Dec 25

Today is Christmas, the holiday that children around the world have been anxiously awaiting for including the arrival of man in the red suit himself, Santa Claus!

In honor of Christmas, we’re presenting a WILD twist of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” story. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse

Woodland jumping mouse photo

Perhaps not the typical rodent of lore, the cute puffball known as the woodland jumping mouse is one amazing mouse; its elongated hind legs allow it to hop up to 3 meters (9 feet) at a time!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

Pitcher plant photo

The uniquely shaped and vibrant pitcher plant could easily be mistaken for a child’s stocking. Don’t be deceived however, this delicate plant is actually of the carnivorous variety with the ability to secrete an acidic solution.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

Koala photo

This snoozing koala might look snug as a bug in a rug, and you would be right; koalas are primarily nocturnal. The koala is often mistakenly called a koala bear even though it is not related to bears, but rather belongs to the marsupial family.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

Reindeer photo

While reindeer might not have shiny red noses like Rudolph, they still are an extraordinary species that can survive the extreme conditions of the north. Its specifically designed hooves serve as snowshoes and also aid in cracking ice when searching for food.

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

Bald eagle photo

The regal bald eagle might not be as swift as Santa’s reindeer, but it is an enduring raptor that can live up to 28 years. Its name is certainly a misnomer, since the bald eagle sports a full set of white feathers upon its head.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was white as the snow.

Emperor tamarin photo

While Santa’s beard might be more grandiose, one cannot deny that the emperor tamarin has a truly unique and elegant beard. Much like St. Nick, himself the emperor tamarin has a sweet tooth with a diet that includes fruits and nectar.

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

Big-belly seahorse photo

With a belly to rival that of Santa himself, the big-belly seahorse has a large protruding stomach. Like other seahorses, it lacks scales and instead has skin stretched over bony plates. Additionally, much like the man in red, the big belly seahorse is most active at dusk and at night.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

Spear thistle photo

The wondrous and colorful spear thistle is noted for its purple flower that does not appear until its second year of growth. The fluffy orb-like seedlings or down are functionally designed to aid in wind dispersal.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight — “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas from the Arkive Team to you!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Jan 10

Invasive reindeer are to be eradicated from South Georgia in an attempt to save the unique environment of this sub-Antarctic island.

Reindeer are normally found in the Arctic

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer’s overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island’s unique species.

Habitat destruction

Reindeer were first introduced to South Georgia by the Norwegians in the 1900s to provide fresh meat on whaling missions in Antarctica. The population was originally managed by regular hunting, but when whaling stations were shut down in the 1960s, all hunting ceased.

Since then, the reindeer population has increased dramatically to a point where the island’s flora and fauna can no longer cope. Reindeer trample the indigenous plants, threaten king penguins and other local birds by destroying their nests and habitat, and cause substantial soil erosion.

King penguins are just one of the species threatened by the presence of reindeer

The reindeer herd is currently restricted by glaciers to the only suitable grazing habitat, which is also the most biologically productive. However, the impending threat of climate change and glacial recession will serve to increase the damage caused by opening up access to the rest of the island.

The government has decided to eradicate the reindeer population on South Georgia on the grounds of responsible environmental management practices.

Reindeer are grazing on the most biologically productive parts of the island

Island restoration

The reindeer cull will be led by the Norwegian Sami herdsmen whose expertise will ensure the programme goes smoothly, and it is estimated that it will take place over two summers. Meat from the cull will not go to waste and will be sold on the Falkland Islands, since South Georgia has no permanent resident population.

The Sami herdsmen are experienced in handling reindeer

Scientists hope that this, alongside a rat eradication programme currently in progress, will restore the island of South Georgia by allowing native plant species and bird populations to recover. Two native bird species which scientists hope will benefit from the removal of rats and reindeer are the South Georgia pipit and the South Georgia pintail, a subspecies of the yellow-billed pintail.

The endemic South Georgia pintail will benefit from the eradication of rats and reindeer


Read more on this story at BBC News – South Georgia prepares to cull its invasive reindeer.

Find out more about the invasive reindeer population from the IUCN Species Survival Commission Invasive Species Specialist Group newsletter.

View photos and videos of reindeer on ARKive.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author


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