"Micro-Pigs" Are The Latest Celebrity Pet Craze A


With their wrinkled little snouts, tiny trotters and oversized ears, they are irresistibly cute.But while these micro pigs may be minuscule, their price tag is anything but.In exchange for up to £700, owners take home a pet which weighs just 9oz at birth and is the size of a tea cup.

Two years later the pigs are fully grown – but still only weigh up to 65lb and stand at around 14in tall.Unlike popular myth, the pigs are exceedingly clean and enjoy the company of people.The adorable animals, which grow to just 14in tall, are being snapped up by celebrities, including Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley.


‘Demand for micro pigs is soaring and we are inundated with inquiries every day,’ says Jane Croft, 42, who has given up her job to breed them full time.‘It’s amazing how popular they have suddenly become and just how many people want pigs as pets.’Micro pigs are much smaller than a standard farm pig and weigh 9oz, about the size of a tea cup when they are born.


Willow The Dog Understands Written Commands

reading dog

It started with a bet. A friend offered Manhattan dog trainer Lyssa Howells a trip to Mexico if she could teach her English-terrier mix, Willow, to read.

Read? Well, the 12-year-old canine, who had already been taught some 250 tricks, is “the most intelligent creature I’ve known in my life,” says Howells. So, such a task seemed easy.

It took just six weeks for Howells to prove that Willow could act on commands written on a sheet of paper, with no voice or hand signals. Remarkably, the dog can now sit up when a card says “Sit Up,” plays dead when a card reads “Bang,” and wave a paw when a sign says “Wave.” And, Howells took Willow to Baja to celebrate!

But can the dog really read or is she just recognizing cue cards? Brooklyn animal behaviorist Peter Borchelt tells “This is not reading. This dog is discriminating between the shapes of letters.” Other experts are less skeptical: “It’s not the same as human reading,” says Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know. “Dogs are really perceptive, and I believe they can do more than we give them credit for.”

Either way, the dog’s astounding abilities are clear. “I can ask her, in full sentences, ‘Please go to the kitchen and grab a pen,’ ” says Howells. “She’s amazing.”


Fish-Killing Toxin Could Kill Cancer Cells

fish cancer cell

A powerful fish-killing toxin could have cancer-killing properties as well, according to collaborative research led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Paul V. Zimba and chemist Peter Moeller of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The toxin, called euglenophycin, has a molecular structure similar to that of solenopsin, an alkaloid from fire ant venom known to inhibit tumor development.

The findings were published online in July in the journal Toxicon.In the summer of 2002, a commercial aquaculture facility in North Carolina reported mysterious fish mortalities in its ponds. More than 21,000 striped bass had died in July and August, resulting in losses of more than $100,000.

To find out why the fish had died, Zimba and Moeller collaborated with Michigan State University biologist Richard Triemer. Zimba works at the ARS Catfish Genetics Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss. The scientists isolated and analyzed dissolved compounds, bacteria and algae from pond water samples.

Mother Knows Best: Females Control Sperm Storage To Pick The Best Father

mothe knows best

Scientists have found new evidence to explain how female insects can influence the father of their offspring, even after mating with up to ten males. A team from the University of Exeter has found that female crickets are able to control the amount of sperm that they store from each mate to select the best father for their young.

The research team believes the females may be using their abdominal muscles to control the amount of sperm stored from each mate. Their findings are now published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

Female crickets mate with several different males, including their closest relatives. In general, offspring produced with close relatives are more likely to have genetic disorders. Different animals employ a range of behaviours to avoid this, such as not mating other animals from the group they grow up in. Crickets do not avoid mating with relatives, but this research shows that they produce more offspring fathered by males that are unrelated to them.