Newsletter March 2018

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March 2018

How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing Everything in Sight

(contributed by freelance writer Jane Wadsworth)

Is your pooch becoming a little Chewbacca and eating up everything in sight? They’ve chewed the dining table, destroyed the upholstery, and even managed to gnaw at the newly built-in cabinets. The lonely pup might be left alone for long periods throughout the day, resulting in an non-stimulating environment. But how many more good pairs of shoes will it take to stop the constant chewing?


Chewing is a natural behavior for canines. They use their mouths to explore their boundaries in the same way that humans use their hands to investigate. Toys, shoes, and furniture are the most common targets, as dogs like to chew objects that carry the scent of their human family members. The good news is that there are ways you can treat this behavior problem without harm or any further damage. Here’s how to stop your dog from chewing everything in sight. 

Saint Patrick: Debunked

This Saint Patrick’s Day, you might celebrate by decorating your home with green shamrocks and going out for a drink. But did you know that Saint Patrick was once known for driving all the snakes out of Ireland?

Because there are no snakes in Ireland, a legend was born that they had been banished by Saint Patrick. Stories were told of Saint Patrick chasing all of the snakes into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was taking on top of a hill.

Despite this, all evidence suggests that Ireland never had snakes. Most scientists agree that there have never been snakes in Ireland, and accordingly, there was nothing for Saint Patrick to banish.

In fact, Ireland is one of a very small number of places around the world where snakes do not exist. (The others include New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica.) The reason for this is that snakes likely couldn’t reach Ireland. The most recent Ice Age 10,000 years ago kept the island too cold for reptiles. After the Ice Age ended, surrounding seas have prevented snake populations from living there.

Because of this, snakes have not existed in Ireland for thousands of years. Britain has only three species of snakes: the venomous adder, the grass snake, and the smooth snake. This is likely because it had a land bridge to the rest of Europe until about 6,500 years ago, allowing snakes to travel there. These snakes did not move on to Ireland as its land link to Britain was cut approximately 2,000 years earlier by seas swollen from melting glaciers.

Some animals did make it to Ireland before this bridge closed, including brown bears, wild boars, and lynx. However, snakes did not get across in time. Even if they had, they probably would not have stayed. The climate was still not favorable to them there and snakes are generally slow to colonize new areas. In fact, the only reptile that did make it is the viviparous lizard. Scientists believe that this lizard must have arrived within the last 10,000 years.

Some speculate that the legend of Saint Patrick is allegorical, with snakes representing the evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition. They are portrayed negatively in the Bible and are often linked to heathen practices. In light of this, Saint Patrick’s snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence. 

However, if there were to be wild snakes in Ireland, they would likely to come from pet snakes being released into the wild by their owners. Even then, these snakes would be at risk in a new environment, and would pose a risk to the established environment. Scientists anticipate that Ireland would not be prepared for snake introductions. Invasive snakes such as the brown tree snake have already wreaked havoc in islands such as Guam, and Saint Patrick wouldn’t be around to drive them away. 

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Five Reasons Great White Sharks Can't Survive Captivity

One great mystery of science is the reason why Great White Sharks cannot be held alive in captivity. Many zoos and aquariums have attempted to house Great White Sharks and all have failed, regardless of the efforts of the scientists to provide the sharks with everything they need to survive. In fact, the longest a Great White Shark has ever been kept in captivity is 44 days. Most die or are released back into the wild after mere weeks. Why can’t these creatures be kept in aquariums like any other shark? Read on for some prominent theories.

1.     They need more space

Great White Sharks have been known to swim hundreds of miles in a matter of days. They are open water fish that never stay in the same area for long. One theory is that being confined to relatively small aquarium tanks deprives these animals of the freedom that is essential to their happiness, and even their survival. When an animal that is used to traveling enormous distances on a daily basis is forced into a small, enclosed space for days on end, it is prevented from engaging in its natural behavior patterns, and can eventually die.

2.     They become depressed 

Another theory hypothesizes that Great White Sharks become depressed when kept in tanks. While in captivity, these sharks have been known to head butt their noses into the glass walls and lose their appetites. They also become increasingly aggressive and often stop eating altogether. Some believe that this state of depression is caused by captivity, and that this in turn causes captive Great White Sharks to stop eating.

Exclusive Footage of a Great White in Captivity

3.     They need to hunt

One reason Great White Sharks do not fare well in captivity is because they refuse to be fed by humans. This natural apex predator needs to hunt in order to survive. They cannot live on already dead small fish, and often refuse to eat food that has already been killed. Because of this, many Great White Sharks are released back into the wild so that they can continue to hunt.

4.     The water just isn’t right

Many scientists have theorized that sharks become depressed in captivity because aquariums use incorrect water solutions, without enough saline. Great White Sharks are a salt water species and as such, it is imperative that the correct balance is maintained. Any change in the solution could be lethal.

5.     They’re too hard to handle

Finally, many aquariums can’t keep Great White Sharks because they are simply too difficult to take care of. They will kill and eat all other creatures in their tanks. In order to keep up, aquariums would have to continuously restock a tank, or dedicate an extremely large tank just for the Great White. Additionally, due to their enormous size and aggressive disposition, Great White Sharks are incredibly hard to handle and extremely dangerous. Many aquariums are just as happy to let the Great Whites stay in the wild, where they can hunt and freely swim through the open ocean.

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Emotional Support Animal 101

There’s a lot of information flying around about emotional support animals, which have gained increased media attention in both a positive and negative light. More and more people are using animals to fight the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other conditions. However, these animals are not the same as service animals that are trained to do a specific job, such as a seeing eye dog, and they are afforded different protections by law. What is a support animal and what rights do they have? Read on to find out.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An Emotional Support Animal is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a disability. This can be improving just one symptom of the disability. Many people with depression and anxiety use emotional support animals to relieve or lessen their symptoms and calm them down in times of extreme distress. Emotional Support Animals are typically dogs, but can be almost any animal. They can also be used by people with a range of physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disabilities.

In order to be prescribed an emotional support animal, the person seeking treatment must have a verifiable disability. A medical professional will assess the disability and the individual’s specific needs to determine if they will benefit from an emotional support animal. Often, a licensed therapist will submit a letter outlining a client’s condition and what they hope to gain from the animal.

Emotional Support Animals do not need to receive any type of training or certification, unlike other support animals such as seeing eye dogs, which go through extensive training. Emotional Support Animals do not necessarily perform specific tasks, but serve as a companion to provide comfort to their owners.

What Protections are ESAs afforded under law? 

Because Emotional Support Animals do not receive any specific training, they are afforded fewer rights under U.S. law. They are not allowed as much freedom to accompany their owners in public because they receive less training than other service animals, and are not necessarily as well behaved. In many situations where conventional pets are not allowed, ESAs are also not allowed. This can include stores, restaurants, hotels, and other places of public accommodation.

To be afforded protection under US law, a person must meet the federal definition of disability and must have a note from a physician or other medical professional stating that the person has a disability and that the emotional support animal provides a benefit for the individual.

Individuals with disabilities may request reasonable accommodations, such as a waiver of a no pet policy, for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal. This can help individuals to bring emotional support animals into their homes even when landlords have a no pet policy.

Emotional Support Animals are life changing for countless individuals struggling with mental illness and other conditions. Although they are not as qualified as other service animals, they can have just as much of an impact on day to day life for their owners.

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This Crocodile Can Swim Three Times Faster Than You

The Great White Shark is revered as the king of the ocean, the top of the food chain and an iconic, feared predator by almost all accounts. It seems nothing is a match for these fierce, powerful creatures. And in fact, Great White Sharks have very few natural threats. One of the few animals that can fight a Great White Shark and win is one you might not expect – a saltwater crocodile. 

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptile in the world. Males can reach up to 20-23 feet in length and weigh 2,200-2,600 pounds. Though they usually live in swamps, lagoons, and rivers, they can swim far out into the open ocean.

These dinosaur-like creatures are apex predators. They are hypercarnivorous, meaning their diet consists of over 70% meat. Nearly everything that crosses paths with the saltwater crocodile can become prey, including sharks, fish, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, mammals, and even humans. Due to their size, aggression, and distribution, saltwater crocodiles are regarded as the most dangerous extant crocodilian to humans.

Although some other crocodiles have the ability to swim in salt water, the saltwater crocodile spends the most time in the ocean by far. Saltwater crocodiles have been known to use the ocean’s current to travel long distances. One individual was tracked traveling 255 miles in only 20 days. Others have been observed residing in sheltered bays for a few days while they wait for the current to go in the direction they wish to travel.

Saltwater crocodiles are capable of going months at a time without food. They often bask during the day and hunt at night. Overall, they are more active in the summer and spend more time on land during the winter. They are among the most active of all crocodilians, especially in water. They are also much less terrestrial than most other crocodiles and spend less time on land, except when basking. Some saltwater crocodiles have been known to spend weeks at sea in search of land and in some cases, barnacles have been observed growing on crocodile scales.

These animals are surprisingly agile predators and are capable of moving at impressive speeds, particularly when hunting prey. They can swim at 15 to 18 miles per hour, around three times as fast as the fastest human swimmers. Though their brains are much smaller than those of mammals, they are capable of learning difficult tasks with minimal conditioning, and can track the migratory route of their prey as the seasons change.

Saltwater crocodiles also hold the record for the highest bite force in any animal. They have extremely strong muscles in their jaw for clamping down and never letting go. However, the muscles that open their mouths are much weaker. In fact, a saltwater crocodile mouth can be securely shut with a few layers of duct tape.

According to Wondjina, the mythology of Indigenous Australians, the saltwater crocodile was banished from the fresh water for becoming full of bad spirits and growing too large, unlike the freshwater crocodile. Authorities advise people to stay away from saltwater crocodiles at all costs, as they are extremely aggressive when encroached upon and attacks are often fatal.

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