Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Twice the size of the average house cat, the ocelot is a sleek animal with a gorgeous dappled coat. These largely nocturnal cats use keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, and frogs. They also take to the trees and stalk monkeys or birds. Unlike many cats, they do not avoid water and can swim well.

Like other cats, ocelots are adapted for eating meat. They have pointed fangs used to deliver a killing bite, and sharp back teeth that can tear food like scissors. Ocelots do not have teeth appropriate for chewing, so they tear their food to pieces and swallow it whole. Their raspy tongues can clean a bone of every last tasty morsel.

Many ocelots live under the leafy canopies of South American rain forests, but they also inhabit brushlands and can be found as far north as Texas. These cats can adapt to human habitats and are sometimes found in the vicinity of villages or other settlements.

Ocelots' fine fur has made them the target of countless hunters, and in many areas they are quite rare, including Texas, where they are endangered. Ocelots are protected in the United States and most other countries where they live.

Female ocelots have litters of two or three darkly colored kittens. In northern locations females den in the autumn, while in tropical climes the breeding season may not be fixed.



Size:28 to 35 in (70 to 90 cm)

Weight:24 to 35 lbs (11 to 16 kg)

Protection status:Threatened

Predators and Threats
Bobcats, coyotes, and humans.

10 years, 17 in captivity

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Aye-ayes can be found only on the island of Madagascar. These rare animals may not look like primates at first glance, but they are related to chimpanzees, apes, and humans.

Aye-ayes are dark brown or black and are distinguished by a bushy tail that is larger than their body. They also feature big eyes, slender fingers, and large, sensitive ears. Aye-ayes have pointed claws on all their fingers and toes except for their opposable big toes, which enable them to dangle from branches.

Aye-ayes spend their lives in rain forest trees and avoid coming down to earth. They are nocturnal, and spend the day curled up in a ball-like nest of leaves and branches. The nests appear as closed spheres with single entry holes, situated in the forks of large trees.

While perched aloft, the aye-aye taps on trees with its long middle finger and listens for wood-boring insect larvae moving under the bark. It employs the same middle finger to fish them out. The digit is also useful for scooping the flesh out of coconuts and other fruits that supplement the animal's insect diet.

Many people native to Madagascar consider the aye-aye an omen of ill luck. For this reason they often have been killed on sight. Such hunting, coupled with habitat destruction, have made the aye-aye critically endangered. Today they are protected by law.

Each of its odd-looking physical features actually helps the aye-aye to survive. While it is not known in exactly what numbers they exist, it is estimated that there are about 1000 to 2000 aye-ayes still left. Today, the aye-aye is a protected animal and efforts are on to try to revive their numbers.



Average life span in captivity:20 years

Size:Head and body, 14 to 17 in (36 to 43 cm); Tail, 22 to 24 in (56 to 61 cm)
Weight:4 lbs (2 kg)

Protection status:Threatened

Did you know?
Aye-ayes are the only primates thought to use echolocation to find prey.