Feral Chicken Flocks Are Terrorizing Residents of the Largest of the UK’s Channel Islands

Wendy Love, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Wendy Love, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Flocks of feral chickens on Jersey, the largest of the United Kingdom’s Channel Islands, are doing their best to ruin the lives of residents, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “free range chickens.”

The chickens, iNews reports, are waking people at dawn with clucking and crowing, trampling gardens, interrupting traffic, and even chasing joggers. People might be more inclined to forgive them for what mostly seems like typical behavior (with the exception of chasing joggers) if the chickens were roaming in small groups, but these flocks number over 100 birds each. It’s likely that a few chickens started out as pets who were then abandoned and have been breeding an army ever since. And the island of Jersey isn’t home to foxes or any other predator that might keep the population to a more manageable level.

As a result, Jersey Environment Minister John Young told iNews that he’s had to order two “modest” culls, wiping out 35 chickens. It hasn’t been enough to solve the problem, especially since animal rights advocates are against culling as a solution. But since nobody actually owns the feral chickens, they’re technically not protected under the UK’s animal welfare law.

“We are in a situation where we have got animal lovers on one hand and where we have got those who are experiencing a nuisance on the other. I can’t pretend to sit here and say I have got an answer to that,” Young said. While they work to find an answer, officials have warned locals against feeding the chickens, which encourages breeding.

According to the BBC, Jersey's director of environmental health, Stewart Petrie, said that the only significant danger the chickens could cause is if cars swerve to avoid them in the road. But the lack of sleep caused by a 4 a.m. wakeup call every morning can definitely damage your health, and the prospect of getting chased by a crazed chicken might make you skip your daily jog, too.

[h/t iNews]

Meet LiLou: The World's First Airport Therapy Pig

Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images
Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images

There's a new reason to get to the airport early—you might run into a therapy pig who's there to make your trip a little easier. As Reuters reports, LiLou the Juliana pig is a member of San Francisco International Airport's "Wag Brigade," a therapy animal program designed to ease stress and anxiety in travelers.

Aside from her snout and potbelly, LiLou can be recognized by her captain's hat and red "hoof" polish. She spends the day with guests who are happy to take a break from the pressures of traveling. She might comfort them by posing for a selfie, playing a song on her toy keyboard, or offering them a head to pet.

After bringing joy to people's day, LiLou goes home to her San Francisco apartment where she lives with her owner, Tatyana Danilova. In her free time, she goes on daily walks and snacks on organic vegetables. She even has her own Instagram account.

Airports around the world are embracing the benefits therapy animals can bring to customers. The Wag Brigade program at San Francisco includes a number of dogs, and earlier this year, the Aberdeen Airport in Scotland debuted its own "canine crew" of dogs trained to make travelers feel safe and happy. Therapy miniature horses have even been used at an airport in Kentucky. According to the San Francisco Airport, LiLiou is the world's first airport therapy pig.

To see LiLou turn on the charm, check out the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

Sssspectacular: Tree Snakes in Australia Can Actually Jump

sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images
sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images

Ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes, is common among humans. We avoid snakes in the wild, have nightmares about snakes at night, and recoil at snakes on television. We might even be born with the aversion. When researchers showed babies photos of snakes and spiders, their tiny pupils dilated, indicating an arousal response to these ancestral threats.

If you really want to scare a baby, show them footage of an Australian tree snake. Thanks to researchers at Virginia Tech, we now know these non-venomous snakes of the genus Dendrelaphis can become airborne, propelling themselves around treetops like sentient Silly String.

That’s Dendrelaphis pictus, which was caught zipping through the air in 2010. After looking at footage previously filmed by her advisor Jake Socha, Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidate Michelle Graham headed for Australia and built a kind of American Ninja Warrior course for snakes out of PVC piping and tree branches. Graham observed that the snakes tend to spot their landing target, then spring upward. The momentum gets them across gaps that would otherwise not be practical to cross.

Graham next plans to investigate why snakes feel compelled to jump. They might feel a need to escape, or continue moving, or do it because they can. Two scientific papers due in 2020 could provide answers.

Dendrelaphis isn’t the only kind of snake with propulsive capabilities. The Chrysopelea genus includes five species found in Southeast Asia and China, among other places, that can glide through the air.

[h/t National Geographic]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER