Devil’s Flower Mantis

Devil’s flower mantises are dressed up all day, every day.

  • The devil’s flower mantis is a species of large praying mantis, found among wildflowers of eastern Africa.
  • The scientific name of the devil’s flower mantis is Idolomantis diabolica, the sole species of its genus, and it is from the family Empusidae, a family of mantises.
  • Devil’s flower mantises grow to be roughly 10 to 13 centimetres (4 to 5 inches) in length, with the females generally larger than the males; and they are among the largest of all praying mantises.
  • ‘Devil’s flower mantises’ are also known as ‘giant devil’s flower mantises’; and they have a lifespan of around one year.
  • Adult devil’s flower mantises are mostly green coloured on their top side, while underneath, they are coloured green, white, red, black and purple, though some of these colours are not visible unless threatened.
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A Male Devil’s Flower Mantis
Image courtesy of Steve Smith/Flickr
  • While an adult can assume the appearance of a flower, a young devil’s flower mantis is brown and appears to be a dead leaf, causing it to be camouflaged in its surroundings.
  • If threatened, a devil’s flower mantis will rear up its body and front legs, resulting in its hidden flaps to flare out and display vibrant colours, causing it to look somewhat like a flower; and the mantis often waves about, to frighten the predator.
  • Devil’s flower mantises have a diet consisting of flying insects like butterflies, flies, beetles, and moths, and the prey is snatched from mid air by the mantis if the insects come too close.
  • Female devil’s flower mantises produce a number of foam-like capsules of eggs, out of which between 10 and 50 nymphs hatch after approximately 50 days.
  • Devil’s flower mantises are popularly sought after as exotic pets; however they do not thrive in captivity and are quite expensive.
Bibliography:
Devils Flower Mantis, 2015, Our Wild World, https://adlayasanimals.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/devils-flower-mantis-idolomantis-diabolica/
Devils Flower Mantis, 2016, Keeping Insects, http://www.keepinginsects.com/praying-mantis/species/devils-flower-mantis/
Idolomantis Diabolica, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idolomantis_diabolica
Sain T, Devils Flower Mantis, n.d, Our Breathing Planet, http://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/devils-flower-mantis/

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Burmese Python

Burmese pythons are a length and a half!

  • Burmese pythons are a species of lengthy snake, native to parts of south to southeast tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, and they can be found in (but not limited to) Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, China, and India.
  • The scientific name of the Burmese python is Python bivittatus, formerly known as Python molurus bivittatus (up until 2009), and it is from the family Pythonidae, the family of pythons.
  • Burmese pythons are generally between 3.7 to 5.7 metres (12 to 18.7 feet) long, and are among the lengthiest snakes in existence; and while the longest of this species was originally thought to have been 7.6 metres (25 feet) or more in length, this measurement has been disputed.
  • Brown coloured patches are found over the entire length of Burmese pythons, which are surrounded by a cream to beige colour, although albino colourings exist; and they are a popular pet, in part due to the interestingly patterned appearance.
  • Burmese pythons are typically found among thick undergrowth; in trees; or in water, as the python can remain up to 30 minutes underwater without air; and their diet consists primarily of small mammals, including rodents, as well as the odd reptile or bird.
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A Burmese Python
Image courtesy of Rushen/Flickr
  • Burmese pythons generally have a maximum weight between 90 to 137 kilograms (198 to 302 pounds), and females tend to be larger than males.
  • To locate prey, a Burmese python uses its tongue to sense chemicals in its environment, while it can detect the body warmth of other animals due to its own inbuilt sensors; and it kills its prey by suffocating it by constriction and subsequently consuming it whole.
  • Burmese pythons are listed as a vulnerable species, threatened by exotic pet trade; hunting for their skin and food; and a decline in habitat quality.
  • Florida’s wetland Everglades, in the United States, saw the introduction of Burmese pythons around the 1980s, which have since become invasive; this being a serious issue as many native mammals they eat as prey, have had significant population decline over the past few decades.
  • During a breeding season, female Burmese pythons can lay as many as 80 to 100 eggs, and the snake surrounds the eggs to incubate them at a consistent temperature, which it helps to control by its own muscle movements.
Bibliography:
Barker D, Barten S, Ehrsam J & Daddono L, The Corrected Lengths of Two Well-known Giant Pythons and the Establishment of a New Maximum Length Record for Burmese Pythons, Python Bivittatus, 2012, Vida Preciosa International, Inc., http://vpi.com/sites/default/files/Barker-et-al_CorrectPythonLengths_2.pdf
Burmese Python, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/reptiles/burmese-python/
Burmese Python, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_python
Padgett J, Python molurus, 2003, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Python_molurus/
Stuart B, Nguyen T, Thy N, Grismer L, Chan-Ard T, Iskandar D, Golynsky E & Lau M, Python Bivittatus, 2012, The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/193451/0

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Common Pond Skater

Humans can ice-skate, but common pond skaters can water-skate.

  • Common pond skaters are insects native to Europe’s rivers and smaller water bodies, and they are known for their ability to stand on and skate across water, due to their light weight.
  • ‘Common pond skaters’ are also known as ‘common water striders’, and they are brown to black in colour.
  • The scientific name of the common pond skater is Gerris lacustris and it is from the family Gerridae, the family of pond skaters.
  • Common pond skaters range from 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in length, and females are typically larger than males.
  • Each pair of a common pond skater’s six legs have a different purpose; the first pair are used to catch prey, the second pair are used like oars to propel the insect across water, and the third pair are used to steer.
Common Pond Skater, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Animal, Insect, Water, BrownCommon Pond Skater
Image courtesy of Darius Baužys/Flickr
  • Common pond skaters can jump off the surface of the water and land a distance of up to 10 cm from where they were initially positioned; while mature adults develop wings and are able to fly.
  • The front legs of common pond skaters can sense the minimal vibrations of prey that accidentally fall into the water, such as flying insects and larvae that they consume.
  • Common pond skaters are covered in minuscule, waxy hairs that keep them waterproof by trapping air bubbles, which is vital if the pond skater is to remain buoyant.
  • The eggs of common pond skaters will typically hatch some 12 to 14 days after being laid, though this is reliant on the water temperature, and sometime after hatching, the larvae go through a process of metamorphosis.
  • Common pond skaters are most commonly seen during the warmer months, and they hibernate on land throughout the winter season.
Bibliography:
Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/common-pond-skater/gerris-lacustris/
Gerris Lacustris, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerris_lacustris
Hu D & Bush J, The Hydrodynamics of Water-walking Arthropods, 2010, Cambridge University, http://www-math.mit.edu/~bush/striders-JFM.pdf
Pond Skater (Gerris Lacustris), n.d, Life in Freshwater, http://www.lifeinfreshwater.org.uk/Species%20Pages/Pond%20skater.jpg.html
Prigg M, How a Pond Skater Can Walk on Water: It’s All Down to HairLegs and Swirling Vortices, Reveal Scientists, 2012, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2225904/How-pond-skater-walk-water-Its-hairy-legs-oars-reveal-scientists.html

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Keel-billed Toucan

The keel-billed toucan is the rainbow of the rainforest.

  • Keel-billed toucans are a species of colourful bird, native to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern Venezuela and Columbia.
  • ‘Keel-billed toucans’ are also known as ‘rainbow-billed toucans’ and ‘sulfur-breasted toucans’.
  • The scientific name of the keel-billed toucan is Ramphastos sulfuratus and it is from the family Ramphastidae, the family of toucans.
  • Keel-billed toucans are sizable birds that grow to be about 42 to 55 centimetres (16.5 to 21.6 inches) in height and have wings spanning a width of 109 to 152 centimetres (43 to 60 inches).
  • The feather colour of keel-billed toucans is predominantly black, with a striking yellow chest; while the lightweight, multi-coloured, keratin bill is mostly green with a mix of red, orange, and blue.
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A Keel-billed Toucan
Image courtesy of Franceso Veronesi/Flickr
  • Although the keel-billed toucan itself is not under threat, their numbers are believed to be decreasing due to habitat loss and poaching for its feathers, bill and meat; and it is on a watch-list due to its similar appearance to that of a threatened toucan species.
  • Keel-billed toucans live in groups (flocks) of around six to twelve birds, and they snuggle together at night in a hole of tree trunk, while maximising space by tucking their feathers and beak in.
  • A keel-billed toucan’s diet consists mostly of fruit; however it also eats eggs and lizards, frogs, insects and young birds to obtain protein.
  • Keel-billed toucans are not very adept at flight; rather, they prefer to hop from branch to branch to move.
  • Female keel-billed toucans generally lay between 2 to 4 eggs in a hole in a tree, two to three times in a year; and the birds have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
Bibliography:
Carney M, Ramphastos sulfuratus, 2001, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Ramphastos_sulfuratus/
Keel-billed Toucan, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keel-billed_toucan
Keel Billed Toucan, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/keel-billed-toucan/

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Mangshan Pit Viper

Mangshan pit vipers are stunning in more ways than just one.

  • A Mangshan pit viper is a large species of nocturnal pit viper snake, found in a small region of mountainous forests in the Guangdong and Hunan provinces in southern China.
  • ‘Mangshan pit vipers’ are also known as ‘Mangshan iron-head snakes’, ‘Chinese pit vipers’, ‘Mang Mountain pit vipers’, ‘ironhead pitvipers’, ‘Mount Mang pitvipers’, ‘Mangshan vipers’ and ‘Mt Mang pit vipers’.
  • The scientific name of the Mangshan pit viper is Protobothrops mangshanensis, from the family Viperidae, the family of vipers, and it was first scientifically documented in 1990 and was formerly referred to as Trimeresurus mangshanensis.
  • Mangshan pit vipers are one of two snakes that are not technically a cobra, that can spit their venom.
  • Mangshan pit vipers generally grow to be a length of 1.4 to 2.1 metres (4.6 to 7 feet) and they weigh 3 to 5 kilograms (6.6 to 11 pounds).
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A Mangshan Pit Viper
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • The venom of Mangshan pit vipers can be spat up to a distance of 2 metres (6.6 feet); however they will more often bite prey with their large fangs, such as frogs, birds, insects, or small mammals, to inject toxins.
  • The scales of Mangshan pit vipers range from green to yellow and brown in colour, layered in intricate camouflaging patterns, making it an attractive snake, and sought after as a pet.
  • The Mangshan pit viper population had shrunk to an estimated 500 specimens in 2009, partly as result of habitat destruction, as well as illegal trade for the pet industry, and with this continuing to be a prominent threat, the species is considered endangered.
  • Mangshan pit vipers have a tail tip that is white, that is used to attract prey by appearing to be a grub.
  • The venom of Mangshan pit vipers can cause severe blood clotting and corrode muscle tissue, and thus it can be fatal to humans.
Bibliography:
Manshan Pit Viper, Protobthrops mangshanensis, 2011, San Diego Zoo Global, http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/mangshan_pit_viper/pit_viper.html
Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis), n.d, Snake Database, http://snakedatabase.org/species/Protobothrops/mangshanensis
Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/mangshan-pit-viper/protobothrops-mangshanensis/
Mt. Mang Pitviper, 2016, Saint Louis Zoo, https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/snakes/mtmangpitviper/
The Other Spitting Snake – Mangshan Pit Viper, 2015, The Occasional Creature Fact, https://creaturefacts.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/the-other-spitting-snake-mangshan-pit-viper/
Protobothrops mangshanensis, 2012, The IUCN Redlist of Endangered Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/192140/0
Protobothrops mangshanensis, 2016, Clinical Toxinology Resources, http://www.toxinology.com/fusebox.cfm?fuseaction=main.snakes.display&id=SN0109

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Pygmy Marmoset

Big things come in small packages, just like the pygmy marmoset.

  • Pygmy marmosets are a species of small primate, endemic to the Amazon rainforest of northern South America.
  • The scientific name of pygmy marmosets is Cebuella pygmaea, or the synonymous Callithrix pygmaea, and it is from the family Callitrichidae, a family of New World monkeys.
  • At a height of roughly 12 to 16 centimetres (4.7 to 6.3 inches), and a weight of 85 to 140 grams (3 to 4.9 ounces), pygmy marmosets are among the smallest primates, and are the smallest living monkeys.
  • A pygmy marmoset has fur patterned with a variety of colours, including browns, greys, whites, blacks and golds, and the tail is striped with dark coloured rings.
  • The diet of pygmy marmosets consists primarily of tree sap or other resins, although they may also eat insects, fruit, spiders, nectar, flowers and lizards.
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Pygmy Marmoset
Image courtesy of Karra Rothery/Flickr
  • Pygmy marmosets have long tails of approximately 20 centimetres (7.9 inches) in length; and they live in trees and are excellent climbers, however they will rarely climb higher than 18 metres (59 feet) from the base of a tree.
  • To collect sap from trees, pygmy marmosets gnaw small holes into the tree trunks, and they may create as many as 1300 holes in a single tree.
  • Pygmy marmosets have high pitched calls comparable to that of bird calls, with some sounds being of a pitch too high for human ears to hear.
  • While pygmy marmosets are listed as ‘least concern’, they are sometimes kept as exotic pets, however, the monkeys often perish from depression, or show considerable spite towards their owner.
  • Pygmy marmosets generally have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years in the wild, and they live in family groups of two to nine individuals, and these groups are well-bonded.
Bibliography:
Pygmy Marmoset, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/pygmy-marmoset/
Pygmy Marmoset, 2016, San Diego Zoo, http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/pygmy-marmoset
Pygmy Marmoset, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_marmoset
Wade E, Callithrix pygmaea, 2012, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Callithrix_pygmaea/

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