Monday, April 14, 2014

Tread Lightly in the Russian Wilderness

There are twelve animals found in Russia that are considered deadly if campers or hikers are caught unaware.  The brown bear (Mishka) is considered the hero of many children’s books and shows.  It was the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Although the brown bear is extremely large, it is also amazingly fast, as it can run up to speeds of 50 km an hour.  The brown bear inhabits almost the entire forest zone.  The Amur Tiger, also known as the Northern tiger, lives in the southeast of Russia on the banks of the Amur and Ussuri rivers.  Its night vision is five times better than man’s. The Grey Wolf  is probably the most common predator in Russia. They live all over the country except in the taiga thickets and on some islands.  The White Polar Bear inhabits the drifting and coastal sea ice where it finds its main prey: ringed seal, bearded seal, walrus and other marine animals. The Wild Boar has excellent eyesight and sticks to watery and marshy terrain in the Amur Region.  The boar’s most formidable weapon is not its impressive weight, although it can easily crush a person to death, but its tusks.  The Common Northern Viper is the snake that killed the legendary Prince Oleg, one of the founders of the Old Rus state.  However, with modern medicine people today can survive its bite. The Karakurt spider is among the 10 most dangerous spiders on Earth and is encountered in Russia’s Astrakhan Region.   During hot summers, it can migrate to more northern areas, such as the Moscow Region. Their favorite habitat is ravine slopes.  The wolverine is a cunning and strong animal, a mix between a bear cub and a dog.  Indigenous people of the Siberian north believe that the wolverine, not the bear, is the master of the taiga.  The ordinary catfish can reach a length of 5 meters (16 feet) and a weight of 360 kilograms (793 lbs).   Large catfish are very smart and have learned to hunt animals of any size that get into the water, even dogs. Several attacks by giant catfish on humans have been recorded.  The other two animals that are nuisances and can spread disease are the tick and the mosquito.

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