Friday, April 23, 2010

Honduran White Bat [Ectophylla alba]

The Honduran White Bat, also known as Honduran Ghost Bat, is one of only 2 types of white bats.

Found in lowland rain forests of  Honduras, Western Panama, Eastern Costa Rica and Northern Nicaragua, this tiny thing is only 1-2 inches and weighs less than 1 ounce.

They eat fruit, such as figs, and other vegetation.

Little research has yet been published about this bat, but an interesting fact about them is that they make tent-like shelters from the leaves of the heliconia plant (which  has the exotic flower shown to the right).

The bats chew along the top of the leaf to break the fibers, causing the leaf to collapse in a tent shape, where the bats huddle together in groups (or colonies) of 1 to 12, protected from rain and sun. Males and females roost together until babies are born, at which time the male leaves the nest (tent).

Honduran white bats are listed as "near threatened species" because they are declining in number quickly, as their habitat is being destroyed by humans, while our populations increase.

See some great footage of them in action on this video Honduran White Bats

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Wombat

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This cute chunky marsupial is a common wombat, native to Australia. The average adult weighs 55lbs. Wombat moms only have one baby after a 30 day gestation period. The baby wombat stays in the mother's pouch for 6 months and leaves mom at 18 months.

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As you may be able to guess by the nose, wombats are closely related to koala bears, the main difference being that wombats live on the ground. They are nocturnal mammals that live in tunnels which they are great at digging. A nest of tree bark serves as a bed at the end of the tunnel.

Wombats have beaver-like teeth and sharp claws. Their digging skills have made them a pest to farmers as the wombat damages crops and breaks fences. They feed mainly on grasses, sedges, herbs, bark and roots. Their digestion is very slow (14 days) and thus they generally move slowly. But if necessary, they can run rather fast.

There are 3 main types of wombat.

The Common Wombat

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The Souther Hairy-nosed Wombat

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The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat

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Wombats prefer to be solitary but can be tamed in captivity. It isn't recommended that you try to hug one in the wilds. These choppers can do some damage. They are strong animals. One way they defend themselves if attacked in their tunnel is to squish the attacker against the top of the tunnel, until it stops breathing.

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The wombats primary defense is it's butt. Yes, I said butt, which is mostly made of cartilage. If an enemy follows the wombat into it's tunnel, the wombat bares it's butt which is impervious to bites.

Their average life-span in the wild is 5 years. They can live up to 30 years. Their natural enemies are tazmanian devils and eagles.

What a face!

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stick Insects (Walking Sticks) PHASMATODEA

There are 2,800 species of stick insects in the world and all are nocturnal and plant eating. This insect is in the same order (Order Orthoptera) as grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, praying mantids, and cockroaches.

Most stick insects originate in the tropics, though there are three New Zealand species currently living in England and about 20 European species. Many species are capable of reproducing with out fertilization of eggs incase no males are present. In this method of reproduction all offspring are females. The males often have wings - females do not.

They can be up to 12 inches in length. Their plant mimicry allows them to appear just like a stick - they elongate their bodies and some are also able to change their shading lighter or darker. If attacked they also have the the ability to regenerate a limb.

Stick insects can live up to 18 months. They are a popular pet as they are easy to care for, don't have a bad odor and will eat lettuce.

They move slowly and are easy to catch if they happen to get loose. They keep relatively still during the day to prevent being eaten.

Here is some interesting information, which I lifted from this EarthLife site

"Stick-Insect eggs come in 2 main forms depending on whether they are dropped on the ground or placed in some less accessible spot. Those that are just dropped to the ground have a relatively large 'capitulum' this generally contains lipids and other substances attractive to ants, the ants take the eggs back to their nests, cut off the capitulum and feed it to their brood, the rest of the egg is then thrown into a garbage dump. The Stick-Insect eggs gain protection from birds and many other predators by being in the ant nest, and hatch quite happily inside the nest or buried in the garbage. In some species of Stick-Insect the newly hatched nymphs are 'ant mimics' i.e. Extatosoma tiaratum. This whole process is a remarkable example of plant mimicry on behalf of the Stick-Insects as many plants in similar habitats attach food bodies called 'eliasomes' to their seeds in order that ants should take them back to their nests. It is known that seeds that germinate inside ants nests tend to grow stronger and produce more seeds themselves than seeds of the same plant that germinate away from ants nests. Apart from protection from predators and parasites both eggs and seeds in ants nests are offered some degree of dispersal as well as some protection from fire. Other species of Stick-Insect lay their eggs in the soil (Aretaon Asperrimus), into hollow parts of plants (Graeffea crouanii), or glue them to parts of the plant such as leaves or the bark (Timema californica) and these tend to lack the capitulam or have it greatly reduced.

The eggs take anywhere from 3 months to over 18 months to hatch into miniature versions of the adult..."

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rosy and Red Lipped Bat Fish

The red-lipped batfish (Ogcocepphalus darwini)and the rosy-lipped batfish
(Ogcocephalus porrectus) are very similar to each other and reside near Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.

They are found in the deep sea, in ocean depths of over 100 feet and prefer to walk with their fins on the ocean floor rather than swim. The fins look like legs and feet. Perhaps this is our great and honored ancestor - the link between fin and foot.

The bright lips may be to aid in species recognition during spawning. Same for humans - helping them to not mate with gorillas wearing lipstick.

Rosy and Red are carnivores carnivores, eating a diet mainly of small fish and crustaceans (e.g., shrimps, mollusks, and crabs)

Like the anglerfish, these fish have an illicium, which is a small extension from its head region. In the red-lipped batfish the illicium is protected by an elongated snout. Attached to the illicium is the esca that the fish uses to lure in unsuspecting prey, which you can see quite clearly in the following video - being used by a similar fish.

The nose type thing on the face is indeed a snout. "It's firm," says ichthyologist and batfish expert John McCosker, "sort of like chicken gristle," and it protects a thin, retractable appendage that the batfish deploys to lure small edible fishes.

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