Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little, Tiny, Squishy Nudibranch!


How cool! (www.northislandexplorer.com)





These tiny marine animals are squishy and adorable. They are similiar to sea slugs but not closely related. Nudibranchs are Mollusks, like Snails, Slugs, and Octopus, but have a few differences, such as their body symmetry. Their name is pronounced: nudie-brank and means "naked" + "gills".







A little Nudibranch in Fulford Harbour (credit: Gregory Gan)


I spotted these little white and orange Nudibranchs in Fulford Harbour (Salt Spring Island, B.C.). They were hanging out on a wooden wharf post, looking for their lunch. Nudibranchs eat other animals, such as Sponges and Anemones. These guys were only about 1.5 inches long, and their soft tentacle-like protrusions (called "cerata") wiggled in the water current. They were very beautiful to watch.





Nudibranchs can be very colorful and tiny:









P.S: Video to come shortly!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Woolly Bear Caterpillar!

Gregory and I have been living on Salt Spring Island for about three weeks now. Last week we went for a walk to explore the area, and ended up waking on a trail in the forest. The trail goes all the way to the top of Reginald Hill, which overlooks Fulford Harbour.

Taken by Greg at the top of the hill.

On the way there I discovered a super cute and fuzzy little animal that excited me. Gregory was taking photos along the way and managed to capture my surprise to find this little guy nestled amongst the grass blades.


Gasp! 




Sooo fuzzy!

This little caterpillar is called the Woolly Bear because it seems like they have furry bodies. It's not actually fur that's covering them and keeping them warm in the Winter, but hair-like bristles. I knelt down to get this close-up photo as the caterpillar checked out his surroundings. These caterpillars have this mass of fuzzy-like bristles because they live in cold places and live throughout the Winter. They have a special substance that keep them from freezing entirely, although they are in-active during the Winter. Once the weather gets warmer in the Spring, these fuzzy caterpillars wake up from their hibernation-like nap and start doing one thing: eating! They spend the Spring, Summer, and Fall eating, eating, and eating some more. They eats all sorts of different plants and a few years ago National Geographic said that these smart insects will eat more of a medicine-like leaf that makes their sick tummies all better. The Woolly Bear Caterpillar has a sick tummy when flies lay eggs inside the caterpillar's bellies! But, after eating this special leaf (that is related to caffeine) the fly eggs are defeated! These caterpillars live for over a decade before turning into the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Travels

Since the end of September, I've been travelling across Canada, from the East Coast to the West. I saw a lot of cute animals along the way, especially considering I stopped into the Toronto Zoo!

Here are some of my favourite animals that I've seen during my travels:


Tortoise
(at Natural History Museum, Halifax, NS)

I met this Tortoise named Gus in Halifax. He is 89 years old! Tortoises are related to Turtles, but unlike a lot of Turtles, Tortoises live on land and do not swim. A lot of Turtles either live in water (coming up for air) or close to water. But Gus here prefers the grass outside the Natural History Museum.

He also loves to munch on bananas and is quite a messy eater. Tortoises also like grass and flowers, and some like an occasional worm or insect.

A super cool things about Tortoises (and Turtles) is their amazing shell! It's connected to their bodies and acts as protection from predators, weather, and also provides a great place to sleep. Tortoises can retreat completely inside their shells, while some Turtles, such as Sea Turtles, cannot go inside their shell at all.




Gus, the Tortoise!




Black Squirrel
(in Lafontaine Park, Montreal, QC) 


I saw a lot of super cute and fuzzy Black Squirrels while in Montreal. These dark colored animals are actually Eastern Grey Squirrels, but with a different color pigment. This is the opposite of an albino animal, which are all white.

These Black Squirrels were quickly scurrying all over the park, up and down trees, and even checking out trash cans for food.

The word Squirrel can be translated into "Shadow Tail", which is equally as cute!





Deer
(on Wolfe Island, Kingston, ON) 

While visiting friends on Wolfe Island, we saw these cute wild deer in their backyard! The sun was setting and these adorable creatures were jumping about on the grass.

These are White-Tailed Deer, hence their cute little white bums and tail undersides. I love when they jump and their tail flops in the air! Male Deer have antlers and are generally bigger than female Deer. The name for a female Deer is "doe", while baby Deer are called "fawns.





Elephant
(at Toronto Zoo, ON) 

The Toronto Zoo had a lot of spectacular animals, many of which I have already written about on my blog (Red Pandas, Sea Otters, Hippos). This Elephant really enjoyed scratching themself against this pole and shortly after this photo was taken also had the biggest pee I have ever seen!

I believe this is an Asian Elephant (as opposed to an African Elephant) because African Elephants have much larger ears. I think the coolest thing about Elephants are their trunks! With their trunk they can pick up things, like branches to eat, as well as drink water, bathe themselves, and even greet their friends with a sort of handshake (wrapping their trunks together).





Raccoons
(in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC) 

I haven't seen many Raccoons in my life, until I went to Stanley Park and saw a bunch! These two in particular were hiding from the rain under a boardwalk. There were signs all over the park warning against petting or feeding them, but I still really wanted to pet a Raccoon.  Gregory tried his best to convince me that despite how cute and fuzzy they are, a Raccoon might bite me. Of course I know all the reasons not to approach wild animals, but that doesn't mean I want to cuddle them any less. Ultimately I did not pet any Raccoons, but took some cute photos instead.

I saw another pair of Raccoons swimming across a river! I couldn't believe what great little swimmers they were.







Raccoons have very sensitive little front paws, which they use for a lot of important tasks. They can inspect their food using these fuzzy paws and will even remove bits and pieces that they don't want or like. These super cuddly looking animals eat a lot of different foods, including plants and animals. 

Raccoons are also fantastic climbers.


My dreams to pet a Raccoon will still live on. In fact, I think I may write and illustrate a book about wanting to cuddle Raccoons. Perhaps in the end I'll turn into a Raccoon!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Llama Llama!




 A few weeks ago I visited a petting zoo at Lester's Farm! There were a bunch of adorable animals such as, bunnies, baby goats, sheep, cows, baby chicks, a pig, but my favorite of all was the baby Llama!






Baby Llama!


A baby Llama is also called a "cria", which is the Spanish word for "baby". Llama moms are pregnant for about 11 months and stand up while giving birth. The baby Llama can usually walk and eat within an hour of being born!




I was very excited to meet this baby Llama! I pet him and his fur was super fuzzy and soft. I also fed him some grass, which is one of their favourite snacks.






Mommy and Baby Llama!


Llamas like to be around lots of other Llamas! These animals are domesticated, meaning there are no wild Llamas. They are related to camels and were domesticated from a wild camel called a "Guanaco".

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Manta Rays!

Rays in general are amazing and beautiful creatures. Manta Rays in particular are the biggest of the Rays. They seem to glide effortlessly through the water, with graceful movements. Manta Rays are also very mysterious animals to us, because there are a lot of things that humans do not know about them.


cute and squishy!



beautiful markings on underside.



Manta Rays have unique patterns on their undersides; the colors are different depending on the area they are from. For example, Manta Rays from the eastern Pacific often have mostly black undersides, while Manta Rays from the western Pacific are usually white underneath.








Manta Rays are known to jump high out of the water! The meaning of these jumps is unknown, but possible reasons could be:


- communication with other rays
- mating ritual
- avoiding predators/disturbances
- they are just having fun!










Manta Rays nibble on plankton, krill, fish larvae, and other small organisms. They obtain their food through a filtering process as they swim. As the Manta Ray swims through the ocean, the water is filtered through its gills, trapping any particles.


Small fish often feed on parasites on the Manta Rays' skin. This is a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, where the small fish obtain food and the Manta Ray is cleaned of harmful parasites. 


Manta Rays also migrate to find food, although their exact route is unknown. 


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dragonfly!








Dragonflies are super cute insects. Because they are insects, they have 6 legs. They also have compound eyes, which means they have thousands of little eyes in one location. Dragonflies can detect movement very easily.








Dragonflies can fly really fast, up to 60 kilometers per hour! As they fly over ponds and lakes, they catch little bugs, like flies and mosquitoes, to eat. Dragonflies can also mate while flying!








Dragonflies have four beautiful wings. Today, while sunbathing next to a pond, a dragonfly landed on me! I could feel its little wings against my skin. A few years ago, a dragonfly landed on me while eating a bug!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Special Post: Cute Plants!

I realized that animals are not the only cute living things in the world, so this post is about cute plants!



My favourite plant is the Lamb's Ear because it's so soft and fuzzy. This plant has little white and purple flowers. It's originally from Turkey and Iran, but can now be found in warm places all over the world. Many people tend to like it because of the soft, fuzzy leaves.



The leaves are extremely soft!



The plant is called "Lamb's Ear" because the leaves are covered in soft white hair.

These plants are sometimes considered "invasive", because they grow so easily in many places and can spread very quickly.










Another one of my favourite plants is the Dandelion. A lot of people dislike the Dandelion because it can also grow quickly and easily, like the Lamb's Ear, but Dandelions have so many cool features. They can adapt to many environments and their seeds look fuzzy!



Fuzzy-looking seeds!

The seeds are light and fluffy, so they can easily be blown by the wind. This is one of the reasons that Dandelions spread so quickly.


All parts are edible!



Another cool thing about Dandelions is that they are completely edible! The leaves taste best when picked before the flowers appear (in early Spring), and the flowers are great for making Dandelion wine. Dandelion roots can be made into a coffee alternative!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Roly Polies!

I called them "Carpenters" as a kid, but "Roly Polies" is way cuter. Their latin name is Armadillidium, because they look like little Armadillos. The most common name is "Pill Bug", but they are not actually bugs! They are crustaceans, like shrimp or lobsters. Most crustaceans live in water, and even though these tiny little guys live on land, they like keeping moist too. They live in damp and dark places.


Cute and Tiny!





Roly Polies are not insects for a few reasons:

1. They have seven pairs of legs (bugs have three pairs)

2. They have more than three body segments

3. No waxy covering on their bodies







These cute animals like to munch on bark, algae, and plants, especially decaying ones, like leaves that have fallen off a plant. They help break down plants into small pieces and into nutrients for the plants to use. This means they recycle the dead plants into food!








More cool facts about Roly Polies:
        • They don't pee!
      • They breathe through gills
      • Their blood is blue
      • They roll into a ball when poked!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baby Owls!

This is a special post for Marie-Claire, who suggested baby owls.


Cuddle cuddle.





Owls are found almost everywhere in the world, except Antartica and parts of Greenland. These cute birds have big, round eyes, for seeing at night. Owls can rotate their head almost all the way around in a circle!  This helps owls see because they cannot move their eyes from side to side.









Cute little owly hiding in a tree.



Most owls spend their time by themselves, and are usually active at night. They sleep all day and wake up at night to catch rodents and little birds. There are a few owls that fly around in the day, and some that are most active around dawn and dusk.












Some owls have special feathers that make the bird's flight silent! The edges of some of their feathers are jagged, which reduces the noise from the flapping wings. This means that they can sneak up on their food!





Monday, May 9, 2011

The Poll Winner: the Aye-aye!

A few weeks ago I posted a poll asking which animal you wanted to see next. Here's some info about the winner: the Aye-aye.


(Photo credit: Tom Junek)



The Aye-aye is a primate, and more specifically, a lemur. These fuzzy animals are  nocturnal and primarily live in rainforests on the East coast of Madagascar.






(www.madagascarpartnership.org)


This lemur searches for food during the night, starting shortly after sunset. Aye-ayes eat nuts, seeds, fruit, fungi, and nectar, but the main parts of their diet are insects and larvae. The Aye-aye taps on the tree bark to listen for hollow areas. After finding the perfect spot, the lemur will tear open the tree bark and stick its long skinny finger inside to grab its food.








Aye-ayes are great jumpers and climbers, and barely spend any time on the ground. They usually only leave the forest canopy in times of deforestation, so they can look for food. This means that Aye-ayes sometimes wander into human villages, which normally results in a bad situation for the lemur. Locals consider the Aye-aye a bad omen, and often kill any they come across. For these two reasons, Aye-ayes are considered threatened, in terms of conservation status.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cute "Herptiles" a.k.a Reptiles and Amphibians!

I took a brief pause from Snailia cause I was so busy: looking for a new house, applying for summer jobs, and studying for final exams. But now I'm back with a whole lot of cuteness!

A bunch of you voted on the poll over the past few weeks and the Aye aye won! But i'm going to save that cute primate for my next post because I wanted to share some info about cool reptiles and amphibians (called "herptiles").


Baby Jesus Lizard


This is a "Jesus Lizard", named so because these reptiles can run across water. They have a little bit of skin between their toes to help them stay above water as they run. Jesus lizards can run on the water for about 4 and a half meters. After that they begin swimming!





Running across water!




These lizards are normally found in tropical conditions, but have begun to expand their populations because of their ability to burrow in sand or leaves to stay warm.









  
Red-eyed Tree Frog holding on!


This Red-eyed Tree Frog is an amphibian, which means that the babies live in water and the adults live on land and breathe air.They can be about 5cm to almost 8cm in length. Baby frogs are usually a brown color but they turn green as they get older. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs have 3 eyelids! These frogs live in trees and are great jumpers.






Check out my pages (above) for more cute things, such as cute jobs that I have worked, cute animal games, other cute websites, or my newest page: cute animal crafts!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Raccoon Dog!

You voted on the poll and the Raccoon Dog won! I first heard about this super cute animal from the television show Life of Mammals, hosted by David Attenborough. Raccoon Dogs are not actually related to Raccoons, they just look alike. Raccoon Dogs are found throughout Asia and Eastern Europe.







Raccoon Dog mommies can have a lot of babies at one time, about a dozen and sometimes more! The babies have short fur when they are born and cannot open their eyes for about a week or so. They usually stay at home with their dad, while the mom looks for food.









Raccoon Dogs like to hibernate in the winter. Before it becomes too snowy the Raccoon Dogs eat a lot of food to become chubby. During hibernation they live from their stored fat. They sleep and cuddle in burrows all winter long to stay warm. The babies, who are not as fluffy as the parents, sleep in the middle of the cuddle pile.






So fluffy!





These fluffy animals like eating a variety of food, such as insects, rodents, birds, fish, eggs, frogs, berries, nuts, fruit, and plants. It all depends on what is available around them. Raccoon Dogs are not picky eaters!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Adorable Sea Otter!

Fuzzy!

Sea Otters live mainly in water, as their name indicates, but they can walk on land too.

Sea otters do not have a thick layer of fat to keep them warm, like most marine mammals. Instead, they have a lot of really fuzzy fur! They spend a lot of time grooming their fur to make sure that cold water doesn't seep into between the hair and make them chilly!

Sea Otters even blow air in between their fur to dry it!




So much cuteness in one place!



While Sea Otters are not super sociable, they do like sleeping near each other. Sometimes they even hold paws to keep from drifting away!









This is a super cute video of a Sea Otter eating. They like to crunch into sea urchin, clams, mussels, and snails. Otters put a rock on their belly and smash their food against the rock to break open the shell!







Sleepy Sea Otter




Sea Otters take a lot of naps throughout the day. Sometimes they wrap a piece of kelp around their body to stay in one place while they sleep.






Baby Sea Otters!





Mommy Sea Otters groom their babies so much that their fur is super douper fluffy. They are so fluffy that the babies float on the water!

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