Mexican Long-Nosed Bat

In the spirit of Halloween passed, today’s endangered animal is the Mexican long-nosed bat or Leptonycteris nivalis. For starters, not much is known about the range of this species. The Mexican long-nosed bat is reported to be seen in the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as well as Mexico and Guatemala. The reason the range is not specifically known is because scientists have not been able to pinpoint the migratory pattern of the species. Population size of roosts can range from zero to 10,000 individuals in a single year but it is suspected that the overall general population of the species is definitely declining. Fun fact: When you think of a flying creature, it’s usually a bird however, bats are the only mammals that can fly.

The Mexican Long-nosed bat is named exactly that for a reason. It’s muzzle is longer than the average, American bat species and it has what’s known as a noseleaf at the very tip of it’s muzzle. In order to explain the noseleaf’s function, we have to start with echolocation. Echolocation is a form of communication that certain animal species use to orient themselves with their surroundings. It’s a form of sonar which consists of the animal emitting calls out into their environment and receiving information back in the form of echos or sound waves. This enables the species to navigate their surroundings without actually “seeing” where they’re going. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “blind as a bat” that’s because bats have poor eyesight and rely heavily on echolocation. The noseleaf on the Mexican Long-nosed bat, focuses the echolocation calls emitted greatly enhancing their view of the world so to speak. Other distinguishing features of this species from other bats is its size — about 2.75 to 3.75 inches in total length with a 14 inch wingspan, and it has a 3 inch long tongue. The coloring of this bat varies between gray and sooty brown and they have long, fluffy fur.

As previously stated, the Mexican Long-nosed bat can range in roost size up to 10,000 individuals. When it’s time to eat, the bats will emerge after sunset and feed on flower species that open at night such as agave, cacti and century plants. This species not only drinks the nectar, it also consumes the pollen because the pollen is a high protein source and provides vitamins and minerals that keep these bat’s fur nice and shiny. The Mexican Long-nose bats are adept fliers and are able to hover and feed at the same time like hummingbirds because of that long tongue. This species will follow the flowering periods of agave. They start North, in the US states and then migrate South to Mexico in winter most of the time. Breeding season occurs between October and December in Mexico. A single offspring is usually born around April and May, will nurse for about a month and is able to fly by five weeks. Average life span of the Mexican Long-nosed bat is about 15-20 years.

In 1937, the Mexican Long-nosed bat species was discovered in a cave of the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Texas. Today, that’s primarily one of the only locations you can see this species as there is a protected sub-population in Emory Park of Big Bend National Park. The major threats to this species are human disturbance and destruction of their habitat as well as agave harvesting; the bats main food source. This is critical because an agave plant only flowers once then it dies and it takes 10 to 20 years to get to the flowering point. Another threat from humans stem from ranchers who have vampire bat problems. Yes, vampire bats are real however, the Mexican Long-nosed bat often gets confused with the vampire bat pests and ranchers tend to kill the many instead of the few. Conservation of this species is an ongoing process as researchers and scientists try to conduct surveys to understand the ecology better in order to put into place programs to keep the species from declining into critically endangered territory. If you ever find yourself entering a cave, be mindful of the potential disturbance and stress you can cause bat species. Best practices for viewing bats are waiting for them to come out versus going in to see them.

If you would like to learn more about bat conservation, feel free to visit Bat Conservation International (BatCon) for more information.

(Source: Texas Parks, Arkive)

Superhero Showdown

There’s a podcast I frequent by one of my favorite authors. It’s called Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing and live streams every Monday on Youtube. It features indie authors giving advice and experience with marketing their books. They often feature other authors on the show as well. Three weeks ago Nalini Singh was featured on the podcast (which was SO AWESOME!) and last week the focus was on how authors can get their books into libraries and the process libraries go through to receive books whether you’re indie or traditional. The featured author was actually a librarian as well as an author and he was discussing his new book that he said was in the superhero fiction/urban fantasy genre. That sparked a little bit of a debate in the live chat about what readers consider superhero fiction vs. urban fantasy and how hard it is to find “true” superhero fiction cause it’s being drowned out by urban fantasy. One viewer got quite heated about the subject. It got me thinking about the characteristics and qualities of a person for them to be considered a superhero. In this post, I’m going to discuss definitions found on Google as well as what I personally think.

When the term superhero is used, the images that automatically come to mind are Marvel or DC Comics heroes; i.e. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, SpiderMan, Thor, etc. These are heroes we’ve all grown up with. They have quite an extensive universe as evident by the hundreds of comic books, television shows and movies. However, can we consider a different fictional character as a superhero? Is the definition of a superhero as broad as I think it is? Let’s take a look at some definitions around the interwebs space.

A simple Google search produces this definition:

“A benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers powers, such as Superman”

The one right below it comes from Merriam Webster’s dictionary and states:

“A fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also :an exceptionally skillful or successful person.”

These two definitions are quite similar. One implies only a fictional character while the other suggests that a superhero doesn’t necessarily have to be fictional as long as they are skillful and successful. The individual I mentioned above, who got heated during the conversation stated that a superhero is “a costumed crime fighter with super powers.” That narrows it down a bit more specifically with the words “costumed crime fighter”. Now as specific as that definition is, it got me thinking about some of our costumed superhero favorites. For example, the Green Arrow is a costumed crime fighter but he literally has no super powers. He’s just “exceptionally skillful” with a bow and arrow and he’s rich. Hell, even Batman doesn’t have any super powers nor does Iron Man. They’re just highly skilled in tech and they’re rich.

Now, if we look at a character out of an urban fantasy novel, to keep it simple, they’re usually a shapeshifter, a vampire or a witch (or some type of magic user) wouldn’t you say? To take it step further, they are usually in a situation where they’re fighting a villain who has superpowers or some type of non-human super trait that allows them to fight one another. Usually, they are trying to save the human race in some form or fashion even if the human world is governed by these supernatural creatures. The only trait these fictional characters are missing is the costumed part of the definition. Let’s look at the definition of supernatural shall we?:

“(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.”

Looking at that definition, would you agree that a supernatural character is not the same as a superhero? But does that not contradict the superhero definition? For example, Superman is not even human. He came from a different planet entirely with powers that are not of scientific understanding or the laws of nature as governed by humans of Earth. But then someone like Spiderman is considered a superhero because his powers can be explained through science, i.e. he was bitten by a radioactive spider who’s venom manifested inside of him turning him super human. Then we look at characters such as witches and wizards. They are a bit of both wouldn’t you say? Some are born with power yes, but they still tap into science as well as nature in order to enhance the power they already have or to draw power into an object making it more powerful.

I asked my husband what he thought of the difference between superhero fiction and urban fantasy (after explaining urban fantasy to him). He stated that he believes that urban fantasy characters can be considered superheroes. He thinks of superheros as people or creatures, who participate in vigilante acts that protect the human race or race of species in general. When looked at it that way, I can agree with my husband that at the end of the day, whether your powers come from science, magic or an alien universe, a character can still be considered be a superhero – costumed or not. I’ll end with this definition from Stan Lee:

“A superhero is a person who does heroic deeds and has the ability to do them in a way a normal person couldn’t.”

What are your thoughts on superheroes in fiction? Do you believe the definition is cut and dry or is it more broad? Do you have any favorite non Marvel/DC characters in a fictional universe that you would consider superheroes? Let me know in the comments below!

Rafflesia

Today’s endangered species is focused on the biggest flower in the world: Rafflesia magnifica aka the meat flower. Now before you say, “I could have sworn I saw this flower in a botanical gardens!”, I assure you, you’re wrong. This particular species is only found in one location in the world. That’s right, if you don’t already live in the Phillipines, you’d have to hop on a plane and fly to the Mt. Candalaga mountain range in Compostela Valley to see the few of these that are left. Although this species is only found in such a small area, all species of Rafflesia are listed as vulnerable or endangered in some form or another.

What makes Rafflesia so unique is that they look like your average flower but have very distinctive differences. Rafflesia do not have stems, roots, or leaves. Your average flower has a system right? The roots pull nutrients and water from the Earth, up through their roots where it then gets turned into chlorophyll, glucose and other compounds a flower needs to grow strong and have vibrant colors. It also pulls energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Rafflesia don’t do any of that. Even though their coloring is brilliantly vibrant, it’s not due to the sun or nutrients from the Earth. Rafflesia are actually parasitic plants and the only way for them to grow is from leeching off one particular host. The only host that can create a Rafflesia flower is the Tetrastigma vine. The Rafflesia spreads its root like tentacle things under the tissue of the Tetrastigma vine and absorbs the sap until it matures. It literally starts out as a piece of tissue and is completely dependent on this grapevine relative in order to grow into a flower. The flower itself is characterized by its five-petalled formation, that can grow to be 5 inches or more in diameter, and also by it’s smell. Rafflesia do not smell like roses, let me tell you. They are called the meat flower for a reason. If you want to smell death, just walk up to a Rafflesia. They smell like rotting corpses.

Rafflesia magnifica are listed on the IUCN list as critically endangered. This particular species was discovered in 2005 and was listed as critically endangered in 2008. The major threat to the species is habitat loss to banana plantations. Scientists who went out to survey the area found a few clusters of Rafflesia magnifica but were only able to record males of the population. Not much has been recorded about their reproduction or life cycles because people can only recognize them when/if they bloom. Another threat to the species is ethnobotanical and illegal collecting. Ethnobotanical collecting is when humans collect plant species in order to study it’s uses to the local culture. Sadly, no conversation efforts have been put into place for this species. Maybe through spreading more awareness will the plight of this species come to light.

(Sources: Feat.ImgIUCN, WWF, Gaia)

Why #1

So this is going to be a bit of a personal post but I need an outlet and what better place than my blog right?

Last night my husband gets a phone call from his brother asking for advice about getting a car started. My husband is very well versed in all things Honda related. He can diagnose a car problem but the sound or by no sound it all. It’s quite fascinating to watch. Anyway, the brother’s “friend’s” car wouldn’t start and he asked for helping in how to get it going again or if it was a lost cause and a tow truck would be needed. My husband declared that it was probably a dead battery and just needed a jump until a new battery could be purchased. He then offered to come jump the car battery with our car. We fully expected his brother to say no because the last time this happened, he said exactly that. Instead, all giggly, he said yes, if you don’t mind, help would be greatly appreciated and the phone call ends.

The giggling is not something I’ve ever heard and I’ve been around for at least 10 years. So of course, I look at my husband and ask him if his brother was high (he doesn’t do drugs but that’s my response to people who act out of character)

He goes and helps then comes home. I asked how it went and he tells me it was what he thought, a dead battery. Then he goes silent. I can just see the things that are weighing down on his mind in that instance. I don’t say anything however because sometimes you need to let people get their thoughts and feelings together before they say what they’re thinking.

Later on, before we lay down for bed, he asks me, “What should I do about my brother?”

You see, last night solidified our suspicions that he’s not being faithful. He’s not married and therefore didn’t make a forever commitment. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that what he’s doing right now is fucked up. Yes, the f-bomb is required. My response to what he should do, besides punching his brother in the face, is conflicting in and of itself. On the one hand, if we spill this information, we would most definitely be inviting a world a drama into our lives that we do not want and definitely don’t need. On the other hand, there’s that niggling thought in the back of our minds that it’s not our place to spill private information to another individual when it’s not our information to share. At the root of it all, all we can think about is how much he’s hurting the woman who loves him and is mother to his children as well as the fact that he might have this disillusioned idea that we’re okay with his extracurricular activities which is so far from the truth it’s disgusting. The main reason we are, essentially, pretending we’re okay with this is because he suffers from PTSD and we don’t want to make a sort of sensitive situation more volatile.

I’ve always prided myself on being that person you can come talk to about anything and I won’t judge. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. I do judge internally if you’re cheating or doing anything else that’s slimy and nefarious. How can I not? We’re all raised on what we know to be right and what to be wrong and cheating is 100% wrong. If you are not happy, you need to figure out how to walk away instead of continually hurting a person who cares for you and will walk through quicksand to get to you. I know it’s not always as simple as that but keeping secrets is like dumping lighter fluid on wood and hoping that the fire won’t explode in your face when you finally add that tiny spark to the mix. The only conclusion we could come up with is to give the man an ultimatum. Communicate your feelings, even if they’re miserable, to your woman because if you don’t we are going to. We can’t lie for someone who is willingly doing stupid shit, family or not.

This happened to me before with a friend. That time I made my position very clear. She preferred to be ignorant of her man’s extracurricular activities and telling everyone close to her that we don’t know what we’re talking about; she knows him. I will listen and hear you but the minute a person chooses to imply that I’m the liar in the conversation, I feel like I wasted time and energy trying to help fix a problem that a person is content with not fixing. So I walked away from that friendship and I would do it again because I don’t want that level of toxicity to poison me.

Is there a line I’m missing when it comes to this stuff? Are we doing the right thing or is it the wrong thing? Have you ever been in such a situation? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.

Endangered Categories

I planned to write about another animal today but I realized I never made an initial post outlining the IUCN categories that animals are placed in based off their population size. Today, I am going to share these categories with you so going forward you can understand the threat level animals, and sometimes plants I talk about, are facing.

EX – Stands for extinct. This means that there is no trace or evidence of this species being alive anywhere in the world anymore. Either habitat loss, hunting, hybridization diluted the original DNA, or anything else you can possibly think of that caused this animal/plant to cease to exist. Think dinosaurs.

EW – Stands for extinct in the wild. This means that you will not see this species anywhere in its natural habitat assuming said habitat has not been destroyed. If you want to see the species alive somewhere, it’s probably in a zoo or wild life refuge that focuses on trying to breed the last individuals and grow their population in order to release them back in the wild. This also means they are working to restore the habitats as well because you can bring the population back but if they don’t have a thriving place to live, it won’t help them in the long run.

CR – Stands for critically endangered. This means the species is endangered of going extinct in the wild or extinct completely. Not all animals do well in captivity so sometimes they are at risk of skipping the EW step and going straight to the EX step. One of my very first posts was for the Northern White Rhino. There is only one individual in existence. His status is critically endangered because he still lives in a very, very protected wild.

EN – Stands for endangered. This means that the species population is declining rather quickly and at the rate it’s going, the species may have to be listed to CR. Lots of monitoring and surveys begin at this step in order to figure out why the population is rapidly declining and analyze what steps need to be taken to ensure the species doesn’t hit the red.

VU – Stands for vulnerable. This means the species numbers are doing okay but because of certain human activities or climate change, for example, the populations may become affected over time. Reproduction rates are monitored here to make sure offspring are being born and surviving. The risk of endangerment is evident but it hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

NT – Stands for near threatened. This is similar to vulnerable but it’s a projection of what could happen in the future if the rate of activities and habitat trends surrounding the species continues.

LC – Stands for least concern. This means the population is thriving, the habitat is thriving, there is no reason to focus on this species because it’s doing well enough on it’s own. Think deer or hey, humans.

There is also the DD category that’s not listed in the picture but that means not enough data has been collected in order to assess which category a species fits in.

I hope you find this post informative. I mainly focus on species that are EN and up. However, I haven’t actually talked about a species that’s completely extinct. Would that be something you all would be interested in? It won’t be dinosaurs I’m afraid but I can talk about some species that have recently gone extinct if that sounds cool. Let me know in the comments below!

Rumis #1

My post is so late! Aaaaah! Forgive me!

I have a feeling there will be a lot of these posts where I start to want to talk about something and then think of something else that would make a better post but it’s a jumbled assortment of thoughts. We’ll call this series, that will be as random as my mind, rumis as in ruminations of Nel.

A couple amazing people I’ve met through here, I talk to on an almost hourly basis. I love technology because even though we are all in different parts of the globe, we’re able to talk, laugh, cry and be happy together. The individuals I’m referring to, I consider family. I was talking with one the other day and we were discussing that phrase, “You can’t choose your family.” My instant reaction was, “yes I can.” It was a knee jerk response. But then I thought about it and I truly believe you can choose your family. Peela, I’m putting you on blast right now, has been more of a sister than me than my actual blood sister ever has. I mean that is a profound statement to make but it’s sadly true. I only interact with my family on maybe three occasions a year, if that. It’s hard to want to be around people who are constantly competing with each other or are magnets for drama. I have enough drama elsewhere in my life not to want to have to take it from my family too you know?

I started blogging back in February and since then, I can make a whole list of people who are family. Family doesn’t have to be, to steal a quote from Game of Thrones, blood of my blood. I like to be around open-minded, understanding, hilarious, generous individuals. These are like minded people to me. They boost my confidence to continue being my silly, positive, sometimes brutally honest, very emotional self. They expect nothing less from me. Actually they expect nothing at all from me except to continually strengthen this bond we have so that it lasts forever. When a person like that is staring you in the face, how can you not call them family? I mean if you are willing to listen to me rant about everything under the sun from my crappy day to my political views and still love me anyway, you are simply everything.

Anyway, keeping this post short today. I also want to point out that I’ve gotten into the habit of sending people mail and/or care packages (if you’ve never had a Reese Cup, I’m sending you one so you better mention that in the comments below). I want to say that my life is pretty hectic but I haven’t forgotten mail or letters I’ve received from some of my family and I hope to get letters and packages out in the mail before my Orlando weekend getaway later this month.

I love you all! You’re amazing! I hope you’re having wonderful days!

Bactrian Camel

Today’s endangered species is brought to you by the family Camelidae. Fun fact. Camels were once native to North America before the age of humans. Unfortunately, humans hunted a lot and they ended up going extinct. Now before you say, “But I see camels in the zoo all the time!”, I know you do. That would be because camels were reintroduced domestically to the continent. Now, there are two types of camels; the Camelus ferus (Bactrian or two humped camel) and C. dromedarius (Dromedary or one humped camel). Bactrian camel is the species we are focusing on today. It should be also noted that I am talking about the wild Bactrian camel as opposed to its domestic counterparts which are listed under Camelus bactriarus.

The Bactrian camel hails from China and Mongolia. Historically, they spanned the all across both these countries but today they are mainly found in the Gobi and Taklimakan Deserts. Bactrian camels have evolved to be able to handle harsh desert conditions. They weigh anywhere between 650-1500 pounds (350-690 kg) and they are about 5.9-7.5 feet (180-230 cm) tall. Their heads rise above their shoulders allowing them to tower at almost 12 feet (365 cm) tall and their tails are 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) long. Bactrian camels have long, shaggy, beige colored fur in the winter and they shed it almost completely in the summer. They also have a double row of eyelashes and thick hairs in their ears to protect against sand. Their nostrils are slit-like and they are able to close them when sandstorms are really harsh. Their feet are different from what you might imagine a camel to have. Instead of hooves, they have big, flat padded soles that help them hold their weight and navigate rocky, desert terrain.

Bactrian camels are diurnal; which means they are most active during the day. They are also herbivores. Because they live in a desert climate, and vegetation can be scarce, they are one of the only land mammals adapted to eating thorns, dry shrubs and salty plants. Most animals avoid those. They are also to consume a mass quantities of water. In fact, they are only mammal in the world that can drink brackish, salty water and have no ill effects. They are able to consume up to 15 gallons (57 litres) of water in one sitting. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, it is not water that is stored in their humps, its fat. They are able to go days without food or water living off their fat reserves however, they must replenish them whenever water is available. Bactrian camels are migratory creatures; travelling in herd sizes anywhere between 6 and 20. Females reach sexual maturity around 5 years of age and usually have their offspring in the winter or rainy season. Their lifespan is typically 40-50 years in the wold.

Bactrian camels have been listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered since 2007. There are less than 950 individuals left. There are a myriad of threats to this species. The major one is hunting. Bactrian camels are still consistently hunted for meat and sport. Another major threat is reduction in water available. The area in which they live has experienced extreme droughts which dry up the oasis’ they usually frequent and makes them extremely vulnerable to wolves. Hybridization is another threat to the Bactrian camel because their genetic diversity is slowly declining. Lastly, and this one is a real doozy, occurs from habitat loss. Bactrian are so evolved that they were able to survive nuclear tests over the last 75 years! That’s right people, they’re immune to radiation effects and yet, humans are trying to claim their habitat in order to mine. Boggles the mind, truly.

Conservation efforts are underway; slowly but surely. The Wild Camel Protection Foundation is a breeding program established in Mongolia hoping to increase numbers with the 15 individuals in the captive population. China has also established a protected area called The Great Gobi Natural Reserve but a second protected area is definitely needed. If you’re interested in donating to the conservation of the Bactrian camel, WWF has an adopt a bactrian plush program here.

(Sources: IUCN, EDGE)

Tales of an Insect

***Warning! This story contains cursing because I curse a lot in real life especially when unexpected things I’m not prepared for occur***

I’m traumatized.

No, seriously. I try to be a good girl and eat my serving of dark leafy greens but CLEARLY, there’s a reason I’m carnivorous and here’s the story detailing why:

For the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to make sure and incorporate my serving of fruit (apple for breakfast) and serving of dark, leafy greens. I’ve slowly taken a liking to sauteed kale which says a lot cause I hated kale before except for in Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup (it’s soooooo good!). I decided to learn how to cook it the edible way and now it’s not so bad. So I went to the Eagle (grocery store we frequent a.k.a. Giant Eagle) and purchased some kale. Kale is really cheap btw! I thought it was expensive so I think that’s why I avoided buying it, as well as hating it, but it’s only like $1.50 for a bunch. Anyway, I cooked the whole bunch in  my wok and we ate it for two days as a side to whatever protein we cooked that night. (tangents, sorry!)

Yesterday, I didn’t pack a lunch because we didn’t have any leftovers. I decided to go to Heinen’s (pronounced “High-nens”), a higher end grocery store near my work, for lunch. They have a salad bar that I would sometimes utilize when I felt the need to be healthy especially back in my pet retail days. So I go over there and build my salad. I use baby spinach leaves, spring mix which has like argula and stuff in it, bell pepper mix, raw broccoli, bacon bits, egg, sunflower seeds and croutons drizzled with a light Italian dressing. There’s a million and one options at a salad bar but they charge you by the weight of your salad and I would never spend $10 dollars on salad unless it had steak on it (sorry vegetarians). While I’m in the store, I also pick up my boss’ usual lunch as well.

I get back and of course work is a little slammed so I don’t get to eat the salad right away but since it’s in a closed container, I figured I’d mix it up so the dressing would coat all the salad-y bits and I’d have an even spread when it came time to eat it. I finally get a free moment to eat the salad and I was very much enjoying my food okay. Usually, I browse social media or check my personal email while I’m eating but, I’m also the type that looks at every bite of food before I put it in my mouth. You will never catch me eating anything in the dark except for like a granola bar or a Rice Krispy treat.

I happened to look down after taking a bite and I see something very odd looking in my salad. At first I thought it was just a large piece of bacon because they don’t always finely chop the bacon.

Then I looked closer….

And the bacon looked like it had tiny legs….

So I looked even closer…

And I saw eyes! INSECT EYES!

I almost vomited all over my desk. I looked again and moved it with my fork and couldn’t believe what I was looking at.

I roll back in my chair and simply state, “I’m done with Heinen’s.” My boss’ office is right next to me so she heard me say that and goes, “Why, what’s wrong?” I get up and take my  half eaten salad to her and say, “What the hell is that? IS THAT A BUG IN MY FUCKING SALAD?!” (She curses worse than me, just f.y.i., haha) She looks, makes the vomit noise and then tells me, “You better take that salad back to them right now! GO!” Ma’am, yes, ma’am!

To give you an idea of what I saw, imagine a cricket, no a moth, or a cricket with wings, maybe a grasshopper still wrapped in it’s crysallis in my mother effing salad! That’s truly a first for me okay. I texted my husband with lots of crying face emojis telling him I almost ate a bug! I took the salad back to Heinen’s and showed the customer service people and they refunded me my monies. That was nice of them but I’m never eating there again.

Moral of this story is, there’s a reason I’m a carnivore but also, look before you eat ESPECIALLY if you didn’t prepare it yourself. (It’s not lost on me that insects are a source of protein for some but I prefer to eat my salad without eyes, thank you!)

P.S. if you laughed at this story, laughter is welcome because my boss laughed about it all after the fact.

Have you ever had a bad food experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Cuban Crocodile

Today’s endangered species comes from the Reptilia class (no relation to the song by The Strokes). It’s in the genus, Crocodylus which includes alligators and caiman. The Cuban crocodile has a very small distribution. Over time it’s been limited to two small swamps of Cuba; the Zapata Swamp and the Lanier Swamp on the Isla de Juventad (Isle of Youth). Both of these swamps are freshwater swamps. The Cuban crocodile goes by “Crocodile De Cuba” in French and “Cocodrilo De Cuba” in Spanish.

These crocodiles are medium sized in comparison to the native American crocodile. They average at about 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) long and weigh about 287 pounds (130 kilograms). Although they live in freshwater swamps, they are very much terrestrial creatures. Their feet do not have webbing which is indication of how much time they spend on land versus water and they have short, broad heads with bony ridges running between their eyes. They also have what’s known as “pearly” pattern on their back which are black and yellow spots and distinguish them from other crocodiles.

(As scary as he may look, how can anyone deny the existence of dinosaurs?!)

Diet of the Cuban crocodile mainly consists of hutias (resembles a cross between a beaver and a rat) and freshwater turtles. They have very broad back teeth that are strong enough crush turtle shells. Cuban crocodiles have also been historically known to prey on the giant sloth (remember last week’s post? Sadly, the giant sloth is extinct). Breeding season for the Cuban crocodile starts around May and June. Females will either dig a hole for their nest or build a mound nest for their eggs. Eggs size is around 20-40 in the wild.

The Cuban crocodile is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red list with less than 4,000 individuals left. The major threats to this reptiles include illegal hunting, habitat loss and hybridization. Hunters poach the Cuban crocodile to sale their meat to private restaurants who participate in the tourist industry. Habitat destruction is self explanatory given their restrictions to two tiny swamps. Hybridization refers to the Cuban crocodile mating with it’s American cousin, muddying the Cuban crocodile gene pool and lowering genetic diversity overall.

Conversation of this species is pretty much at a standstill. In 2008, when the species was listed as critical, a few conservation measures were put in place such as captive breeding programs and reintroduction but illegal hunting still continues as well as hybridization. Hopefully, some new monitoring legislation can be put into place that ultimately saves this beastie from extinction.

(Source: Arkive)

Food Discovery

I was searching RT for a post I made a while ago about types of food that we eat together that some may find weird. However, there are 241 posts on this blog and searching for the word “food” brought up a ton of posts including every Endangered post I’ve written (which are just not related to human food). So failing that, I just decided to start the post anyway. If you go searching for it, and find it, you’re a rock star!

Edit theorangutanlibrarian is a super rockstar! She found the post I was thinking about. Now I owe you cronuts if you ever find yourself in the heart of the nation 🙂 (Click here to read it.) ***

The other day my husband was watching a video featuring Tyler the Creator talking about breakfast food. Based off the snippet I was listening to, he was looking for a new type of breakfast food he could come up with on his own. Throughout the video, he was exploring this shop that made some very interesting pastries that lead me and the husband to a food discovery. Also, at the end he ended up making a breakfast sushi which was pretty cool and worth mentioning. The sushi rice took the form of a piece of a waffle with the raw meat being sausage on top and it was wrapped in a thin sliver of egg which mimics the seaweed. He also made this green butter which mimicked wasabi on the side. All of this was with the help of a chef of course but it definitely made me want to try it.

(Have I mentioned how much I LOVE FOOD?!? Especially breakfast food!)

So anyway, what caught my husband’s eye and made him show me was this CRAZY, COOL pastry called the cronut. You read that right. A cronut! It’s a croissant donut! Donuts are traditionally deep fried to get that sort of crisp outside and soft center where a croissant is usually baked to get that fluffy, flaky texture (I may suck at baking but I understand the processes!). A cronut is a meld of the two sort of? I still don’t quite understand it besides the fact that it’s baked in layers with a donut-y (?) bottom of sorts.

ANYWAY! This beautiful cronut that he was experiencing, was not in this country. So of course I go on a frantic Google search to see if any possible bakery near me makes this wonderful food invention that we just learned about. Now, there are retail bakeries like Dunkin Donuts and Jubilee but it’s a pretty low chance you’ll find an authentic cronut at these places. There is a such thing as a mock cronut! I don’t know what one looks like though because I found a local, mom and pop bakery that makes the real, deal, holy field! Talk about lucky. You pretty much have to wake up at dawn if you want them fresh out of the oven. Since I suck at waking up that early unless I have a very specific reason, I went more around 9am.

I present to you, the cronut:

If you’re wondering, yes, they’re freaking delicious and are slowly ruining a regular donut for me with their goodness. Next time I go, I’m going to try the cruffin (you read that right too; its a croissant muffin!)

Have you ever had a cronut, cruffin or any other crazy, delicious bakery? Any recent food discoveries in general?? Let me know in the comments below!