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iStock // Milan_Jovic
iStock // Milan_Jovic

Inside the Clandestine World of Chameleon Ranching

iStock // Milan_Jovic
iStock // Milan_Jovic

Chameleons, like many non-native reptiles, have gotten loose in Florida. They escaped from breeding operations and proceeded to do the three things chameleons do best: look pretty, move very slowly, and make more chameleons. Intentionally releasing invasive species into the wild is illegal...but catching them isn't.

In a classic bit of Florida weirdness, "herpers" have taken to tracking down spots where these now-wild chameleons live and breed. Like a real-world version of Pokemon Go, herpers quietly exchange locations of these "chameleon ranches" (spots where chameleons have begun breeding in the wild), and they visit them at night. Some have even taken the illegal step of creating their own chameleon ranches by releasing more chameleons into the wild.

In the short National Geographic documentary below, we visit one Florida fruit stand owner whose land has become a chameleon ranch and a target for herpers. We also meet the herpers themselves, who typically go about their hobby at night, shining flashlights in the wilderness. "In our free time, we don't go out drinking. We go out herping," says one.

In addition to the surprising world of herping and chameleon ranching, this video does a solid job of mythbusting—chameleons don't use their color-changing power for camouflage. Tune in to learn all about it:

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Animals
The Simple Way to Protect Your Dog From Dangerous Rock Salt
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iStock

Winter can be a tough time for dogs. The cold weather usually means there are fewer opportunities for walks and more embarrassing accessories for them to wear. But the biggest threat to canines this time of year is one pet owners may not notice: the dangerous rock salt coating the streets and sidewalks. If you live someplace where this is a problem, here are the steps you need to take to keep your pooch safe until the weather warms up, according to Life Hacker.

Rock salt poses two major hazards to pets: damage to their feet and poisoning from ingestion. The first is the one most pet owners are aware of. Not only do large grains of salt hurt when they get stuck in a dog’s paws, but they can also lead to frostbite and chemical burns due to the de-icing process at work. The easiest way to prevent this is by covering your dog’s paws before taking them outside. Dog booties get the job done, as do protective balms and waxes that can be applied directly to their pads.

The second danger is a little harder to anticipate. The only way you can stop your dog from eating rock salt from the ground is to keep a close eye on them. Does your dog seem a little too interested in a puddle or a mound of snow? Encourage them to move on before they have a chance to take a lick.

If, for some reason, you forget to follow the steps above and your pet has a bad encounter with some winter salt, don’t panic. For salty feet, soak your dog's paws in warm water once you get inside to wash away any remaining grit. If your dog exhibits symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation and you suspect they’ve ingested rock salt, contact your vet right away.

Even with the proper protection, winter can still create an unsafe environment for dogs. Check out this handy chart to determine when it’s too cold to take them for a walk.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Animals
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Hires Puppy to Sniff Out Art-Munching Bugs
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some dogs are qualified to work at hospitals, fire departments, and airports, but one place you don’t normally see a pooch is in the halls of a fine art museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is changing that: As The Boston Globe reports, a young Weimaraner named Riley is the institution’s newest volunteer.

Even without a background in art restoration, Riley will be essential in maintaining the quality of the museum's masterpieces. His job is to sniff out the wood- and canvas-munching pests lurking in the museum’s collection. During the next few months, Riley will be trained to identify the scents of bugs that pose the biggest threat to the museum’s paintings and other artifacts. (Moths, termites, and beetles are some of the worst offenders.)

Some infestations can be spotted with the naked eye, but when that's impossible, the museum staff will rely on Riley to draw attention to the problem after inspecting an object. From there, staff members can examine the piece more closely and pinpoint the source before it spreads.

Riley is just one additional resource for the MFA’s existing pest control program. As far as the museum knows, it's rare for institutions facing similar problems to hire canine help. If the experiment is successful, bug-sniffing dogs may become a common sight in art museums around the world.

[h/t The Boston Globe]

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