The Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is the first carnivore to be discovered in 35 years! This little guy looks like a cuddly teddy bear and is thought to max out at a weight of 2lbs. They were discovered to live in Columbia and Ecuador in the cloud forests. Olinguito are related to raccoons and are actually now the smallest known member of that family. While they have only recently been named and identified, museum specimens show that they were found and lumped in with a similar species for years until Kristofer Helgen noticed there was something different. After conducting a 10 year study from 2003 to 2013, he found they were a completely different species, and also have four subspecies within their range. It is very rare anymore to discover new mammals, and even rarer to discover new carnivorous mammals.
This was meant to be posted last week and for some reason never went through so I guess it will have to work for this week. Sorry about that!
The Tarsier, a small primate, are so stinkin’ adorable with their fluffy faces, huge round eyes, and large ears. It’s a shame that they are endangered.
Tarsiers are found on the densely forested islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, and southern Philippines. The social aspects of their behavior are not very well known, although studies have found that some Tarsier species aren’t solitary like once believed. The Tarsiers are named for their long tarsal bone which enables them to leap far distances. They spend most of their time in the trees, resting and checking out their environment for food. The life span of Tarsiers can range anywhere fro 12 – 20 years depending on the species. As small carnivores, they eat little reptiles, insects, and birds.
Like most other species, habitat loss is a main threat for these guys. Unfortunately, captive breeding programs are relatively unsuccessful.
In honor of Discovery’s Shark Week, this Weird Wildlife Wednesday will cover the elusive and rarely seen Megamouth Shark (Megachasma pelagios). This shark has earned its name by its size, reaching lengths of 5 meters! Not a lot is known about them because they were only recently discovered in 1976. Megamouths are thought to prefer warm to temperate waters and have been spotted in several areas of the Pacific Ocean. Though they are large and might seem menacing, they are gentle giants, filter feeding small shrimp and plankton. Unfortunately, their conservation status is listed as data deficient because they were only recently discovered and are rarely seen.
As some of you may recall, back in June one of the subjects of my recurring Weird Wildlife Wednesday post was an extremely endangered cetacean known as the Vaquita. I recently came across this article at TakePart.com about a single simple way that biologists are saying they could be saved. Check it out at this link!
The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a member or the Crocodilians, is definitely weird compared to some of its more commonly known relatives. If the elongated snout weren’t funny looking enough, the males possess a rounded growth on the tip of their snout.
They are found in rivers of areas mostly in and around India. When they are fully grown, they eat primarily fish, but the young also feed on other invertebrates. They are long lived animals and can grow as long or longer than 13 feet. Fun fact about their reproduction: their eggs are the largest of any crocodilian species.
Unfortunately, these guys are listed as critically endangered and nearly went completely extinct back in the 1970’s. Now they are making some slow recovery. As with a lot of reptiles in that region of the world, they are hunted for suposed medicinal purposes. They are also a vistim of habitat loss. Captive breeding and release is a challenge when decent release sights are in short supply.
Sorry I’ve been bad about updating for a little while! I just started a new full time job as a veterinary assistant and it’s been draining my time!
Since I missed last weeks Weird Wildlife Wednesday, this week I am giving you two. The first is the Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus cephalophus). These guys aren’t necessarily listed as endangered yet but they could be in the future if habitat destruction and encroaching human populations continue. The main reason I selected the Tufted Deer for Weird Wildlife Wednesday is because of the little tusks the males develop. They remind me of prehistoric sabertooth animals and I think qualify them as weird. In captivity, they can live to be 15 years old or older even, but it is unknown how long they may live in the wild. They are relatively small compared to other deer species and males are larger than females. Tufted Deer are found in Asia, mostly in China and live in jungles and mountainy forests.
Keeping with the theme of odd tusks, the second animal for this Weird Wildlife Wednesday is the Babirusa (Babyrousa celebensis). They have not only a pair of bottom tusks but also a pair of top tusks. Native to a small Indonesian island, these hogs live in swamps and forests nears rivers and lakes. They also have bizarre tusks and one of the ugliest faces you’ll ever see. They are listed as a threatened species from habitat distraction and overhunting.
The Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) is the smallest known species of armadillo, tipping the scales at less than one pound. They are only inches in length and don’t look like what initially comes to mind when you think of an armadillo. These guys are mostly furry with a scaly covering over its back and top of its head, and with big scaly feet. The Pink Fairy Armadillo uses it’s proportionally massive feet to dig, and will burry itself as a defense mechanism. They are found in Argentina in grassy dry habitats that are perfect for their digging. They are omnivorous and will eat all kinds of little foods like snails, worms, plant matter, and ants, though ants are their top food preference. They will find places near ant hills to dig their burrows just to be close to their favorite food.
Because they only give birth to one baby at a time and because of habitat loss and destruction, these little guys have been listed as threatened since the 1970’s.