Monday, December 31, 2007

African Animals

This is a really cool video of African animals accompanied by an Enya song. Watching it just makes me want to go to Africa and go on a safari to experience it myself!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll actually know the name of the oryx when you see him walk across in front of the ostrich. The zebra is not biting his fellow herd-mate, but grooming him. I loved the surprise of the hippos popping to the surface. And even baby hyenas are cute. This video reminded me of those African animals not yet blogged, so I plan to remedy that over the next few days.

If you’d like to hear some real African music while watching more animals, try this video of Kenya music. Warning: it’s 9 minutes long and there are sections with just bird sounds.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Easier for beginners

This female fish and her fry (babies) are Julidochromis Dickfeldi, an African Cichlid – photo courtesy of Derek Benjamin Lilly. Cichlids are one variety of freshwater fish. Other freshwater fish you’ll see in aquariums are angelfish, tetras, barbs, catfish, gouramis, danios, and guppies. People often have a community tank with a variety of kinds of fish.
For freshwater fish, you can easily have a 5 gallon tank—though the more fish you want, the larger the tank you’ll need. Just like with a saltwater tank, freshwater aquariums need filtration.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

For the experienced aquarist

Aren’t these saltwater fish in this photo by Dee Kull beautiful?

Saltwater tropical fish on the whole are more colorful than freshwater tropical fish. However, a salt aquarium takes more care than a freshwater tank. First off, you need at least a 30 gallon tank to maintain the proper environment. Saltwater fish need more space per fish and a better water quality than freshwater fish. Damselfish, clownfish, and gobies are hardy saltwater fish for the beginner aquarist.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Common pet fish

This photo by Renate Volz shows another pet’s fascination with goldfish. Goldfish are one of the most commonly kept aquarium and water garden fish. They belong to the carp family and are cold water fish. Though hardy fish, goldfish often don’t live as long as they should due to too small of an environment.

Goldfish and other pet fish should not be “petted” as this can damage or remove the protective slime coat on their skin.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Useful pet

This lovely gecko photo was taken by Dan Tombs. Geckos are small to average size lizards that are found in warm climates all over the world. There are 1,196 different species of geckos! They make chirping sounds to communicate. Some people keep geckos as pets. Many geckos have toe pads that allow them to climb smooth surfaces such as walls and even allow them to cross a ceiling. House geckos are valued as they eat insects.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another pet rodent

This photo by Dee Kull shows a typical gerbil stance—on the hind legs using the tail for balance. The bottoms of gerbil's back feet are furry.

Gerbils were once called desert rats. The gerbil subfamily includes about 110 species of African, Indian, and Asian rodents. The ones raised as pets in the US are Mongolian gerbils. (I had no idea!)

In their natural environment, Mongolian gerbils are mostly insectivores.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cockatiel

Bob is 9 years old. Thanks to Gerad on flickr for his picture.

Cockatiels are small cockatoos and are also known as quarrions and weeros. They are native to Australia. They have gentle and sociable natures which make them good pets although they can be quite noisy and are not good for small children.

Cockatiels are better at imitating whistles than speech.

They are easy birds for breeding—a clutch of cockatiel eggs is generally 4 to 5 thumbnail sized eggs.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas. See you on the 26th!

Jungle Jane

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Peekin' out of the Christmas decorations

Thanks to Rebecca on flickr for this image of Pigbert.

Guinea pigs are native to the Andes. Europeans started keeping them as pets in the 16th century. They weigh 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds and are about 8 to 10 inches long. They live an average of 4 years. Baby guinea pigs are called pups.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa’s helper rat

This rat’s name was Lefteye. His picture was taken and dressed up by his owner Reed.

Pet rats are known as fancy rats, not that they themselves are fancy, but that their owners "fancy" rats. Male rats are called bucks and females, does. Female rats are more active than male rats.

Pet rats live about 2 to 3 ½ years.

Friday, December 21, 2007

♪It's the warm and fuzzy time of year♪

This photo by Michael J Summerville of a cat in an inconvenient place is typical domestic house cat behavior. Mine particularly like the office chair in front of my computer. Especially my white cat that looks a lot like the one in this picture.

Cats walk directly on their toes. Unlike dogs and many other mammals, cats move both legs on one side, then both legs on the other side. They share this latter trait with camels, giraffes, and some horses.

These natural hunters may supplement their human-fed diet with prey such as small rodents. At night their light-reflecting eyes give cats an advantage over prey. I have one kitty who loves going after, and catching, the wild baby rabbits in spring and early summer. Of course, he has to bring them to us...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

♪Dachsing through the snow…♪

This dappled* dachshund picture is courtesy of owner Rejean Caron. Dachshunds have three varieties of coat: smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. There are standard size doxies and miniature ones.

I had no idea until today that they are hunting dogs as well as pets and are good at underground work and beating the bush. In fact their name simply translates as badger (dachs) dog (hund) as they were used in Germany more than 300 years ago to hunt badgers.


*The term dapple refers to the pattern of the coat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmouse

This mouse’s name is Pip. Isn’t she cute? (Click here to see more photos taken by her owner, Kirra Jayde.)

Mice that are bred for pets are common house mice. Mice eat grains, fruits, and seeds, and like sweets, though chocolate is toxic to them. Despite all the stories of mice and cheese they don’t actually like cheese.

Mice have been in a lot of fiction – two of my favorite are the Redwall stories by Brian Jacques and the Runt stories by Dan Schwabauer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ferret, er, Feliz Navidad

This picture of her ferret exploring the Christmas packages is courtesy of Rachel Leeman.

One website said that ferrets are the 3rd most common uncaged animal in North America (after cats and dogs, of course); another said they are the 3rd most popular pet. Ferrets are usually black, brown, gray, white or mixed though there are all white and yellow ferrets, too.

Ferrets are sociable, playful, curious animals. It’s really fun to watch them at play, especially when they do their sideways hop.

Ferrets sleep about 14 to 18 hours a day and are most active at dawn and dusk.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Bunny

Cute, huh! This picture is courtesy of owner Trucie Henderson.

Rabbits kept in homes as pets are typically called house rabbits. They need a pen at least 4 times the length of their body. Rabbits can be house broken and allowed the run of the house. They are very social animals and can get along with cats and dogs. However, it is not recommended to have a rabbit in a house with small children, as bunnies startle easily.

If you’re looking for a rabbit or bunny yourself, you might consider adopting one through the House Rabbit Society, an international nonprofit organization that rescues rabbits from animal shelters, or contact your local animal shelter to adopt a rabbit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas pets

I spotted a pet dressed up for Christmas so thought it would be fun to share photos of Christmas ready pets. I'll include facts of these common pets, too.

First up is this Teddy Bear Hamster, named Puschl, who is owned by Annia Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria. (Photo taken by Annia--thanks for sharing!)

I had hamsters when I was a kid and so did my daughters. I thought my mother would kill me when my hamster got ahold of a curtain and chewed off a 6" by 18" section to pull into his cage. Fortunately there was one more curtain panel left at the store, so we both lived. Phew!

Besides being chewers, hamsters are also climbers. Mine got out of his cage once and I woke up hearing him climbing through the open box springs of my bed. (It was an antique bed!) If you've ever watched a hamster in a cage for a while, you know they are diggers, too.

There are many varieties of hamsters; they can be black, gray, white, brown, buff, yellow, or red. Hamsters are ominvores, who can stuff their cheek pouches full of food to carry off and stockpile.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

♪ Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam…♪

We call it a buffalo, but the correct term is bison. There are American and European varieties, which are the largest land mammals in North America and Europe. Bison are grazing herd animals, which were almost hunted to extinction. The European bison is still endangered.

I've seen them in Yellowstone National Park and on buffalo farms.

Friday, December 14, 2007

♪…where the deer and the antelope play…♪

When we say antelope in this country we’re usually referring to a pronghorn (also known as pronghorn antelope). They are the second fastest land animal in the world and are nicknamed “prairie goats" and "speed goats.”

Pronghorns eat cacti, grasses, and plants. Their major predators are wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and of course, humans.

We used to drive through Wyoming a lot going to and from Denver to the west. One of our entertainments was seeing how many antelope we could spot. They have a tendency to blend in to the dry landscape. This picture was taken in Oregon in the sage brush - probably spring as green as it is.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dō, a deer . . .

There are a number of Deer species. We’re familiar with Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer since that’s what is native to North America. In Africa the Red Deer belongs to the same family. In Asia there are numerous species of deer: Siberian Roe Deer, Sika Deer, Thorold's Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, Chital, Hog Deer, Barasingha, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac (and I probably missed some). European deer include European Red Deer and European Roe Deer. Central and South American deer include: Taruca or North Andean Deer, Chilean Huemul or South Andean Deer, and the small Brocket Deer and Pudus, the latter being the smallest deer in the world.

Depending on species and where you live, male deer are called stags, harts, bucks, or bulls, and females are called hinds or does. In North American bucks and does are the most common terms.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Next biggest

Elk or wapiti are the 2nd largest “deer” after moose. They are native to North America and eastern Asia. There are four subspecies in North America and four from Asia. Unlike moose, elk are herd animals. The Roosevelt elk is the largest of the subspecies and is found west of the Cascade mountain range in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

During mating season bull elks antler wrestle and bugle. Listen here—it autoplays when you go to the website. The bull in the picture is bugling. Elk cows “bark” to warn of danger.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Largest North American land animal

I got to see moose when I visited friends in Alaska one summer. What I got relatively close to were calves and they’re plenty big. In Europe moose are called elk.

Moose males have flattened antlers, called palmate antlers. European, Siberian, and Scandinavian elk have less flattened antlers.

Adult moose are 5 to 6 feet tall at the shoulder! They weigh from 600 to 1180 pounds with the males on the heavier end of the range. Moose front legs are longer than their hind legs. They have good sense of hearing and smell, but are nearsighted.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the Hoof

Since it’s the season where reindeer are frequently mentioned, this week I thought I’d focus on hoofed animals—starting with the reindeer, but I’m not talking Rudolph. Wikipedia says reindeer and caribou are the same animal, but my other research gives conflicting answers, so I’ll discuss them separately.

In Russia and Scandinavia reindeer are domesticated. Wild reindeer are found in Norway.

Reindeer are good swimmers. Both male and females have antlers. Reindeer eat lichen, mosses, grass, birch and willow leaves, mushrooms and other tundra plants.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

movie star

I was first made aware of the Frilled Lizard in the animated movie “The Rescuers Down Under.” They made him such a cute character. But now for the facts.

The frilled lizard is also called the frilled neck lizard and the frilled dragon. His frill is activated by the lizard when frightened as he opens his mouth wide. As part of the bluff the lizard may hiss and jump towards the threat. The lizard prefers to run rather than fight and runs on its hind legs to the nearest tree which it rapidly climbs.

Until 1991, a frill-necked lizard was featured on the reverse of the Australian 2 cent coin.

Jungle Jane

Friday, December 7, 2007

It’s not really a beard

Bearded Dragons are native to Australia. What looks like a beard is a spiny pouch that the dragon expands to make him appear larger, when he is threatened. Sometimes the pouch is black which adds to the “bearded” look.

This photo my friend took in Australia is probably a Common Bearded Dragon. (His pouch is not expanded.) There are 8 species of bearded dragon and a variety of colors.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

This crest is only feathers

I had no idea that Cockatoos only occur naturally in Australia and nearby islands. I guess the fact that they are bred for pets has made me think they are common. 11 of the 21 species only occur in Australia. 3 occur in both Australia and New Guinea. The other 7 are from Indonesia, New Guinea and some other south Pacific Islands. Some species are black. The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is the most common in Australia.

Cockatoos have a movable head crest.

Cockatoos are also an endangered species.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lowest known bird call

The Cassowary is found in Australia, New Guinea and New Britain. They are the 3rd largest flightless bird. All 3 species of cassowary have a hornlike crest, called a casque. Female cassowaries are larger and more brightly colored than males. A cassowary call is a low “boom,” sometimes described as “thunder in the distance.”

Cassowaries are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals to keep in a zoo. They have a dagger like claw about 5 inches long. When cornered or threatened, a cassowary kicks out and can inflict fatal injuries.

The Southern Cassowary is endangered.

I really like this head on picture!

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pied piper?

There are 9 subspecies of the Australian Magpie. Mature birds have red eyes. Immature ones have brownish eyes. Australian magpies have a warbling call. New Zealand poet Denis Glover wrote "’quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle,’ the magpies said.” Part of their Latin name means piper.

During nesting season, if a magpie feels threatened, they will swoop at the intruder and snap their beak. They come from behind so it can be a bit frightening. Hence this sign…

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another large bird

The Australian White Ibis has a mostly white body with a featherless black head. They average about 2 ½ feet tall. Their favorite food is mussels and crayfish. The ibis uses its long bill to dig up these delicacies. Unfortunately, they have recently developed a taste for human garbage and are making themselves pests in urban areas.
My friend took this picture at the wildlife park in Australia.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Largest bird native to Australia

Smaller than the ostrich, emus are the 2nd tallest bird in the world. They can reach heights of 6 feet 7 inches! Emus trot to cover ground at a good pace, but can sprint for short distances at 30 miles per hour. Like the ostrich, they do not fly.

Emus eat plants and insects.

Females lay an average of 11 eggs, each weighing 1.5 to 2 pounds! But it is the male emu who incubates the eggs.

I forgot to ask my friend if she fed this emu.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lacey feathers

We’re all pretty familiar with colorful peacocks, but how many of us have seen a white one? My friend saw one in Australia, but it’s not native. Gorgeous, though, eh? (This picture is courtesy of Nevit Dilmen.)

But is this peacock an albino or what? Not albino, just a color variation of the Indian Peafowl. These birds have blue eyes. White peahens are also pure white. White peachicks start out yellow with white wings.

Peacocks are the national bird of India. The Indian Blue Peacock is the one we see the most in this country.

The Green Peafowl is a separate species and naturally occurs from Myanmar to Java.

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 Española, 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!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Named for what it does

The Tent Making Bat makes tents from palm or banana-like leaves in the forest understory. It uses the tent for roosting. One tent can last up to 2 months.

Yesterday’s bat, the sac-winged bat, eats insects. The tent making bat eats fruit, mainly figs. The tent making bat’s body is pale gray, with two bright white stripes on top of the head, and a single white stripe down the center of the back.

Tent making bats are slightly larger than sac-winged bats—their length is 2.3-2.7 inches and they weigh 0.5-0.7 ounces.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

About the length of a matchbox car

In the Amazon there’s a bat whose name is almost bigger than it is—the white-lined sac-winged bat. They’re also called the greater sac-winged bat, although they are only 1.8–2.2 in long and weigh only 0.2–0.35 oz (6–10 g). Greater than what?

The fur on the back of these sac-winged bats is dark brown with distinct white lines, the rest of their fur is dark gray. These bats are the most commonly seen in the rainforest.


Monday, October 29, 2007

More dangerous colors

Another common color of poisonous Amazon frog is yellow and black. There are also blue, green, and yellow poison frogs. Sometimes they are called poison dart frogs or poison arrow frogs. Their skin is toxic. Though only 3 species are very dangerous to humans; the most deadly is the golden poison arrow frog.

These frogs feed mostly on spiders and small insects such as ants and termites.

One source said wash your hands after handling these frogs. I think I'll pass on handling them!

Jungle Jane

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wrestling frog

There are more than 100 species of small, highly toxic Amazon frogs. The adult strawberry poison frog is about an inch long. Male strawberry poison frogs are territorial and will wrestle for up to 20 minutes when another male intrudes. When the loser (usually the interloper) is pinned, he’s allowed to leave.

Strawberry poison frogs are found mostly in Central American and Puerto Rico. During the wet months, in parts of Puerto Rico, there can be almost 400 frogs per acre!

These red frogs have blue legs and are also called the blue jeans frog.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Water Walker

Want to see something hysterical? The Basilisk Lizard actually runs on water. Click on this video from National Geographic to see one in action. Have a bit of patience as the “water walking” doesn’t start immediately. But believe me it is worth the wait!

I’m glad they did part of the video in slow motion so we could see those legs churn. The rate of that sprint on the surface of the water is about 5 feet per second. It only lasts about 3 seconds, but still impressive!

Still laughing,

Jungle Jane

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Slow-Moving Manatee

The manatee, weighing between 800 and 1,200 pounds and averaging 10 feet long, are fully-aquatic mammals that are also known as sea cows. There are three species of manatees: the Amazonia manatee, the West Indian manatee and the West African manatee.
Manatees are slow moving creatures, and propel their large bodies in the water by moving their flat, paddle-shaped tail up and down. The manatees closest relatives are the elephant (we can see the familiar resemeblence). Manatees have an easy lifestyle - half of their day is spent sleeping and most of the other half grazing for food.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

World’s Heaviest Snake

Anaconadas are members of the boa family. They spend most of their time in the water waiting for prey, such as rodents, deer, tapir, aquatic birds, fish, and other reptiles. They grab the prey with their teeth, then wrap around the victim and either squeeze the animal to death or drag it under water to suffocate the animal. Anacondas can stay submerged in the water for 10 minutes. Prey is swallowed whole.

Anaconda females weigh more than the males. The snake averages 350 pounds. The average length is 20 feet! That’s a big snake!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The tropical big billed bird

From southern Mexico and South America and neighboring islands is found the rain forest dwelling toucan. Toucans are poor fliers, partially due to their lengthy bill and partially due to their body shape and short wings. They hop around from branch to branch high in the treetops.

Toucans are noisy birds that sound a lot like a frog. They mainly eat fruit. When roosting in holes in the trees, toucans fold back their tail and rest their beak on their back making themselves into a feathery ball. In most toucan species, the female and male look alike. There are more than 40 species.

Tookie, Tookie in the George of the Jungle movie could not have been native to Africa.

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New World Parrots

I came across this poem by Mark Twain:
She was not quite what you would call refined.
She was not quite what you would call unrefined.
She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.

It made me laugh. But today we aren’t going to talk about parrots as pets, but parrots in the wild and specifically Amazon parrots, since we’ve been in the western hemisphere for over a week.

There are 27 species of Amazon parrot. They are predominantly green with accenting colors. Many are named for their coloration. Most Amazon parrots live in trees, especially in lowland tropical forests. They eat fruit, seeds, nuts, berries, buds and blossoms.

The Orange-winged Amazon Parrot is usually seen during the day flying in pairs above the forest canopy. At night they roost communally in groups of up to 600 birds.

The Lilac-crowned Amazon Parrot is usually seen in flocks, sometimes up to 200 to 300 birds.

The Tucumán Amazon from Argentina and Bolivia is rare and endangered due to habitat destruction and trapping for the pet trade.

The picture below is an Amazon Blue Front Parrot. From this picture and others I've looked at, the blue front refers to the area above the beak.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Wild ones endangered

Chinchillas are endangered mainly due to hunting for their fur. It takes 100 pelts to make one fur coat! Those loss of habitat has adversely affected wild chinchillas as well.

Chinchillas are rabbit sized, have big mouse like ears, squirrel-shaped bodies, and bushy tails.

These South American rodents are also raised as pets. Here is a video of a pet mother chinchilla and her babies. You can hear them squeak.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not your average rabbit

Viscachas or vizcachas are rabbit-like rodents from Central and South America. There are 4 species of this member of the Chinchilla family. Viscachas live in colonies.

This picture is courtesy of Alexandre Buisse.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Slowest of all land animals

Sloths are medium-sized mammals from Central and South America. They live in the canopy of the rain forest, and though common are hard to see, part because of their camouflaged fur.
This excerpt from a longer video is fun and actually shows a sloth in action!

Maybe I should have put action in quotes.

Jungle Jane

Friday, October 19, 2007

Extreme bug vacuum

The Giant Anteater has a 2 foot long tongue! These guys are 6 feet long, including tail. This South and Central American animal is also called the “ant bear,” although they eat termites, too. Check 'em out:

I’ll have to discuss African anteaters another time.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Largest land animal in South America

Baird’s Tapir, Mountain Tapir, and Brazilian Tapir are from Mexico, Central America and South America and weigh 400 pounds to 700 pounds. There is also a Malayan Tapir of Southeast Asia—they can weigh up to 800 pounds. This video gives you a view of a Baird’s and a Malayan Tapir.

Did you see that flexible nose?


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Peccary or Javalina

Peccaries or javalinas (j pronounced like an h) live from southeast US to northern South America. These pig-like animals live in herds and are hunted for their meat. In this short video, you can learn quite a bit about peccaries and see some babies, too.

The first time I remember coming across these animals was in a picture book that does a southwest retelling of the 3 little pigs story using javelinas and coyotes. Fun version.

Jungle Jane

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Otherwise know as

The cavy or guinea pig is not just a pet. In South America they are raised for food! In the wild they live in colonies of about 10 cavies. Cavy are referred to as cuy in the Andes region.

Is it really worth eating such a small animal?

Jungle Jane

Monday, October 15, 2007

A hard nut cracker

Continuning the Amazon animal theme, I’d like to introduce you to the Agouti. Smaller than a capybara, this rodent is the only one who can open the hard shell of a brazil nut. And squirrel-like, agoutis bury the nuts and forget about some, so new trees sprout from the buried nuts.

In this video of agouti (at what I consider a poor zoo habitat) you can hear the agoutis gnawing on the nuts.

Agoutis come in black, too.

Jungle Jane

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another South American "Dog"

The Culpeo Fox is also known as the Andean Wolf, the Patagonian Red Fox, and the Fuegian Fox. It looks a lot like the red fox. The females are the ones who fight for dominance in this species.

I love this picture where the fox blends into the red rock.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Many of the last 8 cats were from the Amazon jungle. So, of course, is the ocelot, which I talked about in August. But did you know there’s an Amazonian Bush Dog? Neither did I.

And you might not recognize it as a dog either as it looks more like it should belong to the beaver or otter family. It’s even semi-aquatic and has webbed feet. The bush dog is also known as the vinegar dog or the savannah dog. Nothing I saw explained the former name.

To read more and see a picture go here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Andean Mountain Cat

The second most endangered wild cat in the world is the Andean Mountain Cat. I hadn’t heard of them before and not a lot is known about them. Sightings of these are very infrequent. Not much larger than a domestic cat, their tail is banded like a raccoon’s tail. Their fur is gray with rust colored spots.

Click on this link to watch a video of them. If you want more information, this site offers that, too.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not a housecat, honest!

The last six cats we’ve been talking about have rounded ears. The Pampas Cat has pointed ears and looks more like a stocky domestic cat. Pampas cats vary in color and markings.
They are not endangered.