What is a Blue Shark?

Blue sharks (prionace glauca) are considered to be dangerous and are thought to be responsible for attacks on ship and air disaster victims.

Blue Shark Statistics

The largest recorded blue shark was 3.83m, but females average 2.76m and males 2.46m.

Blue Shark Physical Description

This species has a bright blue body, with a white underside. Not to be confused with a blue whale. It has a pointed snout with long pectoral fins (on the side of the body) and a streamlined body. Blue sharks have triangular, serrated teeth and large eyes.

Blue Shark Distribution

Blue sharks inhabit deep water in tropical, subtropical, and temperate seas worldwide.

What Do Blue Sharks Eat?

Blue sharks are voracious predators, feeding on schools of fish including anchovies, sardines, herring, and squid. Squid are important prey for blue sharks, but their diet includes other invertebrates, such as cuttlefish and pelagic octopuses, as well as lobster, shrimp, crab, a large number of bony fishes, small sharks, mammalian carrion and occasional sea birds.

Blue Shark Behavior – Do blue sharks eat people?

Blue sharks are a nomadic species and can travel hundreds of miles each year. They often gather in large groups. They are considered to be one of the fastest fish. Having been known to attack humans and boats, blue sharks are considered to be a dangerous species. Twelve unprovoked attacks and four boat attacks have been documented by the International Shark Attack File.

Do Blue Sharks Sleep?

Most fish basically enter a trance-like state when they sleep.  Sharks and other large fish may still swim, albeit at a slower rate than normal, in order to keep water flowing over their gills.  Blue sharks can lie on the bottom while actively pumping water over their gills, but their eyes remain open and actively follow movement.

When a blue shark is resting, it does not use its nares, but rather its spiracles. If a blue shark tried to use its nares while resting on the ocean floor, it would “inhale” sand rather than water. Many scientists believe this is one of the reasons sharks have spiracles.  It is also possible that blue sharks sleep while having a dedicated part in their brains that helps them keep swimming when the rest of their brain has gone to sleep. This is just like humans breathing even when they are sleeping. We have a part in our brain called the respiratory center that breathes automatically for us. So even when we are asleep, this center will make sure breathing happens unimpeded.

Blue Shark Reproduction

Females give birth to 25-50 pups, (although once, a litter of 135 individuals was recorded) after a gestation period lasting 9-12 months.

Is The Blue Shark an Endangered Species?

Blue sharks are classified as Lower Risk by the 2000 IUCN Red List.

How Long Have Sharks Existed?

Sharks existed before trees. They’re the same as current sharks, though they may have been much, much larger at varying points, but basically teeth in front, propeller in the back. We believe sharks evolved about 420mya in the Silurian period and widespread trees were not until around 380mya toward the end of the Devonian period. There were plants when fish and sharks were evolving, but they were more mosses and small vascular plants. No large forests. 

The Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) is a highly gregarious species, occasionally being sighted in groups of up to 1,000.

Subspecies
None.

Life span
Up to 25 years

Statistics
Body length: up to 8 feet, Weight: as much as 400 lbs.

Physical Description
Atlantic white-sided dolphins have a black/dark upper surface, grey flank stripe, white patch below the fin, yellowish patch on tail stock, and a white underside. They also have a tall dorsal fin.

Distribution
Atlantic white-sided dolphins inhabit the north Atlantic and Arctic oceans, in cold temperate and polar regions.

Diet
Atlantic white-sided dolphins feed on fish, squid and prawns.

Behavior of Dolphins
Atlantic white-sided dolphin live in groups of 5-50 (although up to 1,000 has been reported) and are often seen in the company of other species.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins are known to associate with white-beaked dolphins, pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins as well as fin whales and humpback whales.White sided dolphin

Highly social animals, Commerson’s dolphins are often seen associating with the Burmeister’s porpoise, and the Peale’s and Chilean dolphins.

Fraser’s dolphins are often seen in mixed groups, swimming with other species of tropical toothed whales and dolphins.

False killer whales can be seen in the company of other species including bottlenose dolphins.

Hourglass dolphins can be found with many other cetaceans including fin whales and long-finned pilot whales.

Southern right-whale dolphins feed on a variety of fish species and squid and are often seen associating with dusky and hourglass dolphins, and pilot whales.

Conservation status
They are not listed by the IUCN. Global threats include hunting, prey depletion, pollution and entanglement in nets.

Aye Ayes Facts

The aye aye is a fasicinating animal that is native to Madascar. Below are some of the more interesting aye aye facts.

What Kind of Animal is an Aye Aye?

Aye Aye FactsAye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) are the largest nocturnal primate in the world. The aye aye is a lemur native to Madagascar. They are also the only primate thought to use echolocation, which they use to find grubs up to an inch deep in a tree.

What Are the Predators of the Aye Aye?

The aye aye’s main predator is the fossa.  And much about the fossa remains a mystery. The catlike fossa is a large relative of the civets and mongooses. Seven of the eight civet-like carnivores that stalk the aye aye are found nowhere else in the world.

How Long Do Aye Ayes Live?

Their lifespan in the wild is unknown, but in captivity they can live for up to 23 years.

How Big is the Aye Aye?

Head and body length: 40cm, Tail length: 40cm, Weight: 2kg

What Does an Aye Aye Look Like?

Aye-ayes have a long, coarse coat of black or brown fur, tipped with white. They have large eyes, surrounded by black rings. Their ears are large and they have a long, slender middle finger with a long claw, used for extracting insects from tree holes.

Where Does the Aye Aye Live?

Aye-ayes live in eastern Madagascar. They occupy rain forests, dry forests, mangroves and bamboo thickets.

What Does the Aye Aye Eat?

Aye-ayes are particularly adept at finding wood-boring larvae. They tap on wood with their middle finger, listening for hollow spaces. They then extract the larvae with their specially-adapted thin finger. They also feed on seeds, fruit, nectar and fungi.

Is the Aye Aye Nocturnal?

Aye ayes are nocturnal, and construct elaborate sleeping nests to sleep in during the day. Aye-ayes are arboreal and move quadrupedally (on 4 legs). Aye-ayes live alone or in pairs. Males have much larger ranges than females, and they overlap those of the females.

How Does the Aye Aye Reproduce?

During mating, aye-ayes hang upside-down on a branch, and the procedure lasts for about an hour. One infant is born after a gestation period of 172 days.Aye Aye Facts

Why Is The Aye Aye Endangered?

Aye-ayes are classified as Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List. They are thought to be the most endangered of all mammals in Madagascar. Locals believe that they are a bad omen, and often kill them. Such hunting, coupled with habitat destruction, have put aye-aye populations at-risk. Today they are protected by law.

Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus), is the smallest species of armadillo ( 12-15 cm long) found in west-central Argentina where the inhabitants call it ‘Pichi ciego‘ (a small blind armadillo). It is the only species of the genus Chlamyphorus .

Pink Fairy Physical Traits

The pink fairy armadillo kind of looks like a newborn baby. It has a pale pink shell made up of 23 to 25 rows of bony plates stuck in its skin and covered with a rough skin. The stomach is covered with long hairs (they also have hair under their shell). Its coat is white, soft and silky. They have small eyes and are very small and he has no ear holes. 
The pink fairy armadillo of Argentina is equipped with powerful claws and a tail in the shape of spatula of 2 or cm . It is 12 to 15 cm long and weighs more or less 120 g. It is the smallest member of the order of Cingulata. The pink fairy armadillo digs the earth very quickly and burrows itself if it is worried. It digs the ground of its front legs, bearing on its hind legs and its rigid tail. All members of the armadillo familly have 5 claws. He lives in galleries and emerges from his lodge at dusk to feed. Truncated chlamydophore has proven difficult to breed in captivity, and its reproduction is unknown.
It measures 13-15 cm, plus 4-5 cm of tail. The head, the belly and the hips are covered with a soft, fine fur of whitish color: the tail is naked, flattened and stiff, and in the end it resembles a spoon. The eyes and ears are very small. The front limbs are equipped with robust claws suitable for excavation. They can also have a yellowish armor on his back, formed by 24 corneal plates that start from the forehead and continue to the back of the body, which is abruptly truncated (hence the truncatus name of the species) and is protected by a vertical shield.
The pink fairy armadillo is the only armadillo with the dorsal shell almost completely separated from the body. A bone plate in the shell at the rear of the animal is securely attached to the pelvic bones. The tail is spatula-shaped, and protrudes from a notch in the rear plate. The tail cannot be raised, and as a result drags behind the animal as it walks. Females posses two mammae.

Digging, Burrowing, and Eating

Pink fairies are nocturnal, and spend their nights burrowing in the sands of central Argentina. They are experts at moving through underground sand — they dig with their enormous claws and then pat the sand behind them into a compact tunnel with a butt plate that resembles a spatula.
The pink fairy armadillo uses their digging abilities to burrow in areas beside large ant colonies. Ants provide a constant food source for this species of armadillo. As well, they may also forage on worms, snails and plant matter but ants are their number one choice.
They sometimes come to the ground, where they walk extremely slowly. They do most of their feeding at night, eating ants, termites, and other small insects. The armadillo, Spanish for “little armored thing”, originated in South America more than sixty million years ago.

Where the Pink Fairy Armadillo Lives

The pink fairy armadillo is native to Argentina where it lives on the dry, sandy plains of the west – central part of the country.

Pink fairy armadillos are classified as a subterranean armadillo that is extremely sensitive to environmental changes and stress. As an example, sudden environmental changes that could affect pink fairy armadillos include temperature and soil quality. In order for them to survive and maintain stability, they must occupy undisturbed places that contain sufficient amounts of compact sand and hiding places. This also refers to possible captivity conditions for this animal due to its desert-adapted characteristics.

Conservation Efforts 

The conservation status for pink fairy armadillo is still uncertain, and it is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed as “Data Deficient” because there is little information on the population status of this species, and its biology and ecology are poorly known. The decline in population for this species has generally been attributed to farming activities and predators including domestic dogs and cats.
Sources:
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/4704/0
Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference

What is a Babirusa?

The babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) is a bizarre-looking pig from Indonesia. The males have extraordinary tusks which develop from their canine teeth, growing up through the skull and growing in a curve until it pierces the skull again between the eyes. The babirusa has been called “a wild pig with a dental problem.”

What Does Babirus Mean?

The word babirusa means “pig deer” in Malagasy, as their wild-growing tusks are reminiscent of deer antlers.

How Long do Babirusa Live?

Up to 24 years in captivity.  In the wild an old babirus is 10 years old.

How Many Species of Babirusa Are There?

There are four species of babirusa. The most well-known (Babyrousa celebensis — the naked-looking babirusa with the monster tusks) is found on Sulawesi. The other species of babirusa have longer coats that vary in color from white to creamy gold to black and brown.

What does a Babirusa Look Like?What is a Babirusa?

The babirusa is a bizarre-looking pig with males having curved tusks growing vertically up through its upper jaw and curving back down to pierce the skull between the eyes. The lower canine teeth also grow upwards and curve back to form a second set of tusks. The skin is a brownish grey colour and is covered in sparse white or grey bristles.

Babirusa can vary by species in other characteristics. The golden babirusa has a long, thick pelage that is white, creamy gold, black or gold overall and black at the rump. The pelage of the Togian babirusa is also long but not as that of the golden babirusa. The Togian babirusa has a tawny, brown or black pelage that is darker on the upper parts than in the lower parts. The North Sulawesi babirusa has very short hair and appears bald.

How Big is a Babirusa?

Babirusa can reach 3 to 3.7 feet in length and weigh up to 220 pounds. Tail is usually 10.5 to 12.5 inches long. Males are larger than females.

What are Babirusa Tusks For?

It’s actually a mystery. One hypothesis is that the males use their tusks during fights over Babirusa Skull Deathfemales. It seems reasonable, until you look at how babirusas really fight. They don’t hook tusks, but stand up on their hind legs and “box” each other with their front hooves. Additionally, babirusa tusks aren’t built to withstand much pressure; they are brittle and easily broken, not at all suited for combat. It seems likely that the tusks serve a display purpose, perhaps signaling genetic fitness to females, but this is an idea that hasn’t been tested. For now, the purpose of those marvelous tusks is still a mystery.

What Is the Babirusa Tusk Death?

Babirusas with spiralling tusks, some authors say that, if the animal lives long enough, the tusks grow fatally into the face.

Where are Babirusa Found?

The babirusa is only found on a few Indonesian islands: Sulawesi, Togian, Sulu and Burn Islands.

Babirusa Habitat

In the wild, male babirusas tend to live in solitary or in bachelor herds of two to three males, while females can be found in groups of up to eight individuals with young. They spend the majority of the day roaming and foraging throughout the forest.

What do Babirusa Eat?

Babirusas are omnivorous, eating mainly fruit but also leaves, grasses, small animals and carrion.

Babirusa Behaviour

Babirusa live in groups of one or a few adult females and their young while the adult males are solitary. They spend much of the day in mud wallows, rubbing off the dried mud and skin parasites on trees afterwards.

Babirusa ReproductionWhat is a Babirusa?

The males stand on their hind legs and ‘box’, presumably trying to break their opponent’s tusks. 125-150 days after mating the females produce a very small litter of only 1-2 piglets, born in a nest of underbrush. She has only one pair of teats from which to feed them.

Babirusa Conservation status

The babirusa is listed as Vulnerable, following increased hunting and habitat loss over the last 20 years or more. Despite protection, illegal poaching continues and only a few thousand individuals are left.

Sources:

San Diego Zoo

Wired

The Amazing Galapagos Sea Lion

Here are just a few facts about the amazing Galapagos sea lion.

Galapagos Sea Lion – Population Overview

The Galapagos sea lion is a mammal that generally breeds in the Galapagos Islands, even though some mating colonies also happen on Isla de la Plata just from mainland Ecuador.

The most recent estimates of Galapagos sea lion, conducted in November 2001 by the
Charles Darwin Foundation found around 14,000 -16,000 Galápagos sea lions. This is down from 40,000 in 1977.

Sea lions are members of the seal family.  And Galapagos sea lions are members of the eared seal family – having an exterior ear canal. Galapagos sea lions aren’t ‘true’ seals, because they are able to turn their hind flipper under their pelvic girdle. This allows them to basically run across land.

Galapagos Sea Lion – Males and Females

There is a huge size difference between male Galapagos sea lions and females. the males Galapagos Sea Lioncan weigh up to four times that of females. Male Galapagos sea lions have a dominant bump on the forehead, making them easy to tell apart from the females.

All Galapagos sea lions have brown or gray hair, females generally being truly a lighter hue than guys, and pups being chestnut brownish. They are savy hunters and sardines are their main food source.

Galapagos Sea Lion – Diving and Hunting

Galapagos Sea Lions are able to dive to depths as high as 350 meters and can stay underwater for ten minutes. They spend a whole lot of their own time resting on seashores or playing, and tend to be curious of any visitors.

The Galapagos sea lions has diurnal feeding habits. Diurnality is a form of plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day, with a period of sleeping, or other inactivity, at night.

Galapagos Sea Lion  – Breeding

Males have a tendency to “carry territories” on shorelines where females live, instead of holding immediate harems. Like many mammalls, the more dominant the male is, the greater territory he lays claim to. This normally translates into more females for him to breed with. Galapagos Sea Lion males aggressively protect these territories from other male competitors. Bachelor male herds are not uncommon for males that can’t secure territory.

Galapagos Sea LionThe mating season usually occurs between July and Dec, but may vary from island to island. Females enter into oestrus 3 to 4 weeks after pupping, when they’ll partner with the males.

After the pups are born they will bond with their mom for the first week. This helps in creating a unique call to tell apart it from the others. The mom then begins to forage by day and suckle the puppy at night, until the 5th week when the puppy molts its baby jacket and starts feeding itself. Pups remain reliant on their moms for the first time of the life, being weaned normally around a year old.

Galapagos Sea Lion Locations

In Galapagos, they are located on Plaza Sur Island, Mosquera Island, Gardner Bay in Espanola, Rabida Island (with a bachelor colony) and Puerto Egas on Santiago.Galapagos sea lions stay static in the Galapagos Islands throughout the year, rarely migrating.

Galapagos Sea Lion Risks

Their natural predators are sharks and killer whales, but the key threat to their survival is human activity. Recent studies have concluded that human activity is the main risk to sea lion populations.  This includes oil spills, fishery interactions, and illegal hunting. Natural events such as the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 El Niños also caused large reductions in populations, and diseases are being monitored to try to prevent negative impacts on the islands’ populations.

In July 2001, fifteen subadult and adult Galápagos sea lions, four females and eleven males ranging from 4 to 12 years old, were illegally killed on San Cristóbal Island, near La Lobería (Salazar 2001, Salazar and Edgar 2001). This illegal hunt may be linked with the Asian black market for aphrodisiac products, since all male reproductive organs were removed by the hunters (Salazar 2001, Salazar and Edgar 2001).

Other animal facts in our Animals A-Z.

Asian elephant, Indian elephant

Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are more easily tamed than their larger African counterparts, and have been used as beasts of burden for centuries.

Subspecies
E.m.maximus, E.m.indicus, E.m.sumatranus.

Life span
Asian elephants live for 70 years.

Statistics
Body Length: 5.5-6.40m, Shoulder height: 2.5-3m, Weight: Male: 5000kg, Female: 3000kg, Tail length: 1-1.3m.

Physical Description
Asian elephants are distinguished from their African counterparts by their smaller size, smaller ears, more rounded back, and a fourth toenail on each of their hind feet. They have thick, dry skin with a small amount of stiff hair, and are grey to brown in colour. Female Asian elephants have rudimentary tusks.

Distribution
Asian elephants have an extensive range across India and Sri Lanka and also occur further south and east as far as Sumatra. These three areas appear to contain subspecies all with slightly different characteristics.

Habitat
Asian elephants are spread over areas where rainfall levels vary considerably. They can survive in dry places where less than 40cm of rain falls per year, and in wet areas where over 8m of rain can fall in a year.

Diet
Elephants have a diverse vegetarian diet, including grasses, bamboo, legumes, bark, succulent climbers, creepers and palms. They have seasonal favourites such as fig leaves and fruits, tamarind, wood apple and mango.

Behavior
Asian ElephantAsian elephants are very sociable and live in basic family units of one adult cow and her offspring. Daughters remain with their mothers, but sons leave at puberty, often joining bull groups or remaining solitary. Bull elephants associate with a family when a cow is in oestrus.

This species does not appear to be territorial. Males have home ranges of about 15 square km, and herds of females have ranges of about 30 square km, which increases in the dry season. Seasonal migration has been made virtually impossible, due to human development.

Reproduction
Females usually have one calf after a gestation period of 18-22 months and give birth every three to four years. The calves weigh about 100kg at birth and suckle for about 18 months. They can eat some vegetation after several months.

Conservation status
Asian elephants are classified as Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List. They have long since vanished from Southwest Asia and most of China. Sri Lanka was once recognised for its large elephant populations, but today the numbers are being reduced.Asian Elephant

As the number of humans increases, the area of natural habitat that the elephants rely on is being depleted. Elephants are being forced onto farming areas, where they cause damage. It is estimated that 28,000 to 42,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild.

 

The Indian Elephant was assessed as an endangered species in 1996 by the Asian Elephant Specialist Group. Indian Elephants are threatened by poaching for the ivory of their tusks, by the loss of habitat due to human pressure on forested areas and due to human conflict. The isolated populations of wild elephants in individual wildlife sanctuaries are also threatened by loss of genetic diversity.

Indian Elephants

Kerala has more than 700 elephants in captivity. Most of them are owned by temples and individuals. They are used for religious ceremonies in and around the temples. A few elephants work at timber yards.

Each elephant has three manhouts, called pappan in the Malayalam language. The most important duty of the mahouts is to bathe and massage the elephant with small rocks, and husk of coconut. In the monsoon, the elephants undergo Ayurvedic rejuvanation treatments which include decoctions with herbs, etc. It is called Sukha Chikitsa in the Malayalam language.

Mahout use three types of device to control elephants. Thotti (hook) which is 3.5 feet in length and 3 inches thick, Valiya kol (long pole) which is 10.5 feet in length and 5.5 inches in thickness and cheru kol (short pole).

Main reasons behind this Elephant wrath.

1)Elephants prefer to live in the cooler shadows of dense forests.Normally they they go for long bathes in the streams and mud bath afterwards to cool down body.while in capture they are forced to participate in temple festivals in the hot summer days having temparature of 40 -45(They are comfortable only in 20-25).These huge animals are not having resperatory glands to sweat it out.
2)Inborn violent nature during the mating period.
3)Torturing and cruelity by manhouts and onlookers.
4)Lack of proper feeding and medical care.

Arctic Ground Squirrel

The Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) is unique in being the only known mammal capable of lowering its body temperature to below freezing, a strategy which helps it survive through the long, Arctic winter. These aren’t the type of squirrels that you’ll typically see in your backward eating off your squirrel feeder. They are typically only found in the arctic.

Meaning of scientific name
‘Spermophilus’ means ‘seed loving’. The squirrel is named after Dr Parry – a 19th century explorer.

Subspecies
8 subspecies.

Statistics
33-50cm long and 530-816g in weight.

Physical Description
Arctic ground squirrels have a rich reddish-brown upper surface flecked with whitish spots.

Distribution
Arctic ground squirrels are locally very common throughout much of Alaska and north-arctic ground squirrelwestern Canada.

Habitat
Arctic ground squirrels inhabit open tundra and spend much of their time in an underground network of burrows and chambers.

Diet
Primarily herbivores, Arctic ground squirrels feed on a variety of plants, seeds and berries, but they will also eat insects and scavenge on dead birds and other small animals.

Behaviour
Arctic ground squirrels hibernate for up to seven months of the year. During this period they spend considerable time in what is called a �super-cooled� state in which their body temperature drops below freezing. This unique strategy helps them to survive the long cold winter, underground.

Reproduction
Mating takes place during May and the young are born after 25 days. The average litter size is 6-8.

Conservation status
Not currently listed as threatened or endangered in any way.

Voice
They make a variety of sounds including alarm calls when a potential predator is nearby. One of these calls gives the animal its Inuit name �Sik-sik�.

Closest relative
The Arctic ground squirrel is one of many species of the same genus in North America.

The Beautiful Arctic Fox in Pictures

Unlike some Arctic mammals, the Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) does not hibernate and can withstand temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius. That is only one of the many things that make this fox as intriguing as it is beautiful. Below are some interesting facts and our favorite arctic fox pictures.

Arctic Fox Pictures – SubspeciesArctic Fox Pictures

Nine subspecies.

Arctic Fox Pictures – Life span

Arctic foxes seldom live for more than 10 years.

Arctic Fox PicturesArctic Fox Pictures – Statistics

Body length: 50-70cm, Tail length: 28-40cm, Standing height: 28-32cm, Weight: 2.5-8kg.

Arctic Fox Pictures – Physical Description

Arctic foxes are pure white in winter and grey-brown in summer. They can also be light brown, grey, chocolate, or black with a bluish hue.

Arctic Fox Pictures – DistributionArctic Fox Pictures

Arctic foxes live in the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America.

Arctic Fox Pictures – Habitat

They like to roam in the tundra, usually near the coast.

Arctic Fox Pictures – Diet

Arctic foxes are omnivorous, but feed particularly on small mammals (lemmings), eggs, carrion and berries. The Arctic fox preys on any small creatures such as: lemmings, voles, ringed seal pups, fish, waterfowl, and seabirds. It also eats carrion, berries, seaweed, insects, and other small invertebrates. Arctic foxes form monogamous pairs during the breeding season and they stay together to raise their young in complex underground dens. Occasionally, other family members may assist in raising their young.

Arctic Fox Pictures – Behavior

From wikipedia:
Arctic Fox PicturesYoung Arctic foxes are cared for by both parents. The Arctic fox lives in some of the most frigid extremes on the planet but does not start to shiver until the temperature drops to −70 °C (−94 °F). Among its adaptations for survival in the cold is its dense, multilayered pelage, which provides excellent insulation, a system of countercurrent heat exchange in the circulation within the paws to retain core temperature, and a good supply of body fat. The fox has a low surface area to volume ratio, as evidenced by its generally compact body shape, short muzzle and legs, and short, thick ears.

Since less of its surface area is exposed to the Arctic cold, less heat escapes from its body. artic fox picturesIts paws have fur on the soles for additional insulation and to help it walk on ice. Its fur changes color with the seasons: in most populations it is white in the winter to blend in with snow, while in the summer it is greyish-brown or darker brown. In some populations, however, it is a steely bluish-gray in the winter and a paler bluish-gray in summer. The fur of the Arctic fox provides the best insulation of any mammal. The Arctic fox has such keen hearing, it can determine exactly where a small animal is moving under the snow. When it has located its prey, it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim

Arctic Fox Pictures – ReproductionArctic Fox Pictures

Arctic foxes have a gestation period of 49-56 days, after which they give birth to 6-12 cubs. The young weigh 50-150g at birth.

Arctic foxes do not hibernate and are active all year round. They build up their fat reserves in the autumn, sometimes increasing their body weight by more than 50%. This provides greater insulation during the winter and a source of energy when food is scarce. They live in large dens in frost-free, slightly raised ground. These are complex systems of tunnels covering as much as 1,000 m2 (1,200 sq yd) and are often in eskers, long ridges of sedimentary material deposited in formerly glaciated regions. They have multiple entrances and may have been in existence for many decades and used by many generations of foxes.

Arctic foxes tend to form monogamous pairs in the breeding season and maintain a territory around the den. Breeding usually takes place in April and May, and the gestation period is about 52 days. Litters tend to average five to eight kits, but exceptionally contain as many as 25 (the largest litter size in the order Carnivora). Both the mother and father help to raise the young which emerge from the den when 3 to 4 weeks old and are weaned by 9 weeks of age

Arctic Fox Pictures – Conservation status

Arctic foxes are not threatened.

 

Check out other A-Z animals.

Arabian Oryx Facts

There are many fun Arabian oryx facts – Once extinct in the wild, this species (Oryx leucoryx) is a reintroduction program’s success story.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Life span

Up to 20 years.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Statistics

160cm long, standing 81-102cm at the shoulder and with a 45-60cm tail.

Arabian oryx prefer to range in gravel desert or hard sand, where their speed and endurance will protect them from most predators, as well as most hunters on foot. In the sand deserts in Saudi Arabia, they used to be found in the hard sand areas of the flats between the softer dunes and ridges.

Arabian oryx have been reintroduced to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, and Jordan. A small population was introduced on Hawar Island, Bahrain, and large semimanaged populations at several sites in Qatar and the UAE. The total reintroduced population is now estimated to be around 1,000. This puts the Arabian oryx well over the threshold of 250 mature individuals needed to qualify for endangered status.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Physical DescriptionArabian Oryx Facts

The Arabian Oryx is a horse-like antelope with a white coat, black markings on the face, legs dark chocolate brown and with a tawny line across the flanks. Horns nearly straight and with ridges.

According to wikipedia, an Arabian oryx stands about 1 m (39 in) high at the shoulder and weighs around 70 kg (150 lb). Its coat is an almost luminous white, the undersides and legs are brown, and black stripes occur where the head meet the neck, on the forehead, on the nose, and going from the horn down across the eye to the mouth. Both sexes have long, straight or slightly curved, ringed horns which are 50 to 75 cm (20 to 30 in) long.

Arabian oryx rest during the heat of the day and can detect rainfall and move towards it, meaning they have huge ranges; a herd in Oman can range over 3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi). Herds are of mixed sex and usually contain between two and 15 animals, though herds up to 100 have been reported. Arabian oryx are generally not aggressive toward one another, which allows herds to exist peacefully for some time.

Other than humans, wolves are the Arabian oryx’s only predator. In captivity and good conditions in the wild, oryx have a lifespan of up to 20 years. In periods of drought, though, their life expectancy may be significantly reduced by malnutrition and dehydration. Other causes of death include fights between males, snakebites, disease, and drowning during floods.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Distribution

Formerly across the Arabian and Sinai peninsula. Recently reintroduced into Oman, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia after extinction in the wild.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Habitat

Arid regions.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Diet

The diets of the Arabian oryx consist mainly of grasses, but they eat a large variety of vegetation, include buds, herbs, fruit, tubers and roots. Herds of Arabian oryx follow infrequent rains to eat the new plants that grow afterward. They can go several weeks without water. Research in Oman has found grasses of the genus Stipagrostis are primarily taken; flowers from Stipagrostis plants appeared highest in crude protein and water, while leaves seemed a better food source with other vegetation.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Behavior

Arabian Oryx FactsOryx, despite being grazing antelope, have become adapted to particularly dry areas of desert vegetation. Unlike other grazing antelopes, these desert animals live in small herds of mixed sex which don’t tolerate newcomers easily. A dominance hierarchy is established within the herd by strange, posturing displays, which avoid the danger of serious injury that their long, sharp horns could potentially inflict. Males and females use their horns to defend the sparse territorial resources against incomers. The herds use eyesight to keep in contact with each other.

Arabian oryx are extreme desert specialists. They form herds of about 10 animals, reaching 30 in good times, and occasionally dig scrapes with their horns in order to rest during the heat of the day.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Reproduction

Only the dominant male breeds. Gestation is 8.5-9 months after which one calf is born. Weaning takes place after 3.5 months, and sexual maturity is reached after 1.5-2 years.

Arabian Oryx Facts – Conservation status

Once hunted to extinction in the wild, being pursued by hunters in four-wheel drive vehicles, the Arabian oryx has been reintroduced to the wild twice. The first reintroduction took place in 1982 and for 14 years the population grew and was a success story for conservation. Unfortunately in 1996 poaching started. This was halted in 1999 and it is hoped the population will recover again. A second reintroduction in Saudi Arabia has proved successful so far.

Arabian Oryx Facts – History

The first artiodactyls (also called the ‘even-toed ungulates’) were present in the Eocene forests. The horned ruminants (deer, giraffe, antelope & cattle) first appear in the Miocene, taking advantage of the opening plains. The grazing antelopes like the oryx evolved to take advantage of all the grass-dominated environments in Africa.

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