Category Archives: Prey

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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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.


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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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/ 

Rare Species: Ili Pika


For over two decades this little lagomorph was winning at the “hide” part of the game “hide and seek”! Until it was finally spotted again in 2014, after being thought to be [practically] extinct.

The Ili Pika (scientific name: Ochotona iliensis) is an eight-inch long rabbit and hare relative, and is one of the world’s most endangered animals. The census carried out in 2014 showed that less than 1,000 individuals of this tiny animal is believed to be left in the wild. That more endangered than the Giant Panda. Unfortunately, little more is known about this species – thought to be diurnal with some nocturnal activity.

First discovered by Li Weidong in 1983, this man has watched as the species he discovered has declined in number over the years, becoming endangered – with no one working to protect this species, or their habitat, their numbers may well keep decreasing. It was named after where Li first spotted the Pika, on the far west side of China’s Xinjiang province; the Ili Prefecture. They live in holes in the rocks, high up in the mountains – at heights of between 2,800-4,100 metres.

The cause of the reduction in the habitat of this little furry creature is unknown; however contributing factors may include the increasing population of people moving further into the habitat of the Pika, due to climate change – the reduction of snow at lower altitudes,  and causing a reduction in grazing areas. Whatever the cause, there is no conservation system in place currently; however the rediscovery of this species has boosted them into the media since 2014, raising awareness.

 


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


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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Rare Species: Hirola


The hirola (Beatragus hunteri) is also known as “Hunter’s Antelope” or “Hunter’s Hartebeest”,  and even “four-eyed antelope”.

The hirola is the only surviving species of the  Beatragus genus; a genus of antelope which there used to contain  many different species. If the hirola becomes extinct, it would mean not only the loss of a species, but also of the entire Beatragus genus of antelope. Due to this, the hirola is often referred to as a ‘living fossil’.

The species is so rare, that it is classed as critically endangered on the Endangered Species List. The next step down, is extinct in the wild and after that it’s completely extinct.

The hirola is a medium sized antelope, weighing (approximately) between 68-115 kg. They are a sandy brown colour, with a paler underside. The species has well developed horns in both genders; which are tall and ridged.  As hirola get older their  horns accumulate more ridges, and their coat darkens to a slate grey. The hirola have what’s referred to a white ‘spectacles’ – white rings around the eyes , joined by a line across the head. The white facial markings also surround scent glands under the eyes, which is why the hirola is often called the “four-eyed antelope”.

Adult hirola

Lifespan in the wild is unknown, however the average captive lifespan is ten years. The hirola is now thought to be restricted in distribution to the south-eastern coast of Kenya, south of the Somalian border.

It is estimated that the population size is between 600 and 2,000 individuals in the wild; however the actual number is thought to be closer to 600.
The main threats to the survival of the hirola today include disease, poaching, predation, competition with domestic livestock, habitat loss,  and drought. The species has been legally protected from hunting in Kenya since 1971 and in Somalia since 1977; unfortunately the enforcement of this law is poor and poaching is still a large threat.
In my opinion, we as a species (humans) need to protect what animals that still survive on the earth, before following generations are left with none. The number of animal species on the planet has declined majorly over generations; largely due to our selfishness.

All images are open source, Google images, or my own.


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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World Elephant Day: 12 August 2016


#WorldElephantDay on social media to spread awareness (www.worldelephantday.org).

Common Elephant Facts:

  • It is thought that there used to be approximately 350 different species of elephant on the planet, at one time.
  • Today there are only two species left; the Asian elephant, and the African elephant .
  • Wild lifespan of 60-70 years; captive lifespan of below 40 years.
  • Gestation (pregnancy): 22 months.
  • Live together in (familial) herds of 10-100 elephants, led by the matriarch.
  • Young males will leave the family heard, and often form smaller bachelor groups, once sexual maturity is reached.
  • Known to visit ‘elephant graveyards’ and mourn the death of herd members.
  • Their trunk is used like a finger/hand – to grab things, such as food or to move obstacles out of their way; as well as sometimes being used to hold onto the tail of the elephant in front during walkies!
African_elephant_(Loxodonta_africana)_reaching_up_1
African Elephant – using trunk to get food (Open Source Google Image)

Asian Elephant Facts:

  • also known as the Indian elephant.
  • smaller in size than the African, weighing up to 5 tonnes, reaching 6.4 metres in length, and 3 metres in height.
  • small ears, straight at the bottom.
  • only males have tusks; not all males get tusks.
  • five toes on the front feet; four toes on the back feet.
  • estimated to be less than 50,000 remaining in the wild – classification: endangered.
Asian Elephant (Open Source Google Image)
Asian Elephant (Open Source Google Image)

African elephants:

  • larger of the two elephant species, weighing up to 6 tonnes, reaching 7.5 metres in length, and 3.3 metres in height.
  • large, round edged ears; used as fans in the heat (plus excess heat is released from the large surface area).
  • of the African, there are two subspecies; bush or savanna and forest.
  • both males and females have tusks.
  • African elephants are left or right-tusked (like we are left or right-handed); the dominant tusk is often smaller due to wear and tear.
  • five front toes; three hind toes.
  • estimated to be 470,000 remaining in the wild – classification: vulnerable.
African Elephant (Open Source Google Image)
African Elephant (Open Source Google Image)