1. rq says

    The chinchillas are good for today. (Also, for some reason, when I think of chinchillas, I want to say ‘enchiladas’… probably better that way than to serve chinchillas accidentally for dinner.)

    As for the pillars of light, stunning -- from most photos, the lightsource of the pillar is quite clear, but I’m especially fond of the captures where the pillar is floating.

  2. blf says

    “Chinch”? Those are the weirdest Chinch bugs (Blissus), which tend to look more like this.

    (I know nothing about Blissus, but could not work out what was meant by “Chinch”, and discovered that is actually the common name (in N.America, at least) for that genus of true bugs.)

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    So cute and it’s nice that the chinchillas are watching the rain safely from behind the window, as these fellows don’t handle very well being wet, AFAIK.

  4. says

    Ice Swimmer:

    as these fellows don’t handle very well being wet, AFAIK.

    No, they don’t. Their bathing requirement is a fine grained sand [dust] and a small, round receptacle. They get in, roll around, then shake it off.

    Video one, video two.

  5. blf says

    And then there are, boom da-la-boomity boom boom, crazed killer hamsters !

    Actually, it’s not funny, sorry…

    France’s wild hamsters being turned into ‘crazed cannibals’ by diet of corn:

    Starving rodents in north-eastern France are suffering from vitamin deficiencies that prompt them to eat their own young

    A diet of corn is turning wild hamsters in north-eastern France into deranged cannibals that devour their offspring, researchers have reported.

    “There’s clearly an imbalance,” Gerard Baumgart, President of the Research Centre for Environmental Protection in Alsace, and an expert on the European hamster, said on Friday. “Our hamster habitat is collapsing,” he said.

    More common farther to the east, Cricetus cricetus in critically endangered in western Europe.

    The findings, reported last week in the British Royal Society journal Proceedings B, finger industrial-scale monoculture as the culprit.

    Once nourished by a variety of grains, roots and insects, the burrowing rodents live today in a semi-sterile and unbroken ocean of industrially grown maize, or corn.The monotonous diet is leaving the animals starving, scientists discovered almost by accident. The problem is a lack of vitamins. In fact, one in particular: B3, or niacin.


    A first set of lab experiments with wild specimens compared wheat and corn-based diets, with side dishes of clover or worms. There was virtually no difference in the number of pups born, or the basic nutritional value of the different menus. But when it came to survival rates, the difference was dramatic.

    About four-fifths of the pups born of mothers feasting on wheat-and-clover or wheat-and-worms were weaned. Only 5%, however, of the baby hamsters whose mothers ate corn instead of wheat made it that far. What was most disturbing is how they perished.

    “Females stored their pups with their hoards of maize before eating them,” the scientists reported. […]

    The cannibal mothers showed other signs of abnormality. The usually cute-and-cuddly hamsters ran in circles, “climbing and pounding their feeders,” when scientists entered the room.


    In a second set of experiments, they offered hamsters corn-based diets, one of them with B3 added. Sure enough, the vitamin-enriched diet was enough to eliminate the horrific symptoms, and prevent the female hamsters from eating their young.


    “Knowing that these species already face many threats, and that most of them are in danger of extinction, it is urgent to restore a diverse range of plants in agriculture schemes,” the researchers urged.

    Baumgart, who has been fighting for years to protect the endangered rodents, agrees. “Monoculture in agriculture is really bad for biodiversity,” he said. “Now we need to take concrete action.”

    As the article notes, vitamin B3 deficiency causes a condition in humans called pellagra:

    “Improperly cooked maize-based diets have been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide and cannibalism in humans,” the researchers note.

    Pellagra is thought to have decimated some three million people in North America and Europe from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century.

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