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Animals

Some birds steal hair from living mammals

URBANA, Ill. -- Dozens of online videos document an unusual behavior among tufted titmice and their closest bird kin. A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair.

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Researchers overcome winking, napping pigs to prove brain test works

URBANA, Ill. – If you’ve ever been to an eye doctor, there’s a good chance you’ve felt the sudden puff of air to the eye that constitutes a traditional test for glaucoma. It’s no one’s favorite experience, but the puff is non-invasive and harmless.

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In pursuit of Indiana bats

An hour before the sun goes down, my colleagues and I arrive at our site: a human-made pond in the middle of the forest. The high-pitched croaking of Cope's gray treefrogs greets us as we get out of our truck. Surrounded by trees and full of salamanders, these ponds are an essential water resource for our forest-dependent bats. We do a brief survey of the site, then set up our mist nets around the pond’s perimeter. We’re hoping to catch our target species – the Indiana bat, Myotis sodalis.

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Male piglets less resilient to stress when moms get sick during pregnancy

URBANA, Ill. – When pigs get hit with significant illnesses during key stages of pregnancy, their immune response may negatively affect developing piglets, making them less productive on the farm. New research from the University of Illinois shows that when those piglets – especially males – experience a second stressor in early life, they are at higher risk of neurodevelopmental and other neurological anomalies, putting them at an even greater disadvantage in production settings.

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Genetic markers developed to census endangered rhinoceros

URBANA, Ill. -- Today, the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is critically endangered, with fewer than 100 individuals surviving in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. To ensure survival of the threatened species, accurate censusing is necessary to determine the genetic diversity of remaining populations for conservation and management plans. 

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New pig brain maps facilitate human neuroscience discoveries

URBANA, Ill. – When scientists need to understand the effects of new infant formula ingredients on brain development, it’s rarely possible for them to carry out initial safety studies with human subjects. After all, few parents are willing to hand over their newborns to test unproven ingredients.

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Love bats? Think twice about that bat box, experts say

URBANA, Ill. – Ever thought about buying or building a bat box to help bats? Think carefully about the design and where you put it, University of Illinois researchers say.

Here’s why: Bats and their pups can overheat and die in poorly designed or placed bat boxes, and in a warming climate, it could happen more often.

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Feed Fido fresh human-grade dog food to scoop less poop

URBANA, Ill. – For decades, kibble has been our go-to diet for dogs. But the dog food marketplace has exploded in recent years, with grain-free, fresh, and now human-grade offerings crowding the shelves. All commercial dog foods must meet standards for complete and balanced nutrition, so how do consumers know what to choose?

A new University of Illinois comparison study shows diets made with human-grade ingredients are not only highly palatable, they’re extremely digestible. And that means less poop to scoop. Up to 66% less.

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Illinois RapidVent research published

URBANA, Ill -- The design, testing, and validation of the Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator has been published in the journal Plos One. The article, “Emergency Ventilator for COVID-19,” by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers, is the first of its kind to report such details about an emergency ventilator that was designed, prototyped, and tested at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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New companion animal certificate draws pet professionals, enthusiasts

URBANA, Ill. – When Lizzy Geary began contemplating graduate programs for companion animal nutrition, she knew she needed an edge. As an undergraduate in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, she heard of a new certificate program that would set her apart from the rest.

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