All About the Arctic Fox

The arctic fox is also known as the polar fox or white fox. It’s a northern fox from the Canidae family. While small in size, this animal shows that it is resilient and adaptable to change.

What You Should Know

The arctic fox is found throughout the Arctic region. It makes its home in the mountains near the sea or the tundra. This fox is a burrow dweller that’s active throughout the day.

It feeds on any animal or plant that’s available. It also follows the polar bear to feed on whatever is remaining from its kill. In summer, the arctic fox eats lemmings and rodents, but will also catch birds when possible. During the winter, it hunts puffins, grouse, and ptarmigan.

What Sound Do They Make?

The arctic fox communicates with others through a variety of sounds. Sometimes they can be heard giving off a loud yowl over a long distance while other noises include a high-pitched sound to signal danger.

In this video, you can hear mating calls from an arctic fox duo.

Group Characteristics

In the winter, almost all of the arctic foxes will commute short distances for three days or less. They do this several times a month in search of food. In Canada, the fox migrates from the archipelago to Greenland or northwestern Canada.

The foxes found closer to goose colonies don’t tend to migrate at all. The majority of them prefer to maintain their territory, even if they do some traveling. As the fox gets older, it’s more likely they will leave home.

The female arctic fox breeds once a year. During this time, she will produce up to 20 pups after a 52-day gestation period. She nurses the pups for around 45 days and they leave the family a few months later. In the wild, they only live to be about three years old but survive up to ten years in a zoo.

How Many are There?

It’s estimated that there are several hundred thousand and are labeled as least concern for extinction risk. Natural predators include polar bears, wolverines, and wolves. The arctic fox also falls victim to fur trading, which increases hunting risk.

Furthermore, climate change plays a part in current fox populations. Since the Arctic temperatures rise at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the fox is at risk. The more the sea ice melts and the sea levels rise, the smaller the arctic fox population becomes.

Watch a Video

In the first video, BBC Earth showcases an arctic fox hunting for food.

In the second one, we see how the fox takes advantage of the leftovers from a polar bear.

Pop Culture

There’s a movie being made called Arctic Dogs. It’s an animated film featuring an arctic fox that works in the mail room. It’s the typical kid’s movie where good must fight evil. Furthermore, the arctic fox is found in most zoos around the country. In Detroit, three sister foxes live in the Arctic Ring of Life, which was rated as the second-best exhibit of any zoo in America by The Intrepid Traveler’s Guide to America’s Best Zoos.

Interesting Facts

The color scheme of an arctic fox is unique. The white phase foxes feature a grayish-brown color in the summer and then turn all white in the winter. Other foxes have a blue phase which showcases itself as a gray color in the summer and gray-blue during the winter.

All About Antelope

The classification of antelope is used to describe many mammals within the Family Bovidae. For that reason, many animals that are thought to be antelope turn out to be something else entirely.

What You Should Know

Every antelope contains horns made from keratin. These horns remain permanently attached to the head and don’t shed like a deer’s. There are varying horn designs from ridged to twisting.

Many antelope are native to Africa, but you can also find some in Asia and the Middle East. They prefer to live in open grasslands, wooded areas or the rain forest. The antelope is a herbivore, but some species have been seen eating small mammals, birds, and insects. Otherwise, they are content to feast on small trees and bushes.

What Sound Do They Make?

Depending on the species, you may hear varying sounds. Some make a bleat, bellow, moo, or grunt. With a gerenuk antelope, you hear a combination between a moan and a grunt. Many of the species will also make a sound resembling a dog’s bark if they feel threatened.

Enjoy the calming sounds of the antelope with this interesting video clip.

Group Characteristics

The antelope does prefer to live in a small herd and will migrate to find food. Once the antelope has mated, the female gives birth to one or two calves. The newborns are vulnerable to predators, which is why the female births the calves in dense cover. If she leaves to feed, she covers the newborns with the vegetation. While in this hiding place, the calves don’t move at all unless they’re about to be discovered.

How Many are There?

There are large populations of antelope, but some species have made it to the IUCN endangered list. Loss of habitat, poaching, game hunting plus the loss of grazing land due to cattle farming has hurt the population.

The Saiga antelope and Tibetan antelope are both hunted for medicinal purposes, making them two of the most threatened species. Aside from hunting, the antelope are pursued by many predators. Hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, civets, lions, wild dogs and snakes will eat an antelope. Larger birds eat the young calves, but antelope have some tricks that keep them safe.

Depending on the situation, antelopes will freeze in place, sound an alarm, run with intense speed, jump in a strange pattern or hide to avoid danger. Some species also give off an odor to deter some predators. When all else fails, they will resort to using their horns in battle.

Watch a Video

Here’s a short documentary available about the antelope in Africa.

In this video, you can see how lions hunt antelope.

Pop Culture

Antelope can be seen in The Lion King and The Lion King 2. In the first movie, Simba talks with his father about how lions eat antelope then die and become part of the grass. After that, antelope eat the grass, thereby completing the “Circle of Life.” In the animated movie, Khumba, we also see Gemsboks which are a species of antelope.

Interesting Facts

Antelope run fast. They aren’t the fastest animal in the world, but they make quick and precise turns to throw off their enemies. That’s how they gain an advantage over predators such as the cheetah who can sprint faster than the antelope.

The desert antelope doesn’t need to drink water. Instead, they get everything needed from their food.

The klipspringer antelope jumps 15 times its height, making it the highest jumper in relation to body size. An impala is also pretty impressive with the ability to soar up to ten feet.

Learn All About the Jaguar

The Jaguar is the largest cat found in the Americas. This top-level carnivore is often confused with a leopard, despite their significant differences.

What You Should Know

The jaguar is a carnivore that eats crocodiles, deer, snakes, peccary, monkeys, sloths, deer, tapirs, eggs, turtles, fish and frogs. They basically dine on anything they can catch.

The jaguar likes to live and hunt by itself, except when it is mating. For the most part, a jaguar is found on solid ground, but sometimes it also climbs high in a tree to pounce on prey below. Unlike most of the other big cats, the jaguar enjoys being in the water.

Jaguars don’t exist much in the United States anymore and are now endangered throughout Patagonia in South America. Its natural habitat is the rainforest, deciduous forest, swamps and mountain scrub areas. When it sleeps, it hides. It will find an area surrounded by trees or relax in a tree, if possible. If there are no trees, you will find the jaguar resting among the tall grass.

The jaguar measures 25-30 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 200 pounds. It will live for up to 12 years, according to Defenders of Wildlife. It features a compact body, broad head and mighty jaws.

What Sound Do They Make?

Listen to the glorious sounds that a jaguar makes.

Group Characteristics

The Jaguar doesn’t migrate but remains in the Amazon basin. All other habitats throughout the Americas have been mainly wiped out. They no longer exist among dry regions and will travel to find freshwater, according to Big Cat Facts.

While they don’t have a breeding season, they do maintain a 100-day gestation period. Most females have two to four cubs at once. Until those babies are one year old, the female jaguar continues to feed them. Then, they remain with their mother until they are about two years old. Jaguars reach maturity around two to three years old for a female and three to four years old for a male.

How Many are There?

According to National Geographic, the Jaguar is part of the IUCN Near Threatened Status. They’ve been killed because of conflicts with livestock and hunted as trophies. Habitat loss continues to be a concern and the construction of a U.S.-Mexico wall might threaten their return to the United States.

Watch a Video

The History Channel did an amazing documentary on the Jaguar and its behavior.

Watch this Jaguar take down a caiman.

Pop Culture

There have been some famous jaguars in animation. One is Manchas the jaguar in Zootopia. He was a black jaguar that drove a limo. He became one of the missing mammals that turned savage in the movie.

Another cartoon jaguar is Gia from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. This love interest of Alex was voiced by Jessica Chastain.

In America, one of the largest displays of Jaguars occurs at the San Diego Zoo. They’ve housed and bred jaguars since 1925.

Interesting Facts

Black jaguars have a dominant melanistic gene. While they aren’t uncommon, they are more challenging to see, especially when they spend time in a dark rainforest.

The most distinctive feature that sets a jaguar apart from a leopard, according to Discover Wildlife, is the spot shape. They have spots that look like roses and are often called rosettes. The jaguar’s rosettes have spots inside them where a leopard does not.

In addition, jaguars are often talked about as a nocturnal animal. However, they appear to be more active around dawn and dusk. This is also referred to as crepuscular behavior.

All About the African Forest Elephant

Is there anything more majestic than a family of African Forest Elephants? This amazing animal is found throughout central and southern Africa and is renowned for being the largest known mammal on land. Unfortunately, deforestation and poaching are putting these beautiful creatures at risk more and more with every passing year.

What You Should Know

This species of elephant is mostly found in central and southern Africa in forests, savannahs, and flood plains. You will immediately recognize them due to their gigantic size, leathery skin, and incredible pearly white tusks. African Forest Elephants are herbivores that love munching on plants and other vegetation found in its natural environment. They will normally go for leaves, fruits, herbs, and low-lying shrubs whenever they get hungry. They use their huge tusks to find roots in the ground and strip bark off of trees for some easily accessible snacks.

The male African Forest Elephant is a solitary creature, but females will form herds with their young families. This allows the mothers to protect their children from predators so that they can reach an age where they are able to hold their own. These elephants love wandering through forests and grasslands while they look for the food and watering holes they need to survive.

What Sound do they make?

Group Characteristics

These animals usually travel in nomadic groups while they seek out the necessary resources to survive. There is a 2 year gestation period for the female before she is ready to give birth to a single calf. The calf will join the herd and be nursed by its mother until its ready to take care of itself. This usually coincides with the time that the calf’s tusks start to show.

How Many Are There?

The estimated population size of the African Forest Elephant is right around 200,000, but the reality is that there might be far fewer elephants alive today than the estimate proclaims. These gentle giants are being threatened by the rapid deforestation of their territory as well as by poachers that are after their beautiful tusks. They are an animal that is listed on the endangered species list, which suggests they are at risk of becoming extinct in the future. They don’t have to worry about many natural predators due to their size, but hyenas and lions have been known to attack weak elephant calves when the opportunity presents itself.

Watch a Video

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

Interesting Facts

As we mentioned earlier, the African Forest Elephant is known as the largest mammal on land. Their tusks actually grow out straighter than other elephant’s curved tusks, which allows them to make their way through the jungle with ease. They are able to communicate with each other through miles and miles of dense jungle, but humans aren’t able to hear the low pitched sound. The African Forest Elephant helps to spread different plant seeds all across the forests of Africa, which is yet another reason why we should focus on conservation efforts since they are such an important part of the ecosystem.

They also have a lifespan of 60-70 years, which is quite a long time to live in the animal kingdom. Perhaps the most interesting fact about these animals is related to their teeth, as they replace them 4 times during the lifespan. Unfortunately, when the African Forest Elements stops replacing its teeth, it will have trouble eating food and will most likely fall victim to starvation.

All About the African Palm Civet

Introduction

Even though its thought to be one of the most common forest dwelling carnivores in all of Africa, the African Palm Civet is still a very distinctive animal. You will recognize them by their brown and light-tan fur along with brown spots, which serve as great camouflage as they make their way through the trees. This creature is a testament to the amazing diversity that exists in the forests of Africa.

What You Should Know

The African Palm Civet is commonly found in the tropical rainforests of East Africa. It is an omnivorous animal that primarily feasts on rodents, snakes, frogs, and pineapples. It’s not a large creature, coming in and right around 17 to 28 inches tall and weighing in at anywhere from 3 to 10 lbs. They are solitary animals that pretty much only will be seen during the dawn or the dusk when they get hungry and start hunting around for a fresh meal. You will find them relaxing in the trees during most of the day until they get hungry enough to hunt. They are often thought of as pests by the local farmers because of their tendency to break into the chicken coops for a quick and easy dinner.

Even though they are typically considered to be solitary animals, the African Palm Civet has been known to congregate in groups of up to 15 members when food is plentiful. They will normally live to be 15 to 20 years old and are very closely related to other small carnivores like mongooses and weasels. You will know you are looking at an African Palm Civet if you see a small feline-like creature with a sharply pointed snout, rounded ears, and yellow-green eyes.

What Sound do they make?

You can hear the African Civet in action by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mF9nCYsNMk

Group Characteristics

The African Palm Civet mates at two specific times of the year, during the rainy seasons in East Africa when food is much more bountiful. The female gives birth to up to 4 cute baby Civets after a gestation period over a few months. The mother will protect her young until they are old enough to handle life on their own, which usually happens at about 60 days old. African Palm Civets are hearty animals that can live up to 15 years in the wild.

How Many Are There?

The African Palm Civet is a fairly common animal that is not at risk of becoming extinct anytime soon. You will find them in abundance all over East Africa in a variety of different habitats. It is worth noting that deforestation is taking away this animal’s natural habitat. Some of the African Palm Civet’s predators include larger animals like lions, snakes, and leopards. Even crocodiles have been known to attack and eat the African Palm Civet. This is why the Civet loves hanging out in the safety of trees for the majority of the day.

Watch a video

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

Interesting Facts

The scent of the African Palm Civet’s powerful musk was actually used to create some of the most popular perfumes in the world. Humans have been collecting the musk for hundreds of years. Even though they are solitary creatures, they will gather in groups every so often when there is lots of food for them to enjoy. One of the most distinctive features of the African Palm Civet are its brown or yellow fur that is covered with dark spots. Its fur is usually darker colored on the top half of its body which helps it stay camouflaged in the wild.

All About African Penguins

When you think of penguins, you probably think of little flightless birds sliding on their bellies in arctic and icy environments. However, the African Penguin just might completely change what you think you know about penguins. They are the only species of penguin located in Africa and have distinctive pink glands beneath their eyes that make them very unique among their species.

What You Should Know

The African Penguin is typically found on the coast of South Africa on rocky ocean islands. It has black and white markings and a sharp black beak that allows it to devour the marine organisms that it loves to eat. The African Penguin is a carnivore and loves to eat shoaling fish like anchovies, sardines, mackerel, squid, and crustaceans. Its body shape allows it to glide through the water in search for food. They catch their food by diving under the water for up to 2 minutes at a time and have even been known to hunt up to 100 meters below the ocean surface. They will usually grow to be between 24 inches to 27 inches in height and weigh about 5 to 10 lbs.

These flightless birds love being social and forming bonds with other African Penguins. Sometimes, the bonds that they form with other penguins can last as long as 10 years. You will often see African Penguins helping each other out with grooming and their courtship displays are a true sight to behold. You will hear them trying to attract a mate with some truly odd donkey-like sounds.

What Sound do they make?

Group Characteristics

The African Penguin, like other types of penguins, are animals that love to socialize with one another. You will often see them congregating in groups when you find them in their natural habitat. They will normally start breeding around the age of 4. When a male and female African Penguin decide to pair up, it is a bond that lasts a lifetime. The females will dig and burrow to create a place to lay her eggs. Both parents take responsibility for keeping up with the egg until it hatches about 40 days later. The young penguins will stay with their parents until they are 3 to 5 months old, but interestingly return to their birthplace to moult into their adult plumage. On average, the African Penguin lives between 10 and 15 years.

How Many Are There?

The African Penguin population is estimate to be right around 140,000. They are considered to be a vulnerable animal that is endangered. Some of the main reasons they are at risk of extinction are due to humans eating their eggs and habitat disruption. The predators that African Penguins are always watching out for include sharks, seals, and seagulls. The biggest predatory risk that African Penguins face is before they even hatch. The penguin eggs are very delicate and there are tons of animals looking to eat them. That’s why the mother and father penguin take turns watching over their eggs.

Watch a Video

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

Interesting Facts

African Penguins will moult once a year and always return to their colonies to do so. When they are moulting, they aren’t able to swim or eat during the 20-day period. This causes them to lose about half of their body weight. Penguins actually have more feathers than any other type of bird. These interesting animals are also known as the Jackass bird thanks to their unique donkey-like call. The African Penguin is the only type of penguin that is found in non-freezing conditions, which they cope with by burrowing and being active at the dawn and dusk of each day.

Learn All About African Bush Elephant

The African Bush Elephant is the largest land mammal in the entire world. It reaches 13 feet tall and 24 feet long. This massive giant is unique and fascinating to learn about.

What You Should Know

The African Savanna Elephant is another common name for the African Bush Elephant. It lives in most countries in Africa, among various habitats. You will find it in the high rainforest, desert and open savanna. It’s the largest species of the three elephant types and can weigh up to 11 tons. It also lives up to 70 years, which is more than any other mammal besides humans.

The African Bush Elephant is a herbivore and eats up to 350 pounds of vegetation every day. The herd of African Bush Elephant typically contains about a thousand elephants. This social activity helps the elephant remains safe from danger.

What Sound Do They Make?

The African Bush Elephant makes mighty roars and rumbles, but that isn’t all they do to communicate. They also are heard making grunts, barks, snorts, cries and trumpet-like sounds to talk to others in their herd.

Here is an excellent illustration of their trumpet call.

Group Characteristics

The African Bush Elephant herd contains females and their young. It’s managed by the older female, otherwise known as a matriarch. An adult male elephant doesn’t typically join the herd. He prefers to live a solitary life. The only time you find a male near the crowd is during mating season.

Females spend 22 months carrying their calf and give birth to one elephant. This is the longest gestation period of any mammal. The mother will also nurse her calf for two years, but it remains under her care for at least six years. The female elephant reaches maturity after ten years, but are most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45.

The African Bush Elephant spends a lot of time on the move. They have been noted as displaying loving and caring behaviors, just like humans do. When a relative dies, they even spend time grieving the loss.

How Many are There?

During the early 20th century, African Bush Elephants were counted in the millions, possibly three to five. Now, there are only about 415,000 remaining. Despite this, only about 20% of the habitat is under any type of formal protection.

There aren’t many natural predators that threaten its survival, because of the elephant’s size. These elephants co-habitat with all of the other mammals and birds without a problem. Occasionally, a hyena or lion will hunt a baby elephant that’s been separated from its mother. The biggest threat is humans who continue to poach the African Bush Elephant for its ivory tusks. The other danger is habitat loss.

Watch a Video

In this first video, you can learn the differences between an African Bush Elephant & African Forest Elephant.

Here are some African Bush Elephant facts you might not have known.

Pop Culture

While elephants are a common occurrence in today’s culture, some of the most well-known include Babar the animated elephant, Dumbo the title character in a Disney movie and Horton from the famous Dr. Seuss book and movie.

Elephants are now commonplace in most zoos worldwide, but they aren’t always the African variety. Some of the zoos feature Asian elephants instead.

Interesting Facts

The African Bush Elephant uses its long trunk to cool off in the heat. It fills up the trunk with water and then sprays it over its body. It will also spray down its young to keep it cool. The elephant tries to visit watering holes often, but will also settle for muddy spots, when needed.

Learn All About Akitas

The Akita is bred for snow. These beautiful dogs thrive in snowy terrain and were originally bred for hunting wild game. Over time they became beloved as both pets and protectors.    

Akitas

Akitas helped people survive and secure a stable food supply by assisting hunters in rural areas. Their rise to prominence in hunting was later coupled with a role as protectors of the home which came about in the 1800s. During that time, rural areas were faced with rising populations and the accompanying challenges that come with higher densities of people.

They became valued as guard dogs as a result and served to help protect families, as well as help hunters, bring sustenance back to their homes.

What you should know

Once termed as, “snow country dogs,” this loyal breed proved themselves as exceptional trackers on the hunt. One thing you should know right off the bat is the difference between Japanese and American Akitas.

Akita Inu – the Japanese variety

The Japanese region of Odate in the Akita prefecture is where the breed is thought to have originated. These dogs are extremely ancient as a breed however, making the exact origins difficult to trace. A Japanese Akita Inu can range up to 122 pounds and 26 inches tall.

The American Akita

Despite its name, the American Akita is a completely different breed than the Japanese variety. They are not related other than the fact that both breeds technically originate in Japan. American Akitas can grow to around 130 pounds and up to 26 inches tall.

Like the Japanese Akita Inu, American Akitas are also extremely protective and loyal dogs. To those first meeting them, Akitas can be imposing, even foreboding but underneath it all, they’re very calm.

What sound do they make?

The bark of an Akita is generally deep but can also be high pitched as more of a yelp. Here are a couple of videos to compare the bark of an Akita as a puppy verses one that’s 8 months old.

Group characteristics

The Akita breed is fiercely protective, strong, dominant, and territorial. Ever loyal, these dogs hail from the Spitz family. Akitas can be very attached to their owners to the point that they become highly averse to sharing their owner with other people.

How many are there?

Similar to the decimation of the Alaskan Malamute, WW2 was unkind to Japanese Akita Inu when the Japanese government ordered that they be seized to provide the military with fur. Fortunately, a handful of American soldiers brought Akitas back to the United States and founded the American Akita Club

While they have recovered to an extent, WW2 left a lasting impression on the Akita population in Japan.

Watch a video

To learn more about Akitas, you can watch these videos.

The American Akita

The Japanese Akita

Pop culture

Akitas have been given a generous role in pop culture with heroic dogs like Hachiko being mentioned in Japanese manga comics and other media. The tale of Hachiko is as heartwarming as it is tragic. In the 1920s, the faithful dog was the companion of Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would meet his owner at the train station after work every day without fail until one day, Mr. Ueno died from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Loyal to the end, Hachiko waited for him at that train station for nine years, nine months, and fifteen days surviving on treats and scraps given to him by folks passing by. The dog was hailed by the Tokyo community as a hero and became the subject of the film, Hachiko Monagatari.

Inspired by the same noble traits, Akitas have had been featured in books and another notable Japanese film titled, The Snow Prince.

American contributions to the renown of the Akita trace back to the likes of Helen Keller. She was purportedly the first to introduce an Akita into the United States.

Interesting facts

An important thing to know about American Akitas as a group is that they usually give no warning whatsoever before they attack. While impressive, folks should always remember to be careful around this fierce breed of dogs. 

You may be interested to know that the Akita was once called by an entirely different name, the Odate dog. The name hearkens to their proposed place of origin mentioned previously and it stuck until they were renamed Akitas in the 1930s.

Learn All About the Albatross

These creatures are known for their breathtaking wingspan and are some of the most interesting of seabirds. The albatross is a white and grey colored seabird that reigns over both sea and sky. Here’s what you should know about them and what makes them unique.

Albatross

Seeing an albatross is a real treat, but you don’t have to see it to learn about the animal. Masters of sea and sky they possess a sharp sense of sight and smell that gives them a huge advantage over their prey.

What you should know

The first thing you should know about an albatross is that they have the largest wingspan of any seabird whatsoever. With a wingspan of nearly 12 feet in length, an albatross is a wonder to behold when in flight.  

Their massive wingspan allows them to glide across the sea for hundreds of miles without having to flap their wings. It is their gliding that makes them one of the most efficient fliers of the animal kingdom.

Known scientifically to be of the Diomedeidae family, these birds are exceptional swimmers and tend to spend more time at sea than on land. Masters of the sea, you can find the albatross flying over the glistening sun-soaked waters of the South Pacific Ocean where it makes its home. Albatrosses are absent from the North Atlantic, however, they can be found on Midway and other islands north of the equator.  

The diet of a typical albatross consists of squid, fish, and the occasional crustacean including small plankton.

What sound do they make?

An albatross can make a series of grunting and squeaking sounds, here’s a video showing you what a Layson Albatross sounds like.

Group characteristics

Albatrosses have life partners, however, they are not monogamous by any means.

As a species, albatrosses are rather unique in that they produce a single egg which both the male and female will care for. The parents take turns caring for the egg and display a great deal of nurturing to their young.

An albatross egg takes around two months of incubation before hatching. It takes another four-five months for the newly hatched albatross to reach full size in adulthood.

How many are there?

As far as predators, these seabirds are unmatched in the skies and face no real competition. However, like so many other species, the albatross has been hunted to the brink of extinction, by humans. Historically, albatrosses were hunted down for their feathers which are used in women’s hats and down cushions.

Humans aside, the only other notable threat are Tiger Sharks who occasionally prey upon albatross chicks.

Watch a video

There’s a great video from National Geographic explaining the challenges facing albatrosses as a species.

Pop culture

Those who are passionate about literature may be familiar with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s mention of an albatross in his masterpiece, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The magnificent seabird is held in high regard by sailors who take them to be a sign of good fortune.

In the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Coleridge’s depiction of the albatross hints that they contain the souls of sailors who drowned at sea. The poem did much to popularize the bird.

The Prince of Wales took a liking to the bird and initiated a task force to help make commercial fishing less destructive to them. Over 100,000 albatrosses are killed every year by long-line fishing hooks.

Interesting facts

The albatross is a powerful seabird that can dive to depths of around 16 feet when searching for prey.

Similar to petrels, another seabird, the albatross has three webbed toes. The hind toe is either absent or takes the form of a claw.

Albatrosses have impressively long lifespans for seabirds. Some can live well into their sixties. Not only can they live into their sixties, but they’ve also been known to still be laying eggs at that age. It is possible for an albatross to live for 70 years.  

All About Alligators

Alligators are not only fierce but intensely interesting. Despite their destructive properties, they are an essential part of the animal kingdom and help maintain the natural balance. Discover what makes them unique and important to the environment.

The Alligator

There are two species of alligators. They can be found in both Asia and North America. The American Alligator weighs about half-a-ton and can reach lengths of 11-15 feet long.

Chinese Alligators are smaller in general. These alligators are several feet shorter than their American counterparts, averaging lengths of four feet. They only weigh about 50 pounds. Don’t be fooled, however, as the Chinese Alligator is also impressively fierce.

What you should know

There are a number of significant facts to know about both the Chinese and American Alligator. Both are unique in their own way and offer much to appreciate.  

The American Alligator

The lifespan of an American Alligator in the wild is rather remarkable as they can live between 35 to 50 years. In contrast to the Chinese Alligator, these American cousins are now thriving rather than nearly extinct. 

Although female American Alligators live in dense populations rife with males, the species is largely monogamous. It is not uncommon for an American Alligator to retain a single partner for most of their life. The monogamy of the American Alligator is in direct contrast to scientific expectations.

The Chinese Alligator

Known scientifically as the Alligator sinensis, Chinese Alligators live in Eastern China. As one of the only two surviving species of alligators, they are listed as an endangered species. Compared to their American counterparts, Chinese Alligators sport an even tougher armored skin.

These alligators take to the fertile valleys and paddy fields favoring temperate to subtropical climates. Over the years, the encroachment of progress has come to threaten the Chinese Alligator and they are now very difficult to find.   

Chinese Alligators lay around 20-30 eggs which are the smallest in size in comparison to other crocodilian species. While smaller, they tend to live much longer than American Alligators. These creatures can live up to 50 years in the wild. In captivity, however, they can live even longer, around 75 years.  

Another attribute that separates the Chinese alligator from American ones is the fact that they are primarily polygynous, with each alligator mating with multiple partners over their lifetime.

What sound do they make?

Alligators make sounds that resemble a deep bellow with a sort of echo-like effect. Listening to the alligator’s low rumbling growl, one can detect the prehistoric undertones of this magnificent animal.

Group characteristics

These capable predators typically make their homes on land where they bask in the sun in between meandering out for a bite to eat. They’ll eat small mammals like birds and also snakes, fish, and turtles.

How many are there?

There’s a significant disparity between how many Chinese alligators are left in the wild as opposed to the American ones. Presently, there are fewer than 120 Chinese alligators remaining in the wild. The continued destruction of their natural habitat is the primary contributing factor to their decline.

American alligators are doing much better and are approximately five million strong. About 1.25 million alligators reside in the state of Florida alone.

Watch a video

Although the sound alligators make has been described, there’s nothing like hearing them for yourself. In this video, you can hear the alligators very clearly and see how the sounds they make hearken to prehistoric times.

Pop culture

No discussion of alligators would be complete without mentioning pop culture references like the 1999 film, ‘Lake Placid.’ Long before the movie was made, an alligator was reportedly spotted in New York’s Lake Placid. The story was featured in The New York Times in 1903.

Interesting facts

One unique characteristic that distinguishes alligators from other reptiles is that they have four-chambered hearts whereas most reptiles have three-chambered hearts.

As a species, alligators are 150 million years old. These savvy reptiles managed to survive the extinction that decimated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.