A-Z of animals : Aardvark to Cuscus
Although the Aardvark, “earth pig”, shares some similarities with the South American anteater, the two are not related. The aardvark is endemic to Africa. Hearing and sense of smell is acute but eyesight is poor. Tongue is sticky and can reach 45 cm (18 in) from the mouth. Eats primarily termites and ants – up to 50,000 per night.
African buffalo, or Cape buffalo, is a member of the “Big Five“, together with the elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. Weighing 700 kg (1,500 lb), 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.
The African Golden Cat is a medium sized cat and can grow to 90 cm (35 in) in body length and weigh up to 18 kg (40 lb). 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.
African Wild Dog: the only member of the genus Lycaonone and one of the world’s most endangered species. Weighs up to 31 kg (70 lb) and can reach 70 km/h (44 mph). Live in packs consisting anything from 2 to 30 adults plus pups.
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 60 cm (24 in) in length with a tail of some 70% of its body length.
Anole: a genus of iguanian lizards consisting of about 390 species.
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).
Armadillo: 20 species of placental mammal with a leathery armor shell. The word armadillo means “little armoured one” in Spanish.
Yepes’s mulita or Yunga’s Lesser Long-Nosed Armadillo, found only in Argentina and Bolivia.
Badger: 11 species grouped in 3 subfamilies; Melinae (Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae (Honey Badger) and Taxideinae (American badger).
American Badger, weighs up to 9 kg (19.8 lb).
European Badger or, simply, Badger. Powerfully built, weighs up to 17 kg (37 lb).
Hog Badger, with pig-like snout.
Honey Badger or Ratel, a stocky, robust and rather ferocious animal, known to take on lions.
Japanese Badger, endemic to Japan.
Bats: the world’s only true flying mammals, the 1240 species of bats are numerous, representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide. They range in size from very tiny – the Bumblebee Bat weighs only 2 g (0.07 oz) – to fairly large; the largest bats, or megabats, are Fruit Bats, also known as Flying Foxes – they weigh almost 2 kg (4.4 lb) and have a wingspan of almost 1.8m (6 ft).
Allen’s Big-eared Bat
Big Brown Bat
Big Free-tailed Bat
Brazilian Free-tailed Bat
California Leaf-nosed Bat
Giant golden-crowned flying fox
Hairy-legged Vampire Bat
Hog-nosed Bat or Bumblebee Bat, an endangered species, the smallest mammal in the world, weighs less than 2 grams (0.07 ounce).
Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat
Little Brown Bat
Mexican Long-nosed Bat
Mexican Long-tongued Bat
Northern Yellow Bat
Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat
Southern Long-nosed Bat
Townsend’s Big-eared Bat
Western Mastiff Bat
Bear: eight species and subsubspecies of large short-tailed caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, of the family Ursidae. Interestingly, the closest relatives of the bear are pinnipeds (seals).
The Polar Bear, the world’s largest land predator, prospers in the harshest environments. Males can be 3m tall and weigh 650 kg (1,400 lb), while females weight about 250 kg (550 lb). Single bears trek up to 5,000 km (3,100 miles) across icy seas and tundra in search of food.
Asian Black Bear or Moon Bear and White-chested Bear.
Black Bear or American Black Bear.
Gobi Bear or Mazaalai, a brown bear subspecies found only in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Listed as critically endangered.
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and subspecies – some of the largest carnivores on Earth.
Giant Panda, perhaps the cutest being on the planet but also an endangered species.
Grizzly Bear or North American brown bear or Silvertip Bear, a subspecies of the Brown Bear. The most common member of the bear family.
Kodiak also known as the Kodiak Brown Bear or the Alaskan Grizzly Bear. By far the largest subspecies of brown bear and one of the two largest bears, the other being the Polar Bear.
Sun Bear or Honey Bear or Bruang: the smallest bear, often weighing less than 50 kg (110 lb), found in Southeast Asian forests.
Beaver: amphibious rodents of the genus Castor, which includes two extant species, the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges in rivers. They are the second-largest rodent in the world (after the capybara).
North American Beaver or American Beaver.
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 colors differently than we do. They are insensitive to red but detects ultraviolet light which is invisible to us.
Beetles: insects that form the order Coleoptera. There are more than 360,000 species of Coleoptera, making it the largest order of insect species; they represent 40% of all known insect species. Like all insects, beetles have six legs. Most beetles have two pairs of wings.
Found in Tasmania, Bettongs weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 lb) 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 55 cm (21 in) and weighing up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb). Their large ears help keep them cool.
Birds: Birds do not sleep in their nests. They occasionally nap in them, but sleep in other places. There are more than 10,000 bird species. The global bird population is estimated at between 200 and 400 billion birds.
Bison: among the largest hoofed mammals, up to 3.5 m (11.5 ft) long, stands up to 2 metres (6.5 ft) at the shoulder, weighs up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
American Bison, composed of two subspecies; Plains Bison and the slightly larger Wood Bison, the largest land mammal in North America.
European Bison or Wisent. The heaviest land animal in Europe.
The Bobcat, although it does not bear the family name is a distinct species in the Lynx genus. Adult bobcats weigh about 12 kg. Kittens have a weight gain of 25 g per day and are weaned at about 12 weeks, becoming independent of its mother at about 10-12 months of age.
Bongo, one of the largest African forest antelope species, weighs up to 400 kg (880 lb).
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 (3 ft) in length and the male weighs up to 18 kg (40 lb). 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.
Carabao: swamp type domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) found in the Philippines.
The large, wild, elk-like Caribou, weighing up to 300 kg (660 lb), 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.
Cats, the most popular pet mammal in the world. There are more than 200 million pet cats in the world. Cats and humans have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion. It is thought that cats will purr at a frequency that most pleases their human companion, meaning that cats understand humans more than we might have thought. On the other hand, understanding cats is another story.
Cattle, colloquially referred to as cows although the plural of cow is cattle. An adult female is called a cow, an adult male a bull and offspring are calves. A group of cattle is a herd or a kine of cattle or cows. Cattle graze up to 8 hours a day, taking in about 45 kg (100 lb) of feed and the equivalent of a bath tub full of water. There are over 800 breeds of cattle and there are more than a billion cattle in the world.
The Cheetah is the fastest land animal at 95 km/h (60 mph). 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.
Chimpanzee: Chimpanzees are our closest cousins; we share about 98 percent of our genes. Chimps are highly social animals, care for their offspring for years and can live to be over 50. An endangered species.
Small, striped rodents of the squirrel family, family Sciuridae. All species of chipmunks are found in North America, with the exception of the Siberian chipmunk.
Coelacanth: primitive-looking fish believed to have been extinct but rediscovered in the 20th century.
Cooter: large, herbivorous, freshwater turtle found in the eastern United States and northeast Mexico. They weigh up to 10 kg (22 lb).
Cottontail, or Cottontail Rabbit, characterized by white underside and short, white bushy tail.
Manzano Mountain Cottontail
New England Cottontail
Crocodile: large amphibious animals belonging to the reptile order Crocodylia. There are 23 crocodilian species, which includes the genus Crocodylus, genus Alligator, genus Mecistops, genus Osteolaemus, genus Paleosuchus and genus Caiman. The crocodile is the largest and most vocal of all reptiles. Captive crocodiles appear to have broader heads – a possible indication of their more sedentary lifestyle.
New Guinea Crocodile
Saltwater Crocodile, the largest crocodile species.
West African Crocodile
Coyote, also called Brush Wolf, Prairy Wolf, Little Wolf or American Jackal: there are nineteen subspecies of Coyote. Native to North America. Smaller and slightly faster than a wolf and with longer ears. Its Latin name Canis latrans means barking dog.
Cuscus is the common name generally given to the species within the four genera of Australasian possum. Because of it size (70 cm/26 in) 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.