Recycling Tokyo Crows Build Their Nests Out of Coat Hangers

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Crows are known to be highly intelligent birds, and it looks like they can now teach us a thing or two about recycling and stealing. The Asian Jungle Crow, a large-billed crow, actually builds its nest out of coat hangers that it steals from people’s homes!

Crows make use of pretty much anything they find lying around to build their hardy nests. House Crows generally build crude structures, made of interlocking twigs gathered from surrounding trees and shrubs. They weave the twigs together with little pieces of metallic wire that strengthen the nest structure. In some nests, the clever crows incorporate knotted lengths of thick plastic instead.

But perhaps the most amazing crow nests are the ones built around Tokyo, Japan. Twigs and other natural materials are hard to come by in the busy metropolis, so the birds settle for the next best thing, and that seems to be coat hangers. You have got to see pictures to believe it! A blogger had posted some of these images way back in 2005, after solving the mystery of the missing hangers from her back yard. But it isn’t just the one nest – it seems that Japanese Jungle Crows are compulsive collectors of hangers!

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Forget Godzilla, Disease-Carrying Ratzillas Are a Much More Real Threat

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As though they weren’t bad enough at their normal size, we now have rats that are bigger than cats. Oh, the horror! Several ‘ratzilla’ stories have been in the news recently, featuring shockingly massive rats. I wouldn’t blame you for wondering if these pictures are Photoshopped, but they’re not – the supersize rats look like they’ve been loading up on steroids or something. These ‘pumped’ rats have infested several countries around the world and are quickly becoming a huge menace to humans.

A series of ratzilla-sightings have been reported across the UK, the largest one being 2 ft. long. It was lurking about in the loft of a home, terrifying the residents with loud scratching sounds. “This was followed by the really loud sound of wood being chewed,” said homeowner Grace Walters. “Pest control put a camera in the attic to see what was going on – and sure enough the rat was there, hiding in a corner. They had to cut a hole in the ceiling to reach it and when they grabbed it, none of us could believe it was the size of a cat.”

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Meet Penelope Popcorn, the Most Fashionable Pig on the Internet

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You’d expect any pig named ‘Penelope Popcorn’ to be adorable. And this one-year-old from California does not disappoint. The stylish swine has become an internet sensation after her owner posted photographs of her posing in a range of interesting outfits. Penelope is very popular online, especially on Instagram, where she has over 40,000 followers.

“She has been dressed up and had her nails painted since she was a baby, so she doesn’t mind wearing outfits and posing for pictures,” said the owner. “She is very patient.” Penelope lives with a mother and her two kids and has truly become one of the ladies. The purebred Juliana pig apparently enjoys playing dress-up. She’s also potty trained and can perform a variety of tricks.

In the photographs, Penelope is often seen dressed in a range of swanky headgear shaped like flowers, bows, butterflies, angel wings, and even party hats. One of her most adorable pictures shows her dressed like a little pink bunny – I can see why people are going crazy over this stuff. There’s another one where she’s dressed like a bumblebee. She can be seen sporting sweatshirts too, but the animal disguises are the most popular.

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Cat Working as Train Station Master Is Japan’s Cutest Tourist Attraction

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Tama the cat has been a part of the Japanese workforce for the past seven years. She works as a station master at Kishi station, a remote railway stop in Kinokawa City, Wakayama, Western Japan. Of course, ‘works’ isn’t exactly the right word for what she does there. Her job mostly involves sitting around, posing for pictures and looking rather stern (which reminds me of my ex-boss, actually). But Tama has been rewarded handsomely for her efforts – she has a large window office, a hat with a gold lining, a badge, and her annual compensation is one years’ worth of cat food.

Station Master Tama is special because she attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. Her presence at Kishi station has helped revitalize tourism in a rural area that was struggling to stay afloat. At one point, the train line that passed through Kishi station saw a 15 percent annual decline in ridership. But when Tama stepped into the role of station master, in 2007, there was a sudden 10 percent jump in the first year.

Tourists continue to pour in from Hong Kong and Taiwan; Wakayama Electric Railway (the company that runs the line) said that at least 20,000 tourists visit the small town annually. The estimated combined revenue from the ticket sales and memorabilia like photobooks and commercial appearances has bumped up the local economy by a whopping 1.1 billion yen ($10.8 million). The company operates just the one line, with about 2.2 million passengers annually.

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Fishing with Otters in Bangladesh – A Dying Tradition

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Otter Fishing has been a long-standing tradition in Bangladesh. For centuries, fishermen have been using trained otters to lure fish into their nets – a unique technique passed on from father to son that has long died out in other parts of Asia. Bangladeshi fishermen have managed to keep it alive so far, but the future of otter fishing seems uncertain due to the dwindling  population of fish in the country’s rivers.

As a part of the tradition, fishermen lower their nets into the water close to the banks of the river. As they do this, their pet otters also dive tails up into the water with a splash. The animals do not catch the fish themselves, but chase them towards the fishing nets for the fishermen to haul in. Otter fishing is generally practiced during the night, with some fisherman throwing their nets until dawn trying to catch enough fish to support their families. Their hard work yields anywhere between 4 and 12 kilos of fish and shrimp every night.

A fishing family makes about $250 a month with the modest catch. “Our job depends on the otters,” said Shashudhar Biswas, a fisherman from Narail district in southern Bangladesh. “The otters manage to spot fish among the plants, then the fish swim away and we stay close with our nets. If we did it without them, we wouldn’t be able to catch as many fish,” his son Vipul added.

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Believe It or Not the Scariest Mouth in the World Belongs to a Species of Turtle

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Here’s one species of turtle you don’t want to kiss. Believe me, the Leatherback Sea Turtle might look adorable and harmless, but lurking behind its cute face is a set of killer teeth, making its mouth one of the scariest in the world.. Hundreds of these jagged stalactite-like teeth called ‘papillae’ line the turtle’s mouth and esophagus, all the way down to the gut. You just have to see it to believe it.

The Leatherback is the third largest living reptile in the world, and also the largest turtle. It’s actually a pretty docile creature, with a diet mainly consisting of jellyfish. In fact, the only reason it gets so huge is because it eats an astonishingly large number of the slow-moving jellies. Sometimes, the leatherback can consume about 73 percent of its own body weight in a single day, which is about 16,000 calories and three to seven times more than it needs to survive. Talk about binge eating!

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The Town That Hanged an Elephant – The Chilling Story of Murderous Mary

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It’s hard to tell if the photograph is fake or real. Either way, the story of Mary – the only elephant in the world to have been hanged – will send chills down your spine. Cruelty towards animals is by no means rare, but stories like these seriously leave you wondering if there is any hope for us humans.

Mary’s fate was sealed on a cold afternoon in February 1916 when Charlie Spark’s traveling circus arrived in the small town of Kingsport, Tennessee. She was the star of the circus – she could pick out 25 tunes on musical horns using her trunk. She was also the champion pitcher of the circus’ baseball team. As a promotional activity, the circus conducted a parade along the main street that day. Mary, or ‘Murderous Mary’ as she would later be known, was ridden by 38-year-old Walter Eldridge.

Eldridge happened to be a drifter – he had only joined the circus the day before and had no experience of handling elephants. But that was no concern; he would do fine as long as he could wield the ‘elephant stick’ – a long rod with a sharp spear at the end. The elephant stick is a notorious instrument that evokes extreme fear out of tortured creatures. To make an elephant perform tricks, it first has to be broken down into subservience. And that’s where the stick comes in handy. Trainers repeatedly poke the giant creatures until they bleed profusely. Ultimately they will do anything the trainer asks, in order to avoid the stick.

Mary was obviously trained with the stick too. She would do as Eldridge ordered as long as he held it – or so he thought. Unfortunately, on that fateful afternoon, Mary happened to be suffering from a painfully abscessed tooth. She stopped during the parade to chew on a piece of watermelon rind and Eldridge jabbed her to keep moving, catching her on the exact spot of the infection.

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Tiny Terror – Arizona Town Terrorized by Packs of Stray Chihuahuas

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I always thought Chihuahuas were pretty harmless, but apparently they can be quite vicious in large numbers. The residents of Maryvale, a small town in Arizona, can certainly vouch for the fact. The town is filled with stray pooches that are terrorizing children and defecating all over the place.

Local animal control officials say they’re finding it quite difficult to control the Chihuahua population. They’ve received over 6,000 calls from frustrated residents – three times higher than any other town in the state. According to Melissa Gable from Maricopa County Animal Control (MCAC), these dogs aren’t spayed or neutered so they’re always looking out for a mate and having babies. This makes the problem worse.

“There’s a lot of dogs in the street,” said Stephanie Guzman, a resident. “People will start going crazy because they bark all night.”

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Cat Breeders Discover New Breed of Felines That Look Like Werewolves

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Tennessee-based breeders have created a new breed of cat with a touch of the supernatural. The ‘Lykoi’ has the looks of a werewolf, but apparently behaves more like a dog. Due to a genetic mutation in a domestic shorthair cat, the Lykoi has no hair around its eyes, nose, ears and muzzle, giving it a werewolfish appearance.

The name ‘Lykoi’ loosely translates as ‘wolf cat’ in Greek. It has patchy hair on the rest of its body and a ‘hound dog personality’. According to the official website for the breed, “They like to hunt around the house for whatever they can find. They show caution to strangers but warm up quickly and become very friendly.”

“There was no human intervention to create the cat,” said breeder Johnny Gobble. “The gene is a natural mutation that appeared in the domestic cat population. We are simply using the genetics of natural processes.”

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A Fascinating Story of Exploding Toads and Clever Crows

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In April 2005, a small pond in Hamburg, Germany became the center of a great mystery, rather repulsive in nature. A documentary film made on the phenomenon reported:

“About 1,000 dead toads were discovered lying around the edges. Their bodies appeared to have exploded. Eye-witnesses said they swelled up to about three-and-a-half times their normal size and then simply burst. And they burst with such an explosive force that their entrails were blown over several square meters.”

For several weeks, the common European toads in question received international attention. Scientists were totally baffled, unable to provide an explanation for the unnatural deaths. Health officials panicked – they suspected a virus spread by South American race horses from a nearby track. The tabloid press had a field day with the story, labelling the area ‘The Pond of Death’. Things got worse when the epidemic spread across the border to a nearby Danish lake.

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Huachito, “Bolivia’s Most Loyal Dog”, Still Waits for His Master Five Years after His Death

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Huachito is an extremely faithful Bolivian dog, named after his famous Japanese counterpart, Hachiko. Just like Hachiko, who stunned the world with his loyalty to his dead owner, Huachito is mourning the death of his beloved human friend.

Huachito, ‘Huachi’, or simply ‘Hachi’ to some, is of an unknown breed. This remarkable dog has surprised the residents of Pope Paul Avenue, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he comes daily and waits for his master to return. Unfortunately, the dog’s owner passed away five years ago in a tragic accident.

According to Roman Lujan Bilbao, a local butcher, “It should be about five years since the owner died in a motorcycle accident. The dog has come and stood here ever since.” The locals have taken to feeding and caring for the dog while it waits patiently.

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Giant Gippsland – The World’s Largest and Most Extraordinary Earthworms

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What’s 31 inches long, one inch thick, has no legs, and slithers through the ground? No, it’s not a snake, it’s an earthworm! The Giant Gippsland, found in Gippsland in south-eastern Australia, is the world’s largest species of earthworms. Fully stretched, it can measure up to two meters in length.

These slithering giants are surprisingly gentle creatures. They are quite hard to spot, spending most of their lives deep underground. Higher water content in the soil helps them breathe better. Their burrows can be as deep as 3 to 5 feet below the surface. Sometimes, heavy rainfall forces them to emerge out of the dirt. You might find also find their burrows in places where there’s been a landslip.

They are quite fragile – reckless handling can crush and kill them. Only a particular type of moist soil is suitable for their survival. If you happen to walk over their water-filled burrows, they will respond to the vibration of your footsteps. They start to crawl about and make squelchy noises that are quite easy to hear. So even though the Gippsland Giants are pretty rare, you’ll know when they are around.

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Romantic Bowerbird Builds Intricate Structures to Seduce Females

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The concept of bachelor pads isn’t unique to humans. Male bowerbirds are amazing architects, but they reserve theirs skills for just one purpose – finding a mate. They construct such elaborate and dazzling nests to impress females, perhaps they could teach our men a thing or two about home décor.

Male bowerbirds use embellishments such as coins, nails, leaves, shells, seeds, flowers and live insects to weave their nests, called bowers. Bowers are U-shaped nests built with twigs and grass, and carpeted with moss. Each bower is an architectural marvel that stretches out 5 or 6 yards across, complete with a thatched roof and supporting pillars.

Blue is a very important color in the construction process. Male bowerbirds use several blue objects – berries, flowers, bottle caps and string – to attract prospective mates. Research has proven that females are attracted to bowers with the most number of blue decorations. Because blue objects are rare in a bowerbird’s environment, a male who is able to acquire them and protect them is deemed superior.

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Fascinating Orchid Mantis Mimics Flowers to Attract Unsuspecting Prey

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The orchid mantis, named after the flower it strikingly resembles, fools prey and predators alike. Its imitation of orchids is so convincing that insects are more attracted to it than the real deal.

Camouflage isn’t a strange concept; many animals and insects adopt clever disguises to avoid predators. But orchid mantises are unique. They stand out instead of blending in, beating orchids at their own game.

Most people find insects gross and disturbing. I must confess, I’m one of them. But I caught myself admiring pictures of orchid mantises. They are such beautiful creatures with their petal-shaped legs and rich pink, white and purple bodies. These features create a “tantalizing lure” for insects, says James O’Hanlon from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

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Unique Archerfish Spits Jets of Water to Shoot Down Its Prey

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The water-pistol is a harmless toy for children, but apparently it can be a lethal weapon too. This particular species of fish makes use of water jets and the laws of physics to aim at and stun its prey.

The aptly named archerfish employs a unique process to hunt land based insects and small animals – it aims, spits, and stuns. It lurks under the surface of the water, waiting for unsuspecting insects to land nearby. Then, it spits out water jets at a great force, instantly killing the prey. The entire process takes just one-tenth of a second.

An archerfish can bring down insects as far as three meters above the water’s surface. Once it selects the prey, it rotates its eyes so that the prey’s image falls on a particular part of the eye. Then it presses its tongue against the groove on the roof of its mouth to form a narrow channel, and contracts its gill covers to issue a powerful jet of water through the channel. The power of this shot can be altered for prey of different sizes. The jet can be up to five meters long.

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