Sharks 101

Whether you admit it or not, everyone is at least a bit afraid of sharks. But as intimidating as they are, sharks are fascinating animals. For example, all sharks have a sixth sense called electroreception that allows them to detect the electrical currents of other organisms and hunt very precisely. But there are over five hundred known species of sharks in our oceans, and each have unique characteristics. Below are facts about Great Whites, Tiger Sharks, and Whale Sharks.

Great White sharks tend to be about 21 feet long, weigh up to 7,000 pounds, and have about 3,000 triangular, serrated teeth, so it’s no wonder they have such a bad reputation- they’re massive! These sharks are carnivores and they eat just about everything in the sea- fish, seals, sometimes even whales. That said, they rarely go after humans. There have only been about 250 unprovoked attacks on humans in the last 7 years. Great Whites give birth to live pups who are about one foot long.

Another interesting fact about Great Whites is their camouflage method called ‘counter shading.’ The sharks have dark colored backs and light colored stomachs. Because of this, a seal or fish above the shark sees it as the ocean floor below, but an animal below the shark sees it as the light at the surface of the water. This greatly aids the sharks in hunting because their prey can rarely see them even though they’re so large.

The Tiger Shark is another unique species. Tiger Sharks have been nicknamed ‘the wastebasket of the sea,’ because they will eat just about anything they can swallow- turtles, car tires, license plates, you name it. This makes them a bit more of a threat toward humans. Usually, a Great White will give up on a human after the first bite, but Tiger Sharks often continue attacking. However attacks from Tiger Sharks are still very rare. Tiger Sharks are the fourth largest species of shark- about 14 feet and 1,400 pounds. Their strong teeth and jaws are able to crack turtle shells, and they are found in warm, tropical, coastal areas.

Next is the Whale Shark. If you thought the Great White seemed huge, you’ll be shocked by this guy’s size. Whale Sharks are the largest known fish, measuring around 25 feet, and weighing 15-20 tons. Although their size may be scary, Whale Sharks don’t pose any threat to us. They are very gentle fish and sometimes swim alongside divers. They eat tiny plankton and fish and take in about 1,500 gallons of water each hour. Like a human’s finger print, each of these sharks has its own unique pattern of markings. Whale Sharks are usually pretty solitary, and live around 70 years.

Sadly, around 28% of shark species are endangered, and around 100 million sharks are killed annually. Whale Sharks and Great Whites are the top two most endangered species of shark. Human fishing, hunting and pollution are big reasons for this. For ways to help these animals click here.

10 Surprising Animal Facts

Scientists think that there are about 1-2 million animal species on Earth. That’s 1-2 million different behavioral habits, mating patterns, diets, and so much more. We tend to focus only on one of those species, ourselves, and forget that we’re sharing the Earth with so many interesting creatures. Here are 10 random animal facts you may find surprising.

1. There is a type of jellyfish that, when threatened, can regenerate its cells, meaning that it can potentially live forever. They only gain this ability after they reach sexual maturity, but its a pretty amazing survival mechanism. When the tiny jellyfish is threatened, it attaches to something solid, turns into a kind of blob, and begins to regenerate its cells. Scientists are studying these “immortal jellyfish” hoping that, just maybe, humans can try to adopt their skills.

2. 10 million more sharks are killed by humans than humans killed by sharks. Yep, you read that right. Sharks are among humans’ greatest fears, but in reality it’s the sharks that should be afraid of us . Only 10 humans are killed by sharks each year, and 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year due to over fishing and pollution.

3. Baby goats pick up “accents” and vocal patterns from their family. Goats don’t have a ‘language’, but they do adopt noise patterns from the goats around them that differ from other goats.

4. Horses use their eyes and ears to communicate with one another through facial expressions.

5. Polar bears have black skin. Their noses are black, so it makes sense, but its pretty weird to picture a shaven black polar bear. Their thick, black skin helps keep polar bears warm, insulating them and absorbing available sunlight.

6. Honeybees can flap their wings 200 times per second, which is why we here that ‘bzzzz’ noise. Actually, bees in general are pretty incredible. See this video for more.

7. Spider silk is crazy strong. One strand is thinner than human hair, but one strand is also five times stronger than a piece of steel the same width as it. Researchers say that a strand of spider’s silk 2 inches long could stop a Boeing 747.

8. Snails can sleep for three years. Jealous? Me too. In this form of hibernation, snails bury themselves in the ground when it gets cold and can stay there for three whole years.

9. Sloths take two weeks to digest their food.

10. Koalas have almost human fingerprints. In fact, they’re so indistinguishable that koalas and humans have been confused at crime scenes.

We forget how fascinating the animals around us are, but the truth is, they have some pretty amazing abilities. Now you know ten facts about ten animals you never knew you needed to know. Dinner table conversation starters? I think yes.

Does an Elephant Really Never Forget?

The notion that “an elephant never forgets” is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that elephants have quite impressive intellectual skills and many scientists regard elephants as being the smartest of animals.

The elephant has the largest brain of any land mammal, weighing in at about 10.5 pounds, so it isn’t totally surprising that elephants can and do remember a lot. Although scientists haven’t been able to do completely conclusive studies elephant memories, they have conducted various experiments that prove that elephants remember more than many mammals.

First of all, elephants are very good at recognizing members of their own herd so that they don’t get separated and mixed into other clans. In fact, elephants appear to have emotional attachments to their relatives. As seen in this clip from BBC, when one of an elephant’s relatives die, they mourn over its corpse, stroking it with their feet and trunks.

In addition to these apparent grieving behaviors, some elephants have been reported to cry. There is one case of an elephant who was in captivity for years and, upon being released, he began to cry. Scientists say they don’t know the psychological reasons behind it, but there were definitely tears from the elephant.

Also, elephants can remember locations well, such as sources of food and water, even if they haven’t visited for decades. Elephant clans with a high number of older members tend to live longer. This is because elephants can use their memory of the past to problem solve. For example, if an elephant survived a drought as a child, it may be able to sense a drought coming in the future and thus lead its family to reliable sources of water.

Perhaps the most astounding skill of the elephant is its ability to create art.

Scientists are still unsure whether elephants attach any meaning to their artwork, but regardless its pretty amazing that their trunks are dexterous enough to grasp and move the paintbrush, and that their brains are able to produce recognizable shapes on the canvas.

Unfortunately, elephants are a major target for poachers. When one elephant is poached, its decades worth of memories, its artistic abilities, and its incredible mental capacity goes with it. Because of poaching, elephants are now considered endangered species. This is even more sad because elephants, although they can be threatening and protective, are among the gentlest of creatures. Despite their massive size, scientists have found that elephants won’t hurt tiny animals like flies or mice.

So although elephants may not never forget, they certainly have very impressive cognitive abilities, like compassion, grief, memory, and art. Scientists are still researching elephants’ skills, and it will be interesting to see what they discover.


Attitude is Everything

It’s a well known saying that “dogs are a man’s best friend”—and cats too, if you’re a cat person. While both can be great companions, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate with our beloved pets. We often can’t understand their attitude, their thoughts and feelings, and what they are trying to tell us. When it comes to communicating with animals, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.

Cats and dogs bark, whine, meow and growl, but mostly they “speak” via a body language designed to be understood animal-to-animal. For a dog, a wag of the tail means they are happy. For cats, on the other hand, a moving tail can be that a cat is annoyed or frustrated.

The environment in which your pet spends most of their time can also play a role in how they behave. Indoor pets who enjoy the air conditioning and lounging around the house may be less stressed—but, if your air conditioner happens to be broken in the middle of summer, that may cause your pet to become overheated or stressed. In that particular situation, you should call a local HVAC professional, like Boerne Air Conditioning Experts, immediately. For dogs, you may notice that they are panting. Because dogs sweat through the pads on their feet, most of their body heat is expelled through their mouth when they pant. This helps them regulate their body temperature. Dogs can also pant to cope with pain.

Going back to cats; when a cat is lying on its back it can have a variety of meanings. If your cat is sleeping with his or her belly exposed, he or she is probably feeling very secure and relaxed. But if your cat has his or her tummy showing while he or she is awake and simultaneously purring, it means they are content or stress-free.

Animal Attitudes and Anxiety

Many pets experience separation anxiety when separated from their owners for extended periods of time. This is regardless of whether it is just a few hours or a course of a few days. There might be a clear change in their attitude, where they seem to become depressed or distant. Animals live and travel in packs. It’s natural for them to feel anxious when they are separated from their pack-mates. This is particularly true for dogs. Try taking your dog on a nice, long walk before leaving them alone in the house. Leaving him or her in a sleepy, tired mode can calm their anxiety.

While many dogs communicate with body language, they also talk to us with their voice. Most dogs seem to enjoy a good bark—especially combined with howling. A bark can express many things. Maybe it signals happiness at the thought of a game of ball to celebrating your arrival home. Or, maybe it’s a warning of an intruder. When a gentle bark accompanies a nosing of the leash or a tentative paw on your lap, it may even be a question or suggestion.

Regardless of whether you are a cat or dog owner, it is important to take time to understand your animal’s attitude. Their attitude can tell you a lot about what they are trying to communicate to you, or how they are feeling in general.


Funny animal smells

Humans are a funny, smelly bunch. But animals, we’ll I don’t quite understand why animals produce some of the funky odors they do. Especially pets, pet odors are the craziest. I mean, come on check out these cats…

They are smelling some stinky socks! What is going on here? I’ve smelled some crazy stuff in my life, but these cats are absolutely hilarious!

Well, I still think that humans can stink it up… yeah, I’m talking flatulence… toots… farts… and check out how these pets respond to the stench. Really funny stuff.

So I hope you enjoy my blog and this funny little side away from my normal blog posts.

I’m Mark and I stink!

Raccoons and squirrels tearing up rain gutters

While installing rain gutters, you’ve no doubt thought about how they’ll hold up against all of the most-known threats to their integrity. Hail can drill holes in the material, rain can cause leaks, wind can blow them straight off… but did you know there’s another natural malady that’s equally as fearsome, if not even more so? We’re talking, of course, about raccoons and squirrels.

It doesn’t matter how cute these critters look – on your property, you must consider them as pests and treat them accordingly. While you don’t have to deal with them with the same on-sight prejudice that you would apply to cockroaches, you should still do everything in your power to make your home less inviting for them and minimize the damage they cause.

Why a raccoon or squirrel might want to damage your rain gutters

As is the case with any pest, raccoons and squirrels need a reason to nest on your property or visit it frequently. Something in the vicinity is feeding them in some way – finding out what, however, can be difficult.

It’s rarely as simple as ‘not leaving food out in the open’ – these critters can get very hungry and do some amazing feats to get their chow. They could also be infesting your property because of something that’s not even your fault, like trees with nutritious growth, and could be climbing on your house in curiosity while still wreaking havoc on your gutters.

To truly deal with these pests over the long term, you’ll have to figure out what’s bringing them to the yard.

Immediate solutions you can turn to

If you aren’t in a position to wait until you figure out why they’re bothering you, you can consider using something to trap, repel or downright end the rodents pestering you. While death traps are effective, many home owners are reluctant to kill a squirrel or raccoon no matter how big of a nuisance they’re proving to be – the same goes for the equally as effective but no less lethal poison methods.

A non-lethal alternative is scrubbing a repellent over the areas being damaged or using one that emits sound waves, although both of these options are very susceptible to weather which makes them a poor choice for gutter protection.

Cutting tree branches that are in the vicinity of your gutters is an effective method, but also one that’s rarely desireable – you’ll often end up hurting the tree and harming its aesthetics(as well as reducing your property’s overall appearance). Not to mention, you might end up having to do some heavy cutting as raccoons and squirrels are capable of surprising stunts to get to where they want to be.

If your gutters have already been damaged, you’ll have no choice but to call a company that performs rain gutter repairs – you don’t want these failing when heavy rain comes around. While there, you might also consider a complete gutter replacement procedure that will outfit your home with gutters made from a more durable material that rodents won’t be able to tear into.

Of course, rain gutter replacement due to pests is hardly on anyone’s to-do list, which is why it pays to find out what’s bringing the rodents to your home – remove the culprit and the pests will be gone soon enough.

Snakes and why people get scared of them

No matter what anyone tells you, a healthy fear of snakes is a good thing for anyone who could come in contact with them. Snakes can turn any other animal into prey(save maybe alligators), and they even scare the biggest predator of them all – humans.

Nature was clearly generous with snakes – they seem almost perfectly-built for hunting and killing, doing away with any bodily parts that could slow down or otherwise impede them. Let’s examine what snakes can do to a person, and what is it about them that scares humans so much.

The lethality of the snake

Snakes generally kill their prey in one of two ways – venom or strangulation. It would be hard to decide which one is more unpleasant, but let’s start with the venomous attack.

There are very few animals or insects on this planet who can secrete something as powerful as the snake’s venom: some spiders, certain scorpions and maybe the odd caterpillar. Different snakes have venom of different potency, although none of them will brighten up your day.

While not a particularly imposing snake, the cobra’s venom has achieved mythical status – in most circumstances, getting bit by a cobra probably means you’ll have someone reading you your last rites very soon. Antivenom can help, but good luck getting to the exact type of antivenom in the short amount of time that you have.

What’s worse is that some snakes’ venom doesn’t outright kill the prey or even knock it out, instead merely paralyzing it. The helpless prey is then forced to watch as the much smaller snake devours it whole.

Other snakes, like the anaconda, don’t have much in the way of poison but instead have exceptionally long and powerful bodies. They use them to wrap around the prey faster than you can say ‘Yahtzee!’, quite literally squeezing the life out of the victim in a small amount of time.

Astoundingly enough, even a venom-free snake of small size still has the tools to maim us – the snake’s fangs can inflict a surprising amount of carnage on whoever is bitten, sometimes causing paralysis or puncture of vital points. In this sense, a snake could kill you simply by biting the right place on your body.

Why some people are absolutely terrified of snakes

It might seem like a strange question to ask after the facts listed above, but it’s still one worth answering: why do some people have a true phobia of snakes, while some don’t mind seeing them or even being around them?

Well, it’s thought that a fear of snakes – just like a fear of spiders – is an evolutionary remnant from a time when our ancestors would fall to snake attacks on a regular basis. With very little means of fighting back against their quick and elusive bodies, early humans must have developed a pathological fear of the snake population that transferred onto modern-day humans. This is why you might find yourself overwhelmed with terror just from seeing the picture of a snake, or witnessing one in person behind solid glass – your ancestors might have had a few bad run-ins with them.

Is chiropractic really beneficial to animals?

In our efforts to care for our pets, we will sometimes extend them just as many perks as we would to an actual person. It starts with a dog jacket for cold days, moves on to putting sunglasses on your cat for selfies… Next thing you know, your pet is eating alongside you on the kitchen table, has its own armchair for relaxation, and also eats vegan food in line with the owner’s wishes.

There’s no denying that medicine for animals is necessary – after all, their bodies are every bit as complex as ours, and are subject to pretty much the same ailments(and some additional ones). But what about chiropractic – is it really beneficial to animals, household or otherwise?

Knowing whether an animal of yours needs a chiropractor

Like humans, some animals stand to benefit from chiropractic a good deal. Taking your pet to an animal chiropractor for a checkup is always a good idea, but how much an animal can benefit from this type of care depends on several factors:

  • Which animal is it? Some animals, like cats, have extraordinarily pliable bodies that can take any contortion or posturing in stride. Others, like horses, spend much of their time in a rigidly-set position and could benefit more from chiropractic treatment.
  • Speaking of horses, animals that exert themselves a lot stand to benefit from chiropractic the most. The right chiropractor can unwind the body of an animal that helps someone with physical tasks or competes in sports, letting it deal with the long and sweaty hours under the sun better.
  • Does the animal in question have a history of bone or skeleton-related issues? These animals face the biggest risk of joint issues, and could find chiropractic care a blessing.
  • How are the animal’s current or former living conditions? If the animal in question spent a lot of time in a cramped space in the past(or still does), giving it more room to breathe won’t be enough – an animal chiropractor might be necessary to put its body back in order.
  • Has the animal been under the weather lately? Animals have no way of communicating to us that they’re feeling chronic pain. If your pet lost much of its joy and is mostly lying down with a sad look on its face, it might be dealing with some persistent pain. Should a visit to a regular veterinarian offer very little in terms of answers, it’s always worth asking for animal chiropractor’s opinion.

What to look for in an animal chiropractor

Before taking any animal to a chiropractor, it’s important to make sure that their credentials check out.

A regular chiropractor probably won’t be able to treat an animal, and could even risk injuring it. To become an animal chiropractor, a person first needs to go through several years of veterinary school before specialization. Always make sure that the chiropractor you’re taking the animal to is a certified veterinarian first and foremost – while a regular chiropractor might give you a general idea of what could be wrong, only an actual veterinarian will be able to treat the animal with its safety guaranteed.

Pura Vida Chiropractic is a great resource for animal chiropractic care. Check out their website linked above.

The top 3 fastest animals on earth

Animals have some amazing physical attributes to them. Without having the wit of humans to get out of trouble, they have to rely on size, strength, speed and dexterity to stay alive – both in terms of catching the next meal and avoiding becoming someone else’s.

Much to the dismay of pet owners, every average cat or dog can easily outrun a human, even if the animal in question spends the majority of its time indoors. That being said, you might have wondered which animals on Earth are the fastest in the entire kingdom – here are the top 3 fastest animals on earth.

Top 3 fastest animals on earth

  • Cheetah: Their speed is legendary, so much so that their name became synonymous with blazing vehicles or fast things in general. Holding the title of the very fastest animal, the cheetah has an easy time catching or outrunning pretty much anything. While their running speed of over 60 miles an hour is scary, the cheetah’s acceleration is perhaps even more frightening – they can speed things up four times faster than humans can. Because of their quickness, cheetahs quickly assume the status of apex predator in whatever environment they’re in, preying on nearly every animal they see as a good meal. While nature blessed them with incredible speed, it didn’t match their strength – cheetahs aren’t nearly as powerful as some of their cousin wild cats, like lions or tigers.
  • Antelope: The poor antelope seems perpetually stalked by numerous feline predators, most notably lions – if you ever watched a Natural Geographic feature, you probably had to look away when an antelope failed to outrun the big bad lion going after it. The antelope’s body wasn’t built for combat, and it has very few natural defenses to fight off an incoming hungry cat. What they do have is speed – antelopes are easily one of the fastest animals on the planet even on their worst day, which is handy since running away is their only way of surviving an attack from a dangerous foe. The pronghorn antelope, in particular, is the fastest of them all – with a body clearly evolved to make way for tremendous speed, pronghorn antelopes leave most animals not named cheetah far behind them.
  • Brown hare: When you think of speed, hares probably aren’t what comes to mind. They’re very reminiscent of those cute little rabbits – bunnies are supposed to hop, aren’t they? In truth, hares are extremely fast owing to their powerful rear legs that separate them from rabbits. The brown hare can reach a running speed of nearly 50 miles per hour, allowing it to escape the majority of predators – as long as the hare is alert and the predator in question isn’t wielding a rifle, that is. Like antelopes, hares are small and have virtually no means of defending themselves against carnivorous animals, and they’re always working with a size disadvantage to boot. In the right environment, however, the hare’s size can act to its advantage, as it can bolt inside holes and crevasses that other animals can’t reach in. Because of their method of attack, large predatory birds are usually the hare’s worst nightmare.

What you did not know about pugs

It’s hard not to like those perky pugs – their harmless appearance and playful nature have made them a favorite pet of people worldwide. Their size also gives nearly everyone a chance to own one of these beautiful specimens, regardless of whether they live in a big house or a small apartment.

Pugs make great companions, but there are plenty of things about them that can catch pet owners by surprise. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about pugs.

  • Despite the pug’s immense popularity in North America and Europe, they actually come all the way from China. They were bred with a single purpose – to look posh while sitting on an emperor’s lap. While few Chinese emperors of old are remembered for their fondness of cute things, we have them to thank for pugs and their adorable appearance.
  • Pugs are, at their core, lazy. The stereotypical canine is always running around and waiving its tail, barking and jumping up to catch that frisbee or tree branch. Pugs couldn’t care less, though – some of them will spend two thirds of any given day sleeping and dozing off. If you’re looking for a hyperactive dog who’s always ready for action, the pug will have to disappoint.
  • In line with their lazy nature and original purpose as eye candy, pugs’ bodies are even more frail than you might think. Even a pug in good shape will struggle to run faster than 5 miles per hours, with some members of the species barely able to achieve half that. Similarly, while many dogs are great swimmers and have even been known to rescue people from drowning, pugs can barely swim due to their short legs and weak bodies. Adding to all this, they also catch colds and similar sicknesses easily because of their small noses, making them vulnerable to cold weather.
  • Somewhat acting as an extension of the last point, while the wrinkles on pugs’ faces are part of what makes them so nice to look at, they also make the species very vulnerable to bacteria accumulation and all sorts of infections. Hence, pugs rely on humans in order to stay healthy more than most dogs – if you’re looking to get a pug, be prepared to clean its face regularly and thoroughly.
  • With all the talk of pugs’ frailty, you’d probably never think they saw military action. You might be surprised to know that pugs weren’t uncommon in the military some centuries ago – while they weren’t much use in combat, their exceptional sense of smell allowed them to track anything military personnel needed, be it other people, animals or objects.
  • Pugs rarely bark, so they won’t make very good guard dogs, even if you could somehow conceal them so that the burglar doesn’t simply scoff at the tiny size. However, they’re known for their ability to produce a variety of other, colorful sounds – pugs love singing along and even ‘talking’ with humans. If you’re a fan of karaoke, you might have just found yourself the best kind of dog to duo with.