Thursday, January 30, 2014

Animals Getting People Into Trouble

-Parrots are the only animals that can speak our language, but if you think this makes them count as human, you might not get too far. A woman in England found this out when the police discovered that she was driving on a learner's license with only a parrot as company. Holders of a learner's provisional license are only allowed to drive under the supervision of a qualified driver, so, as the police said on Twitter:
Since parrots are not authorised to supervise learner drivers, her vehicle has been seized by us on the M62.
-This blog has made the point over and over again that cute animals are a bad influence. We've seen that they distract scientists from studying less attractive animals and convince people to do all sorts of ridiculous things to help them. But research has found that looking at photos of cute animals makes people aggressive. And here's one that actually incited someone to violence:

Fight breaks out in queue to pat koalas
A wildlife park visitor has been accused of assaulting another man and threatening him with a knife after complaining that it was his turn to pat the koalas.

Police on Tuesday said a 34-year-old Para Hills man had been charged with aggravated assault and two counts of assault at the Adelaide Hills park on Saturday.

The visitors were waiting to pat the koalas when the 34-year-old man allegedly became aggressive and assaulted the victim.

"Two bystanders tried to intervene and were also assaulted, as was a staff member at the wildlife park," police said.

The man also allegedly threatened the victim with a knife, police said.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Exploding cow farts start fire

There's nothing I need to add to this story from The Independent:

Ninety flatulent cows start fire at dairy farm in Germany
The methane gas released by 90 flatulent cows caused an explosion in a farm shed in Germany, damaging the roof and injuring one of the animals, local police said.
In a statement, the force said high levels of the methane gas had built up within the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf on Monday thanks to animals belches and flatulence, before “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames."
The subsequent blast damaged the roof of the cow shed, Reuters reported. Emergency services who attended the scene took gas readings to check for any potential further blasts.
One of the cows was injured and had to be treated for burns it sustained during the incident, a police spokesman added.
The animals can emit up to 500 litres of the greenhouse gas methane each day through belching and flatulence. Cows also release large amounts of ammonia. 
The dangerous ends, by Flickr user Andrew Storms.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bad monkey relationships

It's not often that a respectable mainstream media source does my job for me so throughly, but all we need for this story is some direct quotes from this BBC article:

Female capuchin monkeys throw stones to attract mates
The primates whine, pull faces and follow potential mates around in scenes reminiscent of the school playground.
Although their common name refers to their hairstyles, the monkeys' passionate side is hinted at in their scientific name Sapajus libidinosus.
Without brightly coloured, swollen genitals or strong smelling odours or liquids to communicate, the capuchins display they are ready to mate through their behaviour.

The females solicit attention from males with pronounced pouting faces, whining calls or by touching them and dashing away.

This behaviour builds as the females pursue their mates and in the Serra da Capivara capuchins, it leads to females throwing stones directly at the subjects of their desire.

Lurking capuchin by Flickr user Cardiff boy 2

Monday, January 20, 2014

Something new to worry about

Here's a new way to be injured by an animal that even I have never heard or conceived of: A woman in Brazil was walking her dog when a porcupine fell on her head, with the results pictured above.

Porcupines are not known as aerial predators, but this one apparently fell - or leapt - from a lamppost. As the victim related:
I was walking with my dog when out of nowhere, I felt a thud in my head. I looked down, I saw a critter. I put my hand on my head and felt the thorns. The pain was enormous.
 At the hospital, the staff were reportedly "impressed" by her injuries, as the doctor removed over 150 spines from the woman's head without anesthesia.

I have nothing to add to this except, what will they think of next??

Photo and story from the Brazilian news via the always excellent Nothing to Do with Arbroath.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Setting a new standard for bad dogs

We've seen dogs set fires and crash cars, but I believe this may be an original: A dog that caused an explosion.

A couple in England came running home when they got a text from a neighbor that there'd been an explosion at their house:
“We thought someone had put something through the letterbox or there had been a gas explosion.”
Matthew added: “When we got inside the house we saw that the explosion had completely smashed out our bay window.
“It had also cracked the fireplace, all the floorboards underneath the explosion had been destroyed, and the sofa is completely ruined – we have had to buy a new one."
“All I could think about was our pets – thankfully they were okay.”
Initially it was thought to be a gas leak, but when investigation revealed no leak, another explanation came to light: Their dog Zeus had found an aerosol can that happened to be near the home's boiler and chewed a hole in it:
“It is just one of those awful coincidences I suppose – moments after Zeus chewed through the can, the back boiler must have ignited.
“Poor old Zeus is lucky he didn’t chew that can a few minutes later or he’d probably be dead now.”
 Despite all the "poor Zeus" and talk of gratitude that the three dogs were OK, the second paragraph of the article in the local news suggests that poor Zeus was not exactly forgiven:
Six-month-old saluki greyhound cross Zeus, who has since been sold,

More artistic bad dog with broken window by Flickr user Nick Kidd

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cat Burglars Forever

Sometimes I think we don't need to hear about another cat - especially another English cat - who steals odd things from the neighbors. But this one is unique: it's a team.

Eric and Ernie are two cat brothers in Essex, England, who have been a criminal duo since being adopted as kittens about four years ago. They've brought home about a hundred items and specialize in apparel. They particularly like shoes, says their owner:
"They will bring one home one day, and the next day the matching shoe will arrive," she said.
"Somewhere there is a man watching television with cold feet because we have both of his slippers, which say, 'Keep quiet, I'm watching football', on the front."
They were also thwarted in one big attempt:
“Our neighbour has two sons and her husband saw a Cub Scout uniform being dragged over the fence, but managed to retrieve it."
Their owner has tried to get them to turn their skills to something more valuable, but to no avail:
Mrs Boddy said she had shown both cats £5 and £10 notes in the hope they might bring home "something other than a mangled item of clothing."

If you still haven't had enough cat burglars, check out this roundup from the BBC that includes one with his own Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New frontiers in bad beagle behavior

Late post this week but worth waiting for if you have not seen this video that has been going around, in which - I am not making this up - Lucy the beagle pushes a chair over to a counter so she can climb up, open the toaster oven, and steal chicken nuggets. I guess the owner can at least be happy that this dog can't get the chicken nuggets out of the freezer and take them out of the box and put them in the oven. YET.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Weather or bears? Your choice

In much of the country we're looking at weather that's making us consider moving to Florida. Before you from make any rash decisions, you may want to check out these two stories about the bear situation there:

-In one neighborhood in Seminole County, residents say the bears are taking over:
Some residents of Heathrow say the bears have been sitting in driveways and on front door steps, and the people say they feel trapped in their homes.  They come in through the woods and hang out right outside near the houses.
Over the past few months, residents said the bears have become increasingly aggressive.
"Frequently people are attempting to come into or out of their houses and they get growled at by the bear, who's not backing off or leaving," said resident Eddie Selover.
As is often the case, authorities are no help at all, making the excuse that there's no place to move them to and they'd probably come back anyway.
"Rather than have someone actually saying that they're going to take some action or do something about it, they send you a bear magnet with tips on how to live with the bears," Selover said, "I don't want to live with bears."
And elsewhere, a persistent bear isn't stopping at hanging out on the front steps. It's broken into a man's screened porch twice in the same week.  After the first break-in, Tramaine Gaines wisely removed everything from the porch that might attract an animal, including some cooking oil. As you can see from the video above, it didn't help:
"This time there was no food, no food outside, I pulled everything in," said Gaines. "I thought it might be a different bear, and I was like, 'No way another bear would know exactly where to come back to and that the screen was already broken.'"
He's hoping to be able to put up some kind of barrier that will keep the bear out, because as he sensibly comments:
"The first time was really funny. This time I'm a little more concerned."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Know your Enemy

To start the new year, here's an inspiring story of people standing up to bad animals:
BBC - Four villagers in north-east Kenya have chased down and captured two cheetahs which were killing their goats.
The owner of the goats told the BBC that the cheetahs had been picking off his animals one by one, day by day.
"These cheetahs killed 15 of my goats - they were coming to my house daily to kill my goats," he said.
 But wait, you might say: Cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth. They chased them down on foot??

Yes, because these people know their bad animals. Cheetahs are sprinters, not marathoners, and the angry goat-owner had observed their habits: in the heat of the day, they spend all their time lazing in the shade. And just as important, even though he'd finally been pushed to his limit, he didn't just strike out in the heat of passion:
 "I was sipping a cup of tea when I saw them killing another goat," he said, explaining that this was early in the morning.
The men waited until the hottest part of the day before launching the chase over a distance of four miles (6.4km).
The cheetahs got so tired they could not run any more. The villagers captured them alive and handed them over to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Let's all resolve to remember this in the new year: If you know your enemy's weaknesses and make a careful plan, you can even outrun a cheetah.