10 Animals You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

One of the most beautiful things about the animal kingdom, is its limitless diversity. Creatures on this planet come in every shape, size, texture and temperament. One of the most enchanting things I’ve been lucky enough to see, is the look of wonderment and curiosity on a persons face when they witness a creature they’ve never seen before. I decided to write this blog, in the hopes that I will introduce people to species they’ve never been exposed to before, and encourage them to learn more about about the fauna of the planet.  So here are my top 10 favourite, most obscure and beautiful creatures on this planet. Happy reading!!

  1. Fossa  (Cryptoprocta ferox)
    Pronounced “foo-sa

fossa close up
fossa climbing

The fossa is a mammal, related to the mongoose, that is only found in the forests of Madagascar.  They can grow up to 2m in length and weigh up to 12kg. Lemurs are the main component of it’s carnivorous diet but it has been known to catch and eat fish, birds, reptiles and other small mammals. It is a solitary animal and an agile climber. This species featured in the 2005 animated movie “Madagascar”, although it wasn’t portrayed in a very positive light. The fossa is classified as an endangered species due to the deforestation occurring in its native home.

2.California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

condor close up
condor flying
The California Condor is a new world vulture native to North America. It is a scavenger, feeding on huge amounts of carrion. It has a massive wingspan of up to 10ft and a lengthy lifespan of about 60 years. At one point in the eighties, only twenty two of these majestic creatures remained in the wild.  Through captive breeding programmes and reintroduction into the wild, there are almost five hundred of these condors today (including those held in captivity).  Although the population is steadily increasing, these are still listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and are still threatened by poaching, habitat destruction and lead poisoning.

3. Brookesia Micra (Brookesia micra)

Brookesia minima on a matchstick

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This minuscule little lizard is a very recent discovery. In the past, it was often mistaken for another species of chameleon and didn’t get it’s own scientific name until 2012. It is the smallest of the chameleon family and is found among the leaf litter on a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar. It usually doesn’t grow more than about 30mm in length, making it one of the world’s tiniest reptiles. The small area in which it lives is subject to illegal logging and experts predict that this species could be especially sensitive to habitat destruction. Unfortunately, if the deforestation in this area continues, this newly discovered little creature may not last much longer.

4. Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola)

Sunfish and scuba diver
Ocean sunfish and scuba diver
The Ocean Sunfish is the largest bony fish known to man. Specimens have been found measuring almost 10ft in length and weighing more than 2200kg. They vary in colour from white, silver and gray, to brown and spotted. The Ocean Sunfish can be found in both temperate and tropical waters, worldwide, although they are very difficult to keep in captivity, so most people have never been lucky enough to see one. It feeds primarily on jellyfish but has also been known to eat other small sea creatures including fish, molluscs and plankton. Despite their gargantuan size, these are a gentle giant and pose no threat to humans.

5. Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus)

orchid mantisorchid mantis on orchid

This beautiful insect is found in the forests of South East Asia. Adult females usually grow to a length of between 6-7 cm, dwarfing the adult males, averaging at a length of 2.5 cm. Because of the size difference in sexes, cannibalism is common, especially after mating. The mantis’ colouration and the shape of it’s legs resembles flower petals (hence the name Orchid Mantis). Scientists initially believed that this uncanny resemblance was a camouflage for protection against predators, However, through further studies, it was discovered that this mimicry evolved to allow the mantis to attract prey i.e. insects. This is the first scientific discovery of an animal mimicking a flower in order to lure in it’s prey.

6. Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei)

Mother and baby tree kangaroo
young tree kangaroo
The Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo is one of fourteen species of tree kangaroo. It is a Macropod (plant-eating marsupial) that can be found high in the mountainous cloud forests of North Eastern Papua New Guinea. It is known to grow to about 180 cm in length (including tail) and weight approx. 10 kg. They feed primarily on leaves, fruits and mosses in the wild and are mostly solitary animals. As their name suggests, they spend most of their time in the trees but come down occasionally to eat grasses. This adorable species is now listed as endangered due to habitat destruction and over hunting by locals for their meat and fur.

 

7. Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)

Kakapo close up
kakapo

The Kakapo is, by far, both the strangest and rarest parrot on the planet. Found only in New Zealand, it can weigh up to 3.5 kg and has a life expectancy of over 90 years. It is both nocturnal and flightless. It has very fine, soft feathers as they do not have to be strong enough to support flight. Even though the Kakapo does not fly, it is a great hiker and climber and uses it’s wings in a parachute-like fashion when jumping out of trees.  Their one and only defence mechanism, is to freeze when startled. Although this is an effective technique used against birds of prey, when carnivorous mammals began being introduced to the islands, the kakapo had no way of defending itself. This beautiful, unusual bird is critically endangered, with less than 150 remaining in the wild. A fantastic recovery programme is in place to help bring back this species from the brink of extinction. There is a great video featuring Stephen Fry and Mark Cawardine, and of course the adorable kakapo which you can watch here to see just how cute they are.

8. Matamata Turtle (Chelus fimbriatus)

Mata mata face close up
mata mata
Despite it’s misleading name, the Matamata turtle is NOT from the rural town of Mata mata, New Zealand, but is in fact found in the Amazon and Orinoco rivers of South America. This turtle has been renamed by scientists more than 14 times in the last 200 years. Their carapace (shell) can measure up to 45 cm in diameter and they can weigh up to 15 kg.  This is a very unique turtle and is the only species in it’s genus. It’s long neck (longer than it’s vertabra) acts as a sort of snorkel, while it’s pointy little snout can come up for air, as the turtle still sits on the river bed. It prefers calm, slow moving waters to crawl around in, as it doesn’t swim or bask much. It also has a unique method of catching prey. Most species will rapidly extend their neck before snapping up prey, but not the Mata mata. This turtle sucks up prey (which consists mainly of small fish) in a sort of vacuum fashion.

9.  Elephantnose Fish (Gnathonemus petersii)

ele
elephantnose fish close up

The Elephantnose is a nocturnal, fresh water fish with a wide distribution across Africa. It is mostly found in heavily vegetated, slow moving, muddy rivers and grows to about 25 cm in length. This fish has the largest brain:body weight ratio of any known vertebrate, and it is highly intelligent. It has been proven that the brain is responsible for approx. 60% of it’s oxygen consumption (compared to about 20% in humans and 2-8% in other fish). This species is covered in electro-receptors and uses a weak electrical field to find prey, navigate, communicate and find a mate.  It is not uncommon to find these in a home aquaria, however most are kept in incorrect conditions, not allowing them to thrive.

10. Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus)

pink fairy armadillo

pink 2

The Pink Fairy Armadillo is the smallest of the armadillo family, measuring between 9 and 12 cm long. It is found in the dry plains of Argentina and is a great digger, with the ability to completely bury itself in a matter of seconds. This animals tail acts almost as an extra leg, providing stability when digging with it’s powerful claws.It’s diet includes insects, worms, snails and even some plants. This strange little critter is rarely seen and remains practically unstudied.

Hopefully, through reading this you’ve learnt a few things about these bizarre, yet beautiful creatures. We often forget how extensive the animal kingdom is, and how much we have yet to learn.

Thanks for stopping by,

P.

 

Why is my Feline so Finicky? (Part I)

Ok, admittedly, I may not have the answer as to WHY your cat is so fussy, but I just might be able to give you a few tips and tricks as to how to keep your sensitive little tiger content.

Cats are meticulous little creatures of habit, which is one of the aspects we love about them. However,  their overparticular ways can sometimes leave us worried sick.

We’ll never be able to change the fact that our cats are persnickety, but trying new things, and finding what makes your Persian purr will help put your mind at ease.

The following products and advice are super popular with customers I’ve dealt with and are #PaulaApproved , but they are in no way feline fool-proof (I have yet to come across something that 100% of cats like  😀 ).

1.Cat Cuisine

If you’ve ever melodramatically accepted the fact that your beloved bagpuss was going to starve to death after dismissing food for days , then you’re not alone. This is an issue I hear about time and time  again. There are an infinite number of factors that influence your cat’s eating habits including the following;

  • The quality of cat food (meat content)
  • The smell of the food
  • The taste of the food
  • The texture and shape of the food
  • The location of the cats food bowl
  • Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor cat
  • Whether the cat is spayed/neutered
  • The cats activity levels/age and health issues

The list goes on… and on…. and on.

I understand that choosing a food can be intimidating but don’t be tempted to grab at supermarket brands or “vet recommended” brands without first doing your research. Just because you’re paying for the highest price food, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.

I, personally, like to feed 100% dry kibble, to keep my kitty cats teeth in tip top shape and there are three brands that I, and many others have tried and loved . Here they are in my order of preference, along with the reasons they are #PaulaApproved .

A)  Applaws Dry Cat Food (all flavours)

  • 80% meat content
  • No rubbish
  • Smells delicious
  • Available in three flavours, plus kitten and senior specific
  • Hypoallergenic
  • My cat goes cuckoo for itApplaws cat food

B) Meowing Heads Dry Cat Food (All flavours)

  • 60% meat content
  • No rubbish
  • Clever, amusing packaging
  • Both kitten and cat available in two different flavours
  • Hypoallergenic

Meowing heads cat food selection

C) Connolly’s Redmills Cat Supreme Dry Food

  • Good meat content
  • Great for fussy cats
  • Gives great shine to long haired cats
  • Super affordable
  • Irish made

Redmills cat supreme

2.Feline Pheremones

Unlike some other animals, cats are very easily stressed and super sensitive to change. This means that even changes that we see as quite insignificant, could be somewhat unnerving to your moggy. It is important to be aware of the signs that your feline is under stress. Here are some indicators that may suggest an anxious cat;

  • Loss of appetite
  • Over eating
  • Excessive scratching
  • Spraying
  • Hiding
  • Over grooming
  • Aggression

 

The cause of the stress can be pretty much anything, but here are some of the more common reasons I’ve become familiar with;

  • If the cat has just been rehomed/rescued
  • Moving house or house renovations occurring
  • Rearranging furniture and/or the cats bowls and litter box
  • Addition of new animals or people (eg.babies) to the home
  • Illness or after seeing the vet
  • Excessive noise or other activity
  • Loss of a human or animal companion

Obviously the number one way of combating these issues is by trying to eliminate them, or very slowly introducing them. However, this isn’t always an option. When this isn’t possible, I’ve learned that the Feliway plug in diffuser is the next best thing.  Find out how and why it works by clicking here. According to the website, it’s been scientifically proven to reduce many of the signs of stress by 90%, which I believe to be true, after chatting to countless numbers of customers who swear by it (making it #PaulaApproved) .

feliway diffuser

Also, I wouldn’t necessarily wait until signs of anxiety arise before using it. It’s an amazing preventative too, to save both you and your cat from the blues in the first place.

 

3) Tasty treats

If there’s one tidbit that I recommend time and time again, it has to be Dreamies. We all know that it’s unusual so see our cats enthusiastic about anything,but, with Dreamies, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I’ve seen owners reach into kitchen cupboards,and, almost before their hand touches the crinkly package, bangs and crashes from upstairs or the next room are followed by a hyperactive sprint and loud meowing, racing down the hallway and skidding in through the kitchen door. I’ve heard more than one tale of a whiskered thief opening cupboards before stuffing their furry little heads with what’s left of the Dreamies stash (which is why I recommend storing them in a feline burglar proof tin or lunch box 😀 ).

These are super affordable and come in over half a dozen different flavours so your kitty cat will never be bored (Making them #PaulaApproved) . They are the perfect little bribe to get your feline to come running.

dreamies cat treats

 

I didn’t want to bore everyone with a really long post so I decided to split it in two. Stay tuned for “Why is my Feline so Finicky? (Part II)”.

Until then, I leave you with a cat quote and a stunning photograph ,by Saibh Egan, of one of the millions of feral cats that roam the streets and temples of Thailand.

wild thai cat

“The cat is domestic only as far as suits its own ends.” –  Saki

 

Thanks for reading,

P.

6 Ways To Help Keep Your Canine Calm And Content

What many people don’t realise, is that one of the biggest contributing factors to dog behavioural issues and destructive practices is boredom. If you can keep your pooch occupied with fun activities, then the chances of your precious pup become an incessant barker or relentless chewer are massively decreased.

Remember, prevention of these behaviours is far easier than later trying to correct bad habits.

So, if you’d like to keep your skirting boards free of claw marks, your new shoes intact, and your neighbours and friends commenting on how you have “such a good dog!”, then give some of these boredom busters a whirl.

These have been tried and tested by myself, colleagues and friends (as I now call #PaulaApproved). 😀

1.Exercise.

First and foremost, the most effective way of eradicating boredom, is through exercise. Every bowwow has different exercise requirements depending on the breed, age etc. But one thing is for sure, all dogs need a workout.

This can be achieved through walks, runs, playing fetch, tug of war and any other activities that are both physically tiring and mentally stimulating. Dog daycares are also a great way to help get your companion tuckered out.
We’re all familiar with that “Wanna go for a walk!?” hysteria, which makes getting up off the couch, even in the wind and rain, totally worth while.

In a nutshell, a tired pooch is a happy pooch. (And happy pooches tend to destroy less valuables…. 🙂 )

Girl sleeping beside belgian shepherd dog

2.Tricks and Training.

About a quarter, or so, of your companions day should comprise of practising and perfecting old tricks, as well as learning new ones. These can vary massively from the typical (but essential) “sit”, “stay” and “here” to more imaginative “close the door”, “get my slippers” etc etc.

Every second of your dogs day has the potential to be a training session. Embrace new surroundings, other animals and people as enjoyable little challenges and adventures and soon enough your dog will take anything in it’s stride.

Reward based, positive reinforcement is without a doubt, the most effective method of training. Pooches respond to treats, toys and praise far better than any other techniques I’ve been exposed to. Why would a dog want to misbehave if ,when it’s acting with decorum, it’s consistently praised and rewarded?  Training is mentally exhilarating and exhausting, which is exactly what you want 🙂 . Training most definitely  strengthens the bond between human and animals. Also, it’s gratifying to see your hard work pay off, and fun to show off your clever little tyke to friends and family.

Labrador sitting

3.Treat dispensing toys.

Working in a petshop was the perfect way to educate myself on pet products. Customer feedback, in my opinion, is the only reliable method to gauge the quality of merchandise. When it comes to treat dispensing toys, there are two top quality, dependable brands that spring to mind i.e. Kong and Busy Buddy. Both of these received very positive comments from hundreds, if not thousands of customers I’ve dealt with.

Kong classic rubber toy

Busy buddy treat dispensing toy

The Kong range is extensive, however, the Kong Classic is by far the most popular in the range. The hollow inside allows for it to be filled with specific Kong treats ,but personally, I believe that people’s own unlimited home concoctions are much more exciting. These fillings including, liver paste, patés, dog food, vegetables, yoghurt, cheese, dog friendly peanut butter and hundreds of other things (Just make sure your fillings are dog safe!). Freezing the Kong makes the contents more difficult for the dog to extract, and so, it lasts longer. It’s also dishwasher safe!!

The Busy Buddy Twist’n Treat is designed for dry kibble and biscuits and it can sure take a beating, even from the most notorious chewers. It requires a fair amount of rolling and throwing around to extract the biscuits (difficulty can be adjusted by twisting), thus keeping your comrade occupied and out of trouble for enough time to run some errands.

Both of these toys are designed to distract your dog from less pooch-friendly chew toys. They are also great for keeping your canine happy while resting in their crate for short periods of time. Both are available from the Petworld website and have been officially #PaulaApproved 😉 .

4. Stagbars

Time and time again, I talk to dog owners who can’t decide what edible chews to feed their dogs. For me, the answer is simple, Stagbar antler chews. There has been a lot of controversy lately about the production and bleaching of many rawhide dog chews,  as well as the possibility of them causing intestinal blockages. There is also much debate from different sides about animal bones causing salmonella, splintering in the throat etc etc.

In my own opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry and the stagbar is a pretty safe bet. They don’t splinter or break off in chunks and are 100% natural. Not only this, but I’ve seen them to last weeks (where a rawhide treat may last the same dog a matter of minutes, so don’t let the slightly higher price put you off). They are great for a dogs teeth, don’t negatively affect pooches in anyway (as far as I’m aware), and have now been recommended by some some exceptional vets in my local area. They don’t contain nylon, have a low odour and are sourced from naturally shed deer antlers. They are available in different sizes to suit your pup and their specific chewing abilities.

deer antler stagbar chew

Also available on the Petworld website and #PaulaApproved 🙂 .

5. DIY Ideas

Over the years I’ve seen countless creative ways from some of the most amazing dog owners to help keep their fur babies entertained.

  • I’ve seen treat dispensing toys made from milk cartons, toilet paper tubes, lunch boxes and plastic bottles.
  • I’ve talked to people who scatter and hide titbits and treats around the house in a sort of “treasure hunt” fashion.
  • Old clothes can be cut into strips and plaited as rope toys.
  • Sandpits can be used outside as little digging area with toys and treats hidden within.

The possibilities are endless and I love hearing and seeing peoples new ideas.

6. TLC

Sometimes, just the act of spending time with, and paying attention to your canine companion is the biggest boredom buster of all. Affection and praise are two things that pooches crave and it costs us nothing but time. It’s important to remember that a dog is a single part of your life, but you are your dogs entire life.

Paula carrying belgian shepherd

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

*Always supervise your dog with toys and chews. Make sure that you only feed your pooch dog-safe food. Be smart and safe!

Thanks for reading guys, hope you enjoyed my first post and I’d love to hear any feedback you might have.

Cheers,

P.