The World’s First Smart Toilet for Dogs Has Arrived

Newtons Box
Newtons Box

If training your dog to use a human toilet hasn’t been going as smoothly as you’d hoped, there might be another option. For the price of $696, Inubox—which is being dubbed as the “world’s first smart toilet for dogs”—is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter. The toilet helps keep your pup's bladder and kidneys healthy by letting them relieve themselves whenever duty calls, rather than waiting for you to get home, as New Atlas reports.

The device—which comes from the Austin, Texas-based company Newtons Box—might not make much sense to remote workers or stay-at-home moms and dads, but it’s a game-changer for dog parents who log a lot of hours at their workplace. Instead of holding their bladders for hours or leaving a pile of poop on your kitchen floor, dogs can do their business in the Inubox. When its sensors detect waste on the platform, the device scoops it into an eco-friendly bag and releases air freshener to keep your home smelling clean.

Of course, you’ll have to train your dog to use it first. According to the company, Inubox’s “attractive scent” is designed to lure dogs onto the platform so that they’ll mark their spot. It also uses positive reinforcement and releases a treat each time your dog uses it. Additional training methods may be needed, though, depending on your dog’s personality and behavior.

The design is also discreet. When the platform is lifted up to close the Inubox, no one will be able to tell that it’s a toilet. It almost looks like the kind of futuristic decor you might find in the Jetsons’s home (which, depending on your aesthetic sensibilities, could be another selling point).

The Inubox toilet
Newtons Box

The device is designed for dogs, but similar “smart toilets” have been made for cats, too. The Pet Care Monitor, for example, measures your cat’s weight and urine volume to make sure your fur baby is happy and healthy.

[h/t New Atlas]

Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

iStock
iStock

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Intense Staring Contest Between a Squirrel and a Bald Eagle Caught on Camera

iStock.com/StefanoVenturi
iStock.com/StefanoVenturi

Wildlife photographers have an eye for the majestic beauty of life on planet Earth, but they also know that nature has a silly side. This picture, captured by Maine photographer Roger Stevens Jr., shows a bald eagle and a gray squirrel locked in an epic staring match.

As WMTW Portland reports, the image has been shared more than 8000 times since Stevens posted it on his Facebook page. According to the post, the photo was taken behind a Rite Aid store in Lincoln, Maine. "I couldn't have made this up!!" Stevens wrote.

Bald eagles eat small rodents like squirrels, which is likely why the creatures were so interested in one another. But the staring contest didn't end with the bird getting his meal; after the photo was snapped, the squirrel escaped down a hole in the tree to safety.

What was a life-or-death moment for the animals made for an entertaining picture. The photograph has over 400 comments, with Facebook users praising the photographer's timing and the squirrel's apparent bravery.

Funny nature photos are common enough that there's an entire contest devoted to them. Here are some of past winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

[h/t WMTW]

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