Rats prefer saving drowning fellow rats to chocolate


This video from England is called Brown Rats at Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire – 15th November 2014.

This video from Japan says about itself:

Rat Saves Its Soaked Cage Mate

13 May 2015

A rat helps its cage mate escape from a distressing room filled with water. (Credit: Sato, N. et. al./Springer)

From Wildlife Extra:

Rats will help to save fellow rats in trouble

Far from deserting a sinking ship, rats will help save a mate from possible drowning

Researchers have found that rats are more altruistic than previously thought and will save other members of their species even if doing so is not particularly to its advantage.

For example, if one rat is in danger of drowning, another will extend a helping paw to rescue it. This seemed to be especially true for rats that had experience of a similar dangerous situation themselves, says Nobuya Sato and colleagues of the Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, published in Springer’s journal Animal Cognition.

Sato’s team conducted three sets of experiments involving a pool of water. Rats dislike being soaked but one swimming in the pool could only gain access to a dry and safe area in the cage if its cagemate opened a door for it.

The team found that rats quickly learned that to help their fellow rat they had to open the door, and they only opened the door when there was actually a distressed cagemate nearby who needed to be saved.

The experiments also showed that those rats which had a previous experience of being immersed in water were much quicker at learning how to save a cagemate than those who had not been immersed.

The researchers also watched what happened when rats had to choose between opening the door to help their distressed cagemate or accessing a different door to obtain a chocolate treat for themselves.

In most cases, rats chose to help their cagemate before going for the food. According to Sato this suggests that, for a rat, the relative value of helping others is of greater benefit than a food reward.

The results indicate that rats show empathy and can share in the emotional state of members of their own species.

“Our findings suggest that rats can behave prosocially and that helper rats may be motivated by empathy-like feelings towards their distressed cagemate,” says Sato, who believes that studies of sociality, such as empathy in rodents, are important for understanding the underlying neural basis of prosocial behavior as well as evolutionary aspects.

See also here.

Water vole news from Britain


This is a water vole video from Britain (featuring a mallard).

From Wildlife Articles in Britain:

Efforts to Increase UK Water Vole Numbers Prove Successful.

by Laura Coyle

May 13, 2015

With numbers as low as 220,000 in 2004, it is thought that the UK’s water vole population has plummeted by more than 90% since the 1960s.

The cause of this decline is largely due to American mink – water voles’ biggest predators. In 1929, American mink were brought to the UK for fur farming but subsequently escaped into the wild resulting in the water vole now being nationally-protected mammal and one of the UKs fastest declining mammals.

Efforts have been made to help stop the decline with traps being issued to farmers and landowners in East Yorkshire to help to reduce the amount of escaped minks and boost water vole populations.

So far, the traps have proven successful with reports showing that traps in Tophill Low Nature Reserve, near Driffield, had caught 4 mink in 1 month, a substantial increase in comparison to the previously reported 1 every 6 months.

The Canal & River Trust, in 2014, planned to “create vole-friendly soft banking and a reed bed on the Essex and Hertfordshire border”, along the River Stort. The hope for this new habitat was that it would give the voles a place to burrow and hide from predators such as mink.

In 2014, it was reported that, for the first time in 20 years, water voles were recorded in the Scottish Highlands. The voles were spotted at RSPB Scotland’s Insh Marsh reserve in Badenoch and Strathspey.

This re-introduction in Scotland is thought to be due to the Scottish Mink Initiative who, since 2011, has eradicated mink from Northern Scotland, including the Cairngorms National Park and Insh Marshes which has subsequently allowed water voles to re-establish themselves.

Hedgehog and mouse, video


This video is about a mouse, trying to join a young hedgehog at eating.

Mrs. A.Sanders from the Netherlands made this video.

Beaver gnaws on tree, video


This video shows a beaver, gnawing on a tree in the Netherlands.

Gerrit Last made the video.

What Dutch cats eat


This video says about itself:

Alpine Accentor – Prunella collaris – Alpenheggenmus / full video / Zeebrugge – Belgium / 8-5-2012

Full video of this mega rarity for Belgium.

Showing extremely well (pruning, singing, showing underside of wing and tail).

Dutch site Waarneming.nl reports about 3000 wild animals, caught by Dutch domestic cats.

They write about the cats’ prey (translated):

The majority (94%) are mammals (in particular shrews and mice), but also birds (5%), reptiles, amphibians and insects are reported. Of the 27 reported species of mammals wood mice (number=784), greater white-toothed shrew (n=653) and common vole (n=580) were reported most often. Also some national rarities have been reported like water shrewbicoloured white-toothed shrew, yellow-necked mouse, black rat and root vole.

Furthermore, bats with 19 individuals and four species were also occasionally found as prey. Also with the birds some rarities were reported like Alpine accentor, wryneck and a rare species like the jack snipe. Also 5 grass snakes are surely worth mentioning.

Saudi war on Yemen, dangerous escalation


This Reuters video says about itself:

Yemen air strikes kill at least 23 in factory – residents

1 April 2015

An air strike on Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodaida hits a factory, killing at least 23 in what appeared to be one of the biggest losses of civilian life in Saudi-led campaign. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Robert Fisk

Thursday 2 April 2015

Yemen crisis: What will Saudi Arabia do when – not if – things go wrong in their war with the Shia Houthi rebels?

They might ask the Pakistanis to send part of their vast army into the cauldron – but that would not be adding oil to the fire. It would be adding fire to the oil

The depth of the sectarian war unleashed in Yemen shows itself in almost every Gulf Arab official statement and in the official press.

The Saudis take it as read that Iranian forces are actually present in Yemen to assist the Shia Houthis. There are Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon with the Houthis. Iran is itself behind the Houthi uprising.

The Houthis are of the Zaidi tendency within Shia Islam; much closer to Sunni Islam than the Iranian state version of Shia Islam is. But facts never seem to deter conspiracy theorists.

One Kuwaiti journalist calls the Houthi rebels “rats”. As usual in Arab wars, real evidence has gone out of the window.

Another journalist, the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti Arab Times, Ahmed al-Jarallah, concluded a political tribute to King Salman of Saudi Arabia with the observation that “leaders of the (Saudi) coalition for virtue and stability in Yemen and the region made their point through their offensive against the tunnel and vice of conspiracy where the bats of extremism, enmity and division incubate”.

1. Supporters of of the Saudi, Kuwaiti, etc. dictatorships should not use terms of abuse for people disagreeing with those dictatorships.

2. ‘Rats‘ and ‘bats‘ should not be used as terms of abuse.

Look at this video about how interesting rats can be.

This video says about itself:

Why do naked mole rats live so long?

6 December 2011

Naked mole-rats can live for more than thirty years in captivity, far more than than other rodents. What is more they don’t appear to get cancer. We don’t know why they live so long, but sequencing the naked mole rat genome might give some clues. In this video we hear from Dr Chris Faulkes from Queen Mary, London University. Chris has a colony of mole rats in London and showed them to me during our interview. We’ve uploaded a transcript of the full interview to give you even more insights into naked mole rats and what their unique biology can reveal.

And look at this video about how interesting bats can be.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Bat Biology in Pennsylvania. Part 1 of 2

17 February 2010

A day in the field with Pennsylvania biologist Greg Turner. Filmed in an iron ore mine near Danville PA. Film and music by Van Wagner.

And bats, though they fly, are placental mammals, not birds. So they don’t ‘incubate’ any eggs, Mr Ahmed al-Jarallah.

The Robert Fisk article continues:

“Rats” and “incubation” – that’s the kind of language sectarian wars also produce. No-one in the wealthy Gulf states has asked if Saudi Arabia is entering the Yemen war simply because it does not want another Shia state on its border – after the Americans “liberated” Iraq and installed a Shia government in Baghdad. Saudi generals talk of massive casualties among the Houthis – they still say they have not killed civilians, even though they use the tired phrase “collateral damage” in their denials. No-one challenges the boasts of its victory – or dares to mention that this extraordinary coalition is a Sunni force fighting Shia.

At a Syrian refugee conference in Kuwait this week, the Saudis were lauded for their generosity in pledging $60m for homeless and destitute Syrians out of a total of $3.8bn of promised aid world wide. No-one was ungenerous enough to mention that the Saudis bought $67bn worth of weapons from the US in 2011-12.

With that kind of money you might be able to buy up most of the protagonists in the Syrian war and get them to agree on a ceasefire. But this is the figure that makes sense of the Yemen war.

That, and the fact that Pakistan is part of this extraordinary coalition. Pakistan is a nuclear power – “Saudi Arabia’s nuclear bomb outside Saudi Arabia”, as one conference delegate bleakly put it in Kuwait.

There are 8,000 Pakistani troops based in the Saudi kingdom. And Pakistan is one of the most corrupt and unstable nations in South-west Asia. Bringing Pakistan – widely believed to have shipped second-hand weapons to anti-government rebels in Syria via Saudi Arabia – into the Yemen conflict is not adding oil to the fire. It’s adding fire to the oil.

Iran has maintained a diplomatic silence. When Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal accused Iran of supporting the destabilisation of Yemen, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned that the Saudi attack was a “strategic mistake”, a comparatively mild reaction.

Perhaps that is what you expected to hear when the Iranian minister’s nation was still trying to persuade the Americans to lift sanctions against Tehran. Or perhaps he actually meant what he said, which means that the Saudis may find it to have been easier starting a war in Yemen than ending one.

But outside the Gulf, there are sectarian Sunni-Shia conflicts in Iraq, Syria, even marginally in Lebanon.

The leader of the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, scored a point in his own country when he asked why the Saudis were prepared to fight the Houthis with their huge forces but had never raised the sword to fight for the Palestinians.

Saudis are being told to regard their country’s struggle as a decision even more important than Saudi Arabia’s appeal to the US to send troops to the land of the Two Holy Mosques in 1990 – a view Osama bin Laden might have disagreed with.

What is less clear, however, is where Washington stands amid all this rhetorical froth in the Gulf and real dead bodies in Yemen. There have been reports in the Arab states that US drone attacks have been made as part of the coalition’s battle in Yemen, that American intelligence has been pin-pointing targets for the Saudis (with the usual civilian casualties). There was a time when America’s war in Yemen seemed to be just part of the whole War on Terror fandango throughout the Middle East. Not any more.

And what of Israel? In Kuwait, Arabs privately agreed that Saudi fears of Iran’s nuclear potential suited Israel very well – although there has been no evidence in the Gulf that Israel heartily supported the Saudis to the point of sending them a message of approval over the Yemen assault.

But with the US an ally of both countries, this would be unnecessary. What we now have to learn is what the Saudis will do when – not if – things go wrong.

Ask the Pakistanis to send part of their vast army into the cauldron? Or ask their Egyptian allies to earn their pocket money from Riyadh by sending their soldiers to the land which the greatest of all Egyptian presidents once retreated from with deep regret: a man called Gamel Abdul Nasser.

British Government Refuses to Rule Out UK Sending Drones to Bomb Yemen: here.

Red squirrel at bird feeder, video


This video is about a red squirrel at a bird feeder in the Netherlands.