Monday, June 24, 2013

Recent developments in bad animal behavior

New frontiers in toilet rodents: Last time we saw people celebrating bad squirrels. The post before that we saw a rat in a toilet reach new heights by returning repeatedly for nine months. I can only presume that these stories combined to inspire this squirrel in a toilet in Winnepeg, which was promptly rewarded with the celebrity of its own Twitter account.

New frontiers in canines chasing vehicles: Dogs chasing cars are a long-standing tradition, but as far as I know the photo above is the first recorded case of a wolf chasing a motorcycle.

And finally, some things never change: Cats that roam the neighborhood stealing things and bringing them home are so common I can hardly be bothered to link them. (Oh fine, here's one; if you want a bunch more you should really read the book). Here's another, with the usual jokes from the humans affected:
“One day, Theo brought home a gardening glove and then the next day he brought home the other one, so we now have a pair. We have no idea where he got those from and as yet, no-one has claimed the glove puppet.
“We have been able to reunite some of the items with their owners and thankfully, most people who know Theo are very understanding and think it is funny.”
According to Mr Edwards, the feline fraudster has a particular penchant for feathers, rubber and tinsel. He added: “He is quite a menace, even when he’s at home. Last Christmas, he completely stripped the house of tinsel when we were out one day and left it in a heap on the kitchen floor.”

“He has become a bit of a neighbourhood celebrity for all the wrong reasons. We live in hope that one day he might bring back something useful.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't encourage bad animals!

On this blog, we often bemoan people who are enablers of bad animals. But here we've got an appalling story of people who are actually honoring them with commemorative statues.  Sometimes, I just don't know what to say.
It is not unusual for a city or county to build statues to important people or events commemorating its past, but Hamilton County may be on the verge of a first.

They're constructing statues of squirrels. It might seem a little random, but the statues mark an event in Indiana history.

"Have you ever heard of the great squirrel stampede?" we asked on passerby, who responded with a definitive "no."

We asked other folks on the streets in Hamilton County if they were familiar with Indiana's Squirrel Stampede.

Dave Heighway knows all about it.

"There is one paragraph that talks about a great squirrel migration in 1822," he said.

As the Hamilton County historian, he's been educating all who would listen about the 1822 and 1845 stampedes where migratory squirrels destroyed cornfields as they trekked across Indiana.

"I read that. I thought that's crazy. I actually thought, that's nuts," he said.

He told the Hamilton County Leadership Academy and members secured a grant to start work on a mockup for a fiberglass squirrel. In fact, the group would like to see a half dozen of these in all eight Hamilton County communities.

So why not? Just the thing for the county that has everything. A statue remembering a squirrley part of its history.

Abby Kim from Noblesville expressed this sentiment.

"People usually build monuments of, someone famous or something famous. Not usually a squirrel," she said.

Livvie Southerland from Sheridan chimed in. "It would be random. I would get a picture taken with it."

Even county historian David Heighway admits it's a little squirrely.

"It's kind of strange. More like a zombie apocalypse. Everyone talks about now. It's a squirrel apocalypse," he joked.

The fiberglass statues are expected to cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 each to produce.


Monday, June 17, 2013

New frontiers in bad animal behavior

Whenever I think I've seen it all, they manage to outdo themselves. Two very different stories of bad animals that we haven't seen before:

The headline from the excellent Nothing to do with Arbroath sums the first one up nicely:

Family perturbed by rat that makes nightly appearances in their toilet
 A family from Sutton in south London have been suffering from a large rat coming up their toilet when they go to the bathroom for nine months.
It's important to note that the mere fact of a rat in a toilet is not what's original here. This seems to be fairly commonplace, as you can see if you have a strong stomach from the results for this Flickr search. It's the persistence for nine months that makes this case remarkable. 

One has to wonder if the family, despite their protestations of horror, has played the usual bad animal enabling role in this: I find it highly suspicious that they've affectionately named the rat Roland.

(You can watch video at the original story, if you're braver than I am.)

That story is so unusual that it probably doesn't make you fear for your plumbing, but the next one should make you worry about your electronics:

A species of ant from South America is making its way across Texas and Florida:
The tiny insect is called "crazy" because the trail it leaves as it eats its way across the country is so erratic it appears the ants have tipped the bottle too many times..... It's so small -- less than an eighth of an inch long -- that millions can hide beneath a rock, or inside a computer or transformer.

According to researchers at Texas A&M, the chemicals that kill red ants aren't effective on crazy ants, so if you find an infestation in your home, call a pro.

Both reds and crazies and a few other species share a peculiar attraction to electrical wiring and components, and no one is sure why. The damages can be extreme. In one year alone, researchers documented $146.5 million in damages to electrical equipment just in Texas.

How they cause that damage also sounds like a really bad movie. One ant finds its way into a transformer and grazes against a hot wire. It gets electrocuted, and immediately "waves its abdomen in the air (called gaster flagging) to release its own brand of perfume, which lures many more ants to the scene.

If they touch their fallen comrade, or a hot switch, they too will be electrocuted, sending more pheromones into the air and calling even more ants to their location.
Read the rest of the premonitions of doom at the link if you dare.

Photo of Rat Fink Toilet Seat from Etsy.  Apparently this is actually a thing. Go ahead and do an image search if you don't believe me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bad Animal Headlines

Goats arrested for vandalising police car
Police have detained a herd of goats in the Indian city of Chennai after the force's brand new Toyota Innova police car was damaged by up to 12 errant beasts. Policeman Ganesh Babu, who was in charge of the car, is said to have caught the animals as they grazed near the city police station. The animals were allegedly standing on top of the vehicle, causing dents, scratching the paintwork and damaging the windscreen and wipers.
The officer was able to apprehend three of the suspects, who have now been remanded in custody at a nearby Society for the Protection of Animals centre. Police claimed the goats had a record of damaging vehicles belonging to local residents and shopkeepers, and had 'crossed the line' by damaging the brand new police car.

Bear caught opening truck door on video
"We saw him just open the door of the truck, just easy as anything.… He was obviously used to accessing vehicles."

Pig forces school lockdown
Owner Karen Turner said the family pet meant no harm and it was just a case of pigs being pigs.

The alarm was raised when Henry came across a group of kids carrying a basket full of school lunches. The startled students stopped in their tracks and dropped the sandwiches, which Henry took as an invitation to a free feed.

The situation lurched from odd to bizarre when the school was placed in lockdown for the next 30 minutes.
"The funny thing is the school was preparing to have a lockdown drill later in the day," Ms Turner said. "The school has a new principal and a new groundsman, who don't really know him (Henry). "They didn't know what to do so they just called the lockdown early."
North Arm State School will tomorrow host its annual Fun Fair, which will feature pig races.
Henry will not be racing.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Keep your distance

For everyone who thinks monkeys are cute, or has ever wished they could get up-close and personal with the animals at the zoo, I reproduce excerpts of this report from London, without comment.
WITH their cherubic little faces the acrobatic yellow and black squirrel monkeys jumping through the creepers at London Zoo look like they wouldn’t hurt a fly.
But a health and safety inspection has revealed those angelic looks may be a little deceiving with a file note reporting how visitors to the zoo in Regent’s Park have sustained monkey bites while watching them search for food.
Fifteen people were bitten by the squirrel monkeys over a 12-month period to November last year, more than one bite a month, according to the report released by Westminster Council to the West End Extra following a Freedom of Information request.
The monkeys “behavioural” problems led to a ban on pushchairs at their enclosure, it adds.
Their “revolutionary” enclosure was launched with the help of Mighty Boosh comedian Noel Fielding eight years ago and is one of the zoo’s most popular attractions. Visitors are able to walk through to get as close to the monkeys as possible.
But the council’s report, compiled on its behalf by vets from the City of London, said: “The squirrel monkeys in the walk-through enclosure are still undergoing additional negative enforcement due to some behavioural issues.
"These involve mainly grabbing of food from members of the public. There have been 15 bites over the past year, none serious, all reported to first aid.”
It added: “There is now a no pushchair policy in the enclosure as they were a major target for the monkeys looking for food.”
A spokeswoman for ZSL said: “Squirrel monkeys are naturally very curious and our family of cheeky Bolivian squirrel monkeys is no exception – which has occasionally led to a small nip on a visitor’s hand.
“To help avoid this, we have volunteers based in the walk-through exhibit who can remind people not to get too close to our monkeys and resist the temptation to give them a stroke.
“We’ve also used bitter apple on mobile phones as a deterrent, as our monkeys seem particularly taken with the latest technology.”

What NOT to do with a squirrel monkey, demonstrated by Flickr user Alice.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bad Animals News Roundup

- Cat Caught Smuggling Cellphones into Prison
Prison guards in Russia's northern Republic of Komi have caught a cat with banned objects, namely cell phones and chargers, attached to its body.
"Two packages were taped to the animal's back. When the packages were unwrapped, guards found objects prohibited in the penitentiary facility — two cell phones with batteries and chargers," the Republic of Komi penitentiary service department said in a statement posted on its website.
The fate of the cat is unknown.
Though this is the first such incident in the Komi prison, cats are sometimes used by Russian inmates to deliver drugs.
 -Stories about animals making suicide attacks that cause power failures are so common I don't usually bother to report them, but this one has a comment worth noting:
Power was interrupted for 2,774 customers on the east side of Casper and part of Evansville at 3:18 a.m., said Margaret Ohler, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power.
Ohler said animals straying into power substations isn't uncommon, although the company doesn't track how often it happens.
"It's really hard to get animals to attend our safety demonstration," Ohler said.
- Ants in Germany repeatedly ring woman's doorbell
A nest of ants terrified a 75-year-old woman in the German town of Offenburg who called the police at 3am after her doorbell repeatedly rang. Officers discovered the culprit was a nest of ants who had built a home of such size it pressed elements together to work the switch.
-Finally, courtesy of the blog's Scandinavia correspondent, a story of a man who was held hostage by wild sheep.   The Google translate version is good enough for me - I'm not sure I want a clearer picture of the terrifying details.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Canine Classics

Once again, law enforcement makes their job more difficult by not being familiar with this blog:
Baffled police have finally solved a shoedunit mystery after dozens of items of stolen footwear were found stashed in a fox's den in Neunkirch, Switzerland.

More than 40 pairs of trainers, boots, sandals and shoes were unearthed when a baffled local spotted a vixen trying to drag a pair of wellies into her lair.

Villagers had believed they'd become the target of a kinky foot fetishist until police unmasked the foxy culprit.

"We'd had many reports of items of footwear going missing from outside houses and we couldn't work out where they were going," admitted a police spokesman.
They'd have come up with the theory sooner if they'd read this post about a fox in Germany who stole over a hundred pairs of shoes. And if they'd read the book too they'd know that these are criminals that are undaunted by public exposure: when people took their shoes back, that fox stole more.

And in another traditional form of canine bad behavior, this time taken to new heights - or lows: We've seen so many dogs causing car accidents that I've sometimes wondered if it's worth reporting on them anymore.  After all, who's surprised that dogs are bad drivers? But sometimes a combination of classic canine misbehavior is worthy of note, like the dog who caused a car accident by barfing.  If you think that's bad, this new story is even worse:
The driver had his dog in the front seat with him.  The dog apparently couldn't hold it any longer, and started going to the bathroom on the center console. The large dog apparently slipped from his perch, and fell onto the gas pedal.
The driver said he couldn't stop the truck before it went crashing into a house.
Ugh. Sorry, folks, I don't make 'em up, I just report them.