Learn All About Kangaroos

Kangaroos are one of the best-known marsupials in Australia.

They feature muscular tails, pointed ears and strong back legs. The female has a pouch where she keeps her young baby until its old enough to come out.

What You Should Know

Because of their large feet and strong legs, the kangaroo can jump 30 feet in a single bound. In one hour, they can travel over 30 miles. The tail is used for balance during jumping.

Kangaroos are found in Eastern Australia. They stay in smaller groups referred to as herds or troops. In Australia, their group is called a mob. Typically this herd consists of 50 or more kangaroos. If they feel threatened, they join together and start pounding on the ground with their feet. Kangaroos can be extremely dangerous, often kicking threats and biting them when necessary.

The kangaroo is a herbivore. It will eat flowers, grass, leaves, moss, insects and ferns. Just like a cow, the kangaroo regurgitates food and then re-chews it before it can be digested fully.

What Sound Do They Make?

Some kangaroos make a soft clucking noise, especially when interacting with a female. Mothers also make this sound when communicating with their young (joey). The most notable noise that a kangaroo is known for is the noise of it thumping away while bouncing.

Listen to these kangaroo sounds while watching some cute pictures.

Group Characteristics

The kangaroo is probably most known for how it carries its young in a pouch. The female kangaroo is pregnant for just 21 to 38 days. Then, she gives birth to up to four little ones at once.

When the joey is born, it only measures 0.2 inches to 0.9 inches or the size of a grain of rice. It stays safely in the pouch for another 120 to 450 days. While in the pouch, the joey receives protection and nurses. It also defecates and urinates directly in the pouch, but the lining absorbs most of it. The mother kangaroo cleans out the rest of the contents with her tongue.

Joeys don’t waste time growing. By the time a female is 14 to 20 months, she will be completely mature. Males take longer at two to four years.

How Many are There?

In 2016, Australia estimated a total of 45 million kangaroos, which was only 27 million back in 2010. Still, 16 species of rat kangaroos and tree kangaroos remain on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Global warming might kill off some of the smallest kangaroo species, but the four great kangaroo species aren’t at risk of becoming endangered.

The only predators that kangaroos face are wild dogs (dingos) and humans. Other than that, drought, heat and hunger seem to be their biggest dangers.

Watch a Video

Watch this fascinating documentary on kangaroos.

Here’s also some amazing footage of a kangaroo fight.

Pop Culture

There have been countless kangaroos in pop culture. Here are just a few you might remember.

  • Roo and Kanga from Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Sour from Horton Hears a Who!
  • Joey from The Penguins of Madagascar (complete with an Australian accent)
  • Hopper the Dish Network mascot

Interesting Facts

When on land, the kangaroo only moves both their hind legs together. However, when the kangaroo is in water, it will swim with each leg kicking independently. In addition, the kangaroo cannot walk backward.

Australia has more kangaroos than humans. It’s a national symbol which means it often appears on airplanes, coins and postage stamps. Even Australian airline Qantas uses the kangaroo as their logo.

The red kangaroo is the biggest marsupial found in the world.

Learn More About Aardvarks

The name aardvark literally means “earth pig.”

When you take a closer look at it, you quickly see the resemblance. With its kangaroo-like tail and rabbit-shaped ears, many people assume it’s related to these animals, but it is not.

What You Should Know

The aardvark lives throughout Africa. You will typically find it south of the Sahara. Because the aardvark is nocturnal, they spend the hot afternoon in cooler underground burrows. Once the sun goes down, aardvarks use their sharp claws to find some of their favorite insect, the termite.

The aardvark forages in the forest and grasslands. They are known for traveling many miles during the night to find termite mounds. When the animal gets its tongue into the pile, it closes its nostrils to keep insects and dust from getting inside.

Aardvarks are solitary mammals and typically only come together when it’s time for mating. It’s common to see aardvarks stand at the burrow before leaving for a few minutes. That’s because they have limited eyesight and remain cautious against threats. They also block the burrow entrance when sleeping to protect themselves further.

What Sound Do They Make?

The aardvark is a quiet animal, but you might hear some soft grunting sounds while foraging. As they make the entrance for a tunnel, the grunts might be louder. The only time they make loud, bleating noises is when there’s a threat.

You can listen to the aardvark’s soft sounds while looking at a picture.

Group Characteristics

The aardvark doesn’t do a lot of traveling, except to look for food. It remains where it can burrow and hide.

The female aardvark remains pregnant for about seven months. Then, she gives birth to one baby at a time. This baby is referred to as a cub or calf. This small aardvark weighs a little more than four pounds when born.

The cubs grow fast. Once they are three months old, they get weaned. Then, at six months old, they leave their mom.

How Many are There?

Aardvarks were originally reported as having declining numbers, but that might just be because they don’t get seen often. Recent reports suggest that the numbers remain stable. The IUCN lists the species as least concern.

The biggest threat to the aardvark is humans. African tribes regularly hunt it for its meat and utilize parts of the body as charms. Some tribes believe that the aardvark’s teeth prevent illness. As far as natural predators, the leopard, hyena and lion often hunt aardvarks. Another problem facing this species is habitat loss. The more humans log, farm, build roads or create settlements, the more habitats are destroyed.

Watch a Video

In our first video from BBC Earth, we see an aardvark peacefully sleeping.

In the next aardvark video, we learn more about the differences between this animal and the anteater.

Pop Culture

The first time we remember seeing an aardvark in pop culture was with the 17 short cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark produced from 1969 to 1971. More recently, an aardvark is the lead character in the PBS series Arthur.

The aardvark is a popular animal in zoos because it doesn’t mind captivity. The first aardvark in a zoo is recorded as living at the London Zoo back in 1869.

Interesting Facts

When most people think about the aardvark, they assume it’s the same size as an anteater, but it’s actually larger. They common aardvark weighs 130 to 180 pounds, which means they weigh as much as a full-grown human. It also has stubby legs, beady eyes and an arched back. The aardvark has four toes on the front feet but five on their back feet.

Learn All About Adélie Penguins

The Adélie penguin might be small in size, but it’s mighty in spirit.

This penguin doesn’t take anything from any animal, even if it is bigger. It can hold its own on the Antarctic coast.

What You Should Know

Adélie penguins live among the entire Antarctic coast and are also found on the neighboring small islands. They feed on small aquatic creatures. Some of their favorite foods include shrimp-like krill, squid and fish. They will dive more than 500 feet in search of the food they want but typically stick to the shallower waters.

Adélies are efficient swimmers, just like most other penguin species. They will travel nearly 200 miles round-trip if they are hunting food.

What Sound Do They Make?

Adélie penguins will quarrel with one another. A chick’s calls are short and high pitched while the adult’s calls last longer and have a deeper tone.  You can listen to its adorable sound with this YouTube video.

Group Characteristics

Scientists studying the Adélie know a lot about the warm-weather behavior because that’s when they breed. During winter, they spend most of their time at sea in the ice and it’s often difficult to track their routes. On the penguins that have been followed, it’s notable that some travel over 700 miles from their breeding site.

During the spring season, they move to the rocky coastline and live in large colonies. These groups often include thousands of birds. They build a nest and line it with stones. Despite their waddle, they can walk long distances. Sometimes, they have to walk over 30 miles to reach the open water from their nest.

The male Adélie works with its mate to raise the young. The female lays two eggs and then both parents swap chances to sit on the eggs and keep them warm. Once the small penguins are born, it takes about three weeks before the parents will venture off without them. Still, the offspring stick close to the group for protection. After nine weeks, these young penguins can swim on their own.

The Adélie is the tiniest type of penguin in the Antarctic, but don’t let the small size fool you. They are known to be extremely combative. In fact, they slap researchers, seals and the larger seabirds with their flippers.

How Many are There?

Current estimates point to about 10 million Adélie, which is higher than it was before. Still, scientists continue to warn that the population is at risk due to climate change.

Adélie penguins find themselves as prey to many larger creatures. Some of their biggest nemeses are sea birds, killer whales, seals and orcas.

Watch a Video

In our first video, we get a glimpse of the Adélie penguins from National Geographic.

The second one shows what happens when one of these small creatures attacks an Emperor chick.

Pop Culture

The Adélie penguins have been showcased in more movies than you might realize. Most recently, they were the star of DisneyNature’s Penguins. It’s also interesting that this species is used as the lead stars of the Penguins of Madagascar despite the fact that they don’t live in Africa. In the feature film Happy Feet, we find three varieties of penguin: Emperor, Rockhopper and Adélie.

Interesting Facts

Adélie penguins got their name from a French Antarctic explorer named Jules Dumont d’Urville. When he discovered the birds back in 1840, he wanted to honor his wife, Adéle. Its scientific name is Pygoscelis adeliae which stands for rump-legged or brush-tailed penguins.

In total, there are 18 species of penguins worldwide, but only two calls Antarctica their home. The two species that both live and breed in this region are the Emperor and Adélie penguin.

All About the African Civet

Introduction

Imagine seeing an animal in the wild that looks like a feline, acts like a feline, but isn’t actually a member of the feline family.

The African Civet is a mammal that is known for its black and white markings and a black band around its eyes that make it seem like a raccoon. It’s a truly amazing creature that is under threat of deforestation in its native habitat in sub-Saharan Africa.

What You Should Know

The African Civet is usually found in the tropical rainforests of sub-Saharan Africa. These furry feline-like creatures are omnivores, but they prefer to dine on small rodents, snakes, and frogs. When they can’t find live prey, they have also been known to eat plant matter. The African Civet is a solitary animal that only comes out of its tree at night to hunt for its prey.

Instead of using its paws to collect and eat food, it typically uses its teeth. They have very strong jaws and a set of 40 teeth that allow the African Civet to enjoy a delicious meal. They have an average height of 17-28 inches and weigh anywhere between 3 and 10 lbs. The African Civet is also known for being a decent swimmer, and you will most commonly find them hanging out in the trees when they aren’t hunting for food.

What Sound Do They Make?

You can hear what an African Civet sounds like by clicking the link here.

Group Characteristics

Even though these animals are known for being solitary, they also are known to gather in groups of up to 15 members during the mating season. This is pretty much the only time you will see a group of African Civets together in a group. Other than that, they can be found hanging out alone in their trees when they aren’t mating or hunting for food. They are also very territorial creatures that are always marking their territory with a strong musk. This musk can be very powerful and has even been used to create perfumes.

A female African Civet will give birth to a litter of around 4 animals at a time. They will burrow into an underground nest previously created by another animal to raise her young in a calm and safe environment. The baby Civets are usually born with a lot of mobility and they can live up to 20 years. However, it’s important to note that habitat loss is a big threat to the African Civet population. Do what you can to contribute to the organizations that are preventing the deforestation and destruction of the beautiful natural habitats for these creatures.

How Many Are There?

There are plenty of African Civets in the wild and they are not considered to be at risk of becoming extinct anytime soon. Some of the main predators that the African Civet has to look out for include leopards, lions, and snakes.

Watch a Video

You can find some great videos of the African Civet by clicking on any of the following links:

Interesting Facts

The African Civet is interesting because of the strong musk called Civetone it secretes to mark its territory. They are known to secrete up to 4 grams of musk every single week in their efforts to keep other animals away from their habitat. Believe it or not, the musk that these animals secrete has been used to manufacture perfumes for centuries! Would you like to try it out on your next big date night?

They are also unique thanks to their exotic markings. You might have to do a double take if you see one in the wild, as many people believe that they look like raccoons when they first see them!