Monthly Archives: June 2014

Want To Know More? Dolphins


As a response to a message asking to know more about Dolphins, here is some information you may not have known…

Dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals. The order Cetacean includes the marine mammals commonly known as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Dolphins are part of the family of toothed whales Odontoceti; also including orcas (killer whales) and pilot whales. Most species live in tropical and temperate oceans throughout the world; a few species live in the world’s rivers (such as the endangered Amazon river dolphin a.k.a. the pink river dolphin). There are 36 species of dolphins – 32 marine species, and 4 river (freshwater)species.

Amazon River Dolphin
Amazon River Dolphin

Dolphins are carnivores, mostly eating crustaceans, fish and squid. They have clever methods of catching fish, and getting a good meal out of big shoals. They trap the shoal close to the surface of the water, and blow bubble “walls” or “nets” to keep the shoal together. The dolphins then take it in turns between blowing bubbles and feeding. Some will also slide up onto beaches (almost beach themselves) to catch fish in the shallows.

Common Long-Beaked Dolphins Hunting

Dolphins, like bats, use echolocation to navigate and hunt, bouncing high-pitched sounds off of objects, and listening for the echoes. They can find food, each other, navigate around their environment, and locate objects with echolocation. They have a special organ for echolocation known as the melon organ. The melon also helps with hearing via echolocation They use their teeth as a type of antennae so that they can receive information about incoming sounds. They get information about the size and the shape of the object, before they actually see it, through this process.  The melon is located in the forehead, in front of the skull.

Bottlenose Dolphin

 Dolphins have complex and large social and family groups. They are very loyal and will not abandon a family member in need or is in injured. Unfortunately, this makes them easier to hunt – humans have hunted them by trapping a few in shallower water and injuring them, the rest of their family will then not abandon them, and any relations of the others will not leave… you see my meaning (unfortunately).

A group of dolphins is known as a pod. The males are bulls, the females cows, and the young are known as calves.

Mother & Calf (Bottlenose)
Mother & Calf (Bottlenose)

Dolphins have such diverse appearances – big ones, small(er) ones, striped ones, spotted ones, plain ones, long beaks (snouts), short beaks, round heads, long heads, tall dorsal fin, short dorsal fine, arched back, straight back… The Largest of all dolphin species can grow to over 31 feet long when fully grown, which has provided them with the incorrect name of “whale” – the Orca, more commonly known as Killer Whale. The smallest known species is the Maui’s dolphin, growing up to 5 ft 6 – 7 inches. So to finish this post, here are some photo’s of different dolphin species of all shapes and sizes!
(Hover over , or click on, the individual images to see the species name)


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Smallest Species – Rodent, Deer, Mustelid


Pygmy Jerboa – the smallest rodent in the world
  • Also known as the Desert Rat
  • They live in the desert – hence their alternate name
  • This little species is from Asia and North America
  • The large ears help to keep them cool, the same way an elephants ears work – the blood vessels in the ears being close to the surface of the ear allowing heat to escape easily and quickly as needed
  • The large ears also provide excellent hearing, allowing them to hear predators and escape before the predator gets too close
  • They are only 2 inches in length
  • They can jump up to 9ft in length
  • They eat plants and insects, and get most of their water this way
  • These tiny rodents have litter sizes of between 2-6 pups (babies)
  • A solitary species – exceptions made during breeding seasons, and sometimes in limited environments, loose colonies may be formed to better share out resources
Northern Pudú – the smallest deer in the world
  • They range in size from 32-35 cm in height
  • They can grow up to 85 cm in length
  • The Northern Pudú is from ColombiaEcuador, and Peru
  • Their slightly larger counterpart is the Southern Pudú, it is from southern Chile and southern Argentina, and can grow up to 44cm in height
  • The males have 2 short, pointy horns rather than tall staggered antlers
  • The females do not have horns or antlers
  • Males are called Bucks or Stags, and the females are called Does
  • The fawns (baby deer) have a lighter brown colouration with white stripes/ spots to help them blend into the undergrowth and stay safe
  • The adults have a solid, darker brown colouration

Least Weasel – the smallest mustelid in the world
  • Approximately 11 – 26 cm (4 – 10 inches) in length (from tip of nose to base of tail)
  • This species weighs approximately 25 grams!
  • Despite its small size, it is capable of killing a prey 5 – 10 times its own weight
  • Babies are called kits, males are known as a Jack or a hob, and females are known as a Jill or a doe
  • The litter size of the Least Weasel is between 3 – 10 kits
  • Their diet is made up of small rodents, small birds, bird’s eggs, poultry and rabbits
  • Large birds of prey, such as owls and hawks, are predators of the Least Weasel
  • They are also the smallest carnivore in Britain
  • These tiny weasels live in a range of habitats – including grasslands, sand dunes, woodland and mountains
  • They must eat roughly between 40% – 60% of their body weight daily

Rare Breeds: Sheep


Being over in Northern Ireland this week, staying on my Aunt & Uncle’s farm, I have decided to do some posts about rare breed animals. To start off the rare breeds, this post is about rare breed sheep here on my family farm – Black Leicester Longwool sheep.

Ram
Ram

Black Leicester Longwools are a rare breed of sheep, that are on the endangered list of the Rare Breed Survival Trust. This breed has an estimate of only 500 total ewes in the UK (so not including rams). They have a long, thick, heavy, but silky, fleece that produces luxurious wool once spun – it is popular for hand spinning as it keeps the silky feel better. The fleece at length looks like dreadlocks with tight curls, whilst appearing lighter in colour when shorn; having looser curls.

image
Shorn fleece

The Leicester Longwool breed was developed by Robert Bakewell in the 18th Century, and comes in two colours – black and white. The white has a white fleece, and white legs and faces; the black has a black/ grey fleece, sometimes with some brown in it, and black/ grey faces and legs. They have a lifespan of 14-16 years.

Friendly Ewes
Friendly Ewes

This breed is a large breed of sheep – ewes weighing in at 80-100kg and rams weighing in at 100-150kg. Neither ewes nor rams have horns, and are fairly docile; though they require firm handling due to their size, not their character. They produce lovely wool and tasty meat – and plenty of both with their size.

The Black Leicester Longwools are an ancient breed of sheep that seem to have been forgotten about over the years, resulting in their decline and the breed ending up as endangered. The breed is friendly and easily managed/ kept, so hopefully the breed will see an increase in number and get out of its endangered state.

Want To Know More? Emperor Penguins


As a response to a message asking to know more about Emperor Penguins, here is some information you may not have known…

Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguin. They are streamlined, with waterproof feathers – specially adapted for swimming. The colours of a penguin are for camouflage – the black back, when viewed from above, make the penguin appear to blend in with the sea; the white underside causes the penguin to blend in to the sea when viewed from below. This makes the ideal hunters in the sea (but does not stop them being hunted!) – although penguins cannot be in the cold sea for too long.

Penguins, again, are specially adapted for this with the ability to  store undigested food in their stomach for up to 3 weeks! They do this by maintaining their stomach temperature  around 38°C and keeping the pH levels of their stomach constant. During this time the stomach will not fluctuate and everything will remain internally constant. Penguins also do this for shorter periods of time when feeding their young, so that they can regurgitate food for them – until they can hunt for themselves; until they are big enough, with their adult feathers (waterproof enough to hunt in the sea).

Emperor Penguins live in temperatures ranging from 0°C to -60°C whilst maintaining an internal body temperature of 35°C to 41°C. The thick layers of blubber that penguins have, under their waterproof feathers, helps to keep them warm, as well as huddling together. Huddling together works best for the penguins in the middle, the outer huddle individuals will bare the brunt of the cold, so the penguins will rotate to avoid anyone freezing to death.

Random fact – polar bears are not a predator of penguins. Why? Because polar bears do not live in the same place!