Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Black-Footed Ferret

The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is a carnivorous found in North America.  It is closely related to the steppe polecat from Russia.  They were thought to be extinct for a long time until few individuals were found and raised.  Now, is classified as endangered.

Physical Features
Black footed ferrets are small carnivores, reaching a length of 55 cm(24 inches).  They have very furry tails which measure 15 cm (6 inches).  They weigh about 1.2 kilograms and as the name suggests, they have black feet and short legs.  Like all the members of their family, black footed ferrets have elongated bodies.  Even though they white as the base color of their fur, their fur appears to be yellowish-brown as it darkens at the white darken at the tips.  The tip of their tail is black in color and they have a face mask-like outline around their eyes.

The black footed ferret is a carnivore like all ferrets.  They eat insects, lizards and other small invertebrates.  Their diet mainly consists of prairie dogs, eating about 100 per year.  They even prey on birds and small mammals.

Distribution and Habitat
The black footed ferret has greatly reduced in numbers.  It once was present in many parts of the United States of America and Canada.  But know, it is thought to be extinct in Canada and is present in three protected territories in USA.  They live in burrows.

Conservation Status
The black footed ferret was thought  to be extinct for sometime until, some scientists, in 1981 found a population of 131 individuals near a town named Meeteetse, Wyoming, USA.  The population which was discovered in Wyoming suddenly suffered a serious decline due to a rapidly spreading disease.  The Wyoming Game and Fish Department launched a project to capture the 12 remaining animals and start a breeding program to raise the population.  In, some time, they started releasing the populations back to the wild.  They also reintroduced 34 individuals to the Grassland National Parks in Canada.  Currently the population is more than 1,500 individuals.

Source of picture 1 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lar Gibbon

The lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) is a species of gibbon found only in Asia.  It is a more well known gibbon and can be found in many zoos or national parks.  It is endangered mainly due to habitat loss.

Physical Features
The lar gibbon is a smaller compared to the other great apes.  Their fur color varies from back or dark brown color to sandy or light brown color.  Males and females can some times vary in color.  Their hands and their feet are white in color.  Lar gibbons have arms that are longer than here feet.  They are considered as one of the best brachiators.  A circle of white surrounds their face.  Males are slightly larger than females.  The lar gibbon has relatively short legs, curved fingers and extremely long arms.  Like all apes, the number of caudal vertebrae of the lar gibbon has greatly reduced as the do not use their tail much.

Distribution and Habitat
The lar gibbon used to range from southwest Chine till Thailand and Burma to the whole of the Malay Peninsula including the island of Sumatra.  Now, it is fragmented across this range and is believed to be extinct in China.  Since they are arboreal, they live in primary and secondary forests.

The lar gibbon is considered to be an omnivore.  Some people believe it should classified as a frugivorous as 50% of its diet is fruit.  Its diet consists of 29% of leaves, 13% of insects and 9% of other items like seeds.

The lar gibbon is an arboreal animal.  Hardly come down on land except when in search of food. They live in groups and give warning calls when a predator is approaching their group.  Sometimes they make loud calls to scare away other animals from their territory.

Conservation Status                                                           Gibbon in Jersey zoo                                                                                       

Lar gibbons have greatly reduced in numbers in the past decade.  This is mainly because of habitat loss.  Most of the primary forests are getting cleared for agriculture.  They are rarely hunted for food as hunting lar gibbons for food is banned in most of the Asian countries.

Source of picture 1Source of picture 2

Friday, February 4, 2011

Long Nosed Potoroo

The long nosed potoroo (Potorous Tridactylus) is a species of marsupial found in Australia.  It looks like a rat.  It is rated as 'vulnerable' by the IUCN.  The population has declined since the European settlement in Australia.

Physical Features
The long nosed potoroo is a rat like marsupial that has compressed and short hair on its body.  They have very strong muscles on the hind feet which allows them to hop from place to place.  These animals have a cone-shaped face with large, black eyes and round ears.  They have a very small nose that is quite long compared to its face.  Long nosed potoroos have very thick and hairy tails.They have grayish-brown fur that is faded underneath.  Females have 4 teats in her pouch which is a forward-opening pouch.  Potoroos can weigh 600 grams or 1 kilogram.  Their body length excluding their tail is 38 cm (15 inches) maximum while their tail length is 26 cm.  

Potoroo feeding on insect.
Long nosed potoroos are considered as omnivores as the eat different insects and plants.  They eat roots, shoots, fungi, tubers and many types of invertebrates.

Distribution and Habitat
The long nosed potoroo is mainly found in the southeastern coasts of Australia.  They are found in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales in the east while they are found in the extreme southern corners of Australia.  The places include South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.They like to live in coastal heaths and in forests that have heavy rainfall and dense ground cover.

Life Cycle                                                                   
Female with young
A female potoroo gives birth to 2 young per year after undergoing as gestation period of 4.5 months which includes delayed implantation.  Leaving the pouch after 130 days, the young get weaned at the age of 5 months.  Males and females mature at the age of one.  They live for 7 years in wild but, in captivity, they live for about 12 years.

Conservation Status
the long nosed potoroo has declined due to the European settlement.  Now, it has a population of roughly 10,000 individuals.  It is now protected by law.

Source of pictures: picture 1picture 2, picture 3