Komodo Dragons Are Now Endangered

Under 3,000 lizards live in the Komodo National Park

As a child, I remember being fascinated with the komodo dragon. It was my favorite animal to see at the zoo. I think it reminded me of real dragons and dinosaurs. How could it not? The prehistoric creature is our largest lizard and as of right now, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, it's now endangered. The cause? Human behavior. Climate change and habitat destruction have led to this creature's significantly lower population.

One group of komodo dragons is currently protected in Komodo National Park, but another group remains vulnerable. The Indonesian government can offer protection with another park and we can ask them to do it here.

Can you think of another way to help komodo dragons? What have you seen or heard about? Share any links you find in the chat.

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Cookiecutter Sharks Are The Ocean's Honey Badgers

They'll attack anything!

If there's a honey badger of the ocean, it's the cookie-cutter shark. Why is it a cookie-cutter? Because it bites cookie-sized chunks out of larger animals and it doesn't even care. On top of that, the sharks look like aliens, with green eyes and long, sock pocket-like shapes that can grow up to 50 centimeters in length. They may be much smaller than a Great White shark, but that's the kind of animal they attack with those teeth!

Yes, the cookie-cutter shark does attack humans. And they attack smaller animals of the ocean that they can actually consume as prey. Either way they are eating just about everything they come across, and scientists say that most animals don't do anything like this. The good news is that they usually only come up to where humans swim at night to dine on bigger predators, so if humans want to avoid them, they can stick to daytime swims.

What other weird animals have you seen this week? Share them in the chat.

 

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The White Ermine Moth

If moths were Dalmatians...

Lately I'm all about moths. I love when they land on me and I'll sit and talk with them until they're ready to move on. I fell deeply in love with the pink Rosy Maple moth, it saddened me to learn how short their lives are, which only makes me appreciate their beauty even more.

The White Ermine moth is now on my radar. It's so fuzzy and cute, white with black spots. It looks like Cruella DeVille as an adorable moth. They are members of the tiger moth family and are considered common, even though they are sought after for research. They are found in the United Kingdom and other areas.

I've been wondering if moths can sting or bite like caterpillars, especially since most of them don't have mouths. About 50 caterpillar species in the United States can sting. Moths generally don't, although there is a vampire moth that can! 

What is your favorite kind of moth? What's the weirdest kind you've ever seen? Share it in the chat.

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The Weirdest Animals of Amazon

Share the strangest stuffed animals you've found

There are enough strange and unusual animals in the world to never have to create a new one, but some toy makers have indeed done that. There are so many weird animal toys and stuffed animals all over the world. Some are cute, some are creepy and others are just plain weird, but all of them are strange in their own unique way.

Take Moochie the Slacker Sloth. At first glance, we see it's a sloth toy, which I love... but then you notice the booze in his hand. And then you see that he's also a smoker. Somehow he's much weirder than my Skelanimals Sloth. Of course, if you leave Amazon, you can find MUCH weirder stuff on Etsy. From homemade Falkor dragons to Baphomet plushies, you can find just about anything you could ever want--and if you can't, lots of Etsy folks are happy to take commissions. 

What about you? What's the strangest plushy you've ever seen online, or that you own? Share it in the chat.

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Two New Dinosaur Species Discovered!

Both are in Northwest China

Two new dinosaur species were recently discovered in Northwest China. It's always exciting to learn about new dinosaurs, especially when more than one species is identified! Both dinosaurs are members of the long-neck titanosaur family, some of the largest dinosaurs that ever roamed the Earth. The fact that the new species are such enormous dinosaurs makes this doubly exciting.

No other dinosaurs like these have been found in the Turpan-Hami Basin in Xinjiang, an area more known for its pterosaur fossils. In fact, paleontologists were searching for pterosaurs when they discovered these two titanosaurs. The fossils are named Silutitan sinensis, after the Silk Road, and Hamititan xinjiangensis, the city it was found in. The former dinosaur is over 20 meters long while the latter is at least 17 feet long.

Have you read about any other cool dinosaur discoveries lately? Share them in the chat.

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Suicide Squad's Weasel

Is there a weirder animal?

Those who've seen James Gunn's The Suicide Squad (which is highly superior to the previous, unrelated Suicide Squad film in every way) have met the character Weasel, who was hilariously portrayed by Gunn's own brother, Sean. Weasel has a twist to his story, as do most of the characters in the film, thanks to Gunn's signature moves, which we won't reveal, but we can take a look at his character, who is one of the weirdest animals in all film.

Weasel first appeared in 1985's The Fury of Firestorm #35. He's a villain who definitely is involved with the Suicide Squad, but he's not very prominent--and he's not a real weasel. He dresses in a weasel costume because he's mocked for having weasel-like features. He's also a murderer. The Weasel in Suicide Squad is delightfully different and those who want to see just how strange he is will have to watch the movie.

What other weird animal characters do you love in movies and TV shows? Share them in the chat.

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450,000 Honeybees Rehomed

Farmhouse was full of bees for over three decades

Moving into a new home is a joyous, if stressful occasion on its own without the addition of hundreds of thousands of bees, but that's what happened to the Weaver family when they moved into their new home in Pennsylvania. When the two moved in, they were well aware that the fact that there were "bees in the walls" was an issue, but they had no idea how many!

A winter purchase kept the couple from understanding the severity of the issue, but come spring they noticed an influx of bees. Having 450,000 honeybees as unexpected tenants came as a surprise, to say the least. The bees are now rehomved after leaving their home of 35 years.

What's the oddest animal story you've read this week? Share it in the chat. 

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The Bad Boys of the Animal Kingdom

Which critters do you think behave the worst?

Some animals just seem to love to misbehave around us humans. It's actually pretty cool that they have such a rebellious streak, as long as they (and we) don't get hurt in the process. The Sun recently published a piece about various animals behaving badly, and while we don't know the stories behind each picture (and at least two are really grasping), some of them make us grin as we think about how mischievous many animals can be.

My own pets are really crafty, for starters. They are great at planning diversions to steal my food. Even mice can be pretty sneaky from what I've seen. I use humane traps and there are mice who fall straight for them--and mice who remain wary. My favorite crafty animals, though, have to be octopi. Seeing an octopus sneak out of their enclosure and make their way back home is incredible. They'll be the ones inheriting the earth, I know it. Octopi and giant squids.

What's your favorite example of animals "behaving badly"? Share it in the chat.

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Yellow-Bellied Marmot Hitchhikes a Ride

What other animals do you know of who've done this?

A yellow-bellied marmot just hitchhiked hundreds of miles from home, ending up in Arizona after it jumped in a vehicle in Colorado! The critter had been reported for the weird behavior, with people claiming they'd seen a marmot trying to get into people's cars, and it looks like it successfully stowed away in one of them.

Apparently these creatures are known for their hitchhiking, which is kind of cute until you realize they are an invasive species elsewhere and don't survive well outside their native habitat. I know I've seen lots of other species try and hitch a ride in my lifetime, from a cat that we ended up keeping to some mice and even a frog once, but never a marmot!

What about you? Have you ever met any animal hitchhikers? Which ones and what happened? Tell us in the chat!

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Celebrate Shark Awareness Day

How to help the sharks

Celebrating Shark Week is always fun (unless you're using it as a euphemism). The documentaries, the apparel, the excitement over these creatures are all worth looking forward to every summer. So let's match that enthusiasm with a gusto for protecting the animals we love learning about so much.

As our oceans are under the assault of everything from global warming and coral bleaching to military testing and our own waste disposal, sharks, too, remain at risk. It takes a long time for sharks to grow so they don't repopulate quickly even in protected areas. In the last 50 years, the shark and ray population worldwide has taken a whopping 70% hit.

We can fight by acting locally--from waste reduction to voting for environment-supporting candidates--and supporting those who are working on the frontlines to help save them, like the Wildlife Conservation Society or the World Wildlife Fund. Do you know of any ways to help sharks during this Shark Week? Share them in the chat. 

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