be more pleased to introduce its first animal jewel thief. Not that we approve of such things, of course, but as chroniclers of bad behavior, it's satisfying to get to tick off another box, proving that there's really nothing that people do that animals can't do at least as well - or as badly.

DAILY MAIL, UK - A pig has swallowed the diamond from a woman's £1,500 ring.

Ginger, a Kune Kune pig, clamped his jaws around the jewel after Anne Moon put her hand into its pen at Easingwold Maize Maze in North Yorkshire.

When Mrs Moon, pictured, pulled away, the diamond had gone. Now farmer Paul Caygill, who owns the attraction, has been given the task of sifting through Ginger's sty to find the gem.

He said: 'It wasn't malicious or anything, it didn't take her finger off but took the central stone of her diamond ring.

'So far it hasn't turned up, but we are still hoping. I don't know how long it takes for nature to take its course.'

Monday, August 17, 2009

Department of Unprovoked Attacks

Even we here at Animals Behaving Badly can sympathize to some extent with the subjects of some of our reports. Biting a mayor or a zoo director might be the only way to express a legitimate grievance. And who among us can honestly say we've never wanted to pee on a president?

But what's going on when turkeys harrass postmen and innocent pedestrians, or cows knock over bicyclists?

And now we've got a woman from Austria, taking a swim on her yearly vacation to Wisconsin, attacked out of nowhere by three otters. While she had the sense to leave the water when they appeared, the otters followed her and bit her on the legs eight or nine times. She's now undergoing a series of rabies shots.

Wildlife experts had no explanation for this allegedly unusual event. But the next time you're excited to see some charming wild creature in the woods, remember this quote:
“I thought it was really cool,” she said. “I’d never seen an otter before. Then, all of a sudden, there were three of them.”

Sure it's cute, but look at the teeth on that otter from Misterqueue.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who's worse, scientists or animals?

We used to be able to think that we were better than the animals for all kinds of reasons, but nowadays, scientists are always screwing up our illusions of superiority. It's bad enough we're not the only ones who use tools, or the only ones who are smart enough to deceive. Now we find out that we're not the only ones who can use tools to deceive.

No, monkeys haven't yet learned how to get breast implants or toupees. But scientists have recently discovered that orangutans in Borneo use leaves, held up to their mouths, to make their calls sound deeper. Because deeper calls normally come from a larger animals, the ruse means that predators may decide that they had better stay away from that BIG orangutan.

The strategy works because, like on the internet, interactions in the rainforest often aren't face to face. As primatologist Madeleine Hardus told the BBC, "Because it is very rare and difficult to get a full view of an orangutan in its rainforest habitat, this could be very advantageous, since a potential predator will have to rely more on sounds than sight in these conditions."

Still, there's some comfort in knowing that although orangutans have learned to lie about their appearance to someone they haven't met in the flesh, we're still the only animal who can use fake photos of ourselves on Internet dating sites... we hope.

Orang using a leaf as a tool to drink water by Flickr user doug88888

Monday, August 10, 2009

Of course the cat gets away with it

It's a new trend among criminals - blaming the animal. But it's not working out too well for most of them. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be readers of this blog, so they're not choosing very plausible crimes. The woman who said the dog forced her to steal by eating her checkbook who we read about last month was the best of them - at least we know that dogs do eat money.

But what was the woman thinking who blamed her horse for being drunk? Even a quick glance at the posts on drunkenness here would show that there are much more plausible creatures to blame for that.

And now we've got this fellow in Florida. Well, he's got the cat walking on the keyboard thing right -

JENSEN BEACH, FL — A well-known mathematical theory states that a group of monkeys randomly typing on a typewriter could eventually write the complete works of William Shakespeare by pure chance.

But Martin County Sheriff’s investigators said there is no chance that one cat could randomly type words on a computer keyboard to download child pornography 1,000 times.

But that’s the excuse that 48-year-old Keith Griffin, of Jensen Beach, gave after investigators found 1,000 images of child pornography on his computer, detectives say. Griffin was arrested today on 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

When deputies searched Griffin’s home and talked to him, he told detectives that he would leave the room sometimes while downloading music and when he returned, his cat had jumped up on the keyboard and strange images were downloaded.

Griffin is being held in the Martin County Jail on $250,000 bail. The cat was not charged with any crimes and is being cared for by a family friend, according to sheriff’s officials.

Ominous cat on computer by Flickr user evilpoet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Britian invaded by killer breakfast-food-stealing chipmunks

In the US we think of chipmunks as just the cutest little guys. It probably doesn't even cross most people's minds that they are rodents, related to the reviled rat and mouse.

But the British know better. Siberian chipmunks have become an invasive species in Europe. And we're not talking "invasive" as in "lots of them in some woods I never see somewhere, oh isn't that too bad." We're talking HOME INVASION.

THE SUN - A killer chipmunk terrorised a family by invading their kitchen and munching their Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

Horrified trucker Bryan Foreman, 50, found the critter with its head in the cereal box.

He and wife Susan fear the rodent is one of the vicious Siberian chipmunks which The Sun last week warned were set to invade Britain.

The creature left Bryan and Susan's two cats shaking - and they and the family's dog now can't go into the garden.

Mum-of-four Susan, 44, from the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, said: "It was terrifying. I've never seen anything like it.

"We could hear it banging about in the kitchen and when my husband went in it had its head in the cereal and was munching away.

"He shouted and it ran back out into the garden.

"We think it had a good go at whatever else it found in the cupboards as well.

"My cats are traumatised. We're too scared to let them out in case it's still lurking."

French naturalist Guy Bruel, who issued one of the first Siberian chipmunk alerts, is sure the rodent was one of them.

He warned that other people could find unwelcome guests as the pesky invaders start to get hungry.

The animals can be infected with deadly Lyme disease, which hits the nervous system. They can also carry rabies.

Guy said: "They will stop at nothing to get what they want. This includes sneaking into people's homes to have a nibble of food.

"They look cuddly and harmless, and this makes them particularly dangerous. If startled they can give a nasty nip, especially when cornered."

Susan first spotted the chipmunk in her garden running along the fence. It later made its way into the house by brazenly jumping on the cats' den.

She added: "Usually the cats are really playful but now they're very quiet and reclusive. I don't know what it did to scare them so badly."

More sensationalist chipmunk coverage from The Sun here, or just try the search here to see what's new, because The Sun is on top of this story.

Deceptively adorable chipmunk by Flickr user wwarby.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is it those big brown innocent eyes that do it?

All over the world, dogs get away with crimes against property - even when their own owner's money is involved. A dog who ate a checkbook was accused of driving his owner to theft, but no charges of conspiracy were filed, as we saw earlier in July.

And when a dog in North Carolina ate $400, did his owner make him go out and get a job to pay her back? No - she picked through his poop to find pieces of bills to wash off and paste together.

Sadly, when an owner does try to hold his pet accountable for misuse of funds, he gets no help from the police, as a Kenyan man found:

NAIROBI - Robert Njeru, 25, of Nakuru, took his dog to the local police station after it chewed up almost 3 000 Kenyan shillings (about R250).

The farmer had left his rent money for the month on his bed when he went to work.

When he returned that night, all that remained were a few shreds of banknotes on the floor.

A furious Njeru marched his dog down to the police station and demanded that officers lock up the animal.

Police reportedly refused until he paid them 50 shillings to make it worth their while.

On hearing about the story, the district police boss fired the officer for accepting a bribe and released the dog back to its owner.

Police spokesman Steven Karungu said: "It was a really stupid thing for the police to lock up a dog after being given a bribe. It degrades the police force in this area.

"It is true the dog ate his master's money, but it was because of his own carelessness, and he should deal with his problems by himself and not involve the police."

Njeru has still not forgiven his dog and has put it up for sale for 20 shillings.

Photo from Flickr user mil8, who notes: "Reason to keep 'big bills on the inside' of a money clip #45: Dogs will get tired eating their way through the small bills."