Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Incredibly Interesting Iguana - by Rianne Hobbs

Iguanas are herbivorous reptiles, which means that they only eat plants! [1[You can find them in Central and Southern America, Mexico and the Caribbean [2]. Many of you may even have one as a pet, which if cared for properly, can live for 15-20 years [3]!
An Iguana has an extremely strong tail which is used to punch its enemies. If need be it can detach its tail from its body which allows it to escape from a predator a lot quicker. The broken tail will soon grow back and can grow to its original size! [2]
Artwork by Rianne Hobbs
Iguanas, like all reptiles, are cold blooded. This means that they like to be in warmer temperatures to keep them warm as they can’t make themselves warmer internally like me and you! [3]
Another interesting fact about Iguanas is that they have a third eye on top of their head! However, it does not produce images like our eyes do [4].
Some Iguanas are really good swimmers, in fact they can be underwater for up to 28 minutes without coming up for air! Some can even inflate themselves which causes them to float in water [5].
It’s not surprising that the iguanas who live high up in the trees can sometimes fall down, but they have the ability to live after falling from scary heights of up to 40-50 feet without hurting themselves, which is pretty amazing![4]
These are just a few of the many reasons why Iguanas are incredibly interesting indeed!



Monday, March 7, 2016

The Precious Pallas's Cat - by Rianne Hobbs

When you think of a wild cat you often picture a Tiger or a Lion, however, there are many different species of Cat that live in the world. One of the lesser known ones is the Pallas's Cat.
Pallas's Cats can be found throughout Asia and are best adapted to life high up in the mountains where the temperature is cooler. They will build their dens in crevices between rocks, in caves, or they may even steal another animal’s burrow and claim it as their own! [1]
Photo from Tokyo Times.
The Pallas's Cat is carnivorous, which means it eats meat, especially Pika and Voles. However, both Pika and Voles are viewed as pests and are being poisoned to get rid of them, which means there is less and less food for the Pallas's Cats to eat! 
As adorable and cute as the Pallas's Cat may be, just like other wild cats, it should not be kept as a pet! They aren’t adapted for living at low altitudes (near the ground) and are wild animals so they really need to live in the wild. [2]
Pallas's Cats can often be mistaken for Monkeys! However, this isn’t too surprising when you take into account their compact body shape, white chin, white cheeks and beard, and a flat face (Similar to a Persian cat) which may make it look very monkey-like from certain angles![3]

All of these facts and the photo make it very easy to see that the Pallas Cat is very precious indeed! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why I Love Dolphins (And You Should, Too!) - by Rianne Hobbs

Artwork by Rianne Hobbs
Many people will say that their favorite animal is a Dolphin and this isn’t surprising as they are extremely playful, friendly and intelligent animals. They are often seen jumping out of water, riding the waves and, if you are lucky, a dolphin may even approach you if you are swimming near them. [1]

Even though Dolphins live in the water, they aren’t fish! They are actually mammals like me and you!

Dolphins are found all over the world leading to 43 different species being recognized. Some dolphins prefer warmer waters and some prefer it colder, some prefer to live in the ocean and others prefer to live in rivers, so they’re not all the same![2] Just like in cows a male dolphin is called a “bull” a female a “cow” and babies are called “calves”.

Dolphins are carnivores, which means that they eat meat. They eat a wide range of animals such as fish, squid and crabs.[3] They tend to work as a group (Known as a “pod”!) in order to get their food, they do this by surrounding a school of fish and then ploughing straight through the middle to eat as many fish as they can. [2]

A lot of people will ask why Dolphins don’t drown while sleeping in the sea. The answer to this is that only one half of their brain goes to sleep while they sleep and the other half keeps them breathing! [3]

Dolphins talk to each other by making noises such as clicks and whistles and, just like Bats, they use echolocation to find the location of objects around them.[1] Bottlenose dolphins appear to identify each other by using a different whistle for each dolphin, much like you and your friends having different names![4]


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Beauty of Bats - by Rianne Hobbs

Bats belong to a group of animals known as “Mammals” - which is the group we belong to too, and they are the only mammal that can fly! 

There are more than 1000 species in the world. Different bats eat different things, those that eat fruits (Megabats!) and those that eat insects (Microbats!).[1] 

Artwork by Rianne Hobbs
Many people think bats are scary as they are associated with vampires however they’re not scary at all! In fact without them there would be many more creepy crawlies that destroy crops and cause diseases such as Mosquitoes which spread malaria, which in my opinion is much scarier![2] 

There are types of Bat known as “Vampire Bats” and this is because they live off of the blood of animals. However most of the time the animal doesn’t even know it’s been bitten as the Bat leaves only a small mark and only takes up a small amount of blood. 

Some bats help to pollinate plants and without these bats then certain types of plants wouldn’t exist. These bats are known as “Nectar-Eating Bats”.

Most of you have probably heard the expression “As blind as a Bat”, but I bet you didn’t know that bats aren’t actually blind, they can see almost as well as me and you! Bats are nocturnal which means that they are awake at night time and asleep during the day. So, when they are flying around in the dark and looking for food they use a special technique known as “Echolocation”. 

Echolocation is where bats give out a high pitched call and then wait for the echo which they then use to build maps in their minds of their surroundings.[3] Interestingly some blind humans have mastered this technique to “see” buildings and trees etc. although their calls aren’t quite as high pitched as a bats’!