Friday, April 30, 2010

European Tree Frog

Hyla arborea is a member of the world most geographically diverse and widespread frog family, Hylidae, which has little buddies hopping, climbing and swimming on 6 continents. (sorry Antarctica)

European tree frogs in particular can be found nearly everywhere in continental Europe, hence the creative name. These little guys are tiny. Not world's smallest frog tiny, but pink-rubber-eraser-sized tiny. (about 4.5 cm at max) And despite being called a tree frog, they aren't huge fans of trees, preferring scrubby bushes and meadows. They live off of a diet consisting of arthropods, and avoid their fishy nemeses at all costs.

Unfortunately, the European tree frog is becoming threatened in some areas, due to encroachment of human populations. Noise pollution is also having an effect on their mating practices, since finding each other requires sending out calls which are becoming more and more difficult to hear. But there is happiness to be had! Since 1988, the Riga Zoo in Latvia has been working to reintroduce the frog in the wild. They had disappeared due to loss of habitat and the extinction of the beaver within the country, but now both are back! Huzzah!

Oh, and on the topic of reintroduced Latvian beavers, read this. Crafty beavers!

frog image from Treehugger.com , beaver from guardian.co.uk

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Capped Heron

I
Pilherodius pileatus (Whoa Latin!) is the lovely inspiration for my logo. What a happy bird! Anyway, finding vast resources of information about the dapper little dude was actually pretty difficult, even the Wikipedia article is a stub!

But here is what I have learned: In German, it is called the Kappenreiher, and in Spanish it is the Garza Capriotada, but I like the German name better. (Both names basically translate to capped or hooded heron anyway).They live in South and Central America, feasting on insects, fish, small mammals and other little beasties. They also make "whoop whoop woo" sounds, and fly by beating their wings never above horizontal! And now you know!
Image from Mongabay.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yellow Bellied Marmot

Native to the western united states, the Yellow-Bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris) is one of many species of marmot, which in turn is a type of ground squirrel. They weigh up to 11lbs, hibernate in the winter, and live off an omnivorous diet. They also like to lounge on rocks looking awesome. They also happen to be the best studied marmot species. Additionally in the fun fact department, marmots and other ground squirrels do not have tails because they simply aren't useful, and lost them during their evolution around 2 million years ago. Badgers like to eat them (the marmots, not their non-existent tails).



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