Welcome to the fourth Carnival of the Animals.
The sloth is a much-maligned creature. Name another animal that's had one of the seven deadly sins named after it?
Most of us know it's not exactly the prettiest or the most dynamic of creatures, spending an average of 18 hours a day asleep. A few of us probably know that it moves so slowly fungus grows between its toes. But until I got this great post from Joe Kissell at Interesting Thing Of The Day I certainly didn't know the female of the species can shriek like a Hollywood scream-queen or, even more interestingly, that sloths provide a home for a veritable menagerie of other creatures. "One effect of the sloth’s languid pace of life is that it can’t be bothered to groom itself. This turns out to be beneficial to several varieties of algae and mold that grow inside the sloth’s hollow hairs," Joe explains. But it's not only algae that are attracted to this hirsute haven. Beetles have been found in their hundreds living on a single sloth and there is a type of moth (Bradipodicola hahneli) that lives exclusively in the sloth's hair. "Not only does it feed on the algae, but it also deposits its eggs in the sloth’s droppings, where they pupate and hatch, and then fly off to look for another sloth to live on," says Joe.
So perhaps it's time to re-evaluate the sloth. He may be slow, deeply unattractive and lazy, but no one can fault his generosity. And that's definitely no sin.
Another animal that gets a bad press is the panda, or more specifically panda mothers.
Much of the blame for the near catastrophic decline in the giant panda population has been laid at the door of the female of the species. They can only conceive once a year and are receptive to males for only three days. If they produce twins - which they do in sixty per cent of cases - they will only care for one of the cubs, leaving the other to die. But as ZenKitty at Echoes of Cold Moon saw at first hand, the panda's maternal instincts can be as strong as those of any other animal.
Squirrels aren't exactly the most popular creatures either, at least, not when they run up your stairs and hide in your house. Regular contributor Mad Kane has posted a cautionary tale about just such an invasion - and the curious impact it had on her marriage.
Some other things that caught our eye this week:
Elephants joined humans, great apes and dolphins as the only species known to be able to recognise themselves in the mirror. But did they like what they saw in the morning, that's the question?
Red wine drinking mice have delivered an early Christmas present for the world's gluttons.
Robin Hood, eat your heart out! Have a look at this fantastic film of an archerfish landing itself some insect lunch.