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Features (Creature Feature)

No need to put out the welcome mat

The mouse stood high in ancient Greece, where the god Apollo took the creature as one of his namesakes, Apollo Smintheus. White mice were kept under the altars in temples to that incarnation.
    Most of us can better relate to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit tradition wherein musuka means thief or robber.
    Sanskrit may not be familiar to you, but the burglary antics of the common house mouse probably are, especially this time of year.
    Freezing temperatures, like our recent dip into the low teens, send these furry rodents scurrying inside to the warmth of our homes and offices.
    If you have mice, you’re not alone. Each winter, mice and other rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. Mice visit between October and February, looking for food, water and shelter from the cold. Mice build their homes in our homes, near food sources, like our pantries and cupboards.
    Prolific and voracious, they eat more than growing teenagers and breed faster than rabbits. They eat up to 20 times per day and breed year-round, starting at about two months old.
    With a gestation of less than three weeks, a litter of eight to 14 pups and an average of five to 10 litters a year, a single female mouse will give birth to about 120 babies each year.
    That’s a lot of mice. Let two in, and many more will follow.
    Like little Houdinis, mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime. A small crack or gap on the exterior of your home is an open door — and invitation — for mice.
    Prevent mice from gaining access into your home by sealing any openings on the exterior (such as where utility pipes enter) with a silicone caulk. You can also fill gaps and holes inside your home with steel wool.
    Keeping cats as pets helps, too. Since I rescued my two kitties three years ago, I haven’t seen a single mouse inside.
    Mice are cute and cuddly to some folks who may even keep them as pets, but they can transmit a disease called salmonellosis, a bacterial food poisoning that occurs when food is contaminated with infected mice feces.
    That’s just the beginning. Mice can carry as many as 200 human pathogens.
    No wonder Apollo Smintheus was a god of disease.

Crabs and osprey in, oysters and swans out

In Chesapeake Country, creatures define seasons more accurately than weather. Crabs and osprey are the creatures of this season, even now replacing oysters and tundra swans on the calendar of Chesapeake life. Each comes, and goes, with fanfare.
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Chinese New Year celebrations begin

Saturday, January 28 marks the beginning of the 15-day Chinese New Year, ushering in the year of the Fire Rooster.
    In the Chinese zodiac, every year is associated with one of 12 animals: Rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat and monkey — the year we are ushering out. Each 12-year cycle is ruled by one of five elements: Gold (metal), wood, water, fire and earth.
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Readers shared their stories — and pictures — of animal companionship. The stories are wonderful; they'll bring tears to your eyes and laughter to your heart and lips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A barking good time for all at Quiet Waters Park

On a perfect June day, more than 2,200 humans and their canine companions showed their support for the Anne Arundel County SPCA at the 25th annual Walk for the Animals, rescheduled from its original torrentially rainy May date.
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A Senior Dog Sanctuary retiree can be your new best friend

Parents assure their children that the old family dog was taken to a farm with lots of new friends and green grass. Most of us know how that really turned out. Now there really is a farm for senior dogs, a sanctuary at that.
    Val Lynch is a doctor and rescuer of dogs. In April 2015, the Lynch family mission expanded to old dogs in need. Now battered, beaten and abandoned elders have a special place at the ­Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland.
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Goats are fuel-efficient lawn-care specialists

Removing noxious weeds and invasives can be grueling. Imagine having to pull, cut and clear over 30-plus acres.
    Good thing goats are happy to do the job for us. Two new gals are on the meadow management team at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. The pair come from Kinder Farm Park’s 4-H program.
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Beekeepers know it takes a healthy Earth to build a healthy hive

Spending your free time with thousands of stinging insects may seem odd. But love is a funny thing, and passion arises unbidden from unlikely sources.
    Across Bay Country, devotees of the humble honeybee lovingly tend their hives and work to help them thrive. At the same time, beekeepers are caught up in an impassioned fight to protect bees.
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Canada geese are here, ducks arriving, swans not far behind

Back when people were fewer in the Chesapeake watershed, skies used to blacken with waterfowl.
    You can get a glimpse of how abundant waterfowl can be, starting with Canada geese.
    Big Vs of Canadas are as common as school buses. You hear them coming by their honking.
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10 ways our pets enrich our lives

Our animal companions make us healthier, happier and saner.     
    Animal lovers have always held that truth to be self-evident. Now, research is backing up that heart-felt conclusion. Benefits range from reducing allergies, blood pressure, stress and loneliness … to increasing self-esteem and activity … to drawing other people to us.
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