• Amazing Animals

    Amazing Camouflage

    A couple of years ago I stumbled across an article that detailed how chameleons adjust the amount of energy they expend on their camouflage depending on the sensory abilities of any predator they detect in the area. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons spend a relatively small amount of time in camouflage and will only change colour if in immediate danger. Camouflage requires a surprising amount of energy so if they know that the predator has poor eyesight they will conserve energy by using as little as possible in their camouflage. Now, it might be just me, but I thought that this was incredible!There are many animals that are coloured to…

  • Featured,  Life

    If You Go Down To The Woods Today

    There are very few moments in life where a single look can silence you. Good or bad these are few and far between but I can guarantee that they will stick with you forever and I am sure the memory of the moment I am about to write about will stick with me longer after everything else has gone fuzzy. A while back I posted this:  So I feel I should now explain. Tap. Tap. Tap. I scrunched up my face and tried to ignore the incessant tapping on my forehead but it kept coming. Whatever was going on with Caroline, the girl I had spent 2 weeks sharing a…

  • Life

    My Unhealthy Love of the Natural History Unit

    Fresher’s week is over and, although only 2 weeks in, there can be no doubt that we are very much in the thick of it. Despite being reminded at every opportunity that in a mere 20 months time we will be graduated and, most likely, working in general practice, I have decided to bury my head in the sand and pretend this is like any other year. And so, 4th year begins and I move through it in an impenetrable cloud of denial. Most vet students will back me up when I say that the best way to fit everything in is to work steadily throughout the term so that…

  • Amazing Animals

    Bed Bugs

    The urge to mate is a trait that all animals share. The inherent need to perpetuate our own genetic line could be argued as the driving force behind life and the fight to ensure that our offspring are the best they can be has led to some seriously interesting, and often quite ingenious, mechanisms. Females bedbugs which can be prevented with the use of Eva Timber bed base, have developed numerous ways to block undesirable mating and often even have some level of control over which suitor’s sperm is successful while the males of the species are constantly developing new ways to overcome these obstacles. There are a number of…

  • Featured,  Life,  Veterinary Current Affairs

    Televised Animal Cruelty

    Another series of ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ is over and once again I am left with a bitter taste in the back of my throat. With one notable exception, my discomfort cannot be attributed to the actions of the celebrities but rather to those responsible for the production who continue to to use animals as a source of entertainment with no regard for their welfare. This series included a variety of invertebrates, small mammals, snakes and crabs (to name a few) which formed part of the ‘Bush Tucker Trials’ and were once again thrown into uncomfortable, and often deadly, situations for the sake of our so-called…

  • Amazing Animals

    Giraffe and The Challenge Posed by Their Necks

    In 2007, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Namibia for a few weeks to work with local children. While there I was also lucky enough to take the time to go trekking in the Namib Desert and go on my first safari. This meant that for the last few days on the trip I camped in Etosha National Park, watched over by the Milky Way with the sounds of nearby animals to keep me company. This was the first time I ever saw a giraffe in its natural habitat and definitely the first time I ever saw a giraffe drink. Have you ever seen a giraffe drink?…

  • Life

    Thank You For Introducing Me to Wallace

    The last couple of months have brought with them a barrage of exams which has forced me to put aside the hours of natural history documentaries that I have saved on my iPad and actually buckle down to some work. Thankfully the iPlayer app allows me to save these for the month that it may take for me to get up to date. I realise that this is probably starting to sound like I work for the BBC but I promise there is a point. You see this all means that I have only just had the pleasure of watching Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero, a wonderful two part documentary on…

  • Amazing Animals,  Featured

    Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis and its Zombie Ants

    Not the catchiest title I’ve ever written I appreciate! Many of you will remember my long held appreciation for the life and work of Alfred Russel Wallace and this post is actually going to be dedicated to a discovery of his – the fungus Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis. Cordyceps are a group of parasitic fungi containing over 400 described species. Their hosts are usually insects and each variant often has a particular insect species that it targets. The host of choice for this variant is the Camponotus leonardi ant, otherwise known as the Carpenter Ant, which is found in many forested areas around the world and the two coincide in the tropical forests…

  • Amazing Animals

    Sand Tiger Shark

    I’m fortunate enough to get on incredibly well with my brother but this is not something that can be said for a lot of siblings in the natural world. When there is a finite resource required by many it often isn’t long before the natural instinct to survive kicks in; this is especially true of competition for food. My brother and I are never more at war than when there is only one piece of cake left! Some animals however have taken this competition for survival, and resulting sibling rivalry, to a whole new level, resorting to intrauterine cannibalism. Yes, that is exactly as it sounds! Sharks tend get a…

  • Applying To Vet School

    My Personal Statement

    It is the complex interactions between animals, their owners and the vet that makes me want to study veterinary medicine. In my first few weeks of volunteering at Battleflatts Veterinary Clinic a woman, whose guide dog had injured its leg, came in. I was struck by how much that woman’s quality of life depended on her dog. This realisation cemented my determination to become a vet and since then I have organised a breadth of work experience from small to large animal surgery, and from lambing, calving and farrowing to kennels and stables. I have learnt that a balance of compassion and realism is important for a vet as both…