14

Ragnhild and the Big Cats

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We were able to score an interview with the awesome Ragnhild from Green Lights Ahead. She writes a blog from Norway, but has spent time in Namibia with the big cats. (That’s in Africa for you domestic cats who don’t get out much.) She has also been other places. (We saw a picture of a kangaroo while looking through her site.) Ragnhild writes poetry and various other things, but we really like her pictures. You should definitely stop by.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Norway and am currently in nursing school. I’m an obsessive Netflix-watcher, love to dance, and have a passion for sleeping. However, most of all I’m a traveler. Anywhere, anytime.

Have you ever lived with a domestic cat?

No, sadly I haven’t. I hope to one day though!

Why were you out among the big cats?

I went to Namibia to be part of a volunteer project for some of the native species.

I helped take care of hurt animals and their environment

Did you actually live out in the open with them?

Yes and no. They were supposed to be in their designated (fenced off) areas; supposed being the keyword.

We got close… In all senses of the word.

It looks like some of your friends there were not cats or humans. What other species did you live amongst?

Meerkats, caracals, hyenas, vultures, vervets, warthogs, baboons (lots of baboons) and many more.

And ostriches!

Did you discover different personalities?

Yes! Cheetahs are kind of like dogs – they can be somewhat trained, but can also be deadly. Leopards are the scary version of housecats – love to be pet, but can, and probably will, kill you if hungry or annoyed.

As for the other animals I interacted with, baboons are the ones I remember the most. They can play all day long, and some of them are smart enough to figure out locks. In addition, a group of baboons is called a troop, and my scars can testify to that behind those cute eyes, there is a being surprisingly similar to a human – calculating, protective of its own, and yet violent and aggressive.

Baboon vs turtle!

 Did you learn anything from them?

I learned a lot. One of the most important ones probably being how to protect myself. I also developed a new understanding of how dominance works – true animalistic dominance.

There are four cheetahs in this photo, can you find them all?

 Did you have a favorite?

This is like asking me which of my children I love the most – if I had had children. But I did love a leopard named Missy Jo. She was the epitome of majestic and had a purr stronger than any I’ve ever heard. I also enjoyed the company of the caracals; their enclosure was my safe haven on bad days. Eventually, I did love a few of the baboons too, even though they probably hurt me the most.

This is her and one of her best friends. Probably one of my favorite pictures.

Do you miss them?

Sometimes I miss them more than words can express, while other times I’m glad that they are several flights away. I had the highest highs with them, but also my deepest lows.

But who wouldn’t miss this?

What advice do you have for someone who might want to do what you did?

Research, research, research. Find somewhere with a better insurance for your safety, and while there – remember that it’s probably a once in a lifetime; enjoy it, and don’t give up.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just thank you for having me! Now I can cross Cheeseland of my Bucket List too!

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5

A Cat is a Tortie, But a Tortie is a Turtle

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Come crown my brows with leaves of myrtle;

I know the tortoise is a turtle.

Come carve my name in stone immortal;

I know the turtoise is a tortle;

I know to my profound despair;

I bet on one to beat a hare.

I also know I’m now a pauper

Because of its tortley turtley torpor.

by Ogden Nash

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Every once in a while we get an interesting question from a human. We’d like to share a recent one:

Dear Cheeseland:

The most recent addition to our family is an adorable kitten. They told us she is a tortoise shell. However, when I looked up tortoise shell on the computer, it showed me a picture of a top of a turtle. It didn’t look at all like sweet, little Penelope. I’m confused.

 Tortie Mom

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Dear Tortie Mom:

Congratulations on your new addition! You are actually more confused than you think you are.

Your new kitty is a tortoiseshell, not a tortoise shell. It refers to the beautiful colors in her fur. Humans think these colors look similar to a piece of polished shell from a dead tortoise. Humans have truly grotesque imaginations sometimes.

Since you looked up tortoise shell, you saw the top of a tortoise. A living tortoise.

A tortoise is a turtle. But only a type of turtle. We’ll turn to our resident reptile Rex, a member of the painted turtle family, for more clarification.

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You’ve brought up a very interesting topic, Tortie Mom. It’s not very often that we get a question about the difference between turtles and tortoises. Or anything about turtles. Turtles are fascinating creatures.  Of course, I’m partial to the painted family of turtles. However, our tortoise cousins offer some interesting traits.

Those of us who spend a large part of our time in or near the water rarely see a tortoise. You see, they don’t like water. Strange, huh? Explains those short, stubby legs and feet. And knobby knees. Nothing at all like the webbed beauties we other turtles have. Probably have dry, scaly skin too.

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Frankly, I’m a little surprised that you confused the big, bulky tortoise shell with the sleek turtle shell. Seriously, it looks like you could go camping in one of those domes.  But I supposed that if all you do is go lumbering around on land, it really isn’t too much of a problem. My shell is built for speed in the water. They should have let me race that rabbit.

Tortoises are rather picky eaters. Most of them are vegetarians. I guess that makes sense since they’re so big and slow. You don’t have to move very fast to catch grass. The rest of us are much more flexible in our dining habits. Fresh juicy bugs are the perfect companion to a nice bunch of berries.

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You may have heard some rot about tortoises being better mothers. True, they protect their hatchlings for up to 80 days while ours are set loose at birth. But why do they require protection? Because they’re being pampered to live a softer life than our offspring. That’s why they live longer too.

Who cares? Our turtles are tougher!

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(Ed. Note – We have no idea who Rex is. We received a message telling us to pay $500 to have the original post ending restored. Rex’s was better, so we left it in.)