Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chiroptera Spotlight: Silver-Haired Bat

I was surprised to discover that I never did a spotlight for bats. I actually really like them, so it is about time I do something about it. The silver-haired bat is a species of vesper bat that can be found nearly in every single place in the USA as well in some of the southern provinces of Canada. Sizewise: this bat can have a length of nearly 4 inches. they have a tail length of 1.5 inches.

The silver-haired bat lives mainly in trees in large groups. This is called their roost. They keep close together for warmth and make a lot of noise at each other. I've heard that most of these noises are them complaining to each other about food shortages or overcrowding. I am not sure if the latter is true, but if it is, it really does add a lot of character to them.

As far as food, these bats will fly about tracking various flying insects--suck as moths--with a process called echo location. This basically means that they cry out and listen to where the sound bounces off of which gives them a picture of where the insect is. This ability is important since this creature is nocturnal. Once, the bat gets a good lock on the insect, it will swoop down and gobble it up mid-fight. It can do this for hours at a time before it is satisfied.

As far as reproduction, silver-haired bats will actually copulate mid-flight. They will then find a secluded place--such as a cave--and hibernate during the 50 to 60 day gestation period. The couple will give birth two 2 offspring and it is nearly always a male and a female. The mother will wrap their children up in their wings for warmth, and I think that is very cute.

In fiction, the most notable silver-haired bat would be from the book "Silverwing" by Kenneth Oppal. Although this book featured quite a large number of bat species, the main character Shade was a silver-haired bat. He was also a runt that had a major task ahead of him which required much bravery. This book was later made into a TV series. It lasted one season with 13 episodes total. I am currently reading the book, and it is very good.

These particular bats are some of the most common around the country. I do see them as contrary to themselves in that they love being together in large groups, yet they do seem to complain about all the crowding in the area. Sounds to me like a bickering family that loves each other despite the frustrations of always being together. That's how I see them as characters.

I'll see if I can find some other bats to spotlight. Until then, have a look at these pictures!

Thanks for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Screech!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crustacean Spotlight: Japanese Spider Crab

Most everyone knows what a crab is. We usually see a little shelled creature with spindly legs that walks sideways. A crab is a crab when it comes down to it, but what makes the Japanese spider crab so amazing shall become apparent very soon.

The gimmick of these fellows are found within its description. The main body of the Japanese spider crab--shell and all--can grow as large as 16 inches in width. That is pretty big for a crab, but watch out! The legs of this creature can grow as long as 18 feet. That makes this crab the largest in the world.

This crab can be found off the southern coast of the Japanese island Honshū. They can often be found in depths as low as almost 2000 feet. They enjoy inhabiting vents or holes deep below the water's surface.

The long legs are used by the females to carry their larvae. The larvae develop in these pouches for up to 72 days at which point they will develop into something much more like a crab; however, they tend not to look anything like the parent until much later. Additionally, the Japanese spider crab is an omnivore and will feed on whatever plant and animal matter they can get a hold of.

So the main thing about this crab is how large and spooky it looks. I did not really go into this with a fictional character in mind. I was thinking more like alien invasion. Can you imagine a swarm of these creatures crawling towards you? There is something intensely alien about them. They remind me of odd things I have seen in movies and games--such as the alien ships in War of the Worlds and the striders from Half-Life 2. It is very possible that this creature has inspired such fiction. I beg you to consider the possibility.

For now, you should have a look at these marvelous picture. The ones with humans in them are best because it provides a size comparison. How creepy they are! I love it!

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feliformia Spotlight: Canadian Lynx

I'll get straight to the point with this one. The Canadian lynx has really large paws. Although this is a trait for most lynxes, this was the one I found first. I'm pretty much playing first-come-first-serve here. Let's have a look at these pretty cats and their paws.

The Canadian lynx is a big cat. They measure as much as 39 inches from head to tail and can stand as high as 22 inches tall. They have extremely short tails. The heaviest they can get is about 40 pounds. The coat is generally yellowish brown but can sometimes be grey. They have black fur shooting up from their tips of their ears which is an iconic symbol for these animals. I am personally fond of their extremely large paws on both the front and back. Even as kittens, those paws are quite large. As would be expected, this animal can be found all over Canada; however, they are often spotted in some northern states of the US.

This animal really loves to eat a particular kind of hare called the snowshoe hare. If these animals are in the area, they are pretty much all the Canadian lynx is going to hunt for. This creature is known for going as far as 5 miles a day for its food; however, if it cannot find any of the type of hare that it wants, the Canadian lynx will settle for other animals such as ducks, grouse, moles, red squirrels, voles, and young deer.

Mating is particularly interesting with the Canadian lynx. The female is only able to mate for a few days somewhere between March and May. She broadcasts that she is ready by urinating. When a male find her, he understands time is of the essence. For this reason, he will breed with the female over and over again until the job is done. In most cases, the two will mate for six times in one hour. Gestation is 64 days and the litter ranges from one to four kittens; however, if they are in an area where prey is abundant, the female can give birth to many more.

The Canadian lynx's paws, as I have mentioned, are super big. The reason for this is due to them being broadened by wide-spaced metatarsals. They can spread as wide as 4 inches. This allows them to move very quickly and easily through the snow. For me, I just enjoy looking at them. They are very lovely-looking paws.

In fiction, I see the lynx being a very large and friendly beast. He is more than comfortable shaking hands with people. After all, he has the hands to do it with. At dinner he is probably a picky eater but can bend if the company so wishes him to. Sex life happens in short bursts. He'll literally go a whole year in a platonic relationship when suddenly a three day sex party happens at his house between him and his girlfriend. Everyone wonders why he comes to work the next day with his shirt on backwards. Of course, his response would be something like, "I'll tell you when your older, kid."

Have a look at these creatures! I'm pretty sure your cat doesn't have paws these big. Even without the paws, they are beautiful to look at.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Meow!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mollusk Spotlight: Jorunna Parva

Despite their popularity in Japan, there is very little information about this creature on the internet. Most of them are simply pictures, but in this case, the pictures really are the whole story. Here is why. The Jorunna parva is often referred to as a "sea bunny." The reason for this is because sometimes this mollusk can look amazingly similar to a cute, little bunny rabbit. But it is far from a rabbit. It is actually a kind of slug. Can a slug look like a bunny? The answer is a resounding... sometimes!

The Jorunna parva looks most like a rabbit when it is fat and white in color. It has a pair of protruding organs known as a rhinophore which are its main sensory organs in the water. It translates chemical changes around them into biological signals in which it can interpret; however, they also look very much like cute bunny ears. What appears to be bunny fur all over its body is actually something called caryophillidia which are tiny needle-like sensory tubes. But when they are white, they look very much like soft fur.

These sea bunnies are also hermaphrodites. This basically means that each Jorunna parva has both male and female sex organs. When they mate, the transfer happens both ways at the same time. Yes, it is very easy for them to become pregnant which is fine with me. We need more cute stuff in the world. It is also a good thing since the sea bunny does not live very long. Although they can live up to one full year, most do not make it past 2 months.

The Jorunna parva should never be eaten. They tend to feed on poisonous sea life and re-purpose the toxins for its own defense. This is similar to the sea swallow I spotlighted some time ago. In that same vein, they can destroy jellyfish and steal the stingers away for their own use. Very clever!

There is no fiction for the Jorunna parva, and I'm not really sure how one should be presented. I did not really find much information on their behavior. What I did find was hard fought for, and I am happy to have the privilege to present it to you. In this case, I really should just defer you to the images. These are one of those animals that thrive on being adored at a distance, and I want you to adore them just the same. Check out these wonderful little bunnies of the sea!

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Cute!

Alternate color that still looks good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Feliformia Spotlight: Pallas's Cat

I'm not sure where I ran into this one, but I recently came across a cat from the grasslands and steppes of Central Asia that has gained my interest. The Pallas's cat is just such a creature. You'll notice that the name Pallas is a proper noun which signifies that it was either named after a place or a person. In this case, the cat was named after the man who first described it in 1776, German naturalist Simon Pallas. Now, let's get to its physical characteristics.

The Pallas's cat has a body length of up to 26 inches long with a tail as big as 12.2 inches. They can way as much as 9.9 pounds. It is generally no bigger than a domestic cat. This cat is very stocky with a rather full coat. The designs and colors vary here and there based on the season. The ears of the Pallas's cat are set low and wide apart which give the face its distinctive appearance. You might also look at their eyes. They have round pupils as apposed to the elongated ones that most cats seem to possess. Additionally, this cat has very long canine teeth which are quite visible when it opens its maw.

Pallas's cats are solitary creatures. They generally make homes out of small caves and rock crevices. These felines won't come out until they are ready to hunt in the late afternoon. They may also come out to investigate anomalies, and this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the creature. We'll get into that in a moment.

Breeding time is remarkably short--measured in only hours. Once pregnant, gestation lasts about 75 days, and the female will give birth to between 2 and 6 kittens. There is a high mortality rate because of the harshness of their environments, and these large litters are a way of adapting to it. They can begin hunting in about 4 months.

Much of their behavior, I observed from videos. Pallas's cats tend to become very quirky when they get either curious or suspicious. One of the most amusing things that they will do is play peek-a-boo behind a rock as if taking quick glances at whatever it is that caught their attention. They may move forward quite quickly only to stop on a dime. Their movements are certainly very bizarre but nonetheless fun to watch. It also adds to their silliness that they always look rather terrified. Their eyes rarely blink, and they seem to stare in one direction for a long time before suddenly twitching to another. Any movement will cause them to look towards it but constantly twitch back to the original interest as if they are afraid of being sneaked up on. It is marvelous to watch.

Another thing that I noticed in the videos was how the kittens will try to copy their parents. In one example, a parent came out of a cave and sat very still at the entrance. Soon, the kitten comes out and would constantly look up at its parent trying to copy the posture. The constant glancing at its role model was adorable to me.

There are no Pallas's cats in fiction that I know of. I can't help but find humor in the twitchy way they move. I almost see them as spies that are very, VERY bad at their jobs. They constantly sneak from pillar to pillar, peeking out over and over as they try and get a lock on their enemy. The idea is very cartoony, I know. Perhaps, Inspector Clouseau had a little Pallas inside of him by how silly he operated in his missions.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of the eccentric Pallas's cat. They are a fun and enjoyable feline with quirky habits. I am very happy to have stumbled over one. More to come.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Mrow!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Canine Spotlight: Shiba Inu

Is there a dog who acts more like a cat? Yes! The shiba inu is just such a puppy. Plus they are fun to look at. We should have a look at them right now, in fact.

The shiba inu is considered a domestic dog of the canus lupis variety. They are the smallest of the six original and distinct spitz breeds. They only stand at 17 inches tall and weigh up to 22 pounds. They are well-muscled with a double coat. The latter refers to its over and undercoat--the over being stiff and straight with the undercoat being soft and thick. The shiba inu also has a tail that curls back on itself. They originate from Japan; however, they have been exported to all parts of the world.

The most common color for the shiba inu is a cream color with white running down its face, neck and belly. They can also be red, black, and tan. They have very expressive faces that can show a wide range of emotion, but there are also actions that back these expressions up.

Unlike most domestic dogs who are quite submissive, the shiba inu is an independent animal who asks for as much respect as it gives. They are quite intelligent which makes them extremely easy to train; however, they may act out a revolt if they feel treated unfairly. With a good dog/human relationship, that is not likely to happen.

Similar to cats, shiba inus will groom themselves by licking. They can also be trained to go to the bathroom without needing to be walked. They can occasionally become aggressive. This is due to the creature having a strong prey drive. This is yet another aspect that places them near the realm of felines. In fact, they are so similar to cats, that they actually get along with them better than other dogs. Submissive dogs tend to annoy the shiba inu in a way that mimics a class system. They feel superior to them. Unfortunately, they feel similarly about little children, so it would be best to keep a shiba inu out of the house if you have kids.

Probably the most remarkable aspect of the shiba inu is something widely refereed to as the "shiba scream." This creature does not bark when it tries to communicate. Instead, it releases a high pitched screech that I am told is very hard on the ears. It actually rivals the famous "goat scream" in many respects. I encourage you to click the YouTube link below which shows a shiba inu being given a bath--which they do not enjoy, by the way. This scream is commonly emitted when the dog wants something dearly or when it is generally upset with its own situation.

Click here to hear the "shiba scream."

Shiba inus appear in movies from time to time, but there are few times where they are the actual star. The most obvious one I ran into was the 2009 movie "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" starring Richard Gere. I have not seen this film, however, and will simply leave you with a picture.

My personal view of shiva inus in fiction cast them as snobbish fellows who detest being around stupid people. They are intelligent and well read; however, they have a terrible, screaming temper when things do not go their way. Otherwise, they are harmless and won't cross any major boundaries of society other than making a scene.

As a side note, I decided to do a shiba inu spotlight because my hyena-loving friend seemed to mention them with eagerness. I am happy to bring these interesting animals to the forefront. Stay tuned for more!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. WAHHH!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Canine Spotlight: Egyptian Jackal/Egyptian Wolf

Traditionally, this particular animal had been known as the Egyptian jackal, but recent studies have shown them to be related closer to wolves. That is the reason I have two different names up in the title. In truth, this is a spotlight for only one animal. Now, I don't have a lot of research on this creature, but the fiction based off of it is really where this blog is going to shine.

Let's start with the facts. The Egyptian jackal is 64 inches from head to tail tip with a shoulder height of 20 inches. Their coat is thin and can be colored with gray, beige, or dirty yellow. It's considerably larger and longer-limbed than most jackals. They can be found in northern, eastern, and western Africa.

These animals are nocturnal and are omnivorous. They are not picky eaters and will pretty much eat anything they can fit into their mouths, and they will also go after larger prey such as young goats. The Egyptian jackal makes about as much noise as a domestic dog. They bark to get attention and growl when they are irritated. They form packs and often live in pairs.

Breeding occurs in the spring with a gestation period of 2 months. The litter usually has up to 5 pups but can also be as many as 8. This animal is also listed as CR (Critically Endangered) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That is two slots away from being entirely extinct. In truth, it is believed that there may be only forty left in the wild.

That's all I have.

Now, for fiction, we simply need to look to the Egyptian god known as Anubis. This refers to the jackal-headed god who was in charge of the dead. He was responsible for a number of tasks such as embalming for mummification. Interestingly, he would also weigh ones heart to decide if the deceased was worthy to travel into the land of the dead. He would also protect the graves and tombs of those interred.

Although, I'm only just finding this out, I have an Egyptian jackal in one of my stories; however, in this case I call him a wolf--which is still correct. I have always had a very odd view of mythology like this and implemented it into a story about this wolf. In my unfinished story "A Wolf in my Bedroom," I attempted to present an ancient and evil creature who essentially was the basis of the original "Little Red Riding-Hood mythos. I also think there is a very good chance that the original Big Bad Wolf may have been Anubis. My version of Anubis is a terrible creature who sees humans as intelligent food. He will only let them live to use them in whatever way he pleases only to dispose of them in the manner that he desires most--the devouring of their flesh. Yes, this is my interpretation, but I am quite inspired by it. I hope you find it interesting!

I am quite sad that the Egyptian jackal are almost gone from this world. They have an impressive history and lore behind them. The fact that they are wolves was probably the coolest thing to me because it gave special credence to my Big Bad Wolf theory. Imagination is a wonderful thing and often inspired by research such as this.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Thanks!