Red Reef Hermit Crab

The Red Reef Hermit Crab (Dardanus arrosor) is a decapod crustacean in the Diogenidae family of crabs. It is also known as the Mediterranean Hermit Crab.

The Red Reef Hermit Crab has a beige-coloured shell, called a carapace. The body of the Hermit Crab is hidden in the shell. The colour of its body varies from bright red to bright orange. Its eyes are at the tips of two eyestalks. The eyestalks are streaked red and white, and the eyes are bluish. It is a decapod, which means that it has ten appendages (two claws and eight legs). Its two red claws have a black or yellow tip. The claws have hair-like spines and warty tubercules. The left claw is larger than the right claw. 

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Desmarest’s Hutia

The Desmarest’s Hutia (Capromys pilorides) is a mammal in the Echimyidae family of rodents. It is also known as the Cuban Hutia.

The Desmarest’s Hutia is a short, stocky animal with short legs, and looks like a big hairy rat with a heavy rear end. It has thick, coarse fur ranging from black to brown, often with light-brown to reddish fur on its rump, near its tail, and on the crown of its head. It has small ears, small dark eyes, and a dark nose with dark whiskers. It has five toes with large, black claws.

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Sleepy Sponge Crab

The Sleepy Sponge Crab (Dromia dormia) is a marine (saltwater) crustacean in the Dromiidae family of sponge crabs. It is also known as the Common Sponge Crab.

The Sleepy Sponge Crab is narrow at the mouth and widens at the base of its shell, called a carapace.  The carapace is an exo-skeleton (an outside skeleton). It has ten appendices, with two large nippers (claws) and eight smaller legs. The last two pairs of legs are shorter than the other legs. It walks sideways. It is beige-brown. It carries a sponge on its back, and sometimes other materials, such as wood. 

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What are retractile claws?

What are retractile claws?

Some animals, mainly cats, have retractile claws. 

Retractile claws can be retracted – they can go inwards so that they are not visible. 

Human finger nails and toenails cannot retract – they cannot disappear into the skin of our hands. Our nails are flat, but cat’s claws are narrow, long, rounded, and curved at the tip.

The Cheetah is a cat that cannot retract its claws – they are always visible. The lion, leopard, and domestic cat can retract their claws.

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Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle (Phrynops geoffroanus) is a freshwater aquatic reptile in the Chelidae family of long-necked turtles. It is a chelonian or a chelid. Chelonians include turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. It is also known as the Geoffroy’s Toadhead Turtle. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle is black to dark-grey. Its carapace (top shell) is slightly domed. Its tail and legs are grey-brown, and its plastron underbelly (bottom shell) is yellowish. Instead of its neck sticking in and out, it has a side-necked position where it places its head sideways in its shell. It has four sharp claws on its feet. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle does not have a hinged plastron, so it has to put its head sideways under its shell. But this means that it has a strong neck. When it is upside down, it can flick its muscular neck to right itself – to turn itself the right way up. Other terrapins and tortoises are unable to do this. 

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Fossa

The Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is a carnivorous mammal in the Eupleridae family of euplerids and mongooses.

The Fossa looks like a cross between a large mongoose and a small cougar. It has cat-like features, but with a longer, slimmer body than a cat. Its fur is short, straight, and reddish brown, or light and dark-brown. It has large, rounded ears, brown eyes, and a short, rounded nose with whiskers.

It has semi-retractable claws – it can extend its claws but they cannot retract fully into their big paws. It has flexible ankles that enable it to climb up and down trees head-first. It can also jump from tree to tree. It has a long tail. It has scent glands.

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What are the similarities and differences between the Black Bear and the Brown Bear?

What are the similarities and differences between the Asian Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) and the European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos)? 

The Asian Black Bear has silky black fur and the European Brown Bear has dense brown fur.

The Asian Black Bear is arboreal (living in trees) and the European Black Bear is terrestrial (living on the ground).

The Asian Black Bear is lighter and thinner than the European Brown Bear.

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Asian Black Bear

The Asian Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) is a medium-sized mammal. It is also known as the Asiatic Black Bear, Moon Bear, and White-Chested Bear. It is closely related to the American Black Bear.

The Asian Black Bear is stocky and muscular with black, silky fur. It has a light brown nose and a distinct white patch on its chest. It has bell-shaped ears, which stick out sideways from its head. It has powerful jaws. Its heel pads are large, and it has long, hooked claws for climbing and digging. It has dark eyes, but its eyesight is poor.

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How does a cat sharpen its claws?

How does a cat sharpen its claws?

Human fingernails and cat claws are made from keratin and keep growing their whole life.

Human fingernails do not retract (go in and out) – they do not go back into the skin to make them invisible. 

Most cats and wild cats have claws that are exposed or protracted when they use them and are hidden, sheathed, or retracted when they don’t need them. 

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European Lobster

The European Lobster (Homarus gammarus) is a marine (saltwater) clawed crustacean. It is also known as the Common Lobster. It is related to the American Lobster (Homarus americanus). Crustaceans include crabs, crayfish, and shrimps.

The European Lobster is a decapod with ten legs, including a large pair of claws or nippers. It has a hard, blue shell called an exo-skeleton. It has eye-stalks. The shell is covered with pointed tubercles (like mini-teeth). It has gills to breathe oxygen from the sea water. Its abdomen has six segments, ending with a fan-shaped tail called a telson. 

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Signal Crayfish

The Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) is a freshwater crustacean. Crustaceans include shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. 

The Signal Crayfish has a hard, bluish-brown to reddish-brown exo-skeleton (outer shell), called a carapace. It has a white to pale blue-green patch near its claw hinge like a white signal flag. It is a decapod because it has 10 clawed limbs, with two large, smooth, front claws called nippers. It has eye stalks. It has gills to breathe oxygen from the water. Its abdomen has six segments, ending with a fan-shaped tail called a telson. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Large Hairy Armadillo

The Large Hairy Armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus) is a mammal related to the Anteater and the Sloth. 

The Large Hairy Armadillo has a series of thin, grey bony plates along its head and back. This leathery shell is called a carapace. Its pinkish-white underbelly is covered in long, coarse hair. It has long, powerful claws on its front legs for digging. It has a long snout (nose), small beige ears, and small eyes. 

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Glypheoid Lobster

The Glypheoid Lobster (Neoglyphea inopinata) is a decapod (ten-legged) marine crustacean. Crustaceans include crabs and shrimp. The Glypheoid Lobster is related to the Spiny Lobster.

The Glypheoid Lobster has a hard exoskeleton (outer shell) with eye stalks. The shell is covered with pointed tubercles (like mini-teeth). It has gills to breathe oxygen from the sea water. Its abdomen has six segments, ending with a fan-shaped tail called a telson. It has 10 limbs.

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How does the Tree-Kangaroo climb trees?

How does the Tree-Kangaroo climb trees? 

There is only one species of arboreal (tree living) kangaroos in the world. It is the Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi). Other kangaroos are terrestrial, living on the ground.

The Tree-Kangaroo has adaptations to its feet to enable it to climb trees. 

The Tree-Kangaroo has longer and wider hind (back) feet, with longer curved nails, than the terrestrial kangaroo. 

The Tree-Kangaroo has longer front paws than the terrestrial kangaroo.

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Snapping Turtle

The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine) is a freshwater, aquatic reptile. It is also known as the Snapper or the Common Snapping Turtle. 

The Snapping Turtle has powerful beak-like jaws. It has a slightly domed, serrated-edged (saw-toothed) upper shell, called a carapace. The lower shell, called the plastron, is narrower than the upper shell. It has a long tail – as long as the upper shell – and a long, snake-like neck. It is mostly greyish-brown. It has stumpy legs with claws, and webbing between the claws, which enable it to walk on land and swim in water. It does not have flippers like the sea turtle. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Shield-Tailed Scorpion

The Shield-Tailed Scorpion (Apistobuthus pterygocercus) is a venomous arachnid. An arachnid, like the spider, has eight legs. It is not an insect, because an insect has six legs.

The Shield-Tailed Scorpion has grasping front claws, called pedipalps, and a narrow, segmented tail that curves over its back. At the end of the tail is a venomous stinger. It is usually a sandy-yellow colour. It does not have an inner skeleton (bones). Instead, like the spider, it has an exo-skeleton – an outer skeleton or shield that protects its body. The exo-skeleton is called the ecdysis. 

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Yellow Mongoose

The Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) is a carnivorous mammal. It is also known as the Red Meerkat. 

The Yellow Mongoose has a long body with rough yellowish fur, and a bushy tail. It has lighter highlights on its underbelly and chin. It has a pointy nose and small ears. Its eyes are small and dark. It has long, strong claws that dig through soil. Its claws do not retract, and therefore they are always visible.

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European Badger

The European Badger (Meles meles) is a mammal in the Mustelidae family. It is also known as the Eurasian Badger. 

The European Badger has a small tapered head, a stocky body, small black eyes, and a short tail. It has short plantigrade feet with five toes on each foot, which means that all parts of its feet make contact with the ground. It has long, sharp claws for digging. Its claws are not retractable. Their long snouts are also used for digging. 

It has black, grey, brown, and white fur. Before winter, its fur is mainly black, with a lighter belly. It has two black bands along its head, and there is a wide, white band from its nose to its crown. Its summer fur is much coarser, shorter and sparser, and is deeper in color, with the black tones becoming brownish.

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