The Hindu: World of the Wild in Your Backyard

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World of the wild in your backyard

Arefa Tehsin’s new book is an eye-opener to the many wild species that we encounter in our every day lives

 The mongoose is not the only animal on whom the venom of its traditional rival cobra and some other snakes is ineffective, there are honey badgers, hedgehogs and pigs too.

Writer Arefa Tehsin’s new book “Wild in the Backyard”, published by Puffin Books, is replete with more such interesting and little-known facts.

“We may think that wilderness and wildlife are confined to forests. But there is a whole lot of the wild in our own backyards,” she says.

“They could be burrowing under the soft garden grass or roosting on the bougainvillea bushes, hunting on the mango trees or fighting on the gulmohars, hiding in your kitchens or dating on your walls, dancing around your lights or jeering on your porch, silent in one season, chattering in another,” says Tehsin, who has authored several books like “Do Tigers Drink Blood? And 13 Other Mysteries of Nature”, “The Land of the Setting Sun and Other Nature Tales” and “The Elephant Bird“.

Three kinds of bats — common, white-winged and hairy-legged — feed only on blood but none of them are found in India. They are called vampire bats and found in Central and South America, the book says.

Another interesting fact is that even bats get caught in big spider webs. The spider itself may be much smaller than the bat, but it seals the bat’s face first to avoid a bite. Then it seals the rest of the bat’s body and subsequently kills the bat with a several bites.

On mosquitoes, Tehsin writes that these bloodsuckers swarm towards people whose blood type is O+ve, are heavy breathers, have a warm body or a lot of skin bacteria.

“Mosquitoes are also attracted to pregnant women. The good news, however, is that they prefer cattle, birds and horses to humans.

The bad news is, global warming and increasing temperatures will make it easy for them to survive in more and more places,” the book says.

The author calls cockroaches as super survivors. “Some cockroaches can live without food for a month. Others can go without air for 45 minutes. Yet others can recover after being immersed in water for half an hour. Some can survive hours of freezing temperatures. Cockroaches have more than 12 times the capacity to survive a nuclear bomb and its rays of humans,” she writes.

Snails, she says, have thousands of teeth. “These tiny teeth are located on their tongue, which is called a radula. The ribbon-like tongue shreds their food into tiny scraps.”

The one-of-a-kind backyard jungle book also has a lot of activities at the end of each chapter.PTI

Snails have thousands of teeth. These tiny teeth are located on their tongue, which is called a radula. The ribbon-like tongue shreds their food into tiny scraps

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