Content, Scared, or Excited?

Content, Scared, or Excited?

Just What A Squirrel's Tail Waving Means
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You look out the back window and see the usual squirrel scattering up a tree and onto the fence. It pauses, tail waving; it moves and stops, tail again flicking furiously. The darned thing just won’t stop moving.

Besides the fact that squirrels have high metabolisms, why do they wave their tales so much? I wonder this all the time, as our backyard is a regular habitat for squirrels and every time I see one he’s almost always flicking his tail. Perhaps you’ve wondered why as well.

Well, wonder no more, people.

According to this article in the San Jose Mercury News, squirrels flick their tails as a form of communication, specifically when they are suspicious or think there may be danger ahead. The waving tail is a warning: Yo Fred, I think there’s something up there. It also alerts the predator that the squirrel sees him: Hey giant cat, I SEE YOU.

So the squirrels in our backyard must be really suspicious a lot of time, because they wave their tails all the time. Nearly non-stop. This makes sense, however, because we do have a lot of cats running around. The poor squirrels are in a near-constant state of alarm, then.

Or maybe not. According to Thaddeus McRae and Steven Green, authors of a study on squirrels published in Behavior, squirrels have two types of tail movements: one is the twitch, a long, flowing, arc-like movement which is likely the one I see all the time; the other is the flag, where the tail moves much quicker and in shorter, jerkier movements from circles to squiggles. (See this article from Wired to watch a five-second video of a flag.) McRae and Green found that flags were used more often for specific predators, like cats, and that twitches were used in many different situations including those where no predator was present.

So maybe the squirrels in my backyard aren’t so uptight after all. They’re certainly communicating, but maybe they’re just alert for any threats.

See the rest of the Wired article to read more about the various squirrel alarm calls. It’s pretty interesting.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tonight

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45 Things Day Care Workers Say All Too Often

Toddlers are pretty much tiny, drunk people.
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Being the keeper of tiny humans can be a very interesting job. You are constantly breaking up arguments, cleaning up messes, trying to keep them safe, and telling them not to do things that are well, sometimes pretty weird. They do and say the strangest things that'll make you wonder what is really going on in their little heads.

1. "No no no, don't do *something crashes to the floor* ....that."

2. "Bubbles in your mouths every body!"

3. "No, we don't eat our friend's snack."

4. "Hands to yourself."

5. "Get off of the table before you hurt yourself."

6. "Why do we even give them spoons?"

7. "We don't put toys in our mouths"

8. "Did you wash your hands?"

9. "Where do we run? Where are we right now?"

10. "Where are your shoes?"

11. "We don't talk like that here."

12. "Go tell them you're sorry"

13. "Get your finger out of your nose"

14. "Inside voices please!"

15. "Every one find a buddy."

16. "Ew ew ew, some body get me a tissue!"

17. "How did your shoes untie already? I just tied them five minutes ago."

18. "We do nice with our hands."

19. "Oh god, it's spaghetti day."

20. "Please, do not put noodles in your hair."

21. "Hold hands until we are on the play ground!"

22. "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head..."

23. "Do you have to poop?"

24. "Well you should at least try."

25. "Why didn't you go to the potty before we went outside."

26. "If I hear "Let it go" one more time..."

27. "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog.."

28. "Mommy and Daddy will come back, I promise."

29. "No, no biting!"

30. "She had it first, you'll just have to wait until she's done."

31. "Ew, why are you dipping everything in applesauce?"

32. "Now, are you going to eat the vegetable with the ranch or just the ranch?"

33. "Then why did you say you weren't eating snack?"

34. "Put your arms back in your sleeves."

35. *Five minutes before closing* "Where are your parents??"

36. "I finally got him to sleep, everyone be quiet."

37. *You see one eye open* "Oh no..."

38. "Wow, all your kids are still sleeping!?" (We wish we said this more often)

39. "Don't eat that, it was on the floor!"

40. "Glue the google eyes on here." *puts the eyes anywhere but there*

41. "Stop fighting over who's going to turn off the lights, you'll get a turn tomorrow."

42. "Don't shove so much food in your mouth at once, you'll choke!"

43. "Chew and swallow your food before you get up."

45. "Don't touch anything until we wash your hands!"

As weird as these small people are, they are some of the sweetest beings on the planet. And although they drive you crazy, at the end of the day, they make you love your job.


Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1223221/images/o-KIDS-MESS-facebook.jpg

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5 Ways We Can Help Protect Marine Life That Will Make You Say 'Shell-Yeah'

It is serious!

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Marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, and seals have captured the hearts of millions of people all over the world. But if we're not careful about how we treat their environment, they may not be around for much longer.

Here are some ways you can help protect our marine life friends!

1. Be beach-friendly. 

Whether you are at the beach to surf, swim, or just relax, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks or coral. If you really want to make a difference, start patrolling the beach area, and help pick up any trash you see lying around. Maybe even see if you can gather a group of people who will do it with you!

Also, don't take wild fish or hermit crabs away from their homes! They're not likely to live very long if they're taken away from their natural habitat. Also, never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water- a practice that can be very harmful to them.

2. Use fewer plastic products. 

Plastic can end up as ocean debris, which contributes to habitat destruction and entangles and kills tens of thousands of marine animals each year.

Many marine animals (such as sea turtles) mistake plastic waste for a viable food source, sometimes causing blockages in their digestive system. Though the declining sea turtle populations in oceans are due to a variety of reasons, plastic pollution plays a significant role. They eat things like jellyfish and are very likely to mistake a plastic straw for a jellyfish snack.

Also, don't ever release balloons- just pop them and throw them out. If you release them, they are a danger to marine wildlife who can accidentally swallow them because they mistook them for food.

3. Limit activities that can alter an animal's environment. 

Worldwide, dolphins face a variety of impacts that threaten their very existence- most of which are impacts of human activities. In recent history, the Yangtze river dolphin was declared extinct due to its river habitat being obstructed by the building of dams and the invasion of boat traffic.

When you are in the animals' natural habitat, be careful not to leave behind or do anything that could cause serious harm to their environment. Clean up after yourselves, and don't leave behind fishing wires, hooks, trash, or anything else.

4. Advocate for oil spill clean-up. 

Going along with the above statement, oil spills can be caused not only by equipment breaking down but also by people making mistakes or just being careless. Oil spills into rivers, oceans, and bays are often caused by accidents involving tankers, pipelines, storage facilities, drilling rigs, refineries, and barges.

Most oils float, so the animals most affected sea otters and sea birds that are found on the sea surface or on shorelines if the oil comes ashore. During most oil spills, seabirds are harmed and killed in greater numbers than any other kinds of creatures. If heavy oils get into the feathers of birds, they may die of hypothermia for losing their ability to keep themselves warm. This same effect is observed with sea otters. Sea otters can easily be harmed by oil since their ability to stay warm depends on their fur remaining clean. When oil remains on the beach for a while, other creatures, such as snails, clams, and terrestrial animals may suffer too.

Many light oils, such as gasoline and diesel, are considered to be toxic. They can kill animals or plants and they are also dangerous to humans who breathe their fumes or get it on their skin.

Go online to learn more about oil spills, and what you can do to help!

5. Lesson your carbon footprint. 



Because of ocean acidification, global warming has been a hot topic in the ocean world. When acidity of the ocean increases, it can cause devastating impacts on marine life, including plankton, corals, shellfish, and the animals that eat them.

The vast majority of the air we breathe comes from the oceans. That's why we say "if the oceans die, we die."


Marine mammals like the vaquita dolphin (only 30 left in existence due to illegal fishing in the Gulf of California) are not much different than humans. They know when they are in trouble, and they get scared.

Start researching online today to see how you can help!

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