About animals

About animals | Wildebeest | The wildebeest is actually a subspecies of the antelope, despite it's bull-like appearance. There are two known species of wildebeest, both of which are native to Africa. The changing African seasons mean the wildebeest must migrate south in the winter, so the wildebeest can continue to graze on grass. Thousands of wildebeest all tend to migrate at once creating a wildebeest stampede.

The wildebeest is a primary source of prey for many large African mammals, that often pick out the weaker wildebeest from the outside of the herd. Wildebeest generally grow to around 1.5 tall but are relatively defenceless against dominant, carnivorous predators such as lions and crocodiles . The wildebeest are able to sense thunderstorms that are up to 30 miles away and the wildebeest follow these rains across Africa in what is commonly known as the great migration. The wildebeest trek around 30 miles everyday and approximately 1,000 miles a year as the wildebeest follow the rains in order to find the best grass.

When the baby wildebeest are born, they are often able to stand within a matter of minutes and these young wildebeest are soon able to run around and soon learn about the importance of protection in numbers. When the wildebeest are migrating around the African continent, the young wildebeest always stay very close to the mother wildebeest as it is easy for the young wildebeest to get lost when there are so many wildebeest travelling together or be preyed upon by watching predators.

Wildebeest inhabit large plains on the African savanna where there is plenty of food for the wildebeest to eat. Wildebeest are herbivorous animals and graze on grasses, leaves and shoots. Wildebeest live together in large herds in order to protect each other as on their own, wildebeest are defenceless and therefore vulnerable in the African wilderness. When danger is spotted, the wildebeest warn each using groaning calls and then run together creating a stampede, both to escape approaching predators and also to intimidate them.

About animals | Woolly Monkey | The woolly monkey is a medium to large sized primate, that inhabits the tropical forests of north-west South America. The woolly monkey is most well known for it's round-shaped head and dense fur that covers the body of the woolly monkey. Woolly monkeys are found throughout Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and parts of Venezuela where they live an arboreal lifestyle. Woolly monkeys have long and very strong prehensile tails which allows them to balance and grip onto branches without having to give up the use of their hands.

There are four different species of woolly monkey found in the South American jungles today. These are the brown woolly monkey (also known as the common woolly monkey), the grey woolly monkey, the Columbian woolly monkey and the silvery woolly monkey. All four of the different woolly monkey species are found in the same regions of South America. The woolly monkey gets its name from its soft and thick, curled fur which ranges from brown to black to grey, depending on the species of woolly monkey. Woolly monkeys have relatively stocky bodies, with powerful shoulders and hips.

Like many other primate species, woolly monkeys live together in fairly large groups known as troops. The woolly monkey troops contain both male woolly monkeys and female woolly monkeys. The woolly monkey troop is also known to split up into smaller groups when it is time to forage for food. The woolly monkey is an omnivorous animal, meaning that it feeds on both plants and other animals. Fruit is the primary source of food for woolly monkeys, but they will also eat nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar, insects and even small rodents and reptiles.

Due to their relatively large size, woolly monkeys have few natural predators within their jungle environment. Large birds of prey such as eagles, are the main predators of the young woolly monkeys, and wildcats such as ocelot and jaguars are the main predators of the adult woolly monkeys. The human is also one of the main predators of the woolly monkey as they are hunted for their meat and fur. The alpha male woolly monkey will mate with the females in his troop. After a gestation period of between 7 and 8 months, the baby woolly monkey is born. Woolly monkeys tend to only have one baby at a time although twins have been known to occur. The baby woolly monkey clings to it's mothers underside, before climbing up onto her back when it is around a week old. The baby woolly monkey is independent and no longer needs it's mother when it is around 6 months old.

Due to deforestation and therefore habitat loss, the woolly monkey population numbers are drastically decreasing, with the woolly monkey now considered to be an animal species that is vulnerable to extinction.

About animals | Walrus | The walrus is a large marine mammal that has flippers to help it swim. The walrus is found in the colder waters of the Northern Hemisphere, but the walrus is much more adapted specifically to the conditions of the Arctic Circle. There are three species of walrus. The Atlantic walrus, the Pacific walrus and the Laptev walrus found in the Laptev Sea. The walrus is most closely related to the seal and although the walrus and the seal are obviously similar, the walrus has some distinctive features such as the large tusks on the face of the walrus.

The walrus hunts fish and small mammals in the Arctic Circle. For a few hundred years, the walrus has been hunted by the Arctic people for meat, oil and the skin of the walrus but walrus hunting has led to the extinction of the walrus on many small islands within the Arctic circle. Today, only the Native Americans are allowed to hunt the walrus as it can often be one of the only sources of food for hundreds of miles. The walrus is a particularly sociable marine mammal and can often be seen in large groups. Walrus' can be heard grunting and making loud bellowing noises at each other but they become particularly aggressive during the mating season. The male walrus displays the most aggressive behaviour as the males have to fight to gain the respect of a female walrus.

Walrus' have long white tusks which they use for helping them to survive in the tough conditions of the Arctic circle. Both the male walrus and the female walrus have long tusks which can reach nearly a metre in length. Walrus' use their tusks for a number of reasons including breaking holes in the ice, hauling their large bodies out of the water and onto the ice, and defend themselves. The walrus also has a thick layer of fat under their skin, known as blubber, which keeps the walrus warm in the sub-zero temperatures and walrus' also have long, sensitive whiskers which they use as detective devices to find their favourite meal of shellfish on the dark ocean floor. The male walrus (bull) is often nearly double the size of the female walrus (cow). Walrus' can be found in groups of up to 2,000 walrus individuals which generally consists of the alpha male and his group of females and their young. The alpha male walrus will defend his walrus clan from other large male walrus' that are trying to infiltrate the group and steal the attention of his female followers.

Walrus' are thought to mate about once a year during the colder winter months. After a gestation period of just over a year, the female walrus gives birth to her fully developed walrus calf. The walrus calf stays with it's mother until it is at least 2 years old. This prolonged nursing period means that the walrus calf can develop it's warm and insulating layer of blubber which is vital to the survival of the walrus in the freezing conditions which the walrus inhabits. The walrus has a carnivorous diet which mainly consists of shellfish and echinoderms such as starfish and sea urchins. Occasionally the walrus will hunt fish, seals and young whales. The walrus uses it's enormous tusks to hold larger prey down so that the walrus can then eat it. 

About animals | Zebu | The zebu is a species of cattle that is native to the jungles of South Asia and the Zebu is the only cattle species that can easily adapt to life in the hot tropics. The zebu is also known as the humped cattle as the zebu has a very distinctive hump on its upper back, located behind the head and neck of the zebu. Today the zebu can also be found in Africa, as the zebu was transported there from Asia many years ago. There are thought to be around 75 different species of zebu, with roughly half the zebu species found in Africa and the other half of the zebu species found in South Asia. The zebu has also been taken to South America from Africa, where zebu populations are continuously growing.

The zebu is one of the smallest species of cattle in the world with adult zebus reaching a height of just over a meter. The zebu is also about half the weight of a typical cow as the zebu is considered to have less meat. The small size of the zebu is thought to be the reason why the zebu is able to thrive in tropical climates, where other species of cattle do not fair so well. The zebu is a distinctive breed of cattle and besides the hump found on the shoulders of the zebu, the zebu also has a large flap of skin below its lower jaw, known as a dewlap, and the zebu also has long drooping ears. The hump-less cattle found throughout Africa today are considered to be a subspecies of the zebu that have adapted to life without their characteristic hump. Nevertheless, these hump free cattle are able to survive without complaint in their subtropical environment.

Due to the manageable size of the zebu, and the ability of the zebu to cope with the tropicals climates, the zebu has been domesticated in both its Native home in Southern Asia and in Africa as the zebu is predominantly used for lighter agricultural work. The zebu is also farmed for meat in some areas and the zebu is considered to be holy in India where the zebu is thought to have originated from.

The zebu is thought to have both parasite and disease resistant properties which is another reason why the zebu are thought to thrive so successfully in their native tropical environments. The zebu has also been interbred with the native cattle of both Africa and Brazil, where the zebu is most common outside of Asia, and many farmers consider the presence of a hump and droopy ears to be a sign that their cattle is purely bred. There are thought to be nearly 4 million zebu in farms around the world today, with the highest number of these being found in India, Brazil and the United States. The wild zebu can still be found in small herds in Southern Asia but the wild zebu populations are not nearly as high, mainly because of habitat loss due to deforestation.
About animals|The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is endemic to the Himalayas in Bhutan, southern China, India, Laos, Nepal and Burma.
The Red Panda is the state animal in the Indian state of Sikkim. The Red Panda is also the mascot of the Darjeeling international festivals. Red Pandas look quite different to the Giant Pandas, they more resemble the appearance of a racoon or weasel type animal.
Red Panda
The Red Panda is also known as the 'Lesser PandaWah Cat Bear', or 'Firefox'. The reference to being called a 'Wah' is because of its distinctive cry. Red Pandas are most closely related to the racoon and are now in a family (Ailuridea) of their own. Most can be found in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and some high mountain areas of China and Myanmar (Burma).
The sub-family of Red Pandas is divided into two sub-species:
Ailurus fulgens styani, which are native to northern Myanmar and south-central China
Ailurus fulgens fulgens, which is native to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and the Indian states of Assam and Sikkim. Ailurus fulgens: Latin: 'fire-coloured cat'.

Red Panda Physical Characteristics

 Red pandas have soft, dense fur that protects them from cool temperatures. The fur on the upper side of the animal is reddish-brown in colour while its underside and legs are black. The soles of the Red Pandas feet are covered with white fur. The Red Pandas compact face and the borders around the ears are primarily white.

The red panda has reddish brown mask-like markings over the eyes and dense, furry tail alternately marked with reddish and light brown rings. Their tail really does resemble that of a raccoons.
The Red Panda has semi-retractile claws and like the Giant panda, has a false thumb which is really an extension of the wrist bone.

Red Panda Habitat

Red pandas live in remote mountainous areas of the Himalayas in dense forest and bamboo thickets. The forests have a dense under story of bamboo and small trees. Red panda habitat temperatures usually fall between 10 - 25 degrees centigrade. Red pandas also inhibit elevation ranges from 6,000 - 12,000 feet.

Red Panda Diet

 Just like the giant panda, the red panda is a bamboo eater and its diet is mainly bamboo. During summers, the red panda may feed on fruits, mushrooms, leaves, grasses, roots, fruits, lichens and acorns. Although considered herbivorous, the red panda will occasionally take birds eggs and it is speculated that they may eat mice and birds on occasions. Because the nutrient level of bamboo is so low, the Red panda has a slow metabolism and spends a good part of its day foraging.

The Red pandas digestive system is also like the digestive system of the giant panda. The Red panda is more suited to a carnivorous diet. However, it cannot digest cellulose, so it must consume a large volume of bamboo to survive and is therefore classed as mostly herbivorous.

Red Panda Social Behaviour

The Red panda is nocturnal and is mostly active in the early morning and late afternoon spending most of the day resting in trees conserving their energy as their bamboo diet has a low energy content. Red pandas are normally solitary creatures, however, they form pairs in the breeding season.
Red pandas appear to be territorial. Red pandas use glandular sacs in their anal regions which produce a scent which they use to mark territorial boundaries by rubbing their sacs on various objects in the wild. Additionally, they may also mark territory by using regular defecation sites. Red pandas have a mild, non-aggressive disposition.

Red Panda Reproduction

The gestation period of the female red panda is about 3 months. During this time, the female will make a nest out of grass and twigs in either a hollow tree or rock crevasse. Up to 3 newborn cubs are then delivered into the nest. Breeding season occurs from mid-January to early March and cubs are usually born between mid-May and mid-July. Red pandas reach sexual maturity around a year old.
Newborn red panda cubs weigh around 4 - 5 ounces. They are fully furred and pale yellow in colour. Just like Giant Panda cubs, they are blind at birth and rely totally on their mother for care and survival. When the cubs are 3 weeks old, they open their eyes. Red panda cubs start to take on the adult red panda colouration at about 90 days old. Red panda cubs are weaned at 5 months and stay with their mother until the next litter is about to be born, which is about a year after their birth.
Male red pandas do not share the raising of the cubs, it is completely left to the mother red panda to raise and care for the cubs herself. Red pandas can live up to 14 years in captivity. It is not sure, however, how long they actually live in the wild.

Red Panda Conservation Status

Red Pandas are listed as endangered by IUCN and Appendix II under CITES. The major threats to the red pandas are loss of habitat due to deforestation and forest fragmentation.
Red Pandas are often killed for their coats to make fur hats and clothes. Because of the growing human population in China, Red Panda habitats are being cleared to build houses. Approximately 10,000 pandas die per year, and approximately 7,000 of the 10,000 die from deforestation.
About animals|The Giant Panda (black-and-white cat-foot) (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central-western and southwestern China. Giant Pandas are one of the rarest mammals in the world. Pandas are easily recognized by their large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears and across their round body.
Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Pandas once lived in lowland areas, however, farming, forest clearing and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.
The mist shrouded mountain forests of China, have slowly disappeared over the last century. Many of the bamboo areas which are vital for the Pandas diet and survival are being cut down by people who then build farms there. The Giant Panda is an endangered species. According to the latest report, China has 239 giant pandas in captivity (128 of them in Wolong and 67 in Chengdu) and another 27 pandas living outside the country. It also estimated that around 1,590 pandas are living in the wild.

Giant Panda Characteristics

Giant Panda
The Giant Panda has a black-and-white coat. Adult pandas measure around 1.5 metres long and around 75 centimetres tall at the shoulder. Males are 10 - 20% larger than females. Male pandas can weigh up to 115 kilograms (253 pounds). Female pandas are generally smaller than males and can occasionally weigh up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds).
The giant panda has a body typical of bears. Pandas have black fur on their ears, eye patches, muzzles, legs and shoulders. The rest of the pandas coat is white. The pandas thick, wooly coat keeps it warm in the cool forests of its habitat.
Giant pandas have large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles for crushing tough bamboo. Many people find these cuddly looking bears to be lovable, however, giant pandas can be as dangerous as any other bear.
Pandas have the largest molars out of all the carnivorous mammals. The forepaws of the panda have an extra 'thumb' called an 'opposable pseudo thumb' which is used in conjunction with its 'forefingers' and enables the panda to grasp even small bamboo shoots with precision.
After the sloth bear, the panda has the longest tail in the bear family measuring 4 - 6 inches long. Giant Pandas can usually live to be 20 - 30 years old in captivity.

Giant Panda Diet

Although Pandas mostly eat bamboo, they are still classed as a carnivore. Pandas have a digestive system of a carnivore, however, they have adapted to a vegetarian diet through their large consumption of bamboo. A Pandas digestive system cannot digest the cellulose in bamboo, that is why they have to eat so much and for long periods of the day.
The average Giant Panda eats as much as 20 to 30 pounds of bamboo shoots a day. Because pandas consume a diet low in nutrition, it is important that they keep their digestive tract full. Pandas may eat other foods such as honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges and bananas.
Pandas do not hibernate as they are not able to store enough fat to feed them through the winter on their diet of bamboo.

Giant Panda Behaviour

Pandas are good at climbing trees and they can swim as well. Pandas are difficult to see out in the wild as they live among the thick dense bamboo plants in old-growth forests which is their favourite habitat. Pandas are very solitary creatures and will live alone and will only meet other pandas during mating season.
Giant panda bears are silent creatures most of the time, however, they can bleat. Pandas do not roar like other bears, however, they do have 11 different calls, four of which are only used during mating.
The Giant Panda is active at twilight and during the night. Throughout the day, it will make dens in caves, hollow trees and dense thickets. To avoid competition with other pandas over food and to signal its presence, the Panda will mark its territory by putting a pungent secretion from its anal glands on stones and tree trunks.
The male Giant Pandas home range may overlap with several female territories and when breeding season arrives during the springtime, he will attempt to mate with these local females.
The female Pandas usually announce their readiness to breed by becoming more vocal and leaving special scent marks around to enable the males to track them. The females give birth to their cubs in the Autumn and these stay as constant companions for the next 18 months or more.
Pandas signify aggression by lowering their heads and staring at their opponents. To signal submissiveness, a panda will put its head between its front legs and often hide its eye-patches with its paws. This position is also adopted by females during mating, and by captive animals that are being harassed by humans. At close range, aggression is signaled by a swipe with a paw, or by a low-pitched growl or bark that will send an opponent scampering up the nearest tree.

Giant Panda Reproduction

Giant Pandas have a very slow reproductive rate which sadly contributes towards their decline in numbers. Giant Pandas mate during the springtime. The female panda's gestation time varies between 112 days and 163 days. After this time, she will give birth to one single cub. On rare occasions, she will produce 2 - 3 cubs, but usually only one will survive.
The female panda can only conceive during a 72 hour estrus period which only happens during the spring breeding period.
Because of this limited time for the female to become pregnant, some mating pairs will often copulate for several hours, whereas other mating pairs will only copulate once. Male pandas are more sexually active for longer and will attempt to mate with several female pandas during this time. The mating pairs will show no interest in each other at any other time of the year.
The female panda gives birth in the Autumn. Panda cubs are very small, weighing between 3.5 and 6 ounces. They have little fur, are pinkish white in colour, blind and very helpless. No other mammal gives birth to such a small baby except marsupials like the kangaroo who keeps her babies in her pouch until they are fully developed. A panda mother will carry her cub around in her arms and care for its every whim constantly. Panda cubs cry just like human babies when they need feeding or need care from their mother. They will cry for milk about every 2 hours or so. Between feeding times, the mother panda will continuously hold her cub very gently.
This attentive behaviour will continue until the cub is able to move around by itself when the cub is about 3 months old. At this age, the cub will continue to follow its mother around and by 6 months the cub can begin eating bamboo. They are finally weaned off their mothers at around 9 months old. The weaning of the cubs in the spring following their births is an ideal time as the newest most protein-filled bamboo shoots are available. This gives cubs the best possible start in life on a diet that in the best of conditions is of poor nutritional quality. At about a year old, the cubs can weigh 75 pounds, which is about a third of an adult pandas weight.
Female pandas do not reach sexual maturity until they are 5 to 6 years old. However, even young, inexperienced female pandas display a maternal instinct and know instantly how to care for the young without needing any practice. This is very important because no breeding season is then wasted through 'clumsy parenting'. Because female pandas start to breed quite late and only rear a single young cub every 2 years, she will only rear in total around 7 offspring in her lifetime. By the age of 22, a female panda is considered 'old' and possibly 'post-reproductive'. The giant pandas low reproductive rate makes it very difficult for a giant panda population to recover from a decline in numbers.
With many conservation programs in place today, the Panda is desperately trying to be saved from extinction. It would be one of the greatest tragedies within the animal kingdom if this great bear was wiped out completely.

Giant Panda Conservation Status

Probably the most major threat to the survival of the Giant Panda Bear is the destruction of their natural habitats, along with increased human population and poaching. The different varieties of bamboo go through periodic die-offs as part of their renewal cycle. Without the ability to move to new areas which have not been affected, starvation and death will certainly occur for the giant panda. Such die-offs of the bamboo also put the giant pandas in more direct contact with farmers and poachers as the bears try to find new areas in which to feed.
The recent announcement that the Chinese government will nearly double protected areas for giant pandas in the Qinling mountain range by creating five new panda reserves and five 'corridors' (linking protected regions) is expected to have a major benefit on the future of the panda. Many organizations are continuously supporting and trying to find ways to save and preserve the existence of this special, adorable bear.

About animals | Wombat | The wombat is a medium sized marsupial that is found only in Australia and it's surrounding islands. Wombats are burrowing mammals that spend most of the day under ground, coming out at night to feed. The common wombat is thought to be a descendant of the giant wombat that existed around 50 million years ago. The giant wombat's extinction is said to be caused by hunting and changes to their environment including pollution and habitat loss.

The common wombat is a nocturnal herbivore and gets to about 26 years old in the wild although some wombat individuals have been known to live for longer in captivity. Wombats eats grasses, shoots and bark which the wombat needs to keep gnawing on in order to keep it's continuously growing teeth at a manageable size. Like all other marsupials, the female wombat has a warm pouch on it's belly in which the wombat babies are nurtured for the first few months of life. When the baby wombats are first born they are very small and undeveloped and crawl into the mother wombat's pouch almost immediately. The baby wombat stays in the pouch of the mother wombat until the baby wombat is around 5 months old. By the time the baby wombat is roughly 7 months old, it is able to care for itself.

Wombats have long claws which they use to dig burrows. Wombat burrows can easily become an extensive network of underground tunnels leading to small chambers. Most wombats are solitary animals but some wombats have been known to form underground colonies with other wombats.

Wombats have a few natural predators including foxes and dingos. Although the wombat is relatively defenceless when it is out and about, wombats are generally well protected in their underground burrows as many predators cannot follow the wombat into the narrow, complex tunnels. Today the wombat is considered to be an endangered species of animal. Wombat numbers have been decreasing rapidly due to habitat loss and hunting by humans who believe the wombat and it's network of underground tunnels to be an agricultural pest.

About animals | Fox | The fox is a scavenger carnivours dog, generally found in urban city areas in the northern Hemisphere. The fox is a nocturnal mammal, meaning that the fox only goes out a night to hunt for prey. Wild foxes tend live for around 6-7 years, but some foxes have been known to be older than 13 in captivity. The wild fox hunts for the mouse and other small mammals and birds, but foxes appear to enjoy all species of insect.

A fox is generally smaller than other members of the dog family like wolves, jackals and domestic dogs. Foxes can be a pest in the cities as foxes are often seen tearing into rubbish. There are around 12 different species of fox found around the world, which include the urban fox or red fox, the beautifully white Arctic fox, the sand fox which is a light-coloured fox found in desert regions and the tiny yet big eared fennec fox.

Foxes in Europe have been the victims of fox hunting, an extremely controversial sport that involves humans on horses hunting out the fox, lead by a pack of hound dogs which would find the fox by following the scent of the fox. Fox hunting in this manner is now illegal, although it is still allowed if the sport only contains humans on horseback, without the use of their clever but somewhat vicious dogs.

The fox is also found in the more rural areas of the Northern hemisphere, although fox numbers in the countryside are outnumbered by fox numbers in cities as due to the foxes scavenging nature, food is more readily available in the urban streets.


True Wild Life | Brazilian Tapir | The South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), or Brazilian Tapir (from the Tupi tapi'ira) or Lowland Tapir or (in Portuguese) Anta, is one of four species in the tapir family, along with the Mountain Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, and Baird's Tapir. It is the second largest land mammal in South America, after Baird's Tapir. The Brazilian Tapir (also known as the South American Tapir) is known to be a fantastic swimmer and the Brazilian Tapir is generally found close to water in the Amazon Rainforest.

It is dark brown in color, paler in the face, and has a low, erect crest running from the crown down the back of the neck. The round, dark ears have distinctive white edges. The South American Tapir can be found near water in the Amazon Rainforest and River Basin in South America, east of the Andes. Its range stretches from Venezuela, Colombia, and Guianas in the north to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, in the south, to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in the West.

It is an herbivore. Using its mobile snout, this tapir feeds on leaves, buds, shoots, and small branches that it tears from trees, fruit, grasses, and aquatic plants.

The social life of the South American tapir is unknown. In the San Diego zoo, the captive group forms a structured herd, with dominant and subordinate animals of both sexes. The dominant male and female make what is called the 'sliding squeal', less than a second in duration. On hearing this sound the others make a 'fluctuating squeal', which is longer and quavers rather than merely decreasing in pitch. This is also uttered when a dominant individual approaches, apparently as an appeasement call and as a sign of pain or fear. Tapirs also utter a challenging snort, and a click made with the tongue and palate, perhaps as a species identification.

About animals | Leafy Sea Dragon | Sea Dragons are arguably the most spectacular and mysterious of all ocean fish. Though close relatives of sea horses, sea dragons have larger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. Sea dragons feed on larval fishes and amphipods, such as and small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids ("sea lice"), sucking up their prey in their small mouths. Many of these amphipods feed on the red algae that thrives in the shade of the kelp forests where the sea dragons live.

As with their smaller common seahorse (and pipefish) cousins, the male sea dragon carries and incubates the eggs until they hatch. During mating the female deposits up to 250 eggs onto the "brood patch" on the underside of the male's tail. After about eight weeks, the brood hatches, but in nature only about 5 per cent of sea dragons survive to maturity (two years). A fully grown Leafy Sea Dragon grows to about 18 inches (45 cm).

Leafy Sea Dragons are very interesting to watch-- the leafy appendages are not used for movement. The body of a sea dragon scarcely appears to move at all. Steering and turning is through movement of tiny, translucent fins along the sides of the head (pectoral fins, visible above) and propulsion derives from the dorsal fins (along the spine). Their movement is as though an invisible hand were helping, causing them to glide and tumble in peculiar but graceful patterns in slow-motion. This movement appears to mimic the swaying movements of the seaweed and kelp. Only close observation reveals movement of an eye or tiny fins.

Most sources of information about sea dragons say they are found in the ocean waters of southern Western Australia, South Australia and further east along the coastline of Victoria province, Australia.  Sea dragons are protected under Australian law, and their export is strictly regulated. A 1996 assessment by the Australian government's Department of Environmental Heritage indicates "It [the Leafy Sea Dragon] is now completely protected in South Australia because demand for aquarium specimens threatened the species with extinction." Currently the specific law which protects them is called the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  For a February 2002 updated overview of the leafy sea dragon, see this page from the Department of Environmental Heritage site.

About animals | Wolverine | The wolverine is a medium sized mammal that despite it's bear-like appearance (and it's name) is most closely related to the weasel. The wolverine is known to be strong and vicious and is said to have immense strength in comparison to it's size. The wolverine is found throughout Canada, Europe, parts of North America and the Arctic Circle where the wolverines inhabit mountainous regions and dense forests. Wolverines are also known to venture into more open areas such as plains and farmland when they are in search of food.

The wolverine generally eats mice, rats and other small mammals, birds and eggs during the summer months when these small animals are in abundance. During the bitter winter however, when snow covers the ground, the wolverine tends to hunt larger animals such as reindeer (caribou), sheep and moose. Despite the fact that the wolverine is known to be capable of hunting down and killing animals that are so much bigger than itself, the wolverine tends to prefer to scavenge the kills of other animals such as wolves and bears. The wolverine will let the larger predators hunt the prey down and the wolverine then chases the hunter away by showing its teeth and growling fiercely. Then the wolverine is left to eat the kill. The wolverine uses its large teeth and powerful jaws to crush large bones and eat meat that has been frozen in the unforgiving Arctic winter. 

The wolverine also has long, sharp, powerful claws that the wolverine uses to catch it's prey and to defend itself from predators and other wolverines. The wolverine also uses it's claws for climbing and digging. Like the skunk, the wolverine has a strong-smelling fluid called musk which the wolverine uses to warn others to stay away. Wolverines also have a thick coat of brown fur to protect them from the freezing cold temperatures. The wolverine has large feet help it move across the soft snow, with five sharp claws on each foot. Wolverines are highly territorial animals and they will fight other wolverines to defend their territory. Wolverines are not particularly fast movers (although they are known to reach speeds of more than 30mph when needed), so they do not chase or stalk their prey. However, wolverines are good climbers and often rest in trees, where the wolverines wait until the right moment to pounce on their prey from the trees or large rocks.

The female wolverine has one litter every two or three years. She digs a den with tunnels in a snowdrift that is near piles of rocks. After a gestation period of nearly 2 months, the female wolverine gives birth to a small litter of baby wolverines (known as kits), usually 2 or 3 kits are born. The mother wolverines nurses her wolverines kits until they are around 10 weeks old and are then big enough and strong enough to start learning to hunt for themselves. Wolverines usually live to between 8 and 13 years old although some wolverine individuals in captivity have been known to nearly reach the age of 20! The wolverine is considered to be a near threatened species as the wolverine numbers are declining due to hunting and habitat loss.

About animals | Highland Cattle | Highland cattle (also known as the hairy cow) are an old Scottish breed of cow, bred primarily for their beef. Highland cattle are often bred for cattle shows, and some highland cattle can win many prizes due to the incredible condition of the highland cattle individuals. The highland cattle are famous for their long haired coats which help the hairy cows to cope with the harsh conditions of the Scottish Highlands. The highland cattle inhabit areas of Scotland close to the Arctic circle meaning that the highland cattle have adapted to endure the most uncompromising conditions.

Highland cattle originally come from Scotland. Highland cattle can now be found in Europe, North America and Australia, where the highland cattle are all commonly farmed for their meat but some people also use the long hair of the highland cattle. Highland cattle have adapted to living in such harsh terrains as highland cattle have a large, strong build and a thick double layer of long orange hair. Highland cattle also have two horns on the tops of their heads which the highland cattle use to dig through thick snow to find the vegetation that lies underneath and the highland cattle also use their horns in order to defend themselves from oncoming predators and other rival highland cattle.

The highland cattle are also extremely adept at foraging for food and the patience and skill of the highland cattle means that the highland cattle can often be found grazing on steep, mountainous slopes in the Scottish highlands. Highland cattle are herbivorous mammals and therefore only eat plant matter, mainly grasses. Highland cattle are also known to eat leaves from low growing trees and shrubs and the highland cattle are also rather partial to the odd flower!

Due to the sheer size of highland cattle, other than humans highland cattle have very few natural predators in their wild habitat. Depending on the location of highland cattle, packs of wolves are one of the main threats to grazing highland cattle and those highland cattle inhabiting the plains in North America, are also in fear of being hunted by larger animals such as mountain lions, cougars and bears. Coyotes in North America are also a threat to the young and weak highland cattle calves but it is too dangerous for the coyote to hunt a highland cattle calf unless the young highland cattle has been separated from the group.