Feb 4

The 10th of February 2013 will mark the start of Chinese New Year, and around the world many people will be taking part in colourful celebrations to welcome in the Year of the Snake. The snake is the 6th of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac, and those born in the year of the snake are said to be wise, calm and responsible.

According to ancient Chinese wisdom, a snake in the house is seen as a good omen and a sign that the family will not go hungry. Snakes are well known for their ability to swallow large prey, and after eating an impala whole, I don’t think this African rock python will be hungry any time soon either!

African rock python photo

During Chinese New Year the colour red is worn as it is considered to symbolise good fortune and joy. Red also represents fire and is thought to scare away evil spirits. Being characterised by its bright red belly, Kirtland’s snake is sure to fit in well at any New Year Celebration!

Kirtland's snake photo

Chinese New Year is tied to the lunar calendar, with the celebrations starting at the arrival of the new moon and continuing for 15 days. In Australia, the orange-naped snake is also commonly known as the ‘moon snake’. Although this species is venomous, it generally isn’t considered a danger to humans.

Orange-naped snake photo

There are several different stories regarding how the 12 animals were chosen for the Chinese Zodiac, and why they appear in the order that they do. One of the most popular tales tells of how the Jade Emperor declared that the animals must race across a fast flowing river, and that the 12 years of the zodiac would be named after the winners. Snakes are certainly excellent swimmers, with some species adopting an entirely aquatic lifestyle, such as the olive-brown sea snake.

Olive-brown sea snake photo

Chinese Year of the Snake – Get Involved!

Celebrate the Chinese Year of the Snake the wild way by joining us on Facebook and Twitter every day this week.

What does the Year of the Snake have in store for you? We’ll reveal all on Facebook! *Like* us to open your fortune cookie each day.

Love a challenge? Why not join our daily snake hunt on Twitter? Each day we’ll set you on a mission to hunt down some awesome snake photos and videos from ARKive. The winners can pick their favourite ARKive photos to go on the homepage. So what are you waiting for… start the snake hunt.

Here’s your first clue: Snake, rattle and roll – find and tweet a video of a rattlesnake shaking its thing! We’ll be waiting on Twitter to see if you track it down!

We have also launched a brand new snakes page full of amazing snake facts, photos a videos – make sure you check it out!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Jan 1

As we welcome in the New Year around the world I’m sure many of us will be making resolutions for the months ahead. The 1st of January marks a fresh start and a great opportunity to set personal challenges to improve ourselves, our lifestyles, and perhaps make a difference to the world around us too. However, we all know that sticking to resolutions can be tricky, so if you need a little inspiration just take a look at our favourite role models from the animal kingdom.

Get active

Many of us will promise to get a little more exercise, but despite our best intentions it is easy for motivation to fade as the months tick by. However, in the natural world being active is the key to many species’ survival. The bee hummingbird is not only the world’s smallest species of bird, it is also one of the most energetic. In order to hover and feed on the nectar of flowers it must beat its wings around 80 times per second, and to perform its intricate courtship display this rate increases to an incredible 200 beats a second. Just think about that next time you are struggling to do a few more reps in the gym…

Bee hummingbird photo

Take up a new hobby

Taking up a hobby or learning a new skill can be really fulfilling. Not only do hobbies help us unwind, they can also be a great way of meeting new people. The only tricky part is deciding what appeals to you most; dancing, gardening, baking, yoga, signing, learning a musical instrument – the list is endless! If arts and crafts are more your thing, how about learning to knit? If the garden spider can spin a web this intricate, surely you can have a go at a scarf?

Garden spider photo

Be more eco-friendly

We all know the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, and the New Year is a perfect opportunity to really put this into practice. Excessive waste is a huge environmental issue, so this year make sure you try and throw away as little as possible. Recycling doesn’t just mean using a different bin either, try and find new and creative uses for everything from plastics to fabrics – you might just save yourself a little money too. If you need some inspiration just take a look at this brown booby nest, creatively styled from “recycled” fishing debris!

Brown booby photo

Eat more greens

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthily, but when faced with a choice between some broccoli or another chocolate biscuit temptation can often get the better of us. If you are struggling to find the willpower to fulfil your five-a-day, spare a thought for the giant panda. As it is only able to digest a small proportion of its bamboo diet, the giant panda has to consume between 10 and 18 kilograms of leafy green bamboo a day. Perhaps you could take a “leaf” out of his book?

Giant panda photo

Lend a helping hand

The world would be a better place if we could all take a little more time to lend a helping hand to others. There are scores of volunteering opportunities out there, so this year why not make it your aim to do a little more in your community? It isn’t just people who can show altruistic behaviour either. For example, well-fed female common vampire bats have been known to regurgitate a meal to share with their hungry companions. Luckily for us humans, it is possible to make a difference simply by donating a little of your time to help a worthy cause.

Common vampire bat photo

We would love to hear from you, so why not let us know your New Year’s resolutions using the comments form below, or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter!

And finally, the ARKive team would like to wish everyone a very happy 2013!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Nov 9

As facial hair fever sets in across the globe this month, we thought we’d share with you our favourite mo’s of the moment. From the depths of the Amazon rainforest to the frozen north of the Arctic, it seems that the animal kingdom could give this year’s Movember participants a run for their money. Here are some of our favourites this week…

Trendy tamarins

Emperor tamarin photo
The emperor tamarin has opted for a white and wispy handlebar

Sophisticated seabirds

Inca tern photo

We love the mo that this inca tern is rocking. Thanks to Alex McGill for sharing this one with us on Facebook!

Unusual amphibians

Emei moustache toad photo
The spiked number sported by the emei moustache toad proved popular on Twitter this week

Whiskered walruses

Walrus photo
We like this whiskery wonder from our Flickr group taken by Susan Shepard

Bearded beastie

Robber fly

It might not be a moustache, but this robber fly has some fine facial hair! Thanks to Mike Lewinsky for this one.

Don’t forget, if you have any wildlife-based #Movember photos you can share them with us on Facebook or add them to our Flickr group – tagged “Movember”

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Nov 5

Each year in the UK, the 5th November marks Fireworks Night, an annual commemoration of Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Across the country tonight you can expect to see sparklers, blazing bonfires and spectacular fireworks. Of course, it’s not just us humans who enjoy a dazzling display. They might not be quite as explosive, but the natural world has some fantastic fireworks of its very own…..

Fountains of feathers

Male birds are some of the biggest show-offs in the animal kingdom, and their extravagant feathers can be the key to a female’s heart. We thought we would kick off our display with some of the most flamboyant, including the Atlantic royal flycatcher, the raggiana bird of paradise and an unusual albino Indian peafowl….

Atlantic royal flycatcher photoRaggiana bird of paradise photo








Indian peafowl photo

Fancy Flowers

For some explosions of colour, what better place to look than the world of plants? Our top picks are the pretty ribbon pincushion and the aptly named fire bush!

Ribbon pincushion photo

Fire bush photo








Underwater wonders

The marine world is full of incredible species, and the jewel anemone and purple sea urchin are certainly as beautiful as any firework. Lets hear an oooooh and an ahhhhh for the lovely lionfish too!

 Jewel anemone photoPurple sea urchin photo








Common lionfish photo


Pinwheels and rockets

No display would be complete without some spectacular rockets, and we don’t think they come much brighter than the golden rocket frog! For good measure we have thrown in an impressive pinwheel too, the Dlinza pinwheel to be precise!

Golden rocket frog photoDlinza pinwheel photo








A creature from the flames…

Most of us know to check our bonfires for hibernating hedgehogs before lighting them, but I bet not many of you have thought to look for salamanders before. It is believed that the common fire salamander is so-called as it often hides in damp logs, and would be forced to emerge when the wood was used in fires, giving the impression that it had crawled out of the flames!

Common fire salamander photo

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Nov 1

This ‘Movember’ why not express your inner animal through your facial hair?

Movember is a global, moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. Starting on Movember 1st, with a clean-shaven face, men grow and style their sprouting facial hair all in the name of raising funds for a worthwhile cause.

If you are looking for some inspiration on how to tame your furry-lips over the coming month, the animal kingdom is full of stylish moustaches to tickle your fancy.

Razors at the ready as we comb through the ARKive collection for some hairy-lipped muses…

The handlebar

Allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II, the emperor tamarin has one of the most regal facial fuzzes of the animal kingdom.

Emperor tamarin

The horseshoe

With a full moustache grown down the sides of its head, the male bearded parrotbill is obviously a fan of the horseshoe. Perhaps this is where Hulk Hogan got his inspiration from?

Male bearded parrotbill

The walrus

Thick and bushy, the muzzle of the walrus is highly distinctive, with its dense protrusion of whiskers on the upper lip. Versatile and suitable for all occasions, this rather refined looking style might even help you when foraging for tasty morsels!

Walrus photo

The Dalí

Why not coif a rather flamboyant, Dalí-inspired moustache like the brown-eared pheasant?

Male brown-eared pheasant photo

Fu Manchu

The long moustache of the three-wattled bellbird is made up of three long, fleshy black-grey wattles hanging from the corner of its mouth. Fast growing hair and a lot of gel will be required to master this particular style.

Male three-wattled bellbird photo

Ho, ho, mo

You may want to quickly shave off this L’Hoest’s monkey-inspired chin curtain after the end of Movember or you may get mistaken for someone else! Red hat and reindeer is optional.

L'Hoest's monkey

The Goatee

With its spectacular twisting horns, the markhor is one of the most striking of goats and the male of course has a characteristic black beard. This particular style is thought to date back to Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece.

Photo of a male Tadjik markhor

The bearded pig

Hot date? Unfortunately placed spot? The bearded pig has the perfect solution with its distinctive full-facial beard.

Bearded pig photo

Mutton chops

The yellow-breasted capuchin is a mutton chops master with its thick, black sideburns.

Yellow-breasted capuchin photo

Get involved

Have you spotted any mo’ species donning designer beards or flamboyant moustaches on ARKive – if so, lets us know!

Find out more about Movember and how you can get involved.


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