Shelter Animals Are Named the New 'State Pet' of Ohio

iStock.com/FatCamera
iStock.com/FatCamera

The state of Ohio just got a furry new mascot. As The Cincinnati Enquirer reports, shelter animals have been named the official state pet of Ohio in a bid to raise awareness about all the cats and dogs available for adoption. This means rescue pups and kittens will now be recognized alongside the state bird (northern cardinal), state mammal (white-tailed deer), and state insect (ladybug).

Shelter pets already enjoy an official "state pet" status in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, and Tennessee, and legislators in Texas and Oregon are now considering similar bills. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) praised Ohio's resolution, which was part of a sweeping Senate bill that received bipartisan support and went into effect on March 20.

"This designation will help raise public awareness for shelter animals and the many shelters throughout Ohio which are full of wonderful, family-ready pets," the HSUS said. "Animal shelters and rescues always have a great selection of pets looking for new homes."

Earlier this month, the Humane Society of Tuscarawas County, Ohio was searching for a home for a senior golden retriever named Annie and a potbelly pig named Hermione, both of whom were abandoned in the Humane Society's parking lot. A surveillance video posted to Facebook shows a man tying the dog's leash to a post, then dropping off a cage with the pig inside.

After the video went viral, both of the animals were adopted by a mother and daughter who own a farm in Louisville, Ohio. "When I first saw the golden retriever, first she kind of pulled at my heartstrings, and I was like, 'Oh, there's a pig! We have to get the pig!" the daughter, Grace Erb, told Fox affiliate WJW. "With having a farm, we've had many animals dropped off at our facility, and it's heartbreaking."

An ongoing campaign called The Shelter Pet Project—a joint effort by the HSUS and other organizations—aims to make animal shelters the first place people look once they've decided to get a pet.

[h/t The Cincinnati Enquirer]

A Python Swallowed a Crocodile Whole—and a Photographer Was There to Capture It All

KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images
KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images

As long as it can fit through their elastic jaws, there's not much pythons won't eat. This genus of snakes has been known to swallow everything from small bears to porcupines. As Live Science reports, a python was recently spotted eating a crocodile in Australia—and the disturbing encounter was caught on camera.

On May 31, 2019, the Australian nonprofit GG Wildlife Rescue Inc. shared photos a kayaker named Martin Muller captured of a snake inhaling a crocodile outside Mount Isa in Queensland. The snake was an olive python—a native Australian species that's found exclusively on the continent. Pythons can subdue large prey by wrapping their powerful bodies around it and constricting the animal until it suffocates. Killing a large, aggressive predator like a freshwater crocodile is only half the job. Once its prey is ready to eat, the python opens its jaw, which can stretch several times larger than its head, and gradually consumes its meal, a process that can take hours.

The images below offer a rare look at this brutal act of nature. Muller captured the entire scene, from the python wrangling the croc to the gluttonous feeding that takes place afterwards. The last photos in the series show the python with a large, lumpy bulge in its belly—a sign of its success.

Pythons have been spotted eating crocodiles and alligators in the past, and it doesn't always end well for them. In 2005, a Burmese python in Florida—where they're an invasive species—burst open after trying to swallow an alligator whole. If this python spotted in Australia can stomach its meal, the croc will potentially sustain the snake for months.

[h/t Live Science]

An Underpass for Turtles in Wisconsin Is Saving Dozens of the Little Guys’ Lives

Dmytro Varavin/iStock via Getty Images
Dmytro Varavin/iStock via Getty Images

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because an underground tunnel made it safe to do so.

In 2016, the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to construct a tunnel beneath Highway 66, hoping to cut down on high turtle mortality rates, reports Robert Mentzer for Wisconsin Public Radio.

The tunnel, with Jordan Pond on one side and wetlands on the other, was a noble venture, but the turtles had no way of knowing it was a crossing point rather than a dark and potentially dangerous hole. So Pete Zani, herpetologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, installed aluminum flashing outside of each opening, which would reflect the sky and let turtles know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Zani also installed grates above the tunnel to make it less shadowy, and a small cul-de-sac in a nearby piece of the fencing to encourage turtles who had missed the tunnel to turn around.

Zani and his team found that in the first year after construction, 85 percent fewer turtles were killed on the road, and no baby turtles were among the casualties. In the last few years combined, only 40 turtles died, compared to 66 deaths in 2015 alone.

That’s great news for local turtles, of course, and it’s great news for local humans, too. The intersection in question is always busy with truckers, commuters, and families en route to Jordan Pond, and turtle crossing can exacerbate traffic congestion and increase the chance of accidents.

Not all turtles have caught on, however, and it looks like some might never get the memo. Zani found that about 30 percent of snapping turtles and 20 percent of painted turtles make it through the tunnel, and those numbers have been consistent each year since construction. “They either get it or they don’t,” Zani told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Other animals are getting it, too. As part of the experiment, Zani set up a turtle-wrangling program in which students monitored trail cameras for turtle activity outside the underpass. In photos captured by the cameras, they noticed that rodents, mink, skunks, raccoons, and even house cats were traveling by turtle tunnel.

[h/t Wisconsin Public Radio]

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