Sunday, March 27, 2011


True Wild Life | Warthog | The warthog is a large species of pig that is found in the desert and shrub-lands of Africa. There are considered to be two species of warthog which are the common warthog and the desert warthog. The common warthog tends to be found in the more northern regions of Africa and the desert warthog is found in the south of Africa, and is sometimes also referred to as the Cape warthog. The warthog is named after the two sets of tusks that are found on the face of the warthog. Warthogs use their tusks both for fighting off unwanted predators and other competing male warthogs, and the warthogs also use these tusks for digging in the dirt for grubs and insects.

Warthogs have a diet that consists mainly of grass, fruit, berries, roots and insects but warthogs are also known to occasionally eat small mammals, birds and reptiles. The diet of the warthog however, depends on the season and what is growing and therefore available for the warthog to eat. The warthog is a fantastic digger thanks to the strong tusks on the jaws of the warthog but the warthog also uses its head and feet to help the warthog dig into the ground either to search for grubs or so that the warthog can build a burrow. Despite the fact that the warthog is a very capable digger, warthogs seem to prefer to occupy abandoned burrows built by other animals, rather than build their own.

Warthogs live together with other warthogs in small family groups that are known as sounders. These warthog groups generally have a few female warthog members and their young, and will have one male warthog member who is responsible for protecting the sounder and mating with the female warthogs. Warthogs tend to be found in areas where there is a good supply of water, so that the warthogs are not only able to drink but also enjoy to wallow in the cool, muddy water. Warthogs also prefer to inhabit grassy and open plains but have been found living close to the border of the Sahara Desert.

The warthog has many predators in the African wild including lions, cheetahs and crocodiles but the human is one of the main predators of the warthog as they have hunted warthogs not just for their meat, but also for the ivory that is found in the tusks of the warthog. The warthog has very poor eye sight although warthogs have a good sense of smell which allows the warthog to hunt for food and to detect any nearing predators. Warthogs are also good at running and jumping and are well known for running with their tails pointing towards the sky.
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True Wild Life | Walrus | The walrus is a large marine mammal that has flippers to help it swim. The walrus is found in the colder waters of the Northern Hemisphere, but the walrus is much more adapted specifically to the conditions of the Arctic Circle. There are three species of walrus. The Atlantic walrus, the Pacific walrus and the Laptev walrus found in the Laptev Sea. The walrus is most closely related to the seal and although the walrus and the seal are obviously similar, the walrus has some distinctive features such as the large tusks on the face of the walrus.

The walrus hunts fish and small mammals in the Arctic Circle. For a few hundred years, the walrus has been hunted by the Arctic people for meat, oil and the skin of the walrus but walrus hunting has led to the extinction of the walrus on many small islands within the Arctic circle. Today, only the Native Americans are allowed to hunt the walrus as it can often be one of the only sources of food for hundreds of miles. The walrus is a particularly sociable marine mammal and can often be seen in large groups. Walrus' can be heard grunting and making loud bellowing noises at each other but they become particularly aggressive during the mating season. The male walrus displays the most aggressive behaviour as the males have to fight to gain the respect of a female walrus.

Walrus' have long white tusks which they use for helping them to survive in the tough conditions of the Arctic circle. Both the male walrus and the female walrus have long tusks which can reach nearly a metre in length. Walrus' use their tusks for a number of reasons including breaking holes in the ice, hauling their large bodies out of the water and onto the ice, and defend themselves. The walrus also has a thick layer of fat under their skin, known as blubber, which keeps the walrus warm in the sub-zero temperatures and walrus' also have long, sensitive whiskers which they use as detective devices to find their favourite meal of shellfish on the dark ocean floor. The male walrus (bull) is often nearly double the size of the female walrus (cow). Walrus' can be found in groups of up to 2,000 walrus individuals which generally consists of the alpha male and his group of females and their young. The alpha male walrus will defend his walrus clan from other large male walrus' that are trying to infiltrate the group and steal the attention of his female followers.

Walrus' are thought to mate about once a year during the colder winter months. After a gestation period of just over a year, the female walrus gives birth to her fully developed walrus calf. The walrus calf stays with it's mother until it is at least 2 years old. This prolonged nursing period means that the walrus calf can develop it's warm and insulating layer of blubber which is vital to the survival of the walrus in the freezing conditions which the walrus inhabits. The walrus has a carnivorous diet which mainly consists of shellfish and echinoderms such as starfish and sea urchins. Occasionally the walrus will hunt fish, seals and young whales. The walrus uses it's enormous tusks to hold larger prey down so that the walrus can then eat it.
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True Wild Life | Wallaby | The wallaby is a small to medium sized marsupial found on the Australian continent and its surrounding islands. Today there are a number of wild wallaby populations inhabiting other areas around the world where the wallaby has been introduced by humans. The wallaby is most closely related to Australia's largest marsupial, the kangaroo. The wallaby is generally smaller than a kangaroo although some wallaby individuals have been known to reach 6ft tall.

There are roughly 30 different species of wallaby found in a variety of habitats throughout the Australian continent. The habitats of wallaby are so diverse that wallaby species are often named after their habitat. This includes the rock wallaby, the brush wallaby and the shrub wallaby. Other wallaby species such as the hare wallaby, are named after their size and appearance.

The wallaby has strong and powerful back legs which the wallaby hops on in order to move about. The forearms of the wallaby are much smaller as they are mainly used for feeding and occasionally to help with balance. The tail of the wallaby is often as long as the wallaby's body and plays a critical role as a balance aid and is often used in self-defence.animal that forages on the ground for seeds and fallen fruits. Grasses make up the bulk of the wallaby's diet along with leaves from low trees and shrubs and berries. The wallaby is a very sociable animal and can often be seen foraging for food with other wallaby individuals.

Due to its relatively large size, the wallaby has few natural predators within its environment. Canines such as dingos and foxes are the main predators of the wallaby along with large reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes. The wallaby is able to defend itself against predators by hitting them with its long, powerful tail. The wallaby is a marsupial meaning that the female wallaby has a pouch on her tummy in which to raise her young. The female wallaby gives birth to a single baby wallaby (occasionally twins), known as a joey, after a gestation period of only a month. The joey then crawls up into its mother's pouch, where it is cared for and nurtured until it is fully developed.
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True Wild Life | Vulture | The vulture is a large, carnivorous bird that is most well known for its scavenging nature. The vulture is one of the few types of bird that is found distributed so widely around the world, as vultures are found on every continent excluding the Antarctic and Australia and the islands that surround it. Different species of vultures of firstly classified into two groups, the old world vultures and the new world vultures. There are thought to be nearly 30 different species of vulture that are found worldwide.

The old world vultures are found in Asia, Europe and Africa with these species of vulture thought to be most closely related to eagles and hawks. The old world vulture is not thought to be closely related to the new world vulture and the old world vulture uses its spectacular sight alone in order to find food. The new world vultures are found in the Americas and although there are definitive similarities between the old world vulture and the new world vulture, they are believed to be connected through evolutionary status rather than DNA. The new world vultures tend to be slightly smaller than the old world vultures and use both sight and their excellent sense of smell in order to find their food.

All species of vulture are similar in the sense that they scavenge for their food whenever possible rather than killing it themselves. Vultures feed on the remains of dead animals and are never too fussy about what is left. Vultures are known to strip meat, skin and even feathers, leaving only the skeleton of the animal remaining. Although vultures are generally fairly solitary animals, groups of vultures are often seen circling prey from the sky above. This movement of the vultures is called a kettle and a group of vultures together is sometimes known as a venue.

Vultures have keen eyesight. It is believed they are able to spot a three-foot carcass from four miles away on the open plains. In some species, when an individual sees a carcass it begins to circle above it. This draws the attention of other vultures that then join in. The feces of the turkey vulture contains strong acids that kill many of the bacteria commonly associated with bird feces. Because of their diet, these birds are able to kill harmful bacteria and viruses with their stomach acids, and halt the potential spread of disease from rotting carcasses.
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Vampire Bat

True Wild Life | Vampire Bat | The vampire bat is a small species of bat, native to the tropics of Central and South America. There are three recognised sub-species of vampire bat, all of which are in a genus of their own despite their obvious similarities. The common vampire bat, the hairy-legged vampire bat and the white-winged vampire bat are all closely related and share the same unique feeding habits, as they are the only known mammals that feed entirely on blood. Over time, vampire bats have perfectly adapted to the consumption of their only food source, with a leaf-like heat sensor on the end of their nose which detects where the warm blood is flowing closest to the skin.

The vampire bat is quite a small animal, with it's body rarely growing larger than the size of a human thumb. It's wings are long, finger-like bones that are covered in a thin layer of skin, with a thumb claw that pokes out of the front and is used for grip when clambering about on their host. Vampire bats have dark brown to grey furry bodies with a lighter underside, and strong limbs which enable them to crawl about on the ground with ease. As with other bats, vampire bats use echolocation in order to determine their surroundings. When flying, they produce high-pitched sounds that bounce of the objects in the area, and it is this bounced-back sound that allows the bat to figure out where things are around them (it is so high-pitched that it cannot be heard by people).

Vampire bats use echolocation, sound and smell in order to find their prey, which can be up to 10,000 times the size of this tiny predator, and it is because of this that vampire bats have evolved to taking some precautions when feeding. Firstly, the never land on their prey but inside land on the ground close by and crawl up to it, where they are able to detect veins close to the skin's surface with precision, thanks to their heat-sensing nose. Using it's set of sharp front teeth, the vampire bat then bites it's host, immediately jumping back in case the animal wakes up. Contrary to popular belief, vampire bats do not suck the blood of their victims, but inside lap it up using their grooved tongue as it flows out of the wound. Chemicals in the vampire bat's saliva both stop the blood from clotting and numb the area of skin around the bite to prevent the host from feeling anything.

Despite being a unique and versatile predator itself, the vampire bat is still prey to other animals, that can hunt the bat in the air when it comes out to hunt at night. Large, sharp-eyed birds of prey such as hawks and eagles are the most common predators of the vampire bat, along with snakes that hunt the bats in their dark caverns while they are sleeping during the day. Humans though are one of their biggest threats, mainly farmers that are known to poison the bats that commonly feed on their livestock. These poisons (known as vampiricides) are specially designed to spread throughout the whole colony through social grooming, killing hundreds of individuals at a time.

Vampire bats feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals, drinking up to a teaspoon (25ml) of blood per 30 minute feed. Once having feasted on their host however, the bats are then so bloated that they can barely fly with their weight almost having doubled. It is said that in just one year, an average sized vampire bat colony can drink the blood of 25 cows, but their metabolism is so fast that they must feed every two days to ensure their survival (blood is very nutritious containing high amounts of water). The nearly 20 teeth in the bat's mouth are mostly redundant due to their liquid diet, apart from the set of razor-sharp incisors at the front used for biting flesh.

All three subspecies of vampire bat have been listed as being of Least Concern of becoming extinct in the wild in the immediate future, due to the fact that they are widespread and feed on a variety of warm-blooded animals. Deforestation of their natural habitats along with persistent human efforts to eradicate who colonies at a time however, have led to population declines in certain areas. Scientists have also discovered though that the anti-coagulant found in the bat's saliva, proves to more effective at preventing blood clotting than any medicine, meaning that this could have significant positive implications for patients with strokes or heart attacks.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011


True Wild Life | Turkey | The turkey is a large bird that is closely related to other game birds such as pheasants, chickens and quails. The turkey has become famous across the western world as being a special meal on large family occasions including Christmas and Thanksgiving. Despite their large size, turkeys are surprisingly adept fliers and can be seen flying beneath the forest canopy looking for somewhere to perch. Although turkeys do nest in the trees, they are most commonly found in open forests, woodlands and grasslands.

There are two different species of turkey which are the wild turkey and the ocellated turkey. The wild turkey is found naturally in the open forests of North America and is the heaviest of all of the game bird species. The ocellated turkey is found in south-east Mexico and although the same size as the wild turkey, the ocellated turkey is roughly half the weight of the wild turkey. The wild turkey is a large, round looking bird that has long, thin legs with three toes on each foot to help with balance and for scratching around in the dirt. The male wild turkey has a red, featherless head and throat which has small growths on it known as caruncles.

The ocellated turkey is a more elegant looking bird and, although closely related to the wild turkey, the ocellated turkey is very similar in appearance to a female peacock. The ocellated turkey has a narrow body and long legs, and the males have featherless necks and heads which can be red or blue in colour and are often more subtle than the those of the male wild turkeys. The turkey is an omnivorous animal meaning that it eats both plants and plant matter, and other animals. The turkey primarily eats nuts, seeds, fruits, berries and insects which is often finds whilst scratching around on the forest floor. The turkey also eats small reptiles, amphibians and even rodents should it get the chance.

Despite its large size, both species of turkey have a number of predators within their natural environment. Foxes, snakes, raccoons, wildcats and humans are the most common predators of the turkey. During the mating season, male turkeys make gobbling noises in order to try and attract a female turkey to mate with. The female turkey finds somewhere safe to make her nest and lays between 6 and 12 eggs which hatch after an incubation period of about a month. Today, the turkey is one of the most popular meats to eat on festive occasions and is farmed in large numbers across the western world. It is thought that over 250 million turkeys are farmed in the United States every year!
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True Wild Life | Tuatara | The tuatara is a small to medium sized reptile, that is found only on a few small islands surrounding New Zealand. Although the tuatara was once found inhabiting mainland New Zealand in large numbers, today the tuatara is nearly extinct from the mainland. Despite the lizard-like appearance of the tuatara, the tuatara is actually only a very distant relative of the lizard and the snake. The tuatara is believed to have broken off from lizards and snakes more than 200 million years ago!.

Tuataras are generally green or brown in colour and can grow up to a meter in length, from the head of the tuatara to the tip of it's tail. The tuatara also has a crest that runs down the middle of it's body, which is particularly noticeable in male tuataras. The tuatara is a very unique reptile, with it's long tail and dinosaur-like crest, but the tuatara is has other features which make it stand out. Like all reptiles, the tuatara has excellent vision, but the tuatara also has a third eye on the top of it's head, it's use is still unknown. The tuatara is has two rows of teeth on it's upper jaw will line up either side of the teeth on the lower jaw.

The tuatara is a nocturnal reptile meaning that the tuatara rests during the hours of daylight and comes out to hunt for food at night. During the day, the tuatara sleeps in a burrow which it digs with it's strong claws into the ground. The tuatara also prefers temperatures that would be too cold for many other reptiles, and the tuatara hibernates during the colder winters. The tuatara is a carnivorous animal, meaning that the tuatara only eats other animals in order to survive. The tuatara primarily preys on insects, beetles, spiders, birds eggs, frogs and small reptiles and mammals.

Due to the fact that there are few real predators in New Zealand, the tuatara has no real native predators. However, since the introduction of cats, foxes, dogs and stouts, the tuatara populations have been wiped out in wide areas. Tuataras often live to be nearly 100 years old and so the tuatara only mates every 4 or 5 years. The female lays about a dozen leathery eggs which she digs into the ground. The eggs of the tuatara often take more than a year to hatch.
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True Wild Life | Tropicbird | The tropicbird is a large species of sea bird found nesting on the warmer cliffs and islands that dot our oceans. Despite having been thought to be closely related to other large sea birds such as pelicans, boobies and frigatebirds, the tropicbird has been recently classified in a group of it's own. There are three different species of tropicbird found throughout the tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The exact range and location depends on the species of tropicbird, although all three species can be found in parts of all the major oceans.

Tropicbirds are large-sized birds ans can grow to up to a meter in height. The three different tropicbird species are the red-billed tropicbird, the red-tailed tropicbird and the white-tailed tropicbird, all of which are generally white in colour with long tail feathers, and thin spindly legs. Tropicbirds are known to catch their prey by plunging into the surface of the water in order to snap up their dinner. Away from their breeding colonies, tropicbirds are generally solitary animals usually seen hunting on their own or in a pair.

Like other sea birds, tropicbirds are carnivorous animals as they feed primarily on fish. The flying fish is a favourite meal for the tropicbird along with the occasional squid or crustacean. The method of hunting used by tropicbirds is known as plunge-diving, and is common practise for many sea birds. Due to their large size and airborne lifestyle, the tropicbird has few (if any) natural predators in it's environment. The primary predators of the tropicbird are small carnivores such as dogs, stouts and cats that have been introduced to areas by humans, and generally hunt the smaller tropicbird chicks.

Tropicbirds nest in dips, crevices and holes on the ground in large breeding colonies, usually found on cliff tops or small tropical islands. The female tropicbird lays a single egg, which hatches after being incubated by both parents for about 6 weeks. Both the male and female tropicbirds then feed their chick together until it fledges (flies away from the nest), at around 3 months old. Today, tropicbird populations still seem to be thriving as they have not come under threat from drastic habitat loss. However, the arrival of non-native species to islands and increasing levels of water pollution, both have an affect on tropicbird populations.
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Tree Frog

True Wild Life | Tree Frog | The tree frog is a small species of frog that spends its life in the trees. True tree frogs are found inhabiting the forests and jungles in the warmer regions all over the world. Tree frogs are best known for their distinctive disc-shaped toes on the end of each leg. The rounded toes of the tree frog, gives its feet more suction and therefore better grip when moving around in the trees.

There are four main species of tree frog which vary in size from just a few to more than 10 centimetres in length. The European tree frog is found in meadows and shrublands across eastern Europe but is considered endangered in western Europe. The Common tree frog is the smallest of the tree frog species and is found in a variety of habitats across south-east Asia. The Cuban tree frog is the largest of the four tree frog species ans is natively found in Cuba and its surrounding islands, but has been introduced to parts of Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii. The Red-Eyed tree frog is the most distinctive of the tree frog species and is native to the jungles of Central America. The Red-Eyed tree frog has a long narrow body and hind legs which point outwards, along with its characteristic red eyes.

As with other frogs and toads, tree frog are generally carnivorous animals, feeding primarily on insects, worms and spiders. The large Cuban tree frog will eat anything that will fit in its mouth including lizards, snakes, small mammals and even other frogs. Due to their small size, the tree frog has numerous predators wherever it lives in the world. Birds, mammals and reptiles of all shapes and sizes prey on the tree frog and the tree frog is also known to be a tasty tree for large fish.

During the mating season, tree frogs make loud croak-like calls to one another in order to attract a mate. The female tree frog lays her eggs on a leaf above the water, which develop into tadpoles in just a few days when they fall into the water below. The metamorphic process from tadpole to adult tree frog can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
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True Wild Life | Toucan | The toucan is a medium-sized bird native to the rain forests of central and South America and the Caribbean. There are more than 40 different species of toucan that inhabit the South American jungles today. The toucan is best known for it's large colourful beak that despite it's large size, is surprisingly light due to the fact that it is made of a substance called keratin (the same substance that makes up the nails and hair of many animals including humans) . The toucan's beak measures around half the toucans body length and is used for mating, feeding and defence purposes. The toucan's bill however, is not particularly strong and so it is used more to intimidate predators rather than to fight them off.

The toucan only has small wings as it dwells in forests and therefore do not need to travel large distances. The toucan's wingspan is roughly the same length as the toucans body. Although the toucan is able to fly, the toucan is not very good at flying and cannot be in the air for very long. Instead of using their wings to get around, the toucan hops between the tree branches using it curved toes and sharp claws to get a good grip on the narrow surface that it holds on to. Toucans are omnivorous birds and feed on a mixture of plants and animals. Toucans eat fruits, berries, nuts and seeds along with eggs, insects and small mammals and reptiles. The primary source of food for the toucan is the fruit which grows on the trees where the toucan lives.

Toucans have a number of predators in the South American jungle including humans, large birds of prey and wild cats. Weasels, snakes and rats tend to prey more on the eggs of the toucan rather than the toucan itself (many small animals are generally intimidated by the toucan's large bill). Although toucans are generally solitary when feeding, toucans often live in small groups of around 6 or 7 birds. The bright colours of the toucan gives the toucan camouflage in the colourful rainforest canopy. However, due to their bright colours, toucans are often captured and sold as pets with toucans being popular animals in the exotic pet trade.

Toucans build their nest in trees in lay around 3 eggs. When the toucan chicks hatch, both the male toucan and the female toucan help to feed them and protect them from predators. The toucan chicks are born with small beaks that don't reach their full size for at least a few months.
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True Wild Life | Tortoise | The tortoises is a land-dwelling reptile closely related to the tortoise's marine cousin, the sea turtle. The tortoise is found in many countries around the world but particularly in the southern hemisphere where the weather is warmer for most of the year. Tortoises have a hard outer shell to protect them from predators but the skin on the legs, head and belly of the tortoise is quite soft so the tortoise is able to retract it's limbs into it's shell to protect itself. The tortoise's shell can range in size from a few centimetres to a couple of metres, depending on the species of tortoise.

Most species of tortoise have a herbivorous diet eating grasses, weeds, flowers, leafy greens and fruits.Tortoises generally have a lifespan similar to the lifespan of humans although some species of tortoise, like the giant tortoise, have known to be over 150 years old. There are many different species of tortoise around the world that vary in size, colour and diet. Most species of tortoise however are diurnal but in places where it is very hot throughout the day, tortoises will often venture out to find food in the cooler dawn and dusk periods.

Female tortoises dig burrows, known as nesting burrows, in which the female tortoise lays her eggs. The female tortoise can lay between one and thirty eggs at a time but the number is generally around 10 and only a handful of the babies tend to survive as tortoise babies are very vulnerable to attack by all kinds of predators. Once the female tortoise has laid her eggs she leaves the nesting burrow. The eggs hatch between 2 and 4 months later and the baby tortoises are able to start venturing out in search of food when they are about a week old. The size of the baby tortoise and the egg, depends on the size of the mother tortoise.

Today, a number of tortoise species (mainly the smaller species of tortoise) are kept as household pets. The pet tortoise ideally prefers to live in the garden or part of a vegetable patch where there is lots of food for the tortoise to eat. Pet tortoises should have a diet similar to what it would be if the tortoise was in the wild and should not be fed other foods such as cat or dog food. Most species of tortoise, but not all, hibernate during the colder winter months particularly those species of tortoise in the Northern Hemisphere. Tortoises must have an empty stomach before they hibernate and therefore tend to go through a period of starvation beforehand. Tortoises come out of hibernation when the weather begins to get warmer again.

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Tiger Shark

True Wild Life | Tiger Shark | The tiger shark is the fourth biggest shark in the world and is found in warmer and tropical waters in the Southern Hemisphere. The tiger shark tends to be found in more coastal waters but tigers sharks are also known to go into the deeper ocean if they need to hunt for food. The tiger shark is a fierce predator and tiger sharks hunt everything in the water including fish, seals, birds, turtles and even other sharks. The tiger shark gets it's name from the black stripes it has when it is young. Most tiger sharks lose these stripes as they get older.

Like most other species of shark, tiger sharks have sensors on the sides of their heads which enable them to detect small muscle movements from nearby creatures. The tiger shark also has a wedge-shaped head which allows the shark to turn quickly when it needs to. Tiger sharks can reach a top speed of around 20mph which is pretty fast in the water! Tiger sharks are extremely aggressive animals are thought to be one of the most dangerous sharks for humans to come into contact with. Tiger sharks are solitary hunters and usually do most of their hunting at night when the tiger shark can move through the water unseen.

Female tiger sharks mate every three years or so and the time of year when this happens depends on where the tiger shark lives. Tiger sharks in the Northern Hemisphere mate from March to May, where tiger sharks in the Southern Hemisphere mate from November to January. The eggs hatch inside the female tiger shark and can remain inside her for up to 16 months. When they are big enough, the female tiger shark gives birth to between 10 and 80 baby tiger sharks.

Tiger sharks usually range from between 3 to 5 metres in length. Although much larger specimens have been seen, the largest a tiger shark tends to get is around 5.5 metres long.
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