In this edition of our regular photo facts we take a look at the lovely Leopard Seal. As it’s the festive period and there is heaps of snow and ice and cold weather around it seems appropriate to head down to Antarctica and meet our nimble friends.
It’s almost Christmas so that means time for Santa and his Sleigh full of presents will be zooming across the globe delivering presents to everyone. It also means that Santa’s eight reindeer, Blitzen, Dasher, Donder, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Prancer and Vixen have to get fit, and their buddy Rudolph has to polish his shiny red nose!
The term Ectothermic is sometimes used interchangably with the term Cold-blooded. However, ectothermic comes from the greek meaning outside (ectos) and heat (thermos), i.e. describing animals that get heat from their surroundings. Cold-blooded however, isn’t really a great term as creatures that only use their surroundings to control their temperature could just as well have blood that is too hot as too cold. Reptiles are a perfect example of an ectothermic animal, basking in the sun to raise their temperature, and seeking shade when it all gets too hot!
Where do owls live? These feathery friends are a little confused me thinks… surely they should be living in trees just like all other birds? Nope, they can’t be bothered with that so they have decided to live underground by inhabiting the burrows of other animals. Some might call it lazy, I call it resourceful. Meet the Burrowing Owl.
Looking a bit like Gizmo the Gremlin, Bush babies are probably one of the cutest and bounciest creatures out there. With large droopy eyes this little furry fellow likes cuddling up with its buddies during the day after a long night leaping between the trees and catching insects.
Bush babies are Primates (like humans and monkeys) and part of the Lorisidae family. There are over 15 species, with more still being discovered. Well known species include the Greater Bushbaby, Lesser Bushbabies and Needle-Clawed Bushbabies. Named due to its large eyes and a baby-like cry, they are also called Galagos meaning Little Night Monkeys in Afrikaans.
1. Even though Pandas are actually omnivores, in the same family as the Polar Bear and the Grizzly Bear, they hardly eat any meat, in fact about 99% of their diet is vegetarian. They can eat up to 30kg of bamboo per day and spend most of the day eating. Bamboo is low in essential nutrients and pandas only digest about 20% of what they consume, which is why they eat so much.
2. Pandas may appear to be very friendly and cute but, like Grizzly bears, they are actually one of the more aggressive bear species when provoked. They are very territorial animals. Most aggressive encounters occur during the mating season.
3. Unlike other bears Pandas are mainly nocturnal creatures; because of this their eyes have pupils which are vertical slits that are similar to a cat’s eyes to help them see much better in the dark. All other bears have round eyes.
1. The Polar Bear is the largest land carnivore on the planet. Although the Kodiak brown bear is sometimes just as big, the Polar Bear on average reaches larger sizes. The largest Polar Bear we know of weighed over 1000 kilograms.
2. Polar Bears are the top of the Arctic food chain and don’t have any natural predators. Its main threat is from the melting icecaps due to global warming and human poaching.
3. The Polar Bear is an excellent swimmer. The blubber that covers the bear is about 10cm thick and helps them float as well as keeping them warm. Its paws are very large, up to 30 cm in diameter, and very strong, enabling them to swim large distances. Distances of more than 100 km are not unusual. It can also dive about 6 meters and hold its breath for 2 minutes. A bear swims faster (10kph) than it walks (9kph).