Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spotted Hyena

The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the laughing hyena or tiger wolf, is a species of hyena native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its widespread range and large numbers estimated at 10,000 individuals. The species is however experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching.The species may have originated in Asia,and once ranged throughout Europe for at least one million years until the end of theLate Pleistocene.The spotted hyena is the largest member of the Hyaenidae, and is further physically distinguished from other species by its vaguely bear-like build, its rounded ears, its less prominent mane, its spotted pelt, its more dual purposed dentition,its fewer nipples and the presence of a pseudo-penis in the female. It is the only mammalian species to lack an external vaginal opening.The spotted hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa.The spotted hyena is a highly successful animal, being the most common large carnivore in Africa. Its success is due in part to its adaptability and opportunism; it is both an efficient hunter and a scavenger, with the capacity to eat and digest skin, bone and other animal waste. In functional terms, the spotted hyena makes the most efficient use of animal matter of all African carnivores.The spotted hyena displays greater plasticity in its hunting and foraging behavior than other African carnivores;it hunts alone, in small parties of 2-5 individuals or in large groups. During a hunt, spotted hyenas often run through ungulate herds in order to select an individual to attack. Once selected, their prey is chased over long distance, often several kilometers, at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
A DRAWING OF A SPOTTED HYENA
The spotted hyena's scientific name, Crocuta, was once widely thought to be derived from the Latin loanword crocutus, which translates as "saffron-coloured one", in reference to the animal's fur colour. This was proven to be incorrect, as the correct spelling of the loanword would have been Crocāta, and the word was never used in that sense by Graeco-Roman sources. Crocuta actually comes from the Greek word Κροκόττας (Krokottas), which is derived from the Sanskrit koṭṭhâraka, which in turn originates from kroshṭuka (both of which were originally meant to signify the golden jackal). The earliest recorded mention of Κροκόττας is from Strabo's Geographica, where the animal is described as a mix of wolf and dog native to Ethiopia.

A STAMP OF A SPOTTED HYENA
The spotted hyena is a social animal which lives in large communities called "clans", which can consist of up to 80 individuals. Group-size varies geographically; in the Serengeti, where prey is migratory, clans are smaller than those in the Ngorongoro Crater, where prey is sedentary.Spotted hyena clans are more compact and unified than  packs, but are not as closely knit as those of African wild dogs.Females dominate males, with even the lowest ranking females being dominant over the highest ranking males. It is typical for females to remain with their natal clan, thus large clans usually contain several matrilines, whereas males typically disperse from their natal clan at the age of 2½ years. The clan is afission-fusion society, in which clan-members do not often remain together, but may forage alone or in small groups.High-ranking hyenas maintain their position through aggression directed against lower-ranking clan-members. Spotted hyena hierarchy is nepotistic; the offspring of dominant females automatically outrank adult females subordinate to their mother.However, rank in spotted hyena cubs is greatly dependent on the presence of the mother; low-ranking adults may act aggressively toward higher-ranking cubs when the mother is absent. Although individual spotted hyenas only care for their own young, and males take no part in raising their young, cubs are able to identify relatives as distantly related as great-aunts. Also, males associate more closely with their own daughters rather than unrelated cubs, and the latter favour their fathers by acting less aggressively toward them.Spotted hyena societies are more complex than those of other carnivorous mammals, and are remarkably similar to those of cercopithecine primates in respect to group size, structure, competition and cooperation. Like cercopithecine primates, spotted hyenas use multiple sensory modalities, recognise individual conspecifics, are conscious that some clan-mates may be more reliable than others, recognise 3rd party kin and rank relationships among clan-mates, and adaptively use this knowledge during social decision making. Also, like cercopithecine primates, dominance ranks in hyena societies are not correlated with size or aggression, but with ally networks. In this latter trait, the spotted hyena further show parallels with primates by acquiring rank through coalitions. However, rank reversals and overthrows in spotted hyena clans are very rare.Territory size is highly variable, ranging from less than 40 km² in the Ngorongoro Crater to over 1,000 km² in the Kalahari. Home ranges are defended through vocal displays, scent marking and boundrary patrols.Clans mark their territories by either pasting or pawing in special latrines located on clan range boundraries. Clan boundraries are usually respected; hyenas chasing prey have been observed to stop dead in their tracks once their prey crosses into another clan's range. Hyenas will however ignore clan boundraries in times of food shortage. Males are more likely to enter another clan's territory than females are, as they are less attached to their natal group and will leave it when in search of a mate. Hyenas travelling in another clan's home range typically exhibit bodily postures associated with fear, particularly when meeting other hyenas. An intruder can be accepted into another clan after a long period of time if it persists in wandering into the clan's territory, dens or kills.
A SPOTTED HYENA CUB WITH
MOTHER
The spotted hyena is a non-seasonal breeder, though a birth peak does occur during the wet season. Females are polyestrus, with an estrus period lasting two weeks. Like many felid species, the spotted hyena is promiscuous, and no enduring pair bonds are formed. Members of both sexes may copulate with several mates over the course of several years. Males will show submissive behaviour when approaching females in heat, even if the male outweighs its partner.Females usually favour younger males born or joined into the clan after they were born. Older females show a similar preference, with the addition of preferring males with whom they have had long and friendly prior relationships. Passive males tend to have greater success in courting females than aggressive ones.Copulation in spotted hyenas is a relatively short affair, which typically only occurs at night with no other hyenas present. The mating process is complicated, as the female's reproductive tract is entered and exited through her pseudo-penis rather than directly through the vagina, which is blocked by the false scrotum and testes. Once the female retracts her clitoris, the male enters the female by sliding beneath her, an operation facilitated by the penis' upward angle. Once this is accomplished, a normal mating stance is adopted.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is one of the most distinct of the setter breeds largely because of its unique coat coloration. This breed is the only setter that always has the black and tan coloration to it long, luxurious coat and furnishings. The coat may be slightly wavy but is never curly with longer hair on the ears, chest, undersides and the legs and tail. The tail is relatively long and is rather broad at the base and tapers to a very fine point. The tail is carried low naturally but will be raised higher when the dog is excited or working. The hair on the tail is longer at the underside of the base and gradually becomes shorter as the tail decreases in size. When viewed from the side the tail should resemble a pendant or flag. The body of the Gordon Setter is robust and sturdy without appearing heavy, cobby or clumsy. The chest is very deep and will reach down almost to the elbows of the front legs, but is typically narrow rather than broad and blunt. The ribcage is well sprung and developed, and there is a gradual concave appearance to the abdomen. The legs and long and give the dog a tall stance. They are straight and well boned but not heavy or overly muscular looking. The hind legs are slightly bent to give the impression of the dog being able to spring immediately into action. The feet are compact and well arched and provide this dog with a sure footed confidence in moving through brush and over rough terrain. The breed also has a significant amount of long hairs between the toes providing additional protection to the feet. The head of the Gordon Setter is much broader and larger than many of the other setter breeds. It is considered to be rather chiseled in appearance with a very pronounced stop between the muzzle and the eyes. The muzzle itself is long, broad and square looking and they will always have a very wide black nose with well developed nostrils. The muzzle does not appear to taper in anyway and is very blunt at the end. The lips are held close to the mouth and are not slack or pendulous. The ears are thin and are held slightly back and close to the head and are never carried erect. The eyes are oval in shape and are very dark with a look of intelligence and enthusiasm.
A GORDON SETTER  STAMP
The coat is medium to long and is silky and flat in appearance. It may be wavy or straight or a combination of wavy on the furnishings and straight on the body. The coat is very shiny and flowing looking without being bulky or fluffy in appearance. The furnishings are moderately long and heavy and should appear in balance with the coat and size of the dog. The tail is well furnished with a flag like appearance when held horizontal.
A DRAWING OF A
GORDON SETTER
Originally bred in Scotland in the 1600s the Gordon Setter has always been a popular breed with hunters. It was originally known as the Black and Tan Setter, but then with the interest of Duke Alexander the 4th the name changed to Gordon after the castle that he maintained his hunting dogs at. The Duke set out to improve the breed and encouraged others to do the same. Another important person in the development and popularization of the breed was the Duke of Richmond that took up the promotion of the breed after Duke Alexander's death. In the early 1900's the breed went back to the original Black and Tan name, but then was officially recognized as the Gordon Setter by the English Kennel Club. The Gordon Setter was also one of the first breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. The Gordon Setter was brought to the United States in 1842 and was recognized as a breed in 1892. The Gordon Setter was bred as a one man hunting dog, not for speed but for a patterned and logical approach to finding game birds. It has been used as a pointer, for flushing out birds as well as for retrieving. This multilevel skill development has lead this breed to be one of the most intelligent of the setter breeds and a true asset to hunters. They have more recently become popular as a beautiful show dog as well as a faithful companion dog.
THESE DOGS ARE VERY GOOD COMPANIONS
As with most of the setter breeds the Gordon Setter is a very even tempered dog that tends to get along well with almost anyone or anything that he or she encounters. They are somewhat aloof and independent around strangers until the dog decides if they are trustworthy or not, then the dog will either completely ignore the person or become very friendly. Often this breed seems to be studying people to make this decision. Early and constant socialization is required to keep this breed from becoming shy or highly reserved around other people. Overall a very loyal and loving breed the Gordon Setter makes an excellent dog both inside the house and outside. They are wonderful with children of all ages and have a great deal of patience with young kids. They do not react to sudden noises or fast movements in negative ways like some breeds, so can easily handle children. They are really a people breed preferring to be in the same area as the owner rather than along or isolated. The breed does need a significant amount of exercise either in the form of a large fenced yard to wander and play or in regular walks and romps. Without enough exercise they can become hyperactive and rambunctious and more challenging to handle. The Gordon Setter makes a wonderful companion dog for both canine and non-canine pets. They will quickly adjust to cats and other pets in the house provided they are properly socialized. It is always recommended to start the socialization process with other pets and dogs as soon as possible when the Gordon Setter is a puppy. They are not a dog aggressive breed and typically will do well even with dominant breeds of dogs. Male Gordon Setters will be somewhat more aggressive especially if females are present so early neutering is important. Females should be spayed early as well to prevent pregnancies and the challenging behaviors often displayed while they are in heat. The Gordon Setter does have a tendency to roam and wander so should be kept in a fenced yard. They do very well in hunting trials, obedience competitions and as watchdogs for the family. While not a problem barker they will naturally bark whenever someone or something approaches they are unfamiliar with. The breed is considered very easy to train but can be somewhat independent and requires firm, consistent and regular positive training and practice to stay highly obedient and cooperative.
Their litter size is 7-9 puppies.Needs space to exercise and needs a well fenced yard. Prefers indoor living and is not recommended for apartments.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is divided into two groups, primarily based on their appearance. The first group is the English, and they are shorter, bigger-boned, and tend to have longer coats that are lighter in color. The American group tends to be lanky with longer limbs, and have characteristics that are more similar to the origins of their breed.Their broad heads are connected to wide muzzles. They have brown expressive eyes and a black nose, and as they mature, their chests become broad and their bodies become muscular, and their tails are always wagging.Generally, a Golden Retriever is filled with confidence and that comes through by the way they carry themselves. They appear strong and athletic, and their body is symmetrical. Their peaceful attitude and affectionate personalities are apparent in their posture and in the way they interact with their humans.
A GOLDEN RETRIEVER PAINTING
The Golden Retriever has a double coat. The outer coat is soft, feathery, and can be straight or wavy. The undercoat allows the Golden to repel water and stay warm in extreme cold, and then will shed throughout the year, but more in the spring. This gives the Golden Retriever coat a versatile quality, since the coat allows for the Golden to be comfortable in virtually any season of the year. Shedding can be managed by putting some time aside throughout the week to keep up on grooming, and if your dog is likely to spend the majority of its time indoors, it may be a good idea to invest in a good vacuum cleaner to clean up any hair missed in your grooming routine.
TWO GOLDEN RETRIEVERS PLAYING
The Golden Retriever does well in different living situations as long as their family takes the time to make sure they are well exercised. While a large fenced yard or a secure area that provides room to run and play is ideal, a Golden Retriever can also thrive in an apartment environment. In this situation, it is important to check with local parks and public areas to determine what their rules are in regards to dogs and other pets, and see what would be most suitable for taking your dog to for play and exercise time.
SOME GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPS
WITH  MOTHER
This highly intelligent and social dog has a history that traces back to the late 1800s, where written records indicate that Lord Tweedmouth of developed them. His desire was to produce a dog that was skillful in hunting and tracking, as well as retrieving waterfowl. In addition, he wanted a hunting partner that was beautiful to watch work. It is believed that the breed began by crossing a yellow dog with the now-extinct water spaniel, and through the years, the breed has evolved into a dog with popularity that has stood the test of time.Golden Retrievers are not believed to have been brought to until the 1890s, and they were not presented in dog shows until the 1920s.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER COLORS
COLORS
Outgoing and social, the Golden Retriever makes a loyal family pet. Their sweet dispositions make them patient and gentle with children and they are generally tolerant of other pets. It is important to remember that they are excitable as pups, and can accidentally knock children over while playing. Aggressiveness in well-bred Golden Retrievers is not common, but improper breeding can raise the chances of aggression issues. Instead, these dogs are people lovers who prefer to have as much human contact as possible, and can tend to get themselves into trouble if they are frequently left alone. Being forced from their family members for long periods can result in a very unhappy Golden Retriever that could suffer from separation anxiety. Golden Retrievers do not make the best of guard dogs. They will bark at strangers, but seem to be more interested in meeting and making friends with them than they are defending their family against them. They are affectionate, loving and loyal, and try hard to please their people.Golden Retrievers have a high energy level. These fun loving dogs enjoy nothing more than to play fetch or retrieve a stick during play, and their love for water makes for not only interesting play, but also plays a part in their strong hunting skills.Their high level of intelligence enables them to excel in obedience training. They are often trained and used as service dogs to the blind and disabled. Their friendly and affectionate personalities also make them ideal visitors for retirement homes and allow them to be effective therapy dogs.


Quokka

The Quokka is a small marsupial that is natively found in parts of the south-west of Australia and on only two islands off the south-west coast. The Quokka is one of the smallest Wallaby species in the world, and most distinctively differs from other Wallabies with their short and barely-furred tail and small hind legs. Out of the roughly 50 known Kangaroo and Wallaby (and other marsupial) species on the continent however, the Quokka is one of three whose ancestry is still fairly hazy today. The fact that the Quokka browses for food rather than simply grazing makes it quite different to other species, but despite all this, many agree that they are most closely related to the Rock Wallaby.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF A QUOKKA
The Quokka is a small species of Wallaby that has a rounded and compact body. Their hind legs and tail are much shorter in comparison to those of many Wallaby species, but allow the Quokka to hop through the thick vegetation and tall grasses with immense speed. The dense fur of the Quokka is fairly coarse and usually brown or grey in colour, with reddish tinges around the face and neck, and generally lighter in colour on the underside. Along with it's rounded body, the Quokka also has small and rounded ears, and a rounded snout that is tipped with a black nose. Unlike other Wallaby species, the tail of the Quokka has hardly any fur on it at all and they also don't need it to balance whilst they are hopping along.
QUOKKA STAMP
Historically, the Quokka had quite a wide distribution and was once found throughout the coastal regions of south-western Australia. Today however, the Quokka has been restricted to three remote regions, only one of which is actually on the Australian mainland. The most numerous populations of Quokka are found on Rottnest Island and on neighbouring Bald Island, with a few isolated groups also inhabiting the bushland that surrounds the city of Perth on the mainland. In these island environments, Quokka are most commonly found in thick forest, open woodland and areas of scrub that are close to fresh water. Their preferred habitats are always close to water, and the Quokka can also be found along the edges of swamps.
QUOKKA,S HAVE POUCHES,LOOK AT
THIS PICTURE,CAN YOU SEE A QUOKKA
BABY PEEPING OUT OF THE MOTHER'S
POUCH AND NIBBLING THE GROUND?
The Quokka is a very sociable and friendly animal that inhabits south-western Australia in small family groups, which are dominated by the males. Despite this though, the Quokka is not known to be territorial with up 150 individuals known to have over-lapping home ranges. Although they are known to share these habitats peacefully most of the time, fights between males are not unheard of, particularly on a hot day when they compete for the most sheltered spots. The Quokka is a nocturnal animal that spends most of the hot day, resting in the shade of the trees and will often return to the same spot every day. At night, the Quokka then begins to browse for food using tunnels through the long, grasses to move about unseen.
A QUOKKA BABY  WITH IT'S MOTHER
The breeding season for the Quokka tends to occur in the cooler months between January and March, when a single joey is born after a gestation period of just a month. Like all other marsupial babies, the joey manages to crawl into it's mother's pouch completely unaided, when it then attaches itself to one of the female's teats. The Quokka babies suckle from their mother in the pouch for around 6 months whilst they continue to develop. At this time, the joey emerges for the first time and begins to explore it's surroundings but remains close to the female, continuing to suckle on her milk for at least another couple of months. In captivity though, breeding can take place all year round once the individual is mature enough to mate at about a year old.

A QOUKKA 
Like other Wallaby species, the Quokka is a vegetarian, meaning that it's herbivorous diet is solely comprised of the surrounding plant material. The Quokka most commonly feeds on different grasses that line that tunnels that they make through the dense vegetation. They are also known to eat leaves, and fruits and berries when they are available. Although the Quokka mainly browses for food on the ground, they are also known to climb about a meter or so up into the trees, and also swallow their food without chewing it. The Quokka then regurgitates the undigested material in the form of a cud, which is also eaten. They have no need to drink vast amounts of water and are said to be able to go for months without drinking at all.
A CLEAR PICTURE OF A QUOKKA
BABY INSIDE IT'S MOTHER'S POUCH
Quokka family units are most commonly found in areas close to one another, where there is a decent source of fresh water. Even though they prefer these moist environments however, Quokka's are known to actually gather most of their moisture from the vegetation that they eat, meaning that they can also be found in regions that are actually quite far from the nearest river or stream. Despite the obvious differences between the Quokka and other Wallaby species, their small size has enabled them to become masters of the undergrowth. The Quokka creates tunnels that they use as runways through the dense vegetation, which they are then able to hop extremely fast along when threatened by a predator.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meerkats

The Meerkat (also known as the Suricate) is a small species of foraging mammal that is found inhabiting the harsh conditions of the open and arid, semi-desert plains in southern Africa. A member of theMongoose family, Meerkats differ from the other 35 Mongoose species in a number of ways with the biggest difference being that Meerkats are incredibly sociable animals, where most Mongooses are not (only 3 other species are known to live in groups larger than pairs). There are three different sub-species of Meerkat that are found in varying geographic locations and although they are very similar in appearance, they differ slightly in their fur colouration and markings. All however, live in highly organised communities known as gangs or bands, that rely on one another for their survival in such hostile conditions as whilst the majority of the group is out foraging for food, others stand on guard to keep a watchful eye out for approaching predators.
A PAINTING OF SOME MEERKATS
The Meerkat is a small sized mammal that has a long and slender body with a long and light but black-tipped tail that can almost double the animal's total length. Meerkats are sandy to light brown in colour with eight darker stripes on their back, markings on their sides (which are unique to the individual) and a lighter face and underside. They have elongated muzzles with a black nose and dark coloured bands around their eyes. Meerkats have long, sharp claws on their front paws that are curved and can grow up to 2cm long and help them to both dig their burrows and to find small animals that are buried beneath the soft sand. The fur of the Meerkat has actually adapted remarkably to the differing desert conditions, not only helping to keep the animal cool during the boiling hot days, but also acting as a layer of insulation to keep it warm during the freezing-cold winter nights.
A WOODEN STATUE OF SOME MEERKATS
The Meerkat is found in southern and western Africa inhabiting the dry and hostile scrub-lands of the Kalahari Desert. Spanning across five different countries in southern Africa from Angola to South Africa, Meerkats are found throughout this vast, arid region foraging for food on the ground during the day and retiring into their immense burrows in the sand at night. Conditions in the Kalahari Desert are incredibly extreme with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Centigrade in the summer (with a sand temperature of 70 degrees), and falling to well below zero down to -10 degrees during the bitter, winter nights. This area of Africa has an incredibly low level of annual rainfall with only a rare, small amount falling generally between January and April and after which, the Kalahari briefly transforms into a well-vegetated and life-filled region before the cooler winter months set in.
I THINK THEY ARE LOOKING UP
AT THE SKY FOR PREDATORS
Unlike all but three other Mongoose species, the Meerkat is a highly sociable animal that inhabits territories in the desert in groups that usually contain between 10 and 30 individuals (although much larger bands are not uncommon in areas where there is an ample supply of food), and consist of three or four family units of a male and female pair, with their young. After emerging from their burrow to sunbathe in the early morning sun, the majority of the band goes off to forage for food while others either babysit the young, or act as guards. By standing upright on their hind legs and tails on the top of mounds and in bushes, Meerkat guards are able to have a good vantage point to watch out for approaching predators, particularly from the sky. One of a series of different alarm calls will then be sounded to alert the rest of the group what the danger is, often causing the whole band to dive into their underground burrow to hide.
BABY MEERKATS ARE ADORABLE
Although there may be a number of breeding pairs in one band, Meerkat society is generally dominated by one male and female pair. Young Meerkats are usually born in November after a gestation period that lasts for around 11 weeks. Having mated with her partner at the start of the summer, the female Meerkat gives birth to between 2 and 5 small kits in a grass-lined chamber in the burrow, that are born blind and without their full coat of fur. Unlike with the rearing of numerous other small mammal species, both females and males tend to their young with males and siblings known to help to teach the young Meerkats the skills of surviving in the surrounding desert. Whilst the majority of the band is out foraging for food, the young Meerkats never stray far from the den and whilst playing in the hot sand, are kept a watchful eye on by an appointed babysitter. Meerkats can live for up to 10 years in the wild but have been known to live for longer in captivity.
IT IS GOING TO EAT A CHICK!
The Meerkat is a carnivorous animal which means that despite it's small size, it only forages for and eats small animals in order to gain all of the nutrition (and most of the moisture) that is needs to survive. Like other Mongoose species, Meerkats have an excellent sense of smell which is used to sniff out potential prey that is lurking just under the surface of the sand. Once detected, Meerkats then used their long and sharp front claws to dig out their prey, with the majority of their diet being made up of insects and other small invertebrates, along with also eating larger animals such as Lizards and Rodents. Due to the fact that Meerkats are small in size and have adapted to living in such a harsh environment, they must spend a great deal of their waking hours foraging for food as they are known to loose around 5% of their body-weight during the night and must therefore ensure that they have enough to eat every day.
BABY MEERKATS DIGGING THE GROUND
If the individual Meerkat on guard spots approaching danger they will sound the alarm to the rest of the group. Meerkats are known to use a wide range of vocal calls to communicate between one another sounding long howls to warn the rest of the band of an approaching bird of prey, and using short double-barks to alert them of a predator nearing the group on the ground. The individual territory of a Meerkat group covers a large enough area to ensure that the band has everything they need to most successfully survive. This includes areas of both hard and soft sand as although the hard sand provides the perfect ground for building their tunnels in, it requires more energy for Meerkats to forage for food in it too. Digging in the softer sand requires less effort and therefore means that they can conserve more energy for other activities.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill is a large species of wading Bird, found from the Gulf Coast of the United States to Argentina at the tip of South America. The Roseate Spoonbill is one of six Spoonbill species found across the world, and although they all inhabit warmer, tropical climates, the Roseate Spoonbill is the only one that is found in the western hemisphere. Like all Spoonbill species, the Roseate Spoonbill is named for it's spatula shaped beak, which becomes flatter and broader towards the end, allowing the Roseate Spoonbill to scoop food out of the water with ease. They are closely related to other large wading Birds including, Herons, Storks and Egrets and are often mistaken in Florida for Flamingoes, particularly by tourists.
SOME ROSEATE SPOONBILLS FLYING.THEY'VE GOT A
NICE COLOR
The Roseate Spoonbill is said to be one of the most distinctive Birds found in North America, with their pink and white plumage, orange tail-feathers, red legs and eyes and black feet. Like all wading Birds, the legs of the Roseate Spoonbill are thin and very long, allowing them to walk about in the shallow waters without getting their head or feathers wet. Their distinctively long beak is very sensitive to enable the Bird to easily detect the presence of prey, and has two small slits close to the top meaning that the Roseate Spoonbill can still breathe whilst it's beak is submerged in the water. The skin on their head is featherless and often has a greenish tinge to it, leading to their lighter coloured beak.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL
STAMP
The Roseate Spoonbill is found along North America's Gulf Coast, most notably in Texas and Florida. It's range extends through Central America, down to Argentina at the bottom of the South American continent, and they can also be found on islands like the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Cuba. The Roseate Spoonbill can be found in fresh, salt or brackish waters, where the water level is low and is close to roosting sites. The Roseate Spoonbill is most commonly found in shallow wetlands from bays and estuaries, to mangrove swamps and tidal ponds. Despite drastic falls in population numbers in the USA in the late 1800s, the Roseate Spoonbill colonies there are now healthy and sustainable through much of their native regions.
A PAINTING OF A ROSEATE
SPOONBILL FLYING
The Roseate Spoonbill is a very sociable Bird that inhabits it's wetland homes with other Roseate Spoonbills, and they are also commonly found in the presence of other waders including Herons, Egrets and Ibises which they are closely related to. The Roseate Spoonbill is a fairly large Bird, making it's flying style long and slow. They fly together in small flocks in diagonal lines with their necks and heads outstretched, when moving between habitats or migrating to their annual nesting sites. The Roseate Spoonbill is often seen in small flocks when feeding but they have also been found to do this on their own as well. In the wild, they are known to be particularly shy Birds, with the whole colony known to fly away if startled, but have been known to adapt well to Human disruption when kept in captivity.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL WITH IT'S
BABIES
The Roseate Spoonbill is a colonial nester, meaning that they gather in large numbers to produce and rear their young, possibly for protection. Roseate Spoonbills reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 or 4, when they migrate to appropriate nesting grounds to find a mate. Once paired up on coastal islands, both the male and female construct a nest in trees, thick bushes or reeds where up to four eggs are laid per clutch. The Roseate Spoonbill chicks usually hatch after an incubation period of around three weeks, and fledge after about a month. The young Roseate Spoonbills have white plumage with a slight pink tinge, and often won't develop the colourful adult feathers for at least a couple of years. Both the incubating of the eggs and the feeding of the chicks is shared by the male and female parents.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL EATING A FISH
The Roseate Spoonbill is an omnivorous animal that uses it's spoon-like beak to catch small animals in the water. The Roseate Spoonbill sweeps this distinctively shaped bill from side to side close to the bottom of the water, creating little whirlpools of water that trap prey inside them, enabling the Roseate Spoonbill to feed. Although they will eat a number of both plant and animal species, small Fish such as Minnows are the primarily source of food for the Roseate Spoonbill, comprising roughly 85% of it's diet. The rest is made up with the consumption of other small aquatic organisms like Shrimp, Molluscs and aquatic Insects that lurk close to the muddy bottom, along with a number of aquatic plant species.
SPOONBILL ARE OFTEN MISTAKEN
FOR OTHER BIRDS LIKE,FLAMINGOS
BUT ''     '' SPOONBILLS CAN BE SEEN
CLEARLY BECAUSE FLAMINGOS NECKS
ARE VERY 
Despite it's very distinctive appearance, the Roseate Spoonbill is often mistaken for other Birds like the Flamingo, particularly when in flight, even though they are generally smaller in size and have a longer, wider beak than these pinker Birds. Not only is their distinctive spoon-like bill useful for catching food though, but there are also very sensitive nerves at the end, which causes the Roseate Spoonbill's beak to snap shut quickly when it comes into contact with small aquatic organisms. It is widely believed that the reason for the bright pink plumage of the Roseate Spoonbill, is due to the algae eaten by the Crustaceans that these Birds consume (in a similar way to the Flamingo but not quite as bright).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Abyssinian cats

The Abyssinian Cat is thought to be one of the oldest breeds of domestic Cat in the world, as the first domestication of the Abyssinian Cat occurred in Ancient Egyptian times. It is thought that Abyssinian Cats were bought and sold on the banks of the River Nile by traders, where the African Wild Cats (the ancestors of all domestic Cats) lived in their native habitats. Abyssinian Cats are most easily identified by their "ticked" fur which gives their coat a mottled appearance.

The Abyssinian Cat has a more wild looking appearance when compared to many breeds of domestic Cat in modern times. The Abyssinian Cat has large ears (meaning it has fantastic hearing) on top of it's broad head, and the large almond-shaped eyes of the Abyssinian are still distinctive to this breed today. The Abyssinian Cat is a medium sized Cat with a long and muscular yet slender body and a relatively short tail. Although today, the Abyssinian can be found in a variety of different colours from blue to lilac to red, the dense, silky fur of the Abyssinian was originally silver or fawn in color.
 A DRAWN PICTURE OF AN
ABYSSINIAN CAT
The Abyssinian Cat is known to be extremely intelligent and playful and is thought to be one of the most active breeds of domestic Cat as the Abyssinian seems to find it almost impossible to sit still. Abyssinian Cats are known to be extremely loyal and obedient felines making them easy to train in the house. The Abyssinian Cat is as wild in temperament as it is in appearance and enjoys to have a lot of attention as well as to keep active, which also tends make these Cats naturally good hunters.
ABYSSINIAN KITTENS
Today, most species of modern day domestic Cat are thought to have descended from, or be close descendants of, the Abyssinian Cats which were brought to England from Northern Africa in the 19th century. The Abyssinian Cat is thought to have been one of the first species of Wild Cat to have been domesticated by Humans, and is therefore one of the first wild animals to be treated like a household pet. The Abyssinian is now one of the most popular domestic Cat breeds in the USA and was thought to have been first exhibited in Crystal Palace in 1871 and the first official listing of the Abyssinian Cat breed was in 1882.
SEE THE LOVE TOWARDS IT'S KITTEN
In Ancient Egypt, the Abyssinian Cat was seen as a sign from the Ancient Egyptian Gods and was therefore thought to be a sacred animal with legend deeming that the Abyssinian was the "Child of the Gods" and it was therefore worshipped on the banks of the Nile. This meant that the Egyptian people believed that the Abyssinian Cats were extremely special animals and they therefore looked after their Cats very well, with Abyssinian Cats often being depicted as sacred beings in Ancient Egyptian art and legend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Komodo Dragon

The Komodo Dragon is a large species of lizard that is only found on a handful of islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Not known to the world until the First World War, the Komodo Dragon is actually a species of Monitor Lizard that has been evolving in island isolation for millions years, which has led to it becoming very large indeed. The Komodo Dragon is not only the largest lizard in the world, but it also one of the most aggressive and is so powerful that it is able to take prey many times it's own size. However, Komodo Dragons are also in severe danger in their natural environments as hunting and habitat loss, along with a shortage of prey, has led to population declines on the few islands where they are found in the Komodo National Park, meaning that they are now listed on the IUCN's Red List and therefore have some legal protection.
SEE THE SHARP, CURVED
CLAWS.
The Komodo Dragon is an enormous reptile that can grow up to three meters long and weigh 150kg. They are incredibly strong and powerful with long, thick bodies, short, muscular legs and an almighty tail that is used for both fighting and for propping the animal up when it is standing on it's hind legs. The Komodo Dragon has long and sharp, curved claws that are often used for digging and it's greyish brown skin is covered in small scales and folds around the neck. Komodo Dragons have relatively small heads compared to their large body size and wide, powerful jaws that conceal a mouth that is filled with deadly bacteria. Although the Komodo Dragon has good eyesight, the majority of it's surroundings are sensed to smell which the Komodo Dragon does with it's long and deeply forked tough. By flicking it's tongue out of it's mouth, the Komodo Dragon is able to "taste" scent particles in the air to locate both live and dead prey up to 8km away.
KOMODO DRAGON DRAWING,
THEY ARE VERY FIERCE.
Although the Komodo Dragon would have once been widespread across many Indonesian islands, they are today confined to just five which all lie in the Komodo National Park. The islands of Komodo, Rintja, Gillimontang, Padar and the western tip of Flores are the last remaining homes for these enormous animals that are most commonly found in open woodlands along with dry savannah and on scrubby hillsides, and can also be found inhabiting dried-up river beds. It is thought that Komodo Dragons evolved to be so big on these islands due to the presence of a number of large mammalian species that have since gone extinct. Today however, they are becoming more threatened in their natural environments with the loss of their habitats to deforestation for timber has pushed the last remaining populations into smaller and more isolated regions.
THEY ARE GOOD SWIMMERS TOO!
The Komodo Dragon is a solitary and powerful predator that roams a territory which is dependent on the individual's size, with the average adult covering a distance of around 2km every day. They are also known to be excellent swimmers, travelling from one island to another over a relatively long distance. Although they are solitary animals, a number of Komodo Dragons will often gather around a single kill with smaller individuals normally having to give way to the larger ones. In order to catch such large animals, Komodo Dragons can sit for hours hidden in the vegetation and are well camouflaged by their grey-brown skin as they sit waiting for a prey animal to pass by. The Komodo Dragon then ambushes it's victim with incredible speed and force. Although the majority of initial attacks are successful, if the animal somehow manages to escape then the bacteria transferred from the Komodo Dragon's mouth in the bite-would, causes the flesh to become septic and kills the prey within 24 hours.
BABY KOMODO DRAGONS.
Besides when feeding on a large carcass, Komodo Dragons can also be seen in the company of one another during the breeding season when, in September, nearby males fight one another by standing on their hind legs and propped up by their tails, try to win the right to breed with the local females. After mating, the female Komodo Dragon lays up to 25 leathery eggs in a hole that she digs into the soft sand. The young hatch after an incubation period that lasts for between 8 and 9 months and are boldly marked with cream bands (which they lose as they get older), and are completely independent from when they leave their shell. However, until they grow to a larger size, young Komodo Dragons will venture up into the trees where they will spend most of their time until they are big enough to look after themselves on the ground. Komodo Dragons tend to live for an average of 30 years in the wild.
KOMODO DRAGON EATING A
WILD BOAR.
The Komodo Dragon is a carnivorous animal that only hunts and kills large animals in order to survive in it's natural surroundings. Adult Komodo Dragons are able to kill prey much larger than themselves as even if they are not successful at killing it on ambush, they will then follow it for miles until it eventually dies of the blood-poisoning caused by the deadly bacteria in the Komodo Dragon's mouth. Largemammals make up the bulk of the Komodo Dragon's diet including PigsGoatsDeer and even Horses and Water Buffalo (all of which have been introduced to the islands by people). Young Komodo Dragons however, prey on smaller animals in the trees such as SnakesLizards and Birds. The teeth of the Komodo Dragon are sharp and serrated but they mean that this animal cannot chew. Instead they tear bits off the carcass and throw it backwards into their mouths, able to swallow it whole aided by their flexible neck muscles.
KOMODO DRAGON STAMPS
The Komodo Dragon is known to have fifty different types of toxic bacteria in their saliva that thrive on traces of flesh, causing bite-wounds to become quickly infected. Recent research however, indicates that the real reason for such a high success rate in poisoning it's prey could be down to the fact that the Komodo Dragon may have a venom gland in it's mouth. Although Komodo Dragons have thrived in this part of the Indonesian archipelago for millions of years, they were not known to the world until around a century ago when reports came in from a pilot that swam to Komodo Island after his plane went down. The immense size of the Komodo Dragon is thought to come from the fact that they would have once hunted large mammals that would have then existed in Indonesia, including a species of Pygmy Elephant which is thought to have now been extinct for thousands of years. This means that the main prey of the Komodo Dragon today, has all been introduced to the islands by Human settlers.