Natural History: The Short – beaked echidna

Natural History: The Short – beaked echidna

Natural History – The Short-beaked Echidna

Scientific name: Tachyglossidae
Order: Montremata
Higher classification: Monotreme
Family: Tachyglossidae; Gill, 1872

At the end of a year spent isolated, a little emblem of hope has emerged. A symbol of conservation, community, natural wisdom and curiosity, the echidna is the final of the 5 environmental ambassadors for our Natural History project.

Introduction

 

We are blessed to live on a continent abundant with native animals and plant species. Creatures live here that are found nowhere else. The earth here, stained red with rich mineral ochres, our coastlines immersed in marine national parks and our country inhabited by the oldest living culture on earth.   

Australia is not just, ‘the land down under’, it’s a rich and wondrous treasure trove of rare and beautiful creatures, that are sadly going extinct and the reality of this is unnoticed. With our minds taken hold by the uncertainty of our personal health, global economy, and relative future in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic, the natural world and the present global environmental crisis, has taken a back step in the media.  

It’s my hope this project, with its final ambassador ignites curiosity and passion for the natural world we are living in. It’s been a tough year for human beings, but an even harsher one for all the other life forms who are subject to the realities of climate change, habitat loss and human behaviour. 

We watched 17 million hectares of forest in Australia burned to nothing during the 2019, 2020 wildfires, and with the forest went billions of wild animals and insects. Koala, almost totally extinct, and habitat is gone for any animal that might have survived. 

As a nation we are known to rally in tough times when it concerns the human family, but not so much for the rest of our people, and by that, I mean all other living beings. Now is the time to put our curious and creative minds together and figure out a way to make life better for all living things before we all become – natural history.

By Emily Rack

 

Echidna’s are sweet, sensitive, curious, and loveable. Shaped like a fuzzy spiked four legged ball, with a long thin leathery nose, and big clawed feet. 

Soft and wonderful on the inside and very sharp and pointy on the outside. Living up to 50 years in captivity, the echidna is more than just a thorny curiosity. The echidna has an incredible memory, the ability to solve complex problems and they love to swim and play for fun, just like we do.

So why this little guy? 

Well, truthfully it was a dream I had rescuing animals from dehydration inside a large forest log that was the catalyst.
The dream was an inspiration to start a very satisfying, and very invested illustration – that as I write this is still in process.  

I knew from past knowledge that the Echidna is special, not only because it is a monotreme, ( half reptile and half mammal ), and that it has survived for 15 million years on the planet relatively unchanged, but that it has a unique ability that it, its cousin the platypus and sharks possess; the ability to sense the electromagnetic field of all living things through its beak.

Echidna’s, (also called a spiny ant-eater), live a really long time, some as long as 50 years in captivity. They are smart, curious, shy and slow moving, and often hide in a half dug hole with their spines sticking out in the daytime. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to step on their spikes, ouch!. 

Their spikes are what protect them from predators like wild dogs, eagles, domestic cats, foxes, and people. They aren’t all spiny though, Echidna have fur in amongst those spines too, and the colder the climate, the more fluff they have. Underneath all that savage armour is a very soft and squishy little fellow, and they really are super cute and cuddly, well I wouldn’t exactly cuddle one.  

Echidna are natural conservationists, like a lot of other wild animals they contribute to the health and wellbeing of the planet. They behave in ways much like a mini dump-truck as they turn over the soil all day foraging for food and building homes. This helps to improve the soil quality and keeps the earth healthy. They also have amazing hearing, and are sensitive enough to pick up the vibrations of termites and ants working underground 

Echidnas preferred diet are termites and ants but they will sometimes eat grubs and other insects too. They use their long sticky tongues to lap up their food, and have a beak to mash it with; they don’t have any teeth or a stomach like we do, they digest their food inside a weird sac. 

They lay eggs like reptiles, but feed their young milk like we do, have fur just like all other warm blooded mammals, except their body temperature is much lower than ours or any other warm-blooded, and they can thrive in the freezing temperatures of the Australian alps, and the intense heat of the Australian desert. Echidna are hardy, resilient and clever and for an animal so old in the evolutionary scale, incredibly well adapted . 

The stories and dreamtime from our indigenous landowners characterise the echidna as a symbol of community, sustainability, conservation, and wisdom. To me they represent home, comfort, self-care, taking your time and doing things slowly, self-awareness, intuition and fun.

 

What to do if you see an echidna

  • If you ever see an echidna, please leave it alone.

  • Never ever use a shovel to pick up an echidna, dig around it in the earth or move it.

  • If you find an echidna that is sick or injured call WIRES on +61 1300094737

  • If you have to pick up an echidna wear leather gloves or use a very thick blanket or towel.

  • Wild echidnas are not pets.

  • If you see someone harming animals of any sort call the RSPCA via their website, it’s a crime to injure or abuse animals.

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

A full moon illuminates the surface of the warm waters off the Hawaiian coastline. Bobbing just beneath the silvery light spray is a dumpling shaped squid that can hide itself in the light of the moon.

Glowing from the inside, The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid, (Euprymna scolopes), is a cephalopod with super-powers. Cute and sparkly with big eyes, a plump body, a skirt of fins and a fist of tentacles exploding from its face, this little squid not much bigger than a lime, is like no other.

Links and Resources

 

Nat Geo WILD

What gives birth to a puggle? Covered in spines, Australia’s echidna is one of the rarest animals in the world: It’s one of only two known mammals that lay eggs. Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoWILDSubscribe

Platypus and Echidna

Echidnas and platypuses are unique, the only mammals in the world to share some traits with reptiles, such as laying eggs. Aaron Pedersen explains how they are highly-tuned to their environment.

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/australia-remastered-wild

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/australia-remastered-wild-australians/series/0/video/DO1847H006S00

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/australia-remastered-wild-australians

Disclaimer

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

We provide resources that are selected on their relevance and believed authenticity but we do not hold responsibility for their accuracy. Although we do our very best to make sure we use top-notch resources, unfortunately, mistakes can be made.

We are not responsible for fraudulent or inauthentic claims made by external resources or for mistakenly including information sourced externally, that may prove inaccurate.

The views and opinions of third party resources included in our posts are not necessarily the views and opinions held by us.

A huge effort goes into creating each article, blog, activity, artwork and video, and the desire is to make sure the information included in our content is useful, meaningful and honest. If you happen across something on our platform that may have been disproven by a reputable resource, please let us know.

Copyright Horatio's Jar, 2021
All Rights Reserved

Kids Activity – “What’s Your Mood?”

Kids Activity – “What’s Your Mood?”

Colour your mandala to match your mood.

Colour your Octopus mood mandala to suit your mood. Imagine what it feels like to make each part of your body change colour and pattern to suit your vibes.

 

Kids Activity – What’s Your Mood?

Imagine if you could change the colour of your skin to match your mood, communicate in a language of light, and camouflage yourself into the chair you are sitting in when you want to become totally invisible?

Well, that exactly what an Octopus can do!.

From invisibility cloaks to complex problem-solving abilities, glowing colour-changing skin, shape-shifting bodies and smoky doppelgängers; the octopus, with their agile intelligence, alien bodies, and visual communication systems are spectacularly peculiar and brilliantly adapted to their liquid world.

Octopuses have feelings

From invisibility cloaks to complex problem-solving abilities, glowing colour-changing skin, shape-shifting bodies and smoky doppelgängers; the octopus, with their agile intelligence, alien bodies, and visual communication systems are spectacularly peculiar and brilliantly adapted to their liquid world.

Boneless, multi-talented, hypersensitive and smarter than a domesticated dog, the octopus is the closest we have come to alien intelligence. Octopuses can feel and think through their whole body, they have complex neurological systems, nine brains and the ability to edit their genetics.

Sensitive, inquisitive, shy and playful the Octopus-like it’s cephalopod relatives can change the colour, texture and pattern of its skin to camouflage and to express feelings. When an Octopus is white it is relaxed, red means stressed and blue and other marine colours are in play with their environment.

What colour are you?

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

We provide resources that are selected on their relevance and believed authenticity. We do not hold responsibility for their accuracy.

We do our best to research all our content to supply truthful and supportive information. We are not responsible for fraudulent or inauthentic claims made by external resources used to create our posts nor do we support the views and opinions of third party sources included in our posts.

Copyright Horatio’s Jar, 2020
All Rights Reserved

Natural History – The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Natural History – The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

A full moon illuminates the surface of the warm waters off the Hawaiian coastline. Bobbing just beneath the silvery light spray is a dumpling shaped squid that can hide itself in the light of the moon.

Glowing from the inside, The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid, (Euprymna scolopes), is a cephalopod with super-powers. Cute and sparkly with big eyes, a plump body, a skirt of fins and a fist of tentacles exploding from its face, this little squid not much bigger than a lime, is like no other.

Just as octopus and other varieties of squid have evolved incredible ways to avoid being eaten; like shapeshifting, colour changing, ink explosions and travelling at warp speed using jet propulsion – The Hawaiian Bobtail with its eight arms and two tentacles, big eyes and colour changing skin has its own unique ways of fooling its foes. Unlike it’s soft bodied relatives, that use iridophores to mimic sunlight to camouflage on the surface or the water, the Bobtail Squid emits its own light from inside of itself. 

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid has been dubbed “the stealth bomber of the ocean”, by molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler, AKA The Bacteria Whisperer.

https://youtu.be/TVfmUfr8VPA – Bonnie Bassler: The secret, social lives of bacteria

 

The Stealth Bomber

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid spends most of the time hidden underneath sand on the bottom of the seafloor, but come night-time the googly-eyed squid switches on its invisibility device and floats to the surface of the warm Hawaiian waters to hunt. The dumpling shaped disco-ball that glows like the moon, is invisible to hungry predators below and it’s all thanks to a single microbe that lives inside its body.

Out of the billions of bacteria and viruses that exist in every litre of seawater, only one inhabits the Bobtail Squids body. A light-emitting microbe called Vibrio fisceri which colonises inside the squid and helps grow a special light organ that the Bobtail uses to control the amount of light released from inside of itself. This symbiotic relationship has captured the attention of biologists who are curious to understand how microbes change the host they inhabit.

Studying the relationship of Vibrio fisceri and its host the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid has revealed to scientists the secret language that microbes use to communicate. It means we could harness the power of good bacteria to enhance our own bodies and perhaps one day consciously interact with our microbial buddies. Who knows, maybe one day we will figure out how to glow at night too.

 

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

We provide resources that are selected on their relevance and believed authenticity. We do not hold responsibility for their accuracy.

We do our best to research all our content to supply truthful and supportive information. We are not responsible for fraudulent or inauthentic claims made by external resources used to create our posts nor do we support the views and opinions of third party sources included in our posts.

Copyright Horatio’s Jar, 2020
All Rights Reserved

Natural History – The Koala

Natural History – The Koala

Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus

Lifespan: 13 – 18 years (In the wild)

Mass: 4 – 15 kg (Adult)

Trophic level: Herbivorous

Gestation period: 30 – 36 days

Higher classification: Phascolarctos

Koala is an iconic symbol of Australia.
Now a rare and endangered species of marsupial, the Koala spend their days in the treetops of the eucalyptus tree, eating and sleeping; and up until recently, rarely descending the safety of their arboreal homes to find drinking water.

The name Koala is suppose to mean ‘No Drink’, and comes from the Darug people, from the coastal area of Sydney. The once abundant marsupial, with rounded fluffy ears, grey, brown and cream downy fur, little brown eyes, black leathery nose and two opposable thumbs for each hand, was first written about by white settlers in the early part of the 19th Century. The first record was in 1798 and the first published image of a Koala was in 1810.

 

Koalas are one of our national emblems, and they are fast becoming extinct and we don’t seem to be doing enough to stop it.

‘No Drink’

It seems as though the Koala was doomed from the time white colonists settled the Australian shore. Plagued by habitat destruction, disease, predation from introduced species, mass slaughter and now global warming – which has resulted in extenuating drought. The Koala is now on the way to becoming extinct in the wild, the forecast is bleak.

Koalas limited food supply has altered due to drought and the quantity and  quality of their food source diminished. The Eucalyptus leaves no longer provide the adequate nutrients or hydration aKoala needs to survive. Koala, now against their namesake of “no drink”, must descend from the trees to look for groundwater, putting them at risk of predation from dogs or being hit by cars. 

Most recently Koala habitat and numbers came close to total extinction in the 2019 – 2020 bushfires in some areas of NSW entire population of Koala are now gone, burnt to death in the fires that ravaged 18 million hectares of bushland, destroying homes, wilderness and eliminating at least 1 billion animals and insects.

 This catastrophic disaster has highlighted the danger of global warming to the entire planet, not just Koalas. Scientists say we are in the beginning of the sixth mass extinction on earth, which means that plants, animals, fungi, corals and microbial life is dying off at a rate 1000 times faster than what is normal, and the main culprit is us.

 

We are losing our natural heritage

As it turns out Australia has the worst rate of mammalian extinction of any other country in the world and our deforestation habits are worse than the Amazon. Every year we clear around 500,000 hectares of bushland – that’s about equivalent to an area the size of the MCG every two minutes.

Our Aussie icons are losing their homes & their lives

URGENT APPEAL: Across the country, over 15 million hectares of Australian land has been burned to the ground. Over 3 billion animals have been displaced because of these fires, and over 1.25 billion animals have lost their lives. Your support towards WWF-Australia’s Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund is urgently needed to care for injured wildlife and restore their homes.  

WWF is one of Australia’s most trusted conservation organisations. At WWF, we work in Australia and in our Asia-Pacific backyard to protect endangered species and habitats, meet the challenge of climate change, and build a world where people live in harmony with nature. This would not be possible without financial support from our community. Thank you! If you would like to help us, please make a donation.

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

We provide resources that are selected on their relevance and believed authenticity. We do not hold responsibility for their accuracy.

We do our best to research all our content to supply truthful and supportive information. We are not responsible for fraudulent or inauthentic claims made by external resources used to create our posts nor do we support the views and opinions of third party sources included in our posts.

Copyright Horatio’s Jar, 2020
All Rights Reserved

Natural History, The Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Natural History, The Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Natural History
The Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Scientific nameAgalychnis callidryas
ClassAmphibia
FamilyPhyllomedusidae
KingdomAnimalia
Higher classificationAgalychnis

I hope my frog caught your attention.
This little guy is the poster child of environmental awareness campaigns worldwide, and it is easy to see why.

The Red-Eyed Tree Frog, sometimes also referred to as a ‘Leaf Frog’, is native to central and South America. It has striking features that include, Irridescent orange-red eyes, that bulge from a slender green body, luminous orange toes, and an inky blue underside.

We are Family

Frogs are our distant relatives. Having lived on the earth some 250 million years, these adaptive vertebrates were the first to bridge land and lake and marked the beginning of animal evolution on land.

 Frogs are an important emblem of nature, they represent the finite balance and health of the planet. Sensitive to toxins, climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and predation, the decline or extinction of frogs species indicates disease in all other areas of the biosphere.

The natural world and its abundance of rare and gorgeous creatures are fast becoming natural history. We are hurriedly trying to capitalise on the last remaining sanctuaries of rare creatures, plants, microbes, fungi, insects, reefs and wilderness  – documenting, and synthesizing natures wonder market, where compounds, and chemical used in pharmacy – are only now coming to attention as we lose time.

Learn more on frogs here 

The Sixth Mass Extinction is Now

Science says we are now in the 6th Mass Extinctions, the 5th was the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago where it is believed a giant asteroid struck the earth and caused the mass die out. Our extinction is unique to all others, it is the first to be caused by a species of animal wiping out all others.

To capitalise on the earth natural resources for wealth, we have soured the soil, turned the seas to acid and poisoned the air. Sounds a little dramatic, too bad. It would nice to sugar coat this article, but after learning that the entire Koala population of the Kiwarrick State Forest in NSW,( where I am from), was lost in our 2019 firestorm, I have a moral duty to make a point.

As a content writer for education I rarely share my own voice, I try to stay impartial and provide information and resources that help the reader make up their own mind. But today I am sharing a little bit of myself with you in the hopes that the project I am working with, Natural History,  might catch the attention and the imagination of you and spark your interest in saving the planet too.

This article will be one of five that will feature a combination of unique and endangered animals from around the world. The aim is to inspire you to pay attention to what is happening in your own backyard, make better decisions about where you spend your money, what you put into your body, and how you treat the living world around you.

We are totally reliant on each other and all other species of plant, animal, fungi, insect and invertebrate in the world. Tiny changes are still meaningful and your contribution however big or small could help save what precious resources and animals we have left.

This article is as a general guide to better health and wellbeing.
It is not intended to replace medical advice. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor health, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention.

We provide resources that are selected on their relevance and believed authenticity. We do not hold responsibility for their accuracy.

We do our best to research all our content to supply truthful and supportive information. We are not responsible for fraudulent or inauthentic claims made by external resources used to create our posts nor do we support the views and opinions of third party sources included in our posts.

Copyright Horatio’s Jar, 2020
All Rights Reserved

The Magical Pangolin – A Rare Ancient Treasure

The Magical Pangolin – A Rare Ancient Treasure

The Magical Pangolin

A rare ancient treasure

Ages 5+ 

Video Links Require Adult Supervision 

3 minute reading  + additional video links 1hr

The Pangolin is, “the world’s only truly scaly mammal”, says Sir David Attenborough in the ABC documentary, Pangolins.

The Pangolin is a prehistoric and mythological looking being somewhat similar in appearance to an Aardvark but with scales like pine cones covering nearly all of its body. Slow-moving, shy and defenceless, the Pangolin is the most hunted mammal on the planet and because of black market poaching also one of the rarest.

Living on planet earth for more than 40 million years, The Pangolin are almost extinct because of the demand for their meat and scales in the Asian pharmaceutical and restaurant trade. Pangolin scales are worth more than ivory on the black market, and with dwindling supplies of the rare animal on the Asian continent, poachers now source Pangolin illegally from Africa.

 

Extinction is imminent.

In Africa and Vietnam, amazing wildlife warriors are working to save the pangolin in the wild, establishing conservation and rehabilitation projects which are leading the way to understand and protecting the dwindling Pangolin species.

Education and community are crucial to saving our very precious planet and the gorgeous and rare creatures that inhabit it. All over the world animals are being lost forever, never to be seen or heard again. Animals that have lived here for millions of years, before the time of humans are vanishing before our eyes and it is our fault.

To find out more: 

Watching Pangolins: Narrated by David Attenborough in iview

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/pangolins-narrated-by-david-attenborough?isMobile=iOS

Conservation

REST’s number one aim in being a good wildlife centre is to practice good conservation first. Founder, Maria Diekmann feels strongly that although research and education are key, conservation of a species must take priority. Extinction makes all other aspects irrelevant to survival. Of course research and education benefit from such efforts.

https://www.restnamibia.org