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Animal Behaviour

Many readers have expressed concern about horrific animal scenes they've witnessed on TV screens recently.
These included male lions killing and eating the cubs of other males and chimpanzees banding together to hunt and eat monkeys.
Most of the disturbing chimp scenes on TV were first observed by Dr Jane Goodall and her team in West Africa.
This may all seem far away and remote somewhere in Africa.
Yet anyone with experience of pet animals knows it can quickly happen on our own doorsteps.
Golden hamsters fight furiously if they are introduced when the female is not ready for mating.
Mother rabbits encountering another rabbit's babies will savage them mercilessly if not stopped.
Any budgie or lovebird breeder who has kept his birds on the colony system, sooner or later encounters a female who enters another's nest box and slaughters or scalps her chicks.
Bloody fights and pecked feet are a fact of life when these birds are kept in large groups.
Some mother cats will not tolerate another cat in their house, not even when it is one of their own kittens just past the age of 12 weeks.
People should realise that this is just nature at work. Survival of the fittest is the motto in the wild.


Roused Hibernating Animals

As the house warms up during winter, you may find one or two other creatures appearing.
Queen wasps, which are 50% bigger than normal worker wasps, hibernate in the folds of curtains, or a crack in the wardrobe.
The other creature is the orangy, small tortoiseshell butterfly, which also hibernates in coolish places and wakes up if it becomes too warm.
Don't allow it to flutter for too long, but place it in a cool, mouse-free place, where they can carry on sleeping until spring.