Monday, July 29, 2013

Even the cats don't like tourists

Presented without comment, except that visitors from other cat-hugging countries like the US should also take note:

Tourists warned after French woman and her dog are attacked by gang of six feral cats
A woman walking her dog in one of France's most attractive tourist areas was the victim of a 'nightmare' attack when a pack of six feral cats dragged her to the ground and mauled her severing an artery.

The 31-year-old victim, who was walking at the edge of a wood in Belfort, in the north-eastern region Franche-Comté, was left traumatised by the attack and suffered bites to her arms and legs along with a gashed artery.
Her dog was also badly hurt in the incident.
It is thought the attack may be related to the high summer temperatures perhaps making the cats more aggressive than usual.
Josette Galliot, the mother of the victim told l’Est Republicain newspaper she had been 'living a nightmare' since the attack on Sunday.
Ms Galliot said: "The cats jumped on my daughter and managed to knock her over. They bit her on the leg and on her arms. They even pierced an artery."
The victim was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated for her injuries and given an injection for rabies. Her dog, a poodle, was treated at a nearby veterinary clinic.
In response to the incident local police said the attack was "very unusual" and was therefore "a cause of great concern".
He added: "Tourists from countries like Britain should certainly be wary – they should certainly not approach these cats, or try to feed them."

Instructive view of sharp cat parts by Flickr user van ort.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Have you packed your swimsuit - and your helmet?

A few weeks ago we saw that even a respectable mainstream newspaper like The Guardian was moved to warn of the danger of seagull attacks.

But it's these common everyday animals that it's most difficult to convince people of the dangers of, so I think all of the following stories are deserving of note:

Woman in hospital after gull attack:
The pensioner was enjoying a gentle stroll in the sunshine through the city’s Portland Square when the large gull swooped at her. It repeatedly pecked at her head and face, continuing to attack even after passers-by intervened to scare it off.

“I was so shocked by it,” said Miss Little. “The gull kept coming back at me again and again. The woman who helped me swung my handbag at it. It was a really big bird."
Gulls target cyclist:
"It started off actually with one," he said. "The next minute they all came from the docks on Hedon Road. My legs turned to jelly. They were all making the same noise. So in my panic I ran across Hedon Road and they followed me for about a mile down the road."
 As usual, "experts" are on the side of the attackers:
An ornithologist said the birds were a protected species defending their nests.
Woman tears Achilles tendon in seagull attack:
"This seagull swooped off the roof at me," Ms Goodrum said. "I put my hands up to wave it away. I turned around and he came from the other side - he was about two inches away from my face. I turned around again, panicked, ran and went straight on the floor. I couldn't feel my foot."
And finally the obligatory movie reference:

Gull attack was “like a scene out of a Hitchcock movie”:
Eastbourne mum Barbara Buza was with her friend their two young children when they saw a screaming woman with blood running down her face and on to the pavement. They were unsure what happened and went to help the distressed woman when a seagull swooped down and attacked another local resident.
Barbara said, “I have never seen anything like it. It was like a scene out of a Hitchcock movie. The lady had blood running from her head, down her chin and on to the pavement. I got out my tissues and used the whole pack trying to help her.”
So, when you're packing for the beach, don't forget your tissues... or even better, a helmet.

Photo of a gull attacking an eagle mid-air from the New Scientist, in case you're not already convinced these bird will stop at nothing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bad animal headlines

There are so many bad animals I can't keep up with giving them each the attention they deserve.

-Fox steals handbag
"Fortunately the cheeky little fox didn't manage to work out my Pin number and my bank accounts were not touched."
-Man knocked out of his kayak by seal and rescued by lifeboat
“It appeared that the man had been fishing from his kayak and had caught about 20 mackerel and had them in a net over the side. A seal bumped into the kayak capsizing it and grabbed the net and fish for its tea."
-Aggressive snake slithers down chimney and attacks police 
Officers used containment tactics and avoided repeated attempts by the animal to sink its fangs into them before eventually capturing the creature with the help of a bin, a takeaway pizza box and some gaffer tape. 
-3 injured by bear in Fukushima town
This one is mostly notable for the perfectly terrible computer-animated re-enactment video.

And finally, the source of today's photo:

Monkey is regular at Mumbai swimming pool
Every day for the past week, the primate has been showing up at the Kalidas Swimming Pool around 7 am — swimming without a worry for about an hour, much to the astonishment of regulars. For a couple of days, the facility's caretakers tried to scare the monkey away, but it would return for its hourly swim the next morning.
Video here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bad Animal News Briefs

Another animal vs. car: Stork lays siege to village with car attacks
“At least four vehicles in the areas have been attacked,” mayor Ulrich Kersten confirmed on Friday. The damage to more expensive cars has been estimated at €1,000 a time.
The bird has also been pecking at windows and glass doors, leaving some residents scared to leave their homes. “How do we protect ourselves?” local woman Johanna Preuß asked the Nord Kurier newspaper. She was woken up at 5am on Friday by the large white bird, beak pressed against her terrace door.
Another animal attack via toilet: Snake bites man’s ‘snake’ on the toilet
The man, a resident of central Israel, paid his parents a visit in the northern town of Nofit. While sitting on the john, he was rudely and painfully interrupted when a snake appeared and bit his penis. The victim “ran from the room in horror” and went to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center for treatment, according to the report.
A blood test found that the snake was not venomous. The man was in good condition, but doctors decided to keep him under medical supervision.
This one caught the attention of the mainstream media, resulting in this piece at Slate: A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks.

Finally, I recommend this video of a wild boar running through the streets of Prague. Make sure to stay till the close-up ending.

Monday, July 15, 2013

New frontiers in bad animal behavior

Whenever I think I've seen it all, some animal comes up with a new twist. Here are a couple of recent innovators:

-Squirrel eats car: When a Florida woman found a six inch hole in the body of her SUV - and then a second, larger hole - the police asked if she had any enemies. Later, as she took out the trash, she caught the culprit in the act: it was a squirrel. "I'm not happy to see my car like this but at least I didn't have any enemies, at least not people," she said. But is she really sure this better?

-Huge python breaks into Australian charity store
Police Sergeant Don Auld thought a thief had fallen through the ceiling and vomited on the floor when called to a Queensland charity store break-in.

But the slippery criminal turned out to be a 5.7 metre python who left the smelly memento for staff.

The snake had pooed in the St Vincent de Paul store in Ingham and left crockery, clothes and other goods smashed and scattered all over the floor.

"It was so big and had made such a mess, we thought someone had gone on a bit of rampage."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Animal Attack Roundup

A couple of people who got what was coming to them, and one totally innocent victim:

-Montreal teen mauled after trying to kiss captive lion in South Africa
Canadian volunteers in Africa, please take note: don’t try to kiss the lions.
A young Montreal woman is in a South African hospital after she was clawed and bitten by two lions on Monday at a wildlife rehabilitation centre.
Lauren Fagen, 18, says she was kissing the fur of a male lion named Duma when he reached through the bars and dragged her legs into his cage. The lion’s female mate also joined the attack, biting her feet.
Ms Fagen was volunteering to help care for the animals, and while the center's director correctly attributes the incident largely to her own stupidity, perhaps he needs to reconsider his volunteer-hiring practices, because she gave ample warning that she was an accident waiting to happen:
“She came here telling people that she wanted to hug an animal.”

-And here's one that's an accident waiting to happen again: A surfer in Sydney, Australia was hospitalized after being knocked off his board by a humpback whale. He lost conciousness (in the water!) and had to be rescued by fellow surfers, treated by paramedics and taken by ambulance to the hospital. And yet:
Despite his injuries, Dr Rajapakse said his encounter with the whale was a “very beautiful experience”.

-Finally, our one totally innocent victim: A man in England was attacked by a fox while he was on the toilet.
The startled 49-year-old leapt up from the bog with his trousers around his ankles before pursuing the creature around the living room in a farcical fox chase.
Mr Schofield, who lives in Ringstead Road, said: "I didn’t even have time to wipe myself. I just had to chase after it. It was so quick. The fox had pushed its nose through the door. I jumped off the toilet. In the meantime it had run into the front room and got the cat.
"It had the cat round the neck. She was in shock, bleeding from her face. It locked itself onto my arm but still had the cat as well. It was unbelievable - the strength in the little thing. There was blood everywhere. It was like a struggle for my life."
If you don't believe how serious it was, note this: He didn't even have time to stop and take a picture with his phone, and they had to make the photoshopped illustration above. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A warning just in time for beach season

In my last post I linked to helpful advice about how to survive a bear attack. There was also a blog post last week at Smithsonian on how to survive a lion attack.

But as usual, people have been worrying about the wrong animals. Not many of us live where encountering bears or lions is routine. And not many think to be concerned about a much more common creature, the sea gull. Annoying, sure, but not dangerous, right? But think again, says this article from The Guardian on How to survive a seagull attack.
It's no joke, being attacked by a seagull. Pensioners have been hospitalised, blood gushing from cut heads. Others have been knocked to the ground, breaking bones. Small dogs have bled to death, children's lips been sliced open, and an elderly man died of a heart attack following a particularly vicious assault in his back garden. News that the Royal Mail has temporarily halted deliveries to an otherwise peaceful Cornish cul-de-sac because of the danger should come as no big surprise; it's happened before.
A diving herring gull is a missile: special attack talon on the heel, razor-sharp two-inch beak, 1.4-metre wingspan, more than a kilo of angry bird travelling at 65kph. No wonder there's blood.
In fact, not only can seagulls injure and kill people and small dogs, but they're apparently capable of killing much larger animals as well: scientists believe they're killing baby whales off the coast of Argentina,  dive-bombing them, slicing open their backs, and feasting on their blubber. The babies are easy targets because they have to surface more often to breathe.

Now that it's the season to head for the beach, many people who aren't used to dealing with these winged monsters are likely to be attacked. So heed this useful advice:
If you get too close, they will use a variety of tactics to try to drive you away.
First comes the "gag call" – a low, repeated warning call that essentially means: Go away. Next is the low pass, within a metre or two of the intruder's head. Then aerial operations commence. Phase one is bombardment: gulls target the perceived threat with droppings and vomit. Phase two is all-out attack – usually a low, raking strike to the back of the head with talons extended.
Once things get to this stage, obviously, there's not a lot you can do beyond duck and try shield your head. Best advice? Keep your eyes and ears open, and learn what the gulls are trying to tell you. Our ignorance of their warnings is their greatest weapon.

More useful advice from Flickr user oh simone.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let's go ahead and make it Bad Animal Science Week

-How did I miss this? Photos of cute animals make people aggressive:
New research finds that seemingly strange aggressive responses to cuteness are actually the norm.
In fact, people not only verbalize these aggressive desires with phrases like, "I just want to squeeze something!" they also really do act them out. In the study... researchers found that people watching a slideshow of adorable pictures popped more bubbles on a sheet of bubble wrap than did people viewing funny or neutral pictures.
- We've noted before that the problem of invasive lionfish is so bad that scientists are suggesting we eat them, and even providing recipes.  Here's an interesting long article on how bad the problem is, starting with a dissection that reveals just how much native ocean wildlife these lionfish are eating: they're so obese that they've got liver damage:
Though lionfish can go weeks between meals, when they don’t have to, they won’t. Scientists have observed lionfish eating at a rate of one to two fish per minute, and their stomachs can expand 30 times their size to accommodate lots of food. To become obese, fish eat upward of 7.5 times their normal dietary intake, which means the abundant North Caroline lionfish could be eating as much as 7,000 pounds of prime North Carolina seafood per acre every year.
-Some actually useful bad animal science: What would you do if you were attacked by a bear? Have you been told that you should lie still and play dead? Apparently that's not good advice if the bear is actually trying to eat you:
Because in that circumstance, the bear just keeps on chewing.
Not exactly what you were hoping for, right? So you might want to read this article and this interview   and learn how to tell the difference between when to play dead and when to up and punch the bear like this guy did. 

Tasty, gluttonous lionfish safely in captivity by Flickr user ah zut.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bad Animal Science News Briefs

- Komodo dragons don't have bad oral hygiene - it's that water buffalo are filthy, filthy animals: It was long claimed that the bite of the komodo dragon was particularly lethal because of the foul bacteria in their mouths. This supposedly allowed them to take down large prey that they couldn't kill outright, because it would later die of infections. Then it was discovered that actually, what they have in their mouths that's nasty is actual venom. And now, as explained here by Ed Yong, a scientist tested whether bacteria were also involved and came up with a different reason why those non-native water buffalo die of infections after a komodo bites them:
In their natural environment, they’d disappear into wide marshlands, but there’s nothing like that in Komodo. Instead, the buffalos seek refuge in rank water holes, stagnant and contaminated with their own faeces. In this microbial wonderland, their wounds soon become infected. “It’s the same as if you dumped a whole bunch of cow dung in your pool during the peak heat of summer, shaved your legs with a very old razor, and then went and stood in the water for a day,” says Fry. “You’d end up with some very tasty infections!”
 -More Friends Make Lemurs Better Thieves is the best headline for a story that's going around about social intelligence in lemurs, never mind the details.

-Finally, check out this fabulous post on a blog about corvids about crows pulling the tails of other animals, with many more photos like the one above.