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Researchers studying the heart rates of animals in order to better understand their emotional states have made some fascinating observations:

The heart rate of animals increases rapidly when they have aggressive encounters such as fights, and decreases during friendly interactions such as grooming. For example, in greylag geese, the mean heart rate during aggressive interactions increases from 84 bpm during rest to 157 bpm. Heart rate increases more when geese are interacting with a more dominant opponent, showing that geese are more emotionally aroused during a confrontation they’re more likely to lose.

This might be simply explained by an increase in physical activity during fights, except that we see the same effect in geese that are merely observing events in their environment, for example when they’re watching other geese fighting. This heart rate increase reflects emotional arousal, not physical activity.

In addition, geese were found to become emotionally involved when what we would consider a loved one (partner or other family member) was involved in a fight.

The Robeson County Animal Shelter in North Carolina killed 56% of its pets in 2020. Even with the pandemic, the facility still had the highest kill rate in the state.

A German shepherd dog called Lucky is working for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to sniff out egg masses of spotted lanternflies, a non-native species harming crops and other plants. Lucky is the first dog in the U.S. to be trained for this task. It sounds like she’s more capable than some of the humans:

Ruth Welliver, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry at the state Department of Agriculture said individuals can kill the insects. “But there are some things that people are trying that are not safe. People are throwing bleach on their bushes, and that will kill the lanternfly, but it also affects other things. So you have to be careful with what you try.”

South Carolina has banned the Argentine black and white tegu, a popular pet, while allowing current owners who register their animals with the state to keep them. Sightings of the non-native lizard in the wild have been reported in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida causing officials to become concerned:

“Tegus are predatory lizards, and they have been known to eat a variety of native species, such as quail and gopher tortoises, which are an endangered species in South Carolina,” said Will Dillman, SCDNR assistant chief of wildlife. “These regulations are aimed at stopping the proliferation of tegus before they are able to establish and do real damage in our state.”,35763
Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator meriane) image via SCDNR.

Today I learned that professional camel wrestling is a thing, with camels purpose-bred for the competitions:

Camels naturally wrestle in the wild, and staged matches aren’t allowed to get too boisterous. A camel wins by making its opponent scream, fall or retreat, and trainers remain close at hand to ensure neither party is injured.

In Australia, researchers have found that Gould’s mouse (Pseudomys gouldii), a native rodent thought extinct for more than 100 years, is actually still alive on predator free islands. Conservation efforts are needed:

However, remnant populations of this once widespread species contain only a fraction of its original genetic diversity.

Genetic diversity is often used as a proxy for estimating the resilience of a species to threats and its potential to adapt to changes in its environment. When species have low genetic diversity, or are inbred, they are more susceptible to disease, and more likely to accumulate harmful genetic mutations.

Mouse ring made in Egypt more than 3000 years ago:

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