Happy Baby Animal, But What the Heck is it?

August 26, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Wild Animals

Wombat baby, see a Ringtail Possum marsupial tooWombat baby recovering nicely after rescue, Photo courtesy Park Victoria-Facebook

This adorable baby animal is a newborn Wombat rescued from its mother’s pouch after a fatal accident!

A mother Wombat was apparently grazing along a roadside in Australia and hit by an oncoming car. A passerby, familiar with the type of animal she was, searched her pouch and found a still living baby trying to nurse on its mother’s teat.

The little baby animal was shivering with cold, so the rescuer quickly made an emergency phone call to a wildlife helpline in Kinglake, Victoria. Kim Hunter, a 48 year old ranger and volunteer animal care giver, soon arrived at the scene to pick up the baby and take it to her home. Although the baby was close to death, Kim was able to nurse her back to health with around-the-clock care.

A sad story for the mom, but a great rescue for the baby. Kim named the baby “Leah,” who now at five weeks of age has doubled in size. She’s grown from a tiny 300 grams (10.4 oz) when found to a whopping 650 grams (1.43 lb).

In Kim’s own words, as reported by John Kelly of Mirror.com.UK, the online edition of a British tabloid The Daily Mirror, “Leah was cold to the touch and weighed only 300 grams when she arrived, she now weighs 650 grams. She’s very lucky, although she was uninjured she was cold to the touch and I’d say she was only a few hours away from dying.

“Wombats often graze at the side of the road and are sometimes hit by oncoming cars, her mother must have shielded her against the blow. Leah is too young to grow her own fur yet so I keep her on a heated mat, I have to bottle feed her every four hours, even throughout the night. But it’s definitely been worth it, we’ve built a strong bond over the weeks, she knows I’m her mum now. The online response to Leah is unbelievable, people have really fallen in love with Leah.”

Wombats are small pudgy looking marsupials that walk on four legs. Marsupials are mammals that carry their young in a pouch. Well known examples include kangaroos, wallabies, possums, opossums, and koalas. Wombats are great burrowers. They use those very long claws you can see on the adult, along with strong rodent-like front teeth to dig extensive burrow systems. A unique characteristic of these marsupials is that the females pouch is backward-facing. This way they don’t get soil in the pouch from their energetic digging.

Wombat AdultWombat Adult at Maria Island National Park, Photo Wiki Commons, courtesy JJ Harrison

A mother Wombat gives birth to a single baby and then carries that baby in her pouch for about six to seven months. The young Wombat weans at about 15 months and becomes sexually mature at 18 months. A full grown adult averages a length of about 3 1/4 feet (1 m) and weighs between 44-77 lb (20-35 kg).

Mother Wombats must forage heavily to feed both themselves and their young babies. They tend to forage along roads, but unfortunately this means often crossing the roads as well as feeding early in the morning and late into the night. Drivers must be very careful.

Kim’s experience with this baby has created quite a stir and its been reported in numerous online publications. Further, with the very curious picture of this baby looking much like a reclining little old man with a big smile on its face, got picked up to become a subject of a Photoshop challenge on Reddit. Thus some creative/crazy humans had a lot of fun and with it and it has become a meme.

Yet what really strikes me is the human capacity for compassion and caring, and that trumps all other sideline fascinations. Big kudos go out to the passerby who rescued the newborn and to Ranger Kim Hunter, for her quick action to save baby Leah’s life and her continuing dedication as Leah’s “mum.” Kim’s got her work cut out for her with these babies not weaning until around 15 months of age, and Leah has lots of growing to do! And lastly, a big thanks to Parks Victoria for posting the photo on their facebook page, helping to bring awareness to this darling animal.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Colorful Macaw enjoys the challenge of the race, and wins!

August 22, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Pet Birds

What could be a more remarkable sight than a pretty Macaw in freeflight and her human friend racing down the road!

Imagine a bird companion that can actually do something as awesome as this; a pet that can go out in the world with its owner to flex and have fun.

This incredible antic, a race between bird and scooter riding man, took place about a month ago near Kolimbithres beach in Paros, Greece. The length of the race was about 3 miles (5 km). The goal, into the village for coffee!

First the Blue and Gold Macaw takes the lead, and then it’s neck and neck as the scooter races forward. But in the end, as they traverse the twists and turns, the colorful bird cheerfully squawks “hello” to her friend as she pulls ahead to lead rest of the race. It was not a fast race, as a Blue and Gold Macaw can fly between 27-30 mph, but it was a fun race.

See more MacawsPolo, a gorgeous Red Fronted Macaw in freeflight!

Keeping free flying pet parrots is not a new phenomenon; in fact it has gone on for hundreds of years. Before it became common practice to keep pet birds in cages they usually had free reign on their owner’s property. Today however, it is a more unusual sight, and is simply not a good practice for every owner.

As with all pet keeping situations, there are pros and cons to freeflight that must be considered carefully.

The parrot owner must be very dedicated and the parrots must be trained, as they are not automatically expert flyers. It can take anywhere from a few months of indoor work, to several years, before they are trained and ready for an excursion in the open. There must also be a place for them to fly that is relatively safe from predators and other dangers.

Darren contributed the above photo to Animal-World showing his lovely Red Fronted Macaw, Polo, in freeflight. He says he will free fly Polo indoors and outdoors, but strongly cautions, “This is done only with much training. Do not try this unless you know what you are doing.”

There are a small number of parrot owners that train their birds to fly freely. Most will chaperone their bird’s outdoor excursions, though a few let their birds fly without supervision. Then there are also those whose parrots are allowed a larger “free space.” This is provided by using aviary netting or walking them with a bird harness.

Owners who practice freeflight believe these birds enjoy a happier, healthier life than clipped birds and if flying is handled properly, danger can be avoided. It takes a very close relationship with a bird to train them for freeflight.

Darren’s close relationship with Polo is obvious from his remarks, “Polo is gorgeous, very loveable, and LOVES to lie on his back in my lap and play. He can be a little nippy, but not hard. He is not loud at all and LOVES attention. They are absolutely fantastic birds and a GREAT joy to have. He is AMAZING… ;)

Ultimately it’s that very close relationship between keepers and their parrots that keeps the birds around!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Poisonous Snakes Crossing Your Path! Don’t be afraid, be prepared

August 21, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Reptiles, Wild Animals

See all types of snakesSidewinder Rattlesnake from the Mohave Desert in California

An autumn nature hike is enriching and relaxing, but keep in mind… you’re not alone!

August and September are two of the most beautiful months to explore the great outdoors. The weather is perfect and nature during this time of year is awesome.

All is calm and serene with insects buzzing, a bird chirping here and there, and maybe a light breeze or the cheerful sounds of a bubbling stream. What could be more enjoyable?

Yet in this seemingly peaceful environment you must be attentive and prepared for any encounters with wildlife. The great outdoors is the home to many creatures, small and large, and you are traversing their native space. Animals are generally shy and reserved, preferring to go about their business and keep to themselves. But sometimes contact is unavoidable, and this includes running into poisonous (venomous) snakes.

Snakes are very remarkable animals. They have adapted to live on the land in the trees, grasslands, and desert areas and they are also found living in water, including the oceans. They eat meat so will prey on insects, birds, small animals and other reptiles, and sometimes even other snakes.

Being cold-blooded animals they are unable to regulate their own body temperatures, so they are most active when it’s warm and less active as it gets cold. Snakes like to come out when it’s sunny, but not scorching. Sensitive to temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, they are most likely to be seen early in the morning, in the evening, and during the nighttime when it’s warm.

Preventing snake bites

A nice thing to know is that snakes only bite if they are provoked or startled. Most snakes do not act aggressive toward humans without provocation and by simply leaving them alone, you should be okay. Despite a sinister reputation, snakes are almost always more scared of you than you are of them. If you spot a rattlesnake or other venomous snake, you should stop, watch it and let it leave before continuing on.

Avoiding snake bites is not difficult as long as you take precautions. Educate yourself about the types of snakes in your area before venturing out, and then stay aware of your surroundings. Wear the appropriate clothing for outdoor activities too, like long pants and hiking shoes. Although these may not stop every bite they can help deflect a bite.

Venomous snakes have modified salivary glands that they use to inject venom. During a bite the snake passes the venom into a duct into their fangs, and then into its prey. However they can regulate whether or not to release venom, and don’t necessarily inject venom with all bites. A bite without venom is known as a “dry Bite” and will occur between 25-50% of the time. This varies with different species; pit-viper bites will be dry about 25% of the time while coral snakes will be dry up to 50% of the time.

Only a small number of people experience snake bites. On average about 7,000 people in the United States report being bitten by venomous snakes each year. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, the curator of reptiles at Reptile Gardens south of Rapid City, snake expert Terry Phillip says that the No. 1 reason people in this country are bitten by venomous snakes is because they were “trying to catch, kill ‘em or tease ‘em.” Further, of those bitten by venomous snakes, 89 percent are men between the ages of 16 and 30 years.

Phillip further states that if bitten by a venomous snake, make wise choices. None of the common field treatment myths are effective, like the cut-and suck method, tourniquets, nor applying ice or alcohol. He says to remain calm and remove jewelry or anything that will restrict movement from the affected limb, and then seek medical emergency treatment immediately. If you get bit call your local poison control center, then the center will call a hospital in advance for treatment.

Poisonous (venomous) snakes in the United States

There are about 25 species of poisonous (venomous) snakes in North America, with at least one or more species found in each of the 50 states. The most notable venomous snakes in North America are comprised of two groups; the Pit Vipers which include Rattlesnakes, Cottonmouth, and Copperhead snakes, and the Coral Snakes.

Rattlesnakes

The Rattlesnakes are probably the best known venomous snakes, and this pit viper is found all across the United States. They are so named for the “rattle” at the tip of their tail, which when sounding, strikes fear into the heart of the intruder. Their primary method of protection is their camouflage rather than the rattle, so you know they are riled if you hear it sizzling.

There are 32 recognized rattlesnake species in the genus Crotalus, all bearing a large pair of fangs. Though none of these snakes are considered aggressive, if threatened they are known to hold their ground. A few familiar species include:

Western Diamondback RattlesnakeWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  1. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake C. atrox
    The Western Diamondback, ranging from California to central Arkansas and south into Mexico, has gained much of its notoriety due to being featured in Western Movies.
  2. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake C. adamanteus
    The Eastern Diamondback is the largest of the rattlesnake species and is the heaviest, though not the longest, venomous species in the United States. It has large range from North Carolina to Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  3. Sidewinder C. cerastes
    The Sidewinder is a well known snake from the Midwest deserts where is slithers sideways across the sands leaving a zigzag pattern in its wake. It ranges from Utah and Nevada, then south through Arizona and California and into Mexico and down the Baja.
  4. Timber Rattlesnake C. horridus
    The Timber Rattlesnake C. horridus is an abundant snake, and the most populous of rattlesnake in the northeastern United States. It ranges from the northeast south through Florida and into Minnesota and Texas. It is commonly found on wooded hillsides and rocky outcrops.

Copperhead

The Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix is also a pit viper with 5 recognized subspecies. It is widespread throughout the Eastern and Southeastern United States. It is responsible for most of the bites from venomous snakes, and although the bites are quite painful they rarely life threatening. Still a victim should still get medical attention.

Coral Snakes

The Coral Snakes comprise a large group of venomous snakes, and they are not restricted to just the Americas. However the New World has the largest number, with 65 recognized species in 3 genera. These snakes are extremely toxic. Their venom is a powerful neurotoxin that requires prompt snake bite treatment. A bite from one of these fellows will shut down your nervous system and stop your heart.

Coral snakes are identified by the colored bands ringing the entire length of their body and a blunt black snout. The bands alternate in red and black, with a thinner yellow in between. They can easily be confused with the harmless King Snake, as their body colors are similar looking, though the King Snake has a red snout. It is the arrangement and size of the colored bands that distinguish the two. A rhyme that can help distinguish them goes like this, “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow (Deadly Coral snake). Red touch black, friend of Jack (Harmless King snake).” Three species encountered in the United States include:

  1. Eastern Coral Snake Micrurus fulvius
    The Eastern Coral Snake typically ranges from North Carolina through Florida and along Mississippi.
  2. Texas Coral Snake Micrurus tener
    The Texas Coral Snake typically ranges in Texas, but is also found in Arkansas and Louisiana.
  3. Arizona coral Snake Micruroides euryxanthus
    The Arizona coral Snake, also known as the Western Coral Snake, typically ranges in Arizona and south to Sinaloa in western Mexico

Cottonmouth

The Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus, also called the “water moccasin,” is another species of pit viper with a serious bite that can be fatal. Although this snake’s aggression is somewhat exaggerated, it is a fast fellow and an occasion male can be aggressive and cranky. It has a thick, heavy body that’s brownish or olive/gray in color and a flat topped head. It is known to stand it ground when annoyed and may gape repeatedly, exposing the cotton-looking lining of its mouth, thus its common name. It ranges across the east, Mideast and southeastern United States.

The beauties of autumn season are yours to fully enjoy when you are aware of the venomous snakes in your area and ready if one should cross your path. Fully prepared, your hiking experience will be fun and relaxing!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Frog Luck, Bringing Changes and Abundance to Life

August 20, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Reptiles

More Good Luck FrogsShelby says her Green Tree Frog, Chucky, is a pretty crazy frog!

When a lucky frog comes into your life that’s a sign of transformation, and it may well spark many wonderful changes!

The frog has been a strong good luck symbol in many cultures all around the world, and throughout history.

Just like people, the frog undergoes incredible changes in its journey to adulthood. It first hatches from an egg into a wiggly fish-like tadpole, then it begins growing arms and legs and its tail recedes. With this curious growth cycle, frogs are seen as a lucky symbol of transformation, fertility, and the awakening of one’s creativity. They also represent save travel, abundance, wealth, prosperity, health and friendship.

Frogs as good-luck symbols

I really like frogs, but when you think about what a frog is… it’s a cold blooded amphibian. It lives mostly in a watery or humid environment, though there are some exceptions in toads, and it can lay a many eggs at one time. Great for reproduction! Thus the frog became a symbol for fertility, and safe travel as well. Here’s some of what’s attributed to the frog as a bearer of good fortune:

  1. Good Luck
    In Japan frogs are a symbol of Good Luck, and the Romans believed that to have a frog would bring good luck into the home. The Irish on the other hand, consider the frog as a close relative of the leprechaun, and thus very capable of playing tricks on you.
  2. Fertility
    The Greeks and Romans both associated frogs with fertility and harmony. To the Egyptians the frog is a symbol of life and fertility, as well as rebirth or resurrection. The frog was a creature born of the annual flooding of the Nile, which in turn made the otherwise barren lands fertile. Thus the frog-goddess of Fertility named Heget (meaning frog), came into their culture and mythology. In the Roman culture, the goddess Venus was also often depicted with a frog.
  3. Abundance
    Partly due to the very large number of eggs that a frog will lay, it became a symbol of abundance as well. For many cultures that depend on rain for rich and bountiful crops the frog is a good luck symbol, a sign of prosperous weather to come. In Native American tradition the frog is often seen as a rain maker. In Australia too, the native Aborigines believed frogs brought the thunder and rain to help plants to grow. To the Vietnamese the toad is the “uncle of the Sky”, and an ancient story tells that it will rain whenever toads grind their teeth.
  4. Wealth
    In ancient China the frog represented the lunar yin and the Frog spirit Ch’ing-Wa Sheng was associated with healing and good fortune in business. Tradition has it that the Chinese god of wealth, the immortal Liu Hai, kept a three-legged toad as a pet. It is a symbol for riches and often pictured with a gold coin in its mouth.
  5. Health
    In Native American culture, the frog is seen as a spirit animal or totem that is strongly associated with the water element and its cleansing attributes. This water connection brings emotions and feminine energies, but also cleanses physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  6. Friendship
    In folklore the first frog of spring is said to bring you many friends if it does a “hop toad” jump in your direction.

Frogs as bad-luck symbols

Although frogs and toads are mostly considered lucky, there are a few examples where they represent bad fortune. One of my favorites is the common old wives tale that says handling a toad will result in getting warts. This is believed to have originated from the toad’s bumpy skin making it appear like it has warts on it.

Bad fortune is depicted in folklore regarding the first frog of spring. “If the first frog that you see in the spring is sitting on dry ground, it signifies that during the same year you will shed as many tears as the frog would require to swim away in.” Further, if that frog leaps into the water you’ll have misfortune fortune all year, or if it leaps away from you, you will lose friends. In ancient China, a frog in a well is symbolic of a person lacking in understanding and vision.

Frogs in Culture

Though frogs are often thought of as a symbol of luck, and mostly good luck though sometimes bad, they are also featured prominently in many cultures. They have been found throughout the ages in myths, folklore, and fairytales and they are still found today. In popular culture frogs and toads have many appearances, but the tendency is to depict them as kind, often handsome and charming, but with an underlying mysteriousness.

  1. Children’s stories
    Some popular stories for children include an early fairy tale, “The Frog Prince,” originally featured in Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics and then later translated into English by Edgar TAylor. Then there’s Mr. Toad from Kenneth Graeme’s “The Wind in the Willows” and Tiddalik the frog, a legend in the mythology of Indigenous Australians.
  2. Television and Movies
    In the television and movie world, Kermit the Frog appeared in 1995 and became the most famous of Jim Henson’s Muppets. He became even more famous in 1979 as the star of “The Muppet Movie”. Looney Tunes Michigan J. Frog first appeared in 1955 in “One Froggy Evening”. Wearing a top hat and carrying a cane, he happily sings ragtime and other tunes.
  3. Commercials
    A highly favored advertisement was the 1995 Budweiser commercial for Super Bowl XXIX, which featured three large, deep-voiced bullfrogs. They toads were sitting on rocks in a stream in front of a tavern, making a chorus of “Bud,” “Weis,” and “Er.”
  4. Music
    In the music world there was Jeremiah, a bullfrog, as the star in the song “Joy to the World,” written by Hoyt Axton and released by Three Dog Night in 1979.

So frogs have long influenced people and there’s the good, and just a touch of bad, in the world of frog luck. Beyond the joy of keeping frogs as pets, they could very well bring changes and abundance into your life!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

World Cat Day 2014, a Journey Eons in the Making

August 8, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Pet Cats

See all types of catsAnimal-World Celebrates World Cat Day 2014!

A celebration of cats is what, World Cat Day August 8, 2014 is all about.

We humans are simply enamored with cats and have been for thousands of years!

Today we honor our wonderful feline friends with a World Cat Day, yet their recognition spans thousands of years. Around 7000 to 5000 B.C. a few small, tabby-striped wild felines arrived in human settlements in northern Africa. It was with these small creatures that the process of domestic cat breeds began, resulting in some of the most intriguing types of cats seen today.

People often talk about owning a cat, but in reality I think cats own their humans. I’ve had cats throughout my life. Many were adopted mixed cats and some were breeds, but others simply showed up on my doorstep, fully expecting to come in and make themselves at home. Some cats will hang out with you constantly and even come when you call, while others will simply seem to ignore you, until its feeding time.

Cats of all kinds, whether a breed or not, are simply adorable, sporting many shapes, sizes, colors, and “flavors” of personality. These little felines can be beautiful and exotic with fur that is solid or multi colored, fluffy or smooth. An affectionate feline may sit on your lap or simply enjoy your company. An occasional petting as often it’s perfect reward. Others may be aloof and independent, clumsy or smart (or both!), and even a little sassy or evil.

Although all cats are, well cats, there are definite differences in cat breeds. Each breed has a unique set of qualities. Breeds can range from easy to more difficulty in handling, with personalities ranging from gentle and cuddly to aloof or reserved, and wanting less handling. In body form, they can be slender to cobby or robust, as well as combinations. Cat breeds can also be described by their color coat markings or patterning. When looking at their fur, you would think a long haired cat would shed more than a short haired cat, but that too is breed dependent rather than the length of the fur.

Finding a cat that best suits you, you can start by looking at breeds with the personality and behavior traits that you desire. These breed traits will also carry over in mixed cats.

Here’s a short cat breed guide:

  1. Undemanding Cats:
    These types of cats can be described as quiet “lap cats” include the Birman, Bombay, Chartreux, Havana Brown, Nebelung, Russian Blue, Scottish Fold, and Selkirk Rex.
  2. Easy going, friendly cats:
    These are cat breeds that are good with children such as the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Manx, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ragdoll, Scottish Fold, Snowshoe, and Turkish Van.
  3. Active cats, people oriented:
    These cats love attention but can demanding, and include breeds like the American Curl, Balinese, Burmese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Javanese, Korat, Siamese, and Singapura.
  4. Active and athletic cats:
    These are energetic cats such as the Abyssinian, Bengal, Ocicat, and Somali.
  5. Grooming Intensive cats:
    These are long haired cats that will shed a lot, such as the Himalayan, Persian, and Turkish Angora.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Amazing Facts About Bengal Tigers

Bengal Tiger, Panthera tigris. See more interesting animalsBengal Tiger Panthera tigris, Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy John and Karen Hollingsworth, Fish & Wildlife Service Licensed under Public Domain

Some startling facts about tigers which will make you awestruck!

A little bit of fright, enough of a thrill, and the heights of imagination – all these work together during your Bengal Tiger sighting trip.

Voted as the world’s favorite animal, this tiger is the most varied cat on earth, and has many unique features and interesting compulsions. Less social, comfort loving and crepuscular, these wild carnivores have always been the center of attraction during all adventurous wildlife tours.

Let’s explore the twisting facts about this exclusive creature which will make you stunned.

  • Night vision of the tiger is approximately six times better than humans,
  • To mark their territories, they scratch trees and use their urine.
  • Unlike other members of the cat family tigers are good swimmers and can go easily inside water for cooling themselves and in the pursuit of prey.
  • A tiger’s brain may weigh over 300g which is believed to be the largest among carnivores after the polar bears.
  • Just like human fingerprints, the stripes on each tiger are unique.
  • For trapping their prey, tigers are often found imitating the sound of other animals. Bears constitute a major part of the tigers’ diet as very often their habitats overlap.
  • There are very small numbers of tigers who develop a taste for human flesh.
  • Tigers’ saliva contains antiseptic elements. That is why they lick their wounds to disinfect them.
  • Tigresses become fertile for only four to five days in the entire year.
  • Tigers can guess the gender, age and reproductive status of other tigers smelling their urine markings.
  • Tigers do not normally roar at other animals. Actually they roar to communicate with far-off tigers. Therefore, a tiger in attacking moded might hiss and fluff instead of roaring.
  • Unless a tiger feels threatened it does not attack humans as prey.
  • Tigers are territorial and love to live solitary lives except when mating. Each tiger has a specific territory and the area of a male overlaps with many other females.
  • Just like the young ones of the domestic cat, tigers are also completely blind for the first week of their life.
  • It takes 30-40 days for a human to die of starvation whereas a tiger will die within two or three weeks.
  • Tigers have a better memory than any other animals including humans. They have a hundred times better memory than dogs and dozens of times better memory than primates.
  • Tigers can run at a speed of approximately 60km/h for short distances.
  • Tigers are conscious about the rights of females and kids. That is why when several tigers assemble around a kill, they wait for the females and kids to eat first. Whereas, it is just the opposite in the case of lions.

A majestic creation of nature, India’s national animal the tiger, was brought to the verge of extinction due to the illegal human interference on their habitat. But the preventive steps taken by the Government of India, especially the Save Tiger Project has shown its colors. Today a total of 3200 tigers are found across the world out of which 1706 tigers are found in India with the highest density of tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park. To make India richer in the number of its tiger population, some popular national parks like Ranthambore, Corbett, Pench, Tadoba, Sundarban and Periyar also contributed significantly.

Anshul Srivastava is a wildlife enthusiast, who loves to wander around different wildlife destinations of India. At the same time, he has gotten a command over writing and thus, he pens down and shares his experience with the world.

20 Interesting Facts About Elephants

See more interesting animalsIndian elephant bull in Bandipur National Park, India. Photo Wiki Commons, Courtesy Yathin S Krishnappa

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great things” …John Donne

Elephants! When these giant creatures roam in the wilds, they create a sensation that entrances the one who observes this marvelous scene. These mighty mammals are the largest land animals. They are members of the Elephantidae family of the Proboscidae order. There are basically two recognized species of elephants: The Asian Elephants and African Elephants.

These giant creatures have various unique features that make them distinctive from other wild beings.

A few of the unique features of elephants are:

  1. Usually female elephants live in herds. The veteran female elephant leads this herd, however, and the male elephants are generally solitary and shift from herd to herd. Each member in the female herd helps each other to find food and care for their young ones. These creatures do not lie down to sleep as their straight legs provide them an adequate amount of support. They can converse with their herd from far away by using sounds that are extremely low, too low for the human ear to recognize.
  2. Elephants can converse with each other by creating sounds known as "tummy rumbles."
  3. Elephants in general walk about 4 mph.
  4. Elephants know how to swim for lengthy distances.
  5. Elephants spend almost sixteen hours a day eating food.
  6. Elephants have the biggest brains of all the members of animal kingdom.
  7. A Fully-grown Indian Elephant can reach a height of more than 8 feet.
  8. Adult Indian elephants are about 10,000 plus pounds in weight.
  9. In general, one tusk of an elephant is shorter than the other. This happens because the elephant uses one of its tusks more often for things. It’s the same as for people, being either right or left-handers, the Elephants will also rely upon the tusk they use more frequently.
  10. Elephants are able to give birth every three to four years. The period of gestation is nearly two years.
  11. The Babies weigh around 250 pounds when they are born.
  12. The elephant herd makes a circle around a mother elephant when a baby elephant is born. They generate this circle to guard her from harm. A number of the elephants nudge the baby elephant to support as it’s standing up after birth.
  13. It is fairly amazing to know that the elephants can catch one anothers trumpeting sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.
  14. Elephants can become suntanned; therefore they shield themselves with sand.
  15. Elephants get frightened of bees.
  16. This mammoth creature is the lone mammal, other than the Homo sapiens, to have a chin.
  17. 17. It is quite clear by their structure that elephants eat a lot. Moreover, they also drink nearly 50 gallons of water every day. These giants can go for around four days without water. It is remarkably fascinating to know that they can dig wells with the help of their tusks if needed.
  18. The trunk of an elephant can certainly be a lethal weapon. The trunk can pick up something weighing around 450 pounds, perhaps more. Remarkably, the trunk has nearly 150,000 muscles.
  19. These giants have no natural predators. However, lions at times will prey on weak or young elephants in the wild. The foremost threat to elephants is from human beings through poaching and alterations to their haunt.
  20. The potential for an elephant to travel a long distance makes them extremely handy in terms of jungle safari. They can walk for miles on their physically powerful feet. For this reason, elephants are extensively used for jungle safaris in India, especially in the national parks. An Elephant safari in a national park is a great way to experience the spellbinding traits of this giant creature.

These giant creatures have many startling, and often concealed, facts about them. A single sight of this mammoth creature is enough to spellbind all!

Contributing author Jessica Frei is a wildlife admirer and nature lover. She loves to explore the wildlife of different countries. She has visited many popular national parks

Who’s hungry? A Human Smorgasbord for Flesh-eating Piranha!

Swarm of carnivorous piranha attacked hundreds of bathers!

Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs

Christmas was a very warm day along the Parana River near Rosario, Argentina. Hundreds of city dwellers were trying to escape the 100-degree weather in the cooler waters of a popular beach about 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. But then, they began to notice bite marks on their hands and feet.

A swarm of carnivorous fish attacked hundreds of bathers, sending around 70 people to local clinics and emergency rooms for treatment.

The local Director of lifeguards, Federico Cornier, told reporters from BBC and other broadcasters in the area “it’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great… This is an exceptional event.”

A man is treated at a clinic in Rosario, Argentina, after a school of flesh-eating palometas, a type of piranha, attacked swimmers cooling off in the Parana River on Christmas Day. As per LA Times “Flesh-eating fish attack swimmers in Argentine river; 70 injured” (Silvina Salinas / Associated Press Photo/ December 25, 2013)

Cornier said that the fish responsible for the attacks were “palometas”, a type of piranha with large sharp teeth. Dozens of people had their extremities attacked. Paramedic Alberto Manino, speaking with the Associated Press, said that some children he had treated had lost entire digits!

The term ‘palometa’ is a common name used for several types of fish. This includes the Piranha, but it is also used for a Caribbean gamefish Trachinotus goodie and a Western Atlantic fish, the Maracaibo Leatherjacket Oligoplites palometa.

The Piranhas belong to a sub-family called the Serrasalminae, or the ‘serrated salmon family’ consisting of around 60 species. The unmistakable trademark features of the Piranha are their triangular, razor sharp teeth. As described in Piranha: Story of the Piranha Fish from Predator to Prey, these teeth enable them to ‘slice off pieces of meat, fins or scales, literally taking apart their prey piece by piece.’

The palometa that attacked these bathers is most likely the Red Piranha Pygocentrus nattereri, also called the Red-bellied Piranha. This is a very widespread species, occurring in several river basins of South American. Although it typically grows between about 3 to 9 1/2 inches (8-24 cm) in length, one specimen was reported at a whooping 19 1/2 inches (50 cm).

Keeping the Red Piranha in the aquarium is truly a fascination. In the wild the Red Piranha lives in large schools. This type of school is not usually possible in an aquarium, but with the proper environment these fish will show some traits of their wild behavior. In nature the largest fish is the ‘alpha’ animal and in the aquarium it is the most aggressive and bold. The alpha fish will dominate the best spaces in the tank and will basically own the feeding ritual. All other members are subordinate and will take on the traits of servants. Any unwilling ‘servants’ will be quickly and aggressively put in their place by the alpha fish!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and animal species write-ups.