Buceros rhinoceros Rhinoceros hornbills nest in cavities or holes high up in old or dead trees. A pair will wall up the hole with mud and droppings, the male on the outside and the female inside, eventually trapped within. He feeds her through a slit in the wall while she incubates the eggs.
Hystrix cristata This spiky fellow is one of the largest rodents in the world, weighing up to 66lbs (30kg), and growing to almost 3ft (1m) in length. If the sight of its 33cm (13in) quills are not enough to deter a predator, it stamps its feet, clicks its teeth and shakes its tail quills. If […]
Moths are often overlooked in favour of their more colourful cousins, the butterflies. But, I think moths are just as beautiful and perhaps even more intriguing due to this misconception of them being drab, they are anything but! And with around 160,000 species in existence, there’s certainly plenty of variety.
Tympanuchus cupido As well looking rather splendid the greater prairie chicken performs a fascinating dance during mating season. Males gather together and essentially have what we would call a ‘dance off’. They raise the crests on either side of their head, snap their tails and stamp their feet whilst inflating sacs hidden behind the bright […]
Balaeniceps rex The shoebill’s bill has evolved to help the bird hold onto its favourite food, the very slippery lungfish. It also likes to eat small crocodiles and turtles – not your average bird food. While it might not win any beauty contests with its prehistoric looks, enormous shoe-shaped bill and gigantic feet, I can’t […]
Nudibranchia This is by far one of the most enchanting and mysterious creatures that I’ve been lucky enough to see in the wild, and in a place with an equally remarkable name – Ningaloo Reef! Nudibranchs are mollusks and are hermaphrodites – they each possess the reproductive organs of both sexes.
Temognatha alternata With its remarkable colouring this is one impressive beetle. But it’s not just all about looking good. The jewel beetle is a wood-boring beetle and has an important job. Wood-boring beetles tend to attack dead or dying trees, thus providing a useful service to the forest in aiding decomposition and killing off weak […]
Lactoria cornuta This funny-looking fish comes from the boxfish family and gets its name from the two horns atop its head and the two below its tail. Scientists believe these horns evolved to make the longhorn cowfish difficult to swallow and therefore unappealing to predators.
Syngnathinae Somewhat resembling a straight seahorse, it’s easy to see how the pipefish got its name. They are indeed related to seahorses and sea dragons. And like seahorses it is the male pipefish that incubates the eggs, either on a patch of spongy skin or in a special pouch on the underside of his body.
Apteryx This charming little character is the only bird with external nostrils at the end of its long beak. They are incredibly sensitive to smell and use their disproportionately long beaks to search around on the forest floor for food. Although technically kiwis do have wings, the wings have no muscles, making the kiwi flightless.
Aix galericulata Regarded by many as the world’s most beautiful duck, Mandarin ducks also make very brave little ducklings. They do not build traditional nests; instead they use cavities high up in a tree. Once the ducklings hatch, the female calls to them from the ground outside. The tiny ducklings use their sharp claws to […]
Cyanea capillata The lion’s mane jellyfish is a jelly giant. The largest recorded specimen was found in 1870 and had a body 7.5ft (2m) in diameter and tentacles over 120ft (37m) long – that’s longer than a blue whale. Even better than that – it is bioluminescent, which means it glows in the dark!
Odobenus rosmarus A walrus’s tusks can grow up to 3ft (1m) long. They are used against predators, to establish dominance, to cut holes in the sea ice and to help heave the walrus’ enormous bulk out of the water. When I say enormous, I mean enormous – a walrus calf weighs about 14 stone (89kg) […]
Alces alces With their long faces, oversized muzzles that flop over their chins and strange flap of skin that dangles beneath their throats, moose are really strange looking creatures. Add to that the male’s velvety antlers, which can span 6ft (2m) from front to back and weigh as much as 88lbs (40kg), this is a […]
Diactor bilineatus This clever little bug has evolved hind legs that appear to look like leaves. When threatened the bug raises its hind legs and waves its ‘leaves’, either to convince the attacker that it really is some leaves rustling in the breeze or as a deterrent, making the bug appear larger than it really […]
Sepiida When it comes to weird, the cuttlefish has it mastered. It has green-blue blood, three hearts, can change its skin colour and when threatened squirts a cloud of ink to hide itself. If that fails, it squirts ink mixed with mucous to create a smaller, denser cloud similar in size and shape to its […]
Caterpillars really are remarkable creatures. Their main job is to eat – without proper nutrition a caterpillar may not have enough energy to complete its metamorphosis into a butterfly or moth. Some caterpillars increase their body mass by as much as 1,000 times!
Strix nebulosa The great grey owl is a magnificent bird and a master hunter. With extra-large facial discs directing sound to feather-covered ear openings, it has incredibly acute hearing, so sensitive that it can accurately locate prey from a perch 300ft (91m) away, even under snow or in a tunnel.
Euchoreutes naso The long-eared jerboa is dwarfed by its enormous ears, which it uses at night to locate its prey. Like tiny kangaroos, they jump using their back legs – which are more than four times longer than their front legs – allowing them to leap up to 10ft (3m) either horizontally or vertically. That’s […]
Bradypus variegatus The sloth is the world’s slowest mammal, it moves so slowly that algae grows on its furry coat. The algae works to the sloth’s advantage though, helping it to be camouflaged amongst the tress and better hidden from predators.
Chrysolophus pictus Like other pheasants the golden pheasant is a bit of a clumsy flyer, preferring to run rather than fly when threatened and choosing to live on the ground, only roosting in trees at night. What this handsome chap lacks in flying skills he more than makes up for with his spectacular vibrant plumage.
Vulpes ferrilata This is one odd-looking fox. It has rather a large square shaped head – though this is mostly the shape of the fur – and narrow eyes that appear to give the impression that this little fox is rather pleased with itself, some would even say smug. Despite that, perhaps even because of […]
Exocoetidae When threatened by predators these incredible little fish leap out of the water, spread their pectoral ‘wings’ and glide through the air. They can remain airborne for up to 45 seconds, usually travelling around 150ft (46m), but they are capable of using updrafts to cross over 1,200ft (366m), at speeds of over 40mph (64km). […]