Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vervet Monkey

The Vervet Monkey is a medium to large sized monkey that is primarily found in Eastern Africa. The Vervet Monkey is thought to be a species of Grivet, another tree-dwelling African monkey that has very similar characteristics to the Vervet, along with the Malbrouck which is considered by some to be a sub-species of Vervet Monkey. These three animalsare very closely related but they tend to inhabit territories in slightly different locations and are thought to rarely come into contact with one another. There are currently six recognised sub-species of the Vervet Monkey that are generally classified depending on their location, although there is some difference in colouration between them.
The Vervet Monkey grows to an average of 50cm tall, with a tail that is often longer than the body itself and has a black tip. Their fur tends to be grey or olive in colour (depending on the species) and is lighter on their underside. The hands and feet of the Vervet Monkey are black, along with their ears and face which has a white band above it and is also framed by white cheek tufts. The Vervet Monkey has long arms and legs which are about the same length to allow this species to walk on all fours when on the ground with ease, and actually makes them quite speedy when running. Males tend to be larger than females and are easily distinguished by their bright blue testicles.
The Vervet Monkey is found south of the Sahara and is widespread across Eastern Africa. They are also found in parts of southern and western Africa from Uganda to Ghana but their location is generally dependant on the sub-species. The Vervet Monkey inhabits savanna, woodland and forests that tend to be close to water, preferring acacia forests that line rivers and lakes. Vervet Monkeys can also be found in mountainous regions up to 1,300 feet providing that there is an adequate supply of both food and water to sustain the population. They are rarely found in more extreme environments such as deserts and rainforests as these regions simply do not have everything that Vervet Monkeys require to successfully survive.
The Vervet Monkey is an arboreal monkey which means that it spends most of it's time in the safety of the trees. Although they do venture down to the ground in search of both food and water, Vervet Monkeys rarely go further than 450 meters from the trees, which helps to protect them from predators. They are diurnal animals spending the days foraging for food and then rest at night. The Vervet Monkey is a very sociable animal inhabiting territories in troops that can contain between 10 and 50 individuals, depending on the location and how ample the food supply is. These troops are comprised of adult females and their young, with males wandering between different troops to both socialise and mate.


The Vervet Monkey is not usually able to reproduce until they are about five years old, although their age of sexual maturity is known to vary slightly and may be dependent on how much food they have access too. After about 5 and a half months, females give birth to a single infant which is cleaned by it's mother at birth, and clings to her stomach during the first week or so. Vervet Monkey babies quickly develop strong social bonds with other monkeys and are known to begin interacting and playing with them by the time they are a month old. They have pink faces and black fur and don't tend to develop their adult colouration until they are a few months old. Vervet Monkey offspring suckle on their mother's milk until they are nearly four months old and start to eat softer vegetation, but they are not fully weaned until they are about a year old.
Despite the fact that the Vervet Monkey tends to reach sexual maturity after a number of years in the wild, sexual maturity in captivity tends to occur much sooner at an average age of two years old. They are incredibly well adapted to their surrounding environments as they can jump and climb well when in the trees and are pretty speedy on the ground, along with being excellent swimmers. Younger females in the troop that are not yet mature, often show a keen interest in the offspring of adult females and assist them with grooming and caring for their young. They are also known to love to hold them, making it not wonder that social bonds within the troop particularly between relatives, often last for life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulates) , also known as Common Pet Parakeet or Shell Parakeetinformally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot, and the only species in the Australian genusMelopsittacus. Wild budgerigars are found throughout the drier parts of Australia, where the species has survived harsh inland conditions for the last five million years.Naturally green and yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings, breeders have created a rainbow of blues, whites, and yellows, greys, and even forms with small crests. Budgerigars are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, ability to mimic human speech and playful nature.The budgerigar is closely related to the lories and the fig parrots. Although budgerigars are often, especially in American English, called parakeets, this term refers to any of a number of small parrots with long, flat tails.

Budgerigars in their natural-habitats of Australia average 18 cm (7 in) long, weigh 30–40 grams (1.1–1.4 oz), and display a light green body colour (abdomen and rumps), while their mantle (back and wing coverts) display pitch-black mantle markings (blackish in fledgelings and immatures) edged in clear yellow undulations. The forehead and face is yellow in adults but with blackish stripes down to the cere (nose) in young individuals until they change into their adult plumage around 3–4 months of age. They display small, purple patches (called cheek patches) and a series of three black spots across each sides of their throats (called throat-spots). The two outermost throat-spots are situated at the base of each cheek-patch. The tail is cobalt (dark-blue); outside tail feathers display central yellow flashes. Their wings have greenish-black flight feathers and black coverts with yellow fringes along with central yellow flashes, which only becomes visible in flight or when the wings are outstretched. Bills are olive grey and legs blueish-grey, with zygodactyl toes.Budgerigars in their natural habitat in Australia are noticeably smaller than those in captivity. This particular parrot species has been bred in many other colors and shades in captivity (e.g. blue, grey, grey-green, pieds, violet, white, yellow-blue), although they are mostly found in pet stores in blue, green, and yellow. Like most parrot species, budgerigar plumage fluoresces under ultraviolet light. This phenomenon is possibly related to courtship and mate selection.

Breeding in the wild generally takes place between June and September in northern Australia and between August and January in the south, although budgerigars are opportunistic breeders and respond to rains when grass seeds become most abundant.Budgerigars show signs of affection to their flockmates by preening or feeding one another. Budgerigars feed one another by eating the seeds themselves, and then regurgitating it into their flockmates' mouth. Populations in some areas have increased as a result of increased water availability at farms.Nests are made in holes in trees, fence posts, or logs lying on the ground; the 4-6 eggs are incubated for 18–21 days, with the young fl edging about 30 days after hatching.In the wild, virtually all parrot species require a hollow tree or a hollow log as a nest site. Because of this natural behavior, budgerigars most easily breed in captivity when provided with a nest box. The eggs are typically 1 to 2 centimeters long and are plain white without any coloration. Female budgerigars can lay eggs without a male partner but these eggs are unfertilized and will not hatch. When the female is laying eggs her cere turns a crusty brown colour. A female budgerigar will lay her eggs on alternate days. After the first one, there is usually a two-day gap until the next. She will usually lay between four to eight eggs, which she will incubate (usually starting after laying her 2nd  or 3rd) for about 21 days each. Female Budgerigar only leave their nests for very quick defecation's and stretches once they've begun incubating and are by then almost exclusively fed by their mate (usually at the nest's entrance).Depending on the clutch size and the beginning of incubation, the age difference between the first and last hatch ling can be anywhere from 9 to 16 days. Rarely, the female has the habit of eating the eggs in case of insecurity.


Eggs take about 18–20 days before they start hatching. The hatchlings are altricial – blind, naked, totally helpless, and their mother feeds them and keeps them warm constantly. Around 10 days of age, the chicks' eyes will open, and they will start to develop feather down. The appearance of down occurs precisely at the ages (around 9 or 10 days of age) for closed banding of the chicks. Budgerigar's closed band rings must be neither larger or smaller than 4.0 to 4.2 mm.They develop feathers around 3 weeks of age. (One can often easily note the colour mutation of the individual birds at this point.) At this stage of the chicks' development, the male usually has begun to enter the nest to help his female in caring and feeding the chicks. Some budgerigar females, however, totally forbid the male from entering the nest and thus take the full responsibility of rearing the chicks until they f ledge.Depending on the size of the clutch and most particularly in the case of single mothers, it may then be wise to transfer a portion of the hatch lings (or best of the fertile eggs) to another pair. The foster pair must already be in breeding mode and thus either at the laying or incubating stages and/or rearing hatch lings.As the chicks develop and grow feathers, they are able to be left on their own for longer and longer periods of time. By the fifth week, the chicks are strong enough that both parents will be comfortable in staying more and more out of the nest. The youngsters will stretch their wings to gain strength before they attempt to fly. They will also help defend the box from enemies mostly with their loud screeching. Young budgerigars typically f ledge (leave the nest) around their fifth week of age and are usually completely weaned a week later. However, the age for fl edging as well as weaning can vary slightly depending on whether it is the oldest, the youngest and/or the only surviving chick. Generally speaking, the oldest chick is the first to be weaned. But even though it is logically the last one to be weaned, the youngest chick is often weaned at a younger age than its older sibling(s). This can be a result of mimicking the actions of older siblings. Lone surviving chicks are often weaned at the youngest possible age as a result of having their parent's full attention and care.Hand-reared Budgies may take slightly longer to wean than parent-raised chicks. Hand feeding is not routinely done with budgerigars, due to their small size, and the fact that young parent raised birds can be readily tamed.