This is a juvenile Sandhill crane (one of my favorite species!) learning how to forage from a very caring parent. Adult breeding pairs raise their babies together and these little chicks will stay with mom and dad for about 10-12 months. What a joy it is to see them learning how to be birds from their parents! As you can see from that cute little flop, it’s sometimes hard work.
one of my favourite ever lion studies was looking at masculinized females in botswana, and one of the study lionesses was called SaF05
SaF05 had a mostly complete light mane, mated with both males and females, roared and scent-marked in a fashion associated with males, however acted socially as a female when it came to hunting and patrolling
Reach for the sky! Thresher sharks have been reported for their flying leaps out of the water, but that behavior is rarely captured. It's also a treat to see the shark's iridescence so clearly beneath the sunlight. I hope that remora enjoyed its unscheduled flight! Found via @ah360views on Instagram.
- when I was teaching my dog Pinkman to boop she thought she was getting food for hitting her head on things so for like two full weeks she ran around indiscriminately smashing her face into walls and furniture and then asking for a treat
- trying to teach my baby horse Nugget to bow but now he’s just constantly checking his armpits for food
Easy, because tadpoles in real life are cannibals. It actually helps them gain nutrients and grow faster. In some frog/toad species cannibalism is even a survival strategy.
I hope this answered a question the Amphibia fandom never had about Polly. While also giving you so many questions as to why I would even share this. Hopefully making you want to ask me stuff about animals :)
To celebrate this blog hitting 2000 followers (thank you all!), here’s my little superstar Torchic the golden Sebright hen demonstrating that, just like parrots, chickens can be trained to willingly participate in their own routine physical examinations at the vet!
For a ton of reasons, pet chickens probably aren’t taken to be seen by an avian veterinarian nearly as often as they should be. One reason probably has to do with the fact that veterinary staff often end up completely restraining birds with hands and towels for physical exams. This is problematic because 1) it gives pet owners the perception that the vet staff aren’t familiar with how to handle birds, making them less likely to return for another appointment, and 2) even in chickens that are “used to” being picked up and don’t show any outward signs of fear or anxiety, manual restraint is inherently stressful to a prey animal, especially when it’s done by humans the bird isn’t familiar with. However, almost an entire exam can be done nearly hands-free using positive reinforcement and thoughtful reading of the bird’s body language. This minimizes stress for the patient, owner, and staff during the process and for future appointments.
Here, I positively reinforce the behaviours that I want Torchic to perform during four key components of the avian physical exam:
1) Measuring her weight. Weekly or even daily weight measurements are important in monitoring a bird’s health, and even more so the smaller they are. Rather than unceremoniously stuffing Torchic in a box on top of the scale and weighing her that way (though I have seen worse “techniques” used out there), I can make the process more rewarding and less stressful by training her to “station” onto the scale on cue. Stationing, or shifting, is a technique that trainers use to get an animal to go and stay at a certain spot, either by pointing or tapping at it, or simply using a verbal cue. Here, Torchic gets a mealworm if she steps onto the scale on cue, and waits there calmly until I’m able to get a reading.
2) Assessing her body condition. Numerical weights alone often don’t give vets enough information about an animal’s overall health, so they’re often considered in the context of a body condition score - this is the assessment of the distribution of muscle vs. fat tissue on major areas of the body. In birds, this is done by palpating, or thoroughly feeling the tissue over the keel bone, which is covered by the pectoralis (breast) muscles (responsible for generating power during flight). Without prior training, this part of the physical exam often makes birds feel a little ticklish and uncomfortable, or even terrified if they’re already afraid of being touched. I started off by reinforcing calm behaviour with very brief (< 1 second) and gentle pokes, and slowly worked up to being able to feel Torchic’s keel for longer and longer durations. On top of that, I use a verbal cue (”keel!”) beforehand to let Torchic know that I’m going to be all up in her personal space for a few seconds, so that she can mentally prepare herself a bit.
3) Examining the feet. Chickens in particular can be prone to developing diseases of the feet such as bumblefoot, so it’s a good idea to take a good look at their foot pads regularly to watch out for any lesions like open wounds, discoloration, etc. Just like with her keel, I use a verbal cue (”foot”) before I gently lift up one of her toes. If she lets me lift up her entire foot and take a close look at it without kicking or stomping or pulling away, she’s rewarded with another mealworm.
4) Heart auscultation. When vets listen to, or auscultate, an animal’s heart, they make sure to get a heart rate, and pay close attention to whether they hear any murmurs or abnormal rhythms. Again, same principles as with the keel palpation, except there was a bit more training required to get Torchic comfortable with the stethoscope being held against her for the full 10 seconds (which I didn’t even get to in this video before she gently nudged the scope away with her foot - not every training session is perfect!).
In between all of that, I make sure to reinforce desirable behaviours throughout the entire exam. This includes moments when Torchic’s just acting calm and engaged in the session, as well as stepping up onto my hand or back onto the counter on cue. The point is to make the whole thing as positive as possible to minimize stress.
It didn’t take months of training for Torchic to get to this point. All it took was 10-minute sessions every day or two for a couple of weeks, and careful observation of her body language to make sure she was always happy to participate, and never feeling scared, frustrated, etc. Nearly all of my birds have these and other basic health management behaviours down pat, and it’s worth the little bit of time and effort that goes into training because the vet hospital doesn’t have to be this stressful, terrifying place. A pet’s quality of life is vastly improved if they’re able to go in for routine vet visits without being unnecessarily manhandled.
There are spiders that eat snakes. Observations of snake-eating spiders have been reported around the world. Two researchers from Basel and the US consolidated and analyzed over 300 reports of this unusual predation strategy.
Spiders are primarily insectivores, but they occasionally expand their menu by catching and eating small snakes. Dr. Martin Nyffeler, arachnologist at the University of Basel, and American herpetologist Professor Whitfield Gibbons of the University of Georgia, U.S., got to the bottom of this phenomenon in a meta-analysis. Their findings from a study of 319 occurrences of this unusual feeding behavior recently appeared in the American Journal of Arachnology.
It turns out that spiders eat snakes on every continent except Antarctica. Eighty percent of the incidents studied were observed in the US and Australia. In Europe, on the other hand, this spider feeding behavior has been observed extremely rarely (less than 1 percent of all reported incidents) and is limited to the consumption of tiny, non-venomous snakes of the blind snake family (Typhlopidae) by small web-building spiders.
Black widows are particularly successful
Incidents of snake predation by spiders have never been reported from Switzerland. A possible explanation is that Switzerland's native colubrids and vipers are too big and heavy even when freshly hatched for Swiss spiders to subdue them.
The data analysis also showed that spiders from 11 different families are able to catch and eat snakes. "That so many different groups of spiders sometimes eat snakes is a completely novel finding," Nyffeler emphasizes.
Black widows of the family Theridiidae were the successful snake hunters in about half of all observed incidents. Their potent venom contains a toxin that specifically targets vertebrate nervous systems. These spiders build webs composed of extremely tough silk, allowing them to capture larger prey animals like lizards, frogs, mice, birds and snakes.
Another new finding from the meta-analysis: spiders can subdue snakes from seven different families. They can outfight snakes 10 to 30 times their size.
The largest snakes caught by spiders are up to one meter in length, the smallest only about six centimeters. According to the statistical analysis done by the two researchers, the average length of captured snakes was 26 centimeters. Most of the snakes caught were very young, freshly hatched animals. That some spiders are able to subdue oversized prey is attributable to their highly potent neurotoxins and strong, tough webs.
Possible insights into the effect of spider venom
Many spider species that occasionally kill and eat snakes have venom that can also be lethal to humans. That means the venom of various spider species has a similar effect on the nervous systems of snakes and humans. For this reason, observations of vertebrate-eating spiders can also be important for neurobiology, as they allow conclusions to be drawn about the mechanisms by which spider neurotoxins affect vertebrate nervous systems.
"While the effect of black widow venom on snake nervous systems is already well researched, this kind of knowledge is largely lacking for other groups of spiders. A great deal more research is therefore needed to find out what components of venoms that specifically target vertebrate nervous systems are responsible for allowing spiders to paralyze and kill much larger snakes with a venomous bite," says Martin Nyffeler.
The captured snakes are anything but helpless themselves: about 30 percent are venomous. In the US and South America, spiders sometimes kill highly venomous rattlesnakes and coral snakes. In Australia, brown snakes (which belong to the same family as cobras) often fall prey to redback spiders (Australian black widows). Martin Nyffeler says, "These brown snakes are among the most venomous snakes in the world and it's really fascinating to see that they lose fights with spiders."
When a spider catches a snake, it will often spend hours or days feasting on such a large prey. Spiders have an irregular feeding pattern. When a lot of food is available, they eat in excess, only to go hungry for long periods again afterward. They store excess food as energy reserves in their body and use it to tide them over longer periods of starvation.
Still, a spider often eats only a small part of a dead snake. Scavengers (ants, wasps, flies, molds) consume what remains.
Driving is a normal and natural behavior for your pigeon to perform. Your pigeon doesnt suddenly hate you or is angry with you. Even male bonded pigeons like Fluffernutter will want to drive their mate from time to time.
To male pigeons fighting and displaying are just what you do to socialize with your flockmates. Pigeons will even seek out their rivals to spar or have a dance off.
So if suddenly your pigeon starts coming out of nowhere to engage in biting and chasing please be aware that its not for negative reasons! It means the bird is confident enough to see you as an equal/flockmate and classify you as a rival or a mate.
Cocks court hens by chasing them and biting them eventually wearing the hen out intill she flys into a nesting site of the hens or cocks choosing. If a cock cant thoroughly impress a hen by showing his all then he will be partnerless.
Us humans are really sensitive so this courting behavior can really hurt our feelings when we dont know why our pigeon is doing it.
If you cant handle your pigeon driving you but still want a relationship with your bird then redirecting aggression onto a small stuffed toy can be helpful or you could wear gloves.
You will want to wrestle back with your boy and let him win sometimes by letting him move your hand around then letting it be still. Normally cocks will start dancing for you, being nesty or disengage after that.
Someone told me the reason cats freak out when you’re wearing a hat or a bulky coat is because they think you made yourself bigger on purpose, which in cat language is a siren going DANGER DANGER DANGER so they’re not sure why you’re trying to fight them all of a sudden or whether there’s a hidden threat the haven’t seen and honestly everything makes sense now.
back on my bullshit again in a new fandom: logical consequences of grimm responding to animal fears
(do they? don’t they? whatever, i don’t think the show has given us a good answer yet)
anyway so the thing: non-human animals feel...a lot of emotions. fear is one of the most fundamental, but anger is also in there. i’d expect to see grimm turn up for two main types of interactions: predation and intra-group conflict.
predation is what it sounds like: predators attacking (and kiling and eating) prey. intra-group conflict is when two or more members of the same social group get into a fight.
one at a time:
predation: the predator’s feelings can be pretty easily dispensed with, because they feel excited and focused and happy. not very grimm feelings at all. prey are much more likely to become a grimm target, as they feel afraid and sometimes angry.
a quick evolution recap for y’all: more animals are born than live to reproduce, but this isn’t random. which animals die young is, over large scales, determined by how well adapted they are to their environment--that is, how good they are at both getting food and not getting turned into food. animals which are better at eating and not getting eaten are more likely to have offspring in the future.
or, as the old joke goes: you don’t need to be faster than the bear. you need to be faster than your friend.
so in real life, a cheetah takes off after an antelope, and the following selection pressures are in play:
1. speed. being physically faster will be beneficial to both animals, so we have an arms race where cheetahs are getting faster and faster, and antelope are getting faster and faster, and some day we may hit a land speed record.
2. reaction time. the cheetah initiates this chase, but the antelope will zigzag, and so the closer the cheetah can stick to the antelope’s path--the faster it can respond to its moves--the more likely it will win. meanwhile, the sooner the antelope can react to the cheetah’s initial lunge, the more likely it will get away entirely.
3. stealth. this one goes entirely to the cheetah, and it’s not well suited for it. other cats get closer to their prey before lunging. cheetahs do get close, but they’re simply not built for the stalk (or temperamentally equipped for it either). but for a cheetah who can get that close, their odds of a kill go up.
4. observation. and this is the antelope’s equivalent. if it can spot the cheetah before the lunge, it’s actually very unlikely the cheetah will make a go for it at all.
for the most part, antelope are already at their observation maximum, and cheetah sacrifice stealth for a better reaction time (it has to do with twitchiness: if you’re very very twitchy, you’ll be fabulous at tag but horrible at hide and seek). mostly they’re being pitted in terms of speed and reaction time.
now add grimm.
i’m making the assumption that about half the time, the grimm will attack the predator, and half the time, they’ll attack the prey. (probably more like 1:1:1:1 where the last two options are “both” and “neither” but let’s not complicate this).
for the antelope, well. the antelope never cared very much about what the cheetah was there for.
to zoom out from this particular example, prey animals have two major responses to predators: get away (run faster, hide better) or make the predator go away (horns, size, tough skin, poison, spikes...poison spikes...). some of these strategies will be more useful on grimm than others. grimm aren’t going to be intimidated unless the animal genuinely isn’t angry; grimm won’t necessarily be deterred by going down a burrow or changing skin color.
once a predator-prey duo has attracted grimm, the prey animal has two choices (they always do): fight or flight. they can either outrun the grimm (arguably only because the grimm will focus on the slower predator instead) or kill it.
in the case of the cheetah-antelope example, antelope are most likely to just get faster. grimm are just bigger, scarier cheetahs with better endurance to an antelope, so the antelope population will undergo selection for faster, stronger antelope.
cheetah are similar, actually: when it comes to conflicts with other large predators, cheetah rarely take it to a fight. they’ll walk away from their own kills if another predator turns up because they’re not at all built for physical contact. so in remnant, we’re looking at super fast cheetah and antelope.
however, there are other outcomes.
first, predators are much less likely to develop for pursuit over ambush in the first place. an ambush will very quickly resolve into a kill or the predator walking away to try again later. there will be fear, but it’ll be intense and quickly gone. pursuit predators take minutes to hours (to days) to wear down their prey and catch them, which is much more time for grimm to turn up. so wolves, who are quite happy to chase large prey for miles on end, are going to need to adapt to smaller prey who can be caught faster.
second, prey which have always been more inclined to fight than flee are going to face more intense pressure to be lethal. you don’t need to kill the tiger to get it to give up, but you do need to kill the grimm. so animals like elephants can’t just be big. once a mamma elephant gets scared for her calf, she has to be willing and able to kill about it. (in real life they start and often end with display charges. around grimm? probably not so much)
in comparison to real life, where we do have some generalist prey animals, remnant equivalents are going to be much more extreme. bison often run from wolves as a first response but stand their ground once chosen as the victim; in remnant this sort of mass herd panic would attract grimm pretty quickly. it’d be a much better strategy for bison to stand their ground from the get-go and consistently attack back.
as @mylordshesacactus just argued to me, there also won’t be any large herds. it’s very, very easy to start a panic in massed groups. much harder when there’s only 4 or 5 of you. so that’s interspecific conflict. what about conspecific conflict?
well, unlike with predation, you don’t need to fight members of your same species to survive.  most fights between animals of the same species are over a resource, such as food, sleeping spaces--or sex.
i’m going to set aside squabbling over food. nobody wants to get killed for a haunch of meat, so predators have worked out ways to share a kill or scare off others without major conflict (or fear).
instead let’s talk sex.
in species where sex leads to conflicts (some species are monogamous, and others do flybys where no one gets too worked up), you’ve got two major strategies: male competition and female choice.
female choice is where males compete for the attention & sexual availability of a female. males don’t directly interact, and may have things arranged so they’re spread out over a small (or large) area. instead females move around until they find the male who suits their interests. this is particularly common in birds, where males compete to grow the flashiest tail or sing the prettiest song. then they pair off, boink, and incubate eggs.
this isn’t particularly full of negative emotions (it’s...hard to figure out what jealousy looks like in order to study it, so mostly what you’ll see is some amount of frustration) so not terribly interesting to grimm.
male competition is full of anger though.
in ungulates (hoofed animals), males butt heads, kick, bite, bang necks together, and otherwise have a huge fuss over who can assemble the largest harem. these conflicts are painful and violent. watch any david attenborough documentary for examples. while long term, these behaviors are motivated by the eventual access to sex, in the short term, they are driven entirely by emotions.
so we’ve got a herd of horses. (say a small herd, accounting for the first half of this.) there’s one dominant stallion, and a handful of satellite bachelors (zero to four depending on number of mature mares). when the mares come into heat, the dominant stallion is going to spend a lot of time a) stressing about the bachelors or b) running them off. meanwhile the bachelors are going to spend a lot of time a) stressing about the stallion and b) trying to fight him off.
(the mares won’t be too fussed by any of this.)
the longer this goes on, the more likely grimm are to show up.
here’s the problem for the males: it’s to everyone’s advantage for male-male competition to not be deadly. even the top male isn’t going to be top forever, and he’d rather not get killed off on his way out, because if he gets killed off, there goes any chance of sneakily reproducing later. so fights are DRAMATIC, they are HIGH OCTANE, and they very rarely escalate to physical contact. when they do, they even more rarely lead to death.
so while at the same time males need to remain non-lethal against other males, they need to escalate to lethal behavior very quickly when grimm show up. this is a tricky balance to hold when you’re worked up.
now, i admit that grimm are less interested in non-human animal emotions than they are in human/faunus emotions, and that some of these encounters are so brief that the grimm won’t arrive before they’re over. but evolution is a gambling game. it’s about many, many small transactions over years, and so it matters greatly whenever anything slightly increases the risk of a certain behavior.
if male-male competition is slightly more risky, then either a) males need to be better at killing grimm, but not to the point where they’re killing other males or b) there needs to be less anger involved.
it’s very very tricky, speaking as an animal trainer, to retain a behavior while neutralizing the emotion behind it. possible! but tricky. even trickier when there’s no trainer involved. it’s not enough for the fights to become less dangerous, because the grimm care about emotions. the conflicts need to be less intense, and that’s hard.
so instead of less intense conflicts, pivot to more readily lethal horses. (ouch) (sidenote: increasing traits in one sex will often lead to similar changes in the other, especially in species where males and females are largely the same. and it’s not like mares aren’t already interested in kicking the living daylights out of anything that displeases them...)
remnant horses, and many other ungulates, would be more prone to fighting over flight, because that’s a necessary trait during mate competition. since it’s very hard to shift strategies mid-go, males who are already fighting (non-lethally) can more easily turn to killing grimm than running away from them.
so what we’re looking at here is a world where social species live in smaller groups, where fights are more readily lethal but also easier to diffuse, and where predators trend towards patient stalks and short, fast kills.
and that’s without getting into the implications for farming and domesticated animals...