This Cuddly Rodent Coats Itself in Lethal Poison to Keep Predators at Bay

The African crested rat, an elusive rodent that lives in forested areas of Eastern Africa, has a very strange yet intriguing defense mechanism against would-be predators – it licks deadly toxins onto its own fur.

People inhabiting the highland forests and woodlands of countries like Somalia, Sudan or Ethiopia have long known to stay clear of the large maned rat that makes its home in those areas. Known as Lophiomys imhausi to scientists, this long-haired rat is the world’s only poisonous rodent. But the most interesting thing about it is that it’s not born poisonous; it actually “borrows” the lethal toxin of a plant known as the “poison arrow tree”, which contains a poison strong enough to kill an elephant, when applied to an arrow head. The rat applies this toxin to specialized hairs on the sides of its body, turning itself into as lethal weapon against anyone foolish enough to attack it.

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Japanese Fruit Farmers “Employ” Owls as Pest Control

Japanese field voles can seriously impact the profits of apple orchard owners, if left unchecked. For centuries, many farmers have relied on owls to keep vole numbers to manageable levels, and research has shown the night predators to be incredibly efficient.

Ural owls have been setting up their nests in orchards with high rodent populations for a very long time, but Japanese apple growers were the first to notice the beneficial effect the winged predators had on their orchards and actively try to use them as a means of natural pest controls. Apart from allowing the owls to set up nests in tree hollows, they also started installing man-made tree houses to encourage owls from settling on their properties. They soon noticed that the owls brought the vole population down significantly, which meant healthier trees and bigger profits.

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The Jagdterrier – A German-Engineered Hunting Superdog

The Germans are known for their machine engineering, but it turns out that they’re not to shabby when it comes to genetic engineering either, and the jagdterrier, a living breathing hunting machine, is a perfect example.

Literally German for “hunt terrier”, the jagdterrier is a hunting dog developed in Germany between the two world wars, in a time when German nationalism and feeling of superiority were at an all-time high. Hunting cynologists Walter Zangenberg, Carl Erick Grunewald, and Rudolph Friess decided that the popular Fox Terrier was being bred more as a show dog, and less as an efficient hunting machine, so they started working on a new breed of terrier, one that would be superior to British and American breeds.

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Canadian “Raccoon Whisperer” Has Been Feeding Wild Raccoons Every Night for Over 20 Years

James Blackwood, a retired Mounted Police Officer from Nova Scotia, calls himself a “Raccoon Whisperer”, a worthy title, considering that he has been feeding dozens of them every night, for over two decades.

Blackwood and his furry friends recently became the talk of the interwebs, after a video showing the pensioner getting mobbed by a about two dozen raccoons, as he feeds them grapes and hot-dogs. This one video has been viewed 10 million times on YouTube, in the last two weeks, and has turned the retired RCMP officer into an overnight sensation. Truth be told, he already a healthy following on YouTube, with over 200,000subscribers, but those were mainly racoon and animal lovers, now the whole world knows about the Racoon Whisperer.

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Gravity-Defying Ibexes Climb Vertical Walls in Search of Precious Minerals

The Alpine Ibex is a species of big mountain goat-like herbivores that inhabit the highest peaks of the European Alps, using their pincer-like hooves and impressive agility to climb up even the steepest cliffs, thus avoiding most predators. But it’s their ability to climb even vertical walls that has made ibexes famous all over the world.

The Cingino Dam, located in Italy’s Piedmont region is one of many masonry dams in the European country, but it became somewhat of a tourist attraction a few years back, after photos of ibexes climbing the vertical damn all the way to the top went viral online. And looking at these photos, or watching the videos of the herbivores expertly traversing the seemingly unclimbable structure, it’s easy to see why millions around the world declared themselves fascinated. Somehow, the ibexes are able to grip any rock that protrudes from the dam ever so slightly, which allows them to scale the 50-meter-high wall and reach the mineral they so desperately crave – salt.

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World’s Most Expensive Racing Pigeon Is Worth At Least $1.5 Million, Has Its Own Bodyguards

New Kim, a two-year-old racing pigeon from Belgium has recently been crowned the world’s most expensive pigeon after a South African collector bid a whopping 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million) in an online auction.

Hok Van De Wouwer, a renowned pigeon breeder in Antwerp, Belgium has recently put its entire collection of racing pigeons on sale this month. Father and son duo Gaston and Kurt Van De Wouwer have an enviable resume among pigeon breeders, winning numerous national ace pigeon titles and 1st place at nationals, so it’s no wonder that their birds are sought after in the still ongoing online auction. But even so, no one expected the star of the show, a two year-old female named New Kim, to break the world record for most expensive pigeon.

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Russian Cat Lover Shares Her Apartment With Two Full-Grown Lynxes

Anastasia Poznyak, a young cat lover from Sankt Petersburg, managed to adopt two baby lynxes from a Russian fur farm and has since been sharing her home with them despite her neighbors’ complaints.

Anastasia was always a cat person, but somehow she had wound up with eight dogs – six huskies, a Samoyed, and an Inuit dog – as pets. She still wanted to get a cat as well, so a few years ago she started searching for a feline that her eight dogs would get along with. That’s how she learned that in Russia, operating lynx fur farms, where the large wild cats are bred for their luxurious coats, was still perfectly legal. Designer clothes made from real lynx furs are apparently very popular in Russia, so the cruel business can be very profitable. The good news was that she could adopt a lynx cub from such a farm.

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Bashkir Curly – The Labradoodles of Horses

When asked to describe a horse’s coat, most people use adjectives like smooth and silky, but in reality not all horses have straight, sleek coats. Some of them are as curly as Mangalica pigs or labradoodles.

Curly Horses, also known as Bashkir Curlies, American Bashkir Curlies, and North American Curly Horses, are a special breed that comes in all sizes, colors and body types, and carries a gene for a unique curly coat of hair that becomes especially impressive in winter. That’s the thing with Curlies, they mainly show off their special coats in the wintertime. During the summer, their coat either shows a slight wave in it, or it sheds completely, so you only get to witness the coat of a Bashkir Curly in the cold season.

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Loyal Dog Walks 60 Km in 26 Days to Return Home After Being Forgotten on Highway

A loyal pooch reportedly managed to walk 60 km back to his home after being forgotten by his owners in a highway service area 26 days prior.

According to local media, the 7-year-old dog, named Dou Dou, was forgotten in a by a Chinese family in a motorway service area when they stopped for a break on a long trip. Apparently, no one noticed that Dou Dou was missing until they arrived at their destination, several hours later. They reportedly went back to look for the pet the very next day, but found no trace of him. Luckily, the fluffy canine was able to return home by himself, after nearly a month. He was filthy and emaciated after the 60km walk, but otherwise ok.

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The Yakutian Horses That Can Withstand Temperatures of Under -70 Degrees Celsius

Winter temperatures in Russia’s northern region of Yakutia can drop under a staggering -70 degrees Celsius, making it impossible for humans to stay outside for long periods of time. But for the indigenous horses of this region, such extreme temperatures are comfortable enough to spend days and nights in the open.

Yakutian horses are only 140-145 centimeters tall, but can weigh up to half a tonne, because of a thick layer of fat and heavy, thick mane that can reach up to 10 centimeters long. Because of their stocky physique and long mane, some have referred to them as the equestrian version of wooly mammoths. There’s more to that comparison than looks, though, as these horses can withstand far lower temperatures than any other horse breeds anywhere in the world.

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This Beetle Can Survive Being Run Over by a Car

The Diabolical Ironclad Beetle is one of the most resilient beings on the planet. Its protective shell can withstand forces that would pulverize most other living things.

In 2015, when entomologists told Jesus Rivera that a beetle found primarily on the west coast of North America had this “superpower” that allowed it to survive being run over by a car, he didn’t believe them. So he staged a rudimentary experiment, laying this nondescript black beetle on a a pillow of dirt in a parking lot and had a friend run it over with a Toyota Camry, twice. The bug played dead afterwards, but as he was poking it, Rivera realized it was very much alive. The bug scientists were right, this beetle could easily survive being run over by cars. Jesus ended up spending his doctoral career studying the beetle’s superpower to find out what made it so strong.

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Hero Shelters Hundreds of Stray Dogs in His House to Protect Them From Hurricane

A Mexican animal rights activist has been praised as a hero by animal lovers around the world after it was reported that he sheltered around 300 stray dogs and many other animals in his home to protect them from a hurricane.

On October 7, at around 5:30 in the morning, Hurricane Delta made landfall in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Hours before, Ricardo Pimentel, an animal rights activist from the town of  Leona Vicario, was busy making sure that the facilities at the Tierra de Animales animal shelter he founded were prepared for the strong winds and heavy rains that were about to hit the region. The most radical thing Pedro did was fill his own house with over 300 hundred dogs, as well as some cats, chickens, rabbits and even a hedgehog, to make sure they were safe from the hurricane.

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Researchers Find Extremely Rare Half-Male, Half-Female Bird Specimen

Researchers at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania recently came across a “once in a lifetime discovery” – a half-male, half-female rose-breasted grosbeak.

Annie Lindsay and her colleagues at Powdermill Nature Reserve were catching and banding birds with identification tags on September 24, when a fellow researcher called her over via walkie-talkie to supposedly see something extraordinary. The moment she saw her colleague’s find, Annie knew what she was looking at, an extremely rare half-male, half-female creature known as a gynandromorph. The rose-breasted grosbeak exhibited male-characteristic plumage on one half of its body, and female coloration on the other.

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Snake Named After Knife Slices Into Victims to Feed on Their Innards

Small-banded kukri snakes, named after the curved Kukri knives used by Nepalese Gurkha soldiers, apparently use their sharp teeth to slice into certain victims and then proceed to eat them from the inside.

Scientists already knew that kukri snakes used their curved teeth to tear into eggs, but a recent study revealed that they sometimes used their knife-shaped fangs to slice the abdomens of poisonous toads, before sticking their heads in side them and feeding on their intestines. According to the research published in the Herpetezoa online journal, the victims are basically eaten alive from the inside, which the authors themselves found to be a macabre feeding strategy.

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Nekobiyaka – The World’s Only Black Cat Cafe

The Japanese castle town of Himeji is home to the only known black cat café in the world, Nekobiyaka, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink in the company of about a dozen black felines.

There are hundreds of cat cafes all over Japan, but only one dedicated exclusively to black cats. Nekobiyaka opened in 2013 and has since become somewhat of a tourist attraction in Himeji. The owner, Ms. Yagi, came up with idea of a black cat café as a way of increasing the felines’ chances of finding a forever home. As in most places around the world, the rate of adoption for black cats in Japan is significantly lower than for all other colors, and many of them end up euthanized. At Nekobiyaka, visitors get to interact with black felines and discover that the stigma and superstition surrounding them is simply ridiculous.

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