Friday, November 30, 2007

Biggest pelican

The Australian Pelican is one of 8 species of pelican. This big bird can hold 2.5 to 3.5 gallons of water in its pouched bill. Pelicans use their pouch like a net to catch fish, then they push the pouch against their chest to push water out before gulping down the fish.

Australian pelicans can have a wingspan of 8 to 11 feet and weigh 9 to 18 pounds.

The high school I went to in Oregon had the white pelican as mascot as we had white pelicans living on the lake.
This picture was taken by my friend on her recent visit to Australia. Funny colored feet.
Jungle Jane

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Climbing kangaroo

As you’d expect of an animal called a Tree Kangaroo, they are good climbers. They actually leap from tree to tree. On the ground, however, they are awkward and slow.

Compared to ground dwelling kangaroos, tree kangaroos have longer tails, stronger forelimbs, shorter and broader hind feet, longer claws and spongy soles on their feet and front paws—all which help with balancing and gripping.

Looking online I found 11 varieties of tree kangaroo. I like this picture of the Buerger's Tree Kangaroo as you can see the unique coloration well. However, only 2 species of tree kangaroos live in Australia: Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo and the Bennett's Tree Kangaroo. The rest live in Papau New Guinea.

Three species are endangered due to loss of habitat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Only marsupial who just eats insects

The numbat is also called the banded anteater, though they mainly eat termites. They are the only marsupial who doesn’t have a pouch. Young attach to a teat and cling to their mother’s belly fur for 5-6 months!

Numbats have been endangered, but due to management are now are only at vulnerable status.

Picture courtesy of Gnangarra.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Largest carnivorous marsupial

The Tasmanian Devil is a nocturnal animal and prefers to eat carrion. They got their name from the terrible sounding screams they make. Go here to hear how they sound.

Baby Tasmanian Devils are called Joeys. 50 are born and are only about the size of a grain of rice. They must make their way from the birth canal to their mother’s pouch (about 3 inches away) and latch on to a teat. However, there are only 4 teats! The 4 successful joeys stay attached to the nipple for almost 3 months!


Photo courtesy of Wayne McLean. This is their "I feel threatened and want to scare you away" stance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Australian Bilby

The Bilby is also called the Rabbit-eared Bandicoot, Dalgyte or Pinkie. These marsupials are the size of rabbits, have gray fur, black and white tails, and have a pointed snout reminiscent of a shrew. These desert animals are nocturnal and eat insects, seeds, fungi, bulbs, fruit, and roots. They dig extensive burrows and can have up to 12 burrows in their home territory!

Once a widespread species, the bilby’s population and reach is on the decline. Conservation efforts are underway to help protect the bibly. The second Sunday in September in Australia is National Bilby Day, to raise funds for conservation projects. During Easter, chocolate bilbies are sold with portions of profits going to bilby research. To read more about the bilby, click here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m leaving town for Thanksgiving so will be missing a few days of daily postings. Meanwhile I thought you’d enjoy more pictures from my friend’s trip to Australia. She said these termite mounds (see picture below) were 5 feet tall! Yikes.

I’d blogged about Dingos before, but didn’t realize they could be white. I just want to bring one home… Of course, if I got to bring every animal home that I thought was cute, there would soon be no room in my house for me!

Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving with family and/or friends.

Jungle Jane

Watch me wallabies feed, mate

My friend says the wallaby was her favorite animal to feed at the Urimbirra Wildlife Park. They looked up at her with big eyes, as if saying “may I have some?” Whereas kangaroos were pushy and would grab her arm with their paws.

So doing some research I discovered that the term wallaby applies to almost 30 species of macropods. Wallaby is an informal designation given to these marsupials that are smaller than kangaroos and wallaroos. The agile wallaby and the red necked wallaby are most closely related to kangaroos and wallaroos and are most frequently seen in the southern states of Australia.

This picture was also taken by my friend, Jennifer. She thinks it is a red necked wallaby.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not a bat

Another Australian marsupial is the Wombat. Wombats are about 3 feet long and are diggers, who make extensive burrow systems.

Wombats are herbivores. They have an extremely slow digestive system—it can take up to 14 days for food to be digested!

These timid creatures are nocturnal, so are hard to spot in the wild. Here’s what my friend had to say when I asked her about wombats, “I did see them - asleep in their burrow. They look like enormous hamsters. They are amazingly cute. They can dig like crazy and that is how they escape predators.”

And I just think their name is amusing in itself...

Easily amused,

Jungle Jane

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not a bear, but a marsupial

I have to revisit Australian Animals since my best friend just returned from a trip there. Besides, there are more animals to cover!

Jenn got to pet Koalas while in Australia! I’m jealous. She said they are just as soft as they look. This picture is one she took. (Thanks, Jenn, for the loan.)

Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves, which don’t give them a lot of energy. The spend most of their time sleeping. These marsupials have fingerprints just like humans and primates do!

Click here to hear koalas.

Their closest relative is the wombat--more on that, Monday. For more information on koalas, check out our animal facts on the koala.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Smaller ears than the African elephant

Asian elephants reach almost 10 feet tall, 21 feet long and 11,000 pounds, and are smaller than the African elephant! They live in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Borneo, Cambodia, southern China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Asian elephant females don’t have visible tusks. Asian elephants also have two bulges on their forehead, while African elephants have flat foreheads.

Loss of habitat is their primary threat to survival.

I mentioned in a previous entry that I got to feed a baby elephant in Thailand. We also watched demonstrations of trained elephants moving logs, manuvering over obstacles, and more. As big and powerful as they are, it's hard for me to imagine standing next to a bigger elephant.


Friday, November 16, 2007

One hump or two? Two!

Bactrian camels can close their nostrils to keep the sand out! They store fat in their two humps to ensure survival when food is scarce. They average about 7 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh from 660 to 1500 pounds.

Bactrian camels will eat nearly any vegetation in the rocky desert. The Bactrian camel has special sacks around its stomach to store water (about 1.5 gallons). It takes about 30 gallons of water fill up a Bactrian camel who has used all of its water.

Bactrian camels live in central Asia.

Jungle Jane

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Extinct in the wild

Przewalski’s Horse or Tahki is unfortunately extinct in the wild, but can be found in zoos and reserves. These horses lived on the steppes of Mongolia. They are a little over 4 feet high and almost 7 feet long. They have thicker necks, shorter legs than domestic horses and have a stiff mane like a zebra.

They have never been successfully domesticated.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

World’s largest tree dwelling animals

Not only are Orangutans the largest tree dwelling animal, they are Asia’s largest primate. Males are almost double the size of females. The male arm spread can be over seven feet from fingertip to fingertip, although they are only about forty inches long from rump to top of head.

Rainforest habitat loss is the biggest threat to orangutans. They are endangered.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tiger cubs attacked by gibbon

I couldn’t resist sharing this video clip from southeast Asia. It’s obviously taken from a much longer film from Thailand and sound effects have been added to enhance humor.

It reminds me of how my cat will tease my dog, then dash under the bed where the dog can’t reach him.

It also made me more curious about gibbons. According to Wikipedia:
“Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, swinging from branch to branch, distances of up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as much as 56 km/h (35 mph). They can also make leaps of up to 8 m (27 ft), and walk bipedally with their arms raised for balance. They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals.” I believe it! Though I don’t think this gibbon would have picked on an adult tiger!

(If you want to read more about tigers go to our animal facts page on tigers.)

Jungle Jane

Monday, November 12, 2007

Don’t think small

When I think of salamanders I think of the little guys you can hold in your hand. Not so with this one. Japanese giant salamanders weigh about 55 pounds and are five feet long! The Chinese giant salamander is even larger.

Japanese giant salamanders have mottled black, brown and cream, and heavily wrinkled skin. These harmless creatures can breathe both on land and underwater.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Indian reptile

I thought this week we’d focus on Asian animals. We’ll start with one new to me: the Gavial or Gharial. These crocodilelike reptiles have a long narrow snout—it’s almost tubelike—with razor sharp teeth. Fortunately gharials mostly feed on fish as they are 12 to 15 feet long!

These reptiles live in India and are endangered.

For pictures and more info check out this site.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Galapagos Crab

On the Galapagos Islands lives a red and yellow crab called a Sally Lightfoot. The larger one of these crabs gets the redder it is. They are very visible against the dark rock and at the water’s edge. Immature crabs are gray and blend in, which helps protect them from predators.

Sally Lightfoot crabs feed on algae as well as dead fish and birds.

Flightless Bird

The Galapagos flightless cormorant is the only nonflight cormorant in the world. The birds feed near the bottom of the ocean on squid, octopus, eel, and fish. They swim by kicking with their legs. The flightless cormorant doesn’t go farther from the shore than about 300 feet. When they get back to shore they spread their wings to dry out.

These cormorants are blackish on top brown underneath. They have a long hooked beak and turquoise colored eyes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A rare bird

Another Galapagos bird is the Lava Gull. They have black head and wings, a dark gray body that is paler gray underneath. Bill and legs are black, too, but the inside of the mouth is scarlet! They have white around their eyes. Immature gulls are usually dark brown.

The entire population of lava gulls is estimated at 400 pairs and they only live on the Galapagos Islands.

Jungle Jane

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Not Big Bird, But A Big Bird

The waved albatross is the largest Galapagos bird. It has a wing span of 7 to 8 feet and weighs 7 to 11 pounds. The wings, back and tail of a waved albatross are brown. Underneath they are paler with gray wavy barring, hence the name. Their necks are white and cream and they have a yellow bill.
The waved albatross is native to the Island of EspaƱola, where they live in colonies of 12,000 pairs. That’s a lot of birds! And just exactly do the albatrosses become paired? Watch the video below to see their funny mating dance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thieving bird

Frigatebirds, are named after the warship, Frigate; they are also called man of war birds or pirate birds because they like to steal prey from other seabirds.

The most notable feature of the frigatebird is the male’s inflatable red gula pouch on his neck and chest. He blows it up big to attract the attention of females. The birds have black feathers with the female having a white belly.

Click here to check out a video of that pouch.


Monday, November 5, 2007

I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours

The blue-footed booby really does have blue feet. These shore birds are known for their courtship dance, where they seem to show off their feet, do “sky-pointing” with their beaks, and whistle and honk. The male and female blue-footed booby are almost identical—the male is smaller and the iris of the male is smaller.

Blue-footed boobies are also great divers. They can dive into the water from 50 feet above the ocean. Their favorite prey is a small sardine-like fish called salema.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Striped Galapagos Snake

The Galapagos snake is about 2 to 3 feet long and is brown with longitudinal yellow stripes. They are slightly poisonous to humans and may use their venom on prey, but mainly kill them with constriction. Galapagos snakes prey includes lava lizards, grasshoppers, geckos and marine iguana hatchlings.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

“Mine, mine!”

There are 7 species of lava lizards on the Galapagos Islands. They range in size from 5-6 inches to 1 foot long. Lava lizards vary in color from mottled gray or speckled copper to black with gold stripes. Males are more brightly colored and much larger than females. Females have bright red throats. Males are very territorial; they stake out a prominent spot on top of a boulder and indicate ownership by bobbing their heads up and down.

Wish I could have found a video of that...


Friday, November 2, 2007

One tough lizard

There are two species of land Iguana on the Galapagos Islands, plus a marine Iguana. Land iguanas range in color from yellow, gray, brownish red, to black or a splotchy mixture. Marine iguanas are red and bluish-green and black. Marine iguanas also excrete excess salt so often have crusty white spots on their heads.

The land iguanas eat prickly pear cactus pads and fruit—including the spines!—and other plants. Baby iguanas eat insects. The marine iguana is the world's only sea-going lizard and feeds on marine algae and sea weed. Big males can dive as deep as 40 feet and stay underwater for almost 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Symbol of the Galapagos Islands

I thought today we’d move way from the Amazon to the Galapagos Islands. Of course, the first animal that comes to mind is the Giant Tortoise. The Giant Tortoise can weigh over 500 pounds and measure 5 to 6 feet long and be 3 feet high. In the 18th and 19th centuries these land tortoises were almost hunted to extinction by sailors killing them for their meat.

Galapagos tortoises vary in shape. The tortoises with flat or saddle-shaped carapaces (shells) live on the coastal lands. They eat leaves from low-branched trees and shrubs. The highland tortoises have larger, dome-shaped shells and feed on plants, grasses, and fallen fruit. A favorite food is the Manzanillo fruit (or poison apple). If a person eats a few, it’s deadly!