Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Book of Animal Ignorace" II

When I took this book into Thurs. Writers, six of the eight members present jotted down the title to buy themselves a copy. Clearly, I'm onto a good thing so --

Bats: Bats have "nursing roosts" and there might be more than 1,500 baby bats in it, but mamma bat, using sound and scent, goes right to hers. Bats (much like cats, I'd say) spend up to an hour a day grooming themselves. They rub their wings with an oil secreted in their faces.

If our fingers grew in proportion to a bat's, our fingers would be 7 ft. long and thinner than a knitting needle.

Vampire bats, movies notwithstanding, feed mostly on cattle, horses, tapirs (not too many in our neighborhood) and turkeys. If a bat did bite you (extremely unlikely) it would go for your big toe!

Bears: They don't go into hibernation per se; it's more of a torpor in that their temperature, respiration and metabolic rates don't change. They're like this for seven (7) months when they don't eat, drink, urinate or defecate. Mothers have even given birth to cubs in this state! "Sleep like a log" needs to be change -- "Sleep like a bear"!

Beavers: Until I read this - "A fully-grown beaver is about the size of an 8 yr. old child" - I thought of them as cute, Disneyesque-type animals. Their teeth are bright orange (!) The enamel contains iron (for extra strength) and the teeth never stop growing.

"Busy beaver"? In winter, the average beaver only leaves its lodge once every two weeks. (Book didn't say where they went or why.) In spring and fall, the tail doubles in size (stored fat) but shrinks during winter as the fat is used up.

In 1760 the College of Physicians and Faculty of Divinity in Paris classified the beaver as a fish because of its scaly tail. This meant that French settlers in North America could officially eat beaver during Lent! Beaver tail is said to taste like roast beef ...

Bees: Bees and cows are the only human food providers in nature. Archaologists have tasted it and said that 3,000 year old honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs is still edible.

Cane Toads: There are 100 million of them in Australia. They were imported from Hawaii to eat the cane beetles who were ravaging crops. Big mistake. Their front line expands at a rate of 35 miles per year.

Cane Toads are extremely poisonous. Australian museums display snakes that died so quickly that the toad is still in their mouths (like this is such a bad thing?) Their poison is so strong that a dog who drinks water from a bowl the toad walked through will get sick. Now "toad-busters" go to known watering holes and scoop up as many as 40,000/week. They are then gassed or deep-frozen to death and turned into liquid fertilizer (called "ToadJus.")

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