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Showing posts from September, 2011

Eastern Newt

Notophthalmus viridescens Eastern Newts can be found in the Eastern United States, where they have a range that spans all the way from southern Canada down to Texas. They live in fresh bodies of water, typically near forest areas. Eastern Newts go through some pretty interesting life phases. Adults will mate on land during the early spring, and the female will lay up to 400 eggs a season, one at a time,  in the water. The eggs are attached to aquatic plants, and will hatch in anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the temperature . Larval Newts look just like their adult selves, only much much smaller. They measure only about 7mm long! The larvae spend their summer eating as many little invertebrates as they can. When late summer comes around they metamorphose into their Juvenile or "Eft" form. Eft Phase Efts look different from the adults and larvae. For one, they completely lose their gills in favor of a set of lungs. They also have thinner, less powerful ta

Boeseman's Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia boesemani The Boeseman's Rainbowfish is one of the many species in the Rainbowfish family. All are colorful, freshwater fish that are found in Australia and New Guinea. This particular fish measures only about 4inches in length, and hails from the Western end of  New Guinea. Both males and females have the bright coloration, though males are larger and more vibrant. Their bright colors and ease of ownership make them especially popular for aquarists. Unfortunately that popularity caused some serious harm to the species. In the 1980's over 60,000 males were exported every month. The high volume of capture bestowed the Rainbowfish with an " Endangered " status with the IUCN. Captive fish now come from fish farms , rather than from nature. IUCN Status : Endangered Location : West New Guinea Size :  Length 4in (10cm)

Mormon Cricket

Anabrus simplex Contrary to the name, Mormon Crickets are not actually true Crickets at all, they are Katydids. A major difference between Katydids and True Crickets is the antennae length. In Katydids they can be longer than the entire rest of the body! The other part of this animal's name, "Mormon" comes from the devastation that Crickets inflicted on Mormon Settlers in Utah in the 1840s. If it weren't for the Seagulls that came and consumed the Crickets, the settlement may have failed. These little insects are quite the nuisance  across their range, and can cause massive amounts of damage to crops like wheat and alfalfa. Mormon Crickets can grow a couple of inches in length. They cannot fly, but they are still incredibly mobile . As adults they can travel up to a mile a day, and can move up to 50 miles in a single season! Mormon Crickets continue to be pests due to their mobility, appetite, and ability to creature swarms that number into the millions. Th

Six-Lined Racerunner

Cnemidophorus sexlineatus Six-Lined Racerunners are lizards that can be found from Rhone Island down to Florida, and then across to Wyoming and Texas, giving them a decently large spread across the United States. They live in drier, open areas that have loose soil , and feed on insects and other invertebrates. Six-Lined Racerunners are terrestrial Reptiles that can be identified by their six yellow strips that run down the body from head to tail. This pattern is pretty unique among Lizards within their region. Their species name even means "Six lined!" They dig burrows into the ground, and use the burrows for hiding, resting, and egg laying. Mating takes place after hibernation ends, and only about half a dozen eggs are laid at a time. One cool fact about these guys is that they are one of the fastest reptiles on land! They can run at speed of up to 18mph (29kph). Not bad for a tiny Lizard that is barely a foot long! IUCN Status :  Not Listed

Kerry Slug

Geomalacus maculosus The Kerry Slug is a rare Slug that was first discovered in County Kerry, Ireland back in 1842. Since then they have also been found in parts of northern Spain and Portugal. They are medium sized slugs that are easy to identify by their spotted pattern. The one thing that makes them stand out from other slugs is the fact that they aren't at all considered to be a pest. They are found only in  wild areas , rather than in gardens. Their need for wild habitats in one of the reasons the slug has become so rare. They are also distinctive because of their defensive behavior. When they feel threatened they roll up into a tight ball and unstick themselves from whatever they were holding on to. Other Slugs remain attached. Kerry Slugs are protected in all of the locations that they are found in. Habitat loss and loss of some of their favorite foods (lichens and mosses) have been hurting the populations of the unique little slug. Protection, monitoring, and cap


Illustration of the Whekau  by John Gerrard Keulemans The Whekau, or Laughing Owl, is one of the many island bird species that have gone extinct in the past few hundred years. When European settlers arrived in New Zealand in 1840 this bird was abundant on the islands. After only 40 years they declined to rarity, and the last Owl was found dead in 1914. Whekau  lived in rocky, open, relatively dry areas, where they fed off of insects, rodents, small birds, and reptiles. One interesting tidbit is that these Owls actually hunted on foot! they had long, sturdy legs that helped them to chase down prey. The Laughing Owl name comes from the fact that these birds had a very unique call. It was very loud, and sounded like a series of repeated " dismal shrieks ." Whekau went extinct for a number of reasons. Habitat loss was a major factor, as was the introduction of feline and mustelid predators to the islands. Before their extinction several specimens had been sent abroad f

German Cockroach

Blattella germanica If you saw a German Cockroach, you may not even realize it's a Cockroach! These small, light brown insects measure only about half an inch in length, which is a bit of a difference when you compare them to the American Cockraoches (about 1.3in) or the massive Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches which get as big as 4 inches! Despite the name, German Cockroaches are actually from Africa, and are close relatives to the Asian Cockroach. German Cockroaches can survive in colder climates, which has allowed them to spread all around the world and become widespread pests in many areas. Luckily, though they have wings, these roaches cannot actually fly . German Cockroaches go through three life phases- egg, nymph, adult- and it takes about 2 months for the roaches to hatch and make it to their adult phase. They have a very high reproductive rate, which is one of the reasons that they can be very difficult to eradicate. In just one year a single female can produce 10,0

Crested Screamer

Chauna torguata  from the Milwaukee County Zoo The Crested, or Southern, Screamer is a large Goose-sized bird native to southern South America. They can be found near tropical and subtropical aquatic areas. Though they live close to water, and are able to swim, they spend a lot of their time on land. They don't even have webbed feet ! Crested Screamers get their name because boy, are they loud! Their vocalizations can be heard more than 2 miles (3.2km) away! But keep in mind, they aren't the prettiest sounding birds. Their vocalizations includes booming trumpeting noises and gutteral drumming . A pair of Crested Screamers will typically remain together monogamously for a few breeding seasons. Sometimes the pair bond will even last for a lifetime. (Which is about 15 years) The couple will build a huge nest in an area near water. This nest may be used multiple times over the years, and is vigorously defended. Up to seven eggs are laid, and the hatchlings leave the nest an

Bumblebee Cichlid

Pseudotropheus crabro Cichlids are truly amazing little fish. Their family contains as many as 3,000 diverse species, many of whom evolved in isolated habitats, allowing them to adapt to specific niche needs within that environment. The Bumbleebee Cichlid is one of those species. Named for the yellow and black bands that run vertically down the body, these small fish have evolved to serve a very specific purpose. Living exclusively in the Lake Malawi area of east Africa, Bumblebee Cichlids feed on the parasites of other fish. Their primary targets are those that infest the Kampango Catfish . The Catfish, which normally eat Cichlids, leave the Bumblebees alone, as they recognize them as helpers. However, in an interesting twist of events, the Bumblebee Cichlids sometimes feed on the Catfish eggs. When this happens, they change to a murky brown color to snatch at the eggs. Once feeding is complete, they shift back to the recognizable black and yellow. Male Bumblebee Cichlids u