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African Elephant

Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz Although the African elephant is the largest and most powerful of all living land mammals, it is also amo...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kingfisher

Photo Credit: Dreams of Animals
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds. All kingfishers have large heads, long, sharp, pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. Most species have bright plumage with few differences between the sexes. Most species are tropical in distribution, and a slight majority are found only in forests.

They consume a wide range of prey, as well as fish, usually caught by swooping down from a perch. While kingfishers are usually thought to live near rivers and eat fish, most species live away from water and eat small invertebrates. Like other members of their order, they nest in cavities, usually tunnels dug into the natural or artificial banks in the ground. A quarter of all kingfishers nest in disused termite nests. A few species, principally insular forms, are threatened with extinction. In Britain, the word "kingfisher" normally refers to the common kingfisher.

Kingfishers feed on a wide variety of prey. They are most famous for hunting and eating fish, and some species do specialize in catching fish, but other species take crustaceans, frogs and other amphibians, annelid worms, mollusks, insects, spiders, centipedes, reptiles (including snakes), and even birds and mammals. Individual species may specialize in a few items or take a wide variety of prey, and for species with large global distributions, different populations may have different diets.

Did you know?
Kingfishers are territorial, some species defending their territories vigorously. They are generally monogamous, although cooperative breeding has been observed in some species and is quite common in others, for example the laughing kookaburra, where helpers aid the dominant breeding pair in raising the young.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Box Turtle

Photo Credit: BackWaterReptiles
Box turtles are found throughout the eastern United States. They are found in a variety of habitats but are most common in open hardwood forest in the Piedmont. They are often found along field or wetland edges. Highly terrestrial but will occasionally be found soaking in puddles or streams.

Box Turtles are mid-sized, terrestrial turtles – 4.5-6 inches – with a high, rounded shell that is dark with many yellow or orange splotches. The carapace pattern is variable and becomes less prominent with age. There are four toes on each hind foot. Males have a concave plastron and often have red eyes. The plastron (bottom of the shell) is hinged, allowing the box turtle to completely close it shell.

Box turtles are omnivores and in will eat earthworms, snails, grubs, beetles, caterpillars, carrion, grasses, fallen fruit, berries, mushrooms and flowers. They will take a bite of anything that smells edible.

Did you know?
Box turtles hide in the mud, under decaying logs or in the abandoned burrows of mammals during the hottest part of a day.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sea Cucumber

Photo Credit: TheSenualFoodie
Sea cucumbers are found in virtually all marine environments throughout the world. Some sea cucumbers live on the ocean floor and others are planktonic, meaning that they float in the ocean with the currents.

The sea cucumber's body shape is similar to a cucumber, but they have small tentacle-like tube feet that are used for locomotion and feeding. One way that sea cucumbers can confuse or harm predators is by propelling their own toxic internal organs from their anus in the direction of attack. The organs grow back, and it may save them from being eaten!

Sea cucumbers are scavengers that feed on small food items in the benthic zone (seafloor). Algae, aquatic invertebrates, and waste particles make up their diet. They eat with tube feet surrounding their mouths.

Did you know?
When disturbed, sea cucumbers can expose skeletal, hook-like structures that would make them harder for predators to eat.

Monday, September 5, 2016

European Mole

Photo Credit: Wildlife Wanderer
Although it is seldom seen, the velvety-coated mole is one of the best-known small mammals. Living almost entirely underground, surface molehills are the only tell-tale signs of its presence.

Most common in grassland and pastures, European moles are found at sea level and at high altitudes in almost every type of soil, but t hey avoid areas where the soil is very rocky, waterlogged, or acidic. They are well adapted for their underground life.

Moles are active during the day and night, digging their tunnels and searching for food. Most tunnels very in depth from just below the surface to 28 inches beneath the ground. When moles dig close to the surface, they make piles of dirt called molehills.

Earthworms are the mole's staple food, although it also eats large quantities of insect larva and slugs. It locates food by traveling along its tunnels and feeding on whatever worms or insect is finds.

Did you know?
Moles will avoid very wet grounds when possible, yet they are strong swimmers. They can also climb.
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