Swimmer and Hop

I have two pet African dwarf frogs.  Their names are Swimmer and Hop.  Swimmer is the bigger one.  Sometimes it is hard to tell which is which if they are not right next to each other, but I think the one in the picture above is Swimmer.  The frog in the pictures below is Hop.

I got them as a birthday present from my Grandma Miller.  I was really excited when I got them because I always wanted a pet animal from Africa.

The scientific name for this kind of African dwarf frog is Hymenochirus boettgeri and it is also called dwarf African frog and Congo dwarf clawed frog, but they are not the same as African clawed frogs, which are much bigger.

African dwarf frogs stay underwater almost all the time.  They have to breathe air, so they swim up to the surface to take a breath every once in a while.  All four of their tiny feet are webbed so they can swim really well.  They are brownish-greenish with dark spots on their backs, and they are white on their belly.  They are scavengers and they eat almost anything that is living or dead.  They don’t have a tongue or teeth.  They swallow their food whole.

At our house, the frogs live in a small tank by themselves.  There is a big blue rock in the middle and a piece of bamboo in the corner that they like to hide behind.

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Upside-down Jellies

Yesterday I went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  They have a special exhibit there called Jellies that has lots of jellyfish.  Most jellyfish can sting other animals.  Their bodies are mostly water.

These are upside-down jellies, also called upside-down jellyfish.  Unlike most jellyfish, the upside-down jelly sits at the bottom of the water with its bell down and its tentacles up.  In the picture above, you can see that some of the tentacles are green.  These tentacles have algae growing on them.  The algae and the jellyfish have a symbiotic relationship, which means that they help each other.  The algae attracts animals that eat algae, and then the jellyfish eats those animals before they eat the algae.

Do these look like giant raindrops about to fall?  It is actually the bell of an upside-down jellyfish.  At the exhibit, they had a tank of upside-down jellies above our heads so that we could see the bell.

Crabs sometimes crawl under an upside-down jellyfish and pick it up.  It does this for protection.

We have a short movie of the upside-down jellyfish, but it is not ready just yet.  Check back soon to see it!

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Baby Snails

I have some news about my gold Inca snails.  A couple of months ago, I got a new snail for my aquarium.  He’s a blue mystery snail and his name is Azul.  I’ll write another blog post about Azul soon.  We found out that our gold Inca snails, Golden and Little Golden, were female and Azul is a male.  We know this because we saw them mating.  Yesterday, we saw that Golden and Little Golden had died.  As we were getting ready to take them out of the tank, we saw a baby snail!  I named him Dotty.  He’s really small.  I measured him, and he’s about 3/8 of an inch, or about 1 centimeter long.  That’s him in the picture above.  Here’s another picture of his foot that we took while he was on the glass.

Then, we saw another baby snail!  That one was really, really small.  So we have seen at least two baby snails in our tank.  I wonder if there are any more in there?

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Northern Cardinals

These are northern cardinals.  Northern cardinals are also called redbirds or common cardinals.  The redder one on the ground is a male.  The browner one on the feeder is a female.  They are mates.  Cardinals mate for life, so Mr. and Mrs. Redbird in this picture will be together for the rest of their lives.

This bird feeder is in my backyard right outside our window.  I got this bird feeder for Christmas.  Mr. and Mrs. Redbird come all the time.  We also see chipping sparrows, grackels, European starlings, American goldfinches, and purple finches at our feeder.  The cardinals’ favorite feed is black oil sunflower seeds, and their favorite feeder is the fly-through feeder, which is the kind of feeder that Mrs. Redbird is sitting at in the picture.

Northern cardinals mostly live in the eastern United States, but they can be seen in Arizona and the west as well.

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American White Pelican

This is an American white pelican.  They live in North America.  In Wisconsin, lots of pelicans migrate through, but some decide to stay here for the summer.  The one in this picture lives at the NEW Zoo in Green Bay.

American white pelicans are big birds.  They build a nest and the female lays 2 or 3 eggs.  When they hatch, both the male and female take care of the chicks.

Unlike the brown pelican, which dives into the water from the air for fish, American white pelicans do not dive.  They swim on top of the water and stick their beaks in for fish.  They have a stretchy throat sac under their bill for holding fish.  They like to fish in groups, so they can chase the fish to each other.  You usually don’t see a pelican all by itself.

On Tuesday, my Grandpa Miller told us that there were a bunch of pelicans living in the Fox River at Olde Oneida Street near his office.  So we went to go take a look.  There were a whole bunch of pelicans sitting in a line on a wall in the river.  The water was moving very fast, and some pelicans were sitting in the water riding down the river.  Then they would fly up river, land in the water, and go for a ride again.  They looked like they were having fun.

We went over to the other side of the river and got a nice closeup view of three pelicans swimming and perching on a branch.

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Dwarf Zebu

This is a zebu.  Zebu are domestic cattle that live in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and East Africa.  Zebu are also called humped cattle, indicus cattle, brahmin cattle, or cebu.  The one in this picture is a dwarf zebu, which is a breed of zebu.  It lives at the NEW Zoo in Green Bay at the petting zoo area.

The day we were visiting the zoo, the zebu spent all of its time eating the hay.  I tried giving it some of the petting zoo food, but it wasn’t interested.

Zebu have a big hump on their backs and a big dewlap, which is a flap of skin that hangs from an animal’s neck.  They live in hot temperatures.  On the farm, they are used for pulling things and they are used as dairy cattle.  They are also raised as beef cattle.  Their hides can be made into leather and their dung can be used as fuel or fertilizer.

When my uncle Tim was in the circus, he walked with a zebu in the show.  It was a miniature zebu named Gandi.  You can see a cool picture and read all about Gandi here.

Zebu are also featured in the VeggieTales silly song “The Song of the Cebu.”

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Peppermint Shrimp

This is a peppermint shrimp.  It is hard to see in this picture, but peppermint shrimp have red and white stripes like a peppermint stick.  The peppermint shrimp is a cleaner shrimp, like the scarlet cleaner shrimp, which means that it cleans other animals by eating parasites and dead tissue.  They are common in salt water reef aquariums.  Its eggs are bright green.  Peppermint shrimp are crustaceans.

I saw this fish at SeaWorld‘s Manta Aquarium.  In the picture you can also see a cleaner wrasse which is a fish just below and to the right of the shrimp and also cleans other fish just like a cleaner shrimp.  You can see part of a sea anemone just below and to the left of the shrimp.

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Long Spine Sea Urchin

This is a long spine sea urchin.  It is also called long-spined sea urchin, lime urchin, or black sea urchin.  Sea urchins are in a group of animals called echinoderms, which also include sea stars.  Long spine sea urchins live in the Caribbean Sea and eat algae.

In 1983, throughout the Caribbean most of the long spine sea urchins died.  No one knows why for sure, but it was probably some kind of disease.  When that happened, the algae started to grow, grow, grow.  When that happened, there was less coral on the coral reefs.  When that happened, the fish and other animals that live at the coral reefs left.  When that happened, not as many people came to the Caribbean to snorkel and dive.

Recently, scientists have discovered that long spine sea urchins are making a comeback.

I think it is interesting that when something affects one animal, it can affect other animals, too.

I saw the long spine sea urchin in this picture at SeaWorld in the Manta Aquarium.  It was in the same tank as the scarlet cleaner shrimp and the peppermint shrimp.

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This is an adult octowalrus. Octowalruses live in the deep part of the Arctic Ocean. Their favorite food is clams. They drag their whiskers and tusks in the sand to find clams. They are very rare because they get attacked by both great white sharks and polar bears. Baby octowalruses look like a tiny octopus with a fuzzy head, but as they grow they get their whiskers and tusks. They have an ink defense like octopuses, but they don’t get this until they are adults. They also have arm regeneration, which means that if they lose an arm, they can grow a new one. But they don’t have tusk regeneration. They have a hard head that lets them bust through the ice, and they are pretty good at crawling around on the ice. They lay 100-2000 eggs at a time, and the eggs are brown spotted with white stripes.

My dad and I took this picture on our recent expedition to the North Pole.

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Common Murre

This is a common murre.  They are also called common guillemot or thin-billed murre.  They live in the north all the way around the world.  They are very good swimmers and divers.  Murres are a type of auks.  Auks are sea birds that are a little like penguins.  They are mostly black-and-white, they are excellent swimmers and divers, and they waddle when they walk.  But auks can fly.

Common murres eat fish.  They spend most of their lives at sea.  They come to land during breeding season and get together in very large groups.  They don’t build a nest.  Instead, they just lay their eggs on the rocky ground.  Murre eggs are all different colors and have different patterns on them.  This way, when all the murres lay their eggs, the parents can recognize which egg is theirs.

I saw this bird at SeaWorld in the Penguin Encounter exhibit.

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