Thursday, October 28, 2010

African Tree Toad

True Wild Life | African Tree Toad | The African tree toad is a small species of toad found in the forests of central Africa. Today, little is still known about this tiny amphibian and the constantly decreasing population numbers of the African tree toad are making it increasingly difficult for us to learn more about them. The African tree toad is found distributed across it's natural central African range in countries such as Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, possibly Central African Republic, and possibly Republic of the Congo.

There are two known subspecies of African tree toad, which are the African tree toad and the Bates' tree toad. Both African tree toad species are of similar size and colour but tend to differ in the geographical regions which they inhabit. The natural habitats of the African tree toad are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest, where there is a plentiful water supply. The African tree toad is generally dark to light brown in colour, with white patches on it's belly and like other toad species, the African tree toad has slightly webbed feet which aid it's semi-aquatic and tree climbing lifestyle.

The African tree toad is a carnivorous amphibian that shoots it's long, sticky tongue out of it's mouth at incredible speeds to catch and secure it's prey. The African tree toad primarily hunts small invertebrates including insects, worms and spiders. Due to its small size, the African tree toad has numerous predators within it's warm, woodland environment. Fish, birds, lizards, snakes, rodents and larger amphibians like frogs and toads are all common predators of the African tree toad.

Little is really known about the reproduction of the African tree toad besides the fact that female African tree toads lay up to 200 sticky eggs in small bodies of water, which are then guarded by the male African tree toad until they hatch into tadpoles. Today, the African tree toad is a rare and highly endangered species with only a handful thought to be left in the African forests. Habitat loss caused by deforestation and rising pollution levels are thought to be the two main causes in the African tree toad's decline.
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Smilodon ( Sabre-toothed Tiger)

True Wild Life | Smilodon | The Saber Tooth Tigers are some of the best known and most popular of ice age animals. They are among the most impressive carnivores that ever have lived. Two different types of saber toothed tigers lived in the mid-western U.S. at the end of the ice age. One of the most familiar saber tooth tiger was (genus smilodon). These cats had enlarged canines usually associated with the name saber tooth. Their canines were up to 7 inches long (18 centimeters)! The second type is the less known (genus Homotherium). These cats had shorter canines about ten centimeters (4 inches) long. The canines were also flatter at the tips. Some of the differences can be seen by comparing the homotherium cat to the smilodon cat.


The sabre-toothed tiger is one of the most well-known prehistoric animals along with giants such as the woolly mammoth. Sabre-toothed tigers roamed the mid-western US and parts of both North and South America and were named for the enormous canines which skeletons show, protruded quite far out of their mouths. Despite it's name, the sabre-toothed tiger was not actually related to the modern tigers that are found throughout the jungles of Asia. It is thought that the sabre-toothed tiger would have roamed across the grassland plains and open woodlands throughout both North and South America where individuals would of varied slightly depending on the area which they inhabited.

The sabre-toothed tiger is one of the best known ice-age animals but little is really known about them as they are thought to have become extinct around 10,000BC which is a long time ago. The sabre-toothed tiger was named for the canines that could grow to more than 7 inches in length and were capable of fatally wounding their prey with one bite. Sadly, the colour of the sabre-tooth tiger is unknown but it is thought that is would of been of a similar colouration to the modern day lion found in Africa (and which it is not closely related to). The sabre-toothed tiger also had a powerful, muscular body which meant that it could quickly catch and pounce on it's prey before using it's knife-like teeth to cause to the fatal blow.

In the same way as modern day felines, the sabre-toothed tiger was a carnivorous animal and would of been the most dominant predator within its environment. Large herbivorous animals such as deer and bison would of been the most common prey of the sabre-toothed tiger along with occasional giant such as a small woolly mammoth should their ranges cross, although their exact diet is unknown. The sabre-toothed cat would of been the most ferocious and therefore the apex predator within it's environment so had no natural predators on the American plains. Humans are thought to be the most likely cause for the demise of this enormous cat and more than 2,000 sabre-toothed tiger skeletons have been found emerged in the tar pits close to Los Angeles.

As with modern felines, the sabre-toothed tiger would of bred in the warmer months of early spring, when after a gestation period that could last as long as 8 months, the female sabre-toothed tiger would give birth to an average of 3 cubs per litter. Nothing is known about sabre-toothed tiger cubs but they could be born blind like the cubs of today's felines. The sabre-toothed tiger is thought to have become extinct more than 12,000 years ago when human settlers first arrived in the Americas, hunting this species to extinction. Although climate change could also be the primary cause for their demise, little however is really known.
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Bactrian Camel


True Wild Life | Bactrian Camel | The bactrian camel is better known as being the type of camel with two humps. There are only two surviving species of camel remaining, the single humped camels from the Middle East and the bactrian (double humped) camel from Northern Asia. There are thought to be more than a million bactrian camels domesticated worldwide in not just Asia, but also parts of Africa and the Middle East. Camels have been domesticated for around 2,000 years for both pulling/carrying heavy loads but also for transporting both humans and merchandise.

Like the single humped camel, the bactrian camel is able to survive on its own water reserves for long periods of time meaning they can cross enormous desert plains and mountain ranges without the need to stop so often. Today the bactrian camel is considered to be a critically endangered species with less than 1,000 bactrian camels thought to living in the wild in parts of China and Mongolia.

The bactrian camels humps work in the same way to the Arabian camels humps, with the bactrian camels humps used for storing fat which can be converted to water and energy when the bactrian camel is unable to find food and water. The bactrian camels humps give the bactrian camels their legendary ability to endure long periods of travel without water, even in harsh desert conditions. As the fat in the bactrian camels humps gets used up, the bactrian camels humps become floppy and flabby.

The bactrian camel is one of the most adaptive animals in the world with the bactrian camel being able to withstand temperatures from 40 degrees Centigrade in the summer to -30 degrees Centigrade in the winter. Bactrian camels have developed special adaptations to allow the bactrian camel to survive in such a brutal environment. The bactrian camel has a thick, shaggy coat that protects the bactrian camel from the cold in the winter and the bactrian camels coat falls away as seasons change and temperatures rise to allow the bactrian camel to keep cool in the summer.
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Common Loon

True Wild Life | Common Loon | The common loon  is a species of bird that is most closely related to the duck, mainly due to the ability of the common loon to dive underwater in order to hunt for food. The common loon is found in parts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland, but common loon have recently been found in other watery parts across Europe and North America.

The common loon, like all divers, is a specialist fish-eater, as the common loon catches its prey underwater. The common loon has been seen diving as deep as 200 feet (60 m) to get its lunch. The common loon that have a very freshwater diet mainly eat pike, perch, sunfish, trout, and bass. The common loon that have a more salt-water diet feed on rock fish, flounder, sea trout, and herring.

The common loon needs a long distance to gain momentum for take-off, and is ungainly on landing. Its clumsiness on land is due to the legs being positioned at the rear of the body of the common loon which is ideal for diving but is not well-suited for assistance the common loon with walking. When the birds land on water, they skim along on their bellies to slow down, rather than on their feet, as the feet of a common loon are set too far back.

The common loon can swim gracefully on the surface of the water, and the common loon dives as well as any flying bird. The common loon is also able to fly well for hundreds of kilometers when these birds migrate. The common loon has almost completely disappeared from the waters of eastern North America, mainly due to pollution in the water and excess pollutants causing acid rain to occur.
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Barn Owl

True Wild Life | Barn Owl | Barn owls are one of the most widely distributed birds found everywhere around the world apart from the polar and desert regions. Although this is the case, the barn owl population is more predominant in the Southern Hemisphere due to better climate conditions for the barn owl. Barn owls tend to measure between 25 and 40cm tall and adult barn owls can have a wingspan of up to 110cm long. The wing span of the barn owl is however dependent on the species of barn owl so some owls may be smaller, where other species of barn owl may be much bigger.

Surprisingly, these common barn owls do not make the hoot sound that can often be heard at night. Instead the owls produce a high-pitched scream and can also hiss in a similar way to a cat or snake if the barn owl feels threatened. Barns owls can be most commonly seen in the open countryside and along river banks, fields and even the verges on the side of the road. Barn owls are nocturnal animals meaning that typically barn owls rest during the light day time hours and emerge at dusk to begin a night of hunting.

Barn owls most commonly hunt small mammals such as mice, voles and rats but barn owls also hunt fish close to the surface of the water and smaller birds in the tree tops and even in the air. Barn owls swallow their prey whole and then bring back up (regurgitate) the indigestible parts such as bones in the form of a small pellet. Barn owls are well suited to their nocturnal lifestyle. The large eyes of the barn owl enable the barn owl to have fantastic eyesight even in the darkness of night, but barn owls also have incredibly accurate hearing. The ears of the barn owl are set with one higher than the other giving the barn owl better hearing in general but it also means that when the barn owl is hunting for prey, it can use one ear to detect noise on the ground below and the other ear is used to detect noise from the air and trees above.

Female barn owls lay a clutch of up to 7 eggs in the warm months of spring. The female barn owl nests in a hollow tree or rock, and the barn owl eggs usually hatch after about a month. The male barn owl is known to help feed the barn owl chicks and the barn owl chicks are able to fly by the time they are 12 weeks old. Although the barn owl, is not considered to be a threatened species of animal, the barn owl population numbers have severely decreased over the years due to pollution and habitat loss as the barn owls are finding it harder and harder in some areas to find food. Despite this being true, the barn owl population in the UK is thought to be increasing again.

There are more than 30 different species of barn owl found across Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of Australia and the Americas. All barn owl species have a similar appearance but can differ great in both size and colour.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Javan Rhinoceros

True Wild Life | Javan Rhinoceros | The Javan rhinoceros  is a small species of rhinoceros native to parts of south-east Asia. The Javan rhinoceros is thought to be most closely related to the Indian rhinoceros, both of which only have one horn. The Javan Rhino primarily inhabits dense lowland rain forests, tall grass and reed beds that are plentiful with rivers, large floodplains, or wet areas with many mud wallows. The range of Javan rhinoceros once stretched from Bengal, through south-east Asia and down to Sumatra but today, the Javan rhinoceros is only found in Vietnam and on the island of Java.

The Javan rhinoceros only has one horn which is much smaller than those of other rhinoceros species, growing to an average length of 25cm. The Javan rhinoceros uses its small horn for defence, intimidation, digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding. The horn of the Javan rhinoceros is made from a substance called keratin and is therefore very strong. The horn of the Javan rhinoceros is used in ancient medicine and many Indian rhinos have been illegally poached for them. The Javan rhinoceros has relatively poor eyesight, relying more on hearing and smell to detect what is going on around them. The ears of the Javan rhinoceros possess a relatively wide rotational range to detect sounds and an excellent sense of smell to readily alert them to the presence of predators.

The Javan rhinoceros is a herbivorous animal meaning that it sustains itself on a purely plant based diet. Javan rhinos browse the densely vegetated sub-tropical forest for leaves, flowers, buds, fruits, berries and roots which they dig up from the ground using their horns. Due to it's large size, the Javan rhino's only real predator in the wild are large wild cats such as tigers that will prey on the Javan rhino calves and weak individuals. Humans are the biggest threat to the Javan rhinoceros as they have been hunted to the brink of extinction for their horns.

The Javan rhinoceros is solitary animal and only comes together with other Javan rhinos to mate. The female Javan rhinoceros gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period that is over a year long. The Javan rhinoceros calf remains with it's mother until it is at least 2 years old and big enough to become independent. Today, the Javan rhinoceros has been poached for it's horns to the extent that it is on the brink of extinction. Hunting of the Javan rhinoceros along with habitat loss in their native regions have led to there being only a handful of Javan rhinoceros individuals left in the jungles of south-east Asia today.

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Orang Utan

True Wild Life | Orang Utan | The orangutan is now an endangered species. The orangutan is a large primate found naturally in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra.  There are an estimated 70,000 orangutan left in the wild and it is suspected that if nothing is done to prevent the rapidly diminishing population of the orangutan, then the orangutan will be extinct within the next 10 years. The orangutan are well known for their intelligence, long arms and orange hair. The orangutan is one of the more intelligent primates along with the gorilla, chimpanzee and the human.

The orangutan is the state animal and emblem for the Malaysian state of Sabah, Borneo. The orangutans name comes from the Malay and Indonesian phrase orang hutan meaning man of the forest. An estimated 5,000 orangutans are killed every year due to the destruction of the rainforest to make way for the ever increasing palm oil plantations (palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is found in a shockingly large number of consumer products both food and cosmetics). Many baby orangutans are left orphaned when their mother orangutan is killed during the destruction of their jungle environment. A baby orangutan cannot look after itself effectively particularly when the orangutan has not been taught the vital skills it needs to survive.

The orangutan is an omnivore although they have an almost exclusively vegetarian diet. The orangutan eats fruit and berries and a wide variety of plants that grow in the tropics but mainly those that grow in the high forest tree tops making the orangutan a master of tree climbing.

Orang-utan Foot Facts

    * The hands and feet of the orangutan are very similar to those of a human as they each have four longer digits (fingers and toes) and one opposable digit (thumb and big toe).
    * The orangutan uses its complex hands and feet to grasp and hold things such as food and tree branches.
    * The orangutan mainly uses its long arms and hands to climb trees with the feet of the orangutan acting to help support the body weight and balance of the orangutan.
    * Instead of mainly using its legs and feet to get around, the orangutan primarily moves about using its hands and arms backed up by the incredibly strong shoulder muscles of the orangutan.
    * The orangutan has finger and toe nails rather than claws which the orangutan mainly uses for opening fruit and scratching and cleaning itself.

Orang-utan Teeth Facts

    * The orangutan often uses its mouth to as a place to store food so that the orangutan has free hands and feet for climbing and swinging in the trees.
    * The orangutan has a powerful jaw that is capable of crushing on chewing its food, which includes spiky fruits, nuts and tree bark.
    * The orangutan uses its lips to detect the texture of the food before eating it, and also for making facial expressions when communicating with another orangutan.
    * Inside the mouth of the orangutan there are 32 teeth, which is the same number of teeth that a human has.
    * The orangutan has teeth very much like the teeth of a human as the teeth of the orangutan are also coated in a thick layer of enamel in order to protect them and make them stronger.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nurse Shark


\True Wild Life | Nurse Shark | The nurse shark is most commonly found in the waters around central America, although natural habitat of the nurse shark ranges from the North USA to Brazil and nurse sharks are even found on the East Coast of Africa. The nurse shark is also found around the Caribbean Islands and from southern California to Peru on the American west coast. The nurse shark is a common coastal bottom-dwelling shark, found in tropical and subtropical waters around the continental shelves. The nurse shark is frequently found at depths of one meter or less but it is not uncommon for nurse sharks to venture down to depths of 12 m.


Nurse sharks commonly habitat reefs, channels between mangrove islands and sand flats, where food is in abundance. The nurse shark preys on fish, shrimp, sea urchins, the occasional octopus and stingrays, and as with many other species of shark, the fast reactions and stealthy approach of the nurse shark mean that the nurse shark is easily able to have a meal. Nurse sharks are nocturnal animals and are generally inactive during the day. It is in these hours of daylight that nurse sharks can be found together in groups of up to 40 nurse shark individuals. Despite this, the nurse shark is a solitary hunter and will spend the dark nights hunting alone. Nurse sharks appear to have resting spots that they return to daily rather than just resting anywhere. These preferred resting spots of the nurse shark tend to be in crevices in rocks and reefs.

The nurse shark mating season is in early summer. Female nurse sharks will retain their eggs inside them until they hatch and are fully developed, before a live birth then occurs. The nurse shark gestation period is approximately 6 months, when the female nurse shark will give birth to between 28 and 25 nurse sharks babies, known as pups. Nurse sharks are generally known to be one of the more sluggish and docile sharks of the different species of shark. It is because of this that nurse sharks have been hunted for their tough, leathery skin and for their meat. Nurse sharks do not appear to pose any great threat to humans although a number of unprovoked attacks have been recorded.

Nurse sharks tend to live to around 25 years of age by which time the nurse shark is often over 4 m in length. When the baby nurse sharks are born, they tend to be around 30 cm long and are already fully developed. The darker skin of the baby nurse sharks tends to fade quickly as they age.
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Poison Dart Frog

True Wild Life | Poison Dart Frog | Poison dart frogs are a group of frogs that are native to the tropical jungles of Central and South America. Poison dart frogs excrete toxins through their skins, and the brightly coloured bodies of poison dart frogs warn potential predators not to eat them. Poison dart frogs vary in size, colour and the levels of toxin that they produce depending on the species of poison dart frog and the area in which it lives. There are more than 175 different species of poison dart frog known to be inhabiting the jungles across Central and South America.

Poison dart frogs are often known as dart frogs or poison arrow frogs due to the fact that the tribes-people living close to the poison dart frogs, would use their poison in order to tip the ends of their arrows and blow-darts. Poison dart frogs live on the ground or in the foliage just above it. Poison dart frogs are found in moist and humid forests that are free from high levels of pollution. Today, many species of poison dart frogs are considered to be critically endangered in the wild, mainly due to pollution and habitat loss.

Poison dart frogs are carnivorous animals that survive on a diet purely made up of meat. Poison dart frogs shoot out their long, sticky tongues to catch flies, ants, insects, spiders and termites. Due to the high toxin levels produced by the poison dart frog, it has very few predators in the wild. Many animals will become extremely sick from just licking a poison dart frog, so they won't approach them. There is only one species of snake that is known to be immune to the poison of the poison dart frog.

Many species of poison dart frog, make devoted parents as they carry their newborn hatchings from ground-level where they were laid to the safety of the canopy above. The eggs stick to mucus on the back of the mother poison dart frog, while she carries it a water-pool in a flower high in the trees. The female poison dart frog does this with all of her babies, and lays an unfertilised egg in the water for her young to eat.
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Bengal Tiger

True Wild Life | Bengal Tiger | The Bengal tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh and is considered to be the second largest tiger in the world. The Bengal tiger (also known as the Royal Bengal tiger) is a subspecies of tiger, found across the Indian subcontinent. The Bengal tiger is the most numerous species of tiger in Asia and is found in dense forests and mangrove swamps and jungles throughout India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, although the Bengal tiger's range today is much smaller than it once was.

The Bengal tiger is considered to be the second largest species of tiger, although recent reports suggest that the Bengal tiger is on average, larger than the Siberian tiger. The Bengal tiger has a yellow or light orange coat, with black or dark brown stripes and a white belly. The white tiger is a Bengal tiger that has mutated genes, meaning that it is white in colour with black stripes. Black tigers are known to have black fur with lighter coloured stripes but are even rarer than the white tiger.

The Bengal tiger is a dominant and carnivorous predator, hunting its prey by stalking it until the Bengal tiger has the opportunity to catch it off guard. Bengal tigers primarily hunt larger mammals including deer, wild boar, cattle and goats. Due to the size and power of the Bengal tiger, it has no natural predators in its native environment. Humans that hunt the Bengal tiger and habitat loss are the only threats to the Bengal tiger.

After a gestation period of 3 to 4 months, the female Bengal tiger gives birth to up to 5 cubs. Newborn Bengal tiger cubs weigh about 1 kg (2 lb) and are blind and helpless. The mother feeds them milk for about 2 months and then the Bengal tiger cubs are introduced to meat. Bengal tiger cubs depend on their mother for the first 18 months and then they start hunting on their own.

Today, due to habitat loss caused by deforestation, and hunting by human poachers, the Bengal tiger is considered to be an endangered species. Despite being the most common of all the tiger species, there are thought to be around 2,000 Bengal tigers left in the wild.
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True Wild Life | Liger |  The liger is a big cat born from the breeding of a male lion and a female tiger. This combination produces an offspring with more lionistic features than if the reverse pairing had occurred. That would produce a more tigeristic creature known as a tigon. Both are members of genus Panthera.There is no scientific name assigned to this animal because it is a combination of two species. Some ligers grow impressive manes, while others do not. Ligers are prone to giantism and grow much larger than either parent. A liger looks like a giant lion with muted stripes but like their tiger ancestors, ligers like swimming.

Swimming goes against the nature of a lion but is what makes hybrid creature special. It gets the best of both parents. That is not always the case though with crossbreeds. Sometimes the results go the other way and the animal gets the worst of both parents. A tigon or tigron is a hybrid cross between a male tiger and a female lion or lioness. The tigon is not currently as common as the liger, however, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tigons were more common than ligers. Tigons tend to be the same size or smaller than their parents and have less angular heads. They have a stronger striping pattern generally.

As the liger is the offspring of two different animal species, the lion and the tiger, the liger is thought to be sterile in the same way as a mule or zonkey. However, the male ligers and tigons are sterile while the female ligers and tigons are generally fertile. The males typically have low testosterone and not very motile sperm. Because only female ligers and tigons are fertile, ligers and tigons cannot reproduce with each other. They can breed to a male of either parent species (tiger or lion) producing 3/4 tigers and 3/4 lions (ti tigon, ti liger, etc).

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Monday, October 25, 2010


True Wild Life | Armadillo | The armadillo is native to both North America and South America, although only one species of Armadillo is found in the United States. The average armadillo measures around 75cm in length, including the tail but the giant armadillo can grow to more than 1.5m long and the miniature pink fairy armadillo (the smallest armadillo species) only gets to around 10cm in length. There are around 20 species of armadillo still existent on the American continent with the nine-banded armadillo being the only species found outside of the South American tropics. The armadillo has a hard outer shell and can curl up into a ball leaving no soft body parts exposed to danger (a bit like a woodlouse). The armadillo also has long claws which the armadillo uses for digging burrows and hunting for insects in the earth. Despite the armadillo\'s odd shape, most armadillos can also reach a top speed of nearly 30 mph so can easily outrun most jungle predators. The primary predators of the armadillo are bears, wolves, wildcats and cougars.

The armadillo has very poor vision which makes the armadillo somewhat vulnerable in its jungle environment. The armadillo\'s armour is formed by plates of bone covered in relatively small overlapping scales. The scales of the armadillo are known as scutes and these scutes are made up of bone with a covering of horn. The armadillo has additional armour that covers the top of its head, the upper parts of the armadillo\s limbs and the armadillo's tail. The underside of the armadillo has no armour, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur, hence it's strategy of curling into a ball leaving only the armoured plates exposed.

The armadillo is generally an insectivore meaning that the diet of the armadillo is primarily comprised of insects. Armadillos also snack on other things including worms, spiders, snakes and frogs although the exact diet of the armadillo is very much dependent on the area which it inhabits.

Female armadillos give birth to around four young which are born after a gestation period of three to four months. After birth, the baby armadillos remain in the burrow for a few months, only feeding on their mothers milk. They then begin to forage with the mother, eventually leaving after six months to a year. Some species of armadillo are known to reproduce every year so a single female armadillo can produce up to 56 young over the course of her life.
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