Monday, May 30, 2011
Crocodiles Eat Stones
The stomach of a crocodile is a rocky place to be, for more than one reason. To begin with, a croc’s digestive system encounters everything from turtles, fish and birds to giraffes, buffaloes, lions and even (when defending territory) other crocodiles. In addition to that bellyful-o’-ecosystem, rocks show up too. The reptiles swallow large stones that stay permanently in their bellies. It’s been suggested these are used for ballast in diving.
Friday, May 27, 2011
These little furry critters may be your friend or your foe, but after reading these fascinating facts about squirrels, you will have to admit they are very interesting!
1. Did you know that there are more than 365 species of squirrels in the world?
2. 40% of all the mammals in the world are in the squirrel family.
3. The smallest squirrel is the African Pygmy. They are 5 inches long from their heads to the tip of their tails. They are found in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.
4. The largest squirrel is the Ratufa. It can be as long as 3 feet in length. This beauty is found in Asia and Nepal.
5. Squirrels have been known to live as long as 20 years in captivity. Our Common Gray squirrel lives an average of 5 years in the wild, if they are lucky enough to survive their first year.
6. The squirrel has a brain about the size of a walnut.
7. Squirrels can run as fast as 20 miles per hour.
8. The oldest known squirrel skeleton is over 50 million years old.
9. Lafayette Park in Washington, DC has the largest concentration of squirrels in the United States.
10. President Ronald Reagan loved the squirrels at the White House so much that he commissioned an artist to paint a squirrel running across the White House lawn for the Presidential Christmas Card.
11. If a squirrel's nest is high in a tree, it is called a drey. A squirrel's nest in a hollow tree is called a den.
As you can see, these little creatures have been a part of our world for a long time and being the adaptable animals they are, will surely survive well into the future. So, we must learn to live with them, laugh at them and love them for what they are!
Body Length: 185-240 cm / 6-8 ft.
Shoulder Height: 90-105 cm / 3-3.5 ft.
Tail Length: 5-10 cm / 2-4 in.
Weight: 250-320 kg / 550-704 lb.
The body coloration is unmistakable: the front part of the body (ending just after front legs) and hind legs are black, while the back has a saddle of grizzled white or Grey.
While this coloration seems conspicuous, it renders the tapir nearly invisible in the moonlit jungle at night. Young animals are completely different from their mature relatives, resembling brown watermelons with whitish stripes and spots on a chocolate brown coat.
They lose this baby coat 4-7 months after birth. The thick hide is sparsely covered with hair, and there is no mane or ridge on the neck. The body is round and barrel-shaped, the tail is no more than a stump. The nose and upper lip are extended to form a short, prehensile proboscis. The eyes are small and beady, and the ears are rimmed with white.
Ontogeny and Reproduction
Gestation Period: 390-403 days.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: 6-8 months.
Sexual Maturity: At about 3 years
Life span: Up to 30 years
Breeding occurs in May and June.
Ecology and Behavior
Malayan tapirs are primarily - although not exclusively - nocturnal. They cover large distances in their search for food, making frequent stops to eat. Regularly used paths are used in these foraging excursions, and several may lead to bodies of water.
Each animal occupies a large territory which overlaps that of its neighbors. These paths and territories are marked with urine, which is sprayed on small bushes and plants. When moving, the Malayan tapir walks slowly with its head down, which probably allows it to pick up the scents of other tapirs.
Individuals also communicate with shrill whistles. The Malayan tapir is a good climber, scaling steep slopes with relative ease, and when alarmed gallops off with surprising speed.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Blue Tongue Skinks are particular by their -you guessed it- blue tongue. And when I say blue, I mean really blue. They are omnivores and use their tongue, strong teeth, and extremely powerful jaws to crush insects and snails. They also consume fruits and flowers. They also ingest small stones, which help in their food digestion. Blue Tongue Skinks also have the interesting anatomical feature of a transparent lower eyelid that helps the desert dwelling skinks to keep sand and dust out of their eyes. They are also capable of shedding their tails when threatened. It takes roughly a year for a new tail to grow back in.
Blue Tongue Skinks are diurnal creatures, and are mostly solitary. They live alone until the fall breeding season when the males come together and fight each other over the females. Skink babies are born via live-birth, and they are on their own almost immediately. Blue Tongue Skinks can live up to 20 years. They are also relatively popular reptiles to own as pets. They can be found in captivity worldwide.
Friday, May 20, 2011
The Arabian oryx is a medium-sized antelope weighing 65 - 75 kg (140 - 170 lb). Prior to its extinction in the wild, it is believed to have occurred in flat and undulating gravel plains intersected by shallow wadis and depressions, and the dunes edging sand deserts, with a diverse vegetation of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses. The Arabian oryx eats mainly grasses. Herbs, seedpods, fruit, fresh growth of trees, tubers and roots also form part of its diet. It can go for weeks without drinking water. The Arabian oryx apparently digs shallow depressions in soft ground under trees and shrubs for resting.
The Arabian oryx lives in nomadic herds that follow the rare rains, and it is able to utilize effectively the fresh plant growth that occurs after a rainfall. The normal group size is 8 - 20 animals, but herds of up to 100 have been reported. A herd contains all ages and both sexes. Such herds probably stay together for a considerable time. Oryx are very compatible with one another - the low frequency of aggressive interactions allows animals to share scattered shade trees under which they may spend 8 of the daylight hours in the summer heat.
Around 1800 the Arabian oryx was thought to have occurred over most of the Arabian Peninsula (which includes modern Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, portions of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar). By 1970 it was found only in the southeastern regions of the Rub' al Khali desert on the Arabian Peninsula. The last one in the wild was shot in 1972. Animals raised in captive populations were re-introduced into the wild in Oman in 1982. Additional re-introduced populations now occur in Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a total reintroduced population in the wild of approximately 886 in 2003.
The main cause of the extinction of the Arabian oryx in the wild was overhunting, both hunting by Bedouin for meat and hides as well as sport hunting by motorized parties. Poaching of re-introduced wild Arabian oryx has become a serious threat again. At least 200 oryx were taken or killed by poachers from the re-introduced wild Omani herd in three years after poaching began there in February 1996.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum, is a neotenic mole salamander belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled.
The species originates from Lake Texcoco underlying Mexico City and is also called ajolote (which is also the common name for the Mexican Mole Lizard). Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate most body parts, ease of breeding, and large embryos. They are commonly kept as pets in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan (sold under the name wooper looper and other countries.
Axolotls should not be confused with water dogs, the larval stage of the closely related Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum and Amby stoma mavortium), which are widespread in much of North America and also occasionally become neotenic, nor with mudpuppies (Necturus spp.), fully-aquatic salamanders which are not closely related to the axolotl but bear a superficial resemblance.
As of 2010, wild axolotls are near extinction due to urbanization in Mexico City and polluted waters. Nonnative fish such as African tilapia and Asian carp have also recently been introduced to the waters. These new fish have been eating the axolotls' young, as well as its primary source of food. The axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's annual Red List of threatened species.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Binturongs have thick, black fur, a long, muscular tail, and long, stiff, white whiskers. They use their prehensile tail almost like another hand; young binturongs can even hang by their tail. Binturongs grow to be up to about 5 feet (1.5 m) long. Like other civets, the binturongs use scent marks to communicate with other binturongs. In captivity, binturongs live for about 30 years.
Binturongs eat fruit and small animals that they find using their sense of smell to find food. They hunt for food at night - they are nocturnal.
Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Viverridae (Civets), Genus Arctictis.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Mammal. Caracals are also called desert lynx because of their resemblance to lynx.
- They can survive for long periods without water, obtaining moisture from their prey.
- “Karakal” is Turkish for “black ears.”
- Their ears are larger than most other cats, and they are topped by long, black tufts of fur.
- Caracals are agile tree-climbers, and will sometimes store the remains of their prey in the forks of trees or bushes.
- They are known for their bird-catching abilities. Their strong legs and big paws enable them to jump up and knock birds out of the air.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
In general, mollusks have 3 body regions: a head, a visceral mass, and a "foot." The head contains the sense organs and "brain," while the visceral mass contains the internal organs. The "foot" is the muscular lower part of the body which is in contact with the substrate. Mollusks usually have a shell (although some do not). Mollusks also have an extension of the body wall called the mantle. This portion of the animal's anatomy is responsible for secreting the shell. The mantle encloses the mantle cavity which contains the Ctenidia (gills), anus and excretory pores.
Many mollusks have a radula, a tongue of sorts, which is rough like sandpaper and is used to rasp away at food. The radula is made of a hard material called chitin, the same material of which Arthropod exoskeletons are made. In addition, some Mollusk radulae are impregnated with magnetite to give them superior wear characteristics.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Arrow Crab has eight spider-like legs and has a head that is exceptionally pointed at the tip. The legs of an Arrow Crab can be more than three times its body length. The body of an Arrow Crab is composed of many colors. The whole body is covered in a golden-brown color, with white, brown, or gold stripes running along the crab's body. The ends of the legs are dark violet. As the Arrow Crab grows it will shed an outer layer of its skin called the exoskeleton.
The Arrow Crab is a nocturnal creature, meaning that it does most of its daily responsibilities at night time. The crab will do all of its scavenging during the night time. Since the Arrow Crab is nocturnal, it is rarely seen out during the daylight hours. These crabs do not fear divers who want to come and take pictures of it, but when it comes to other animals, even its own species, the Arrow Crab can be quite territorial.