Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Africn Helmated Turtle

The African Helmeted Turtle is a relatively small turtle with a shell length of 15-18 cm (6 to 7) as an adult. The shell is very thin oval shaped, and brown to olive in color. The head is brown to olive colored and may be mottled with darker or lighter tones. The tops of the tail and limbs are a grayish brown, while the underside is yellowish. They are found throughout Africa, as far west as Ghana, and south all the way to the Cape of Africa. It has also been recorded in parts of Madagascar, and is undistinguishable from those in east Africa. They are semi-aquatic animals, living in marshes, creeks and rain holes. During the dry season, they will bury themselves in the bottoms of mud pools and estivate until the next rainy season, where they travel from mud hole to mud hole, distributing themselves widely. When eating and courting, the relatively small African Helmeted Turtle becomes quite aggressive. During feeding, it will seize its prey in its mouth and tear it to shreds with its forefoot claws. Where populations are dense, and competition for food becomes heightened, several turtles may attack larger prey together, and drag it underwater before tearing it apart. The African Helmeted Turtle often basks midday in temperate climates where the sun is not too hot. It has a carnivorous diet, feeding on a variety of insects, small crustaceans, fish, earthworms and snails. In large groups they will drown and eat small aquatic birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Credits go to: Honolulu Zoo

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

African Knife Fish

The African Knifefish also known as the African Knife, Brown African Knife, and Black Knifefish, Clown Knife is pretty and graceful. It has the ability to swim backwards and forwards. They are nocturnal animals, and prefer ato come out at night. And lives where their is dense plant life. An ideal home for the Knifefish is a dark PVC tube. They like floating plants, and dark rocky substrates.The African Knifefish can grow to be quite large. When mature, they average 12 inches in length, which is much bigger than other knife species. They are still large fish and stays in large areas with only other large fish around. The Knifefish has one continuous fin in place of the caudal and anal fin, which looks like a knife. This fin is undulated enabling it to swim forward and backward. When not open the Knifefish's mouth looks small. It can open quite wide however to eat small fish. The African Knifefish has the unusual ability to produce sounds during mating and danger situations. The sounds are produced by pushing air through their swimbladders. African Knifefish, or Xenomystus nigri, are found in Africa and Southeast Asia. Their native habit generally consists of still waters. Credits Wikipedia and Google

Thursday, January 28, 2010

African Ground Hornbill

The ground hornbills are the only ground dwellers among hornbills. The large bill characteristic of the Bucerotidae family may be why hornbills are the only birds with the first two neck vertebrae fused together. Hornbills are notable for their long eyelashes and rather stubby legs and toes, with broad soles and the bases of the three front toes partly fused. The African Ground hornbill's throat skin is inflatable, and sometimes inflates when it makes its guttural call.
The hornbill lives in the treetops of Africa.The African ground hornbill inhabits the African savanna south of the equator. Ground hornbills prefer steppes and savannas with a fairly low grass growth, which makes the search for food easier. They have very large territories of about 100 sq. kilometers. In South Africa there has been a large decline in their numbers for a number of reasons. They are popular to use as "muti" or tribal medicine among some of the indigenous people of South Africa. The brain of a ground hornbill, if kept in a village, is reputed to bring the village luck. Irate homeowners kill them because they will attack windows, breaking them, if they encounter their reflections. They are also vulnerable to picking up poison baits that are set out for predators. The African ground hornbill's food consists largely of small vertebrates and larger insects, although they sometimes use their pick-like bills to subdue prey as large as hares, tortoises, snakes and squirrels. Territorial, defending areas as large as 36 mi2 (100 km2) in S. Africa. Hunts on the ground in cooperative groups.

Lilac Brested Roller

The average size of the Lilac Breasted Roller is 14.5 inches. The green head is large, the neck is short, the greenish yellow legs are rather short and the feet are small. The beak is strong, arched and hooked-tipped. The tail is narrow and of medium length. The back and scapulars are brown. The shoulder of the wing, outer webs of the flight feathers and the rump are all violet. The bases of the primaries and their coverts are pale greenish blue and the outer tail feathers are elongated and blackish. The chin is whitish shading to rich lilac of the breast. The underparts are greenish blue. The bill is black and the eyes are brown. It has large wings and strong flight. The Lilac Breasted Roller feeds on grasshoppers, beetles, occasionally lizards, crabs, and small amphibians. They take prey from the ground. Rollers get their name from their impressive courtship flight, a fast, shallow dive from considerable elevation with a rolling or fast rocking motion, accompanied by loud raucous calls. All rollers appear to be monogamous and highly territorial. The Lilac Breasted Roller will perch on a dead tree, surveying the area for prey. One typical aspect of its behavior is that it also preys on animals fleeing from bush fires. They actually breed 'on the wing'. They live in pairs or small groups, but are often seen alone. Their call is a loud harsh squawk, 'zaaak'. They are partly migratory, but in some areas they are sedentary. To feed they swoop down from an elevated perch next to their prey and eat it on the ground or return to a perch where they batter it before swallowing it whole. They are territorial, also defending temporarily small feeding territories; hence individuals are regularly spaced along roads. They drive off many species from near their nest hole, even after breeding. They live in grasslands, open woods and regions where palm trees grow singly. The species ranges more or less continuously throughout eastern and southern Africa from the Red Sea coasts of Ethiopia and northwest Somalia to the Angola coast and northern South Africa. Lilac Breasted Rollers inhabit acacia country with well spaced trees, rolling bushy game lands, riverside areas and cultivated land, but they do not associate with human habitation. Credits: Birds

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yellow Billed Hornbill

The Yellow-billed Hornbill is a common resident in South Africa. They are commonly seen in scrub and dry woodland areas. It is a medium sized bird, with length between 48 to 60 cm, characterized by a long yellow beak with a casque (only in males). The skin around the eyes and in the malar stripe is vivid red-coloured. White belly, grey neck, and black back with abundant white spots and stripes. It lives in Southern to northeastern Africa. The Yellow-billed Hornbill feed mainly on the ground surface, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. Termites and ants are a preferred food source in the dry season. It makes its houses in dry thorn fields and broad leafed woodlands. Females breed between September to March, and will lay between 2 to 5 eggs. The female will seal herself up in a hole in a tree prior to laying the eggs, and will shed all her feathers once fully sealed up. She relies solely on the male partner to bring her food while she incubates the eggs, which is about 24 days, and will only leave the nest once the hatching's are half-grown. The young fledglings leave the parental nest after about 45 days. Credits:Hornbill

Secretary Bird

The Secretary bird is so named because of the crest of long feathers at the back of its head that resemble quill pens that 19th century clerks stuck in their wigs. The genus Sagittarius refers to the birds resemblance to an archer, and the species serpentarius refers to the fact that the bird preys on snakes. The Secretary bird is an unusual bird. Unlike the other birds of prey, the Secretary Bird has very long legs and tail feathers. Its plumage is light gray, except for the black wing tips, tail, and thighs. Its face is covered in red and yellow skin. The diet of a Secretary bird consists mostly of insects, lizards, snakes, tortoises and rats. Small prey are picked up in the bill and swallowed. Larger prey are first stamped to death and then eaten. The Secretary bird also stamps its feet on the ground to flush out prey. Although they hunt on the ground, the Secretary bird can fly very well, but rarely does so. Although they are usually seen on the ground, they nest in trees (usually acacia).Their nest can reach 8 feet across, even though it only holds 2-3 eggs at time. Secretary birds are found throughout Africa south of the Sahara. Around trees and open plains. The basic social structure in Secretary birds is a life-long pair. However they are not particularly gregarious. In fact, members of a pair are usually not together but instead stay a small distance apart. Credits: Secretary Bird Credits: Amazing Birds