OUCH! A large African tortoise, named Freddie, nearly died after he dined on a salad of wood screws, staples, shards of glass, stones and a hunk of calk. Those crazy tortoises.But a Glendale animal hospital, The Animal Emergency Center (which calls itself “one of the nation’s first 24-hour emergency and critical care veterinary hospitals”), surgically removed the foreign objects from Freddie’s belly and even gave him a blood transfusion to keep him alive.

Freddie will be featured on a new show on the National Geographic Channel focused on, believe it or not, unusual items gobbled down by pets.

Text and Photo via http://www.milwaukeenewsbuzz.com/?p=344487

A young hippopotamus in Kenya, has formed a bond with a 100 year old tortoise. The story and photos come from a former Panamanian resident now living in Uganda.

The “baby” hippopotamus, less than a year old, survived tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast, and became attached to a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal facility in Mombassa after being rescued from the Indian Ocean.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen, weighs about 300 kilograms (650 pounds),The a male tortoise, about a century old, seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,’ said ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park .
The hippo follows the tortoise around, sleeps next to him, and gets aggressive if anyone comes near.

via www.newsroompanama.com

This is one of my favorite stories about tortoises and inter species love. its been cirulating for a while now but is honestly worth a read….They are friends to this day. There is a book about them and they are creating a special pen for the hippo as it grows so it can be with its kind but still come back and hang with its daddy tortoise. Gotta love that.

via media.npr.org

Solar Energy at the price of this little guy…

Those of you keeping track of tortoise news (come on I’m not the only one!) have likely heard about the BrightSource solar energy plant being built in California’s Mojave Desert. While the creation of such a plant seems vital to reducing oil dependence some have questioned if the venture is worth the potential demise of species of threatened tortoises and other plant and animal life.
Much debate surrounded the impact the solar plant would have on tortoises in the area, specifically the threatened desert tortoise. In order to move forward with construction, BrightSource had to agree to invest 40 million dollars in plant and animal conservation including transmitters for all tortoises, relocation of the tortoises, and the creation of a multi-acre nature preserve. Relocation cannot be done during the winter so the tortoises are currently being moved to pens to be released into their new location in the spring. Though this seems like a reasonable effort on the part of BrightSource, biologists conducting threat assessments and working on relocation efforts have stated that its not enough and that these tortoises will surely die away. Increased traffic in the area has also led to an increase in injures from encounters between the tortoises and motor vehicles.
While I hope the biologist’s are just a cynical bunch, its still hard to stomach when looking at a little guy like the one pictured. Its stories like this that remind me that when it comes to environmentalism, at this point its almost always gonna be a catch 22.

Just TRY and tell me you don’t want to snuggle that Komodo Dragon. I think it has a career as a pick pocket.

Video is a follow up to the article on animals and playtime. This is footage collected by Dr. Burghard and fellow researchers looking at Reptiles, Fish, Invertebrates and Play behavior.

Playtime (via TheScientistLLC)

Even Turtles Need Recess

A researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has published research identifying play behavior in less suspecting animals such as reptiles, fish, and even invertebrates. After observing the behaviour of a Nile soft shelled turtle named pigface, who had developed a penchant for basketball, Burghard had an “epiphany”. Play behavior did exist in animals otherwise thought to lack it, however the expectations of humans had not identified it as such on an academic level. He set out to further research this possibility, constructing a defenition of play using 5 criteria:

BURGHARDT’S FIVE CRITERIA FOR PLAY

1- Play is not fully functional in the form or context in which it is expressed.
2- Play is spontaneous, voluntary, and/or pleasurable, and is likely done for its own sake.
3- Play is incomplete, exaggerated, or precocious.
4- Play is repeated but not in exactly the same way every time, as are more serious behaviors.
5- Play is initiated when animals are well fed, healthy, and free from acute or chronic stressors.

Burghardt’s research illustrates how play is embedded in species’ biology, including in the brain. Play, as much of animals’ psychology including emotions, motivations, perceptions and intellect, is part of their evolutionary history and not just random, meaningless behavior, he said.

It may seem a bit obvious to those of us tort owners that have witnessed the antics of our shelled friends, but research surrounding the existence of play activity in reptiles specifically has been few and far between. The article, published in The Scientist (Vol 24, Issue 10, Pg 44), further examines the research presented by and spawning from Burghardt’s work. It delves into issues of anthropomorphizing, previous and current criticisms of the concept of play in these animals, as well as the contexts in which play can occur.

Critiques will abound I’m sure, myself included as I like to pick apart research, but its worth a read. I’m sure I’ll further dissect this article in my academic whining tumblr, but till then check out the article: Recess – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/10/1/44/1/#ixzz13QhwLLym

(Source: ScienceDaily – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019132045.htm via The Scientist)