~ R D 8 1

""'lIlIIII Viverridae
"'lIlIIII Carnivora "'lIlIIII Herpestes edwardsi
The Indian gray mongoose is one of the few animals
that can survive a cobra attack, which makes it one of the
deadly snake's few predators. Still, the mongoose generally
____ L ____ .L ___ .L _____ •• ______ J • ___ J __________ . ______ _
l£J Length of body: 17 in.
Tail length: 15 in.
Weight: 3 lb .
Sexual maturity: 2 years.
Mating: Takes place at any time of
the year.
Gestation: 60 days.
No. of young: 2-4.
Habit: Solitary diurnal (daytime)
Diet: Mostly small mammals like
birds and lizards; also snakes and
their eggs and some insects.
Lifespan: Up to 10 years.
The family of viverridae includes
genets, civets, and linsangs. The
dwarf mongoose of Ethiopia is only
1 7 in. long from head to tip of tail.
The African civet is the largest,
with a body 33 in. long.
Range of the Indian gray mongoose.
Found in India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, the Middle East, and
Nepal. Other species are found in the Far East, Africa, south-
ern Spain, and Portugal.
Of the 31 species of mongoose, the spotted linsang is the
only species in danger of extinction. Four of the Madagascan
species are now threatened by destruction of their habitat.
Fur: The mongoose's dense fur
protects it from the cobra's
venomous fangs (right).
Bite: The mon-
goose kills the
snake by biting
the back of its
head. It then eats
the cobra, starting
at the head (right) .
Stamina: The mongoose overcomes
the cobra with its great endurance
(above) .
0160200161 PACKET 16
The Indian gray mongoose has
speckled gray fur and a long, bushy tail that it
carries behind it in a straight line when walking
on all four paws. When the mongoose confronts an
enemy such as the cobra, it sits on its haunches
and stretches its body to its full height
to look more menacing.
Although the Indian gray
mongoose spends most of its
time on the ground, it can
climb walls and trees as well as
a monkey. The mongoose can
also run backward in a straight
line for short distances. By roI-
ling into a ball and jumping
up on its hind legs, it can leap
high into the air.
The mongoose is active
during the day, when it hunts.
At night it sleeps on the
ground in a termite nest or in
a den that it digs itself. It is
found in open country and in
the lightly wooded areas of its
~ ~ ~ n : ~ s ~ s ~ a ~ ~ ~ ~ o ~ ~ I
unlike most mammals, which
have only partial color vision.
• A mongoose cracks eggs
open by standing with its
back to a wall and throwing
the eggs under its body and
between its back legs so that
the eggs break against the
• Indian gray mongooses are
often kept as pets to keep
houses free from rats and
other pests.
• The mongoose closes its
outer ear when hunting in
soil to keep out dirt and
Above: The mongoose is a fast
and agile hunter. It is always
watchful for prey.
The mongoose is a skillful hunt-
er that actively searches for prey
by using its strong senses of
smell and sight. It eats C!nything
it can catch.
The Indian gray mongoose
commonly eats small mammals
such as rats, as well as eggs and
a variety of insects, including
the scorpion. The mongoose
sniffs the ground and turns
over rocks and stones in its
search for prey. If the animal
tries to flee, the mongoose
chases it. It kills its prey while
they are both running by de-
livering a bite to the neck or
head. Although the mongoose
eats snakes, including the poi-
sonous cobra (see back cover),
the main part of its diet consists
of small animals that live on or
under the ground.
Right: A snake falls prey to a
Although the gray mongoose
is widespread, little is known of
its breeding habits in the wild.
Males and females are solitary
except during the mating sea-
son. After mating, each pair
separates, and the male often
mates with other females.
Two months after mating,
two to four young are born in
a well-hidden nest on the
ground. If predators or intrud-
ers threaten, the mother mon-
goose carries her young in her
mouth to safety.
The newborn mongooses are
lightly covered with hair, but
they are blind for the first few
days. They are suckled for
several weeks. The young
develop quickly and soon
accompany their mother on
hunting trips, where she
teaches them how to hunt
for themselves. Once they
Above: A female teaches
hunting skills to her young.
become skillful hunters, they
leave to establish their own
T orsipedidoe
__ ,;:, G..;;..;, RO,;:;...UP 1: MAMMALS
~ Torsipes rostrotus
The honey possum is a tiny marsupial that feeds at night
on a diet of nectar and pollen. It is ' about the size of a mouse
and has a long, pointed snout and brush-tipped tongue.
Length: Mal es, 21/2- 3
/2 in.; tail ,
/4-4 in. Femal es slightly larger .
Weight: Males, about 1/4 oz.
Females slightly more.
Sexual maturity: 6 months.
Mating: Year-round.
Gestation: About 1 month.
No. of young: Usually 2 or 3,
occasionally 4.
Habit: Nocturnal . Sociable, with
overlapping ranges. Females can
be aggressive toward strangers,
especially males.
Call: High-pitched squeaks.
Diet: Nectar and pollen.
Lifespan: 1-2 years in the wild .
The honey possum is the only
member of the family Torsipedidoe
and has no close relatives.
Range of the honey possum.
The honey possum is found in patches of uncultivated land
and low open woodlands in southwestern Australia.
The honey possum is not currently a t hreatened speci es. But
it s speci ali zed habitat needs may put it at ri sk from land
clearance and the resul ting burning of cleared land.
Tail: Longer than body and
prehensile (able to grasp) , it
supports the honey possum's body
as it climbs branches.
Body: Tiny and
lightweight, so the
honey possum can
climb out onto
PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200321 PACKET 32
The honey possum inhabits fields and
small shrubs, running along the ground and
climbing with speed and dexterity. Grayish brown in
color with three long stripes running down its back, the
animal uses its grasping hands, feet, and long
tail to help it climb and feed.
The honey possum sleeps
during the day, either hidden
by low-growing vegetation or
tucked into a hollow branch.
It comes out to feed at dusk.
Its body is well adapted for
climbing and it can run
quickly on the ground.
Most honey possums live in
a small home range, traveling
across the area during the
year to feed on different spe-
cies of plants as they bloom.
The home ranges overlap,
except those belonging to
breeding females. Females
keep other honey possums
out while having their young.
During cold weather when
food is scarce, the honey
possum enters a temporary
state of hibernation (inactivity)
in which its body temperature
and metabolic rate drop.
The honey possum feeds on
nectar and pollen, using its
pointed snout and long,
brush-tipped tongue to probe
deep inside flowers. It prefers
flowers of the genus Banksia
that produce large heads of
nectar-rich flowers and bloom
throughout the year.
The honey possum's diet re-
quires it to feed on a broad
range of plants that flower at
different times of the year.
Above left: At
dusk the honey
possum comes
out of hiding
to feed.
Above: The
honey possum
hangs by its
tail to reach
a flower.
Right: The young
feed from a teat
in the pouch.
The honey possum uses
its well-adapted hands and
feet when climbing a shrub
or tree. It is aided by its long,
prehensile (capable of grasp-
ing) tail. Because the honey
possum is so small and light-
weight, it can climb out onto
very slender branches in or-
der to feed. Hanging by its
tail, the honey possum's
forelimbs are left free to hold
the flowers steady.
. Breeding takes place through-
out the year. Few litters are
born in December, though,
because few plants are in
flower, so food is scarce. Peak
months for births are January
and February. Slightly lower
peaks occur at three-month
intervals, which is the time
needed to raise a litter. The
births are carefully timed to
match the availability of
flowers and food.
Like the kangaroo, the fe-
male honey possum can keep
her fertilized eggs in a dor-
mant state so that a second
litter can be born as soon as
the first is out of the pouch
and weaned. This method
ensures that the young pos-
sums reach maturity when
there is plenty of food.
The female gives birth to
two or three tiny young and
suckles them in her pouch.
The pouch has four teats, but
• The honey possum's
name is misleading: it is
only distantly related to
the possum and does not
eat honey.
• In its native Australia, the
honey possum is called the
• Honey possums huddle
in groups to keep warm
and conserve their energy
during cold weather.
• In captivity, the honey
possum eats small, soft-
bodied insects as well as
nectar and pollen.
• A female honey possum
weighs about one-third
more than the male.
litters of four young are un-
usual. The young remain in
the pouch for about eight
weeks until they weigh about
one-tenth of an ounce. Their
eyes are open and they have
a full coat of fur.
At this stage, the female
leaves the young in a nest-
often an abandoned bird's
nest-while she feeds. For
about 11 weeks she returns
regularly and suckles them.
After a few days, the young
begin to follow her on feed-
ing trips. They reach maturity
at about six months.
Below: The mother rears her
young in an empty bird's nest
after they leave the pouch.
"" CARD 83
~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ - ~ ~ .. ~
Choeropsis liberiensis
The pygmy hippopotamus lives a solitary life in the rainforests
of West Africa. Because of hunting and increasing loss of habitat,
it is now endangered throughout most of its range.
Height: 2 1/2-3 ft.
Length: Head and body, 5-6 ft.
Tail, 6 in.
Weight: 350-600 lb.
Sexual maturity: 4-5 years in
Breeding season: Not known in
the wild. Captive young have been
born throughout the year.
Gestation: 190-210 days.
No. of young: Usually 1.
Habit: Solitary. May form small
family groups.
Diet: Plant material such as
leaves, shoots, roots, and fruit.
The pygmy hippo's only close
relative is the great African
hippopotamus, Hippopotamus
Range of the pygmy hippopotamus.
Scattered throughout the lowland rainforests of West
Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory
The pygmy hippo is in danger of extinction as a result of
habitat loss. It is protected in some national parks, and
many are kept in zoos.
Length: The Great African hippo grows to
a maximum length of 11 1/2 feet, but the
pygmy hippo reaches only 5
/4 feet.
Height: The average man is 5 feet 10
inches tall. The pygmy hippo can reach
a height of 3 feet at the shoulders and
the great African hippo may grow to 5
Pygmy hippo:
Long, spread-out
toes for walking.
African hippo
Toes are webbed
for swimming.
0160200201 PACKET 20
The pygmy hippo differs from its more familiar
and more common relative, the hippopotamus. The
pygmy is smaller and has thinner legs and a more
rounded head. Still, like the larger hippo, the pygmy
hippo emits pink fluid from its skin that
protects it from the strong sun.
The pygmy hippo is a solitary spends most of the day resting
animal that lives among dense within its territory. It changes
vegetation along streams and resting places once or twice a
swamps and in the rainforests week.
of West Africa. It sometimes
lives in cultivated areas, but
the pygmy hippo is shy: it
avoids people, as well as • The pygmy hippo is a
other hippos. noisy eater. It can be heard
Each hippo has its own ter- feeding from as far away as
ritory. The male's territory is 150 feet.
larger than the female's; both • The pygmy hippo was un-
mark their territorial bounda- known to Western scientists
ries with their droppings. until the mid-nineteenth
The pygmy hippo feeds century.
mainly when it is dark. It
The pygmy hippo is an her-
bivore; it feeds only on plant
material. It uproots swamp
plants and eats them whole.
The hippo also crushes hard
fruit with its strong teeth and
strips leaves from shrubs and
young trees. It sometimes
The territories of the male and
female pygmy hippo often
overlap; thus when a female is
ready to mate, there is usually
• The pygmy hippo loses
water through its skin so
quickly that it must live in a
damp, shady habitat.
• The hippo's family name
comes from the Greek phrase
potamos hippos, meaning
"river horse."
reaches higher branches by
standing on its hind legs and
leani ng on the tree trunk with
its front legs.
The pygmy hippo feeds in
the late afternoon until mid-
night, then returns to its rest-
ing place.
Faci al features: The pygmy
hippo closes its nose and
ears underwat er. Thi s adap-
t ation is common among
aquat ic animals. But the
pygmy hippopot amus ac-
tually spends little ti me in
the wat er.
Ski n secretion: The hi ppo
does not sweat. Instead,
it produces pi nk fluid from
pores in its skin t o keep its
body cool. Thi s is similar t o
sweating. The pink fluid also
protects the hippo's sensitive
skin from t he sun's ultravio-
let rays for the short periods
that the animal is in the sun.
a male nearby.
A single co/fis born seven
months after mating. It suck-
les two to three times a day.
For the first few weeks of its
life, the calf is unable to walk
very far, so the mother hides
it in the bushes and returns
to feed it.
At five months, the calf
weighs 10 times more than it
did at birth. It is not known
how long the calf remains
with its mother, but it is sex-
ually mature at four to five
years old.
The pygmy hippo is hunted
and eaten by the people who
live in the area it inhabits. But
a greater threat to the
species' survival is the de-
struction of its swamp and
rainforest habitats.
Fortunately several national
Top left: The
pygmy hippo
finds relief from
the hot midday
sun in a cool
Right: The
female guards
her youngster
fiercely. She
also keeps it _
from stroying
for from the
cover of trees.
parks have been established in
the Ivory Coast and Guinea
that provide some protection
for the pygmy hippo.
Above: Although it is usually
timid, the pygmy hippo may bare
its teeth to warn off intruders.
'" CARD 84

""IIIIIIII Ovibos moschatus
The musk OX'S outer coat of long, coarse hair and thick layer of fine
underfur, protect it from the severe Arctic cold and enable it to live
farther north than any other hoofed animal.
Length: Up to 8 ft. Female one
third smaller than male.
Height: Up to 5 ft. Smaller in its
northernmost range.
Weight: Up to 900 lb. in the wild,
1,400 lb. in captivity.
Mating: August to September.
Gestation: 8 months.
No. of young: 1.
Habit: Forms herds that provide
warmth and protection.
Diet: Grasses, lichen, sedges,
herbs, dwarf birch, alder, willow.
Call: Snorts when annoyed.
The musk ox's nearest relative is
the takin or golden-fleeced cow,
Budorcas taxicolor, which inhabits
subalpine forests in rugged areas of
western China, Bhutan, and
Ears: Pointed.
Covered by coat
so that only the
tips are exposed.
Horns: Those of
the mature bull
spread out at the
base to form a
very tough plate
up to four inch
thick. Musk ox
uses them
defense against
predatory bears
and wolves.
Eyes: Small .
Protected by the
and w'de to give
a firmg np on
rough, icy, or
snowy ground.
Range of the musk ox.
Across northern Canada and Alaska, Greenland, and the
Numbers were reduced drastically at the beginning of this
century. Sanctuaries were set in Greenland and also in
Canada, where killing has been prohibited. The musk ox is
no longer considered endangered.
Coat: Back hairs
much shorter than
those on chest,
neck, and
which can reach
three feet in length.
Provides extremely
good insulation.
Summer coat:
Dark brown from
June to July
(shown here) .
Winter coat: Much
longer and almost
black. Fades to a
lighter brown in
The musk ox's name comes
from the musklike scent the male gives off
during mating season. The glands that produce
the odor are located beneath each eye,
and the male stimulates them by rubbing
his face on his forelegs.
In the barren Arctic, food is
very scarce, and there is little
protection from the year-
round blizzards. The musk
oxen gather in herds as large
as 100 animals. The oxen
In winter food is so scarce
that the musk ox survives on
lichens and mosses buried
beneath the snow. Like other
members of the cow family,
the musk ox has no upper
incisor (cutting teeth). It uses
its tough upper lip to pull at
vegetation, which it crops
with its sharp lower teeth.
bunch close together for
warmth and shelter. The
thick outer hairs of the musk
ox's coat grow two to three
feet long, sometimes touch-
ing the ground.
During the short summer,
vegetation is abundant, and
the musk ox travels over a
wide area eating every plant
it can find: willow, dwarf
birch, alder, and herbs.
In September, the musk ox
moves into the hills where
the snowfall is lighter and
food is not so deeply buried.
The main natural predator of
the musk ox is the wolf. When
a pack of wolves attacks, the
musk oxen form a tight circle
with their horns pointing
outward toward the predators.
Below: Few natural predators
challenge a full-grown ox, which
weighs as much as half a ton.
• The thick coat of the musk
ox protects it from swarms of
blackflies and mosquitoes.
• The wide hooves of the
musk ox have sharp edges
that cut into rough and
snowy terrain, enabling the
animal to run at a surprising-
ly fast pace.
• According to Eskimo
legend, if a musk ox migrates
south, all the other oxen will
follow. In 1898, Canadian
Eskimos, fearing that their
herds would follow, slaugh-
tered five oxen captured by
the trader Buffalo Jones so
that he could not take them
The young are protected in
the center of the circle or
under their mothers' shaggy
coats. Some of the males,
called bulls, rush at the
wolves. The wolves usually
But this defense was useless
against armed explorers, who
In the summer rutting (mat-
ing) season, bulls fight with
other males, either to keep a
harem of females or for the
chance to mate with a new
female. Rival males charge
headfirst at each other until
one gives up or is gored by
the other's horns.
The female or cow, gives
birth the following April or
May when it is still dark dur-
ing most of the day. Although
the calf is born with a thick,
curly coat, the chance of it
freezing before the birth fluid
dries is great. If it survives, the
calf huddles under its moth-
er's long coat for warmth.
For the first three months of
shot the musk ox for food.
Eskimos and Indians killed
huge numbers of musk oxen
when they first acquired rifles.
Musk ox calves were once
captured for zoos. But it was
first necessary to kill the adults
that protected them.
Today hunting musk oxen
its life the calf feeds only on
its mother's rich and nour-
ishing milk. By the time it is
four months old it begins
eating grass and herbs.
Because of the harsh con-
is prohibited by law, and
sanctuaries have been
established in Canada to
protect the animal.
Below: Musk oxen stand in a
circle to protect their calves if
they are threatened by a
ditions a herd of 20 to 30
oxen usually has only
three or four calves.
Below: A calf huddles between
its shaggy parents for protection
from icy arctic winds.
, , ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
'11IIIIIIII Pinnipedia '11IIIIIIII Phocidae
Hydrurga Jeptonyx
'" CARD 85
The leopard seal is the largest seal found in Antarctica. It preys
mainly on penguins, wearing down its victims until they are too
exhausted to escape the seal's powerful jaws.
Length: Female, 12 ft. Male,
Weight: Female, up to 900 lb.
Male, up to 600 lb.
Sexual maturity: Female, 6 years.
Male, 5 years.
Breeding season: November to
No. of young: Usually 1 pup.
Habit: Solitary.
Diet: Young eat krill. Adults eat
fish, squid, penguins, sea birds,
shrimps, and young of other
seal species.
Lifespan: 26 years.
The crabeater seal, Lobodon
corcinophagus, and the grey seal,
Halichoerus grypus.
Range of the leo ard seal.
Around the fringes of the Antarctic ice pack; Heard, Ker-
guelen, and South Georgia islands. Sometimes seen in south-
ern parts of South America, New Zealand, and Australia.
The leopard seal species is not endangered. But its natural
curiosity sometimes brings it close to man, who too often
responds to its fearsome looks by shooting.
11 ~ , ~ ' \ 0
Coat: The
Head: Bulky, with large, strong
jaw muscles. Almost reptilelike
ill appearance.
Teeth: Sharp and sawlike, they act
like a sieve when catching krill (tiny,
shrimplike sea life) , or like a meat
cleaver when hunting large prey.
0160200191 PACKET 19
feared by penguins, for once the seal ·
has sighted prey, it is a relentless hunter.
But on land the seal is clumsy
and poses no threat to the penguins.
It may even rest alongside them.
The leopard seal lives in
the cold waters of the Antarc-
tic; it is sometimes found
as far north as southern South
America and New Zealand.
It spends most of its time
in the sea, but when it does
haul out (leaves the sea) to
rest, the seal goes onto the
ice pack, rarely on land.
The leopard seal propels
itself by moving its tail from
side to side, and it steers with
its long front flippers. These
flippers enable it to change
direction quickly-an asset
when chasing fast-moving
The leopard seal is called a
ferocious killer because it
sometimes preys on its own
kind and on the young of
other seals. Its somewhat
reptilelike facial features also
add to this undeserved rep-
utation. Other seals form only
Antarctic summers are from
November to January. At this
time the female leopard seal
hauls out (leaves the sea) onto
the ice pack to bear her pup
(newborn seal). At this time
she eats a greater amount of
food than normal to prepare
herself for the fasting after the
birth. Unlike other seals that
give birth in colonies, the
leopard seal bears her young
When the pup is born it
looks like a small duplicate of
its parent; it weighs about 57
pounds and is about five feet
Left: The leopard seal's respiratory
system allows it to stay underwater
for long periods.
a small proportion of its diet.
Almost half of the leopard
seal's diet is krill. It also eats
fish and squid, or w h a t e v e ~ is
within reach, including sea-
birds. But penguins are its
favorite prey. The seal waits
underwater, watching the
Left: An adult
male displays
his jaws, which
he uses to tear
off chunks of
flesh from his
Right: During
the summer
months, when
the ice floes
break up, the
female gives
birth on the ice
to her pup.
long. Feeding from its moth-
er's rich milk, the pup gains
weight rapidly. After about
two weeks it is ready to molt
(shed) its first coat and take to
the sea. Once the pup can
swim it no longer feeds from
its mother, who then leaves
the pup to fend for itself. The
pup feeds on krill (shrimplike
sea life) before learning to
catch fish and larger prey.
When the cow (female)
returns to the sea, she mates
immediately with a bull (male)
seal. But the fertilized egg
does not implant itself in the
female's womb for about
three months, nor does it
develop at this time. This
assures that the pup is born
surface for penguins, then
makes its attack from below.
After catching a penguin, the
seal shakes it violently while
tearing off chunks of flesh.
But penguins are excellent
swimmers themselves and
often escape.
during the following sum-
mer when conditions for
survival are more favorable.
• The leopard seal is one of
the few seal species where
the adult female is larger
than the male.
• The leopard seal popula-
tion is between 250,000
and 800,000. It is difficult
to estimate accurately be-
cause the seals are solitary
and live in remote places.
• Leopard seals have been
described as man-eaters.
This is not true; they have
attacked only when pro-
voked by man.
• Only a few leopard seals
eat other seals. Those that
do are fully grown. Other
seals account for less than
10 percent of the leopard
seal's diet.
• A leopard seal was once
found with 160 pounds
of penguin in its stomach.

"" CARD 86

Halichoerus grypus
The gray seal has a thick layer of insulating blubber that enables it
to survive in water so cold that it can kill a person in just seconds.
Length: Male, up to 11 ft.
Female, 8 ft.
Weight: Male, up to 700 lb.
Female, 450 lb.
Sexual maturity: Male, 6-1 0 years.
Female, 5-6 years.
Mating: September to March,
according to location.
Gestation: 1 year.
No. of young: 1 pup.
Habit: Solitary hunters; sociable
on shore.
Call: Deep wailing song.
• Range of the gray seal.
Diet: Open sea and bottom-
dwelling fish; some invertebrates.
Northeast and northwest Atlantic, as well as the Baltic Sea.
Gray seal species include Halichoe-
rus grypus grypus, northwest Atlan-
tic, H. g. balticus, Baltic Sea, and
H.g. atlanticus, northeast Atlantic.
Total population estimated at 120,000-135,000. Largest
colony of 80,000 found near Great Britain. Protected by law
in parts of Europe.
Gray seals like to rest in the sun on
rocky islands. A quiet cave with front
and back entrances is ideal. During the
breeding season beaches are crowded
with females giving birth and males
establishing breeding territories.

proVi'de good
"L--J---+---------- vision in dark
Nose is used to
detect prey.
........--+- Whiskers can
feel the slightest
PRI'-ITl=n 1'-1 II c: A 0160200141 PACKET 14

Gray seals are a common sight
on remote coastlines in the North Atlantic.
They have large eyes and sleek coats like other types
of seal, but they can be distinguished from the
common seal by their larger,
more distinctive noses.
The gray seal feeds primarily
on fish. Its large eyes have flat
corneas that enable it to see
well in murky water. Still, its
sense of hearing and taste are
more important when hunt-
ing, and even blind seals have
no difficulty catching prey.
The gray seal has no external
ears, but it has a sensitive
internal hearing apparatus to
help in tracking prey. Its muz-
zle and whiskers are sensitive
enough to feel water move-
ments made by escaping prey
as the seal moves closer. Its
large, highly sensitive nose,
called a rhinarium, is used to
detect chemical changes in
the water that indicate the
presence of prey.
Once prey is detected, the
seal gives chase with great
mobility and speed. Because
its blood contains large
amounts of hemoglobin,
which stores oxygen, it can
stay underwater for as long
as 20 minutes. When it
dives, its heart rate slows to
conserve oxygen.
Above right: Gray seals come
together on shore in great
numbers to breed.
• The gray seal' s Latin name
is derived from Greek and
means "little pig from the
• Scientist s estimate the age
of dead seals by counting the
number of rings in the roots
of the canine teeth, similarly
to counting tree rings.
• Gray seals appear to cry
because, unlike humans, they
have no gland to cont rol the
eyes' secretions.
• Gray seals travel hundreds
of miles from thei r breeding

Gray seals mate between
September and December.
Females come ashore to give
birth to pups conceived the
previous year. Since mating
takes place soon after the pups
are born, males haul out at the
same time and fight to estab-
lish breeding territories.
The female gives birth to a
single pup, which she suckles
for 14 to 17 days. Pups are
born with creamy white fur
that is soon replaced with gray
fur. Three weeks after giving
birth, the female comes in,to
estrus (is to mate) and
Seals have been hunted by
;i man for thousands of years.
Their skins were used for
clothing and their blubber
..., was a source of oil for lamps.
...---------------------------, Many coastal people made
10 seal meat a staple of their
Gray seals spend a large part the cold northern At lantic In more recent times, gray
of their lives hunting in the waters off Canada, Green- seal pups were killed for their
ocean. Still, they do haul out land, and northern Europe. white fur to supply to the
(come ashore) to rest and to They can be disti nguished fashion industry. Today, due
breed. Most gray seals haul from common seals by their to the efforts of conservation-
out on rocky islands, but they larger, more defined noses. ists, the fur is no longer so
can occasionally be seen on Some countries have desirable. The slaughter of
sandy beaches. coastal nature reserves from seal pups has almost com-
Gray seals are abundant in which seals can be observed. pletely stopped.
loses interest in her pup.
The older, more experi-
enced bull s dominate small
groups of females with which
they mate at random. Al-
though the females may
conceive, the development of
the fetus is delayed so that
birth will occur at the same
time the following year.
After mating, the females
leave the breeding beach to
search for food. Pups are left
to fend for themselves.
Below: A gray seal mother
suckles her two-week-old pup.
Gray seals are not popular
with everyone, however.
Some fishermen claim that
they eat too many salmon
and cod. But scientists say
that the seals do not seriously
reduce the numbers of these
Felis caraeal
The caracal is a long-legged, slender cat that lives in semiarid
lands. It can be identified immediately by its smooth, sandy coat
and the prominent black tufts on its ears.
Length: 2 - 2 ~ ft.
Height to shoulder: 1-1 ~ ft.
Weight: 35-50 lb.
Sexual maturity: 6-24 months.
Mating season: Highly variable.
Gestation: 10-11 weeks.
No. of young: 1-6. Usually 2 or 3.
Weaning: 10-25 weeks.
Habit: Solitary, territorial, and
active by night.
Diet: Birds, small to medium-size
mammals, reptiles, berries.
Lifespan: Up to 17 years in
The caracal's closest relatives are the
lynxes, including the European lynx,
Felis lynx, and the bobcat, F. rufus.
Senses: Like most cats, the caracal
has keen eyesight. It also has very
sensitive hearing that helps on its
Range of the caracal.
Found over most of Africa, except the Sahara Desert and
the equatorial rainforests. Also found in Arabia, south-
western Asia, Turkestan, and India.
The caracal's population is fairly stable in many regions, but
farmers hunt it in a few areas because it attacks poultry. The
Turkmenian race is rare and protected.
Coat: The color varies according to
locality, but it is usually sandy to
reddish brown above and white
below. The exceptionally dense fur
keeps out the extreme cold at night.
The caracal's ear tufts provide
camouflage on the savanna
because they resemble the tips
of grasses. The cat may lower
its ears as an aggressive signal.
The caracal is an agile predator that can kill
animals as large as a young antelope. Its hunting skills
were once much admired in parts of Asia, where
it was tamed and trained to hunt game.
In the wild it leads a solitary life, although,
like other cats, it is a caring parent.
The caracal lives mainly on dry
terrain from India to Africa. It
prefers stony, scrubby ground
and desert steppes, but it will
venture into dry grassland and
savanna woodland. In dense,
moist grassland a similar-sized
cat called the seNal is more
During the day the caracal
usually rests among rocks or
in holes, where its coat color
blends with the terrain. This
cat is faster than most cats of
its size, jumps well, and can
climb trees quickly. Generally
a solitary, territorial animal,
the caracal stakes out its do-
main by urinating on rocks,
trees, and vegetation.
The caracal's ears are larger
and have longer tufts than
those of other cats. When a
caracal encounters others of
its kind, its ears become sig-
naling devices. As it moves its
head from side to side, the
black and white markings
make the ears very promi-
nent. The caracal holds its
ears upright when alert, but
when stalking prey, it flattens
its ears to make them less
This solitary animal pairs only
when ready to breed, and its
mating season varies. After a
gestation of 10 to 11 weeks,
the female gives birth to two
or three young. For the first
few weeks, the young remain
hidden in the den. They can-
not see well until they are
about 10 days old, so they
do not wander away.
left: The carocal can angle its
ear tufts to communicate with a
mate or rival.
Right: With black ear tufts and
tawny coats, kittens are
miniatures of their parents.
• The name caraeol comes
from the Turkish karakulak,
which means "black ear."
• Though usually silent,
the caracal occasionally cries
out like a leopard. When
disturbed at a kill, it hisses
and growls like other cats.
By the age of four to five
weeks, the kittens are lively
and playful. After two months
the kittens start to eat solid
food, but they stay close to
their mother's side for an-
other 10 months.
• There are reports of cara-
cals catching and killing
roosting birds of prey, in-
cluding tawny eagles and
martial eagles.
• Caracals can kill large
snakes. One adult in an
Indian zoo killed a cobra.
The caracal hunts mostly at
night, often over wide areas,
using its speed and agility to
stalk and snatch prey. Mostly
it catches birds up to the size
of guineafowl. It also hunts
rodents, hyraxes, monkeys,
lizards, and young antelopes,
and it eats vegetable matter
such as berries.
This versatile cat uses sev-
eral hunting techniques. It
kills most small mammals by
left: The caracal's coat blends
with its hunting grounds in dry
scrub or savanna.
Above: Very
young kittens
are guarded in
a concealed
left: This
agile predator
catches small
prey with
waiting behind cover and
surprising them with a sud-
den dash and a bite on the
neck. At water holes it may lie
in wait and kill several mem-
bers of a flock of birds before
they can fly off.
Since it can climb trees and
jump over six feet, the caracal
can seize birds roosting in low
branches. It can even leap up
and strike birds from the air.
After a killing, the caracal
often uses its strong jaws
to drag its victim into a tree,
where it can feed undisturbed
by scavengers.
'" CARD 88
, , ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Macrotis lagotis
The greater bilby, sometimes called the greater rabbit-bandicoot,
is extremely rare. The only other species in this genus,
the lesser bilby, has not been seen since 1931.
Length: Head and body, 1-2 ft.
Tail 8-12 in.
Weight: 2-5 lb.
Sexual maturity: 90 days.
Breeding season: February to April.
Gestation: 12-13 days.
No. of young: 1-3
Habit: Active at night; solitary
outside breeding season.
Diet: Mainly insects, mice,
lizards, and other small prey;
some plant matter.
Lifespan: At least 3 years.
Related to the bandicoots. The
only other species in the genus is
the lesser bilby, Macrotis leucura,
which is thought to be extinct.
Range of the greater bilby.
Scattered small groups in southern Queensland, Western
Australia, and the Northern Territory of Australia.
Macrotis was once abundant in habitats across southern
Australia, but it is now likely that there are few self-
sustaining populations remaining in t he wild.
Ears: Long and pointed, with fine
fur. Acute hearing helps to detect
Eyes: Round, dark, and
prominent, but vision
is poor.
Feet: Toes on front feet have slightly
claws. On hind feet , second and third toes are
partially joined and fourth toe is much larger.
Coat: Fur is long and
silky. Color is mainly
gray on back and sides.
Underparts are white.
Tail : Black
from base to
middle; white
from middle to
The bi/by's evolution from the bandicoot
occurred as an adaptation to the arid and
semiarid regions of Australia. As a result of increased
ranching, development, and introduced species,
the once abundant bi/by has suffered a huge decline
in numbers during the twentieth century.
The habitat of the greater bilby's
range includes semidesert areas of
woodland, savannah, and grass-
land with loose soil. Its home
range is temporary and depends
on the availability of food.
Unlike bandicoots, which sleep
in nests on the ground during the
day, the bilby sleeps in its under-
ground burrow until dusk. In this
way it escapes the desert heat.
The bilby digs its burrow in a
steep spiral to a depth of about
five feet. At the end of the tunnel
is the sleeping chamber. Unlike
rabbits, which also dig burrows,
the bilby is solitary, so its burrow
never becomes a warren (den
with several chambers). Instead,
each burrow is occupied by a
single adult bilby, by a female
with young, or, occasionally, by
a breeding pair.
The bilby grooms its fur regu-
larly, using the long claws on its
hind feet. Even though its hind
legs are longer than its front legs,
the bilby does not hop like a rab-
bit. Instead, it moves on all four
feet at a slow, shuffling pace. This
unusual gait is caused by the
hind legs moving together, alter-
nating with the front legs, which
also move together.
The greater bilby hunts both
above and below the ground's
surface. It feeds mainly on insects
and small animals such as mice,
birds, and lizards. Most of the
bilby's water intake comes from
the seeds and fruit that supple-
ment its diet.
The bilby uses its strong forelegs
and the stout, curved claws on its
front feet to dig into the soil
left: The bi/by uses its keen senses
of hearing and smell to locate prey.
Right: This rare marsupial is found
only in areas where the soi/ is
suitable for burrowing.
• The bilby does not lie
down to sleep. It squats on
its hind legs, tucks its muz-
zle between its front legs,
and folds its ears forward
over its eyes.
• The bilby swallows large
amounts of soil with its
food. As much as nine-
tenths of its waste matter
around trees and bushes. It
pokes its long, tapered nose into
the holes to find insect larvae. Ar-
eas occupied by bilbies are usu-
ally marked by several of these
holes, which have soil scattered
around the edges.
Right: The bi/by is a fast and power-
ful digger. It excavates tunnels that
are almost six feet deep.
has been found t o be soi l.
• The bilby is sometimes
called t he "pinkie" in
Australia- because of its
bare pink nose.
• Aborigines are said t o
detect bilbies by putting
thei r ears to t he ground
and listening for a scratch-
ing sound.
The bilby had been common
throughout its range until the
beginning of the twentieth
century. At that time there was a
sudden drop in the marsupial's
numbers. The decline in popula-
tion has since been linked to the
colonization of Australia by
European settlers: their cattle and
other grazing livestock damaged
Unlike the bandicoot species,
which breed year-round, the
female bilby bears her young
from March to May. The mat-
ing season-February to
April----:-is the only time when
the usually solitary adult bilbies
come together.
After a gestation period of
less than two weeks, one to
three young are born, even
though the female bilby is ca-
pable of suckling eight. As with
other marsupials, the newborn
left: The female bi/by suckles her
young for several weeks after they
are born.
the grasslands of the bilby's
The introduction of other
species that became wild also
affected the bilby, which suf-
fered from competition with
rabbits for burrows and from
predation by foxes. Its num-
bers also decreased as a result
of being hunted for its pelt.
are tiny-less than half an inch
long-and they are so under-
developed that they look like
fetuses. Once born, the young
crawl into the mother's pouch,
which opens down and back-
ward so that it won't be filled
with earth while the mother
digs for insects or vegetation.
In the pouch, the young
bilbies attach themselves to
their mother's teats (nipples)
and suckle for several weeks. At
the end of this time, the young
are fully developed, but they
will leap back into their
mother's pouch if threatened.
~ A R D 8 9 ~
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". ORDER ".
'1IIIIIIII Tubulidentata '1IIIIIIII
Orycteropus afer
The aardvark is widespread in many parts of Africa. It uses its keen
senses of smell and hearing to seek out ants and termites to eat,
often returning to feed at the same nest night after night.
Length: Head and body, 3-4 ft.
Tail,l '/2-2ft.
Weight: 90-145 lb.
Sexual maturity: Not known.
Mating: Late fall and winter.
Gestation: 7 months.
No. of young: Usually 1, occasion-
ally 2, born at the beginning of the
rainy season when food is plentiful.
Habit: Nocturnal and solitary,
traveling 10-20 miles each night
in search offood.
Diet: Ants and termites; also eats
soft-bodied insects and fruit when
main foods are scarce.
Lifespan: 10 years in captivity.
The aardvark has no known
Range of the aardvark.
Open woodland, grassland, and scrub areas of Africa south of
the Sahara.
Limited by its diet, the aardvark is vulnerable to changes in
land usage, especially intensive crop farming. Its mai n food
-the termite-is increasing so the aardvark is not threat-
Claws: Long and spoon-shaped, they have
sharp edges ideal for burrowing into the
ground or termite nests at great speeds,
helped by its short but extremely powerful
limbs. The aardvark has four claws on
each front foot and five on the back.
Snout: Elongated, flexible snout is protected
from dust and dirt by a fringe of rough
bristles. Nostrils close up when the aardvark
burrows, providing protection from attacks
by ants and termites.
Tongue: Long (1 '/2 ft.) , thi n, and
stickY. Lets the aardVaf.K feed on
ants or termftes tflrough a hole in
. tlTeir nes[
The aardvark has a muscular body like a pig's,
but its short, powerful limbs are equipped
with sharp claws. Its elongated head has large ears
that fold down during burrowing. Yellowish gray
in color, its almost hairless skin is often
darkly stained from digging for food.
Not much is known about the
aardvark. Active by night,
aardvark journeys of close to
20 miles in one night have
been tracked by radio.
Solitary by nature, except for
females rearing young, the
aardvark lives in a 10- to 1 3-
foot burrow with a large
sleeping chamber at the end.
It makes separate shallow
holes for droppings, which it
covers with earth. It burrows
quickly and easily with its well-
adapted front legs and claws.
The aardvark uses several
burrows for temporary shel-
ters when foraging during
bad weather or escaping
predators. It uses larger,
more permanent sites for
breeding. These large bur-
rows are built with many en-
trances and may have several
chambers that are constantly
enlarged and altered. They
can extend to more than 40
feet in length.
Above: The aardvark can
excavate a sizeable hole in 10 to
15 minutes, depending on the
type of soil.
The aardvark feeds only at
night, using its good senses of
smell and hearing to find ant
and termite nests. It moves in a
zigzag course with its nose
held close to the ground and
its ears pointing forward.
When it locates a nest, it digs a
Because of its nocturnal
habits, little is known about
aardvark breeding in the
wild. The young are born
either before or during the
rainy season when food is
plentiful. The gestation
period lasts seven months
and the single young weighs
four to five pounds.
After two weeks, the baby
takes short feeding trips with
the mother and remains with
her for six months. At that
point the young aardvark
can dig its own burrow.
small hole with its sharp claws
into the nest wall, inserting its
long, sticky tongue inside to
scoop up swarming insects.
The aardvark slowly enlarges
the hole, alternately feeding
and digging in short bursts,
until its whole body can enter
• The aardvark's powerful
claws can break through
termite nest walls too hard
for a human to penetrate
with a pick ax.
• The aardvark's name comes
from the Afrikaans word for
"earth pig."
• If disturbed, the aardvark
sits up on its hindquarters to
listen for danger, supported
by its tail, like a kangaroo.
• Natives of some tribes in
Zaire wear aardvark-tooth
necklaces for good luck.
• Aardvark is the first animal
name listed in the English
dictionary .
the nest. It does not destroy
the nest; rather, it returns to
the same nest to feed during
the next several nights.
Ants are more plentiful dur-
ing the wet season and termites
thrive in the dry season. When
these foods are scarce, the
aardvark eats soft-bodied
insects and fruit.
Inset: Active by night the
aardvark rests in its complex of
deep burrows during the day.
Above: Acute hearing and sense
of smell make up for bad vision.
left: The young tend to stay
with their mother until the start
of the next mating season.
Humans, hunting dogs, py-
thons, and big cats such as
lions and leopards hunt the
aardvark. Warthogs prey on
young aardvarks. The aard-
vark flees and rapidly digs it-
self into the ground to es-
cape predators. When cor-
nered, it will fight, lashing
out with its tail and four feet.
", CARD 90
, , ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gazella thomsoni
Thomson IS gazelle is one of the most graceful and agile
of all antelopes. It lives in large herds near sources
of water on the grasslands of North Africa.
Height: At shoulder, 1-2 ft .
Head and body length: 2-3 ft.
Horn length: Male, 11/2 ft. Female
Weight: Male, 20-40 Ibs.
Sexual maturity: 1 year.
Breeding season: Varies with
climate; often all year.
Gestation: 5 months.
No. of young: Usually 1.
Habit: Sociable, wary;
seasonally migrant.
Diet: Mainly grass.
lifespan: 10-15 years.
Close relatives include the jebeer,
Gazella dorcas, Speke's gazelle, G.
spekei, and the red-fronted gazelle,
G. rufifrons.
Range of the Thomson's gazelle.
Found in large numbers throughout the drier regions of
Kenya and Tanzania, from Laikipia plateau to Masailand.
Isolated numbers in the southern Sudan.
Some protection is available within wildlife parks and reserves.
The species faces increasing habitat loss and competition
from domestic livestock.
Coat: The coat is short and
smooth. The back is light brown.
Across the flanks are bands of
light brown and distinctive
brown and black streaks. The
underside and belly are white.
Horns: The male's horns are thick,
ringed, and lyre shaped. The
female's are thinner, ringless, and
The Thomson's gazelle faces a formidable
army of predators, ranging from the big
cats to man. To survive, it depends on both its sharp
senses and its ability to sprint away at a speed
that only the cheetah can match.
The Thomson's gazelle lives
on the savannah grasslands
of Tanzania and Kenya and in
the drier bush country of the
African Sudan. This sociable
gazelle roams in herds as
large as 200 animals. Each
herd has clear social divisions:
adult males tend to remain
apart from the bachelor, or
immature males, while
Most gazelles eat a wide va-
riety of vegetation, but the
Thomson's feeds mainly on
grass. During the rainy season
on the savannah, as much as
90 percent of its diet is grass.
During the dry season, when
the grass dies, the gazelle
leaves the parched plains and
moves into the brush. It
adapts its diet to include the
females with young herd
more closely together.
Living in such open
country, the Thomson's
gazelle is alert for any sign
or scent of its numerous
enemies-the most feared is
the cheetah. Although easily
frightened, the Thomson's
gazelle may graze peacefully
within view of a napping
tender shoots and new leaves
of shrubs and small trees.
The gazelle grazes by grip-
ping and biting the vegeta-
tion with its sharp incisor
teeth. Each mouthful is chewed
thoroughly before being
swallowed. The gazelle has
an extremely efficient diges-
tive system common to all
ruminants (cud chewers): it
• The Thomson's gazelle can
spri nt at speeds of up to 50
mil es an hour. It can al so
maintai n speed at over 35
miles an hour for about 15
• Pronking is when a gazelle
leaps vert ically into t he air
while running. Thi s maneu
ver probably confuses and
f ri ghtens an attacker and
gives the gazelle a clearer
view of its surroundings.
• The Thomson' s gazelle was
named for Joseph Thomson,
a ni neteent h-century Scottish
• Gazelles do not shed t hei r
horns each year; they are
permanent bones.
Above: Herds gather on the
plains to migrate in search of new
feeding grounds.
pride of lions.
The Thomson's gazelle has
conspicuous black stripes along
its flanks. They help break up
the animal's outline and make
it harder for a predator to spot
it from a distance.
swallows the food and digests
it in its rumen (first stomach)
before regurgitating and chew-
ing it again. After the gazelle
swallows a second time, the
food passes through three
more stomachs so that all the
nutrients are extracted.
Right: The Thomson's gazelle
needs only a small quantity of
water to survive.
The Thomson's gazelle breeds
year-round. But in part of its
range, the births coincide with
the greatest availability of
food. During breeding season,
adult males establish territories
that they mark with urine,
dung, and a strong scent
produced by glands near their
eyes. These territories are often
small, with as few as 1,000 feet
separating males competing
for the attention of the females.
Despite its dainty appear-
ance, the Thomson's gazelle is
aggressive. If one male tres-
passes on another's territory,
they fight fiercely. The pair will
lower their heads, lock horns,
and test one another's
strength. Eventually, one of
them leaves the territory. Im-
mature males prepare for these
trials in mock battles against
one another, but fights
between adults can become
Once a male marks his
territory, he mates with any
mature females that stray
into it. He may even herd a
group of females into his
territory, but the male will
not follow them into a rival
Above: Fights
between male
gazelles occur
when one
intrudes on
Left: There
of gazelle in
one family.
gazelle's established area.
After a five-month gesta-
tion period, the female
Thomson's gazelle moves a
short distance away from
the herd and gives birth to
a single calf. The dark
brown calf hides in the
grass, camouflaged from
predators, during its first
week of life.
The gazelle has long been
preyed on by man for food.
More recently, it has been
pursued by trophy hunters.
As a result, the gazelle'S num-
bers have been reduced, al-
though it still remains quite
The greatest threat to the
Thomson's gazelle comes not
from the hunter, but from
the farmer. Domestic sheep,
goats, and cattle require
much the same diet as the
Thomson's gazelle. Thus, the
livestock is in competition
with the gazelle for food and
water. Farmers who increase
grazing lands and water
sources for their livestock
may reduce the number of
Also, the gazelle'S seasonal
migrations are becoming re-
stricted by stock fences that
are erected across the once
open grasslands.

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