Search more about Pets and Animal

Share Animal Facts & Trivia

Share |

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spine-Tailed Swift / White-Throated Needletail - the fastest flying bird

The fastest bird, the spine-tailed swift, can fly as fast as 106mph.

White-throated Needletail is capable to drink water in flight.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Apodidae
Genus: Hirundapus
Species: H. caudacutus

Spine-Tail Swift, commonly known as White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) has long curved wings and white markings. It is the fastest-flying bird in level, flapping flight, being capable of 170 km/h (105mph), faster than other swifts. The plumage of the White-throated Needletail is predominantly grey-brown, glossed with green and the wings are long and pointed. The tail is short and square, with the protruding feather shafts giving a spiky appearance. The throat and undertail are white. It was formerly known as the Spine-tailed Swift, but it is now placed in its own genus. It is also sometimes known as the Storm-bird or Stormbird.

White-throated Needletails often occur in large numbers over eastern and northern Australia. White-throated Needletails are aerial birds and for a time it was commonly believed that they did not land while in Australia. It has now been observed that birds will roost in trees, and radio-tracking has since confirmed that this is a regular activity. The White-throated Needletail feeds on flying insects, such as termites, ants, beetles and flies. They catch the insects in flight in their wide gaping beaks. Birds usually feed in rising thermal currents associated with storm fronts and bushfires and they are commonly seen moving with wind fronts. While feeding, the White-throated Needletail protects its eyes with a special membrane and a small ridge of feathers. The birds also drink in flight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Snail - great sleeping time and other facts

A snail can sleep for 3 years, others even recorded that some snail species can sleep up to six (6) years.
  • Garden snails evolved from sea snails about 600 million years ago.
  • The largest land snail ever found was 15 inches long and weighed 2 pounds!
  • Snails' bodies produce a thick slime. Because of this slime, they can crawl across the edge of a razor and not get hurt.
  • Some snails have been known to live up to 15 years.
  • Snails are hermaphrodites which means that they have both male and female reproductive organs.
  • Snails usually travel in irregular paths, often traveling in a circle.
  • Snails reply mainly on their sense of touch and smell when finding food because they have very poor eyesight.
  • Snails cannot hear.
  • Snails can retract one or both of their tentacles at a time.
  • Because of the suction created by their slime, a snail can crawl upside down.
  • Snails are nocturnal animals which means they are more active at night.
  • Garden Snails mainly eat garden plants and vegetables, but they will also eat decaying plants and soil.
  • The fastest snails are the speckled garden snails which can move up to 55 yards per hour compared 23 inches per hour of most other land snails.
  • Garden snails hibernate during the winter and live on their stored fat.
  • Garden snails breathe with lungs.
  • The garden snail is cooked and eaten as a delicacy called escargot.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Molluska
Class: Gastropoda
Sublcass: Herterobranchia
Family: Stylomatophora
Genus: Helix aspersa

Generally speaking, snails don't sleep. They will become inactive for short periods at certain times, and will actually hibernate under some conditions. They hibernate in winter and estivate in the summer, dropping their heart rate from 56bpm to just three or four. This hibernation occurs during dry periods so that the snail can maintain the moisture within its shell.

There are thousands of species of snail (most of which are marine - not the land snails we are used to seeing). Which is what they do for most of the day- sleep. Because snails as members of the mollusk family, need moisture to keep their bodies going. The heat of the sun is very drying, so they usually don't come out until nighttime. This same behavior is followed by species that live in desert areas when there is a shortage of water. They will withdraw into their shells, and hibernate or sleep, for as much as 2-3 years, until conditions improve.
The eye is on the tip of the tentacle or at the base of the tentacle for marine species. The snail has two pairs of tentacles on its head. One pair is longer than the other pair. The eyes are on the longer pair. The shorter pair is used for smelling and feeling its way around. The tentacles are very important to the snail. A snail have something called a radula in its mouth for grinding up its food. This radula is like a rough tongue, something like a file with rows of tiny teeth which it uses to scrap off leaves and flowers to eat. Many people get upset and farmers get angry when snails eat their plants and crops. Snails can cause serious damage to crops. Snails eat mostly living plants as well as decaying plants. They also chew on fruits and young succulent plant barks. The largest known land snail named Gee Geronimo was a Giant African Snail collected in Sierra Leone in 1976. It weighed about 2lb (900g) and measured over 15 inches (39.3cm) from snout to tail. The snail is both male and female. Therefore, it can produce sperms and eggs at the same time ! Isn't that incredible ? However, to fertilize the eggs, the snails need to exchange sperms with each other. An animal which is both a male and a female is called a hermaphrodite. The brown garden snail lays about 80 spherical shaped white or yellowish colored eggs at a time into the topsoil of the ground. It can lay eggs up to six times a year. Snails take about 2 years to become adults. Some pond snails have gills to breathe in water. Those with gills will live at the bottom of the pond. Those that do not have gills, will come up to the surface to breathe. These snails will live on the surface so that they can come up to breathe easily.

The snail is one of the greatest works of geometry in nature. It consists of chalky material and one specific organic substance – CONHIOLIN – that is the basic substance for shell formation. Numerous shapes of shell help us easily differentiate between many species.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Goldfish - incredible eyesight

A goldfish is the only animal that can see infrared and ultraviolet light.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Carassius
Species: C. auratus
Subspecies: C. a. auratus/C. a. gibelio

Goldfish are one of the most common types of fish. They come in different varieties such as Ryukin, Fantail, Oranda and many others. Some goldfish look like they have bubbles of skin covering their eyes. Goldfish can live to be 5 to 10 years old. The average goldfish lives to be around 4 years old and can grow to be 6 inches plus. Goldfish originated in China with several hundred varieties developing over the years. They arrived in the United States somewhere between the 18th and 19th century and have became the most common pet found in households today! They have been kept as pets longer than any other species of fish. Although there are many varieties, all goldfish actually belong to just one species: Carassius auratus. Because of this, goldfish are similar in their behavior, required care, and habits. Goldfish are not tropical fish; therefore, they do not require tropical temperatures such as some fish with temperatures of 80F and higher.

Goldfish are quite intelligent and will recognize the person who feeds them, research show that goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months and can distinguish between different shapes, colors and sounds. They will show they know you by swimming rapidly back and forth when you are near the tank or splashing. Goldfish like to play and benefit from the exercise, so having two fish is better than one. There are several varieties of goldfish; however, they all stem from the original stocks developed by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese breeders. Names are sometimes a hard thing to decide on due to the fact that different cultures call the same fish by different names. Goldfish come in many variations with different colors, single-tails, double-tails, various body shapes, head shapes from pointed to square, and various other mutations such as telescoped eyes.

Goldfish Vision:
Vision that is seen in the goldfish may not seem important to many people, but it is actually quite fascinating in that it is much more developed than most people would expect it to be for the size and apparent intelligence of the creature. Overall, goldfish have developed full-spectrum vision so that they will be able to see the micro-flashes of static electrical charge and bio-luminescence that appear when a creature hunting with sonar sends sound waves through waters rich in micro-fauna in order to search for its prey. This full-spectrum vision has also proved to be very effective in sensing many and various tell-tale signs that come from the bow-wave that a rapidly moving predator makes as it cuts through the water.

Goldfish, in particular, have been widely used as a model system for the study of color vision. The goldfish retina contains rods and four cone types in juveniles, three cone types in adults. The majority of goldfish retina ganglion cells have center-surround organization and many are wavelength opponent goldfish evidence photopic spectral sensitivity functions reflecting both wavelength additive mechanisms and wavelength opponent mechanisms. Goldfish wavelength discrimination has been reported in many studies and found out to exhibit color constancy. the goldfish first developed full spectrum vision in order to see the micro-flashes of bio-luminescence and static electrical charges that tend to discharge when a sonar-hunter sends sound waves through micro-fauna rich waters in search of prey. It also proved effective in sensing various tell-tales that result from the bow-wave of a fast moving predator... Only later did they realize that they could track submarines, intercept trace reflections of communication lasers that took bad bounces of atmospheric interference, and even decode the ultra-faint eminations that are shed of trans-oceanic communication cables, and so much more.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wood Frogs - freeze, thaw back to life

Some frogs (Rana Sylvatica) are able to be frozen and then thawed, and continue living.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Species: R. sylvatica

Frogs can survive multiple freeze/thaw events during winter if not more than about 65% of the total body water freezes. The terrestrial wood frog, Rana sylvatica, can tolerate sub-freezing environmental temperatures because of biochemical adaptations that protect cells from freezing.

the ability to endure the actual formation of ice within the body. Ice forming in body tissues can do a lot of harm. Ice crystals can puncture small blood vessels, squeeze and deform cells to the point of breaking, and scramble the micro- architecture inside cells so that upon thawing, organs are severely damaged. Freezing of the blood also interrupts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to organs and so also causes severe metabolic damage. Any animal species that adopts a freeze tolerance strategy for winter survival must, therefore, find ways to overcome all of these types of injuries that can be caused by ice. Few animals like the Wood Frog can deal with horrendous structural damage that is caused by ice formation inside of cells, so freeze tolerant animals typically confine ice growth to extracellular spaces of their bodies while using protective mechanisms to keep the water inside their cells from freezing (extracellular freeze tolerance plus intracellular freeze avoidance). Their soft, water-permeable skin is no barrier to ice and so, whenever frost penetrates into their winter home, they freeze. Ice penetrates though all of the fluid compartments of the animal and within just a few hours a mass of ice fills the abdominal cavity encasing all the internal organs. Large flat ice crystals run between the layers of skin and muscle, and the eyes turn white because the lens freezes. Their blood stops flowing and as much as 65% of the frog's total body water is converted to ice. Breathing, heart beat, and muscle movements all stop and the frozen "frog-sicle" exists in a virtual state of suspended animation until it thaws.

Firstly, wood frogs and other freeze tolerant animals take active control over freezing. Rather than wait for spontaneous ice formation to begin, they employ special ice nucleators that actively seed ice formation in their bodies. In this way the animals can start freezing just below 0·C.

Second part of freezing survival is the same as that for freeze avoidance - the animals build up high concentrations of sugars or sugar alcohols in their tissues. In this case, however, the sugars are used to keep just the insides of cells from freezing, rather than the whole organism. So ice forms all around the outsides of the internal organs, sucking water out of them, but leaving behind a thick syrupy solution inside cells which can't freeze.

Third part to freeze tolerance is the need for all organs to survive through the freeze without any deliveries of oxygen or nutrients via the blood, which is frozen. The low body temperature during freezing helps, for metabolic rate is also very low, but all freeze tolerant animals have also enhanced the abilities of their organs to survive without oxygen.

Most freeze tolerant insects use the sugar alcohol, glycerol, for antifreeze as do their freeze avoiding insect cousins, but the wood frog, and other frogs, use glucose which is the normal blood sugar of all vertebrate animals. What is unique for wood frogs, however, is that they easily tolerate blood sugar levels that are 100-fold or higher than normal and show none of massive injuries that are suffered by human diabetics when their blood sugar rises by only 2-10 fold. Hence, these frogs may have some important lessons to tell us about how an animal can manage hugely high sugar levels in its tissues without ill effect.

Interesting aspect to freeze tolerance of animals which has not yet been explored is the fact that, while frozen, organ functions cease - heart beat stops, breathing halts: what signals these organs to shut off and how they are reactivated after thawing.

Finally, freeze tolerant animals also appear to enhance their body's damage repair mechanisms in order to deal with any physical injuries to organs that may be caused by ice while they are frozen. In wood frogs, for example, the levels of clotting proteins rise in the blood so that any bleeding that is detected during thawing can be quickly halted.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Polar Bears - world's largest land predator

Polar Bears are capable of jumping as high as 6 feet and can run as fast as 25mph. The polar bear or the sea/ice bear are the world's largest land predators.

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. maritimus

The world's largest land predator, Polar bears grow twice as big as the Siberian Tigers. Male polar bears may grow 10 feet tall and weigh over 1400 pounds. Females reach seven feet and weigh 650 pounds. In the wild polar bears live up to age 25. Their skin, nose and lips are black in color. Their fur is thicker than any other bears’ even covering their feet, for warmth and traction on ice. Polar bears also have a thick layer of blubber which provides buoyancy and insulation. Despite what we think, a polar bear's fur is not white. Each hair is clear hollow tube. Polar bears look white because each hollow hair reflects the light. On sunny days, it traps the sun's infrared heat and keeps the bear warm at 98 degrees F (when they're resting). Polar bear fur is oily and water repellent. The hairs don't mat when wet, allowing the polar bears to easily shake free of water and any ice that may form after swimming.

They have wide front paws with slightly webbed toes that help them swim. Polar bears’ long neck and narrow skull aid in streamlining the animal in water, and their large, flat and oar-like front feet make them strong swimmers. They paddle with their front feet and steer with their hind feet. Paw pads with rough surfaces help prevent polar bears from slipping up on the ice. The Polar bears have been known to swim 100 miles (161 kilometers) at a stretch.

Polar bears primarily eat seals. They often rest silently at a seal’s breathing hole in the ice, waiting for a seal in the water to surface. Once the seal comes up, the bear will spring and sink its jagged teeth into the seal’s head. Sometimes the polar bear stalks its prey. It may see a seal lying near its breathing hole and slowly move toward it, then charge it, biting its head or grabbing it with its massive claws. A polar bear may also hunt by swimming beneath the ice.

Humans are the polar bears only predator. Baby polar bears often starve. In fact, 70 percent do not live to their third birthday. Sometimes seals are hard to find, especially in the summer when the ice has melted. All across the Arctic, man is moving in to mine oil and coal and there is less space for the polar bear to live. Oil spills can be very dangerous. A bear with oil on its coat cannot regulate its body temperature properly. If the bear eats the oil while grooming it could die. Man made pollution is also a cause of death. At each stage of the food chain, pollutants get more concentrated. By the end when the polar bear eats the seal and it could be lethal.

Articles and Contents Republishing Policy

This blog provides articles and information about pets and animals. Readers, publishers and visitors are allowed to share, republish or reprint articles or partial contents found in this blog and should kindly follow the following terms and conditions;
  • °-°You should also provide free access to the articles or contents and should be sold at any manner.
  • °-°Upon copying/re-publishing, you should also include a reference to the author and the site.
  • °-°You should provide direct link/s to the certain page or homepage of the site.
  • °-°When translating to other language and republishing any contents from this site, the above terms should also be observed.
  • °-°For any other concerns about republishing, please email the author at
Here's the code for link Reference upon republication:

It should be look like this: Animal Facts and Trivia articles courtesy of