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!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Feliformia Spotlight: Striped Hyena

I was curious if my friend wanted me to do a spotlight for another type of hyena. He thought about it and suggested the striped hyena. It seems there are quite a few fur designs among the vast array of hyena-kind, and they are all pretty unique in their behaviors too. I like them! Let's have a look at the striped hyena.

Size-wise: the striped hyena can have a body length as long as 51 inches with a tail of 15 inches. They can have a shoulder height as high as 31 inches. The iconic stripes are mainly found on their legs and around the neck but can often go up their sides as well. There is also a notable black spot in the middle of its throat. They have a large pouch of naked skin near their anus which we will discuss a little later. They are native to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Unlike the other hyenas I have spotlighted, the striped hyena usually are not found in large groups. A single or couple of them will form a den by either burrowing or taking over a vacant rock cavern. Here, they will mate monogamously and raise their offspring in this single location. 

The striped hyenas are omnivores. They mainly scavenge the corpses of formerly killed prey, and they enjoy the flesh of almost any animal they find. The exception is the vulture. For some reason, they will not touch a dead vulture unless desperate. When they find food, they will engorge themselves until entire satisfied. If they have pups back at the den, they will save some and drag it back.

The striped hyena can also be easily domesticated. They were used to assist in hunting by the ancient Egyptians, and even to this day, they can be as reliable as any dog. The only problem is that they tend to smell really bad. There is a reason for this.

About those anal pouches: As might be expected, it doesn't smell very good. It produces a sort of paste that is mainly used for marking territory in place of urination. The paste is most commonly referred to as "hyena butter." And I am going to let this be my segue into the fiction portion of this spotlight.

As it turns out, much of the fiction for the striped hyena is tied up in folklore. It was believed that African witches would ride upon the striped hyenas and use its hyena butter to light their torches. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a use for just about every part of the hyena body that--when burned to ashes--would ward off evil or ensure good fertility. In India, to drink a striped hyena's blood or to eat their tongue was a source of medicine used to fight tumors. There are more stuff like this, and I must say I feel sorry for the creature. Much of the folklore seems to involve the disassembly of the striped hyena. Most of the dismemberment seems to focus on the genitals and the anal pouch which seem to have significant fertility and love enhancements, but in my opinion, this is all hogwash. I'd rather they be left alone.

These hyenas seem a bit more docile to me than the military force that was the spotted hyena. They are a tight family unit and stay together for a long time. The fact that they are easily domesticated suggests a natural friendliness. All these come together to make me see them as a hard working family type that operates comfortably outside of society--living by their wits. They can be fierce if they need to be, but they are really just trying to live peaceably as much as possible. As people, that is how I would portray them.

Well, who knows what is next to come?! Maybe, my friend has other ideas for me. Come back next week and find out!

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