Welcome to the fourth in a new series of Animal Tales from the Bermuda S.P.C.A., which have kindly been sponsored by our good friends at Noah’s Ark.
Life’s a beach
The daytime temperatures are definitely getting warmer as we head into May, and there wasn’t much space to be had at Elbow Beach over the Easter weekend.
On Thursday hotel staff helped guests to build kites and on Good Friday the skies were awash with them; 39 to be precise (a new beach record).
Some lucky beach aficionados might even have spotted a distant humpback whale or two as the mammals continued their annual spring migration to their traditional north Atlantic feeding grounds.
A less attractive discovery for most people on the other hand would have been a Portuguese man-of-war or bluebottle.
They are particularly prevalent at this time of the year and several people across the island have already reported having been stung by them.
The warm Atlantic Gulf Stream in fact carries them as far north as the British Isles.
These same winds and currents cause the man-of-wars to congregate together in their hundreds, and a typical group consists of perhaps 1,000 or more jelly-like creatures (they are not true jellyfish).
Occasionally a sting may lead to an allergic reaction, and in extreme cases it can even cause death. After being stung the first priorities are to prevent further stings and to remove any barbs from the skin, but not through the use of your fingers of course!
Use anything that comes to hand, a stick for example.
The recommended method (if readily available) is to use a can of spray shaving cream and some form of plastic — such as a hotel door key or credit card — to gently remove the barbs. Apply salt water to the skin, not fresh water, and then follow up with hot water (110°F).
Vinegar is not recommended — like fresh water it can trigger a worse reaction.
In the final analysis, stay away from the man-of-wars.
Where there’s one there are undoubtedly many more.
The Japan earthquake
Almost seven weeks after the devastating earthquake that struck northeast Japan, thousands of people remain missing, presumed dead.
Humans were not the only living creatures to suffer, of course, and untold animals also lost their lives.
The streets of the former towns and villages directly affected by the violent eruption are now full of marauding dogs, who have been separated from their owners, and these dogs have reverted back to their pack instincts in order to survive.
Amongst the lucky animals was one small dog named Ban, which got washed out to sea when the tsunami receded.
Japanese Coast Guards spotted the dog on a floating wooden roof over three weeks after the quake struck.
Ban’s rescue made television news, which was seen by his owner, and the two were emotionally reunited soon afterwards at the temporary rescue centre homing Ban and some 20 other displaced animals.
The Year of the Rabbit
Easter is behind us once more and the Easter bunny has hopped off for another year. Have you ever wondered though about the association of Easter with rabbits and eggs?
The practice of handing out Easter eggs apparently originated back in the early 1500s in the upper Rhine regions of France and Germany (Alsace and the Black Forest respectively).
The first edible Easter eggs were also made in Germany during the 19th century.
The Easter bunny, yet another German tradition, can be considered as an Easter equivalent to Santa Claus.
Bunnies would supposedly visit the homes of children who had been good, and leave behind brightly coloured eggs in a nest (this has since evolved into the Easter basket).
The rabbit is also an important symbol in the Far East.
This year (2011) is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit (also year 4709 in the Chinese calendar).
To be absolutely accurate though, it’s the Year of the Hare, since rabbits are not native to China.
Over half the world’s population of rabbits reside in North America, and in their natural habitat all species (except the cottontail) live underground in burrows.
Rabbits are characterized as being calm and gentle, but persistent.
Interested? Then read up about rabbits and their particular needs.
Finally, with the arrival of the warmer weather, it’s worth reminding pet owners (especially those who own dogs), about heat stroke.
Our canine companions do not sweat like humans, but rely on air to cool them down.
That makes them more susceptible to heat stroke, especially when they are cooped up inside a car during the hot summer months.
The heat can be lethal for dogs, so the best thing that you can do for your beloved pet is to leave him or her at home in the shade with access to plenty of drinking water.