Momentum Moments

March 2012
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Green Animals
Inadvertently eco-friendly animals.

With all the stresses of modern life, going green can sometimes seem like a daunting task, which makes what you are about to read seem like a bit of a boast on behalf of the animal kingdom. You see, while you are slaving away over your compost pile, these animals are going green without any effort whatsoever.
The African Grey Parrot is quite the avid gardener. It distributes seeds throughout its habitat. If you are envisioning the bird in a pair of gardening clogs handing out seed packets, you’ve watched too many cartoons. The seeds actually pass through the bird in what is called guano. We humans call it something quite different, but for educational purposes, let’s call it guano or bird droppings. Similarly, the lemur also scatters undigested seeds throughout its habitat, which is the island nation of Madagascar. Due to logging and agriculture, the island has lost more than 80 percent of its vegetation. Luckily, when the lemur relieves himself, the land’s vegetation is able to replenish itself.
There are both “green” and “non-green” woodpeckers. The non-green ones, which we know and sometimes hate, are known as “sapsuckers.” They feed on tree sap and, in doing so, are capable of draining trees to the point of destruction. However, there are some woodpeckers that actually help save trees. The West Indian and the Northern Flicker woodpeckers count ants and termites as some of their favorite food. By feeding on termites, they help preserve the wood, and therefore the trees, on which they peck.   
Some people have a pretty healthy fear of snakes, but maybe they wouldn’t be so scared if they knew that many snakes are really just devoted to maintaining the balance of nature. The ball python eats a diet rich on shrews, mice and rats, all of which come with a high risk of overpopulation. The issue with rodent overpopulation is that it can threaten farming and agriculture, native plants and the human food supply, as well as spread parasites and pathogens to domesticated animals and humans. Predators like the ball python help keep the rodent population in check.
The Fennec fox is another eco-friendly animal. Fennec foxes are able to go long stretches of time without consuming any water whatsoever and, like the ball python, they hunt mostly rodents, helping protect against the risk of overpopulation. Plus, for what it’s worth, they are possibly the most adorable creatures you’ve ever seen.  
It’s certainly awe-inspiring to think about how much the earth’s critters do for the environment, and for humans, without even realizing it.  

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