Friday, June 27, 2014

Come see a few mammals:>)

A Few Mammals Just For Fun

It's been a busy week:>)

A mammal is one type of animal among thousands.  In regular language, mammals are animals that have bodies either covered with or partly covered with hair.  They have an internal skeletal system with a spine,   and they feed their babies on milk.  The word mammal is taken from the Latin word for breast, "mamma".  

Mammals are warm-blooded which means they don't need to lay in the sun, like lizards, to warm their bodies; the blood that circulates through the body is warm.  Most have four limbs (legs, arms).  The vast majority give birth to live babies.

As with absolutely everything in nature, there are exceptions.  Whales and dolphins are mammals, for example. The platypus and the echidnas lay eggs!  These strange mammals are called Monotremes, and I believe only Australia and New Guinea have these wonderful, unusual creatures.

Beneath the pictures is a more formal definition of mammal.

Today you are seeing only a few backyard mammals that were languishing in the picture folder.  We've been consumed with socializing, consoling, pampering, and just generally spending time with our new, feral kitten (a mammal, by the way).  He's named "Spot" and you will meet him here soon.  I'll give the long story of how he came to be ours and the trials, failures, successes, and finally the joy of having a feral baby cat.

Today, however, I'm taking the easy way out because Spot will soon be awake and needing attention.  Enjoy the pictures and forgive me for the quick post:>)

Last year a Mommy groundhog brought her babies out onto our lawn.  I hoped to get a couple pictures by sneaking out the kitchen door and quietly circling the apple tree and grabbing a photo through the branches.  As luck would have it, the Mom was off a little way and the babies were consumed with consuming - I guess the grass was so tender and sweet they didn't notice me and were walking around within a couple feet of my legs.  Mom suddenly saw them so near to me, raised her tail and waved it like a flag.  I don't remember if she made a sound (probably did), but the little ones saw the flag and went running to their mother:>)

Chipmunks are beloved by all - such characters, so cute!  They are busy all the time gathering food by stuffing their cheek pouches full to bursting then running underground to their storage room and emptying out the bounty.  These little ground squirrels have a literal labyrinth of tunnels and rooms - bedrooms, bathrooms, storerooms - very clean animals.  They can also have as many as 30 entrances to their underground home.

This crafty chipmunk learned there were sunflower seeds in the feeder we hang outside the front window.  He (she?) learned to climb to the windowsill then jump up on the feeder.  We figure if he's that intelligent, he deserves the seeds:>)

Did you say you're bringing more sunflower seeds?

Hard work - leaning on a rock while I steal a snack is kinda nice:>)

We have a couple resident raccoon families.  They are wild and don't like us to be near them - that's a good thing - but they also know we put out suet for the birds.  If I forget to bring it in early in the evening, it is GONE!  Here is one of the culprits.  This bandit has her mask on so we won't recognize her.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel (a tree squirrel) is the aerial acrobat of the forest.  They can leap long distances from branch to branch, and they climb up and down trees as if walking on a flat floor.  They are also the bane of any person who feed birds as there are few feeders made that can deter a Gray Squirrel from raiding the birdseed.  They are SMART!  They think and plan.  They also can get really tame, which I don't recommend people try to do.  Wild animals are unknown quantities and we don't know what may scare or anger them.  Anyway, our squirrels love un-shelled peanuts; I buy them in the winter to feed a number of kinds of birds, but I always plan on having enough to feed squirrels as well.  Even if I didn't want to feed squirrels, they would make sure they got their share.  If you can't lick 'em, join 'em:>)

Thank goodness for claws to dig with.  There's food under all this snow.
Brrr - Winter sure is a long time going!
I wish I'd worn my mittens!

Our local greenhouse has a constant population of lovely, friendly cats.                     

Deer are regular visitors to our yard at any season of the year.  I keep our lilies, hostas, and many other plants out of the deer buffet by spraying with Liquid Fence.  It also works on bunnies and groundhogs.  

This is my better side:>)

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Thank you, as always, for making the time to visit and read the blog.  See you again next Friday!

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The definitions below come from the Merriam-Webster on line concise dictionary found here:

Full Definition of MAMMAL

:  any of a class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded higher vertebrates (as placentals, marsupials, or monotremes) that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands, have the skin usually more or less covered with hair, and include humans
mam·ma·li·an adjective or noun
Any member of the class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded vertebrates having four limbs (except for some aquatic species) and distinguished from other chordate classes by the female's milk-secreting glands and the presence of hair at some stage of development. Other unique characteristics include a jaw hinged directly to the skull, hearing through bones in the middle ear, a muscular diaphragm separating the pectoral and abdominal cavities, and nonnucleated mature red blood cells. Mammals range in size from tiny bats and shrews to the enormous blue whale. Monotremes (platypus and echidna) lay eggs; all other mammals bear live young. Marsupial newborns complete their development outside the womb, sometimes in a pouchlike structure. Placental mammals (see placenta) are born at a relatively advanced stage of development. The earliest mammals date from the late Triassic Period (which ended 206 million years ago); their immediate ancestors were the reptilian therapsids. For 70 million years mammals have been the dominant animals in terrestrial ecosystems, a consequence of two principal factors: the great behavioral adaptability provided by the ability of mammalian young to learn from their elders (a consequence of their dependence on their mothers for nourishment) and the physical adaptability to a wide range of climates and conditions provided by their warm-bloodedness.

Vertebrates have an internal skeleton formed of cartilage, bone, or both. The skeleton consists of a backbone (vertebral column), which partly encloses a spinal cord; a skull, which encloses the brain; and usually two pairs of limbs. Nerves extending from the spinal cord and brain permeate the skin, muscles, and internal organs. The muscular system consists primarily of bilaterally paired masses attached to bones or cartilage. Skin and scales, feathers, fur, or hair cover the outer surface.