Category Archives: Invertebrae

11th November – We Remember


This day, 11th November, we set aside to remember all the fallen in war; the hero’s who gave their today, for our tomorrow. These brave people and animals gave their lives, fighting to preserve all that they, and we, hold dear. Their selfless acts and sacrifices allow us the freedom we have; for that, and so much more, we remember them.

Horses are the animals primarily thought of when war animals are mention (at least in my experience in conversations); a war horse had many uses. Depending on the military role of the division in which a horse was placed, would often determine the use(s) of the animal.

A war horse would carry soldiers into battle, be used as transport for messengers, would pull equipment, machinery, artillery, supply carts, and much more. However, horses were integral to the war, and soldiers would form bonds with their horse, often sleeping close together for warmth when necessary. Donkey’s and Mule’s would also have been used for similar roles; however less so as transport for riders.

Perhaps a lesser-known animal used for pulling equipment and supplies, not used on the battlefield, but back home. Due to the usual animals used (horses, mules, donkeys, etc) as they had been taken into war, their roles at home were taken over by some less-common animals in their absence. Elephants and camels were used for transporting materials and such, as well as for ploughing fields, hauling hay/straw, and other every-day jobs that needed to be done. One of the more famous, was Lizzie the Indian elephant (pictured below); once part of a travelling circus, had her role in life completely altered by WW1 just as many people had – and she was put to work in a scrap metal yard in Sheffield.

Pigeons and dogs were also used to carry messages during war. Pigeons were useful with their homing instincts, being able to bring them back to where the message came from – thus being able to return a response message to the correct place as necessary. Dogs were able to navigate trenches and battlefields with more ease and speed than a human soldier, which made them great at transporting messages this way. Dogs had other uses in war, such as; being guard and/or watch dogs, using their keen sense of smell to find injured soldiers on the battlefield and carry medical supplies, as ratters, and (my no means least) as companions.

Cats would also have been used for companionship, as well as for rodent control in the trenches and living areas of the soldiers, as well as on Naval ships. As rodents spread disease and deplete food supplies, cats were of great value in war-time.

Although you probably wouldn’t have thought it, slugs were also of great value during war. How? Well, slugs have the ability to detect gas before humans. They close up their breathing pores and compress their body to protect themselves, and survive the gas. As such, soldiers would take a “Slug Brigade” with them, and when they saw the slugs react to gas, they put on their gas masks before the gas reached harmful levels, and many lives were saved.

Thanks to brave men and women on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the many animals playing their part on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the sacrifices made by so many, we have the lives we live today.

Please check out my November 2014 post Remembrance to see other animals that have been used in wars throughout history.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Endangered Earth


In the past 10 years we have lost several animal species – in this day and age we consider ourselves better than our predecessors, yet we are still the main cause of animals going extinct… we’re no better than those before us – in some ways we’re worse, as we are not doing what we do to survive; we are doing it for “fun” or “progress”. In what civilised or ‘advanced’ society is there place for this abominable behaviour? Yes, this post is looking to be an informative rant-type…

In the past century many animal species have been wiped from the planet, below is a selection (from the past decade) of those lost forever:
(1) 2015 – Eastern Cougar
(2) 2014 – Malagasy Hippopotamus
(3) 2013 – Formosan Clouded Leopard
(4) 2012 – Pinta Tortoise
(5) 2012 – Zanzibar Leopard
(6) 2012 – Japanese River Otter
(7) 2011 – Western Black Rhinoceros
(8) 2010 – Alatora Grebe
(9) 2010 – Derwent River Sea Star
(10) 2009 – Christmas Island Pipistrelle Bat
(11) 2008 – Spotted Green Pigeon (Liverpool Pigeon)
(12) 2008 – Caribbean Monk Seal

Many species that are extinct today is due to humans – we hunt to extinction, we destroy habitats, we remove animals from the wild for fashion or entertainment – we first make them extinct in the wild and then we deplete the captive animals until they’re gone… and many other reasons.
The ICUN Red List contains information of the endangerment of species.
We used to hunt sustainably for food, and in many countries/cultures this is still the case, but most of the hunting (at least in first world cultures) is for “fun” or “sport” and is unjustifiably cruel and unnecessary. The man that hunts to feed his family and/or community is not the reason Elephants and Rhino’s are depleting in number and becoming extinct; the cruelty of riding out with a pack of dogs to have them tear apart an innocent fox is not for any justifiable reason; the mind-set of people needs to change to make a difference… the bans we have in place need to be enforced to make a difference… we all want a better world but that won’t happen if we cannot really change.

We have bans (in certain countries) on things like fox hunting, whale hunting (whaling), shark finning, dog and cock fighting, removing animals from the wild (with conservation excepted), and many more abhorrent things – yet these bans are not universal, and often not enforced. If there are no consequences for these actions, or these consequences are not adhered to and/ or enforced, then what power do these bans have? Where then is the protection for these creatures?

Red Fox

Animals are a lot more important to their ecosystems than people give them credit for – the removal or addition of one species has an affect on everything around it. Take the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park for example – video link here (this is in no way my video) – thanks to wolves being back in the ecosystem, the rivers went back to how they used to be, plants that had been destroyed by the overpopulation of deer returned, because the wolves kept down the deer population – things went back to the way they were; back to how they should be. Why did the ecosystem breakdown in the first place; why did the wolves become extinct in Yellowstone? Because of us. Because of humans. Because we killed them off…Grey Wolf

The way we are going, the same thing will happen again and again, with more species. We, as a species, need to change before we are the only species left on a dying planet – small steps to ensure that other species don’t become myth and fairy-tales, instead of living, breathing creatures that share this planet.

Rare Species: Gooty Tarantula

warning

The scientific name for this arachnid is Poecilotheria metallica. Some other names for this blue beauty include; Gooty sapphire ornamental tree spider, Gooty sapphire tarantula, Metallic tarantula, and Peacock tarantula. This tarantula is so named due to the location of the only known habitat of the species – this tarantula species is (so far) known to inhabit a protected forest in the town of Gooty, India. The known distribution of this rare species is less than 39 square miles.

Juvenile Gooty Tarantula
Juvenile Gooty Tarantula

The blue colour is more intense in males than females. The young start off as more of a lavender colour, which gradually becomes blue, and then gets more intense into adulthood – as seen in the image above, the juvenile still retains the lavender colour, but has already begun to change to blue.

Adults grow up to 6-8 inches (14.5-20 cm) in length, on average. The Gooty Tarantula matures between 1-2 years old; and can live anywhere between 12-30 years – living longer in the wild (up to 30 years), with shorter captive lifespans (averaging 12 years old).

Gooty Tarantula - Open Source Google Image
Gooty Tarantula – Open Source Google Image

As you can see by the image above, this is an arboreal tarantula species – meaning that they live off the ground, in the trees and plants (as opposed to being a terrestrial species; living on the ground/ in the undergrowth). The species is so rare, that it is classed as critically endangered on the Endangered Species List. This species was thought to be extinct for 102 years; it was rediscovered in Gooty in 2001.


All images are open source, Google images – not my own.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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World Animal Day

4th October 2014 – World Animal Day

Also known as International Animal Day or World Animal Lover Day. World Animal Day is a day for remembering all animals; by the people who love and respect them.

So enjoy the following animal images…

Let’s Sea About Sea Monkey’s

My brother and sister-in-law have recently tried, not very successfully, to raise a little batch of Sea Monkey’s.  Quite disappointed in the short-lived pets, I was asked how long they typically live for… so I decided to do a bit of research looking into this little species.

For many people, their first pet as a child was a little packet of Sea Monkey’s; lovingly hatched from the eggs received in the packet, after following all the instructions to prepare the little tank for their home… what most people don’t know is, what Sea Monkey’s actually are. Whilst doing some research into this post, I have also come to realise that a lot of people (I’m unsure why…) did not even know that Sea Monkey’s were living creatures!

What Are They?

Sea Monkey’s are an invertebrate species, meaning they do not have a backbone. They are arthropods, meaning they have jointed legs. They are a crustacean; related to crabs, shrimp, water fleas, lobsters; with an exoskeleton, an outer shell. When growing, they shed their exoskeleton and regrow a new one to fit their larger size. Until the new exoskeleton hardens, they are more vulnerable.

They are also known as, Brine Shrimp. If you have followed any previous posts you may have come across this little titbit of information before, in Something Fishy! (1) – as they are a form of live and frozen fish food.

Females vs. Males

Size wise – females are smaller than males; females growing between 8-12 mm in length, and males growing between 10-15 mm in length.

Females have a “lump” at the base of their tail (which is where the eggs are stored), the males do not. Females have small antennae, whilst the males have large, distinct antennae (see image, below).

Female (left), Male (right) - Brine Shrimp
Female (left), Male (right) – Brine Shrimp

Lifespan

My sister-in-law told me that the packet informed her, that Sea Monkey’s can live up to 6 months! That surprised me a bit, as from what I have witnessed and been taught through my studies, is that they typically live 3-5 weeks in the right conditions. The longest I have discovered for the claimed lifespan of the Brine Shrimp is 12 weeks; the average being about 6 weeks.

They last about a week in the fridge, in a bag of water for fish food (less if they are not refrigerated)… and approximately 48 hours in freshwater (provided they are not eaten first), as they are not designed to live in freshwater habitats.

Basically, don’t be too disheartened your Sea Monkey’s die before they have reached half of the lifespan given in the information booklet you got with your new pet.

Keeping Sea Monkey’s Alive!

Being kept in tiny tanks means that the water needs changing more often, as in such a small space, the water deteriorates quickly. Roughly a 20% water change should be done bi-weekly, to ensure clean water and enough oxygen for survival; so that your Sea Monkey’s do not die from suffocation. Adding an aerator into the tank will also keep up oxygen levels, making breathing easier.

Doing a water change with such a small animal can be difficult; ensure you do not accidentally throw away any Sea Monkey’s with the dirty, discarded water! The shedding of the exoskeleton during growth makes up a lot of the dirtiness of the water, with so many of them shedding around the same time!

Causes of Death

Deteriorated, dirty water and lack of oxygen, are common causes of premature Sea Monkey death.The tank being knocked over, and therefore spilling your Sea Monkey’s everywhere, is a big stress to the little creatures, and ultimately will result in the death of the little guys (and girls)! The stress, combined with not being able to breathe out of water… so ensure your Sea Monkey’s are in a safe, secure place where they are unlikely to be knocked over.

Other common causes are the tank being in too warm a location; by a window in summer, in a very warm room/ next to a radiator in winter… or being in a location that makes them too cold; in a room not warm enough in winter, in the fridge because they will be fed to my Comet Goldfish within the week. Of course, being used as food is a cause of death, although this does not apply to Brine Shrimp being kept as pet Sea Monkey’s!

Last Thought

Even though Sea Monkey’s are just simple Brine Shrimp, feel free to imagine them how they were advertised in the 60’s and 70’s (see image, below). – as a cute little family… it may be anthropomorphic, but who doesn’t treat their pet a bit human at times?!

Sea Monkey Family
Sea Monkey Family