A-Z of animals : Aardvark to Cuscus
Although the Aardvark, "earth pig", endemic to Africa, shares some similarities with the South American anteater, the two are not related. Hearing and sense of smell is acute but eyesight is poor. Tongue is sticky and can reach 45cm (18in) from the mouth. Eats primarily termites and ants.
The African Golden Cat is a medium sized cat and can grow to 90cm (35in) in body length and weigh up to 18kg (40lb). Apart from duika and other small antelope it is thought that the main part of the golden cats diet is made up of rodents, tree hyraxes and birds.
The Andean Mountain Cat is to be found in the high regions of Bolivia, Peru and Chile. The mountain cat is slightly larger than a big domestic cat, growing up to 60cm (24in) in length with a tail of some 70% of its body length.
Ants can carry 10 times their body weight. Worker ants live one to five years; some queens live longer than 20 years. The biggest ant colony found was on the Ishikari Coast of Hokkaido: 306 million ants, with 1,080,000 queens in 45,000 interconnected nests over an area of 2,7 square kilometres (a square mile).
The Bee is a remarkable animal - they do not have ears, but they have an excellent sense of smell with chemoreceptors in their antennae. Bees see colours differently than we do. They are insensitive to red but detects ultraviolet light which is invisible to us.
Found in Tasmania, Bettongs weigh up to 2kg (4.4lb) and have a life expectancy of 3-5 years. Their diet includes seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. Bettongs breed throughout the year, with the young spending the first 3 months in the pouch.
Once common Australia, the Bilby is now classified as vulnerable. The only other species, the lesser bilby, is extinct. Males are twice as large as females, growing to 55cm (21in) and weighing up to 2.5kg (5.5lb). Their large ears help keep them cool.
The Bobcat, although it does not bear the family name is a distinct species in the Lynx genus. Adult bobcats weigh about 12kg. Kittens have a weight gain of 25g per day and are weaned at about 12 weeks, becoming independent of its mother at about 10-12 months of age.
The African, or Cape Buffalo is a member of the "Big Five", with the elephant, rhino, lion and leopard. Weighing 700kg (1,500lb), they are unpredictable, and dangerous if cornered. They have been known to ambush men and are often accused of deliberate savagery, but are placid if left alone.
Most abundant in Southern Africa, the Caracal is often referred to as the African Lynx or Desert Lynx, but is not related to the lynx. It grows up to 1m (3ft) in length and the male weighs up to 18 kg. It can survive for long periods without water, obtaining its requirement from the metabolic moisture of its prey such as small buck, sand rats and rock hyrax.
The large, wild, elk-like Caribou, weighing up to 300kg (660lb), is found above the tree-line in arctic North America and Greenland. Caribou, related to the reindeer, have unique hairs which trap air providing them with excellent insulation. These hairs also help keep them buoyant in the water.
The Cheetah is the fastest land animal at 95 km/h (60mph). Unlike other "big cats" it does not roar - however it does purr and make high pitched yelps, barks and chirruping sounds. They are found in Africa and in some parts of Asia.
Crocodile, the most vocal
of all reptiles, there are 23 crocodilian species. Nile crocodiles grow
to 6m in length. Captive crodociles appear to have broader heads - a
possible indication of their more sedentary lifestyle.
Because of it size (70cm/26in) the Cuscus is often mistaken for a monkey. Rarely in a hurry, it has few enemies living in the tree tops of southeastern Australia. If threatened, it will strike with its front paws, barking loudly, usually scaring the intruder away. The cuscus has lifespan of up to 11 years.