Wolves

=^.^=  In doing my research last night about the brown recluse I decided to cover another animal that has a bad rap sheet .. wolves.

Now I personally find them to be beautiful mysterious creatures, but they are often hunted down and killed for no reason other than for what they are… animals. So I wanted to present facts about wolves as well as some information about the wolf relocation project.

(Taken from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/wolf/)

Photo: A gray wolf in the snow

Wolves are legendary because of their spine-tingling howl, which they use to communicate. A lone wolf howls to attract the attention of his pack, while communal howls may send territorial messages from one pack to another. Some howls are confrontational. Much like barking domestic dogs, wolves may simply begin howling because a nearby wolf has already begun.

Wolves are the largest members of the dog family. Adaptable gray wolves are by far the most common and were once found all over the Northern Hemisphere. But wolves and humans have a long adversarial history. Though they almost never attack humans, wolves are considered one of the animal world’s most fearsome natural villains. They do attack domestic animals, and countless wolves have been shot, trapped, and poisoned because of this tendency.

In the lower 48 states, gray wolves were hunted to near extinction, though some populations survived and others have since been reintroduced. Few gray wolves survive in Europe, though many live in Alaska, Canada, and Asia.

Red wolves live in the southeastern United States, where they are endangered. These animals actually became extinct in the wild in 1980. Scientists established a breeding program with a small number of captive red wolves and have reintroduced the animal to North Carolina. Today, perhaps 100 red wolves survive in the wild.

The maned wolf, a distant relative of the more familiar gray and red wolves, lives in South America. Physically, this animal resembles a large, red fox more than its wolf relatives.

Wolves live and hunt in packs of around six to ten animals. They are known to roam large distances, perhaps 12 miles (20 kilometers) in a single day. These social animals cooperate on their preferred prey—large animals such as deer, elk, and moose. When they are successful, wolves do not eat in moderation. A single animal can consume 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of meat at a sitting. Wolves also eat smaller mammals, birds, fish, lizards, snakes, and fruit.

Wolfpacks are established according to a strict hierarchy, with a dominant male at the top and his mate not far behind. Usually this male and female are the only animals of the pack to breed. All of a pack’s adults help to care for young pups by bringing them food and watching them while others hunt.

Map

Map: Wolf rangeWolf Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
6 to 8 years
Size:
Head and body, 36 to 63 in (91 to 160 cm); Tail, 13 to 20 in (33 to 51 cm)
Weight:
40 to 175 lbs (18 to 79 kg)
Group name:
Pack
Protection status:
Endangered
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Wolf compared with adult man

(Taken from http://fangedwolf.tripod.com/Wolf.htm)

Hunting

The pack relies heavily on group hunting, as they are usually quite a bit smaller than their prey. They need co-operation and coordination in order to feed the pack sufficiently. They rely on their sense of smell heavily; which is said to be 100 times greater than our own, to hunt. They can travel great distances while hunting. They have great stamina and strength, and can travel far for extended periods. Some wolves have been clocked at traveling 24-28 miles per hour. Although they cannot maintain great speed for any length of time, they seem to be able to trot indefinitely at about 5mph.

In winter wolves use frozen rivers and lakes as travel routes. They also can travel between 15-25km in a single night. Usually wolves eat all that they kill, gorging themselves, as they did not know when their next meal would be. Wolves will often go for days without food, and then can eat up to 100lbs of meat at a time. Crows and ravens have been known to help wolves find food. The wolves make the kill, and gorge themselves, and the ravens get the leftovers. It is an unlikely partnership, but one that works.

Common Misconceptions

(taken from http://www.aws.vcn.com/wolf_myth_legend_misconception.html)

MISCONCEPTION 1 – MAN’S FEAR OF WOLVES COMES FROM MYTH AND LEGEND

It’s true that there are story book tales of the “Big, Bad Wolf.” Is this the real reason that there is fear and hatred toward wolves? Research doesn’t support such a claim. This author has spent hundreds of hours in research and interviews with people who have had personal experiences with the wolf and there was not one time a person alluded to a myth or a legend. They spoke of what they saw with their own eyes.

MISCONCEPTION 2 – WOLVES ARE ENDANGERED THEREFORE WE MUST RECOVER THEM THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES

“Endangered” to most people simply means “few in number.” But that is not always the case. Animals can number in the thousands, be in no danger of extinction and still be listed as “endangered” on the ESA. Such is the case with the wolf.

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The Evil Brown Recluse

=^.^= *shudders*

First off, I don’t care for spiders.. I find them mostly creepy. I will take a non poisonous snake any day over a daddy long legs or any type of non poisonous spider.. ugh.

I was going to write about how evil the brown recluse is.. but then in my research found that where I live.. scientifically the recluses don’t exist. So I wanted to cover the fear, myth and hype over this spider and end on a cautionary note. These are dangerous spiders.. but only if you live in the area they are in. My best suggestion if you have to be in the woods or do any type of yard work near woods, wear lots of protective clothing, if you have to go into the attic, turn on the light 30 minutes prior to going up there. They love the dark and will scramble away from light.

So without further ado.. here’s my research.


How to id them:

(taken from http://www.brownreclusespider.org/brown-recluse-spider-identification.htm)

The loxosceles reclusa, also known as brown recluse spider or violin spider, is a small-sized arachnid of approximately 7-12mm (1/4″ – 1/2′) long. The color of the brown recluse spider is generally brown. Its body shows a peculiar cephalothorax with a dark brown violin-shaped spot; the legs are light brown and the oval-shaped abdomen is dark brown, yellow, or greenish yellow. The most important characteristic is the presence of 3 pairs of eyes in the cephalothorax. Normally, all spiders have 4 pairs (8 altogether).

More info on Identifying them

(Taken from http://spiders.ucr.edu/recluseid.html)

A brown recluse has a dark brown violin shape on the cephalothorax (the portion of the body to which the legs attach).  The neck of the violin points backward toward the abdomen.  However, what you should look at instead is the eye pattern of 6 eyes in pairs with a space separating the pairs.  Most spiders have 8 eyes in two rows of four.

Here are the things that describe a brown recluse spider (but some other spiders have a few of these characters too).  There are pictures below to illustrate what is NOT a recluse.

  • Six eyes arranged in pairs, with one pair in front and a pair on either side.
  • A dark violin shape on the cephalothorax.
  • Uniformly light-colored legs – no stripes, no bands
  • Uniformly colored abdomen which can vary from cream to dark brown depending on what it has eaten, however, it will never have two colors of pigment at the same time.  (The little discoloration on the spider above left is the heart which can be seen through the thin skin.)
  • No spines on the legs, only fine hairs
  • Recluses make small retreat webs behind objects, never out in the open.
  • It is about 3/8 of an inch in body length.



Where to find them:

(Taken from http://www.brownreclusespider.org/brown-recluse-spider-location.htm)

The brown recluse spider, as well as other species of Loxosceles, is a native of the USA. Nevertheless, other non-native species can be found in a small number of areas in the country, such as the Loxosceles spider rufescens or Mediterranean recluse.

Brown recluse spiders are mainly found in the central Midwestern states southward to the Gulf of Mexico, especially in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.

Important: these spiders can and do spread, travelling inside boxes and packaging.

Inside homes, the brown recluse spider can be found in any of the following places: dark spots within baths, dormitories, garages, closets and cellars, vent and heating conducts, seldom used clothes/shoes. They can nest in stored clothes, old books, boxes, furniture, toys, carpets, coatings, corners and cracks.

Typical outdoor habitats of the brown recluse spider: storage places, underneath rocks or inside hollow trunks.


Below is a location map of where they are normally found:

(taken from http://dermatology.cdlib.org/DOJvol5num2/special/recluse.html)

Recluse Spider Populations
The darkly shaded area of the map shows the distribution of the brown recluse spider (modified from the distribution map of Gertsch and Ennik, 1983). Additional limited populations may be found around the margins of the shaded area. The other 10 species of native recluse spiders are found in the striped area in the southwestern U.S.

(Taken from http://spiders.ucr.edu/recluseid.html)

Several important things:

  1. Check the map to see if you live in an area that is supposed to have recluse spiders.  If you do not live in any of the colored areas in the map, then it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you have a recluse spider.  It is POSSIBLE but incredibly unlikely.
  2. Because so many people have mistaken markings on a spider as violins, this is NOT a reliable characteristic for a non-arachnologist.  You need to look at the eye pattern.
  3. Even if you have a recluse, bites from them are extremely rare, despite all the stories.    Many of the really graphic nasty wounds you see on the internet as recluse bites can also be other conditions like necrotizing bacteria and pyoderma gangrenosum.  Ninety percent of brown recluse bites are not medically significant, heal very nicely often without medical. intervention and treatment for most brown recluse bites is simple first aid (RICE therapy – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).  Many conditions are misdiagnosed as recluse bites when their cause is something else like infection, bad reaction to medication, diabetic ulcers, Lyme disease, or other underlying medical conditions.

The worst part about these spiders is their bite.

There are no lack of graphical images of brown recluse spider bites on the internet.. and since I wanted to keep this as informative and non-creepy as possible (believe me I got freaked about the pictures of the spider itself).  I’ll provide a less graphic one.

(Taken from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/spider_bite_brown_recluse_spider_bite/page3_em.htm)

Brown recluse spider bites often go unnoticed initially because they are usually painless bites. Occasionally, some minor burning that feels like a bee sting is noticed at the time of the bite. Symptoms usually develop two to eight hours after a bite. Keep in mind that most bites cause little tissue destruction.


If you think you have been bitten by a recluse, seek medical attention that day.

I hope this has been informative and educational.. if not a bit creepy.

The Commodore 64 Making a Comeback (?)

I am dating myself by mentioning this .. but the commodore for its time was an innovation.

Below is all the Commodore 64 (or C64) was. You had to hook up a monitor to it. Everything else was self-contained, a bit like our laptops now.

Hardware

I remember watching my parents play Mario brothers on it or Boulder Dash and I loved playing Pegasus.. it was good for bit games, but don’t try to save or print, the dot-matrix printer would got a little screwy and you lost on your work.


For those that don’t remember or weren’t born when it was popular:

The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982. Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US $595.[2][3] Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20and Commodore MAX Machine, the C64 features 64 kilobytes (65,536 bytes) of memory with sound and graphics performance that were superior to IBM-compatible computers of that time. It is commonly known as the C64 or C=64 (after the graphic logo on the case) and occasionally as the CBM 64 (for Commodore Business Machines), or VIC-64.[4] It has also been affectionately nicknamed the “breadbox” and “bullnose” due to the shape and color of the first version of its casing.

(Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_64)


I found out after browsing Yahoo that this thing is going to make a comeback…

Barry Altman, president and chief executive of Commodore USA, said he purchased the Commodore trademark in September of last year with the goal of reviving the company and offering a product that no longer exists.

“Thirty years ago computers were an all-in-one product, with the keyboard, memory and components built inside,” Mr. Altman explained. “Over the years that has changed,  and we believe there is a huge potential to revive the early format.”

The new Commodore 64, which will begin shipping at the end of the month, has been souped up for the modern age. It comes with a 1.8 gigahertz dual-core processor, an optional Blu-ray player and built-in ethernet and HDMI ports. It runs the Linux operating system but the company says you can install Windows if you like. The new Commodore is priced between $250 to $900.

The company’s Web site says that the new Commodore 64 is “a modern functional PC,” and that although the guts of the device have greatly improved, the exterior is “as close to the original in design as humanly possible.” Most people would not be able to visibly tell the old or new versions apart, it

( Taken from http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112510/new-commodore-64-nyt )


So let’s recap, here is the old one

And here is the new one

New Features:

The new Commodore 64 also features a slot or tray load DVD R/W(Bluray optional) on the left side of the unit.

The base Commodore 64 comes with 2 GB of DDR3 memory and is expandable to 4 GB.

A multi format card reader/writer and a USB slot are provided on the right side of the unit. There are an additional 4 USB slots on the rear of the unit for all your peripheral needs.

The new Commodore 64 can be connected to the latest televisions and monitors,  and can deliver 1080p HD quality video playback and 6 Channel High Definition Audio for an excellent home theater experience. It also incorporates wireless n wifi for exceptional internet video streaming quality.
The classic power light is now the power button.

Play all your favorite 8-bit era games within seconds of turning the Commodore 64 on, by either selecting the C64 icon from the boot menu to run a C64 emulator directly, or from a media center program within our own Commodore Operating System.

Note: Commodore OS 1.0, along with emulation functionality and classic game package, will be mailed to purchasers when available. In the meantime, units come with the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS operating system on CD ready to install.

(Taken from http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_C64.aspx )


What are your thoughts?

Personally, I think it’s a novelty item. Yes, it has been upgraded, but do people really want a clunky breadbox of a keyboard and have to find a monitor to hook up to? Only die-hard fans will. Practical people forgot about this computer long before the company stopped making it.
Good luck to Commodore on your comeback, but I don’t see it lasting long.

Close Encounters of the Snake Kind

=^.^=

My first unofficial post!  *does happy dance*

I wanted to talk about this before I forgot.. I did some yard work today.. the front walk way was covered in leaves and weeds and branches, so i swept at first, then raked the leaves to a large 3′ or so pile at the end of the walkway.. and as I was doing so my wonderful lovely boyfriend spotted this:

It’s the Eastern smooth Earth Snake.. he was about that size and all I saw was the latter part of him which to me looked like a large earth worm.. so I had to look it up and see what it was… and other things about it.

Snakes don’t scare me, I’ve held them in science class in middle school and I love looking at them in zoos or any other controlled environment. Oddly enough I don’t have much if any experience with them outside of that.

Here is some information I found in regards to them..

(Taken from  http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-guide/Virginiavvaleriae.htm )

Description: Adults average 7-13 inches (18-33 cm). The record is 15.38 inches (39 cm). A small brown or reddish brown snake with a plain white or yellowish belly. May have tiny dark flecks on back, either scattered or in 4 rows. The head is small with a somewhat pointed snout. There are 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The scales are smooth, though faint keels may be present near the tail. Also, tiny faint lines on some scales may give the appearance of keels. The pupils are round.

Range: The Eastern Smooth Earth Snake occurs occurs north of the Suwannee River and in the panhandle. A disjunct population occurs in Highlands County in central Florida. Outside of Florida, it occurs north to New Jersey and west to Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, and Ohio.

Habitat: Found in the leaf litter and under logs in mesic hammocks and pine woodlands, particularly near marshes and other damp areas. The disjunct southern Florida population also occurs in scrub.

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Eastern Smooth Earth Snake feeds primarily on earthworms, but takes other small invertebrates such as insects and snails. It spends most of the time underground, but found at the surface most often in the cooler months. It bears live young. Litters of 7-10 young are born in summer. They are 3-4.5 inches (7.6-11 cm) at birth.


So my first encounter with a snake in my own front yard as my boyfriend wishing to move back to the city and me being fascinated enough to hunt the poor little frightened snake down and look at it. But no such luck.. when i raked the rest of the leaves off the walk way he was no where to be found. 😦

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow when I have to pick up branches and rake the rest of the yard.. =D

Author’s Note: After reviewing the online pictures of snakes, worms and everything in between, I’m still on completely convinced it wasn’t a large earth worm though, because all I saw was his tapered tail wiggling away under the leaves.