Monday, May 18, 2009

POISONOUS PRIMATES ATTACK!!! ...or maybe not attack so much as stare at you in dismay.

This post is dedcated to my friend Nicholas, who has developed an intense and abiding love for Slow Lorises, rivaled only by his love for Glitter Body Paint.

Slow Lorises (Nycticebus sp.)

You may know these animals, because videos of adorable pet Slow Lorises have become somewhat popular on sites like Youtube and Vimeo (See HERE). This slow moving (as the name suggests), nocturnal primate (as the big eyes suggest) is found in the forests of Eastern and Southeast Asia, where they feed on a variety of small animals. Though they may not look like like primates (the group monkeys and apes are in), they are indeed primates. Lorises are in a group called the Prosimians, which are the most primitive group of primates including Lorises, Lemurs, Tarsiers, and Bush Babies. Let's take a look at the 3 species of Slow Loris...

The Greater or Sunda Slow Loris (N. coucang)

Lorises are opportunistic predators, picking up whatever small animals they happen to find while climbing through the trees.

Their feet are adapted well to an arboreal existence. The grip of a Loris on branches can be extremely strong.

This Sunda is really quite amused with your banal interpretation of Dada imagery in current youth oriented popular culture.

Slow Lorises have a poison gland on the inside of the elbow, which the mother may sometimes rub on her babies to make them unpalatable to predators. They may also lick the gland, thus mixing the poison with their saliva, giving them a venomous bite.

Bengal Slow Loris
(N. bengalensis)

This Bengal Slow Loris, which is considered a vulnerable species by conservation scientists due to habitat destruction and over hunting for traditional medicine, hangs on a vine at the Frou Frou Club... and thinks your ensemble is ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!

A baby Bengal Slow Loris that was born into a zoo as a part of a captive breeding program, Programs like this may be the last chance for many endangered species.

Pygmy Slow Loris (N. pygmaeus)

"NOOOOOO???!!! He said WHAT? NO... HE... DIDN'T?!
Well, I'd tell him he need to stop comin round my job if i was you!"

The Pygmy, the smallest of the Slow Lorises, has become a sought after animal in the exotic pet trade. Most of your amusing videos are of the adorable Pygmy Slow Loris.

"No honest, i was just reaching for a Cheeto, I SWEAR!"

Pygmy Slow Lorises, like this incredibly precious baby, were greatly depleted in number during the vicious imperialist aggressions in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos... and the Freemasons have yet to publicly apologize to them for it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

IN THE PARK - Caterpillars



Though Spicebush Swallowtails have been plentiful in the park, we haven't really seen many of their caterpillars in the park. The host plants for their caterpillars are Spicebush, Sassafras, Bays, and Camphor Tree. We haven't had of these plants in the park. With the addition of a pair of young Camphor Trees (Cinnamomum camphora) last year, we were happy to find multiple caterpillars this Spring behind the house.


Camphor, a plant not native to North America, native to East Asia, is a host plant in residential areas, where it is often a landscape or garden plant.

Spicebush Swallowtails usually lay their eggs on the bottom of the leaves of their host plants.

The young, freshly hatched caterpillars resemble bird droppings, which is a trait found amongst a few species of Swallowtail butterfly.

As the caterpillar grows, it loses the bird dropping appearance and usually turns green with large false eye spots, somewhat resembling a small snake.

The caterpillars are often found in refuges made by curling the edges of the leaves of their host plants with sticky silk.

The caterpillar may less commonly also be yellow or orange.

Like most Swallowtail caterpillars, they have an Osmeterium, as scent gland that resembles a snake tongue or horns, and releases an chemical odor reportedly repellent to other insects, a strong mix of Turpenes.

the chrysalis, which is usually held against vegetation by a line of silk

Though usually brown in color, the chrysalis may also be green or yellow.

an adult Spicebush nectaring at flowers

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This post is in memoriam of my late friend Mark Doten, who died the way he lived his life... for the salamanders.


The Japanese Giant is endemic (found only there) to Japan, where is inhabits clear slow moving mountain streams, and feeds on a variety of small aquatic animals.

At a length of up to 1.5 m (~5 ft.), Japonicus is the 2nd largest salamander (or amphibian for that matter) in the world.

The paddle like tail belies the strictly aquatic life of the Giant Salamander. The folds on skin on the side of the body increase the skin surface available to absorb more oxygen from already oxygen poor waters.

Japanese Giants are nocturnal animals who remain in hiding during the day. They have small eyes and poor sight, and use other senses to find their way.

A series of nodules or raised bumps on the head help them detect the most minute movements in the water, which aid in both prey capture and the avoidance of potential predators.

Despite their sensory capabilities, they are slow and sluggish animals with slow metabolic rates... which enabled this frightening mountain beast to capture one.

They are a concern for scientists, as they have become Threatened in the wild from habitat degradation and overcollection for food locally.

No, I can definitely tell you had work done. I look great , really!


At up to 1.8 m (~6 ft.), the Chinese Giant Salamander is the largest amphibian species in the world.

Though they can achieve lengths up to 6 feet, they rarely do.

The Chinese Giant is very closely related to the Japanese Giant Salamander; having similar diet, habitat type, metabolic rates and sensory traits. Similarly, the female lays eggs in an underwater den, and the male protects the eggs until the young hatch.

The Chinese Giant is even more threatened than the Japanese Giant, and is actually considered Critically Endangered, due to habitat degradation and destruction, as well as over collection for food and traditional Chinese medicine.

Although there is an international effort to breed them in captivity, there has been difficulty in getting them to do so in significant numbers to aid in the recovery of their populations... and these guys aren't helping with their awful taste in music. Dude, she's not gonna get in the mood with Ace of Base playing!

The genus name Andrius, which means "image of man", was coined by European scientists because the man who originally named a fossil of a close relative of this salamander (A. schleuchzeri) believed that he had found an ancient human fossil. It was later recognized as being not only human, but quite salamander. Later, European scientists learned of the Chinese and Japanese Giant Salamanders and realized they were closely related, enough to be int he same genus.