White ‘red’ squirrel, video


This video shows a red squirrel feeding on nuts in a garden in the Netherlands.

Err … ‘red’ squirrel … this individual is white.

Theo van Mullekom made this video.

New porcupine species discovery in Brazil


This video is about a North American porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum.

After the discovery, earlier this year, of another new tree porcupine species in another part of Brazil, Wildlife Extra writes now:

New species of porcupine discovered in Brazil

December 2013: A new species of porcupine has been discovered in Brazil by biologists from the Federal University of Paraíba. Named Coendou baturitensis it is a medium-sized prehensile-tailed porcupine with a body densely covered with tricolour quills that belongs to the Coendou genus.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are nocturnal, herbivorous, solitary rodents native to Central and South America and measure 0.7-1 m long including the tail and weigh about 3-5kg. They feed on bark, leaves and buds as well as fruit and root vegetables. Their most noticeable feature is their long, unspined tail, which they use it as a fifth limb to helps them hold on to branches as they climb through the forest canopy.

The new species, Coendou baturitensis, only known habitat is the Baturité Range in the Brazilian state of Ceará.

“The name refers to the locality of origin, a forests on a mountain range similar to the Brejos de Altitude of the Brazilian Northeast where a fauna different from that of the surrounding semiarid Caatinga can be found,” co-authors Dr Anderson Feijó and Dr Alfredo Langguth wrote in the paper published in the journal Revista Nordestina de Biologia.

See also here.

Good English red squirrel news


This video from Scotland is called RED SQUIRREL SANCTUARY [www.red-squirrels.co.uk].

From Wildlife Extra:

Red squirrels in Merseyside show signs of resistance to deadly disease

November 2013: Red squirrels could be capable of building up a resistance to the devastating disease squirrel pox that has decimated their numbers, scientists have found.

A study by the University of Liverpool has found that the red squirrel population along the Sefton coastline in Merseyside seems to be recovering from a serious outbreak of squirrel pox in 2008. Along with Lancashire Wildlife Trust researchers have been monitoring the red squirrel population at the Seaforth Coastal reserve, which had fallen by 85 percent as a result of the outbreak.

Dr Julian Chantrey, from the Institute of Integrative Biology, said: “We have had a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of the squirrelpox disease. So far, our findings indicate that they are recovering from the disease which affected them so severely in 2008. There are even indications that a few of the surviving squirrels appear to have antibody to the virus, which would suggest that they have recovered from infection in the past.

“More recently, we have identified a red squirrel that recovered naturally from squirrel pox and was released back into the population. However, at this stage, there is insufficient evidence to say whether there is significant resistance in the population as a whole to prevent another pox outbreak.”

Squirrel pox is a potentially fatal disease which affects red squirrel populations in the UK and is thought that to be a significant factor in the decline of the red squirrel population. It is a member of the pox virus family and is passed to red squirrels from grey squirrels, which rarely die from the disease. The disease causes scabby lesions on the squirrel’s body, including the eyes, ears,and fore and hind paws, and suppresses the immune system.

Ice age hyena coprolite research in the Netherlands


This video is called Extinct hyenas tribute.

At the moment, in Naturalis museum in Leiden in the Netherlands, there is research about hyenas, living about 35,000 years ago in what is now the North Sea, but was land then.

The research involves investigating fossil hyena excrement, called coprolites, with scanners. The coprolites indicate what the hyenas ate.

Among the finds so far in the coprolites is an Alpine marmot piece of bone. And a burying beetle shield. Scientists are still investigating which beetle species in the Nicrophorus genus that was. Had the beetle, like the hyena, been attracted by a dead mammoth?

The researchers found pollen of various plants in the coprolites as well. Mainly pollen of marsh plants, indicating that the hyenas lived in a wetland environment.

Beaver swimming, video


This is a video of a beaver swimming near Exloo, Drenthe province, the Netherlands. Jorrit Iepema made this video.

Alaska’s Rat Island, a bird island again


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Achieving Balance: Anacapa Island Ten Years After the Removal of the Black Rat

6 March 2013

Ten years after removing nonnative rats the ecosystem on Anacapa Island, including rare seabirds, is showing profound results of recovery.

Ashy storm-petrels are nesting on the island for the first time ever recorded and Cassin’s auklets have expanded their territories in the absence of rats as predators. Significantly, the number of Scripps’s murrelets nests has quadrupled with a 50 percent increase of eggs hatched.

Rats are known to have negative impacts to island ecosystems. Rats are the most significant cause of bird extinctions on islands and are estimated to be responsible for half of bird and reptile extinctions worldwide.

Nonnative black rats, which were first reported on Anacapa Island in the early 1900s, threatened critical breeding habitat for these rare seabirds. They were eating approximately 70 percent of the eggs of the once common Scripps’s murrelet, a state-listed threatened species. They also preyed upon native deer mice, reptiles, insects, intertidal invertebrates, and plants.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rat Island cleared of rats after 230 year infestation

Rat Island is officially rat free

October 2013. Biologists have confirmed that Rat Island, a remote island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, is now rat-free for the first time for 230 years. The report comes after two years of careful field monitoring at Rat Island, where the invasive predator caused major declines on native bird populations by preying on eggs and chicks and altered the native ecosystem in numerous ways.

Largest rat eradication in Northern Hemisphere

Restoring habitat on Rat Island to benefit native wildlife is the largest rat eradication ever undertaken in the Northern Hemisphere and the first in Alaska. The eradication of the non-native rats took place in September of 2008 after four years of planning. The restoration of the 10-square-mile island was accomplished by Island Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

7,000 acres reclaimed for wildlife

“Rat Island is the most ambitious restoration effort we’ve undertaken on a refuge island, and we couldn’t have done it without our partners,” said Geoff Haskett, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Nearly 7,000 acres of wildlife refuge habitat has been reclaimed for native wildlife and that is an exciting result.

Giant song sparrow increases

Biologists have confirmed increased numbers of at least one native bird after just two rat-free nesting seasons on the island. The giant song sparrow, found only in the central and western Aleutian Islands, is now commonly occurring on Rat Island. Song sparrows were only rarely seen on the island prior to the restoration. Other species confirmed nesting on the island and expected to benefit from rat removal include black oystercatchers, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots, rock sandpipers, common eiders, red faced cormorants and gray-crowned rosy finches. Over the long term, burrow nesting seabirds, driven from the island by rats, are expected to return and re-colonize the island.

“The presence of nesting birds is deeply gratifying,” says Bill Waldman, executive director of the non-profit Island Conservation. “Our field team was overjoyed to see so many song sparrows this year after working on the island for several years with only an occasional glimpse of one.”

Arrived in 1780

Though Rat Island is a remote island in the Aleutian chain about 1,300 miles west of Anchorage, invasive Norway rats arrived via a 1780′s shipwreck preying on native birds and altering the native vegetation during the ensuing 220 years. The Rat Island restoration is the most recent project in a long campaign to restore otherwise healthy seabird habitat in the Aleutians.

“We’re incredibly pleased to see this fresh new start for Rat Island,” said Randy Hagenstein, director of The Nature Conservancy in Alaska. “In the Aleutians, great clouds of seabirds normally fill the skies over islands teeming with life. The rats’ devastation had turned Rat Island into an eerily quiet place.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been at work in the Aleutian Islands, most of which lies within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, restoring seabird habitat by eradicating non-native species for more than four decades. Non-native foxes have been taken off over 40 islands in the refuge including Rat Island but this was the first rat eradication for the refuge.

Stop Rats!

To ensure that invasive rats don’t spread to other globally significant seabird habitats in Alaska, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads the ongoing Stop Rats! campaign to help ships, harbours, and towns to prevent the spread of rats.

“The history of Rat Island shows we need to prevent future disasters caused by invasive species. Alaska is almost entirely rat-free, and it’s absolutely vital we work together to keep it this way. Birds that build nests on the ground – such as ducks, seabirds and songbirds – simply can’t defend their eggs and chicks from non-native predators such as rats,” said Haskett, Alaska Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

300 successful rat eradication programmes

Island habitat restorations are occurring across the globe. Worldwide, there have been more than 300 successful eradications involving invasive rodents. Rats are responsible for about half of all bird and reptile extinctions on island habitats.

In 2008, the Rat Island Wildlife Habitat Restoration team spread grain-based bait pellets across the island from helicopters flying a GPS-guided flight path.

Two years of monitoring following international standards revealed no sign of rats. Although initial non-target mortality was higher than expected, no sign of any additional bird mortality was observed in 2010 and populations of affected bird species are already recovering on Rat Island.

With the rats gone, restoration partners and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association agree that an Aleut (Unangan), name would be a fitting tribute to the restored island. APIA is now taking steps to enact a name change. Once a name is selected, it will await approval from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

Red squirrels playing, video


This is a video about three red squirrels, playing tag around a tree in the Netherlands.

Aaron van den Elsen made this video.

Red squirrels in Zeeland: here.

Greek austerity kills Mickey Mouse


Mickey Mouse magazine in Greece

After our item on blind rodents, immune to cancer, another rodent. Not blind at all: quite big eyes. Immune to cancer too, as far as I know. However, not immune to the economic race to the bottom of “austerity” which destroys health care, education etc. in Greece and elsewhere.

Many Greek parents who used to be able to afford both health care and Mickey Mouse magazines for their children are unable to pay for either by now.

From Keep Talking Greece blog today:

Mickey Mouse fells victim of the Greek crisis

The Greek crisis swallows another famous victim: Mickey Mouse. After 48 years of publishing the Mickey Mouse magazines in Greek, Christos Terzopoulos announced the stop of the publication.

The Greek edition of Mickey Mouse was published by Nea Aktina S.A. from 1 July 1966 until August 2013.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras Should Resign: here.

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