Category Archives: Wild Species

Want to know more? Crocodiles


With regard to the ears and hearing of Crocodiles – see my previous post. This post is just a short follow-up, with a bit more crocodile info…

Their nostrils can also close up to seal out the water when submerged. They have a long snout full of teeth! The fourth tooth (working from nose), on the bottom, is visible over the sides of the top lip.

The tongue of a crocodile is quite unusual in the fact it is fixed to the bottom of the mouth; it is immovable.

The double spikes along the length of the body and tail are called the scute. Each spike along the scute has bone…

The pattern of the scales on their head and snout are unique to the individual the same way our fingerprints are individual, or the patterns on a giraffe or leopard (etc)…

They really are (in my opinion) fascinating and magnificent creatures.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Endangered Earth


In the past 10 years we have lost several animal species – in this day and age we consider ourselves better than our predecessors, yet we are still the main cause of animals going extinct… we’re no better than those before us – in some ways we’re worse, as we are not doing what we do to survive; we are doing it for “fun” or “progress”. In what civilised or ‘advanced’ society is there place for this abominable behaviour? Yes, this post is looking to be an informative rant-type…

In the past century many animal species have been wiped from the planet, below is a selection (from the past decade) of those lost forever:
(1) 2015 – Eastern Cougar
(2) 2014 – Malagasy Hippopotamus
(3) 2013 – Formosan Clouded Leopard
(4) 2012 – Pinta Tortoise
(5) 2012 – Zanzibar Leopard
(6) 2012 – Japanese River Otter
(7) 2011 – Western Black Rhinoceros
(8) 2010 – Alatora Grebe
(9) 2010 – Derwent River Sea Star
(10) 2009 – Christmas Island Pipistrelle Bat
(11) 2008 – Spotted Green Pigeon (Liverpool Pigeon)
(12) 2008 – Caribbean Monk Seal

Many species that are extinct today is due to humans – we hunt to extinction, we destroy habitats, we remove animals from the wild for fashion or entertainment – we first make them extinct in the wild and then we deplete the captive animals until they’re gone… and many other reasons.
The ICUN Red List contains information of the endangerment of species.
We used to hunt sustainably for food, and in many countries/cultures this is still the case, but most of the hunting (at least in first world cultures) is for “fun” or “sport” and is unjustifiably cruel and unnecessary. The man that hunts to feed his family and/or community is not the reason Elephants and Rhino’s are depleting in number and becoming extinct; the cruelty of riding out with a pack of dogs to have them tear apart an innocent fox is not for any justifiable reason; the mind-set of people needs to change to make a difference… the bans we have in place need to be enforced to make a difference… we all want a better world but that won’t happen if we cannot really change.

We have bans (in certain countries) on things like fox hunting, whale hunting (whaling), shark finning, dog and cock fighting, removing animals from the wild (with conservation excepted), and many more abhorrent things – yet these bans are not universal, and often not enforced. If there are no consequences for these actions, or these consequences are not adhered to and/ or enforced, then what power do these bans have? Where then is the protection for these creatures?

Red Fox

Animals are a lot more important to their ecosystems than people give them credit for – the removal or addition of one species has an affect on everything around it. Take the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park for example – video link here (this is in no way my video) – thanks to wolves being back in the ecosystem, the rivers went back to how they used to be, plants that had been destroyed by the overpopulation of deer returned, because the wolves kept down the deer population – things went back to the way they were; back to how they should be. Why did the ecosystem breakdown in the first place; why did the wolves become extinct in Yellowstone? Because of us. Because of humans. Because we killed them off…Grey Wolf

The way we are going, the same thing will happen again and again, with more species. We, as a species, need to change before we are the only species left on a dying planet – small steps to ensure that other species don’t become myth and fairy-tales, instead of living, breathing creatures that share this planet.

Your cat and the big outdoors


New cat or kitten? Wanting to let them roam the big, wide world outside? Stop and think before you do, to ensure the safest way to introduce your cat to the outdoors.

Kittens Outside

You must note that there are differences in introducing a young kitten and an adult cat to the outdoors.

With an adult cat, keep them indoors 3-6 weeks before letting them venture outdoors; cats have a great ‘homing beacon’ and if you let them out straight away will find their way back to where home was before you brought them home with you. Keeping your cat indoors for minimum of 3 weeks will sort of ‘re-set’ this, so your home becomes theirs and they will then find their way back to you. This also applies with adult cats when you move house – keep them inside until your new location becomes theirs.

With a kitten there is a bit more preparation before letting them outside – this is first for a new kitten! Ensure your kitten is micro-chipped in case they get lost; vaccinated to avoid illness or disease; and neutered at the appropriate age to avoid any unplanned litters!

Work on recall in the home before letting your cat/kitten out – calling them and shaking their favourite bag of treats, or something similar so they know to come back when called.

Cat Collar

If you want to put a collar on your cat/kitten (many people choose to so a bell can be added), ensure you get a collar that can has some sort of [emergency] release so the collar will break if it is stuck on something, and it won’t harm your pet. Bells on collars do reduce the success rate of hunts, however won’t ever completely prevent the occasional successful hunt.

At first it is wise to monitor your cat/kitten on their first adventure outside to ensure they don’t get into too much trouble, and so you’re on hand if they do! You may wish to firstly take your cat/kitten out on a harness and lead to let them get used to the smells and surroundings and layout of your garden in a controlled environment.

Whilst outside, sit and play and explore with your pet to allow them to get used to, and enjoy this new setting. Practise recall in the garden with your pet, being sure to reward, fuss and praise them when they come back when called.


Kitten exploring

Eventually allow your cat/kitten more time outside without you, until they want to venture out on their own.

As cats are nocturnal, they spend the nights active and hunting – to allow your pet outside of an evening/night it is advisable to get a cat flap. With a cat flap, you won’t have a restless cat that has been cooped up all night, and you won’t be disturbed by your pet asking to be let out. The best options are cat flaps that open via magnets (one in the flap and one on the collar of your cat(s)), or that open when registered microchips are within a certain proximity. These kinds of flaps ensure no cats that are not of your household can enter.

For any further advice or any questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me via any of the methods below.


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Do Crocodiles Have Ears?

As response to an interesting question from my lovely little 2.5 year old niece, “Do crocodiles have ears?” I have written the following post, for mummy and daddy to read/explain to her… and for the rest of you to enjoy too 😉

So, let Aunty Ali answer your question Scarlett! Yes, crocodiles have ears. They are internal (on the inside) only – they have no external (outer) ear like we do, but they have very good hearing! Their ears are not always easy to spot – can you find the ear in the picture below?

Their ears are located behind their eyes, in the upper part of their heads; just like with Alligators. They have flaps which cover their ears forming a tight seal, preventing water from entering the ear when submerged.

Due to the location of their ears, they can hear whilst in the water, with just the tops of their heads sitting above water level. Their hearing is so sensitive, they can hear their offspring making noises inside their eggs!


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


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Want To Know More? Giraffes

As a response to a query, asking to know more about giraffe’s, here is some information you may not have known…

There are four species of giraffe’s left in the world nowadays – a further seven species are now extinct. The living species are classified as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Classification: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Giraffidae
Genus: Giraffa
Species…

(1) Northern Giraffe
Subspecies:
(i) Kordofan Giraffe
(ii) Nubian Giraffe (Rothschild’s Giraffe included)
(iii) West African Giraffe

Rothschild’s Giraffe

(2) Reticulated Giraffe (aka Somali Giraffe)

Reticulated Giraffe

(3) Southern Giraffe
Subspecies:
(i) Angolan Giraffe
(ii) Cape Giraffe

Angolan Giraffe

(4) Masai Giraffe
Subspecies:
(i) Kilimanjaro Giraffe
(ii) Thornicroft’s Giraffe

Thornicroft’s Giraffe


Giraffe’s are even-toed ungulates (ungulate being an animal with hooves); as opposed to zebra’s and rhino’s which are odd-toed ungulates. The feet of a giraffe alone span around 30 cm in diameter (that’s roughly the size of a dinner plate)!

Giraffe Foot

Adult males weigh 1,764-4,255 lbs (800-930 kgs), and adult females weigh 1,213-2,601 lbs (550-1,180 kgs). But that doesn’t stop them! They can reach speeds of 35 mph at a gallop (sprint), and keep a steady running pace of 10 mph.

Giraffe’s are the largest mammals on Earth – their legs alone (on average) are around 6 ft in height; as is their neck! A male giraffe will grow (on average) 16-20 ft tall, and females average 15-16 ft tall – that’s taller than the average double-decker bus (in the UK – being 14 ft) – and their tail can be 3 ft long, including the tufty bit!

A calf (baby giraffe) is around 6 ft in height at birth! It also has about a 6 ft drop, as the mother gives birth standing up. The young can stand, walk and run within (approximately) 1 hour of being born; this is advantageous as a prey species, and being a vulnerable newborn, in escaping from predators. Within the first year the young giraffe reaches around 10 ft in height – they are also weaned at one year old; they reach maturity between 3-6 years old.

These tall beasts live for 20-25 years in the wild (up to approximately 28 years old in captivity). As with cattle (and elephants, and whales, etc. etc.) male giraffe’s are known as bulls, females are known as cows, and (as previously mentioned) the babies are known as calves. Each giraffe’s pattern is unique to that individual; just as with human finger prints, zebra and tiger stripes, leopard spots… (you get it)! This can be a helpful way for conservationists to be able to identify the same individual.

Due to the awkwardness that comes with the height, giraffe’s have a difficult time drinking. Their necks will not allow the to reach water standing up; they have to awkwardly bend down or spread their legs out to get close enough to the water to drink.


Giraffe’s are herbivores (meaning they are vegetarian). Giraffe’s are browsers – they casually feed on whatever they fancy. They spend around half their day eating. They have a long, blue/black tongue – which is prehensile (meaning it’s capable of grasping). Their tongue is around 18-20 inches long, and can be used kind of like a super-finger to twist around branches (often thorny branches) to strip them of their leaves, for food. The vegetation and fruits consumed by giraffes is dependant on the availability of food in their location, and in the different seasons.

As with cattle, giraffe’s have a four-chambered stomach; animals (including sheep, deer and others) with this type of digestive system are known as Ruminants. Their digestion is split between the four chambers and regurgitated for “chewing the cud” or “ruminating”. The first chamber is the rumen, the second is the reticulum , the third is the omasum, and the fourth chamber is the abomasum. The rumen is for storage, and to regurgitate the for “chewing the cud” later. The reticulum is where the “chewed cud” goes, and is fermented to make the foodstuffs easier to digest; then regurgitated to “chew the cud” again. The omasum , is where the food goes for the absorption of water. Finally, the rest of the foodstuffs goes to the abomasum, which is like our stomach – where the bulk of the break-down and absorption happens (before going to the intestines).


Giraffe’s inhabit the woodlands, grasslands and savanna’s of Africa, and live in loose herds – meaning the herds do not stay together 24/7. Mainly herds are made up of females and young, or bachelor herds of young males. Older males are often solitary.


Did you know?
Giraffe’s have the same number of vertebrae in their neck as humans (seven)!


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


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Pink Flamingos Day: 29 May 2018

Happy Pink Flamingos Day! (As opposed to Green Flamingos Day 😉 )

Flamingos are large birds with long, stick-like legs and long, slender necks. Flamingos are wading water birds, inhabiting alkaline, saline and/or estuarine lagoons and lakes (usually lacking in vegetation). Flamingos are not a migratory bird; there are six known species, which can be found in a variety of places.

  • Africa:
    – Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
    – Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)
  • South America:
    – Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus)
    – Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
    – James’ or Puna flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
  • Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula and the Galapagos Islands
    – Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

A group of Flamingos is called a flock or a colony. Colonies can be made up of 50 or so birds up to colonies with thousands of individuals. Flamingos reach maturity around five years of age, and are monogamous (same mate for life)

Yes, it’s true… flamingos are pink due to the food they eat. They eat insects, invertebrates, small fish, and algae. They stir up food from the mud with their feet, and hold their breath whilst they duck under water to catch a meal.

The algae they eat is full of beta carotene (also in foods such as tomato, carrot, sweet potato causing the colour) which causes the pink colouration, as well as carotenoids in the molluscs and crustaceans they consume. Depending on the levels of the carotene and carotenoids in the foods available in their habitat, will determine the shade and brightness of the Flamingos colouration. Flamingos are born white/grey and turn a pink-colour at around two years old.


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


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Ugly mug: aquatics!

Not everything in the animal kingdom is an lovely songbird with beautiful wings or a cute crustacean bobbing along the ocean floor or a fuzzy little kitten on your lap or adorable snakey nuzzling your neck (you get my point)… some creatures are just unpleasant!

Here are a three examples of the weird and wonderful, but not necessarily cute, beasties in the animal kingdom… starting with the world of water!

1) Blobfish

Usually found in lists of animals not winning any beauty awards! This poor fella has a rep for having an ugly mug – living in the murky deep off the coast of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, this fish grows up to 12″ and has a low-density, giving it the jelly/blob look which actually aids in in bobbing along in the high-pressured deep.

However, as you can see fron the inage above, they’re a lot less vlob-like underwater! Unlike most fish species, the Blobfish doesn’t have a swimbladder to keep it afloat but rather their blobby structure and the pressure of the deep work together to keep them floating. The Blobfish isn’t very active, and pretty much just waits for food to pass by.

This little guy was actually voted the “World’s Ugliest Animal” in 2013! Out of water (see image below) – you can see why it won that title!

2) Axolotl

I know (personally) a few people think the Axolotl is quite cute but I have never seen the appeal so they have made my little list of ugly aquatic animals. The Axolotl only lives in the lakes of Xochimilco, Mexico (and in various homes/ tanks around the world) and is the top predator in its’ habitat.

Axolotls can grow up to a foot in length, however usually only reach half a foot. This ugly little salamander has the ability of regrowth – it can regrow a limb if lost! Despite this fascinating ability the Axolotl is critically endangered and on the decline.

Colouration is usually mottled brown or black; however white, albino and piebald variations do occur – but usually in captive environments. I personally think the albino and white colouration’s are uglier than the other variations, as they give the appearance of being almost translucent! They have a dorsal fin running from the neck to the tip of the tail, and external gills with a feathered appearance – this is unusual in salamanders; as such the Axolotl is considered to be aesthetically neonatal, as it stays in larval form throughout its’ life.

3) Goblin Shark

This is a shark of many names; the scientific name being Mitsukurina owstoni named after Kakichi Mitsukuri and Alan Owston – the two people who discovered this unusual shark species. It is mainly found off the bays of Japan, however can also be found off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, USA (California and Florida), Brazil, Portugal, France, South Africa, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka. in Japan the Goblin Shark is known as tenguzame (Tengu being a long-nosed mythical demon creature, and zame meaning ‘same’). Along those lines, it i known as Gnome or Demon Shark in Portugal; in USA it is known as Goblin or Elfin Shark.

This amazing and ugly looking shark has nail like teeth, set in a flexible jaw under a long, protruding, pointy nose. The see the unusual bite action of the Goblin Shark watch this amazing YouTube video – the jaws spring forward out of the mouth in a pincer-like grab (protrusive jaws)… showing that’s looks aren’t everything! The Goblin Shark is pinky in appearance due to the blood vessels being close to the surface of the skin, and can grow to over 10ft in length.

The last Goblin Shark sighting was in 2000 – before that the last sighting is said to have been in the early 1970’s. As such, there are few photographs of this ugly mug!


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


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Christmas Camel (Dromedary)

Yes it does seem like an odd title for a post – “hot” and “dry” and “sandy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking of camels; whereas “cold” and “frosty” and “snowy” are words that tend to come to [my] mind when thinking about Christmas… however there is logic!

Think of the school nativity play you played a role in (no matter how small) as a child – no room at the inn, Mary and Joseph in the stable, the birth of baby Jesus, and of course the visitors: the shepherds and their sheep, and the three wise men who rode in on their camels!

As Jesus was born in Bethlehem (a town south of Jerusalem), and lived in Nazareth (a city in north Jerusalem) – the camels the wise men rode in on were likely have been dromedary camels as they came from the East (and it took them about two years to get there, so they wouldn’t have actually visited Jesus in the stable).

Camels are even-toed insulated, with a hump or humps. Each hump is a mound of fat – stored up so that the animal does can go travel great distance without stopping to refuel! When the store has been used up the hump(s) will flop and become limp, until the animal has refuelled; the hump(s) will then return to their upright position

The dromedary or Arabian camel (scientifice name: Camelus dromedarius) is the one-humped camel; the smallest of the three remaining camel species. This species is found in the Middle-East and the Horn of Africa; likely the species the wise men travelled on. (The other camel species being the Bactrian.)

Standing between 1.7-2.0m tall and weighing 300-600kg the dromedary has a diet consisting of a range of desert vegetation; including thorny plants, dwarf shrubs, herbs, desert grasses, vines, and trees. They will graze for 8-12 hours each day.

A male camel is known as “bull”, a female is a “cow”, and the young as “a calf” or “calves”. After a 12-15 month gestation period the female will give birth in solitude, usually to a single calf, however on occasion may give birth to twins. The mother will then care for the young for up to two years.

Unfortunately, the dromedary has not naturally existed in the wild for a long time; thought to be around 2000 years. However there are feral camels of this species found, particularly in Australia (where they were introduced around 1840). But with breeding programmes around the world in animal collections, this species is still strong in number [for the time being].


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


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Rare Species: Vaquita

The Vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world; a little porpoise, that wasn’t discovered until 1958. Now, almost 60 years on and they are on the brink of extinction. They are often caught in nets in marine protected areas, within Mexico’s Gulf of California, and drown as a result. Sadly, more than half of the population has been lost in the last three years.

The Vaquita is pale grey along its’ sides, dark grey on the dorsal surface (on top), and light grey/ white ventral surface (along the bottom). They have dark rings around the eyes and lips, and a dark thin line from the lips to the pectoral (front, side) fins. Newborns are darker in colour, with pale grey along the dorsal surface and head.

Since the freshwater River Dolphin species, the Baiji, went extinct in 2006 the Vaquita has taken the title of the world’s most endangered cetacean. As of 2016, there is suspected to be less than 30 left in the wild; a drastic drop in numbers since 1997 when there were approximately 600 in the wild.

The poaching of the endangered Totoaba fish, for its’ swim bladder – a Chinese delicacy, using gill-nets (fixed fishing nets) is the main cause of the Vaquita’s declining numbers. Vaquita’s get caught in gill-nets, and drown, as they cannot get free to get to the surface for air.

Gill-nets, though usually put in place for a single species, do not discriminate – many different species get caught, and often die. Whales, dolphins and porpoises all get trapped – some get away with injuries, whilst most die.

Dr. Anna Hall, of the Porpoise Conservation Society, said, There is nothing else we need to worry about other than gill-nets. If we remove the gill-nets, we will likely save the Vaquita.”


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


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International Rabbit Day: 24 September 2017

Happy International Rabbit Day

Initially classified as Rodents but, in the early 20th Century, re-classified as Lagomorphs; rabbits in the wild exist on every continent except Asia and Antarctica, and domestically world-wide.

A male rabbit is known as a Buck and a female is known as a Doe. Baby rabbits are often mistakenly thought to be known as Bunnies, but a young rabbit is actually known as a Kit or a Kitten.

For more information about rabbits, check out another of my posts, Bunny Basics – http://alisanswers.com/index.php/2014/03/28/bunny-basics/