Saturday, December 25, 2010


True Wild Life | Axolotl | The axolotl is a medium-sized amphibian that is only found in one complex of lakes that are close to Mexico City in south-central Mexico. The axolotl is today kept as a popular freshwater aquarium pet all around the world. The axolotl is most closely related to the tiger salamander which inhabits the waters in a similar region of Mexico. However, axolotls can be easily distinguished from salamanders as the axolotl retains it's tadpole-like appearance for it's whole life, therefore axolotls and young tiger salamanders are easily confused.

The axolotl has a flat-shaped broad head that is much wider than the body of the axolotl. The axolotl also has feathery gills which protrude from either side of the head of the axolotl, allowing the axolotl to breath under water. As with newts and salamanders, axolotls are able to regenerate limbs that become damaged or detached meaning that axolotls have been extensively used in scientific experiments around the world. The axolotl is most commonly found in albino form as they spend a great deal of their lives hiding under rocks and in crevices on the bottom of the lake. Although axolotls are generally white or pink in colour, black, grey and brown coloured axolotls can also be found.

The axolotl is a carnivorous animal meaning that the axolotl has a purely meat-based diet. The axolotl eats worms and insect larvae that develop under the surface of the water along with molluscs, crustaceans and some small species of fish. Due to the bottom-dwelling lifestyle of the axolotl, it has surprisingly few natural predators despite it's relatively small size. Birds and large fish are the most common predators of the axolotl along with humans who catch the axolotl to keep as pets in artificial environments.

The axolotl can live for up to 25 years although the average axolotl rarely gets much older than the age of 15. Female axolotls can lay anywhere from 100 to 1,000 eggs which are coated with a sticky substance that helps them to stick to plants and rocks in the water to keep them safe. After about a month of development, tiny axolotl babies emerge into the open water. Today, the axolotl is considered to be a critically endangered species meaning that there are very few axolotl individuals left in the wild. Increasing levels of pollution is the most destructive factor in the survival to the axolotl with the ever-growing size of nearby Mexico City.
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True Wild Life | Avocet | The avocet is a type of wading bird that is found across mudflats in the world's warmer climates. There are four different species of avocet which are the Pied avocet, the American avocet, the Red-necked avocet and the Andean avocet. The avocet is generally found in watery habitats close to the coast including marshland, wetlands and swamp. The exact habitat of the avocet is dependent on the species as the Pied avocet is found in Europe and Asia, the American avocet is found on the Pacific coast of North America, the Red-necked avocet in Australia and the Andean avocet is natively found nesting high up in the Andes Mountains.

The avocet is a very distinctive looking bird due to the fact that the avocet has a long and thin, upturned beak which it sweeps from side to side in the water to catch food. Like other waders the avocet also has long legs and webbed feet to aid it in hunting in the shallows. The avocet is a relatively large and forceful species of bird, often reported to intimidate other birds into leaving its spot. Avocets are relatively sociable birds and can often be seen flying, hunting, migrating and nesting in large flocks.

The avocet is a carnivorous animal and primarily feeds on insects and other small invertebrates in order to survive. Avocets also feed on small fish, crustaceans and even the odd amphibian when they are hunting in the water. Due to their relatively large size, the avocet has a limited number of predators in it's natural environment with dogs, cats, stoats and weasels being the primary predators of the avocet chicks and eggs. Avocets are known to breed on open ground, generally close to the water. The female avocet lays around 4 eggs which are incubated by both parents until they hatch a month later. Avocet chicks are nursed by both parents until they fledge (fly away from the nest) at between 4 and 6 weeks old.

Today, the avocet appears to be thriving particularly in the UK, where extensive conservation work has been done in order to try and build the avocet population after it became extinct in Britain in the 1800s. Today, the avocet is also on the logo for the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).
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Asian Elephant

True Wild Life | Asian Elephant | Asian Elephants are much smaller than the African elephants only growing to a couple of meters tall. Asian elephants are found in the tropical jungles of India and China, and throughout most countries in south-east Asia. Asian elephants have been domesticated for hundreds of years for foresting and often battle. There are many places across Asia where Asian elephants are kept for tourists to ride, and are often treated fairly badly. Asian elephants are well known for their immense strength and friendliness towards humans.

Today, the Asian elephant is considered an endangered species with only around 50,000 left in the wild. This is due to the loss of habitat of the Asian elephant and illegal poachers hunting the Asian elephant, for their skins and ivory. The Asian elephant has smaller ears than the African elephant and the Asian elephant also has a more curved spine than the African elephant. Unlike the African elephants, the female Asian elephant very rarely have tusks, and if the female Asian elephant does have tusks, they are generally barely visible and can only be seen when the female Asian elephant opens her mouth.

The Asian elephant follows strict migration routes that are determined by the monsoon season. The eldest elephant of the Asian elephant herd is responsible for remembering the migration route of its Asian elephant herd. This Asian elephant migration generally takes place between the wet and dry seasons and problems arose when farms where built along the migratory routes of the Asian elephant herds, as the Asian elephants caused a great deal of destruction to the newly founded farmland. Asian elephants are herbivorous animals meaning that they only eat plants and plant matter in order to gain all of the nutrients that they need to survive. Asian elephants eat a wide variety of vegetation including grasses, leaves, shoots, barks, fruits, nuts and seeds. Asian elephants often use their long trunk to assist them in gathering food.

Due to their large size, Asian elephants have very few predators within their natural environment. Besides human hunters, tigers are the primary predator of the Asian elephant, although they tend to hunt the smaller Asian elephant calves rather than the much larger and stronger adults. Female Asian elephants are generally able to breed by the time they are 10 years old, and give birth to a single Asian elephant calf after a 22 month gestation period. When the Asian elephant calf is first born, it weighs about 100 kg, and is cared for not only by it's mother by also by other female Asian elephants in the herd (known as aunties). The infant Asian elephant remains with its mother until it is around 5 years old and gains its independence, with males often leaving the herd and female calves staying.

Today, the Asian elephant is considered to be an animal that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct due to the fact that Asian elephant populations have been declining at a critical rate. Asian elephants are thought to be suffering primarily due to habitat loss in the form of deforestation and hunting for their ivory tusks by human poachers.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Arctic Wolf

True Wild Life | Arctic Wolf | The Arctic wolf is found in the most northern parts of the wolf's range, in the Arctic Circle. Arctic wolves mainly inhabit Northern Canada and Alaska, parts of Greenland and Iceland and Northern Europe. Arctic wolves are incredibly versatile and adaptive animals, able to withstand year round sub-zero temperatures. Living in the Arctic Circle, the Arctic wolf spends five out of twelve months in total darkness.

The Arctic wolf hunts lemmings, assorted rodents, and Arctic hare but will take larger prey like caribou when available. When the Arctic wolf wants to hunt musk ox, the pack will gather and work as a team attempt to isolate it from the herd and take it. An adult musk ox is simply too big for one Arctic wolf to try and take on alone. Although the Arctic wolf is generally smaller in size than the grey wolf, Arctic wolves tend to be bulkier than grey wolves with the male Arctic wolves also growing larger than the female Arctic wolves.

Normally, only the alpha male Arctic wolf and female Arctic wolves breed, but if a pack gets too large it may break up into new smaller packs giving others the opportunity to mate. Due to the Arctic Circle's uncompromising permafrost soil and the difficulty it poses for digging dens, Arctic wolves often use rock outcroppings, caves or even shallow depressions as dens instead.

Arctic wolf pups are born in litters of two or three in the months of May and June, meaning that the Arctic wolf pups are born about a month later than the grey wolf pups. Arctic wolves tend to be white with brown irises, unlike most other subspecies of wolves with yellow to amber eyes. White fur gives them camouflage in a snowy environment, and the darker irises give added protection to the eyes in a high glare environment.
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Arctic Fox

True Wild Life | Arctic Fox | The Arctic Fox is a small white fox native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The Arctic fox is commonly found in the colder parts of Canada, Alaska, Northern Asia and Europe. The Arctic fox is also commonly known as the Snow fox or the White fox due to the fact that the Arctic fox has white fur and spends a great deal of time in the cold snow. The Arctic fox has extremely thick winter fur, which is apparently the warmest fur of all the mammals. The thick fur of the Arctic fox is definitely an essential for the Arctic fox to continue dwelling successfully in the harsh Arctic terrain where temperatures regularly fall below minus 40 degrees Celsius.

The Arctic fox tends to prey on lemmings, hares, reptiles, amphibians and occasionally vulnerable seal pups that are not close to their herd. The Arctic fox makes its den far under the surface of the ground, and can amazingly withstand temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees Celsius. As with many animals that inhabit the Arctic regions, the fur of the Arctic fox changes colour to adapt to its surroundings accordingly. In the winter, the Arctic fox has thick, white fur which allows the Arctic fox to remain warm and camouflaged in its snowy surroundings. In the summer months, the fur of the Arctic fox changes to a brown colour as there the snow will have melted. This newly coloured brown fur of the Arctic fox, allows the Arctic fox to remain as inconspicuous as possible whilst there is no snow in the Arctic during the summer months.

As one of the larger carnivores in the Arctic Circle, the Arctic fox has few natural predators within it's freezing environment. Polar bears, wolf packs and humans are only real predators of the adult Arctic fox, along with large birds of prey such as snowy owls, that primarily prey on the smaller and more vulnerable Arctic fox cubs.

The female Arctic fox gives birth to and raises her cubs in the safety of her den, which is a network of tunnels often underground. After a gestation period of a couple of months, the female Arctic fox gives birth to up to 15 cubs which are born at the start of summer and after being nursed by their mother, are fairly independent by the time the Arctic winter starts again.
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True Wild Life | Antelope | The antelope is a deer-like mammal found in Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas. There are many different species of antelope including the tiny Royal antelope that stands at the height of a rabbit! Unlike deer that renew their horns annually, the antelope has strong permanent horns, that antelope mainly use to defend their herd or to fight other antelopes. An antelope tends to get to between 8 and 10 years old in the wild although they have been known to live for longer when kept in captivity. Many antelope individuals however, wouldn't last into old age in the wild as antelope are a key target for many large carnivorous mammals. If the antelope was old then the antelope would naturally be slower at running from danger.

The antelope is one of the many medium-sized mammals holding the African food chain together. The antelope may only graze on grasses but it is a stable food source for many of Africa\s large carnivorous predators, such as lions, hyenas and crocodiles. Antelope display different defensive behaviours based on their size, habitat, number and species. The smaller solitary antelope tend to live in dense forested areas and these species of antelope defend themselves by hiding. The duiker antelopes get their name from this specie\'s ability to dive into the vegetation. Gazelle-sized antelope run and leap, and some species of antelope exhibit their unique behaviour of pronking or stotting. Large antelope congregate in larger herds and can depend on running as group defence.

The antelope is found in a wide range of habitats, typically woodland, forest, savannah, grassland plains, and marshes. Several species of antelope have adapted to living in the mountains and rocky outcrops, a few species of antelope have adapted to deserts (both hot and cold), and a couple of species of antelope are even semi-aquatic and these antelope live in swamps.

After mating, female antelopes give birth to a single calf or, more rarely, twins, after a gestation period that can last up to eight months. A mother and her newborn calf are vulnerable to predators, and antelopes have had to evolve different strategies for surviving this period. For most antelope species, the female gives birth in dense cover and leaves the calf while she feeds. The calf comes to its mother when she calls it, and once fed, the calf will hide away again. Once in its hiding place, the calf remains completely still and will run away only if it is on the verge of being discovered.
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True Wild Live | Anteater | Anteaters are found throughout the Southern Hemisphere but are more common in Africa, Asia and parts of Australia. The name anteater is given to any medium size insect eating mammal such as the giant anteater, the collared anteater, the silky anteater, the spiny anteater and the echidna which is native to Australia. The average anteater is nearly a meter in length although some species can be bigger (like the giant anteater that gets to nearly 2m long), where others can be smaller (like the silky anteater that only grows to around 30 cm).

The giant anteater is found in parts of central and south America where it inhabits grasslands, forests, jungles and even the lower mountain regions. The giant anteater is known to be able to consume more than 30,000 insects (mainly termites) every day! The giant anteater is the largest of four anteater species and can be five to seven feet long from nose to tail. The giant anteater has a narrow head, a long nose, small eyes and round ears.

The giant anteater has coarse hair which can be grey or brown in colour, with a white-banded black stripe running along the giant anteater's body. The giant anteater also has a long, bushy tail which can be two to three feet long. The giant anteater's front feet have large claws, which are curled under when the giant anteater walks. Although the giant anteater has poor vision the giant anteater is able to detect food using its keen sense of smell.

Despite their soft appearance, anteaters are more than ready to defend themselves against predators and have been known to become very aggressive towards them. Anteaters primarily use their powerful legs and long claws to warn off larger animals including cougars, jaguars and even humans. Female anteaters give birth to a single baby after a gestation period of around 6 months. The baby anteaters spend their first couple of years with their mother and usually become independent when she is pregnant again. In order to remain safe from waiting predators on the ground, baby anteaters spend much of their nursing period clinging to the back of their mother.

Today, the giant anteater population numbers are declining mainly due to habitat loss and over-hunting by humans. Although considered vulnerable animals, the giant anteater is not thought to be in immediate danger of extinction but recent reports indicate that there may be less than 5,000 giant anteater individuals left in the wild.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


True Wild LIfe | Ant | The ant is a small sized invertebrate that is found all around the world, with the exception of the polar regions including the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. As with many other species of insect, there are numerous ant species inhabiting many different environments all around the world. There are more than 12,000 recognised species of ant worldwide, but there are estimated to be nearly 14,000 in total. Ants are thought to have developed from wasp like creatures 100 million years ago after blooming flowers appeared on Earth.

Ants are found in many different sizes and vary in colour depending on the species of ant. Some species of ant even have wings so are able to fly which only extends the range of their territory. In the more humid environment of the tropical jungles of the Southern Hemisphere, the ants are generally of the bigger species, often reaching more than a few centimetres long. Ants are extremely sociable insects and have a complex social structure where every ant individual has a purpose (effectively a job). Ants live in colonies and have a social structure from the worker ants that gather the materials and food, as well as nursing and caring for the ant larvae (the babies), to the queen ant that runs the nest and is the only female that reproduces in her colony.

The queen ant often can live for over a year which is considerably longer than the lives of the worker ants which only really last for a couple of months. The queen ant produces between 800 and 1,500 eggs per day which are fertilised by the sperm of the male ants which is present in the nest. Remarkably, ant eggs that have not been fertilised will still hatch but produce sterile female ants that become worker ants as they cannot reproduce. Ants are omnivorous animals and therefore eat a mixture of both plant and animal matter. The diet of the ant primarily consists of leaves, fungi, honey, nectar, small insects and dead animals, although the exact diet of the ant depends on the species. Some ants species have a more herbivorous diet, where other species of ant mainly eat meat.

Due to their abundance and small size, ants have numerous animals that prey on them from tiny insects to reptiles, mammals and fish, and even certain species of plant have also developed ways in which they can digest them. An ant is said to be able lift up to 50 times its own body weight, and be able to be pull more than 30 times it own body weight. This is the equivalent of an average human adult lifting a fully grown African elephant!
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True Wild Life | Angelfish | There are around 100 different species of angelfish that inhabit the waters of the southern hemisphere. There are two main types of angelfish, those that live in the freshwater rivers in South America (freshwater angelfish) and those angelfish that inhabit the salty ocean waters (marine angelfish). The freshwater angelfish has a more triangular shape and will generally only grow to a few inches in length. The marine angelfish can grow up to 12 inches (the same length as a big ruler) and generally have very brightly coloured markings but the exact colours depend on the angelfish species.

Both the freshwater angelfish and the marine angelfish are known to be relatively difficult fish to keep in household aquariums, as both types of angelfish require very specific water conditions. Angelfish are very susceptible to changes in the water such as salt levels and pH levels, and will often die if changes are too drastic. Despite the fact that their names are the same, freshwater angelfish and marine angelfish are not thought to be closely related. The freshwater angelfish is a tropical species of cichlid, distantly related to the cichlids found in specific lakes in Africa. The marine angelfish are believed to be most closely related to the butterfly fish.

Freshwater angelfish are native to the Amazon basin and are also found in the rivers running off it. Freshwater angelfish inhabit the cleaner waters and prefer to be in temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees centigrade. Freshwater angelfish lay between 100 and 1,000 eggs which hatch in just a couple of days. Freshwater angelfish tend to lay their eggs on a flat leaf or an underwater log. The baby angelfish (known as fry) remain attached to the eggs for another week and feed off the remaining yolk in the egg sack. When they are bigger at a week old, the angelfish fry detach from their eggs and become free swimming. It is at this stage that the baby angelfish begin feeding from nutrients in the water and on plants.

The triangular shape of the freshwater angelfish, means that the angelfish is able to hide more easily amongst the aquatic plants in the water. Wild freshwater angelfish have very distinctive dark stripes that run vertically down their bodies, giving the freshwater angelfish the ability to blend in to it's surroundings. Freshwater angelfish usually breed for life and it is often found that if one of the angelfish parents dies, then the remaining angelfish parent has no interest in breeding. Freshwater angelfish feed on smaller fish and invertebrates in their natural environment as well as eating particles of food found in the water. The freshwater angelfish is preyed upon by larger species of fish, birds and marine mammals.

Marine angelfish are generally found in shallow reefs in depths of up to 50 meters. Marine angelfish are reported to be almost fearless and are noted to be inquisitive and curious towards divers. Some species of marine angelfish are solitary by nature where other species of angelfish form territorial mating pairs or even groups. The groups of marine angelfish usually have one male and a number of females. Unlike the freshwater angelfish, marine angelfish lay their tiny eggs straight into the water. The angelfish eggs float in the sea, becoming mixed in with the plankton, until they hatch. Unfortunately a vast number of marine angelfish eggs are inadvertently eaten by those many animals that feed on the plankton in the water.

Marine angelfish are most well known for the bright colours and patterns on their bodies. Marine angelfish vary in colour and size depending on the species of marine angelfish, although it is known that the patterns and colours of marine angelfish change drastically as they get older. It is believed that these colour changes indicate the position of the marine angelfish, within the marine angelfish social hierarchy. Marine angelfish graze on algae on coral reefs and rocks are well as eating smaller fish and crustaceans such as shrimp and small species of prawn. Adult marine angelfish are preyed upon by sharks, marine mammals and humans, but the young and smaller marine angelfish are eaten by many different species of animal both in the water and those based on land (such as birds).
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Thursday, December 16, 2010


True Wild Life | Alligator | Alligators are in the same family as crocodiles but are native to only two countries, which are the USA and China. Alligators tend to be smaller than their crocodile cousins but have been known to move at speeds of up to 30mph on land making them one of the fastest large reptiles in the world. Alligators tend to live to about 50 years old or so but some have been known to live at least another 20 years when in captivity. Alligator DNA is thought to date back to even before Dinosaur times meaning that the alligators survived whatever it was that the dinosaurs didn't!

The Alligator is generally a solitary predator, but smaller species of alligator however, are known to stay together in groups especially when hunting. The Alligator eats fish, small mammals and birds, but the alligator has also been known to attack much larger animals.

The American alligators are found in the south-eastern USA, all of Florida and Louisiana, the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, coastal South and North Carolina, Eastern Texas, the south-eastern corner of Oklahoma and the southern tip of Arkansas. The majority of American alligators inhabit Florida and Louisiana, with over a million alligators thought to inhabit each state.

The American alligators live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps, as well as brackish environments. Southern Florida is the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles live in the same place.

The Chinese alligator is currently found only in the Yangtze River valley and the Chinese alligator is extremely endangered with less than 100 Chinese alligators believed to be left in the wild. There are many more Chinese alligators that live in zoos around the world than can be found in the wild.

Adult alligators have been known to hunt deer and are well known to kill and eat smaller alligators. In some cases, larger alligators have been known to hunt the Florida panther and black bears, making the alligator the dominant predator throughout the their environment.

Unlike large crocodiles, alligators do not immediately regard a human upon encounter as prey, but the alligator may still attack in self-defence if provoked. Alligator attacks are uncommon but alligators have definitely been known to attack humans if the human is in the alligator's territory.
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Aldabra Giant Tortoise

True Wild Life | Aldabra Giant Tortoise | The Aldabra giant tortoise is a giant species of tortoise native to the Aldabra islands in the Indian ocean. The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the largest species of tortoise on the planet and is one of the world's longest living animals, with one Aldabra giant tortoise individual reaching the grand old age of 255 years old.

The Aldabra giant tortoise is found inhabiting grasslands and swamps on the islands of Aldabra Atoll (an island of coral that encircles a lagoon partially or completely), which forms part of the Seychelles island chain in the Indian Ocean. The Aldabra giant tortoise is the only Indian ocean giant tortoise species alive today as others have become extinct with the arrival of human settlers (including the Seychelles giant tortoise which is now thought to be extinct in the wild).

The Aldabra giant tortoise has an enormous dome-shaped shell which acts as protective armour to the soft, vulnerable body of the Aldabra giant tortoise underneath. The Aldabra giant tortoise also has an incredibly long neck which it uses to tear leaves from the branches higher up trees.

Aldabra giant tortoises are found both individually and in herds, which tend to gather mostly on open grasslands. The Aldabra giant tortoise is generally most active in the mornings when they spend time browsing for food. The Aldabra giant tortoise is also known to dig underground burrows or rest in swamps to keep cool during the heat of the day.

The Aldabra giant tortoise is a herbivorous animal, spending much of it's time browsing for food in it's surroundings. The Aldabra giant tortoise is known to be found in areas known as "tortoise turf", an area that contains more than 20 different grass and herb species. Aldabra giant tortoises also eat leaves, fruits and berries from the surrounding vegetation.

Due to it's immense size and natural lack of mammalian predators, the Aldabra giant tortoise adults were thought to have no predators in the wild (the more vulnerable and smaller young are said to be hunting by a giant species of crab that lives in burrows on the atoll). However, with human settlers came domesticated animals that both preyed on the Aldabra giant tortoise and ate it's food.

Female Aldabra giant tortoises lay up to 25 rubbery eggs, between February and May into a dry, shallow nest on the ground making them particularly vulnerable to predators. It is thought that female Aldabra giant tortoises are able to produce more than one clutch a year, which usually hatch after an 8 month incubation period.

Today, the Aldabra atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to some 152,000 Aldabra giant tortoises, the world's largest population of the animal. Another isolated population of the Aldabra giant tortoise resides on the island of Zanzibar, and other captive populations exist in conservation parks in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010


True Wild Life | Albatross | The albatross is a large species of sea bird found throughout the Pacific and even the Antarctic oceans. The albatross spends much of its life either fishing at sea or nesting on one of thousands of little islands. There are more than 20 different species of albatross found across the southern seas, but sadly 19 of the different albatross species are said to be threatened with extinction.

The albatross is one of the largest birds in the skies as the wingspan of the male albatross can easily reach 3 meters or more in length. The albatross also has a body that is more than 1 meter long (including the tail). The albatross is thought to be highly efficient when in the air as the albatross is able to cover vast distances with little effort. The albatross also has excellent eyesight as it sees its prey from the sky, swooping down to snap a fish from the surface or sometimes even diving into the water.

The albatross is a carnivorous bird as the diet of the albatross solely consists of fish and other aquatic animals. The albatross feeds on fish, squid, krill, crabs and other crustaceans by either diving, swooping onto the water\'s surface or from scavenging the kill from another animal or bird. Due to the fact that the albatross is so big and the fact that the albatross nests in such remote places, the albatross has no real predators besides humans who have hunted them in the past, or from tiger sharks who are known to lay in wait when the young albatross chicks are learning how to fly, waiting to snap up any stragglers.

The albatross nests in large colonies on islands or in open forest, where there can be thousands of other albatross individuals. The female albatross lays just one egg that can weigh up to half a kilo! The albatross parents take it in turns to incubate the egg for 2-3 months depending on the size of the albatross species. The albatross parents protect and clean their chick until it is able to fly. Albatross chicks can take anywhere from 5 to 10 months to fledge, depending on the size of the albatross species.
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