Platypus

platypus

platypus

Oh Platypus. I had no idea. I mean, I knew you were in a class all your own, or rather a family all your own (Ornithorhynchidae). Not only are you one of five species of mammal to lay eggs, but you (male platypus) have a venomous spur on your ankle. You use your tail to store fat. Your snout is flexible and rubbery. You have a reptilian type of walk on land. You use electrolocation to locate prey (detection of electric fields generated by muscle movement). Your eyes have double cones (most mammals don’t)which allows you to detect motion, luminance, and stuff we don’t even know about. Although you have waterproof skin, skin that covers your ears and eyes and nose when you are underwater, you can only stay in the water for 30-140 seconds.

You are an enigma inside a mystery inside a conundrum inside an amazing furry-egg-laying package.

Least Concern

Southern Cassowary

cassowary_web

 

Sam! I know you love predatory birds. Eagles and hawks look super cool and are super cool. But guess which bird is considered the most DANGEROUS! bird in the world! It’s the Cassowary!

They are related to the emu and the ostrich (which means they are flightless and gigantic and have clawed feet). The Southern Cassowary can slice a predator open with their dagger-like toes and then run like a hippo outta there. . . OR jump outta there: they can jump almost 7 feet.

They have a giant toenail on their head. Actually, it’s not a toenail, it’s a casque, which is like a helmet, but it’s covered in the same stuff that finger and toe nails are made of. Hence: toenail helmet. Cassowaries can hiss, whistle, and boom to communicate their feelings. If you hear a rumble from a Cassowary, get ready to get kicked.  Because Cassowaries are so tough and DANGEROUS! they live a pretty solitary life, only seeking out others during mating season.

Here’s the really interesting bit: all the DANGEROUSness! and solitary life and dagger toes and toe-helmets and booms and the Southern Cassowary is a FRUGIVORE.

They only eat fruit. The most DANGEROUS! bird in the world only eats fruit. Just goes to show you that Mother Nature has an awesome sense of humor.

 

 

 

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Latori_web

“G-day, mate!” That’s all the Australian I know.

In nature, when animals, fish, or insects are a bright color, one word should come to mind: Poison. Predators should beware! Eating this creature could ruin your day or life. Even Monarch Butterflies: graceful, floaty, dainty, flitting about from flower to flower: poisonous to eat. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb: if a creature is brightly colored, don’t eat it.

Some brightly colored animals, like the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, but are not poisonous or venomous. If a predator spots them, they may not eat them, based on past experience with similarly colored food. The Tree Frog  has adapted a defense that mimics poisonous animals without actually tasting yucky. Plus, when a Red-Eyed Tree Frog closes it’s eyes (bright red-orange with a horizontal pupil) and tucks in it’s arms, legs, and feet, it’s really difficult to see against the bright canopy leaves of the rain forest.

“Hoo Roo, Mate!”

Koala

Koala

Koalas are not bears; they are actually quite nice most of the time. They sleep a lot because they mainly eat eucalypt leaves which are toxic to most animals and kind of crappy in terms of nutrients. So the koalas sleep to conserve energy. Plus, if you lived in Australia and wore a fur coat, you’d probably sleep a lot, too. They are in the elite class of animals known as Marsupials. Marsupials live primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia, and have pouches where they carry their babies. They always have change in their pouches for vending machines and are happy to lend you a mirror to check and see if you have any leaves in your teeth.