Animal Therapy // December
With the Winter Solstice coming up on December 21st, it is only fitting to dedicate this article to Nocturnal Animals. The night seems to be especially created for these animals as they are more active in the dark hours. Their bodies are adjusted and adapted in such a way that sneaking through the dark is not at all difficult for them! For these animals, the night is only the beginning of their day…
Studies have shown that interacting with animals can increase people's level of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting. Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body's ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.
Happy Animal Therapy Wednesday! Here's a dose of animal therapy pictures to break the week with a little peak!
Inhabiting the high mountains of the Eastern Himalayas, the Red Panda is a nocturnal animal. Since it’s a cat-sized panda, the Red Panda is also known as the Red Bear Cat. This immensely cute panda spends his day sleeping in the branches of trees only to hungrily awaken at night in search for food. The Red Panda’s circadian rhythm is actually a life-saver as the risk of being attacked by a predator is smaller at night!
Perhaps one of the most well-known nocturnal animal! Especially if you live in Amsterdam, you can see mice owning the streets as soon as the night sky peak through. A mouse usually stays in groups, building long burrows with multiple entrances and, yes, even escape tunnels.
The Native North American Coyote is another nocturnal animal. Even though the Coyote is smaller than a wolf it is nevertheless a great predator. With a rich diet such as mammals and amphibians but also plants and fruits, a Coyote is capable of eating almost everything. Since it is a predator, it is perhaps bit more scary compared to the other animals in the list…
Known for its distinctive heart-shaped face and flexible neck, the Barn Owl is another well-known animal of the night. The most stereotypical image that we see of owls are their capability to turn their head almost 270 degrees. Not a big surprise right? Did you ever consider why they do this? Of course it is fun—and a bit scary—to see what’s going on behind you. But since the Barn Owl is incapable of moving its eyes, it has no other choice than to move its neck. The owl’s great sight alongside with exceptional hearing makes them natural nighttime hunters.
The most fascinating fly on earth, the Firefly, is another stereotypical animal of the night. With their distinctive, emanating light, the Firefly is truly exceptional. Sorry to take away the magic, but the light is not caused by fairy dust. It is called bioluminescence: the Firefly’s organs in the lower abdomen emit enzymes which then creates a chemical reaction—light. This light is not functionless, a Firefly uses it to mate or to warn predators. Fairy dust or no fairy dust, still magical isn’t it?
No, not the lyrics for Spongebob’s soundtrack, but the Aye-Aye of Madagascar. Classified as rare animals, the Aye-Aye’s population reduces every passing day. The Aye-Aye becomes even more rare as it also is the world’s largest nocturnal primate!
Perhaps the most recurring animal in our Animal Therapy articles (Halloween, Hibernating, Nocturnal), the Bat also found its way into this article. It just keeps returning…With over 1000 species differing in size, color and whatnot, the Bat is truly magnificent. Though most of the bat species are nocturnal, not all of them are!
Native to Australia, now only found in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Devil is another nocturnal animal. The Tasmanian Devil has a very diverse diet and eats whatever it can find: fruits, insects, birds, lizards, and frogs are among them. However, the Tasmanian Devil mostly eats dead animals or carrion. The feeding usually takes place in high ferocity and a very loud screeching sound.
Another nightwalker, the Scorpion finds shelter during the day under rocks or in holes. At night, the Scorpion emerges again to hunt and feed.
With a total of 11 species, the Badger is another cute nocturnal animal. A Badger hides in burrows (also called setts) either in solidarity or together with other badgers (also called cetes).
There are two kinds of hermit crabs: the Marine Hermit Crab or the Land Hermit Crab. Both have very vulnerable, soft, abdomens which they protect in scavenged seashells. Most common being the sea snail shell. As the Hermit Crab grows older and bigger, it leaves its shell home to find a new one. Though most Hermit Crabs are small, the big ones can get as big as a coconut! Imagine the big shell it would inhabit!