I’m Sharon, and I’m so glad you stopped by!
Nature For My Soul
- I am Sharon Mammoser, author of this blog and lover of all things WILD. Welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit and come back again soon. Happy Trails!
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- Weekly Puzzler Answer #108
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- If You're NOT Doing This, You May Be the Cause of Hummingbird Deaths: 8 Things You Need to Know
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- 10 Things You Might Not Know About Salamanders
- Weekly Puzzler #103: Painted Flower Petals
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- What do Yeast, Mold and Mushrooms have in Common?
- ► October (17)
- Weekly Puzzler #85
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- What do Bananas, Tequila, Figs and Chocolate have in Common?
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- The Bird that Can Change its Mind
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- Have you Noticed?
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- Weekly Puzzler Answer #79
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- Monarch Day at The NC Arboretum!
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- Nature For Your Soul
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- Sure to Make You Smile!
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- Hummingbirds Get Crazy!
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- 10 Things That May Surprise You about Goldfinches
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- 10 Facts About Great Blue Herons
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- Hidden Drama on an Ordinary Morning
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- A Thought to Start the New Month
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- Top 10 Ways to Determine if Someone is a Thru-hiker
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- 10 Things You Didn't Know about Fireflies
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- 4 Things We Can Learn from Carolina Wrens
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- Weekly Puzzler Answer #62
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- 10 Things You May Not Know about Rattlesnakes
- Quote of the Week #21
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- Sure to Make you Smile...
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- Weekly Puzzler Answer #60
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- Safe Sex? Not for this Insect.
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- Happy Mother's Day!
- Weekly Puzzler #60
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- Training a Cat to Walk on a Leash?
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- ► April (22)
- What is the Relationship Between Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds?
- Quote of the Week #17
- Weekly Puzzler Answer #57
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- Awakened at 3AM By Guess Who?
- Moth Quiz Answers
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- Ten Things You May Not Know About Honey Bees
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- 3 Things You WOULD STOP DOING if You Knew the Sometimes DEADLY Consequences
- Guess Who I Saw at the Pond Last Night
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- Weekly Puzzler #55
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- What's Special About NA's Largest Woodpecker?
- If You Love Hummingbirds, Do This Soon!
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- Quote of the Week #13
- Weekly Puzzler Answer #53
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- More About Earthworms--Are They Good or Bad?
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- Welcome Spring! A One Minute Movie
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- 5 Sayings You've Probably Heard... but Did You Know They're False?
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- 7 Positive Things about Rainy Days
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- 10 Facts About the N.A. Owl with the Most Varied Diet
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- The Bird with the Tiny Body but Large Brain
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- If You Love BIRDS, Here is Something You Can Do This Valentine's Weekend
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- 10 Things You May Not Know about Today's Famous Animal (The Groundhog)
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- What to do for a Stunned Bird that has crashed into a Window
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- How a Plant Can Help you Decide What to Wear
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- The Playful River Otter
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- What is luck?
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- 5 Things to Remember This Holiday
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- What's the FASTEST Growing Tissue of Any Mammal?
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- Wow! National Geographic Outside of my Window!
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- Friday Gift
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- Nature's Master Engineer: 10 Things You Might Not Know about Beavers
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- Not Your Average Evening....
- The Halloween Gift
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- Answers to the Halloween Quiz
- Creatures of Halloween QUIZ
- An Amazing Discovery
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- What NA Bird Makes the Biggest Nest?
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- Do This Today!
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- Schedule this regularly
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- What is Rejuvenating, Cheap and Awe-Inspiring?
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- 10 Things You May Not Know about Copperheads?
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- Have the Courage to do this...
- A Wading Bird with a 6 Foot Wingspan
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- Wisdom for your Wednesday: August 27th
- Ten Cool Things about Snakes
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- The Big-Eyed Curious Spider with the Bizarre Dance
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- Why the Monarch Butterfly is in Trouble
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- Miniature Worlds Tempt Me...
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- What Animal on Earth has the Fastest Metabolism? 10 Things You Might Not Know about Hummingbirds
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- If you love animals, Please don't do this!
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- Which Female Butterfly has Two Forms?
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- Look What I Found along the Blue Ridge Parkway!
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- Magic Comes to a Backyard Near You
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- Ah ha! So that's Why My Female Bluebird is not Incubating...
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- Spy Camera Shows All!
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- Outside on April 14th
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- What is Beauty?
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- Guess What I Found At the Pond Today...
- Who Cooks For You?
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- The Lovely Luna Moth
- Spider Myths Debunked! 10 Things You May Not Know about Spiders
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- Are you Stuck in a Rut?
- Words of Wisdom for Future AT Thru-Hikers
- Introducing the RED FOX
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- Introducing the BOBCAT
- 5 Ways to Help Bats
- Two Ways to Attract Moths to Your Yard
- Comparing the JMT to the AT
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Tag Cloudadaptations advice amphibians animals animal sounds answer aquatic animals awe bats beauty birds butterflies creature feature frogs hibernation hummingbirds insects inspiration invertebrates lepidoptera mammals migration mystery myths nature night nocturnal plants pond predators puzzler quote quotes reptiles spiders spring spring ephemerals ten things trees weekly puzzler wildflowers winter wisdom wisdom for your wednesday wonder
Tag Archives: mammals
So last week’s puzzler–one of the most famous and recognizable logos of all time–the bat on Bacardi Rum. Do you know it?
Before answering, let me tell you a funny story about my ignorance of alcohol. So I have been spending much of my time these days reading about bats in preparation for an upcoming two hour class that I am teaching at the Blue Ridge Community College. (If you are local to WNC, you can still register for this class!) I am enjoying this very much and learning an incredible amount of what I think of as fascinating facts about bats and their relationships with plants and animals.
There is a bat called the long-nosed bat that lives in the western United States and Mexico south. And there is a plant also in the west, called agave, that has developed a mutualistic relationship with the bat. The bat pollinates it. In nature, the bat cannot live without the plant (it feeds on nectar and pollen) and the plant cannot live without the bat. And of course, people take the agave and make it into tequila so you can enjoy a delicious margarita at your local Mexican restaurant.
So when I did that puzzler, I was thinking of tequila and not rum. Duh. Obviously these are not the same! It would probably be more fitting it the logo on tequila was a bat since without the bats we would lose tequila. (Although the tequila industry has found a way around this by using clones of the blue agave that they plant at the base of the original plants, thus taking bats out of the equation. The results however, are weaker plants that need many more herbicides and pesticides. Also resulting, are a decline of long-nosed bats since without allowing the succulents to flower, there is nothing for the bats to eat.)
Note to self: Tequila comes from agave; Rum comes from sugar cane.
The story of the logo of Bacardi is an interesting one that dates back to 1862. A man by the name of Don Facundo Bacardi Masso and his wife, Amalia Moreau decided to start a new business and developed a light rum with the purchase of a distillery in Santiango de Cuba. Amalia noticed a colony of fruit bats roosting in the eaves of the tin-roof distillery and suggested to her husband that their logo feature the bat.
Unlike the United States and many other countries where bats have a sinister image, in Don’s native country–Spain, and also in his new country–Cuba, the bat was a positive image in local folklore, representing good fortune. According to many of the indigenous people of Cuba, bats represent brotherhood, discretion and faithfulness.
Don Focundo thought his wife’s idea was a great one, knowing that local insectivorous bats feed on many insects that would otherwise harm the sugar cane. So the bat logo was born.
Interestingly, in those years, many of the people buying the product were illiterate but knew the bat symbol on the bottle and asked for “el ron del murcielago” or “the rum of the bat.”
…now you know.
Here’s the next puzzler–a lovely tree that produces something maybe even more beautiful than colorful leaves. You be the judge…
So happy Halloween everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful day and doing something festive for the holiday. Maybe you carved a pumpkin or went to a parade or will give out some candy tonight. Whatever the case, Happy Day!
You know the creatures of Halloween, right? Namely BATS, SPIDERS, RAVENS and CROWS. Can you think of any others that deserve being on this list?
Well let’s look at 10 things about these misunderstood critters that you may know know:
1.All BATS do not carry rabies! This is a myth. Less than one half of one percent contract rabies. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from bat rabies is to never touch a sick or injured bat and make sure your children or grandchildren are instructed to never touch ANY wild animal–be it a bat, squirrel, chipmunk, etc.
2.All BATS are not vampires and vampire BATS actually will share their meals with other bats! Of more than 1300 worldwide species of bats, only 3 feed on blood and those all live in Latin America. And they don’t suck it like the movies suggest, they lap it up like a kitten drinks milk. Two feed on the blood from birds and the other–a common vampire bat–usually feeds on livestock or birds. The animal seldom is even aware it has been visited and the bat drinks only about a tablespoon per visit. If a vampire bat can’t find a meal, another bat may share its meal (regurgitated blood) and then, if that bat is ever in need, the favor will be returned! And vampire bats participate in social grooming.
3. BATS are NOT blind! Bats have eyes but many rely on echolocation to “see” their surroundings, more than on their eyesight. Their sonar is so amazing they can detect an object in the air thinner than a human hair. Fruit bats have big eyes and a fabulous sense of smell to find their food–nectar and fruit.
Check out this slideshow of some of the world’s bat species–there are so many cute and amazing faces! And these pictures are truly amazing! All of these slides are courtesy of Merlin Tuttle—founder of my favorite organization—Bat Conservation International. This organization works to change public perception of bats, educate decision-makers, and protect valuable bat habitat and the flying mammals these habitats serve.
Which one is your favorite? Are you surprised at the variety? I was! (If you want to learn more about bats I highly recommend Merlin Tuttle’s book called The Secret Lives of Bats. It is fascinating)
4. Bats are not pests or flying rodents. Bats provide us with amazing services and are essential parts of ecosystems worldwide. An average-size bat can eat more than 1000 mosquito-sized insects (including mosquitoes) in ONE HOUR! A mother bat will eat her body weight in insects each night. Imagine how many insects an entire colony of thousands or even millions of bats consumes nightly! In addition,bats pollinate many plants, spread seeds, save farmers billions of dollars in pest control, maintain healthy forests, provide guano which is an important fertilizer in many parts of the world, and are important in medical research. Like cats, bats groom themselves regularly to keep clean and are more closely related to primates than rodents.
5.There are more than 50,000 species of SPIDERS in the world! And of those only 1/20th of 1% have venom capable of causing illness in humans. And guess what? They are HARD to identify–usually requiring a microscope.
6.You know those TARANTULAS that scary movies always seem to feature? Well one of the reasons they use them is because they are so easy to handle and their venom has such a low toxicity to humans. None of the North American species pose a bite hazard to people–the worst you have to fear when handling one are the irritating hairs on their abdomen which can cause mild skin rashes or inflammation of the eyes and face. Tarantulas can live to be 30 years old!
7.SPIDERS are not “out to get you” despite what the scary Halloween movies may suggest. Spiders use their venom solely for subduing or killing their prey–usually insects or other invertebrates. Wasting it on you for no reason is not likely. Despite what popular media and medical professionals may suggest, spider bites are uncommon.
8.All SPIDERS do not build webs. Many hunt and stalk their prey or ambush unsuspecting insects. Those that don’t build webs use their silk for protecting their eggs and as a dragline when moving around.
9.RAVENS have been known to play–just for fun. Check out this video of ravens sledding down a metal roof!
10. Crows have the largest brain to body ratio of any bird. Like a chimpanzee, they are very smart. They have excellent memories and can find food, move it, stash it again and still find it many days later.
Did you learn anything? Once I got started, I discovered there was SO MUCH to talk about… but of course 10 things is 10 things! So I stopped there. If you want to read more about this you can check out these posts about BATS or SPIDERS. Or if you want, you can try a Halloween quiz that I created last year. Test what you know! Also, don’t forget–if you are local to western North Carolina, you still have time to sign up for my bat class at the Blue Ridge Community College on November 7th from 1-3.
Happy Saturday! Is fall in full swing yet where you live? Are you getting a chance to get out and enjoy it?
As you know Halloween is just around the corner so I thought I would do a puzzler featuring one of the “Creatures of Halloween”–a bat, and probably THE most famous of all the holiday’s creatures. Have you ever bought Bacardi Rum or seen the bottle on the shelf in a bar? Ever noticed the logo on the bottle? It is an attractive bat. This week’s puzzler is: Why does Bacardi feature a bat as part of their logo?
If you want to guess use the comment box below for your chance to be entered in the quarterly drawing. All correct answers will automatically be eligible to win the next prize, given on the first day of winter. Good luck… and really, you have nothing to lose for trying!
Have a great weekend!
On last week’s puzzler, you had a 50-50 chance. Which way did you go? With the dog or the bear? Who has the better nose?
If you said the bear you are correct! While it is true that dogs have an AMAZING sense of smell, the sense of smell in bears is even greater, which is hard to believe, but that’s what research says.
A black bear and a grizzly bear (also called a brown bear) has a smell that’s 7 times GREATER than a bloodhound! They have over a billion scent receptors in that giant nose of theirs and though their brain is just 1/3 the size of a human’s, the olfactory bulb region of the brain is 5 times larger. That’s because unlike people, bears rely on their fabulous sense of smell for survival. They find food, keep track of their cubs, find mates and “look out” for predators–all with their nose. Some estimates that I found online suggested that bears can smell a dead animal 18 miles away, but I can’t say with certainty that this is not an exaggeration. I can say however that their sense of smell is MUCH better than a dog’s–and that’s saying a lot!
Now on to the next puzzler!
And as always, have a fabulous weekend! See you again soon.
A handful of people knew that last week’s puzzler was the tail of a opossum–a Virginia opossum to be exact. (Didelphis virginians). Were you one of them?
The Virginia Opossum is an interesting animal, most notably because it is a marsupial, meaning a mammal that has a pouch in which they carry their young. Think kangaroo,wallobee, koala bear. These mammals do give live birth, it’s just that they have a super short gestation period. When the tiny babies are born, they make their way into their mother’s pouch and spend time growing there before they are ready to live independently.
There are a lot of myths about opossums… you’ve probably heard some of them. For instance, even though popular folklore will have you believe that they sleep hanging from their tails, this is not true. Nor is the fact that they they can pretend to play dead when danger threatens. “Playing possum” as it is sometimes called DOES happen, but not in the way that people think. To clarify, opossums’ first line of defense against a potential predator is to hiss and show their teeth, much like a house cat. If that fails, the creature may try to climb a tree or scurry away to safety. But sometimes, none of these tactics work. It is then that the opossum may fall over in a catatonic state, its eyes wide open and body limp, looking for all intents and purposes like it is dead. But this tactic is not a conscious choice the opossum makes–instead, it is a reflex action that happens in the circumstances. “Dead” opossums can stay that way for hours!
Did you ever wonder why an opossum’s tail is naked? There is a Cherokee story about this that I loved to tell to children’s groups when I was talking about opossums. It tells how in the old days the opossum had the most beautiful tail of all the animals… but then something happened and now it is no longer so.
The Virginia opossum is a fascinating animal! A while back I featured them in my Weekly Creature Feature and learned a lot of amazing thing about them…. like do you know how big they are when they are born? Or how many babies mama opossum has? Or how long the babies stay with Mom in the pouch? If you want to learn, check out my 10 Things You didn’t know about opossums post.
Or, if you want, check out this week’s puzzler–another one featuring an animal tail!
Did you recognize the tail in last week’s puzzler? It is from North America’s largest rodent–the Beaver! If you’ve ever spent any time around a lake or river “up north” you’ve probably seen the work of these amazing engineers. Or perhaps you’ve heard the slap of their tail just before they disappear under water. Do you know why they do that?
Or how they use their large, flat tails?
Actually, Beavers use their tails for a number of jobs, as they are much like a swiss army knife. When swimming, the tail is used as a rudder, to steer them through the water, or to propel them deeper. On land their tails act like a kick stand, giving them stability when chopping down a tree. Fat is stored in the tail to help them make it through the winter and of course they use them to slap the water to warn other beavers about potential predators. Contrary to popular belief, they do not use their tails to pack mud onto their lodge or dam!
Do you know how long beavers can stay underwater or how they survive winter? Do you know where they live or what they eat? Check out my past post about nature’s master engineer–10 Things you Might not know about Beavers. If you’ve never heard the slap of a beaver’s tail on water, here’s your chance!
Here’s the next puzzler–one last one on the subject of Animal Tails.
If you’ve been following along you might remember that I adopted a puppy in December, after fostering him and his two siblings for 5 weeks after their mother was killed by a car. Well Schroeder, the puppy, is now just about 7 months old. A lot has changed in that time, including that he no longer sleeps in his crate, an adjustment that has taken some time getting used to because he growls and then barks at every unfamiliar sound in the night–though this has gotten better as he is learning we are not fans of this.
…and you remember I said I lived in the woods, right? Well all kinds of animals are out and about when we are trying to sleep. There’s no telling how many raccoons, opossums, fox, coyotes, owls, bats, bears, deer, skunks, and other animals pass by the house in the dead of night.
Last night Schroeder woke us up at 3:30am, and it was pretty obvious from his loud and insistent bark that this was more than a mouse scurrying through the underbrush. We thanked him for alerting us, then hushed him and listened quietly, hearing an odd sound that was hard to identify.
Now fully awake, I got out of bed and tiptoed to the kitchen in the dark to turn on the spotlight. And waited a few minutes. At first there was nothing, but then, very quietly despite his GIANT size, a lone black bear came around the bend of the deck and strolled out into the backyard, disappearing into the woods.
When I checked this morning, all 3 of our hanging hummingbird feeders were empty, though interestingly, still hanging perfectly. This bear has learned that 1. sugar water is good, 2.that we have sugar water and 3.that he can get it without breaking or knocking the feeders to the ground. I imagine him standing on his hind legs, using his front feet to tip the feeder, drinking from the feeder like a person would drink a beer! (We will bring the hummingbird feeders in for a few nights after this in case he is still in the area and hoping for more sweetness)
We learned that our dog has AMAZING senses, as do all dogs. He can be asleep in his bed on the floor at the foot of our bed, the windows closed, and yet he is aware of a bear outside the house. His bark telling us a bear is present is much different than other animals that pass by. How does he do it?
From my research on the senses of dogs it seems the answer is SMELL.
Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, so much more acute than ours that it is hard for us to fathom. They have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses–to our 6 million. According to a page about dogs on Nova’s website, “Dogs’ sense of smell overpowers our own by orders of magnitude—it’s 10,000 to 100,000 times as acute, scientists say. “Let’s suppose they’re just 10,000 times better,” says James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, who, with several colleagues, came up with that jaw-dropping estimate during a rigorously designed, oft-cited study. “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well.”
…”Put another way, dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion. What does that mean in terms we might understand? Well, in her book Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Barnard College, writes that while we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth. Another dog scientist likened their ability to catching a whiff of one rotten apple in two million barrels.” (Click HERE to read more of that article from Nova or HERE to read 10 things you may not know about bears.)
Amazing right? If the senses of dogs is that amazing, imagine what it must be like in other animals–like fox, coyote, bears etc. Knowing that, it seems amazing that we ever get to see them in the wild! And fully illustrates why every time I get a glimpse, however brief, of a wild animal in its natural habitat, I feel lucky. Do you? What animal encounters have you had lately?