Pet Scoop: Tortoise Reunited With Family, Humans Use Sounds to Tell Dogs’ Emotions

Jan. 14, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Mary Plumb feeds her tortoise carrot treats after being reunited with him in Arizona.
Sarah Ruf, The Casa Grande Dispatch / AP
Mary Plumb feeds her tortoise carrot treats after being reunited with him in Arizona.

Tortoise Found 30 Miles From Home

Slow and steady wins the race. A tortoise who escaped from his enclosure six months ago has been reunited with his Arizona family earlier this month after being found 30 miles away. The 100-pound tortoise was taken in by a foster family, who named him “Eddie.” But the family realized taking care of the animal was too much for them, and they placed an ad in their local paper, the Copa Monitor, to look for his owner or a better home for Eddie. “Eddie has quite the personality!” the advertisement said. “He was found as a stray and appeared to be very well taken care of, yet no one came forward to claim him. He is about 15 years old and will live another 70+ years, so a family who is committed to him for life is very, very important.” George and Mary Plumb, who live 30 miles away, heard about the tortoise and thought it might belong to them. Both of their tortoises, Samson and Goliath, escaped at different times last year. While they quickly found one, they’d never tracked down the other. A check of a microchip confirmed the Eddie was indeed Samson — or Goliath. The Plumbs aren’t positive who’s who, but the pair is back together again. — Read it at ABC News

Humans Listen to Read Dogs’ Emotions

A new study finds that dog owners use the same general idea to read their dogs’ emotions that they use to read the emotions of other humans. Researchers found that they linked positive or negative emotions with the length of the vocalization and the intensity of the sound’s pitch. In a survey, humans rated sounds from adults and babies, dogs and puppies on a scale of negative to positive and low to high intensity. Shorter calls or sounds were rated as more positive than longer calls, and higher pitched sounds were rated as more intense. "It seems to be more likely for me that expressing and perceiving emotional states of others is an ancient system rooted deep in our evolution, and we share this ability with several other species," said one of the researchers, Tamás Faragó. The results were published in the journal Biology Letters. — Read it at Discovery News

Island Lizards Really Are Tamer

Lizards who reside on islands are less skittish around people and potential predators than those who live on the mainland, new research finds. It’s something that was first observed by Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands more than 150 years ago, but this was the first time the theory was tested. The scientists found that, when compared with their counterparts on the mainland, island lizards were calmer and let humans get closer to them before fleeing. "Our study confirms Darwin's observations and numerous anecdotal reports of island tameness," said study co-author Theodore Garland, a biologist at the University of California, Riverside. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.— Read it at Live Science

A gray seal lays next to her pup moments after giving birth at a Maine island sanctuary.
A gray seal lays next to her pup moments after giving birth at a Maine island sanctuary.

Web Cam Streams Seal Births

A wildlife camera at the Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, 19 miles off the coast of northern Maine, is capturing the pupping season of gray seals. Female gray seals give birth to one pup each year between December and January, and the Maine sanctuary is home to the second-largest gray seal colony in the U.S. The goal for the camera is to help scientists gain insight into the animals’ behavior patterns. And it also gives you the chance to see dozens of cute baby seals! The camera streams live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. E.T. daily. The rest of the day, you can see highlights from previous action on the island. — Read it at the Huffington Post

Amanda Seyfried’s Dog Critiques Golden Globes

Like many other viewers, Finn Seyfried logged on to Twitter to chime in on the some of the most talked about parts of the awards show on Sunday. "How many dog years is it taking these winners to make it to the stage? #yikes," he Tweeted. He also had a reaction to Best Supporting Actress Jacqueline Bisset’s long silence and rambling speech. "I think Jacqueline Bisset is standing silently near my dog park and quite frankly I'm a little unnerved," he joked. Maybe Finn will find himself with a microphone doing interviews on the red carpet next year! — Read it at People Pets


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