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Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Suffolk Wildlife Trust

UK Nonprofit Hires Its First Hedgehog Officer

Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Alexandra North, a 25-year-old conservationist in the UK, just landed a position coveted by animal lovers around the world. She’s the first Hedgehog Officer hired by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, according to the BBC.

The unique position made international news when the trust began searching for a candidate earlier this summer, and North beat out candidates from countries as close as France and as far as Nepal. Some Taiwanese stories reportedly pegged the £24,000-per-year (about $31,400) position as a £2.4 million ($3.1 million) one, which might account for some of the surge in applications.

Even at the actual salary, it’s a pretty sweet gig. North, who has been working for a nonprofit called Birdlife International, will be organizing volunteers to make the hedgehog-rich town of Ipswich more friendly to the spiky creatures.

The plan is to establish a network of safe routes and places for hedgehogs to feed, nest, and hibernate in Ipswich, where 2500 wild hedgehogs have been observed in the past two years. A 2015 survey [PDF] estimated that UK hedgehog populations have declined 50 percent in rural areas over the past 15 years due to habitat loss from development, and as a hedgehog boomtown, Ipswich is the perfect place to kickstart efforts to save the animals.

[h/t BBC]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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