Guinea pigs are really just pampered rodents.
- Guinea pigs are a domesticated rodent species, popularly kept as a pet, and they are not found in the wild.
- The scientific name of guinea pigs is Cavia porcellus and it is from the family Caviidae, the family of cavies.
- A ‘guinea pig’ is also known as a ‘cavy’, while the species’ scientific name ‘porcellus’, means ‘piglet’ in Latin.
- Guinea pig descendants were native to the Andes mountains of South America and are said to have been domesticated between 5000 and 2500 BC.
- Guinea pigs have been a traditional food source for some native tribes of South America, being one of the main reasons for their domestication, while in 2004, it was estimated that in Peru, 65 million of the rodents were eaten.
- The selective breeding of guinea pigs was undertaken during the 1200s, while the mammal was later introduced to the upper class of Europe in the 1500s.
- Guinea pigs generally range from 20 to 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) in length and weigh 700 to 1100 grams (1.5 to 2.5 pounds).
- The diet of guinea pigs consists primarily of grasses but also other vegetation including fruit and vegetables.
- The hair of guinea pigs can be short or long, and usually ranges from blotched patterns to solid colours of white, brown, grey, orange and black.
- Guinea pigs have been used since the 1600s to research health, including diseases such as scurvy, cholera, various fevers and typhus.
Amazon River dolphins keep hidden but manage to keep curious at the same time.
- Amazon River dolphins are a species of dolphin that thrives in the fresh waters of the Amazon River basin, Orinoco River basin and parts of the Madeira River basin, in South America.
- ‘Amazon River dolphins’ are also known as ‘boto dolphins’, ’boutu dolphins’, ‘bufeo dolphins’ and ‘pink river dolphins’.
- The scientific name of the Amazon River dolphin is Inia geoffrensis and it is from the family Iniidae, a river dolphin family, and it is one of the few species in the family that is still in existence.
- Amazon River dolphins generally grow to 2 to 2.8 metres (6.5 to 9.2 feet) in length and weigh between 72 to 161 kilograms (160 to 355 pounds).
- Originally born a grey colour, the Amazon River dolphin’s skin becomes tinted with pink as it ages.
- The diet of Amazon River dolphins consists primarily of fish such as piranhas, croakers and tetras, as well as crabs and turtles.
- Amazon River dolphins are threatened by habitat destruction and human fishing for food and bait, although there is insufficient data for an official conservation rating.
- It is common for Amazon River dolphins to live with up to four other dolphins of the same species.
- Amazon River dolphins are considered quite intelligent, as well as very curious, and they are able to turn their head from side to side.
- Native folklore often describes the Amazon River dolphin as a mysterious animal, and those who kill or look at one in the eye, are said to be somewhat doomed.
Springboks are the liveliest antelope in town.
- Springboks are a type of antelope of medium stature, native to southwest Africa, and they live in dry savannah areas.
- The scientific name of springboks is Antidorcas marsupialis and it is from the Antilopinae subfamily, which is part of the Bovidae family, the family of cloven-hoofed mammals.
- Springboks generally have a red-brown, tan or brown coloured back with a white underside and face, with the addition of distinct markings, although sometimes they can be mostly dark brown or white in colour.
- Springboks range from 70 to 90 (27.5 to 35 inches) in height, excluding the neck and head, and weigh roughly 30 to 48 kilograms (66 to 106 pounds), and both adult males and females have horns.
- As one of Africa’s most abundant antelope, the estimated population of springboks in southern Africa is up to 2.5 million, and as such, they are listed as ‘least concern’.
- The diet of springbok consists primarily of grasses, but also bushes and shrubs, which may also serve as its only water source.
- Springboks generally live in small to large herds, depending on the season, of both male and female sexes, although entirely male and entirely female herds exist.
- Springboks are notable for leaping vertically upright when scared or excited, known as ‘stotting’ or ‘pronking’, and a number of theories exist as to why this happens.
- Typically a female springbok will have one young at a time, although twins occur on rare occasions, and the mammal can live to be around 10 years of age.
- Due to a well thriving population and their natural beauty, springboks are popularly hunted for their skin and meat, or as a sport.
Raccoon dogs have more dog to them than raccoon.
- Raccoon dogs are a species of dog that have an appearance notably similar to that of a raccoon, though they are only distantly related.
- ‘Raccoon dogs’ are also known as ‘tanukis’ and ‘manguts’, and they are native to some of the eastern areas of Asia.
- The scientific name of a raccoon dog is Nycetereutes procyonoides and it is form the family Canidae, the family of dogs, and five subspecies of the animal exist.
- A raccoon dog has an average lifespan of 6 to 7 years, and the animal is generally between 45 to 71 centimetres (18 to 28 inches) in length with a weight from 3 to 10 kilograms (6.6 to 22 pounds).
- The scientific name of raccoon dogs means ‘night wanderer’ when translated from Greek, which refers to the dog’s mainly nocturnal activity.
- Raccoon dogs live in woodland and forest habitats near water, and they have a habit of hibernating in winter, particularly when snowy, which is a unique characteristic in its family.
- During summer months, raccoon dog fur is generally a red or yellow colour, however the fur coat changes to greys, browns and blacks in winter.
- Raccoon dogs have a diet that consists primarily of rodents, fish, nuts, berries, molluscs, birds and their eggs, grains, insects, reptiles and frogs, and they are adept at climbing trees.
- Raccoon dogs were first introduced to Europe, including parts of Russia, in the 1900s, and have since become a pest in some areas.
- The primary predator of a raccoon dog is a wolf, and the animal is also commonly hunted by humans for the purpose of culling, for food, as well as for its fur.
At such small numbers, red wolves can easily be lost among similar relatives.
- A red wolf is a mammal of medium size, native primarily to the marshes in the eastern areas of the United States.
- ‘Red wolves’ are also known as ‘Florida wolves’ and ‘Mississippi Valley wolves’.
- The scientific name of a red wolf is Canis rufus or Canis lupus rufus, and it is from the family Canidae, the family of dogs.
- The length of a red wolf, including the tail, is typically between 121 and 160 centimetres (48 and 63 inches) and it generally weighs between 23 and 39 kilograms (50 and 85 pounds).
- The fur of a red wolf is generally a combination of red, brown, black, grey and white in colour, although it is most notably red on parts of the face, ears, and legs.
- The carnivorous diet of red wolves consists primarily of rodents, rabbits, raccoons and deer, and they have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
- A female red wolf has approximately five to seven pups at a time, in dens in hollow trees, on river banks or in those that have been made by other animals but deserted.
- By 1980, red wolves had become extinct in the wild as a result of coyote cross-breeding and hunting by humans, as well as possible habitat destruction.
- Red wolves live in packs that can consist of two to ten wolves, and they are most often closely related to each other.
- In 2015, red wolves were listed as critically endangered, due to captive breeding programs that allowed them to be reintroduced into the wild from 1987 in North Carolina, and as such, they are a protected species.
Any person could attribute a kangaroo to Australia.
- Kangaroos are marsupials that are very symbolic of Australia, their native home, and the animal even features in the country’s coat-of-arms.
- Macropodidae is the family of kangaroos, while the scientific name of the animal is Macropus, however, the smaller animals in the genus are called ‘wallabies’, and some are known as ‘wallaroos’.
- There are four species in the Macropus genus called ‘kangaroos’ – the ‘Red’ (Macropus rufus); ‘Western Grey’ (Macropus fuliginosus); ‘Eastern Grey’ (Macropus giganteus); and the lesser known ‘Antilopine’ (Macropus antilopinus) which is sometimes called a ‘wallaby’ or a ‘wallaroo’; while the ‘tree kangaroo’ belongs to a different genus.
- The diet of kangaroos consists of a variety of vegetation including grasses, flowers, fungi, seeds and shrubs, which is often chewed multiple times as cud; and they have fur that ranges from brown, tan, red or grey in colour, which varies according to the species, and the common names of the various species is generally indicative of the colour of their fur.
- Kangaroos range in height from 0.8 to 2.1 metres (2.6 to 6.9 feet) in height and have a weight that ranges from 18 to 90 kilograms (40 to 200 pounds), while those in the ‘red’ (rufus) species are the largest extant marsupials.
- Kangaroos are notable for having feet and a tail of significantly large size, which are useful for keeping the animal stable, especially when they move, and they can jump distances that can reach 8 metres (24 feet) in length and 2 metres (6.6 feet) in height, and can move at speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour (37 miles per hour).
- Kangaroos may fight for dominance or simply for entertainment, fighting somewhat like a boxer or kicking with their potentially dangerous feet, and they will use these movements as defence against predators like dingoes.
- The young of a kangaroo, known as a ‘joey’, spends around two thirds of a year in the pouch of its mother, where it grows as a neonate, poking its head out after about six months.
- Kangaroos are mostly nocturnal and as a result, are particularly susceptible to being startled by vehicle noises and headlights, and they often jump in front of vehicles in confusion, which can be fatal for the animal and sometimes the occupants of the vehicle.
- The meat of kangaroos has traditionally been eaten by indigenous Australians, and it is becoming quite popular among others, especially for its high protein and low fat properties.