TIME viral

None of Us Will Ever Know Joy Like This Pug Playing in a Ball Pit

He completely loses his mind — in the best way

Things are looking pretty good for Grover the pug right now. His humans graciously filled his playpen with a bunch of plastic balls and all his favorite toys and then hung back to see what would happen. Well, Grover was really excited about it. Like, completely over the moon.

Once you’re done watching Grover romp around his ball pit, be sure to check out this compilation of him yawning while wearing adorable sweaters.

Oh, Grover. To me, you are perfect.

MORE: Man Proposes With 16 Pugs Wearing Heart-Shaped Balloons

TIME animals

The Asian Camel Cricket and 10 Other Invasive Species You Might Not Know

TIME takes a look at species that have overstayed their welcome

This is the camel cricket. You hate it, don’t you? You should. Let’s start with the fact that it’s—how to put this nicely?—repulsive. Add the fact that it’s big, by bug standards at least, measuring up to two inches (5 cm) long; that it resembles a spider more than a cricket; and that it will eat nearly anything—including other camel crickets, which is just plain bad form.

Now to all that, add the additional fact that camel crickets are here. And by “here,” we mean everywhere. An Asian species originally, it has now turned up in more than 90% of cricket sightings across the U.S. It wasn’t as if we needed the import, thank you very much. The North American continent already had its own species of camel cricket. But the Asian variety arrived and appears to be crowding out the native species. There are, at current estimates, more than twice as many camel crickets of all species in America as there are actual Americans, with the bugs outnumbering us 700 million to 314 million.

In fairness, camel crickets don’t bite or pose any other particular threat to people. And since they’re scavengers, they also help keep ecosystems in balance. So really, we should be glad to have them–even welcome them, right? Nah. Sorry science, this time we’re going with our guts: camel cricket, here’s your tiny hat. Please go home.

TIME animals

Invasive Spider-Like Cricket Spreads Across East Coast

A single yard in North Carolina turned up 52 specimens over the course of two days

A survey of cricket sightings across the United States has found an invasive and, for arachnophobes, unsightly new species proliferating across the East Coast.

The Asian camel cricket, a plump-bodied and spindly-legged species which can grow up to four inches in length and is known to eat just about everything—including its own kind—was present in upwards of 90% of cricket sightings across the U.S., according to the survey results. A single yard in North Carolina, baited with plastic cups with a mixture of molasses and water, turned up 52 specimens over the course of two days.

Researchers were also surprised to identify a second Asian species, Diestrammena japanica, never formally reported in the U.S., turning up in photographs sent in by citizen scientists.

“The good news is that camel crickets don’t bite or pose any kind of threat to humans,” said study author Mary Jane Epps, a researcher at North Carolina State University. “Because they are scavengers, camel crickets may actually provide an important service in our basements or garages, eating the dead stuff that accumulates there.”

The study notes that crickets and humans have shared habitats since at least paleolithic era. One cave painting in France depicts what appears to be a camel cricket, Trogophilus, that was known to dwell in caves alongside human ancestors.

TIME animals

Giant Hippo Splashes Into River Thames

Giant Floating Hippo River Thames
Steve Stills

The artist's latest creation following his giant floating rubber duck

Along London’s River Thames are some notable landmarks: the London Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, and now, a giant floating hippo.

The nearly 70-foot-long replica of the water mammal—named “HippopoThames”—is the latest project of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, according to CNN. The work was commissioned by the Thames Festival Trust, which had approached Hofman earlier this year to design artwork for Totally Thames, an annual festival celebrating the river.

Hofman, who debuted the “world’s largest rubber duck” last month, is known for his humor, sensation and maximum impact, In line with his artistic vision, HippopoThames was inspired by everyday objects, especially those that time warp people to their childhoods. It’s also designed to force viewers to appreciate public spaces, even after the installations are removed.

“I wanted to use the hippo to get people out of their homes, away from the Internet and the TV, and to explore London with a new perspective,” Hofman told CNN.

HippopoThames will be on display until Sept. 28.

TIME viral

Cat and Toddler Team Up to Take on a Laser Pointer

They're so convinced they're eventually going to catch it

This video shows a black cat desperately trying to pounce on the elusive red dot of a laser pointer, with a toddler joining in to assist with the task. The cat is named Muon and is one year old, and the child, Phineas, is two and a half, the poster explains. He adds that they “are on the same wavelength.”

The pair are so, so convinced that the dot is a real, physical being, and sadly, the video cuts off before they come to the realization that it’s not. Maybe a video of their shared existential crisis could be a good follow-up.

TIME Science

Russia’s Zero-G Sex Geckos Died Before Returning to Earth

Gecko
Getty Images

Russia's attempt to find out how organisms reproduce in space did not end with a bang

Russia’s troubled experiment to study how geckos, fruit flies and other organisms reproduce in weightlessness ended with a huge downer: When the Foton M-4 satellite containing the creatures returned to Earth on Monday and the hatch was opened, researchers found that all five geckos had died.

“We can’t say yet at which stage of Foton’s space flight it happened,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted a source at the Russian Academy of Sciences as saying. Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying the geckos were mummified and may have frozen to death.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME animals

A Dog Started a House Fire By Turning on the Stove

A dog: man's best friend. A smart dog: firefighter's worst enemy

A dog is the culprit in a Friday night house fire in New Jersey that began when a pooch turned on a stove.

Local firefighters responded to a call in Lacey township and saw fire coming out of the roof of the home, the Asbury Park Press reports. The Forked River Fire Department entered the home and extinguished the fire.

The Ocean County Fire Marshal investigated the fire and found that a dog inside the house turned on the stove, which had then burned through a laptop that was sitting on the stovetop.

No word yet on whether the dog believed there were unattractive photos of it on the incinerated laptop.

[Asbury Park Press]

 

TIME animals

Florida Man Says He Ate 15 Threatened Tortoises and Planned to Eat 11 More

A gopher tortoise. Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute—Reuters

An officer found him in the woods, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Wildlife authorities say a Florida man confessed to killing gopher tortoises, a threatened species, for their meat.

On Facebook, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrote that a member of the public tipped them off to tortoise shells that were being dumped in the woods in Citrus County, north of Tampa. Officer Thomas Reid went to the woods and found a container with 11 live tortoises. He stayed there until the man showed up, confronting him when he started to move the reptiles into a truck.

“The man told Reid that he had killed 15 gopher tortoises and dumped the shells in the woods and that he had caught the 11 that were in the container and was planning on eating them,” according to the Facebook post.

The officer freed the 11 reptiles. No word on whether the man was making turtle soup.

(h/t Reuters via WFTS Tampa Bay)

TIME viral

We Hope to One Day Be as Young, Wild and Free as This Chihuahua Enjoying a Neck Massage

Looks like somebody got a head-start on Labor Day Weekend

What’s this? Oh, you know, just a chihuahua making great use of a neck massager. This right here is some next-level relaxation.

 

TIME animals

This Lamb Bouncing Gleefully Down a Hallway Will Remind You That Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

And also that baby lambs are so, so cute

Forget about your problems for a moment, and look at this lamb who comes hopping down a hallway when you call his name:

His name is Winter and Vine user Life of Shannen explains: “He was found weak from the cold and so we took him in to care for him.” Looks like he’s doing just fine now. Here he is being extra bouncy:

Oh man. This is almost as good as that llama who pranced to DMX. Almost.

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