Spectacled Bear

Spectacled bears are a spectacular species of bear.

  • Spectacled bears are a species of medium-sized bear, native to north-western South America, and they are the only extant bear of the continent.
  • ‘Spectacled bears’ are also known as ‘Andean short-faced bears’ and ‘Andean bears’; and their common name refers to the spectacle like fur patterns that often occur around their eyes.
  • The scientific name of the spectacled bear is Tremarctos ornatus and it is from the family Ursidae, the family of bears.
  • Spectacled bears generally grow to be 1.3 to 2 metres (4.3 to 6.6 feet) in length and 60 to 200 kilograms (132 to 441 pounds) in weight.
  • The hair of spectacled bears is mostly a black colour, although sometimes it can tend towards brown; with white to beige facial, and sometimes chest, patterns, that vary among the individual bears.
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Spectacled Bear
Image courtesy of Nathan Bittinger/Flickr
  • The diet of spectacled bears consists of a variety of vegetation including various leaf types and bark, as well as bromeliads, bamboo, fruit, and honey, and the occasional bird, insect or small mammal.
  • Spectacled bears generally reside in trees, and as such are skillful climbers; and they often create platforms in the trees to rest on and forage from.
  • Spectacled bears are listed as vulnerable due to significant habitat loss, as well as poaching, and some bears are killed simply because they interfere with human activities.
  • A female spectacled bear may give birth to one to four cubs in a season, which become independent within a year, and they are cared for by their mother until that time.
  • Spectacled bears have an average lifespan of 20 years in their natural habitat, however individuals in captivity can survive until almost 37 years of age.
Fenner K, Tremarctos ornatus, 2012, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tremarctos_ornatus/
Spectacled Bear, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/spectacled-bear/
Spectacled Bear, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacled_bear


Spiny Dogfish

You will not see as many shark individuals as the spiny dogfish, in a single place.

  • Spiny dogfish is a species of small shark, found in waters of 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit), in predominantly coastal areas of oceans across most of the earth.
  • ‘Spiny dogfish’ is also known as ‘mud shark’, ‘thorndog’, ‘spurdog’, ‘Pacific dogfish’, ‘piked dogfish’, ‘cape shark’ and ‘cogshark’.
  • The scientific name of the spiny dogfish is Squalus acanthias and it is from the family Squalidae, the family of dogfish sharks.
  • Spiny dogfish typically grow to be 0.8 to 1.24 metres (2.6 to 4 feet) in length, although they may grow as long as 1.6 metres (5.2 feet).
  • Spiny dogfish are generally of a grey to brown colour, frequently with white spots, and they have a white or light grey belly.
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Spiny Dogfish
Image courtesy of NOAA’s National Ocean Service/Flickr
  • The diet of a spiny dogfish consists primarily of smaller fish, including sharks and their eggs, as well as squid, crab and octopus.
  • Spiny dogfish have a pair of dorsal fins (on the back), one smaller than the other, but both having spines; and the sharks may form schools that can contain over a thousand individuals.
  • Although spiny dogfish are now considered vulnerable due to over-fishing, they were once one of the most plentiful sharks in the world’s oceans.
  • Eggs of spiny dogfish females hatch inside the shark, and after approximately two years, the female shark gives birth to live ‘pups’, generally numbering between two and eleven.
  • Spiny dogfish are caught and eaten as commercial fish, particularly in Europe, and they are also used to produce oil and fertiliser.
Spiny Dogfish, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/spiny-dogfish/
Spiny Dogfish, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiny_dogfish
Fordham S, Fowler S, Coelho R, Goldman K & Francis M, Squalus acanthias, 2006, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/39326/0
Street R, Squalus Acanthias, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Squalus_acanthias/


Red-Handed Tamarin

When working hard, you might get as red-handed as the red-handed tamarin.

  • Red-handed tamarins are a species of small primate native to countries of northeast South America, including Guyana, Suriname, Brazil and French Guiana.
  • ‘Red-handed tamarins’ are also known as ‘Midas tamarins’ and ‘golden-handed tamarins’.
  • The scientific name of red-handed tamarins is Saguinus midas and it is from the family Callitrichidae, a family of New World monkeys.
  • Red-handed tamarins grow to be 20.5 to 28 centimetres (8 to 11 inches) in height, excluding the tail, and they generally weigh between 400 to 550 grams (14 to 19.4 ounces).
  • The hair colour of red-haired tamarins is black, except for the hands and feet, which are coloured yellow to red.
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Red-handed Tamarin
Image courtesy of Mathius Appel/Flickr
  • Red-handed tamarins live in troops of 2 to 16 individuals, typically cooperating as they forage and to raise young.
  • The diet of red-handed tamarins consists primarily of insects, fruit, spiders, sap, eggs, small animals and leaves.
  • Red-handed tamarins have sharp teeth and claws, and they use these when threatened or to protect their territory.
  • Female red-handed tamarins usually give birth to one to three young each year, though it is typically two at a time, and their lifespan is up to 10 years or more in the wild, and up to 21 years in captivity.
  • Red-handed tamarins can jump from heights of at least 20 metres (66 feet) from a tree, to a solid surface without sustaining injuries.
Cloyd E, Saguinus midas, 2000, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Saguinus_midas/
Red-handed Tamarin, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-handed_tamarin
Red-handed Tamarin, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/red-handed-tamarin/


Peacock Spider

When a peacock spider dances, their life is literally on the line.

  • Peacock spiders are a genus of colourful arachnids, native to Australia, often found in coastal areas, but they also exist inland.
  • The scientific name of the peacock spider genus is Maratus and it is from the family Salticidae, the family of jumping spiders.
  • Peacock spiders are extremely small, and generally range in length from 3.5 to 6.5 mm (0.14 to 0.26 inches); and they do not create webs to catch food, rather their prey is stalked and leapt upon.
  • Male peacock spiders generally have an abdomen of bright metallic coloured patterns, from orange, blues, reds and greens.
  • Peacock spiders are well known for their complex movements that is likened to dancing, used by males to attract and court females.
Peacock Spider, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Colourful, Dance, Animal, Small, Arachnid, Orange, Courting, MaleA Male Peacock Spider
Image courtesy of Jurgen Otto/Flickr
  • If a male peacock spider fails to impress a female spider with their dance, the female will very likely eat the male, unless the male escapes by running off quickly.
  • German Jürgen Otto, who works as a biologist in Australia, has discovered a large number of new species in the genus, and is the leading research scientist on the spider, in conjunction with American jumping spider specialist, David Hill.
  • A single dance of a male peacock spider can last anywhere from four to fifty minutes, and movements can include leg waving above its body, and raising and flaring its abdomen in a similar way to a peacock feather train display, hence its common name.
  • Scientific documentation of peacock spiders was first undertaken by the English zoologist Octavius Pickard-Cambridge, in 1874.
  • Some species of ‘peacock spiders’ have been commonly named ‘flying spiders’ and ‘gliding spiders’, due to a false assumption that the flap on its abdomen is used to fly.
Main D, The Amazing Mating Dance of the Peacock Spider, 2013, Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/39052-peacock-spider-mating-dance.html
Maratus Volans, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maratus_volans
Otto J & Hill D, Seven new peacock spiders from Western Australia and South Australia (Araneae: Salticidae: Euophryini: Maratus), 2016, Peckhamia, http://peckhamia.com/peckhamia/PECKHAMIA_141.1.pdf
The Peacock Spider – Maratus Volans, 2013, Amazing List, http://amazinglist.net/2013/02/the-peacock-spider-maratus-volans/
Wood S, Jurgen Otto and His Dancing Spiders, 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/jurgen-otto-and-his-dancing-spiders-20150520-gh61rs.html


It doesn’t get wilder than a dingo!

  • Dingoes are a wild dog species native to grassy and desert habitats of Australia, and they also exist in parts of South East Asia.
  • The scientific name of a dingo is Canis lupus dingo and it is from the family Canidae, the family of dogs.
  • ‘Dingoes’ are also known as ‘Australian wolves’ and ‘Australian native dogs’, and there are many local native names for them as well.
  • The length of the body of a dingo typically ranges from 86 to 123 centimetres (34 to 48 inches), while the height to the shoulder is usually 44 to 67 centimetres (17 to 26 inches), and its weight ranges from 9.6 to 20 kilograms (21 to 44 pounds).
  • Dingoes typically have fur of a brown colour, from sandy to orange and reddish shades, often with white feet and a lighter coloured muzzle and belly, and they can also have black markings, or be fully black.
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A Dingo
Image courtesy of Sam Fraser-Smith/Flickr
  • The dingo’s diet consists mostly of possums, red kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, rabbits, rats, magpie geese, young cattle and sheep.
  • Dingoes are generally territorial and sometimes live by themselves, though they can form packs of three to twelve, especially to hunt large animals; and they have a lifespan of 7 to 15 years.
  • Dingoes are generally considered problematic in the livestock industry, because of their attacks on farm animals, and this led to a dingo fence being erected across southeast Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, to protect livestock in many areas; while shooting, trapping and poisoning have also been methods to reduce numbers of the wild dogs in problem areas.
  • Roughly 65% of a dingo’s communication is a form of growling; while howling is also common, and barking occurs occasionally.
  • Dingoes are listed as vulnerable and are protected in a number of areas in Australia, and they are listed as such as their numbers are decreasing due in part to interbreeding with domestic dogs.
Burrel S, Dingo, 2015, Australian Museum, http://australianmuseum.net.au/dingo
Hintze M, Canis Lupus Dingo, 2002, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canis_lupus_dingo/
Dingo, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/dingo/
Dingo, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo


Brazilian Wandering Spider

Does the venomous nature of the Brazilian wandering spider scare you?

  • Brazilian wandering spiders are a genus of arachnids, native to South America and Central America, and in particular, Brazil, where all species are present.
  • ‘Brazilian wandering spiders’ are also known as ‘armed spiders’ and, along with some other spider species, ‘banana spiders’.
  • The scientific name of the Brazilian wandering spider is Phoneutria and it is from the family Ctenidae, the family of wandering spiders.
  • There are eight species of Brazilian wandering spiders, some of which are known for their high venom toxicity.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders can grow to be 1.7 to 5 centimetres (0.7 to 2 inches) long, with a leg span of 10 to 18 centimetres (4 to 7 inches).

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A Brazilian Wandering Spider
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Hairs are evident on Brazilian wandering spiders, and the spider tends to be a mostly brown colour, sometimes with red near the fangs.
  • For some years, the Brazilian wandering spider was listed as the spider being the most venomous on earth, by the Guinness World Records.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders do not spin webs, instead they find dark locations to hide in, and when it is night time, they come out hunting for crickets and other insects, along with lizards and frogs.
  • The venom of Brazilian wandering spiders can cause immense pain, the blocking of calcium absorption, inflammation, breathing issues, paralysis and muscle spasms, and even death if left untreated.
  • Brazilian wandering spiders may reside on banana plants, and sometimes the fruit has been exported across the globe with a spider accompanying it.
Brazilian Wandering Spider, 2016, Animal Corner, https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/brazilian-wandering-spider/
Brazilian Wandering Spider, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_wandering_spider
Phoneutria – introduction, 2013, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, http://www.wandering-spiders.net/phoneutria/introduction/
Szalay J, Brazilian Wandering Spiders: Bites & Other Facts, 2014, Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/41591-brazilian-wandering-spiders.html


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