Going Batty

A biologist holds an young-of-the-year Indiana Bat caught with a net placed in the air over a logging road in Orwell, Vt., Tuesday evening, July 17, 2001. Teams of scientists have been fanning out across Addison County this week trying to learn the summer habits of the endangered Indiana bats. (AP Photo/Alden Pellett)A bat may not be as cute as a button, but like buttons, bats certainly hold things together in a healthy ecosystem. Bats devour millions of mosquitoes every night. Bats pollinate flowers that produce fruit. Bats produce guano, or bat poop, which is very useful as a fertilizer to help grow crops. Without bats, clouds of bugs would drive us batty. Without bats we would miss out on quite a few fruits like mangoes, bananas and peaches.

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Bats with White-Nose Fungus

Many species of bats are now seriously endangered. A spreading fungus has wiped out large numbers and bat habitats have been taken over by humans. It’s not easy being a bat.

Going Batty

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

Minor Epauletted Bat from Kenya

It’s not so easy being me

I’m an endangered bat, you see

Not many think I’m very cute

With stringy wings and fuzzy suit



I should be loved, because I try

Echo-Locating Dinner

Echo-Locating Dinner

To eat the pests that multiply

I nightly dine on bugs that bite

By echo-dining while in flight



The farmers think we bats are great

We help the plants we pollinate

But though we’re popular on farms


Bat Pollinating Flower

Most other folk don’t see our charms



The darling Pandas get the press

Us bats are jealous, we confess

But we work hard from dusk till dawn

The world will miss us when we’re gone


What can we do to help these vulnerable critters? One thing that helps is to build bat houses. Did you know that Batman, from the new movie version, has come to the rescue of bats? The cast and crew of the upcoming movie, “Batman vs. Superman; the Dawn of Justice.” have made over a hundred new bat houses from the materials taken from the movie sets. If you weren’t able to buy one of those houses, you can make your own and give your local bats a place to safely roost. Here is a link to building houses for bats: National Wildlife Federation Bat House Plans

Bat Boxes

Dolphin Dirge

From the "Ocean Treasures Memorial Library"

When an animal becomes “critically endangered” there is a real possibility that it may soon become extinct. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is one critter that tragically lands in this critically endangered category. In the Mekong River, where these freshwater dolphins used to thrive, now only about 80 dolphins remain. Image from WWF

Their numbers decrease as they get tangled up in fishermen’s nets and drown. They are not fish, of course; they are mammals and they need to come up to the surface to breathe. There are other, safer methods to catch fish, but fishermen often want to catch many fish in a very short amount of time. And so they use large nets that capture everything inside, even creatures that the fishermen have no interest in eating or selling…. like Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin

These are one of the smallest types of dolphins. They have lovely, smooth skin and charming smiles and are beautiful to watch as they play in the wild. We should be doing all we can to protect these beloved beasts. A “dirge” is a poem sometimes read at a funeral when there is a death. I hope that this “Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge” might help educate people about this delightful dolphin. Perhaps more dolphin deaths will be avoided.


Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge

Oh, the world has been quite naughty

To the Dolphin Irrawaddy

These poor creatures get all tangled up in nets

And I think it rather tragic

We can’t rescue them by magic

But we must do something lest the world forgets


When the beasts start disappearing

Then the humans’ end is nearing

And the change depends on you as well as me

If you think it doesn’t matter

This “endangered species” chatter

Then you’re not as smart as you pretend to be

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

Photo by Roland Seitre for WWF

63-Year Old Mama Has a New Chick!

Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross who makes her home-nest on Midway Atoll, has just hatched out another healthy baby chick. WisdomwithChick She is the oldest known bird in the world, having been banded when she was about five years old. It is estimated that she has raised over 36 chicks. One of her chicks even survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami that resulted from the disastrous earthquake in Japan.

Wisdom’s story is beautifully told in a book by Darcy Pattison, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.” The tsunami on March 11 rushed toward Midway Atoll where Wisdom and thousands of other birds were nesting. About 110,000 baby chick died along with over 2,000 adult birds, but somehow Wisdom and her chick survived.

An albatross has many survival challenges. It must avoid being eaten by sharks as it swoops down to the ocean to scoop up tasty squid. It has to wisely avoid eating the many pieces of plastic floating on the waves. It also has to avoid getting tangled in fishing lines or nets. People can do much to help these beautiful birds survive. We can use safe fishing techniques, clean up the oceans and protect the albatross nesting areas.

We hope that Wisdom will continue to have a long and amazing life. She is an inspiration to us all!

by Darcy Pattison

This entry was posted on March 7, 2016. 2 Comments

Photo Ark

Joel Sartore's Mahogany Glider

Mahogany Glider

Modern day digital Noah and conservationist, Joel Sartore, is documenting the astounding beauty and variety of the world of beasts. “When we save species,” he wisely observes, “we are saving ourselves.” He has worked for many years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic magazine and has a knack of capturing the vibrancy of life in each creature that he captures on film.

His beautiful animal images have been projected with light on a grand scale against famous landmarks such as the Vatican in Rome, and the Empire State Building in New York.

A Sumatran tiger is projected onto the Vatican in an effort to raise awareness for the extinction crisis.

“My goal is to photograph as many of the world’s captive species as I can before time runs out” states Joel. “I’m at about 3,500 now, and just getting started. I work mostly at zoos and aquariums, today’s keepers of the kingdom. Many species would already be gone without their heroic captive-breeding efforts.”

His beautiful and informative book, “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species,” attempts to give a voice to the disappearing beloved beasts of our time. There is still hope, Sartore explains, but we need to act now before these animals disappear forever.


Here Be Dragons

If you have read “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts,” then you know that this author has a soft spot for dragons… especially for dragons who realize that with great power comes great responsibility. In celebration of APPRECIATE A DRAGON DAY, January 16, here is a poem for our beloved endangered dragons:

Here Be Dragons

Do step lightly, brave explorers  HereBeDragons

On Komodo, and on Flores

Here be dragons


Basking boldly on the pink sands

Of these Indonesian islands

Here be dragons


Do step quickly if he sees you  komodopinksand

He will hunt you down and seize you

He’s a dragon


Forked tongue guides its destination

Gathering tasty information

Hunter dragon


Strange that such a massive creature  komodotongue

From its enemies needs shelter

Threatened dragon


There’s a chance that this Komodo

Still might vanish like the Dodo

No more dragons


Brave knights armed with information komodoprofile

Fight with heart and inspiration

Save the dragons!


Brave Knights of Science

Scientists are the brave knights of today’s world. They venture forth armed with research-backed information to try to save the last dragons of this earth. And the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia are, indeed, worth saving.

These giant reptiles can grow up to 10 feet or more (over 3 meters) and weigh over 360 pounds (163 kilos). True, they do not breathe fire or fly through the skies attacking cattle and villagers, but they are impressive hunters. They can run fast in short bursts up to 20 mph or 13 kilometers per hour. Komodo dragons knock the legs out from under their prey or rip straight into the belly. Their saliva carries a poison or toxin that has a blood-thinning effect on its victim causing the bite wound to continue to bleed. Although the intended prey may escape after being bitten, it usually dies sometime soon after the attack.

The long, deeply-forked tongue of the Komodo Dragon is very useful in tracking down the location of an escaped lunch. The Komodo flicks out its tongue and then draws it back into its mouth and brushes it along the roof of the mouth. If more scent molecules from the prey are detected with one side of the tongue, then the lizard will turn towards that side. It swings its head back and forth while it walks, all the while flicking its tongue in and out collecting scent information.

The Komodo Dragon, also known as the Monitor Lizard, is losing its space to live. It has to compete with humans for food in the wild; deer or other large animals. They will also eat things that have been dead for a while. They are not too picky.

Komodo Dragons mate and lay eggs, but interestingly enough, female Komodo Dragons are capable of fertilizing eggs inside their own bodies and laying those eggs without any help from a male. They may be capable of selecting the sex of the baby lizards as well. One female, Flora, who lived in Chester Zoo in England and had never been in contact with a male lizard, hatched out seven eggs, all of them male lizards.

Long live the resourceful Komodo Dragons!

How to Catch a Dragon…

For a fascinating story on Komodo dragon research check out this National Geographic article:

Dragon vs. Jelly

Blue Dragon

Buedragon2In the ocean lives a dragon

Who is luminously blue

And although she looks quite harmless

You will find it isn’t true


This Blue Dragon is a sea slug

Calmly floating on her back

While a Man-of-War approaches

And commences its attack



Now it’s jelly versus dragon

Who lacks flames and cannot roast

But the sea slug wins the battle

And that jellyfish… is toast


And she swallows down the jelly

Gobbles up each stinging cell

Then she redistributes poison

In a way that suits her well


At the end of each frilled finger

Little Dragon packs a punch

As she uses jelly poison

To subdue her next sea lunch


The Blue Dragon, or Blue Glaucus, is a sea slug that can grow up to about 3 centimeters long. It spends its life floating along just under the surface of the water, upside down. It carries an air bubble inside that allows it to stay near the surface of the water. The Dragon’s blue underside cannot be seen well from above, protecting it from hungry, fishing birds. Its topside is silvery gray, which cannot be seen well from under the water and this protects it from hungry fish.

Some sea critters do manage to find this feisty delicacy and do try to eat it. They must get past its poison, however, for it protects itself well. When a blue dragon manages to beat and eat a Portuguese Man-of-War, it has the unique ability to swallow the stinging cells, or nematocysts, without harming itself. On the contrary, it uses these stinging cells to defend itself in the wild blue yonder.

For more information see the following websites:

Volcano Rabbit

Do your knees quake at the intimidating title of “Volcano Rabbit?”volcano-rabbit

If only this tiny bunny had the power and majesty of a volcano to get the world to take notice. Instead, the world’s second smallest type of rabbit is quite decidedly endangered and its range is limited to the pine forests near the peaks of a few inactive volcanoes in Mexico. The Volcano Rabbit, or Zacatuche, is slowly disappearing as its habitat disappears.

Humans build homes on the rabbits’ lands; cattle and sheep move in and eat up its main food source, the “zacaton” bunch grass; forest fires gobble up the rabbits’ neighborhoods. Life is not easy for these little short-eared bunnies.

The Volcano Rabbits’ only defense is running and hiding. Although it industriously maintains tunnel runways through the dense grass to use as escape routes and its grey fur blends in nicely with the volcanic soil, this poor little critter has trouble avoiding the insensitive “Elmer Fudds” out there who try to shoot those “pesky rabbits.” As somebunny once said, “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” (Carl Sagan) Even the world’s second smallest rabbit matters in the cosmic vastness. Love them and protect them. (Thump-thump.)

A Published Pangolin!


Pangolin by Iden Convey

Pangolin by Iden Convey

The poem, “Ode to the Pangolin,” first presented on the “Belogged of Beasts” site has been accepted for publication in “Cricket” magazine! It will appear in the January 2016 issue. It has been slightly rewritten but is pangolin-approved. I am looking forward to getting my free copies of this delightful children’s magazine.

Here is the link to the original posting:

We have ordered some pangolin-related books for our international school library. Here are some examples of related literature if you are interested in pangolins:

Roly Poly Pangolin, by Anne Dewdney

RolyPolyPangolin“Roly Poly, very small, doesn’t like new things at all.”

Meet Roly Poly Pangolin, a little pangolin who’d rather stick close to his mama instead of facing anything unfamiliar. Whether it’s a line of ants, a friendly monkey, or a loud noise, Roly Poly runs the other way. Then he hears something that really scares him. So he does what all pangolins do when they’re frightened; he rolls up into a tiny ball. But Roly Poly is surprised when he finally peeks out, because another ball is peeking back . . . it’s a small pangolin just like him!

Anna Dewdney has created another irresistible character to reassure children about the world around them.




P is for Pangolin: an Alphabet of Obscure, Endangered and Under-Appreciated Animals, by Anastasia Kierst
What is a pangolin? Better yet, what is a yeti crab and how does it grow food? Learn fun and fascinating facts about these and many other littleknown creatures from across the globe. Each animal is richly depicted in bright, playful watercolor illustrations. The back of the book features four teacher resource pages with thought-provoking activities written by the author, a certified teacher. In addition, there is a section dedicated to conservation for readers who want to take action. Even avid wildlife enthusiasts are sure to learn something new from this extraordinary alphabet book.


What on Earth is a Pangolin?, by Edward R. Ricciuti

PangolinBookWould you know a quokka if you saw one? How about a tuatara or pangolin? These are not exactly household words, but they are a few of the many fascinating and curious creatures featured in the What on Earth series. Each volume fully explores the lifestyles and habitats of animals that few people even kno
w exist. Simple, concise text covers the animal’s classification, its unique characteristics, its methods of survival, what the animal eats and who eats it, reproduction and care of the young, conservation issues, and the relationship of the animal to humans. Each book’s large size and stunning, full-color photographs bring these remarkable subjects to life. A glossary, further reading list, map, and index make What on Earth books as educational as they are fun!

Enjoy reading about this amazing, endangered species!


Taking the Turtle for a Walk!

Happy International Turtle Day!Koupa1

What? You didn’t know that May 23rd is “Be Kind to Turtles Day?”

Look it up. It’s true! Turtle Day has been celebrated since the year 2000. It was started by the American Tortoise Rescue and is now celebrated worldwide.



So in honor of this special day, our resident turtle, Koupa, was taken to the nearest river for his first ever river walk. He was delighted! See for yourself. I have posted a video of the big event. Koupa didn’t hoot and holler, of course, but he started to explore, even dug up a worm at the bottom of the creek and took a few bites out of leaves floating by.

It was lovely to see how instinctively he took to exploring the river. He walked along the bottom, swam in the current and even started to burrow into the side of the bank. I’m glad I didn’t let him get too far because he has very strong legs and it took a bit of pulling to get him out of his hole. He looked very smug and dashing as he emerged with his beret of mud perched jauntily on his little turtle head.

I kept the leash slack and let him explore at will. He took his time and swam slowly, but when I pulled on the leash a bit to lead him back to shore, he suddenly had an urgent desire to go the other way. I was as if he knew it was time to go and he didn’t want to leave. I don’t blame him. I wish I could have let him go, but I’m afraid he would not have survived long. This stream is daily combed through by little collectors who scoop tadpoles, fish and insects into their keeping cages. He would have been collected before the day was through. Maybe someday I can release him in southern Japan where a river runs wild. For now, he has been promised more frequent excursions to the river… not just on International Turtle Day.

Koupa is a Japanese Southern turtle, raised from egg by a family friend who owns a pig farm and a turtle sanctuary in Japan. This type of turtle is indigenous to parts of Japan south of Kyoto. He lives in a tank in our house, but we wish we could build him a large pool in the backyard. We are renting here, however, and the homeowner might not appreciate the tiny back garden being turned into a turtle pond.IMG_0095


Un-jinxing the Lynx

Although domesticated cats are responsible, in part, for the decimation of many songbird populations, the wild cats, the “felids” are in desperate need of help. Almost half of the 36 wild cat populations around the world are in grave danger of disappearing off of the planet earth forever.

From Wikimedia Commons

From Wikimedia Commons

The most endangered of the felids is the Iberian Lynx. The last remaining pockets of this Lynx population exist in Portugal and central and southwestern Spain. The Iberian Lynx is generally crepuscular (active at twilight) and nocturnal, and rabbits are its favorite food.

The Iberian Lynx is a beautiful cat with impressive, tufted ears, bright spotted coat, magnificent whiskers and a neat bobbed tail. For all of its beauty, however, this Lynx’s luck is running out.

Here’s what you can do to help: Sign petitions that encourage the saving and reclamation of the Iberian Lynx’s habitat. Spread the word about this beautiful wild cat. Send the Lynx a care package full of rabbits. Read the poem below to your friends:

Ode to The Iberian Lynx



I told my friend, the Iberian Lynx

To travel to Egypt to go ask a sphinx

Why his whole family is in such a jinx

So he went, and then told me, “Here’s what the sphinx thinks:”

‘Two-leggeds push the wildcat to the brink

And then won’t acknowledge the obvious link

Between habitat loss and the humans who think

The space humans take up is not destined to shrink.”

“The solution is simple,” the savvy sphinx said,

“Work fast before every last Lynx winds up dead.”

“All these humans who think that they need so much room,

Must be packed up and sent off to live on the moon.”

Links to help the Lynx:

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain