Monday, February 18, 2013

Tiger Quoll: Rare and Adorable

The Tiger Quoll is a super cute and slender marsupial that only lives in Australia. They are very rare, and sadly are endangered. Tiger Quolls are related to Tasmanian Devils, and are in a family with animals that look like mice.

"Tiger Quoll" seems like a silly name for an animal that is spotted, instead of stripey like a Tiger. But rest assured, they can also be called Spotted Quolls. These fuzzy guys have really cute little heads with adorable noses, and small ears, as well as short legs. A cool thing about this animal, is that their spots continue on the long tail.

Whatcha looking at?

Look at that cute nose!

Tiger Quolls live in Eastern Australia in rainforests. They like to hang out in trees, where they hunt for food, such as birds, and possums. They also eat other animals, like rodents, lizards, snakes, and insects. These fuzzy mammals are mostly active at night, when they can hunt for prey and not become food for bigger animals who are active during the day.


Tiger Quolls sleep in dens, which means any cozy place they can find, like holes in trees, caves, burrows underground, hollow trees, or even under houses.

These cute marsupials often greet one another by sniffing noses together! Adorable!

Further Reading


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cute Fungus: Mushyroomies!

Mushrooms are not animals and they are not plants either! Mushrooms are a Fungus, and seem like a mixture between a plant and an animal. Mushrooms sort of look like plants because they grow from the ground, do not move about, and have "hyphae" which look like roots. But, Mushrooms do not make their own food like plants do. Instead, they get nutrients from other plants and animals by using these root-like "hyphae".

Mushrooms come in a lot of different colors, sizes, and shapes, but usually have a long, skinny "stalk" or "stipe" which holds up the umbrella shaped "cap". This cap is where you'll find all sorts of interesting creatures, such as the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, or Snails who are having a little nibble or a rest.

Taken by Anne Elliott

The cutest sounding Fungus is a Puffball! Normally it does not have a stalk and instead is just a round, squishy ball. When you squish it, a cloud of dust comes out, which are baby mushrooms! These baby mushrooms are called "spores" until they grow into an adult.

The baby spores of other mushrooms are found underneath the cap, and hide here until they are ready to be set free.

© Mark Steinmetz

Another interesting kind of Mushroom, is the Bird's Nest. It looks like they are cute baby eggs in a nest, but it is actually a Fungus! Mushrooms are often found in wet forested areas, and because they do not need sunlight like plants, they can grow in dark places.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fuzzy Tree Kangaroos!

Kangaroos are Marsupials, animals that have a cozy front pocket for the babies to live in. Koalas and Wombats are also Marsupials. Tree Kangaroos live in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and surrounding islands.

Tree Kangaroos like to munch on leaves, flowers, moss, grass, and bark.

The Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo, shown here, is very rare and mysterious. It has reddish colored fur, with a cute yellow belly, and two golden yellow stripes on its back and tail. Very little is known about these adorable creatures.

Tree Kangaroos are a little shy, and like to spend most of their time alone. When a female has a baby, the fuzzy baby stays with its mother for a couple years before adventuring into the rainforest on its own.

As their name indicates, these fuzzy guys like to spend their time in trees. They have very long tails to help them balance, and claws to get a good grip. Although, when Tree Kangaroos walk on the ground they are clumsy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Snakes are cute, not slimy!

For Hallowe'en, I'm profiling animals that are not normally considered cute. In fact, many people are often afraid of these animals, and I'll be showing how cute they can be.

Although Hallowe'en has ended, I'm still celebrating with another Hallowe'en party this weekend. Here is the last animal in my Hallowe'en series: Snakes!

So tiny!

Baby snakes can be really tiny! And tiny things are usually cute. :) Snakes are Reptiles, which means that they cannot warm themselves. Instead, they have to find warm places, like a sunny rock, to lie on. If Reptiles become too cold they cannot move! So, if you are considering a Reptile as a pet, remember that you must provide a heat source, like a heat lamp, so that your cute friend can stay cozy

Keeping the babies warm.

Most Snakes lay eggs to have babies, although many Snake parents do not watch over their eggs. One species, the Python, does stay close by to keep their eggs warm and safe. They wrap their long bodies around the eggs, to incubate them, which means to keep them the right temperature. 

There are a few Snakes who don't lay eggs, and instead give birth to live snakes! 

Snakes are not slimy, like a lot of people think. Snails and Slugs are gooey, but Snakes are smooth and soft. They shed their skin a few times a year, called molting, which is a way of getting rid of any parasites, and leaves behind brand new skin!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Seagulls are not ugly, they are adorable!

Leading up to Hallowe'en, I'll be profiling animals that are not normally considered cute. In fact, many people are often afraid of these animals, and I'll be showing how cute they can be!

Cuddling together!

A lot of people find Seagulls to be annoying or ugly, but here are examples of Seagulls being cute and adorable! Many sea birds like to be around one another, and often cuddle together in cute pouffy balls on the beach. 

Seagulls are also very smart, and work together to find food. Some Seagulls even trick fish with food to catch them, the same way that humans use bait when fishing!


 Seagulls usually have one partner for their life, meaning that the family stays together. The romantic couple will often lay their eggs in the same location year after year. They work together to build a soft and cozy nest for their babies. The mother Seagull lays about one to three eggs and the parents take turns keeping the eggs warm and safe. When they hatch the baby Seagulls are adorable piles of fluff!

Both the mother and father help to raise the babies, taking turns feeding and protecting them.

Seagulls like to eat a lot of different kinds of food. They are not picky! They often catch fish from the ocean, and also like to eat shellfish, such as clams. In order to open the shells, these birds will fly high in the air and drop the shellfish onto a hard surface, like a rock, and keep doing this until the shell cracks open!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fuzzy Little Bats!

Leading up to Hallowe'en, I'll be profiling animals that are not normally considered cute. In fact, many people are often afraid of these animals, and I'll be showing how cute they can be! 

So fuzzy!
Many people are afraid of Bats, but they are really cute and fuzzy! Also, the Bats found in Canada, such as the Little Brown Bat, are pretty small, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Bats are Mammals, just like us, which means that the mothers feed their babies milk.

I've seen Bats in Stanley Park, Vancouver, flying around at dusk! They swoop over the Lagoon, catching bugs to snack on. Bats also help pollinate plants, such as Bananas!

Bats love to cuddle one another. They often sleep in giant cuddle piles, consisting of millions of bats!

Sleeping upside down!
Most Bats sleep during the day and are active at night. One of the cool thing about Bats is their ability to sleep while hanging upside down! They curl up into a little ball by wrapping their wings around their body, and then doze off to sleep.

Because Bats often fly around in the dark, they have a special skill, called echolocation, to find their prey. It's too dark at night for Bats to see their food, such as insects, so they make high-pitched noises which bounce back off objects, just like an echo. Bats can understand the echoing noises to figure out where objects are, like trees and bugs. How cool! There are some Bats who do not have this special skill, called Old World Bats. They are bigger in size and like to eat fruit!

Further Reading: Investigating the Role of Bats in Emerging Zoonoses

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Momongas: the Cutest Ball of Fluff You'll Ever See!!

Cuddly Momongas!

I've just discovered Momongas, super adorable, tiny, fluffy Squirrels! They are a type of flying Squirrel, which means that when they jump and spread out their arms and legs, they have, what looks like, furry wings! They are not actually wings, but skin, similar to webbed toes.

Sleepy nap.

Momongas love sleeping in trees! They live in forests in Japan and like to sleep in tree holes during the day, but wake up at night to do cute things, like glide from tree to tree.

Their big, super cute, eyes help them see at night when they are gliding and collecting food.
Momongas like to eat leaves, berries and fruit, seeds, and tree bark. They use their tiny little paws to hold their food.


Momongas make their nests using moss and lichen (both plants) that they collect. These chubby, furry Rodents have about 1 to 5 babies once or twice a year. The babies are born between May and July, which means a lot of cuteness during the Summer!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Every year, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is held in September all across Canada. Environmental groups, organizations, and individuals get together to clean up the shorelines in their communities, be it a harbour, a pond, or a beach. 

This year, I'm living in Vancouver and have joined two cleanups in my area. One taking place in English Bay, my favourite beach, and the other at Beaver Lake, where there really are Beavers!

Check out Shoreline Cleanup to see the map of all the cleanups that have been organized. You can join an existing one or even organize your own!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Squishy Sea Stars!

Sea Stars live on the ocean floor.             (Photo credit: Paul Shaffner)
Sea Stars are water-filled, squishy, and adorable animals! There are different kinds of Sea Stars, the most popular being the five-armed "Starfish". Starfish are not actually Fish, so I call them Sea Stars instead! Fish are animals that have backbones (and are called "vertebrates"), while Sea Stars don't have a backbone (and are called "invertebrates"). This means that Sea Stars are very soft!

I'm holding a Sun Star!                      (Photo credit: N. Collins)

This is a purple Sun Star that I worked with at the Ocean Sciences Center in Logy Bay, Newfoundland. Sun Stars have a lot of arms! The cool thing about Sea Stars is their ability to grow back any arms that get inured. So if you see a Sea Star with a tiny arm, that means it's slowly growing back to its normal size.

The underside of a Sea Star.              (Photo credit: Jaclyn Pisano)

Most Sea Stars eat other animals, like mussels or snails, through the mouth on the underside of their bodies. Some Sea Stars can also push their stomachs outside of their bodies to eat their prey!!

To walk, Sea Stars have tiny little, squishy "tube feet" that act like suction cups. These tube feet are organized in lines on the underside of each arm.

Sun Star eating!         Salt Spring Island        

When Sea Stars eat, their bodies get poofy in the middle! This means that they've surrounded their food and are having a great snack. 

Some Sea Stars keep their eggs inside of them, which can also make their bodies look poofy. Although, most Sea Stars let their eggs float off into the ocean!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baby Skunks!

A few days ago I discovered that there are seven baby Skunks living on my street in Vancouver! They live in a cute burrow with their parents, but are often out and about in the evening, playing with one another. Here's a little video of them:

Baby Skunks! from Nico Collins on Vimeo.

Look at those holes the Skunks made!

Skunks are known for their ability to spray a smelly liquid when threatened, but Skunks don't often spray! If you get close to a Skunk, it will hiss at you before spraying you, so don't be afraid of them, but do keep a respectful distance. Skunks also don't have great eyesight, so unless you get super close, they probably cannot even see you.

Digging for worms!

Skunks dig burrows to live in, where they cuddle with their family, and also dig in the ground to find food, like wormies. These baby Skunks are still pretty small, but very active in playing with one another and digging a lot! Skunks had tiny little legs with claws, long bodies, and of course, a big pouffy tail. Skunks eat a lot more than just worms, and in fact, will eat almost anything! They are not very picky eaters.

3 baby Skunks hanging out together.

Skunks sleep during the day and wake up around sunset to look for food. In Vancouver, I usually see adult Skunks in the nighttime, around midnight, but the babies are active starting around 8pm. Skunks also sleep more and eat less in the Winter, although they don't usually hibernate, like some bears. Sometimes, many lady Skunks will sleep in a den together to stay warm!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Slow and Cuddly Sloth!

Today I visited the Vancouver Aquarium. I have an annual membership and I love visiting to film the cute animals. Today I saw the new African Penguins for the first time, although it was too hard to film them because of the glass barrier. Instead, I visited the "Amazon" exhibit, which isn't aquarium based, but filled with super cool tropical animals. It reminds me of when I worked at a tropical plant and animal exhibit at Bowring Park, in St. John's. I took lots of photos and some short films of the very fuzzy Sloth!

Just hanging out, being cute. (Photo credit: Nico Collins a.k.a Me!)
Sloths are mammals that spend most of their time sleeping in trees in the jungles of Central and South America. They are very fuzzy and cuddly looking, as well as slow moving, hence their name!

When I first arrived, this lazy guy was having a snack of leaves. Sloths also eat the buds and shoots of certain trees, but that's pretty much it for diet variety. Some sloths might eat insects or birds, but not very often.

After eating, the Sloth went climbing!

He climbed along the wall to find a tree to sleep in.

When he found the right tree, he slowly climbed down.

Sloth getting ready for a nap. (Photo by Nico Collins)

Sloths have long claws to grab tree branches in order to hang while napping, just like this guy.

Lots of little bugs and friendly critters live in the Sloth's thick fur! Even bacteria make their home in this fuzz and change the color of the Sloth, which helps it camouflage!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Silkies: Fuzzy Chickens!

A few weeks ago I visited the Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver, which is also a petting zoo! There were a lot of super cute animals there, but one in particular caught my attention because I have never seen it before. This animal is a Silkie Chicken, and in my words, a fuzzy Chicken!

Silkie Chickens are really fuzzy and soft, but despite their fluffiness, these birds cannot fly. These fuzzy Chickens have five toes, just like us humans, which is strange for a Chicken as most have only four toes. This little guy is so fluffy that you can barely see its face!
Silkie Chickens are said to be very friendly and also very good mothers. They will even take care of other birds' babies! 

No one is quite sure where the Silkie Chicken originally lived, but it was probably China. When people first encountered these fuzzy Chickens they thought they might have been the babies of Chickens and Rabbits! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Cool, New Animal Discovery: the Tenrec!

I recently discovered a really cool animal while reading a book about Sea Otters (by John A.Love). The beginning chapter discusses aquatic mammal evolution, and mentions that some Tenrecs live in water. I had never heard of a "Tenrec" before, so I decided to do some research, and I found a super cute and cool animal! Tenrecs are mammals that look like Otters, Hedgehogs, Shrews, and Mice. Because Tenrecs are a pretty big group of animals, with lots of different features, I'm going to share one species in particular that are really great: the Lowland Streaked Tenrec.

spikey and furry!

These tiny mammals looks like a cross between a Hedgehog and a Shrew. It's black and yellow striped, with a mixture of spikey quills and fur! The yellow spikes on his head are for defense against animals trying to eat him! These quills will stick into the predator, and will be very ouchie, causing the predator to run away and leave this cute little guy alone.

nibbling on a worm.
These particular Tenrecs have long snouts for munching on earthworms, which are their favorite snack. The Lowland Streaked Tenrec is really tiny and likes to scurry around in Madagascar searching for food. The coolest thing about these tiny mammals is the way they talk to one another. You know how Crickets rub their legs together and make that high pitched noise? Well, these Tenrecs rub their quills together and produce an even higher pitched noise, so high that humans cannot hear it! They are the only mammal known to communicate this way.

Madagascar is an amazing island located to the East of Africa. While it is geographically part of Africa, the animals on the island differ dramatically and are some of the most unique animals in the world! Islands usually have very special and unique animals because they are so isolated from the rest of the world. It's easy for animals to move around on the continents, but pretty tricky for most animals to get to an island, unless they can swim, fly, or walk across if the water freezes. This means that the animals on Madagascar look and behave very differently from similiar animals in other parts of the world. The Lowland Streaked Tenrec is only found on Madagascar!

This particular Tenrec likes to snuggle with its family in burrows. These burrows are made by the animals themselves. Tenrec families can be pretty big, with up to 40 members spending time together! The Lowland Streaked Tenrec also likes to search for food with its family. I guess they really don't like to be lonely!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One Year of Snailia!

I started this cute and fuzzy blog on January 31st, 2011, so now, after a full year of adorable and interesting critters, Snailia is entering into its second year! I have a very special post to celebrate my favoritest animals ever:

The spectacularly gooey, the fantastically beautiful, the wonderfully smart, SNAIL!
I fell in love with Snails many years ago, at first fascinated by their beautiful spiral shells. Snails are born with their shells and never leave them. Their shell is their home and it grows with them. The rings on the shell can't be counted to figure out the age, like you can do with a tree, but these rings do form spectacular patterns. From the lines on the shell you can understand the kind of conditions a Snail lived in. The shell coils as it grows and forms a spiral shape. Snails are very soft and squishy and can hide in their shells if they feel threatened by predators or bad weather, for example, or maybe they just want to spend some time alone. Sometimes I like to go inside my snail shell if something scares me, because shells are protective.

I'm petting a Giant African Land Snail!

I also love Snails because of their super cool tentacles. A lot of land Snails have four tentacles on their head: two "eyestalks" with little eyes on top, and two smelling tentacles. These tentacles are retractable, meaning the Snail can pull them inside its head!

Snails move around using the muscles in their "foot", which is the underside of their long, squishy body. They also have tiny little hairs, called cilia, on their foot, which help them move and also feel things as they go along. 

He doesn't even get hurt!
Snails are also pretty gooey and slimey, 'cause they produce mucus that covers their bodies. This keeps them moist, because Snails hate being dry, and also helps them crawl around and not get hurt. Some Snails can even crawl over sharp objects and not get injured!

These super cute creatures leave a shiny trail of slime behind them. Sometimes, after a rainfall, you can find these tracks on sidewalks and fences, and see what the Snails have been up to.

Working with Giant African Snails in 2009.

A lot of land Snails eat plants, such as leaves and fruit, and some also eat other animals. Either way, these gooey animals need calcium in their diet to keep their shell strong (kind of like us humans need calcium to make our bones healthy). I've worked with a few different species of Snails, such as Giant African Land Snails, Moon Snails (who live in the ocean), and Dog Whelks (who also live in the ocean), and they all have different cool features.

A Snail party.

The Giant African Land Snails are exactly what their name suggests: Giant! They really like to eat fruit and a lot of people like to keep them as pets. Many countries no longer allow these Snails to be brought in, in fear that these big creatures will eat a lot of the local plants and animals. Some people even consider them "pests", but I would love to have a hundred of these Snails hanging out in my backyard!

Me holding a Moon Snail in Summer 2010.

The Moon Snail is another big Snail, but this one lives in the ocean. Moon Snails eat other shelled animals, such as Mussels, by puncturing a hole in the shell. These big gooey animals like to burrow in the sand to hide and find food.

Dog Whelks are also Snails that live in the ocean, but these guys prefer to live on rocks,
instead of sand. They have long, pointy shells, and the kind I worked with had spotted bodies. They also eat other animals through a long tube called a "proboscis", which is just like a straw that we use for drinking. 

Snails are my favorite animal for a lot of reasons, more than just the ones I've shared above. So when our Snail friends appear again in the Spring and Summer (they hibernate in the colder seasons!) please be careful of where you step, and avoid crushing these super adorable animals. A Snail with a broken shell cannot survive, although it can repair a small crack.

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