Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

  • Meet the World's Most Adorable Hedgehog

    Darcy the hedgehogDarcy the hedgehogShota Tsukamato has big plans for his pet hedgehog: He wants her to become "the most famous hedgehog in the world."

    Darcy, a 3-year-old hedgehog from Tokyo, is well on her away to becoming just that. With her 356,000 followers, hers one of the most-followed pet accounts on Instagram.


    Named after former Smashing Pumpkins bassist D'arcy Wretzky, the tiny hedgehog inspired Tsukamato to start an Instagram account to share photos of Darcy's adorable adventures.


    Tsukamato's pictures often feature Darcy alongside props that accentuate her tiny size, and the photos have a whimsical quality - a quality he works very hard to create.


    Also see: 15 cute animals that could kill you


    "I imagine a page from a children's picture book," he said on Instagram's blog. "I want it to be a surrealistic story, and I even want people to question whether or not Darcy really exists in real life."


    Tsukamato says he intentionally posts Darcy's photos without captions because he wants people to come up with

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  • Want to Know What Your Dog is Thinking? This Device Will Tell You

    A prototype of No More WoofA prototype of No More WoofA Scandinavian research lab is developing a gadget that analyzes dogs' thought patterns and translates them into English, and it's looking for financial backers to make the device a reality.


    No More Woof "uses the latest technology in microcomputing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spells them out in human language using a loudspeaker," according to ST's Indiegogo page.


    The dog-sized headset contains electroencephalogram recorders that monitor canines' "ionic current flows," which are sent to a small Raspberry Pi computer for "translation."


    A $65 No More Woof model is said to distinguish between three different thought patterns, including "I'm tired," "I'm hungry" and "Who are you?"


    Also see: Brain scans reveal dogs' thoughts

    ST, the company behind the iRock - that's the $1,300 rocking chair that charges Apple devices - doesn't have a working No More Woof prototype yet, but it expects to have one ready in a few years.


    "Yes, we HAVE achieved some Read More »from Want to Know What Your Dog is Thinking? This Device Will Tell You
  • Cats Vs. Christmas Trees: 5 Videos of the Annual Holiday Battle

    Is this cat naughty or nice?Is this cat naughty or nice?Christmas trees combine several of cats' favorite things: heights, dangling objects and a challenge.

    Every holiday season, cat owners erect holidays trees in their homes with a bit of trepidation - and many questions on their minds.


    Will the tree still be standing tomorrow? Will Fluffy get tangled in the lights again this year? How many ornaments will be destroyed in the inevitable cat vs. tree battle?


    Watch some of our favorite festive feline videos, and see what it's like to celebrate Christmas with a cat.


    Oskar the blind cat

    This cat proves that just because you can't see a Christmas tree, doesn't mean you can't destroy it. Oskar was born without fully formed eyeballs and has been blind since birth.


    View from the top

    Sesshomaru nearly reaches his destination, the very top of the Christmas tree, but then things go ... timber!

    Help! I've climbed a tree and I can't get out.

    After getting tangled in wires, this cat learns the hard way that Christmas trees can

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  • New Mood Sweater Spills the Beans About Your True Feelings

    the mood sweaterthe mood sweaterThe Galvanic Extimacy Responder mood sweater can quite literally make you red-faced if you're feeling nervous around that special someone.


    The sweater employs galvanic skin response, the same technology used in lie-detector tests, to measure levels of arousal. Hand sensors connected to the sweater read excitement levels and translate the data into different colors, which are reflected on the LED collar.


    When a person is calm, the collar lights up blue, but as he or she becomes more excited, the color shifts to purple.


    Also see: Boost your mood in 5 minutes


    The sweater got its name from because its creators as design lab Sensoree say it promotes "extimacy," or externalized intimacy. The wearable technology is meant to reveal a person's true feelings without relying on speech.


    "Located around the larynx, the visual interface replaces speaking, as the wearer's truths are instantly expressed with color," the sweater's description reads. A hundred of the custom-sized,

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  • Why Do Cats Love Boxes so Much?

    Cats love boxes: big boxes, small boxes, even items that resemble boxes, such as drawers, sinks and laundry baskets. But what is it about boxes that sends our feline friends into a frenzy?

    Cats are instinctively drawn to boxes because they offer security. The confined space provides protection from predators, and it's a great place to stalk prey while remaining virtually unseen.

    Climbing onto, jumping into and hiding in boxes is simply part of a cat's natural behavior, so providing an empty box or two is an inexpensive way to enrich your pet's environment.

    Leave a box in a safe place for your cat to play. You can drop in a couple of favorite toys or cut a few holes in the side so he can peek through or stick out a paw to swat at toys - or people.

    Also see: 14 photos of cats in action

    Boxes also offer safe, cozy places for felines to nap. Cats sleep 18 to 20 hours a day, so it makes sense they'd seek out places where they'd be safe from attack.

    Place a blanket in a

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  • Why Your Next Hire Should Be an 'athlete'

    People with unconventional combinations of skill sets are more valuable employees. People with unconventional combinations of skill sets are more valuable employees.

    With about one-third of the American workforce doing contract or freelance work at some point in their careers, most of us have learned to wear many hats when it comes to work. But if you minimize how many things you know how to do when you apply for a job (thinking that it might be distracting), you're not alone. We've entered the new world, where most people do so many types of jobs that instead of padding resumes with overblown, or even false abilities, these days it's more common to do the opposite.

    But maybe we should all fess up to our plethora of skills when we go looking for that next position, because it turns out that those of us with unconventional combinations of skill sets - termed "athletes" in this article - are more valuable employees.

    That's because bosses want, "... someone who is able to adjust and learn new skills as the business issues change. A 'perfect fit' who can't think or act outside of their box won't cut it anymore. In addition, 18 months from now,

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  • Meet Mrs. Claws: How One Woman's Quest to Save Cats Became a Must-see Movie

    Soft Paws protectors are a creative alternative to declawing.Soft Paws protectors are a creative alternative to declawing.

    Twenty-two million cats in the U.S. are declawed. Cat owners have this done to prevent scratching and furniture damage, sometimes at their vet's suggestion, not knowing how truly painful and crippling the procedure really is. Veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who specializes in exotic animals and big cats in particular, has made it her mission to spread the word about this inhumane surgery via the nonprofit she established, The Paw Project, and the movie she made of the same name. In a conversation with MNN, she explains how it all started.

    "I had 40 or more big cats as patients who were suffering from being declawed," Conrad begins. "Some of these majestic animals were really quite crippled. I thought that I had to do something to help them walk again. I investigated possible methods to help repair the damage declawing does to paws, and came up with a new surgery with the guidance of a veterinary surgeon named Kirk Wendelburg. The first surgeries I paid for. When word got out that

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  • Real-life Fox and Hound Are Best Friends

    Tinni the dog and Sniffer the foxTinni the dog and Sniffer the foxWhen Torgeir Berge's dog, Tinni, struck up a friendship with a fox in a Norwegian forest, he saw an opportunity to educate people about the realities of the fur industry.


    Berge photographed the unlikely furry friends as they wrestled and played, and with the help of his friend Berit Helberg, he's putting together a book about Tinni the dog and Sniffer the fox.


    "Sniffer and Tinni want our help to spread their message about fur and friendship, and the knowledge that the fox is only a dog of the forest with the same reactions and movements as the dogs we look at as man's best friend," Helberg writes on her website.


    The untitled book, which will be released next year, chronicles the adorable duo and aims to show readers "how similar foxes and dogs actually are." A portion of the book's sales will be donated to an organization that works to protect foxes and other animals that are killed for their fur.


    See photos of the interspecies friendship that inspired a book.


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  • Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Cook This Holiday Season

    These kids love to cookThese kids love to cookby Jenni Grover MS RN LDN, Mother Nature Network


    It's been documented that kids who cook choose healthier foods.


    With all those holiday parties coming up, and plenty of food prep to go with it, now may be the perfect time to get your children cooking. Not only will it teach them an important life skill, but it also gives them an opportunity to create something they can show off in front of family and friends. Given we tend to have crazy schedules over the holidays, cooking together is also a rare opportunity for some true quality time. But as anybody who has actually cooked with kids knows, more hands don't necessarily mean less work. (And they certainly don't ensure less mess!) Below are some strategies for holiday cooking with children, without losing your mind.


    Make time to do it right
    If you are rushing to get a dish prepared for a holiday potluck and you're leaving in an hour, now may not be the ideal time to get the kids involved. By planning ahead, and carving out some quality

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  • 7 Surprisingly Good Christmas Movies You've Never Heard Of

    'Cheers' co-stars Shelley Long and George Wendt play North Pole bigwigs Mrs. and Mr. Claus in the movie 'Merry In-Laws.''Cheers' co-stars Shelley Long and George Wendt play North Pole bigwigs Mrs. and Mr. Claus in the movie 'Merry In-Laws.'by Benyamin Cohen, Mother Nature Network


    The end of the year is near, which means my DVR is working overtime, choking on a veritable cornucopia of films like "A Very Merry Mix-Up," "Snow Bride" and "Fir Crazy." (Yes, those are all real movies.) It's the season when channels like Hallmark, Lifetime and ABC Family spruce up their joints and hang the tinsel for the annual deluge of made-for-TV Christmas movies. Sure, they're not big-budget features like "The Nightmare Before Christmas" or "The Santa Clause," but these films are instant classics in their own small way. Their titles may seem interchangeable ("Hitched for the Holidays" vs. "Holiday in Handcuffs") but they all have that special holiday secret sauce that will make you smile.


    As you'll see from the list below, there are certain ingredients to a successful made-for-TV Christmas movie: It usually involves a little romance. One half of the couple gets stuck (car troubles, snowstorm) in a comically charming small town.

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