First batch of cry-themed christmas-y tiled patterns!
[Insert Crystmas pun]
Not sure if anyone is going to use them, but in case someone wants a different coloured background, hit me up. Or something.
I’m currently using it as my background, so if you want a preview look at my blog.
I swear someone sent me an ask about this but I can’t find it, so here’s a slightly belated text post on foods you don’t want to feed your cat this season or any other.
Most of these foods are dangerous at a certain dosage, so cats may ingests small amounts and appear fine. Don’t risk it, because you probably don’t know what that dosage is or how much tolerance your particular pet has.
- Onions, garlic, chives
- Milk and dairy products (like most adult mammals, adult cats are lactose intolerant!)
- Grapes and raisins
- Green tomatoes, raw potatoes, mushrooms
- Xylitol (candy and gum)
- Fat trimmings and cooked bones
- Uncooked bread dough
- Raw eggs, meat, and fish (the same bacteria that can give you food poisoning can also affect your cat; raw fish can also cause vitamin B deficiency)
Also, since these are cats we’re talking about, here’s the ASPCA’s list of plants to keep them away from. Some common ones:
- Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
- Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
- Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
- Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
- Lilies (Lilium sp.)
- Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
- Oleander (Nerium oleander)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
- Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
- Spanish thyme (Coleus ampoinicus)
- Tulip and Narcissus bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
- Yew (Taxus sp.)
These is by no means exhaustive lists! Remember to ALWAYS do your research before feeding your pets anything new! It could save you a terrifying trip to the vet’s or worse.
Do you also want to create ALL THE ARMOR? I’ve released a book!
5$ and I’ll teach you everything you need to know! :)
The term ‘alpha’ in relation to wolves causes a lot of confusion. The word ‘alpha’ apart from wolves means ‘first’ (the first letter of the Greek alphabet, in the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1). In relation to groups of animals (and in this case wolves), ‘alpha’ means being first, a position they may achieve by means of superior physical prowess. Wolves fighting and competing for the leading position (alpha) only happens when random wolves are put together, for example in captivity. Science has come to understand that the social order in wolf packs as it occurs in nature is completely different; in nature a wolf pack normally is a family with the adult parents guiding the activities of the group and sharing group leadership in a division-of-labor system.
Now even though the scientific fact that normally wolves in wolf packs as they occur in nature do not compete with each other for a leading position has been accepted for over ten years, there still on one hand is scientific literature that uses the term alpha to refer to a breeding pair that gained their leading position in a natural way, without having to fight for it. And on the other hand there is a lot of literature describing wolf packs as they occur in nature by using the term alpha for the leading pair, implying they fought and competed their way up to the top.
How did all this confusion and misconceptions started? At the end of the ’60, David Mech wrote his book ‘The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species’. He based this book on one of the most important studies done on the behaviour of wolves in captivity by Rudolph Schenkel, done in 1947. Mech took the term ‘alpha wolf’ from Schenkels’ study. Most books and studies on wolves that were written after Mechs book, were for a large part based on the information published in this standard of Mech. This is how the term ‘alpha’ became commonplace.
Most research on the social dynamics of wolf packs has been conducted on non-natural assortments of captive wolves. It was assumed a wolf pack was formed by a number of random individuals, who would meet up in the winter so they can hunt for larger prey animals. From that idea, for research on the social behaviour of wolves, different wolves from different zoos were put together in a new group. If a random group of animals is composite in an artificial way, you get a battle on the power, and in the end a hierarchy that is maintained with difficulty. There you go; the alpha wolf and the inexorable ranking.
The social order in wolf packs as it occurs in nature is completely different than the described above. The typical wolf pack as it occurs in nature is a family with the adult parents guiding the activities of the group and sharing group leadership in a division-of-labor system. Most of the time the female predominates primarily in such activities as pup care and defence, and the male primarily during foraging and food-provisioning and the travels associate with them.
The leading parents did not gain their position by fighting or competing with others, which the term ‘alpha’ indicates, but in a natural way, comparable to a human family. Just like in a human family, the youngsters naturally follow their parents’ lead and any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so the term ‘alpha’ adds no information. This terminology falsely implies a rigid, force-based dominance hierarchy. In the relatively few large wolf packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”
Occasionally an unrelated wolf is adopted into a pack and this unrelated wolf usually accepts the breeding pair as leaders, or a relative of one of the breeders is included, or a dead parent is replaced by an outside wolf and an offspring of opposite sex from the newcomer may then replace its parent and breed with the stepparent. In cases like this there can appear competing. However, these variations are exceptions.
As offspring begin to mature, they usually disperse from the pack as young as 9 months of age. Most disperse when 1-2 years old, and few remain beyond 3 years. When they disperse from the pack, they are a ‘lone wolf’ for a while, until they have find a mate to start their own family with. The earliest age at which wild wolves are known to breed is 22 months, and some individuals are not sexually mature until they are at least 4 years old. Because most wolves disperse before 2 years of age, and almost all before 3 years of age, there usually would be no source of sexual competition within most packs.
Some yearlings stay in their parents’ pack, even when their parents have new litter. The yearlings naturally dominate the new pups just as older brothers and sisters in a human family might guide the younger siblings, but still there is no general battle to try to gain pack leadership; that just naturally stays with the original parents.
Given this natural history of wolf packs, there is no more reason to refer to the parent wolves as alphas than there would be to refer to the parents of a human family as the ”alpha” pair.
Studies show dominance displays among wolves in wolf packs as they occurs in nature are uncommon, except during competition for food. Then they allow parents to monopolize food and allocate it to their youngest offspring. Active submission appears to be primarily a food-begging gesture, or a food-gathering motivator. The role of active and passive submission in interactions between the breeding male and breeding female when no offspring are present still needs further exploration.
The only consistent demonstration of rank in natural packs is the animals’ postures during social interaction, and the only general dominance rules discerned involved scent marking and food ownership and transfer. With scent-marking, both breeding male and female mark, but subordinates do not unless vying for dominance.
As stated before, the relationship between the breeding male and female is complex and bears further research. Data indicated that the breeding male dominated all other wolves and the breeding female dominated all but the breeding male. Nevertheless, in keeping eventual other pack members away from young pups, the breeding female seems to reign supreme, especially when the pups are less than 3 weeks old. It is common for the breeding female to rush to the young pups whenever the breeding male or any other wolf began to approach them. The breeding female tends and protects the pups more than any other pack member. For example, mothers were the only pack members David Mech ever saw picking up pups and carrying them. When there are other adult wolves in the pack besides the breeding male and female, they mostly do take care of the pups as well a lot of the time.
Note that it isn’t always easy to boil the display of social dominant behaviour down to simple explanations. The described above is how it nórmally goes, few exceptions made in which sometimes alpha is a term that is still accurate. Also, dominant behaviour and dominance relationships can be highly situational, and can vary greatly from individual to individual even within the same species. It’s not the entire concept of wolves displaying social dominance that was dispelled, just the simple hierarchical pack structure.
So, in short:
Wolf packs as they occur in nature are not a pack as a group of animals with one absolute leader (or leading pair) that fought his way to the top. Wolf packs, with only few exceptions, are nothing more than family groups who are shaped in the same way human families are shaped; parents with their offspring who, when grown up, leave the family, then wander around being a lone wolf until they have found a partner and a territory that isn’t occupied yet and that has enough prey, to there start their own family. The parents have, pertaining to their children, an evident, natural leading role – ‘leading’ in the meaning of ‘guiding’, and not ‘predominate’. Sometimes related, but also unrelated wolves join a wolf pack. Usually they naturally accept the breeding pair as the leaders of the pack.
Referring to the breeding pair of a pack such as described above with the term ‘alpha’ is not accurate, confusing and falsely implies a rigid, force-based dominance hierarchy. The only accurate way to use the term alpha is when talking about artificially composed wolf packs, such as random wolves put together in captivity. When one puts a random group of any species together artificially, these animals will naturally compete with each other and eventually form a type of dominance hierarchy, because there is no natural composition. This is like the classical pecking order originally described in chickens. In such cases, it is appropriate to refer to the top-ranking individuals as alphas, implying that they competed and fought to gain their position.
A good example of a place where this alpha issue becomes particularly confusing is Yellowstone National Park, where great numbers of the public spend much time observing wolves right along with wolf biologists and naturalists. Because the Yellowstonewolf population was newly restored and enjoys a great surplus of prey (6,000 to 12,000 elk, 4,000 bison, and hundreds of deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, moose and other prey), the pack structure of its population is more complex than in most wolf populations. There, young wolves disperse at a later age, when 2 to 3 years old instead of 1 to 2, thus making packs larger and containing more mature individuals than most packs do elsewhere. In these packs where both the mother and some of her daughters mature, all sometimes get bred during the same year, the daughters usually by outside males.
When more than one female breeds in a pack, the females may become more competitive, so it is probably appropriate to refer to the original matriarch as the alpha female and to her daughters as “betas.” The Yellowstone observers commonly use this phraseology, but too often it becomes loosely applied to all the breeding wolves, even in packs where there are only single breeders. While it is not incorrect to use alpha when applied to packs of multiple breeders, it would be possible and even desirable to use less loaded terminology. For example, the top-ranking female could be called the dominant female or the matriarch, and her breeding daughters, the subordinates. Or individually if the females actually show a dominance order, the second- and third-ranking individuals could be called simply that. This approach would further reform wolf terminology and add to both science’s and the public’s more accurate perception of the wolf.
A lot of the above information comes from Mech’s article ‘Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs’, which he published in 1999 and in which he officially corrected the wrong information in the scientific literature. By then, however, both the lay public and most biologists had fully adopted the alpha concept and terminology. In 2000 he got into this in a second article, Leadership in Wolf, Canis lupus, Packs. Even though there has been done a lot of studies and research on this that confirms this knowledge, and even though scientists and biologist have been acknowledging this new insight for over more than ten years, unfortunately on average it takes 20 years before new scientific insights are completely accepted and the outmoded view of the wolf pack as an aggressive assortment of wolves consistently competing with each other to take over the pack will end.
Main sources (look at ‘references’ in this sources below for all the other studies who acknowledge this insight, recommended!):
-Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs by David Mech
- Leadership in Wolf, Canis lupus, Packs by David Mech
-Article Whatever Happened to the Term Alpha Wolf? by David Mech in the winter issue 2008 of International Wolf Magazine
- ‘Wolves at our door’ by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, 2002
- ‘Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation’, 2003, edited by Luigi Boitani and David Mech, written by 23 authors (in this book ‘alpha’ is mentioned in only six places and then only to explain why the term is outdated)
Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
- Common garters are EXTREMELY variable in their huge range, and the nominate subspecies is no exception. Eastern garter snake (T.s. sirtalis) vary so much in their range, I honestly could have easily done multiple posts on this one subspecies alone, and I can’t really pin down the most common look. The majority of the snakes in this mating ball are dark grey, with three yellow stripes. A few have hints of red on their sides, and one with distinct red checkers. This photographer has a good slice of their variety, but it’s really only the tip of the iceburg. They also come in greens, blues, melanistic, flame, albino, and piebald etc in the wild, more info and more morphs can be found here. [x]
- Probably the least colorful and most mottled looking common garter, the maritime garter (T.s. pallidula) comes mostly in browns and yellows like this snake. It’s checkered sides and dorsal stripe (which seems to be absent in some individuals) is obscured a bit by speckling. [x]
- A very evenly speckled Texas (T.s. annectens) with an interesting coloration to it’s stripes that appears to be common with the subspecies. The dorsal is orange, the laterals white.[x]
- Many of the Chicago (T.s. semifasciatus ) have a dark olive-brown coloration, with dark spotting and yellow (in this case a yellow with a greenish tint) markings. Probably the most green morphs can come out of this subspecies. [x]
- Last of the more subdued colored common garters on the list, this New Mexican (T.s dorsalis) has a row of subtle dark spots along the lateral stripes that don’t immediately pop out against the dull greyish brown background, with a light blushing of red in between. [x]
- Blue striped (T.s. similis) are native to Florida, and true to their name are found in shades of blue. This one has a turquoise hue in between it’s dark grey sides, with tinges of cream on it’s throat and nose and speckling on the belly.[x]
- Another blue subspecies, but far away from the Floridian similis in the Pacific North West, the Puget Sound (T.s. pickeringii) are absolute stunners. The robin’s egg blue on this animal really stands out against the black.As a whole, they seem to have darker areas of black than the blue striped, and many have crisper and cleaner colors, though there are a great deal of pattern variation and is not always the case (California Herps has a great gallery). [x]
- The Valley (T.s. fitchi) is another especially varied subspecies, This particular snake has a cream belly and stripes, with half circles of red dotting it’s side in a neat row.[x]
- The checkered pattern on the red sided (T.s. ) makes for a very handsome snake. The yellow cream lateral stripes start off in two rows of dashes in this particular snake, getting more solid towards the rear. [x]
- Oregon red spotted (T.s. concinnus) have bright red heads and bold black bars on their red sides, often with no hint of lateral stripes, the one pictured only has one creamy yellow down it’s back.
- California red-sided (T.s. infernalis) are very similar to the red spotted, but have blues and yellows rather than light yellows and whites, and do have all three stripes. The coastal example has a sky blue dorsal stripe, and the inland a yellow one with less heavy barring. [x].
- And finally, the endangered San Francisco (T.s. tetrataenia) is considered on of the most beautiful North American snakes, and for good reason. Close in appearance to the previous subspecies, but with no checkering on the sides until the tail section, giving it a clean striped look.[x]
What people thank an animal should be kept in and what the animal actually should be kept in. (click the pictures)
Not based on personal preference, but observable fact. An animal kept in an environment that is too small is unhappy and stressed. This can absolutely lead to a short miserable life.
I see a lot of people, virtually every day, who have these preconceived notions about what an animal can live in. A hamster lives in a hamster cage of course, because the happy little hamster on the box says so! This cage is for finches, they even keep them in it at the store! My friend had a rabbit and it lived in that cage so I’ll get that one. This sort of dangerous socially accepted neglect is not just limited to bettas and goldfish. Mammals and birds are subject to it as well.
What people don’t realize is that almost all commercial or common cages are completely unacceptable as homes for what they are marketed for. Those guinea pig/rabbit cages? Garbage. Those tiny finch cages? Torture. That cute technicolor hamster cage? A gimmick.
All animals need a certain amount of space for enrichment and general well being. That does not mean the cages someone is trying to sell you. It means the cages that are best.
And to all those people who are thinking “Well I had a hamster in a cage that size and it was fine.”
You have only observed your animal. You have only observed the animal in a confined space and most likely showing signs of distress or behavioral problems. But you interpreted it as normal because that is all you know. You haven’t seen rabbits in appropriate sized cages. You haven’t seen parakeets in appropriate cages. You haven’t seen a hamster who is happy.
Signs and symptoms of cruelly confined hamsters. (The same applies to mice, gerbils, and rats):
- Biting the cage bars
- Obsessive digging
- "Laziness" (lack of foraging/exploring)
- Running in circles
Signs and symptoms of cruelly confined rabbits:
- Biting the cage bars
- Running in circles
- Bouncing off the cage walls
- Aggression, irritability when being held
- Cage aggression
- Constantly banging toys/decor around
Signs and symptoms of cruelly confined guinea pigs
- Biting the cage bars
- Banging their water bottle on the side of the enclosure constantly
- Aggression toward other guinea pigs or you
Signs and symptoms of cruelly confined parakeets
- Feather plucking
- Aggression to other parakeets
- Repetitive behaviors (constant singing into a corner, going from the same perch to the same perch over and over again)
Signs and symptoms of cruelly confined finches
- Aggression to other finches
- Flight tracing: Going from one perch to another in the exact same spot the exact same way over and over again
Animals are more complex than people give them credit for. They to do all of the natural behaviors they’re built to do. Exploring, foraging, playing, hiding, interacting (or not interacting) with another animal, etc. All of this is taken from them in cages like the ones above.
People need to educate themselves about an animal before getting one. It’s a thought that’s been said a million times over and yet nobody actually does it. The reality is people who want a hamster/guinea pig/rabbit are not going to sit down and read ten articles and three books waiting 2 months while they set everything up unless they are already enthusiasts who are willing to put that much into their pets. I can say from experience that over 80% of the people who buy pets buy them to make their kids happy with no regard to what the animal needs. What is most important to them is getting a present for their child regardless of any consequences that decision comes with.
So we have to try and get this information out there. We have to try and make THIS the general knowledge about these animals.
Resources and very good reads for anyone who has or wants any of the animals listed here. I’ll add more when I find them.
Guinea pigs: X
This is very important. i have seen so many animal live unfulfilled and short lives because of this.
Some additional notes from your friendly neighborhood Ethologist:
It should also be noted that many abnormal behaviors like
- Repetitive motions / locomotor stereotypies (pacing, rocking, obsessive digging, spinning, hopping, flipping, etc)
- Self-directed behaviors (self-plucking, over grooming, self clasping, self biting)
- Self-injurious behaviors (self directed behaviors to the point of bleeding or other injury that requires medical attention)
are not only a symptom of current housing enrichment conditions, but are often a result of negligent / restrictive rearing conditions!
If your pet has been weaned to early, isolate raised, peer raised (as opposed to mother raised), or undergone similar early life conditions there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that they will exhibit abnormal / manipulative behaviors as adults, EVEN WITH the best environmental enrichment and social housing conditions.
So please please please keep this in mind when looking at breeders / vendors for your pet. Ask them questions, talk with other customers about their pets from _____ place, and ask to see the conditions your prospective pet is raised in. A good breeder/institution will be proud of their hard work and animal care quality, and generally are quite happy to answer your questions.
Also, when shopping for your pet’s enrichment devices (i.e. the fun things you add to their housing), make sure to do some research on the species. In order for enrichment to be useful, it needs to be relevant to the animal’s species (and personal) characteristics. A little bit of research can help you promote your pet’s naturalistic behavior and promote their psychological well being.
finally someone breaks it down for those of us who are makeup challenged.
actually really good for those that struggle with lighting in painting!