Posts Tagged ‘Rats’

Mammalian Neurogenesis Breaks Into The Most Static Brain Region

June 9, 2008

Fifteen years ago, the discovery of adult neurogenesis (the production of new neurons) in the highly static, non-renewable mammalian brain was a breakthrough in neuroscience. Most emphasis was put on the possibility to figure out new strategies for brain repair against the threath of neurodegenerative diseases. Yet, unlike lower vetebrates, which are characterized by widespread postnatal neurogenesis, neurogenic sites in mammals are highly restricted within two very small regions. Hence, the fact that protracted neurogenesis in mammals is an exception rather than the rule slowes down hopes for generalized brain repair.

Work carried out in the recent past at the University of Turin, involving Federico Luzzati and Paolo Peretto at the Department of Animal Biology, and Giovanna Ponti and Luca Bonfanti at the Department of Veterinary Morphophysiology, revealed striking examples of structural plasticity and neurogenesis in the nervous system of rabbits. These Lagomorphs show remarkable differences under the profile of neurogenesis with respect to their close relatives Rodents (mice and rats).

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New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators

June 8, 2008

New research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

The introduction of predatory mammals such as rats, cats and stoats to oceanic islands has led to the extinction of many endemic island birds, and exotic predators continue to threaten the survival of 25 percent of all endangered bird species worldwide

[…] But their study on the bellbird, an endemic New Zealand bird, has identified the ability of a previously naïve island bird to change its nesting behaviour in response to the introduction of a large suite of exotic mammalian predators by humans.

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EPA aims to keep rat poison from children, animals

May 30, 2008

Ecological and conservation groups are praising a move by the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new restrictions on rat poisons to help reduce the threat of accidental exposure to children and wildlife.

“We are very happy that the EPA has done all it can to get these products off of the consumer market,” said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy for the American Bird Conservancy. “By putting these restrictions in place, they are allowing a compromise to be made between themselves and organizations who have been working on this problem for a long time.”

The EPA’s new measures, which were handed down Thursday, require that rat poisons be kept in bait stations above ground and in containers that meet agency standards.

Loose bait, such as pellets, and the four most hazardous types of pesticides, known as “second-generation anticoagulants,” will no longer be sold for personal use.

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How Can We Measure The Emotional States Of Animals?

May 21, 2008

Rats housed in standard conditions show a stronger response to the loss of an expected food reward than those housed in enriched conditions, perhaps indicating a more negative emotional state, according to new research by scientists at Bristol University Veterinary School, published recently in Royal Society Biology Letters.

The researchers have developed a new approach to the measurement of animal emotional states based on findings from human psychology that emotions affect information processing. In general, people are more sensitive to reward losses than gains, but depressed people are particularly sensitive to losses. The researchers wanted to know whether animals’ sensitivity to reward loss might also be related to their emotional state.

[…] “The study of animal emotion is an important emerging field in subjects ranging from neuroscience to animal welfare research. Whilst we cannot know for sure what other animals feel, our approach may provide improved methods for indirectly measuring animal emotion and welfare,” said Professor Mendl.

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PHOTOS: When kitty and rat become friends

May 8, 2008

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Why Are Kids So Crazy About Animals?

April 30, 2008

Yeah, zoos are fun. So are cartoons. And I certainly see the appeal of a teddy bear.

But why are kids so over-the-top crazy about animals? I am especially struck by the fact that some of the most popular cartoon and children’s-book animals are among the least appealing animals in real life. Mice, for instance. And pigs and rats and bears and fish.

Here’s what I read the other day in the class newsletter my daughter brought home from kindergarten:

Post Office Money Update: After a vote among all four K classes about how to spend this money, “Animals” received the most votes. (Other choices were Kids, Grown-Ups, and the Earth.) Please let us know if you are aware of any reputable organizations which are devoted to animals.

I wouldn’t expect kids to want to give any of their money to grown-ups. And while kids may be helping to drive awareness of climate change, “the Earth” is a pretty amorphous target.

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Adopt a rescued rat!

April 26, 2008

[…] After being alerted by neighbors, Thurston County animal control officials served a search warrant on April 9 at the residence of Michele Diller, 64. They found that pet rats had ruined the house, chewing through walls, cupboards, drawers and wires, soaking carpets with urine and covering floors with feces. The officials removed a cat, four severely malnourished snakes, five mice and two rats.

Since then, county health officials have said the house will be condemned and Diller has moved to an apartment in neighboring Lewis County to await assisted-living housing.

[…] As of Thursday the group had captured 29 live rats, including 10 babies.

“They’re very smart, they’re very clean, they can do tricks,” Price said. “They’re like little miniature dogs.”

Before agreeing to move, Diller was saying, `You can’t hurt them, they’re my friends,'” said Susanne Beauregard, director of Animal Services.

The rats could not survive in the wild because Diller fed them cat food, so they have no scavenging skills, and poor eyesight would also make them easy prey, Price said.

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UK: Research animals ruling overturned

April 24, 2008

A ruling that the Government was failing in its legal duty to ensure the suffering of animals used in laboratory experiments was kept to a minimum has been overturned.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal said a High Court judge’s finding that a Government adviser was “clearly wrong” in a conclusion over the level of pain experienced by marmosets could not stand.

But the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), which originally brought the case after an undercover investigation at Cambridge University, said its main argument over the way the Home Office classifies the seriousness of experiments on animals had been upheld.

The Home Office categorises experiments as either substantial, moderate or mild, which affects whether licences are granted.

BUAV said in a statement that the Home Office should in future have to examine each licence application to properly assess the level of animal suffering.

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Animals in Space: From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle

April 18, 2008

The animals that paved the way for Neil Armstrong and his cohorts have inspired a fresh take on the ubiquitous lost dog notice. Suzy Freeman-Greene revisits some walkies on the wild side.

One winter’s day, in December 1958, a fluffy squirrel monkey called Gordo was given a helmet and strapped onto a tiny rubber couch. Soon after, he was blasted into space in the nose of an American Jupiter missile. Gordo experienced nine minutes of weightlessness and is thought to have survived his capsule’s re-entry to earth. But the craft landed in the Atlantic Ocean and his body was never found.

Gordo was one of hundreds of animals sent into space from 1949 to 1990. In the name of science, monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, rats, frogs, worms, fish, tortoises and even spiders have journeyed towards the stars. While plenty survived, many others died.

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A typographic tribute to animals lost in space research

April 15, 2008

Orbit Oblique is a typographic tribute to ‘animals lost in space’. “During the period 1949-1990 the space race between the USA and Russia saw dozens of animals being launched into space in the name of scientific research. These unwilling participants included not just monkeys and dogs but also cats, rats, frogs, worms, spiders, fish and even fruit flies. Many were never seen again.”

The exhibition features a series of backlit typographic billboards, the first public release of the typeface Bisque (whose exclusive usage rights were auctioned on ebay) and the publication that accompanies the exhibition sounds terrific: a limited edition hard-bound type sampler with letterpress printed covers.

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One of Orbit Oblique's billboards

Are animals stuck in time?

April 5, 2008

Dogs greet their masters with the same warmth after a five-minute absence — or five hours. Does this mean they do not possess a sense of time?

This question led William Roberts of the University of Western Ontario to experiment with rats. And he found that the rodents did keep track of time after discovering a piece of cheese, but without forming memories of its discovery. These results suggest that episodic-like memory in rats is qualitatively different from human episodic memory, which involves retention of the point in time when an event occurred.

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Australia decrees national cane-toad killing day

April 4, 2008

Why are the cute animals always the ones that suck at mating, while vermin like pigeons, rats, and bacteria are breeding their brains out? To rectify the situation, many eager citizens have illegally taken matters into their own hands. But in Australia, where the poisonous, invasive cane toads that plague the country have evolved longer legs to expedite their conquering of the outback—lawmakers themselves are getting into the spirit of things.

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The 5 Weirdest Animal Experiments

April 3, 2008

Two of these are kind of silly, but the others are awful and sad. I’m just passing them on because, you know, it’s news, and it’s animals, and I try to be objective.  However, I do not think this is good stuff for kids to read about.

Now I have to go dig up some happy animal news to make me feel better.

-Kitty Mowmow

Here’s the link. 

Emotional ‘Bummer’ Of Cocaine Addiction Mimicked In Rats

March 12, 2008

Cocaine addicts often suffer a downward emotional spiral that is a key to their craving and chronic relapse. While researchers have developed animal models of the reward of cocaine, they have not been able to model this emotional impact, until now.

Regina Carelli and colleagues report experiments with rats in which they have mimicked the negative affect of cocaine addiction and even how it drives greater cocaine use. They said their animal model could enable better understanding of the emotional motivations of cocaine addiction and how to ameliorate them.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at www.thecapstone.ua.edu, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

If we could talk to the animals, would they empathize?

March 4, 2008

Marc Bekoff, professor of Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is in Australia to give a series of public talks on the emotional lives of animals.

Bekoff says scientists have moved on from the presumption that the way animals act is the result of programmed behaviour.

“It’s not a question of if they have emotions but why they have evolved,” he says.

Animals also have personalities, he says.

Bekoff says research has shown that elephants can experience grief, mice feel empathy, rats get excited about playing with a friend, sharks get mad and koalas have likes and dislikes.

Crocodile mums care for their kids, squid can be shy, fish can have addictive personalities and even coyotes get the blues.

“There are shy animals, bold animals, risk-takers … some animals wake up in the morning depressed and some wake up raring to go,” he says.

Bekoff says there is even evidence that animals possess a morality and have a unique “point of view on the world”, he says.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at www.thecapstone.ua.edu, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

The Dog, the Cat and the Rat

February 16, 2008

US to replace animals with robots in toxic chemical tests

February 15, 2008

 

US regulators have announced plans to reduce the number of animals used to test the safety of everyday chemicals.

Instead of using animals such as rats and mice, scientists will screen suspected toxic chemicals in everything from pesticides to household cleaners using cell cultures and computer models.

According to the Home Office, more than 3.1m experiments in the UK were carried out on animals in 2006. Of these more than 420,000 were done to test the safety of chemicals. According to the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), more than 100 million animals are used annually in experiments in the US, of which 15 million are used in toxicity tests.

The plans to replace animals in the US, announced yesterday in Boston, will see researchers from the national institute of health and the environmental protection agency develop robotic machines to screen the chemicals. They said if successful the robots could test a greater number of chemicals more quickly.

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First episode of the semester!

January 15, 2008

inurairstudio.jpg

2008’s first episode of Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo aired on 90.7 The Capstone, WVUA-FM in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this past Sunday.  I think it went rather well (I had fun, anyway), but it didn’t quite go as I expected. I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for the show – it was supposed to be about tigers – and spent several hours on Sunday solidifying an awesome tiger-filled playlist.  Sadly, my tiger show was not to be – even though I checked to make sure I had all my equipment with me before I left my apartment for the radio station, I somehow managed to leave the power chord to my computer at home – leaving me digital-music-library-less, and therefore, animal-esque-playlist-less.

I wasn’t about to cancel the first episode of the year, so with just a few minutes left before the show was supposed to start I quickly searched for animal music on our station’s computer system.  Then, abandoning my carefully researched tiger data, I Googled “animals” and “endangered species” to find some articles about animals to discuss over the air.  Then I rolled up my sleeves and proceeded with the show extemporaneously.

I might post MP3’s of the show later, and let you decide how good the show was.  Maybe it wasn’t my most professional broadcast, but it was one of the most fun.  Special thanks to Michael for calling me during the show, and to Reid for clarifying the names of one of the artists!

And now, the playlist:

Moving Units – Birds of Prey
They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul
AFI – Rabbits are Roadkill
Trolleyvoxx – Rabbit in the Sun
Rogue Wave – Bird on a Wire
The Beta Band – Dog’s Got a Bone
Live – Rattlesnake
David Kilgour – Dogs Barking
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Caterwaul
Beastie Boys – The Rat Cage
Pantera – Cat Scratch Fever
Big Blue Marble – Cat out the Bag
ZibraZibra – Cat and Mouse

What happens when a rat stops dreaming?

January 3, 2008

rat.jpg

 What happens when a rat stops dreaming? In 2004, researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison decided to find out. Their method was simple, if a bit devilish. Step 1: Strand a rat in a tub of water. In the center of this tiny sea, allot the creature its own little desert island in the form of an inverted flowerpot. The rat can swim around as much as it pleases, but come nightfall, if it wants any sleep, it has to clamber up and stretch itself across the flowerpot, its belly sagging over the drainage hole.

In this uncomfortable position, the rat is able to rest and eventually fall asleep. But as soon as the animal hits REM sleep, the muscular paralysis that accompanies this stage of vivid dreaming causes its body to slacken. The rat slips through the hole and gets dunked in the water. The surprised rat is then free to crawl back onto the pot, lick the drops off its paws, and go back to sleep—but it won’t get any REM sleep.

Step 2: After several mostly dreamless nights, the creature is subjected to a virtual decathlon of physical ordeals designed to test its survival behaviors. Every rat is born with a set of instinctive reactions to threatening situations. These behaviors don’t have to be learned; they’re natural defenses—useful responses accrued over millennia of rat society.

The dream-deprived rats flubbed each of the tasks. When plopped down in a wide-open field, they did not scurry to the safety of a more sheltered area; instead, they recklessly wandered around exposed areas. When shocked, they paused briefly and then went about their business, rather than freezing in their tracks the way normal rats do. When confronted with a foreign object in their burrow, they did not bury it; instead, they groomed themselves. Had the animals been out in the wild, they would have made easy prey.

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