The aye-aye is one of the strangest looking, most endangered primates in the world. It is only found in the north-eastern parts of Madagascar.
The aye-aye lives in tropical rainforests. It holds the record of being the world’s largest nocturnal primate.
Aye-ayes are as big as house cats; and are dark brown or black in color. They feature a bushy tail that is slightly larger than their bodies. They also have big eyes, large, sensitive ears, and sender fingers on both their hands and feet. Ayes-ayes have pointed claws on every finger and toe except for their opposable toes. These special toes, act like a human’s thumb, helping the primate to swing from branch to branch.
Aye-ayes spend most of their lives high up in rainforest trees. They are nocturnal, spending most of the day curled up in a ball-like nest of twigs and leaves. At night, the aye-aye goes out hunting. It perches on tree branches and listens for wood-boring insect larvae. It then uses its long middle finger to fish the bugs out. The same method is used to dig flesh out of coconuts and fruits.
Many people, especially those native to Madagascar, consider the aye-aye as a symbol of bad luck. For this particular belief, aye-ayes have been killed on sight. Such hunting and killing, along with habitat destruction, have made the aye-aye critically endangered. Till today, they are protected by law.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Aye-ayes are the only primate to use echolocation. This is done by listening to the sound waves that are produced by tapping its finger on any surface. [/junkie-alert]
Echidnas are known as spiny anteaters. They are one of the only two egg-laying mammals (The other one being the platypus). These animals are found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea.
The echidna has spines like a porcupine, a pouch like a kangaroo, a beak like a bird, and lays eggs like reptiles. This small, solitary mammal is unique and bizarre. These animals are usually brown or black in color. Albino echidna have been seen, but rarely. The echidna’s spines are actually modified hairs that keep the echidna safe as well as warm.
The echidna has a slender and long snout which functions as a nose and a mouth at the same time. Echidnas use their snouts to hunt. They eat ants and termites, sucking up prey with their long, sticky tongue. Grubs, insect larvae, and worms are also a good source of protein for the echidna.
Echidnas are active both during the day and at night. They detect underground prey using their sense of smell and also by identifying electrical signals from the insect. When prey is found, the echidna digs a hole with its sharp claws and pointed snout. Then, it can lick up its meal.
The main predators of the echidna includes: dingoes, eagles, foxes, Tasmanian devils, and feral cats. When met with danger, the echidna curls up into a tight, spiky ball to prevent predators to hurt or eat it.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Baby echidnas, also known as puggles, are born hairless and blind. They can be as small as jellybeans. These helpless creatures live in their mother’s pouch until their spines develop, which is about 45 days. [/junkie-alert]
The Markhor is a large species of wild goat found in northeastern Afghanistan, northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, southern Tajikistan, and other mountainous regions of western and central Asia. It is also known as the Shakhawat; and is the national animals of Pakistan. The Markhor is commonly found in high-altitude monsoon forests.
The Markhor can be identified by its long, brown or black summer coat or white winter coat and enormous spiral horns. A male markhor’s spiral horns can grow up to 1.5 meters in length; whereby a female’s can only reach up to 50 centimeters. Male markhor’s are much different from females as they have longer hair on their chins, throat, chest, and legs. Females are reddish in color, with shorter hair, and beard.
Markhor are diurnal animals, which means that they are active early in the morning and late in the afternoon. During these times are when the Markhor hunts. The Markhor is a herbivorous animal that grazes on a variety of grasses, leaves, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Like other wild goats, the Markhor plays a very important role within their ecosystem. They help to spread seeds of shrubs and shorter trees through their dung.
Despite living on such extreme mountains, there are still predators that prey on the markliors. Packs of wolves, wild cats, lynxes, and snow leopards are examples of the main predator of the markhor. Humans have also destroyed and deforested their natural habitat. Today, despite being protected by Pakistan, the markhor is considered to be an endangered species, with only less than 2,500 individuals living in the wild.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The markhor’s horn is considered to be majestic; and is a prized object among trophies for hunters and poachers. The markhor’s horn is also found in Asian medicine markets, as it is believed to possess healing abilities. [/junkie-alert]
The saiga is a type of antelope. It can be found in Asia and the southeastern parts of Europe. Saigas mainly live in grasslands, savannahs, deserts, shrub lands, and semi-desert areas.
Saigas are known for their large, humped nose that hangs over their mouths. This nose if inflatable and flexible. It helps the saiga to breathe clean air during dusty summers and warm air during freezing cold winters. The body of the saiga is covered in cinnamon-colored fur. During the winter, this coat becomes thicker to keep the animal warm. Only male saigas have horns. These horns are used for fighting off other males for mating or territory purposes.
Saigas are herbivores. They graze grasses and eat different type of lichens (slow-growing plants on rocks and trees), herbs, and shrubs. After feeding early in the morning and late in the afternoon, the saiga rests and chews its cud. Cud is food that is regurgitated and chewed again and again. This helps the saiga to extract more nutrient from the food that they eat.
The saiga is considered to be critically endangered. Mostly because of humans, who use their precious horns for Chinese medicine. Whole herds are slaughtered for their horns, which cause the saiga population to drop drastically. Natural predators of the saiga include: wolves and foxes, which prey on unguarded calves.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Saigas are famous for their long and exhausting migration. This migration starts in November. All the saigas travel towards the winter grounds in the south during this time. [/junkie-alert]
The saola is one of the rarest mammal in the world. It is a forest-dwelling bovine (category of water buffalo, antelope, and cattle). It is only found in the Annamite Mountain of Laos and Vietnam. Saolas live in dense forests with a good supply of running water, usually near riverbanks. This endangered species was only discovered in 1992.
The saola has a chestnut-colored coat, usually red, brown, or dark brown, white facial markings, and various type of body markings. A saola has a tricolored tail: brown at the top, beige in the middle, and black at the tip. A saola has slightly curved, black horns that can grow up to 50 centimeters long.
Saolas eat small leafy plants, especially fig leaves, carious grasses, fruits, seeds, berries, and herbs. They are diurnal animals, which means that they feed in the morning and in the afternoon. Saolas feed by nibbling from plant to plant throughout their habitat.
Verry little is known about the saola. There are thought to be only less than 750 individuals left. Tigers and crocodiles are thought to be the natural predators of the saolas; but their biggest threat are humans, who hunt and kill these animals for their prized horns. Saolas are also commonly caught in traps that are set for other animals.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Saolas are also known as the Asian Unicorn; not because of its horn, but because that it is so rarely seen that it is considered to be a mythical creature. [/junkie-alert]
Solenodons are some of the most unique and rarest mammals in the world. 30 million years ago, they used to thrive the whole of North America. Now, they are only found in the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola.
Solenodons look like large, plump shrews with long and wide snouts and multicolored fur. These mammals can grow up to a foot long. Their scaly, naked tail adds on another 10 inches to the solenodon’s length. A solenodon’s snout is remarkably flexible. This is used for navigation and to catch prey.
A solenodon’s diet include insects, worms, fruits, roots, vegetables, and other small vertebrates and invertebrates. Solenodons have a weird habit of only drinking while bathing. This habit has been observed by scientists on a captivated Solenodon.
Solenodons are clumsy and are incapable of jumping. Although, they can climb and run pretty fast. when they run on their toes, they end up going in a zigzagged course. “When alarmed, they may trip over their own toes! Solenodons are potential prey for cats, dogs, and mongooses. When faced with a predator, a Solenodon will stop, sit still, and hide its head while predators pursue them.
Conservation efforts have been raised to increase local awareness. However, despite all their work, the Solenodon can be hard to save when scientists don’t know much about it. Their nocturnal nature makes research hard to do.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The Solenodon is one of the only few venomous mammals. The Solenodon injects venom through its modified teeth, almost like a snake. Its saliva is highly toxic! In fact, the name “Solenodon” actually comes from the Greek work which means “grooved tooth”. [/junkie-alert]
The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe. It has stripes like a zebra, but is closer related to giraffes. This animal can be found in the northern, central, and eastern parts of Congo, Africa. Okapis live in rainforests, where there are damp and dense vegetation.
The okapi, despite being smaller than its long-necked cousin, has much in common. Both giraffes and okapis have long-shaped faces and large eyes. They also share the similarity of their long tongues, capable of growing up to 30 centimeters in full length. In terms of other physical features, the okapi has a reddish brown body and a slightly oily pelt that has zebra-like stripes. It also has skin-covered horns.
Okapis are herbivores. It survives on a diet composed of plants. They eat leaves, twigs, shoots, fruits, berries, fungi, and other plant parts. They feed by using their long tongue. This tongue is extremely useful and is used often, to feed and to groom itself. An adult okapi can eat up to 65 pounds of vegetation in a day!
Okapis are considered to be endangered. Their main natural predator is the leopard, which is able to catch both adult okapis and calves. Usually, the coloration of the okapi will blend it against its background, making it hard to detect. Other threats to the okapi include loss of habitat and hunting. The okapi is now being protected under the law in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 to 35,000 individuals left in the wild.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Okapi calves can nurse within 21 minutes of birth and can walk in about 30 minutes! During the first 6 to 8 weeks of its life, the okapi calf doesn’t defecate. This is to prevent predators like the leopard to find the calf by scent. [/junkie-alert]
08. Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo
Goodfellow’s Tree kangaroos, also known as marsupials, are tree-climbing kangaroos. They are, however, not closely related to their land-dwelling cousins, the kangaroo. Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos can be found in New Guinea and the border of central Irian Jaya, Indonesia. They can be found in tropical forests, where there are many dense and tall trees.
Like other tree kangaroos, the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is quite different from its land-dwelling cousins. Its legs are a bit smaller than its forelegs, which are strong and have hooked claws at the tip. These claws help the tree kangaroo to grasp tree branches. It long tail also helps with balancing. The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo’s body is covered in chestnut-colored, reddish brown fur. Its face is a gray-brown color with yellow cheeks. This little fellow is pretty colorful, unique in its ways.
The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo feeds mainly on the leaves of the Silkwood tree. Although, it also eats other fruits, cereals, flowers, and grasses. The tree kangaroo has a huge stomach which has bacteria to break down the leaves and grasses.
The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is considered to be threatened with extinction. This is due to overhunting and habitat loss from agriculture and slash-and-burn farming. Dogs are one of the natural predators of the tree kangaroo.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Female tree kangaroos, like land-dwelling kangaroos, keep their baby, called a joey, in their pouches for almost 10 months! The joey gets all its needs from Mom, without having to leave the pouch! [/junkie-alert]
09. Pink Fairy Armadillo
The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest species of armadillo known! This unique animal lives in dry grasslands and sandy plains of central Argentina, South America. This sandy environment goes well with the armadillo’s excellent digging skills. This is the only species of armadillo whose dorsal shell is almost completely separated from its body.
The pink fairy armadillo ranges from lengths of 90 to 115 millimeters. Its weight, including its tail, weigh less than a pound. The pink fairy armadillo is about the size of a guinea pig. It has silky white hair and a pinkish outer shell. The armadillo has two massive sets of claws. One on its front limbs; and one on its hind limbs. These claws help the armadillo to dig burrows in compacted soil very quickly. The pink fairy armadillo has small eyes; and relies highly on touch and hearing to navigate.
The pink fairy armadillo eats mainly ants and larvae that it finds underground. Other secondary food sources may include worms, snails, and other insects. Their claws help them to capture and devour prey easily. The pink fairy armadillo spend most of its time underground, like a mole. It moves effortlessly through the sand, as if swimming. This is why it was nicknamed the “sand swimmer”.
Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction, the population of the pink fairy armadillo is decreasing. They have been listed as Near-threatened in 2006; but there is insufficient data to judge its total numbers living in the wild. When a natural predator approaches the armadillo, it just digs a hole and make an escape burrow!
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The pink fairy armadillo shell gets its pinkish color from the blood vessels in the armadillo’s body that lies close to its surface. [/junkie-alert]
10. Babirusa (Pig Deer)
The Babirusa is also known as the pig deer in the Malay language. It is native to the Indonesia islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Bum, and Sula. The Babirusa lives in moist, tropical rainforests or near the banks of rivers and lakes. The Babirusa is most similar to wild boars, pigs, and warthogs.
The Babirusa looks like a pig. They are brown or grey in color and have a thin coating of hair on their skin. They can weigh up to 220 pounds! The Babirusa has two pairs of tusks. Both the upper and lower canine teeth are enlarged and curved backwards towards the face. These tusks can grow up to 30 centimeters long. If they grow any longer, they can pierce through the babirusa’s skull between their eyes.
These wild pigs have excellent senses of smell and hearing. They are also fast runners and great swimmers. These abilities help them to forage for food in the wild. Babirusas are omnivores. Their diet consists of fruit, grasses, mushrooms, leaves, carrion (carcass of a dead animal), and smaller animals. Babirusas use their hooves to dig up underground insects and larvae. They also stand on their two hind legs to reach higher leaves on trees.
Babirusas do share a similarity with domestic pigs – that is they wallow in mud to ward off parasites. Their main threat are humans, who cause habitat destruction. With less places to hide, they make easy catch for hunters and poachers. Although, babirusas are protected in Indonesia. Poaching is illegal where the Babirusa lives.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: What are the babirusa’s tusks used for? Well, this remains a mystery. One theory is that males use their tusks to fight off other males. This seems reasonable… until you observe how babirusas really fight – they “box” each other with their front hoofs while balancing on their hind legs. Moreover, a babirusa’s tusks are not built to withstand pressure. They are fragile and easily broken. For now, the purpose of those magnificent tusks remains a mystery. [/junkie-alert]
A fossa is a cat-like creature that is closely related to the mongoose. They can only be found in the tropical rainforests of the Madagascar. Fossae (plural form of fossa) are the largest predators on the island. They do not have any natural enemies; but they have been listed as an endangered species due to extreme deforestation.
Fossae have black, red, or brown fur covering their long, slender bodies. Their facial features include round ears, large eyes, a short snout, and long whiskers. Fossae can grow up to 34 inches, with a tail of almost the same length. Fossae only weigh between 15 and 28 pounds. This light weight help them to be more agile when climbing trees.
Fossae are nocturnal animals. They are most active at night; but when food sources are low, they can switch to daylight hunting. Fossae are carnivores. Their diet contains of 30 species of lemurs. They will also consume wild boars, lizards, frogs, small birds, reptiles, and rodents. The fossa hunts at night. Its dark colors help it to camouflage with its surroundings, making it easier to catch prey.
Due to the fact that the fossa is one of the largest natural predator in Madagascar, it has no natural enemies of its own. Humans pose the biggest threat to the fossa. Fossae are hunted by humans in fear of hurting their livestock. Deforestation also plays a role in the fossa’s decreasing numbers. Due to the fact that fossae not only require large, solitary territory to live, but are also slow to develop, it is thought that their numbers will continue to fall.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Fossae communicate through scent glands. Both male and female fossae have scent glands on their chests and under the base of their long tails. Fossae mark rocks, shrubs, and trees to communicate with one another and to keep track of each other. Their glands also release a pungent smell when the fossae are frightened or annoyed. [/junkie-alert]
12. Zebra Duiker
The zebra duiker is a very small species of antelope. It can only be found in certain parts of West Africa: in the Sierra Leone, on the Ivory Coast, and in the eastern parts of Liberia. Zebra duikers are only found in closed-canopy rainforests. They are extremely sensitive to forest disturbance, which also explains their declining population.
The zebra duiker has a reddish-brown body with light gold stripy markings from its shoulders to its rump. Usually a zebra duiker has 12 to 16 black or dark brown stripes. The striping patterns on each individual zebra duiker is unique. They have pale underbellies. The tail of the zebra duiker is reddish-brown in color and lacks stripes.
The zebra duiker is a diurnal species, which means that it is active early in the morning and late in the afternoon. It possesses a shy personality and is rarely seen in the wild. The zebra duiker feeds on fruits, as well as leaves and grass. Because the zebra duiker is so small, it depends a lot on other clumsy animals who drop fruits and other edible treats from treetops. On rare occasions, the zebra duiker eats rodents.
Being so small, the zebra duiker has plenty of natural enemies. Predators of the zebra duiker includes African Golden Cats, leopards, African Rock Pythons, and eagles. Areas in which zebra duikers live are now under consideration for being turned into a national park. Its conservation status is now listed under vulnerable. It has only less than 23, 000 individuals left in the wild.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The skull of the zebra duiker has a hard front bone. This part of the head is used to crack apart the shells of fruits that it eats. [/junkie-alert]
13. Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil is the largest marsupial (family of kangaroos, koalas, and other animals, usually with the female having pouches) carnivore in Australia. It is native to the island of Tasmania, Australia. They prefer to live off coastal scrublands and forests. Tasmanian devils used to live in different areas of Australia in the past; but now their numbers have decreased as a result of overhunting.
These devils are mostly black with white markings on the rump or the chest. Adult males are usually bigger than the females. Adult Tasmanian devils have heads that look almost too big for their smaller-sized bodies. This is because these carnivores need powerful jaws to crunch through bones.
Tasmanian devils can be quite active during the day; but are actually nocturnal hunters. These animals are mainly scavengers, preferring to eat carrion rather than hunting live prey. Although, they still hunt fish, snakes, birds, insects, lizards, wallabies, and smaller animals. Tasmanian devils are voracious, which means that they consume every part of their prey – including hairs, organs, and bones.
Biologists suggest that the Tasmanian devil’s extinction on the mainland has something to do with the introduction of Asian dogs and dingoes. Another fact is because of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). This disease affects the mouth of the animal, which prevents it from feeding and will eventually lead to death.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Like other marsupials, the Tasmanian devil stores fat in its tail. This way, it has something to draw on when food is scarce. A healthy devil will have a fat tail; similarly, an unhealthy one would have a skinny, limp tail. [/junkie-alert]
14. Roloway Monkey
The Roloway monkey is an endangered species of Old World Monkey found in a small area of eastern Ivory Coast, on the west coast of Africa and in the forests of Ghana, between the Pra and Sassandra Rivers. These monkeys are not very adaptable to changes in their habitat, which makes them vulnerable to human activities. Roloway monkeys mostly live in forests and are found under the canopy of rainforests.
The Roloway monkey is distinguished by its long beard and broad brow bands. Like its close relative, the Diana monkey, the Roloway monkey has black fur on its face and much of its body. It has a white beard, chest, and throat. It has a reddish, orangey patch of fur on its back.
The Roloway monkey consumes a variety of insects, fruits, seeds, and sometimes, flowers. They feed on parts of the plant of almost 130 species. Other food sources include: fruit pulp, seeds that are rich in oil, young leaves, and twigs. These monkeys are diurnal too, preferring to sleep throughout nights.
The Roloway monkey is among the most threatened primates in Africa. Roloway monkeys are hunted by multiple predators, including: crowned hawk-eagles, leopards, and even chimpanzees! But most importantly, humans hunt these monkeys for their meat, also known as brushmeat (meat from non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, and amphibians). Brushmeat is considered a delicacy in West Africa. Their habitat is also becoming fragmented due to human settlements and farms.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Like all monkeys, the Roloway monkey communicates by sound. They use calls to alert their groups, or another monkey. [/junkie-alert]
15. Proboscis Monkey
The proboscis monkey, also known as the long-nosed monkey, is a reddish-brown Old World Monkey. It is native to the south-east Asian island of Borneo. They are one of the largest primates in the world.
The first thing that you’ll notice about a proboscis monkey is its large nose! In fact, they are named for their unique nose! Male proboscis monkeys are much larger than their female companions. They have a much bigger nose too!
The proboscis monkey can grow up to 76 centimeters tall, and can have a tail that is as long as their body too! This tail is used to balance on treetops. Adult proboscis monkeys are light brown in color with a richer-colored head and a slightly pinkish face.
Although proboscis monkeys are technically omnivorous animals, their diet consists mainly of tough mangrove leaves which are pulled from the surrounding trees. Proboscis monkeys have special stomachs with unique chambers to help digest these leaves. Besides leaves, a proboscis monkey also balances its diet with young shoots, seeds, and unripe fruits along with passing insects on occasion. As most of the monkey^ needs are high in the trees, it hardly comes down to the ground.
Due to their large sizes and almost living their whole lives in trees, the proboscis monkey have actually very few predators in their natural environment. The only exception is the clouded leopard, who prey on grounded proboscis monkeys. The biggest threat to this animal is humans. Deforestation is the culprit of endangering the proboscis monkey. These monkeys do not have the ability to adapt well to human activities in their territory.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The nose of a male proboscis monkey can grow so big that it hangs down over its mouth! The monkey must then push it aside to eat! However, while calling, the nose straightens up and echoes the call of the male monkey. This is either to impress females or to warn other rival males in the territory. The large nose of the male proboscis monkey is also known to become red and swollen if the monkey is either angry or excited. [/junkie-alert]