Guess who I relate to the most.....
A squeak peek into a hero!
There are four types of pine snakes that can be found in the United States. The northern pine snake is found in the Northern and Eastern-Central regions of the country, in areas with sandy soils and dry upland forests. The population distribution of this pine snake is spotty and all indications suggest that pine snake abundance is decreasing throughout the Northeastern region. As a result, all states in which they are found have listed them as either endangered or threatened. The northern pine snake is known for being secretive and is therefore challenging to study and detect. This species of snake, which rarely climbs vegetation and prefers to be on the ground, has the ability to tunnel underground and excavate its own nests, summer dens and places to hibernate. Therefore, scientists believe that it prefers the more pliable sandy soils and forested areas of the Pinelands.
Argh! Too fast!
The northern pine snake can grow to 5 feet to 7 feet long and has a black and dull white pattern. They can live up to 21 years in captivity. There are dark blotches along the top and sides of the body which are less distinct in the front part of the body and more distinct in the hind part. The belly is white with rows of black dots along either side.
My shielded nose!
This species of snake has a small pointed head with a tipped snout and thick neck, which are helpful when it moves soil around or burrows. It also has a special scale at the front of its snout that shields its nose and protects it as it tunnels underground. In fact, much of its time is spent hidden underground.
Check out my black tongue!
The pine snake is a nonvenomous constrictor. It kills its prey by coiling itself around it in order to suffocate the animal. Pine snakes are known to eat mammals as large as rabbits, as well as small rodents and birds. They are usually most active in early morning or late afternoon when they leave their burrows to hunt. Pine snakes are egg-layers and typically lay their eggs in underground nests that they excavate in open sandy areas. Eggs are usually laid in mid-summer, and adult females have the tendency to re-use their nest sites year after year.
Never do this at home
Photographing a snake is one of the hardest things I've ever done, especially when you've got a shitty camera like mine. Its also pretty dangerous. Thank god Cassidy is nonvenmomous. Its a she, and today, she was very active (must be her feeding day). We've got two Northern Pine snakes in our section, Cassidy and Fluffy. Cassidy is the bigger of the two. She's about 1.5m long, and she's very fast and very muscular. She was getting very moody towards the end and was making hissing noises at the camera.
Er....time to go
So thats probably it for now. Perhaps next week, if the weather's good, I might be able to get a special guest!
It seems that there are now small little insects crawling all over the Wills building. According to the university website, the 215 foot, Grade II listed tower is now undergoing essential repair and restoration work that should be finished by October 2006. That means when I and hundreds of other finalists graduate in June/July, it will still be covered in ugly scaffoldings.
No more pretty pictures of graduates in their gowns and happy parents with the magnificient Wills as a backdrop = Bad publicity = What a pity...
Interesting Fact: The Wills tower houses the fourth largest bell in England! And it has many gargolyes which caricature contemporary members of the University's staff.
Well....who knows? Maybe miracles can happen and they finish everything by June....
Happy Easter holidays everyone!
There are thought to be 17 species of penguin. All are black and white with flipper-like wings and are unable to fly. Penguins all come from the southern half of the world, living along the cold coasts of Antartica to the Equator. The largest penguin is the Emperor penguin at 1m tall, and weighing up to 30kg.
"Er..Skipper...someone's taking pictures!"
Penguins feed at sea, chasing fish at high speeds. They swim with porpoise-like movement, jumping above the surface from time to time to breath air. This also confuses predators like leopard seals, killer whales, and sharks. Penguins can collapse their lungs when they dive in search of fish, usually at depths of up to 20m. Normally they hold their breath for up to 3 mins.
"Well...act cute & cuddly boys"
Have a look at the penguins. They have light fronts and dark backs. This colouring camouflages them when swimming. Seen from below, their white tummy blend with the white sky; from above, their backs blend with the deep dark water. Other animals, like killer whales, camouflage themselves in the same way.
"Cute & cuddly...."
Penguins keep themselves warm by two ways. They have a thick layer of body fat (blubber), and special feathers which are oily at the top but fluffy at the bottom. This fluffy part traps warm air close to the skin, and the oily part makes a waterproof layer over the top.
We've got two different species of penguin at the zoo. One is the African Penguin and they come from Southern Africa.
The other is the Gentoo Penguin and they are the 3rd largest penguin. They breed in the sub-Antartic regions like the Falkland Islands.
So that's about it fellow readers! I hope you've enjoyed this week's post. Look out for the next exciting edition of....Animal Encounters!
On a side note, I've received an offer from the firm which I had an interview with on Wednesday in Bath! And my final year project is finally falling into place, with my poster presentation coming up next week! It seems everything is going pretty smooth after the past few weeks of misery....almost unbelievable. Such a big turnaround...life can be really unpredictable.
Two thousand years ago, with most of the world at their feet, the Romans recognised the unique qualities of Bath and settled there. They chose well. Set in a sheltered valley, surrounded like Rome by seven wooded hills and nourished by Britain's only natural hot springs, it is a natural haven. And it still is. Those thermal waters that first attracted the Celts and Romans are the source of life, inspiring the creation of a spa complex. However, the spa complex has been plagued by several problems….like leaking tiles…contractors pulling out…so on and so forth. Its original opening date was in 2004. It is now rescheduled to be opened in 2006.
Bath by day
Despite its problems, Bath remains a very beautiful city, with all its charming Georgian houses and shops, rich in history and heritage. It is a place which I would definitely recommend visiting at least once in your lifetime.
Bath by night
As for the interview, I think it went pretty well. I should be hearing something from them in a week’s time! Fingers crossed…..
The Chilean Rose Spider
This is Bella (means beautiful lady in Italian). She's a Chilean Rose Spider from...Chile! She's from the Tarantula family and she's about the size of my hand. If you observe her closely, she's got a reddish tinge to her, hence the word 'rose' in her title. Besides having eight legs, spiders have an exoskeleton, that means their skeletons are on the outside. We humans have our skeletons on the inside, hence the word endoskeleton. She has two little black structues behind called the spinnerets, where the silk comes out from. In the wild, they spin their webs on the ground, not in the trees as they're too heavy to be jumping about. They've got their own little hole in the ground where they spin their web about. Any insect walking near the hole will step on the web, triggering the vibrations. They'll then jump out of the hole to ambush their prey, sinking their huge fangs in to the prey. Their venom does two things: it kills the prey, and it contains some enzymes which digest the insides of the prey into a mass of globbery fluid. Hence a spider sucks it food up, it does not chew its food.
Over in the zoo we feed Bella crickets and very small children......and in the wild they eat insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and so on. The larger tarantulas are big enough to hunt birds...whether they really eat (or suck) the bird up is a mystery to me. I always get asked some standard questions: Is it poisonous? Answer: All spiders are poisonous. They need it to kill their prey, unless you come across a vegetarian spider...... Question: If it bites me, will I die? Answer: No, but it'll be painful......just like bees and wasps stings, if you're allergic to it, you could develop swellings and go into shock.
Oh my, what big fangs you have!
Also, again observing closely, you can see that Bella's pretty hairy. She's able to flick those hairs into the air when aggitated. And when those hairs get into your eyes, they can cause blindness. Mostly they tend to get into noses and skins, which will then proceed to cause massive irritations. It is a self defence mechanism to deter larger predators. What other facts can I say? Well their blood is blue and their piss is colourless. We've got four Chilean Rose in our collection, Bella, Xena, Gabrielle, Flossie. They're all lovely females. Females tend to be larger and live longer. By the way, never ever pick up spiders in the wild! In other words, don't try this at home kids!
So, thats about it folks! Tune in next week for another exciting edition of.....Animal Encounters!