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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Smallest South American Cat

The Kodkod or Guiña is related to Geoffrey’s cat, and similar in appearance, but is about half the size of a domestic cat. It has a short tail. These cats are very rare.

I always wished I had a cat that would stay little . . . but don't I'll be getting one of these!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another spotted cat

Gray or tan, Geoffrey’s Cat has small black spots. These cats live in woodlands and scrublands of Bolivia, Argentina, southern Brazil, and Paraguay. Though a very common cat, they are unfortunately hunted for their unusual fur. It takes 75 Geoffrey’s Cat pelts to make one fur coat.
I prefer the fur on the animals, thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Not quite a duplicate

Another ocelot looking cat is the Oncilla, sometimes called the Little Spotted Cat or Tigrina. They live at higher elevations than either the margay or ocelot. They are especially hard to tell apart from the former, though are more slender.
I bet it matters to another oncilla though!
Jungle Jane

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Kinda like the ocelot

Similar in appearance to an ocelot, Margays are smaller and have longer legs and tails. The margay is the only cat that can climb head first down a tree, which you can see in this video, though unfortunately this margay is in a cage.

Margays are sometimes called Long-tailed Spotted Cats.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Name starts like the Jaguar but the resemblance ends there

The Jaguarundi comes in a variety of colors: charcoal, gray, brown, red. Jaguarundi are also called otter cats or weasel cats which gives you an idea of what they look like. Their fur has no patterning except when they are kittens. The jaguarundi is a small cat.

Go to this website to see some pictures or to learn more about these cats.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Central and South American Cats

Let’s move south for a look at some more cats. We’ll start with the more well-known Jaguar.

Sometimes a jaguar is black on black—the spots are still there, but are only visible in the right light—this is what’s commonly called the black panther. Mostly though jaguars are golden with black spots that form circles (rosettes) around other spots. They look a lot like a leopard, but are stockier and squarer jawed. Jaguars also like water.

Watch one in action.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pick a name

Cougar, Puma, Panther, Mountain Lion, Catamount all refer to the same big cat. Whatever you want to call it, the cougar doesn’t roar, but has a distinctive scream. They also can make impressive leaps. Watch some in action.

And, please note, there are no black panthers in North America. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A “snowshoe” cat

Speaking of Lynx, besides their long ear tuffs, and totally black tipped tails, they have big feet that act like snowshoes. They are usually larger than bobcats.
Watch this amazing video of a fight between the two species.

I don't think I'll mess with either beastie!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Stubby tail cat

This small cat’s tail is only 6 or 7 inches long, which may have given it the name of Bobcat. Its snarls and growls sound like they should be coming from a much larger cat, maybe a mountain lion, yet bobcats usually weigh 15 to 20 pounds. The bobcat has much smaller ear tufts than a lynx. The end of a bobcat's tail is black on top and white on the bottom.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A true snow cat

If you want to see a Snow Leopard in the wild, you’d need to go to Central Asia and go up in the mountains between 9800 and 17,000 feet! Though it would be hard to find one if you did. Look at how this male leopard blends in to his surroundings!

My family and I once drove up Mt. Evans in Colorado, what is called the highest paved road in the US, reaching an elevation of 14,240 feet. It was summer, but freezing cold and when we realized our lips were turning blue from lack of oxygen as well as cold, we went back down. No wonder snow leopards have such thick coats, fur-lined paws, and an enlarged nasal cavity!