Fascinating Facts

Fascinating Tarantula facts

The term tarantula is usually used to describe members of the family Theraphosidae.

Tarantulas are the largest spiders living on Earth today. There are over 900 species of Tarantulas (in the family Theraphosidae) and can be found all over the planet including North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe- except Antarctica. These large spiders like to live in many different climates, but generally prefer to stay in warm environments. They can be found in forests, deserts, and jungles. Some Tarantulas live in the ground while others live in the trees.

If they live in the ground, they make a burrow to live in which they line with their silk or web. If they live in trees, they make a tube tent out of their silk to live in. A Tarantulas’ size, colour, and behaviour can vary wildly depending on the location and species.

From front right leg to rear left leg, tarantulas range from 11.4 cm to 28 cm in length. They can weigh anything from 28.3 grams to 85 grams and have strong jaws and fangs.

The fangs of the tarantula are distinctive, as they are positioned parallel to each other and face downward. A Tarantula’s jaws move up and down, while most spiders will have a common side-to-side motion.

Some tarantulas are dull brown or black, while some species are striped or even coloured. They have 8 tiny eyes that will pick up on the slightest movement. Tarantulas have two body parts- the cephalothorax and the abdomen. Like all spider species, the tarantula has eight legs. The legs and body are covered with hairs, which are extremely sensitive to vibrations. Although this looks like hair and is commonly described as such, spiders and other arthropods do not have true hair like mammals do. Mammalian hair is mainly made of keratin, while arthropod setae consists largely of chitin. Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters, which means that they are only active during the night and sleeping during the daytime hours. They will normally wait for their prey to come close enough to grab. They kill their prey with a bite from their fangs, which then release venom that kills their victim Their jaw is also strong enough to crush certain prey. Tarantulas are extremely sensitive to vibrations on the ground that may indicate the presence of prey or danger. As a way of self-defense, some species simply lean back on their haunches, raising their head and 2 pairs of legs in the air and exposing their curved fangs in an intimidating display that will give the impression that they are larger than they really are.

Some species of tarantula use their legs to scrape off the fine hairs from their abdomen, called urticating hairs, and throw this to an enemy to cause irritation if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin of a predator.

Tarantulas are all venomous, but how dangerous they are to humans varies from tarantula to tarantula. Many are harmless to humans and rarely bite if they are not feeling threatened. Some bites to a human are similar to a bee sting, with only temporary pain and swelling. Some African tarantula bites have been reported to cause moderate illness, but there have been no severe cases with human deaths due to toxicity from a tarantula bite.

The venom itself may not be dangerous to humans, but it can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Tarantulas are cold-blooded animals. They are unable to regulate their internal body temperature. Tarantulas will shed their skin from time to time because they have outgrown their old exoskeleton and need more room to grow. Tarantulas are known as long-lived spiders, although their life spans vary by sex as well as species.

Male tarantulas can live for as long as 10 to 12 years, but once they successfully mate, they usually die within a few months. Female tarantulas can live twice as long as some males, and some recorded reports have documented females to have lived for 30 years. Tarantulas are ambush predators, pouncing on prey rather than trying to use a web to trap its prey like other spiders. They do however spin a tripwire to signal an alert when something approaches its burrow. A Tarantula’s diets vary depending on the species’ size and habitat. They feed primarily on insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and other small spiders. Some larger tarantulas are known to prey on small vertebrates like lizards, frogs, toads, and even rodents. When prey comes close, tarantulas ambush it, grab it with their legs, inject paralyzing venom, and then kill it with their fangs. They would also inject a fluid that breaks down the victim’s tissues that turns the prey into a soft pulp, which can then be eaten. Mating between tarantulas takes place at various times of the year. In some species, the male performs a courtship dance to encourage the female to become receptive.

After mating, the female normally carries her eggs in a silken cocoon attached to her body. Depending on the species, a female can lay anything from 50 to 2000 eggs at a time.

They do not take care of their babies at all and, instead, mothers would leave them to fend for themselves. The growth of a newly hatched spider into a mature spider is a long process and can take up to ten years. Some of the more popular and colourful species of tarantulas are now threatened due to collecting for the exotic pet trade. A South American tarantula known as the goliath birdeater is widely considered the most massive spider alive today, growing up to 28 centimeters in diameter. Despite its name, it only rarely preys on birds, instead of feeding mostly on earthworms, insects, and other invertebrates. Predators of tarantulas include snakes, lizards, frogs, spider-eating birds, raccoons, and skunks as well as mammals such as coyotes, mongooses, and foxes.

Fascinating Ostrich Facts

Ostrich Facts: The scientific name for the common ostrich is Genus: Struthio and specific name: camelus.

This makes the binomial name for the ostrich Struthio camelus. Loosely translated from ancient Greek, the scientific name means thrush / sparrow camel. Ostriches could be found roaming in Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but today they’re limited to the woodlands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. There are two species of ostrich; the common ostrich and Somali ostrich

The ostrich, which is flightless, is the world’s largest bird. An ostrich can weigh anything between 70kg and 140kg, and measures between 1.2m and 2.7m in height.

An ostrich has a long, bare neck, long sturdy legs and a bulky body that is covered with feathers. The male ostrich is called a rooster and the female ostrich is called a hen. Males and females have different coloured feathers – males have black feathers with white tails, and females are mostly between grey and brown, which is perfect for camouflage when sitting on the nest. Both sexes have small heads, short, wide beaks and big brown eyes, protected by long, dark lashes. These long, dark eyelashes help shield their eyes from the sun. Ostriches can’t fly (being so heavy), but rather use their wings for cooling and balance.

Ostriches’ wings reach a span of about 2 meters and are used in mating displays and to scare off predators. Ostriches also use their wings as rudders for maneuvering their bodies and changing direction as they travel at high speeds. When turning, braking or running in a zig-zag, ostriches rely on their wings to stay balanced and in control.

A group of ostriches is called a flock of ostriches. Ostriches have three stomachs. The ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal, measuring almost 5 cm across. One eye can weigh about 60 grams. They have brilliant eyesight which means they can see an object as far away as 3,5km during the day, which makes it perfect in allowing predators and any threats to be seen from a great distance. Unlike all other living birds, the ostrich secretes urine separately from faces.

Whereas most birds have three to four toes on each foot, ostriches are unique in that they only have two on each foot. The big toe is on the inside and has a big, sharp nail for protection. The smaller toe is on the outside for balance. Ostriches are the fastest runners of any birds or other two-legged animal, and can sprint at over 70 km/h. When running at full tilt, it takes strides of up to 3 to 5 meters. When threatened, an ostrich would normally run away.

If running away from danger is not an option, ostriches will use their powerful legs to kick. With a 10 cm talon on each foot, their downward kicks can cause serious harm to potential predators.

Groups of ostriches will often graze among other animals like giraffes, zebras and antelopes. Their presence is useful, because they alert other animals when danger is near. In the wild, ostriches live an average of 30 to 40 years, but in captivity they’re able to live anything from 50 to 70 years and, will continue to breed well into old age.

Ostriches are mainly vegetarian, eating anything from grass, plants, fruit, roots, leaves, flowers and seeds. They will also eat insects and reptiles and other small creatures. Ostriches can’t choke on their food. Since they lack teeth, they swallow small stones to grind and crush the food they take in. This is done in a part of the throat called the gizzard. An adult ostrich carries nearly 1kg of pebbles in its stomach, which helps with food digestion. Ostriches can go without water for several days, as they can source metabolic water from the plants they eat. Ostriches drink by scooping up water into their gular pouch and then lifting their heads to let the water move down their throats.

They enjoy water and frequently take baths where possible, and will drink a fair amount of water when available. During the mating season (normally between June – November) the male ostrich’s beak and legs turn red/pink to attract the female for mating. Male ostriches do a mating dance for females to impress her. If the dance is good enough a female will mate with the particular male. All of the herd’s hens will place their eggs in the dominant hen’s 3m-wide nest, though her own are given the prominent center place. Each female can determine her own eggs amongst the others.

The dominant female may lay up to 11 eggs, and the other hens lay between two to six eggs. The communal nest may end up containing as many as 60 eggs.

The alpha male and dominant female will take turns looking after the nest.

Males compete with one another for control of several females (or hens), and the winner becomes the leader of the herd. An ostrich’s eggs are the largest of any bird – at up to 15cm long and weighing up to 1.4kg. The ostrich’s egg might be the biggest in the world, but interestingly enough, it is the smallest egg in the world when compared to its body size.

The eggs are incubated by the dominant female by day and by the male by night, using the colouration of the two sexes to escape detection of the nest, as the drab female blends in with the sand, while the black male is nearly undetectable in the dark. When the eggs hatch after 35 to 45 days of incubation, the male usually defends the chicks or hatchlings and teaches them to feed, although males and females cooperate in rearing chicks. Although chicks can run as fast as 55 km/h at one-month-old, they are still vulnerable to predators like lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards and hunting dogs.

When confronted, adults will try to distract predators or lure them away from the young. Within days, the chicks leave the nest to follow their parents, who protect them from the hot sun or rain by keeping them huddled under their body or outstretched wings. Chicks are born with a spiky, greyish-brown down. They grow brown feathers after 4 months. By the time the young ostriches are 18 months old, they are fully grown. Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. The ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its decorative feathers (feather dusters) and also for its meat, which is marketed commercially, and its skin which is used for leather products.

They are also threatened by habitat loss due to human development and agriculture. The wild ostrich population has declined drastically in the last 200 years, with most surviving birds in game parks or on farms. One ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 hen’s eggs. A single ostrich egg can take up to 1, 5 hours to boil.

Fascinating Otter Facts

Otters are carnivorous mammals in the subfamily, Lutrinae.

Lutrinae is a branch of the Mustelidae family, which also includes skunks, weasels, badgers, mink and wolverines, among other animals.

There are thirteen different species of otters that exist around the globe, ranging from the small-clawed otter to the giant otter. Most otters live in freshwater rivers, lakes and wetlands. The sea otter and the smaller marine otter are found in the Pacific Ocean.

As predators that are near the top of the food chain, otters are hugely important for keeping their environments balanced.

Most otters are small, with short ears and noses, elongated bodies, long tails and soft, dense fur. Otters have webbed feet and powerful tails, which act like rudders, that make them strong swimmers to enable them to catch fish and fight the flow of streams. Their nostrils and ears close to keep water out, and waterproof fur keeps them warm. River otters are much smaller than sea otters, (averaging from 4kg to 14kg) with a cylindrical body and small head.

Sea otters weigh more (averaging from 20kg to 40kg) with large, furry faces.

Sea otters have the densest and thickest fur of any animal— Their fur contains between 600,000 to 1,000,000 hair follicles per square meter. There are two layers of fur – an undercoat and then longer hairs, that are visible. The layers manage to trap air next to the otter’s skin, which keeps the otters dry and warm, and helps with buoyancy. They must carefully groom their fur and furry undercoat to keep them clean and sealed off to water, because they’re not covered in the fatty layer that other sea creatures have.

An otter’s lung capacity is 2.5 times greater than that of similar-sized land mammals. Sea otters have been known to stay submerged for more than 5 minutes at a time, while river otters can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes. The increased time underwater improves otters’ opportunity to sense prey and forage for food. Otters have strong teeth and a powerful bite.

A sea otter’s tooth enamel is much tougher than that of humans, helping to prevent their teeth from being chipped when cracking into the prey using their high bite force.

Research suggests that the sea otter’s bite force may not be sufficient to open the hardest-shelled prey items, such as marine snails and thick-shelled bivalves, and they often make use of tools. They typically use a rock as an anvil and repeatedly bash their prey against it until the shell cracks open, then extract the meat from the shell with their canines. Sea otters are one of the few mammals (apart from primates) to have developed tool use. They have a loose patch of skin under their armpit to store both the food they’ve foraged, and their rock to crack it open.

Otters love to rest in groups. Researchers have seen concentrations of over 1,000 otters floating together.

Generally, a group of otters on land are known as a romp, while a group hanging in the water is called a raft. Sea otters will wrap themselves up in seaweed, forming something that resembles a raft – hence the word raft. Sea otters spend the majority of their lives on their backs, only flipping over onto their fronts when greater speed is required. Sea otters can reach up to 9km/h underwater, while the maximum speed of the giant river otter is an impressive 14km/h. Sea otters are polygynous (males mate with multiple females). While mothers and pups are usually solitary, sea otters can form social groups of up to a few dozen.

A daily food intake of 15–20 percent of body weight is key to survival for sea otters.

They adapt their patterns of predation and hunting behaviour to make the most of the prey available during the leaner months. Sea otters’ diet includes fish, sea urchins, crabs, mussels, clams and crustaceans. To find food, sea otters may occasionally dive as deep as 70 meters and will use their sensitive whiskers to locate small prey inside crevices or their strong forepaws to dig for clams.

When it’s time to nap, sea otters entangle themselves in kelp, so they don’t float away.

They also sometimes intertwine their feet with another sea otter, so that they stay together. River otters are especially playful, gambolling on land and splashing in rivers and streams. Baby otters are called pups or kittens. Sea otters can have a pup any time of the year.

Southern sea otters breed and pup year-round, while northern sea otter pups in Alaska are usually born in the spring.

A new-born pup needs constant attention and will stay with its mother for six months until it develops survival skills. Most otter species come ashore to give birth in dens, which sometimes have been used by other animals, such as beavers. Sea otters give birth in water, with females having only one pup at a time. The mother will produce milk, hunt, and teach the pup how to dive for food until the youngster is five to eight months old and can fend for itself.

They learn to swim when they are about two months old, when their mother pushes them into the water.

Otter families are usually limited to pups and their mothers, and these duos will spend most of their time either feeding or sleeping. River otters don’t breed until they’re at least five years old. Otters might look soft and cuddly, but remain dangerous wild animals. Otters and their mustelid relatives were once hunted extensively for their fur, many to the point of near extinction. Despite regulations designed to protect them, many species remain at risk from pollution and habitat loss. The sea otter is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, pressured by pollution, pesticides and conflicts with fishermen who kill them for eating their fish. Asian otter species also face threats from the illegal pet trade.

Fascinating Pig Facts

  • Pigs are mammals in the Suidae family (genus Sus) of even-toed ungulates.
  • The Suidae family includes eight genera and 16 species of pigs.
  • Among these species are wild boars, warthogs, pygmy hogs and domestic pigs.
  • Pigs, like all Suids, are native to the Old World.
  • Some historians theorize that pigs were domesticated about 6000 years ago – one of the first animals to be domesticated!
  • Pigs exist on every continent except for Antarctica, northern Africa, and far northern Eurasia, according to the Encyclopaedia of Life.
  • Wild pigs typically live in grasslands, wetlands, rain forests, savannas, scrublands and temperate forests.

  • Pigs are very intelligent animals according to studies, and it is even said that they are the smartest animals on the farm.
  • They rank third, in studied intelligence, behind apes and dolphins.
  • They are curious and insightful animals.
  • Today there are tiny pigs, fluffy pigs, wild boars, and, the most common, big, pink-skinned domestic pig.
  • A female pig is called a sow, while the male  is called a boar. A number of pigs together is called a herd.
  • All pigs have small eyes and poor eyesight.
  • Pigs can see things along the sides of their head, which is useful for spotting food, other pigs and potential predators, but they’re not great at seeing what’s right in front of them.
  • They make up for this lack of frontal vision with an excellent sense of smell.
  • They can use their snouts to detect food and, thanks to a little extra muscle that gives it flexibility and strength, the snout can also root out food in the ground.
  • Compared to humans, a pig has 15,000 taste buds while humans only have 9,000.
  • Pigs can drink up to 52 litres of water every day.
  • According to studies, a pig’s squeal can range from 10 to 115 decibels whereas a Concorde jet emits less than 112 decibels.
  • In comparison to their body size, pigs have small lungs.
  • Pigs are not really a dirty animals. Pigs do not have functional sweat glands, that’s why they roll in mud to keep cool, and it helps them to regulate their body temperature.
  • Mud also provides the pigs’ protection against flies and parasites, apart from being used as a form of sunscreen, which protects their skin from sunburn.
  • Pigs usually weigh between 140 and 300 kilograms, but domestic pigs are often bred to be heavier.
  • Pigs have 4 toes on each foot, but they only walk on 2.
  • Pigs have excellent memories. They can remember things for years and can recognize and remember objects
  • A mature pig has 44 teeth.
  • These canine teeth, called tusks, grow continuously, and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other.
  • In their natural surroundings, pigs spend hours playing, sunbathing, and exploring.
  • Pigs appear to have a good sense of direction and are known to have found their way home over great distances.
  • Pigs communicate constantly with one another using a variety of grunts and squeaks.
  • Pigs are very peaceful animals, rarely showing aggression. The exception, as with many animals, is when a mother (sow) with her young offspring is provoked or threatened.
  • Pigs snuggle very close to each other and prefer to sleep nose to nose.
  • To keep warm, pigs may cuddle up with one another.
  • Like humans, they also dream, according to some studies.
  • Pigs can run at speeds of almost 20 km/h.
  • On average, pigs live for between 15 and 20 years (Wild pigs live 5 to 20 years).
  • Pigs, boars, and hogs are omnivores and will eat just about anything.
  • Domestic pigs and hogs are fed feed that is made from corn, wheat, soy or barley.
  • Sow’s pregnancy lasts 114 days.
  • Female pigs, called cows or sows, give birth twice a year to litters of around 6 to 12 young.
  • The baby of a pig is called a piglet.
  • At birth, piglets weigh around 1.1 kg to 1.5kg, and within a week, most piglets will double their weight.
  • When they are two to four weeks old, the piglets are weaned.
  • Baby pigs are very aggressive when competing for milk from their mothers.
  • Newborn piglets learn to respond to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs communicate with their babies through grunts while nursing.

  • In Denmark, there are twice as many pigs as people.
  • Wild pigs play an important role in managing ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity. By rooting, and thus disturbing the soil, they create areas for new plant colonization. They also spread fruit plants by dispersing their seeds.
  • The pig is the last of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and is seen to represent fortune, honesty, happiness, and virility.
  • People with allergies sometimes have pigs as pets, because they have hair, not fur, and they do not shed.
  • Pigs are incredibly social. They form close bonds with each other and other animals.
  • Pigs are easily trained to walk on a leash, use a litter box and even do tricks.
  • Soldier pigs have gone to war, using their snouts as mine sniffers.

Fascinating Eagle Facts

  • The eagle has long been considered “The King of Birds”, on account of its great strength and rapidity, its elevation of flight and natural ferocity.
  • Eagles are birds of prey in the Accipitridae family and, generally, larger than any other birds of prey.
  • There are approximately 60 different species of eagle, most of them from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe.
  • The majority of eagles are found in Eurasia and Africa.
  • Eagles are informally divided into four groups: Sea eagles or fish eagles (a large part of their diets consist mainly of fish), Booted eagles (feathers grow down the legs and cover the toes), Snake or serpent eagles (adapted to hunt reptiles) and Harpy eagles (inhabit tropical forests).
  • Eagles are generally found in pairs, but it’s been documented that they live in groups during extreme weather or areas with very abundant food.
  • Eagles (like all birds of prey) have very large, hooked beaks for ripping flesh from their prey, strong muscular legs, and powerful talons.
  • Like all raptors, eagles kill their prey with their talons.
  • An eagle’s beak contains keratin, which means that it grows continuously, just like human hair and fingernails.
  • An eagle eye is among the strongest in the animal kingdom, and sight is the strongest of all the eagle’s senses.
  • Eagles’ eyes have a million light-sensitive cells per square mm of the retina (a layer at the back of the eyeball), 4– 6 times stronger than that of the average human, and it is said to be able to spot a rabbit 3.2 kilometers away.
  • Eagles can see five basic colours compared to our three and can detect UV light.
  • Eagle eyes are angled 30 degrees away from the center of the face, which gives 24 eagles a greater field of view.
  • An eagle can rotate its head about 270
    degrees, just like an owl can, to look around.
  • Eagles also have a clear eyelid that protects their precious eyes from dust and dirt.
  • Although some eagles may only weigh around 4.5 kg, their eyes are roughly the same size as those of a human and can take up almost 50% of the head.
  • In most eagle species, females are larger and
    stronger than males.
  • A typical adult male eagle only weighs around 4.1 kg, despite its strength and large size.
  • Eagles have up to 7,000 feathers that
    account for about 5% of their body mass.
  • Eagles vary in sizes, with the little eagle (native to Australia) measuring 45–55 cm in length and weighing 815 g.

  • Philippine eagle (also one of the rarest birds, as it is critically endangered) is considered the largest and strongest species of eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface, measuring up to 102 cm in length. It may weigh up to 8kg.
  • Eagles are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day and sleep at night.
  • Some eagles, such as the martial eagle, use thermals (columns of hot rising air) to soar for long hours without a single wing beat.
  • Eagles have a specialized mechanism in their feet that allows them to lock in position, so they can sleep while sitting on a branch – similar to horses, who can sleep while standing up.
  • The golden eagle is the fastest eagle in the world with a maximum airspeed of 320 km/h (and second fastest in the world behind the peregrine falcon, which can fly as fast as 389 km/h).
  • Some eagles are built with short wings and long tails, enabling them to hunt in the tight confines of a forest, while others have short tails and broad long wings allowing them to soar high above open plains and water.
  • Eagles have a lifespan of between 14 and 35 years in the wild, depending on species.
  • Although eagles can get older than 35 years, they normally become weaker towards the end of their lives, unable to hunt as they used to.
  • Eagles are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain.
  • What eagles eat depends upon the species and the food that is available to them, but the vast majority of eagles are carnivorous and live on a diet of meat and/or fish.
  • They mostly hunt their prey.
  • Prey includes fish, rabbits, marmots, hares, ground squirrels, mice, and, sometimes, slow-flying birds, reptiles, foxes and even deer.
  • Some species of eagles are scavengers, and primarily eat fish and animals that are already dead.
  • Some eagles can fly hundreds of kilometers while foraging for their food.
  • Eagles do not need to eat every day, instead, they have a special digestive organ known as the cr which stores food, until there is room for it in the stomach.
  • Their digestive system allows them to store a large meal until it is later needed, and prevents the eagle from growing weak if food is scarce for several days or weeks.
  • Eagles are monogamous, so the generally mate for life.
  • They have a strong site a mating pair tend to reuse the same nest year after year or build a nest in the same spot.
  • Nests, composed of sticks, vegetation, and downy feathers, are built by both males and females. This activity is part of their pair bonding.
  • The nests, called eyries, are normally built in tall trees or on high cliffs.
  • The location of the nest varies with species. Bald eagles, for example, most likely nest in tall trees, whereas golden eagles prefer cliff faces or more open areas.
  • The number of eggs laid will depend upon species, but many eagles lay between one and three eggs.
  • The female eagle will spend most of the days keeping her eggs warm, while the male ensures food is brought to the nest.
  • Both males and females share incubation responsibilities, but the female typically spends more time on the nest than the male.
  • It takes around 35 days for eagle eggs to hatch, depending on the eagle species.
  • A young eagle is called an eaglet.
  • It takes a number of years for a baby eagle to grow its talons fully.
  • Eagles are an exceptionally common symbol in heraldry, and being in contrast to the lion (“King of Beasts”).
  • When a bald eagle loses a feather on one wing, it will lose a feather on the other, in order to keep its balance.
  • Relative to their size, eagles’ wings actually contain more power and strength than the wings of an airplane.
  • Eagles have been used in the police and the army several times.
  • In the Netherlands, eagles were trained to help control drones.
  • Eagles are admired all over the world as living symbols of power, freedom and transcendence.

Fascinating Rabbit Facts

  • Rabbits and hares are “lagomorphs”, an order that also includes the pika, a small burrowing mammal that looks like a large mouse and lives in colder climates.
  • There are currently more than 45 known breeds of rabbits.
  • Rabbits and bunnies are the same animals.
  • There’s no difference in breed or species, just the word we prefer.
  • Rabbits are social creatures that live in groups and prefer the company of their own species.
  • They live in a series of tunnels and rooms that they dig underground, which is called warrens.
  • A baby rabbit is called a kit, while a female is called a doe, and a male is a buck.
  • A group of rabbits is called a herd.
  • While originally from Europe and Africa, rabbits are now found all over the world.
  • Rabbits are ground dwellers that live in environments ranging from desert to tropical forest and wetland.
  • Rabbits can range in size from 34–50 cm in length and weigh between 1.1 kg to 2.5 kg.
  • Rabbits have long ears which can grow as long as 10 cm.
  • It has been discovered that a rabbit’s ears allow them to stay cool in hot climates when extra body heat is released through blood vessels in the ear.
  • Rabbits easily suffer heatstroke and therefore prefer to live in cool places.
  • A rabbit sweats only from the pads on their feet.
  • Rabbits can turn their ears by 180 degrees,
  • keeping a careful listen out for predators.
  • A Rabbits’ eyes are on the sides of their heads, meaning they can see almost all the way around them.
  • The teeth of a rabbit are very strong.
  • Rabbits have approximately 28 teeth.
  • A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing! Instead, they’re gradually worn down as the rabbit chews on grasses, wildflowers and vegetables.
  • Like cats, rabbits are remarkably hygienic.
  • They keep themselves clean throughout the day by licking their fur and paws.
  • Rabbits often sleep with their eyes open, so that sudden movements will awaken the rabbit to respond to potential danger.
  • A rabbit can jump as high as 90cm in one leap.
  • When they are happy, they would perform a twist and kick in mid-air, also known as a “binky”.
  • Rabbits can be very crafty and quick and difficult to catch.
  • According to National Geographic, a cottontail rabbit will run in a zigzag pattern and reach speeds of up to 29 km/h – to get away from a predator.
  • A rabbit’s life span is about 8 to 10 years,
  • though sterilised rabbits (those who are spayed/ neutered) can live as long as 10-12 years.
  • Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters), eating a diet entirely of grasses and other plants.
  • Bunnies need to digest some of their food twice, so
  • sometimes they will eat their droppings (nutrient-packed droppings).
  • Bunnies cannot vomit, so it is super important to feed them only healthy, fresh, appropriate food.
  • The average size of a rabbit litter is usually between 4 and 12 babies but may vary in some cases.
  • Rabbits are “crepuscular” meaning they’re the most active at dusk and dawn.
  • Rabbits are born blind and naked and remain in a fur-lined nest for the first few days of their lives.
  • A mother rabbit feeds her young for just about 5 minutes a day.
  • Rabbits dig complex tunnel systems (called warrens) that connect special rooms reserved for things like nesting and sleeping.
  • The tunnel system will have multiple entrances that allow the animals to escape when needing to get away from a predator.
  • Rabbits (Lagomorphs) were originally classified as rodents, but in 1912 the distinction was made between them and rodents.
  • Rabbits are meticulously clean animals and are easy to housebreak and train. Much like a dog, a pet rabbit can be taught to come to his/her name, sit in sit in your lap, and do simple tricks.
  • Rabbits need special veterinarians. These veterinarians, who are rabbit experts, can be more expensive than cat and dog vets as well as harder to find.
  • Like cats, happy rabbits can purr when they’re content and relaxed.
  • Just like humans, rabbits get bored and will need socialization, space to exercise, and plenty of toys to keep themselves entertained.
  • They’re all about territory. They need lots of space and will quickly decide where they like to eat, sleep and use the bathroom.
  • Predators, which include owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, wild dogs, feral cats and ground squirrels — are a constant threat.
  • A rabbit’s foot may be carried as an amulet, believed to bring protection and good luck. This belief is found in many parts of the world, with the earliest use being recorded in Europe c. 600 BC.
  • One of the world’s best-known rabbits is the Warner Bros cartoon character, called Bugs Bunny. While Bugs Bunny
    is often seen as eating a carrot, carrots aren’t a natural part of a rabbit’s diet and can give bunnies an upset stomach (carrots are high in sugar) if they eat too many
  • To assist indigestion, they need hay which helps to prevent formation of fur balls in their stomach.

Fascinating Meerkat Facts

  • The meerkat, also called a suricate, is a mammal in the mongoose family and is the only member of the mongoose family that doesn’t have a bushy tail.
  • Meerkats live in areas of clumpy grassland and deserts in the southern area of the African continent – including the Namib Desert in Namibia, the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.
  • A family group of meerkats can be called a’mob’, ‘gang’ or ‘clan’.
  • A group usually contains around 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members.
  • They are known to work and hunt together in a collaborative effort that involves designated lookouts who rotate regularly and rely on a series of distinct calls to communicate with other members when there is a danger.
  • Meerkat gangs are structured around an alpha couple to whom most of the other members are somehow related.
  • The life span of a meerkat is roughly up to 10 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity.
  • Meerkats are small animals, measuring 25 to 30cm from head to rump. Their tails add another 19 to 24cm to their length.
  • Their weight varies from 620 to 1,000 grams.
  • For meerkats, there isn’t just safety in numbers, but there’s also companionship.
  • Meerkat groups spend a lot of their time grooming and playing together to keep the family unit tight.
  • While most of the gang is out foraging and hunting for food, or standing guard, one male or female, adolescent or young adult stays behind in the burrow to “babysit” any pups.
  • Back at the burrow, several babysitters stay behind to watch over new-born pups.
  • The meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing upright. They often stand up in the morning to absorb heat on their bellies after a long, cold, desert night.
  • Dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the sun’s glare and long, horizontal pupils give meerkats a wide range of vision.
  • They can spot predators in the air from more than 300m away.
  • Meerkats can close their ears and membrane covers protect their eyes while they dig.
  • Eating both plants and animals, meerkats are omnivores.
  • Meerkats mainly eat insects but also like eating lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, centipedes, and fungi.
  • Females can give birth to 8 babies at a time, but it is more common for meerkat mothers to have 2 to 4 offspring at a time.
  • The babies, called pups, are born underground, where they are safe from predators.
  • Pups are hairless, blind and their ears are closed.
  • Meerkats are diurnal, meaning that once the sun is up, they carefully emerge from their burrow and spend some time sunbathing and grooming.
  • There are few animals on Earth who work as well together as meerkats.
  • Meerkats are very good at digging. They have long, strong, curved claws that they use for digging burrows.
  • Meerkats dig safe places called bolt holes throughout their foraging area where they can hide in an emergency.
  • Within their territory, the clan usually has up to 5 different burrows that they sleep in at night. The burrows have multiple entrances and can be between 2 – 5m deep.
  • A clan of meerkats will always have one “sentry” on guard to watch out for predators while the others forage for food.
  • If the meerkat on guard spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles in one of six different ways.
  • For example, if the threat is of low, medium, or high urgency and if the predator is in the air or on the ground.
  • If caught in the open by a predator, a meerkat will try to look fierce, lying on its back and showing its teeth and claws.
  • Although they are social and even affectionate within their clan, meerkats are highly territorial and will engage in violent, all-out turf wars with neighboring gangs.
  • Meerkat’s natural predators include eagles, hawks, jackals, and snakes.
  • Able to survive without drinking water, meerkats get the moisture they need from eating roots and tubers, as well as fruit.
  • When two groups of meerkats go to war over territory, they will line up and charge each other, much like human warriors did before modern technology.
  • Meerkats, being wild animals, make poor pets. They can be aggressive, especially toward guests, and may bite. They will scent- mark their owner and the house as a territory sign.
  • Meerkat wars can result in many deaths, so the animals try to avoid such conflicts by employing intimidation tactics, according to some studies done by scientists.
  • They play an important part in maintaining ecological harmony in the desert as they curb pest infestation by eating insects.
  • Meerkats know to keep watch for birds of prey, with a meerkat spotting a bird from more than 300 meters away.

Fascinating Shark Facts

  • They form part of the basic fish category group, even if they don’t have a bony skeleton, like many other fish.
  • They are still categorized with other vertebrates in the Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, and Class Elasmobranchii.
  • Based on fossil scales found, scientists believe that sharks have been living in Earth’s oceans for more than 450 million years.
  • Some shark species inhabit shallow, coastal regions, while other shark species live in deep waters, on the ocean floor or in the open ocean.
  • There are approximately 350 different species of known sharks.
  • The smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark (Etmopterus perryi) that only grows to 20 centimeters long, and the largest is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) that grows to a whopping 12 meters in length.
  • The largest shark to ever have lived, was the massive Megalodon, that averaged between 10 to 18 meters in length. They have been extinct for 16 million years.
  • The oldest known species of living shark is the goblin shark, that has been around for 120 million years, while the second oldest is the frilled shark, that has been around for 80 million years.
  • The backs of sharks’ eyeballs have a reflective layer of tissue called a tapetum, which helps sharks see extremely well with little light.
  • Sharks use their gills to filter oxygen from the water.
  • Sharks can detect whether a scent is coming from their right or left nostril, to better help them track down their prey.
  • Sharks are cartilaginous – their skeletons are made of cartilage, instead of bone.
  • Sharks have dermal denticles, also called placoid scales, which are smooth and help them move quickly through the water.
  • By counting the rings on the shark’s vertebrae (meaning they have a backbone), one is able to gauge the age of the animal.
  • An average shark has between 5 and 15 rows of teeth in each jaw (the teeth don’t have roots), with most having only 5 rows.
  • Sharks help to maintain the coral reef habitats by influencing both the feeding patterns and ranges of other creatures.
  • Oil in the liver is what keeps the shark from sinking (and also staying balanced), as its density is lower than that of the surrounding water.
  • Sharks have an amazing sense of hearing (studies show that they can hear prey up to 200 meters away), considering that their ears are actually located inside of their heads.
  • Sharks have a wide view of their surroundings, because their eyes are located on the sides of their heads. They do have blind spots.
  • Sharks can move both their lower and upper jaws, unlike humans and most other animals.
  • They have the thickest skin of any animal species, and have the largest brains of any fish.
  • Sharks communicate through body language. Research suggests that some common communications involve zigzag swimming, head shaking, hunched backs and head butts.
  • Females are usually larger than males, and have thicker skins, to withstand the bites of the males wanting to mate with them.
  • A shark’s skin feels exactly like sandpaper, because it is made up of tiny tooth-like structures called placoid scales, also known as dermal denticles.
  • Sharks can only swim forward, as a result of their fins that are stiff, and cannot be controlled by muscles, unlike fish.
  • Sharks need to keep water moving over their gills to receive necessary oxygen.
  • It has been estimated that the whale shark, the largest shark species, can live up to 150 years (while nobody seems to know for certain), while many of the smaller sharks can live between 20 and 30 years.
  • Sharks are carnivores, and they primarily hunt and eat fish, sea mammals, like dolphins and seals, turtles, seagulls and other sharks.
  • A large meal may sustain the shark for up to three months, before it needs to eat again.
  • Great white sharks eat an average of 11 tons of food a year.
  • Sharks do not have vocal cords, so they make no sounds. That is why they are known as the “silent killers”.
  • The biggest threats to sharks are humans.
  • Shark attacks are extremely rare and account for approximately 10 fatalities every year, worldwide.
  • Humans kill 100 million sharks a year, which means for every single person killed by a shark, humans kill 10 million sharks
  • Many shark species are threatened by fishing or bycatch, which lead to the deaths of millions of sharks each year.

Fascinating Hedgehog Facts

  • Hedgehogs are small, cute and quite harmless animals.
  • Their order is Erinaceomorpha, this means they are not related to porcupines at all.
  • The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450, through their preferred foraging habits, derived from the Middle English heyghoge, from heyg, hegge (“hedge”).
  • As they move through the hedges, looking for worms and insects, they make a piggy grunting noise. Hence, hedge-hog.
  • They are also known by other names, such as urchin and hedgepig.
  • The female hedgehog is called a sow, and the male hedgehog is called a boar.
  • They can be found through parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, and in England and New Zealand through introduction.
  • The hedgehog can live in many different habitats, from woodland areas, farmlands, gardens, to even in parks or deserts.
  • They like moist places, which are either overground or underground – they find holes or abandoned tunnels in deep forests, under branches, leaves, roots of plants and stems, where they could spend their time.
  • There are 17 different species of hedgehog in the world.
  • These interesting critters have small, but powerful legs and big feet, with five toes each. The exception is the four-toed hedgehog, that has four toes.
  • Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and hearing, which they primarily rely on.
  • They are from 10 to 30 centimeters (4 to 12 inches) long, depending on species.
  • A hedgeho’s colour ranges from white or light brown, to black, with several shades found in bands along with their quills. Some hedgehogs have a dark brown or black mask across their eyes.
  • The “hair” on the back of a hedgehog is a thick layer of spikes (or modified hairs) known as quills.
  • The quills are hollow and are stiff (about 25 mm long), and are made of keratin – the same substance that our hair and fingernails are made of.
  • A Hedgehog has between 5000 and 7000 quills, and muscles along the animal’s back can raise and lower the quills to respond to threatening situations.
  • When they feel alarmed or intimidated (in danger or vulnerable), they curl up into a spiny ball to protect their stomachs, faces, legs, and bellies, which have no quills.
  • Unlike porcupine quills, the spikes of the hedgehog’s quills are not barbed, and they’re not poisonous.
  • They are immune to poisons in some plants, and will sometimes eat these and then make frothy saliva in their mouth, with which they lick their spines, spreading the spit with the plant’s poison all over the spikes, as a safety magnetism.
  • The hedgehog is nocturnal, only coming out at night and spending the day sleeping in a nest under bushes or thick shrubs.
  • Some hedgehogs, in cold climates, hibernate through the winter.
  • To keep themselves warm, they roll themselves up into a little ball and use their nest to keep warm.
  • In warmer climates such as deserts, they sleep through heat and drought in a similar process, called aestivation.
  • Some hedgehogs dig burrows in the soil that are up to 50 centimetres deep.
  • Hedgehogs that don’t dig burrows, preferring to make nests with dead leaves, grasses and branches.
  • In some case studies, there are recordings of hedgehogs who can travel up to 3 kilometres a day.
  • Health problems in sows include ovarian, uterine and mammary tumours, while the boars may contract jaw and testicular cancer.
  • Hedgehogs are classified as insectivorous (insect eaters), and their taste for destructive insects makes them a historically welcome presence in English gardens.
  • They eat small creatures such as insects, worms, centipedes, slugs, beetles, caterpillars, snails, mice, frogs and, even, snakes.
  • They are known to consume some vegetation, fruits (berries, watermelons, bananas) and greens.
  • The young are born in litters and remain with their mothers for only four to seven weeks, before heading out on their own (females must guard against predators in this period).
  • Hedgehog mothers have also been known to move hoglets to a new nest if the nest is disturbed.
  • The hoglets are born blind and without any quills. The quills are present under the skin and emerge in a few hours.
  • Within a day, the hoglet’s skin shrinks, and about 150 white quills appear. These quills are soft and flexible.
  • During birth, the quills are covered by puffy, fluid-filled skin to avoid hurting the mother.
  • Newborns look like chubby white caterpillars.
  • The young are suckled by their mother until they can hunt for themselves.
  • Adult hedgehogs squeal and grunt when they are excited or afraid.
  • Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.
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