Dec 22

With the holidays approaching and Christmas just around the corner, the ARKive team brings you their guide to the ultimate festive films, with a wildlife twist of course!

Dove Actually

Collared dove photo

These collared doves could give the actors in this romantic comedy a run for their money when it comes to courtship!

Elf(in skimmer)

Elfin skimmer photo

While Buddy is probably the tallest elf you’ve ever seen, the elfin skimmer is the smallest dragonfly in North America!

The Polar (Bear) Express

Polar bear photo 

Although they may look bulky, polar bears can actually reach speeds of about 40 kilometres per hour over short distances!

How the Finch Stole Christmas!

 Greenfinch photo

This greenfinch might not have stolen Christmas, but he doesn’t look too happy at the thought of someone stealing his berries!

Jingle All the Ray

 Reef manta ray photo

These reef manta rays might not have to brave a toy store on Christmas Eve, but this feeding frenzy looks almost as chaotic!

The Nightjar Before Christmas

 Nightjar photo

While it may not really be the stuff  of nightmares, the eerie nightjar is most active during the twilight and superstition has it that this species used to steal milk from goats! 

Home Abalone

 Black abalone photo

It may not be completely ‘alone’ yet, but sadly the black abalone is Critically Endangered and has suffered serious declines.

Jack(daw) Frost

 Jackdaw photo

While the jackdaw might not be much use in a snowball fight, this handsome member of the crow family does have distinctive frosty blue eyes!

Barnacle on 34th Street

 Goose barnacle photo

It might not be miraculous, but it was once widely believed that barnacle geese developed from goose barnacles like these on the sides of ships!

The Muppet Christmas Caracal

 Caracal photo

With ears this large, the caracal wouldn’t look out of place in a Muppets line up!

Can you think of any other festive wildlife films we’ve missed? Post your suggestions in the comments section below!

Claire Lamb, ARKive Content & Outreach Officer

Dec 15

As the festive season approaches, many of us will inevitably end up overindulging in the coming weeks, despite our best intentions! We humans are not alone however, for there are several members of the animal kingdom who are no strangers to seasonal excess or super-snacking!

Brown bear

Brown bear photo

As winter approaches, brown bears can consume up to 40 kilograms of food a day, but with good cause! Brown bears hibernate, sometimes for more than half a year at a time without any food or water, utilising stored fat for energy. In the spring, these bears may weigh half as much as they did going into hibernation.

Gila monster

Gila monster photo

The largest lizard in the United States, the voracious Gila monster feeds on eggs, young birds, rodents and lizards, with juveniles able to consume over 50% of their body weight at one time. Check out this video of a Gila monster feasting on a nest of eggs! When food is scarce however, Gila monsters are able to survive for months using the fat stored in their particularly large tails.

Walrus

Walrus photo

Despite being a large and bulky creature, the walrus predominantly feeds on small invertebrates on the sea floor. Feeding on such small prey means that the walrus needs to be a highly efficient forager to find enough food to sustain itself and maintain the thick layer of blubber needed as insulation from the cold Arctic waters. After all that foraging it seems this group have hauled out for a well-earned rest!

Koala

Koala photo

Feeding on fibrous and highly toxic eucalyptus leaves may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the koala readily consumes up to 500 grams of these leaves a day. This diet does not provide much energy, so the koala helps compensate for this by spending long periods sleeping. Nothing like a nice nap after a good meal!

 Blue whale

Blue whale photo

A species almost as large as a Boeing 737 is always going to need a lot to eat, but in the summer feeding season, the blue whale really outdoes itself! Gorging on up to 40 million tiny krill, the blue whale can consume an astounding 4 tonnes or more each day!

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture photo

Unlike most birds, the turkey vulture has a highly developed sense of smell, meaning it is often the first scavenger to arrive at a carcass and it can consume plenty of rotting meat before being driven away by larger birds. Should a predator arrive, this species has a rather unpleasant defence mechanism – it will vomit as a deterrent, and possibly to lighten the load - enabling it to take off more easily and escape!

Can you think of any other examples of overindulgence from the natural world? Get in touch and let us know!
Claire Lamb, ARKive Content Officer

Dec 10

As the festive season gets into full swing, we’re sure a few of you will be warming up your vocal cords in preparation for a bit of carolling action. To help get you in the mood for some musical mayhem, we’ve had a root through the ARKive collection to find some of the species that might make good (or bad!) additions to any party of vibrant vocalists.

Delightful duet – Western hoolock gibbon

The call of the western hoolock gibbon is as energetic as the species itself, which can swing gracefully through the trees of its forest home at speeds of up to 56km/hour. The impressive vocal gymnastics of this species can be heard over great distances, so this primate would be a great asset to any raucous carolling choir!

Western hoolock gibbon image

Hooved honkers – Plains zebra

If you listen carefully, you can hear the first few notes of ‘Jingle Bells’ in the call of this plains zebra! This braying bark is a key method of communication for zebras, and is used alongside body movements and facial expressions. Let’s hope these guys have good memories for music and lyrics, as they might have some difficulty holding a carol book!

Plains zebra image

Jolly jingles – Sidewinder

Despite being the stoutest of all the rattlesnake species, this reptilian rattler can grow up to 80cm in length. It is found in south-western U.S.A and north-western Mexico, where it ambushes small lizard and rodent prey from the cover of isolated shrubs. The sidewinder could provide some interesting percussion accompaniment to a group of carollers, though I’m not sure how close you would want to get to one of these venomous critters!

Sidewinder image

Booming beat – Kakapo

If you feel like you need a little something extra on your carolling outing, why not invite the kakapo along to create a resonant boom to back up all your favourite festive tunes? We can’t guarantee he’ll be able to keep in time, but at least it’ll get the choral company noticed! This booming noise is made by male kakapos to attract a mate, and can be heard up to five kilometres away.

Kakapo image

Quacking canid – Dhole

You know that feeling of surprise when you hear somebody sing, and their voice doesn’t sound at all like you’d expect it to? That’s how we felt when we came across this carolling audition tape for the dhole! This Asian species can produce a wide range of vocalisations, including a distinctive whistle which is used to reassemble pack members in its thick forest habitat.

Dhole image

Warbling wonder – Blackbird

Many of you avid music-lovers will recognise the beautiful song of the blackbird, and would be happy to have this musical avian in your carolling group. This species produces a range of vocalisations, including a loud alarm call which has been described as ‘pli-pli-pli’.

Blackbird image

Honking harmonies – Emperor penguin

Emperor penguin colonies may be very noisy and somewhat tuneless places to be, but also extremely cold ones! This species can survive in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees C, and withstand windspeeds of up to 200km/hour. Emperor penguins might not win any prizes as far as pleasant-sounding vocals go, but this species certainly deserves top marks for its parental care. While the female heads seawards to feed after laying her egg, the male will stay put without feeding for four months, in constant darkness, to incubate the egg. Now that’s dedication!

Emperor penguin image

Choral creatures – Bright-eyed frog (Boophis albilabris)

Does anyone else think that the bright-eyed frog has a call that sounds strangely like squeaky rubber?! This large tree frog, whose scientific species name albilabris means ‘white-lipped’ (can you guess why?!), can grow up to 81mm in length. The bright-eyed frog is endemic to Madagascar, where it can be found in moist rainforests.

Bright-eyed frog image

Squawky solo – Galapagos penguin

This feathered fellow certainly seems to be putting a lot of effort into its call, but if this were an audition, I’m not so sure the Galapagos penguin would be offered a solo! This species is the most northerly of all penguins, and sadly, as of 2007, there were just 1,000 individuals left in the world.

Galapagos penguin image

Cacophonous canines – Grey wolf

The grey wolf is a highly social and intelligent species of canid, living in packs of between 5 and 12 individuals. As well as scent-marking, the grey wolf uses howling as a way of advertising territorial boundaries. It is an effective way of avoiding encounters with other packs, which can lead to fatal battles. Sadly, I don’t think this species would make an ideal choir member, as the individuals don’t seem to be able to howl in tune!

Grey wolf image

Ho, ho, ho! – Barasingha

This barasingha, a threatened deer species found only in India and Nepal, appears to be doing his best Santa Claus impression!

Barasingha image

Ho, ho, ho! And a happy holiday season to you all!

 

Dec 14

As a general rule the animals on ARKive don’t wear jumpers, but to mark the launch of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day today, we thought we would highlight a few species that could perhaps do with one.! We’ve also unearthed a plant that surprisingly seems to take part in Christmas Jumper Day all year round…

Hairless babies

Dormouse photo

Hang on in there dormouse, not long until you can hibernate!

As a small mammal living in a temperate climate, one of the main challenges the common dormouse faces in life is maintaining its body temperature. An adult dormouse has to hibernate for up to seven months of the year to survive the colder months so it can’t be too much fun for a hairless newborn. Fortunately a cosy nest will protect the baby dormice which spend the first ten weeks of their life with their mother.

Photo of common dormice
I hope that nest can keep them warm…

Hairless adults

If there was a competition for the animal most in need of a new wardrobe, the award would probably go to the naked mole rat every time. The naked mole rat controls its body temperature by moving to different parts of its burrow according to the temperature, with the tunnels closer to the surface being warmer. It is just as well as it may take more than a Christmas jumper for this tunnel dweller to be considered ‘cute’.

Naked mole rat photo

I don't know if red and green are your colours...

Cold and wet

In addition to being entirely absent of hair, the wood frog also has to make do with moist skin on top of that. Yet the wood frog can be found as far north as Alaska, so it must be doing something right when faced with cold conditions. Amazingly the wood frog can survive being partially frozen many times over the winter due to the special chemicals in its blood. Even so I reckon a nice warm jumper would not go a miss.

Photo of a wood frog

Personally I find it easier just to put another layer...

Early (feather) baldness

Feathers are an essential insulator  for the many bird species living in cold climates. Magellanic penguin chicks are left unattended for days while the adults go off to forage and so depend on their first layer of feathers to keep out the cold. Sadly the Wildlife Conservation Society recently reported large numbers of chick have succumbed to a feather-loss disorder, resulting in these bald babies gaining weight at a slower rate than their feathered fellows.

Magellanic penguin chick

Fortunately this chick has a nice thick layer of feathers

An exception – the plant with a pre-made jumper

Woolly willow

Woolly willow on a cold day

It’s not just the name of the woolly willow that’s in line with the idea of a nice warm Christmas jumper, the coat of hairs on each leaf also add a furry touch to this shrubby willow.

George Bradford, ARKive Researcher

Dec 7

Christmas is the season to be jolly but it can also be a season of excess. Here are a few simple tips to help you reduce your Christmas carbon footprint this year, so that you can enjoy a more eco-friendly and sustainable holiday season.

Keep it Real

The unmistakable smell of fresh pine trees always conjures up images of festive cheer. Real Christmas trees are more eco-friendly than artificial ones, providing you take into account where they come from. For example, in Britain many Christmas tree growers are registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, which means their trees are grown according to strict regulations. When it comes to buying your tree, local and organic is generally best. It’s also important to make sure it is a native fir – for the UK this would be a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

Another tip is to buy trees with roots – that way the tree can be replanted and even reused next year. If this is not possible then try to recycle your tree. Many local councils run Christmas tree recycling schemes – check out ones in your area.

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)

 

Snuggle Up

Before turning up the thermostat try wearing an extra layer, or curling up with a blanket. Keeping the curtains closed also keeps the heat in and saves energy. Take a tip from the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) which tucks its nose under its tail to keep warm.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

 

Shop Local, Shop Organic

Buying your Christmas food locally not only saves you time and money, it also helps the environment. Buying locally reduces your carbon footprint and saves on the costs of packaging and transport. An organic turkey will have been reared in more humane conditions and be chemical-free.

Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

 

Natural decor

Instead of artificial Christmas decorations, take a walk in a nearby forest and look for fallen pine cones and sprigs of holly, ivy and evergreen branches. All these natural decorations will biodegrade, so when you’re finished with them pop them on the compost. Not to mention you’ll have all that free storage space that Christmas decorations usually fill! Common holly (Ilex aquifolium) is widespread throughout Britain.

Common holly (Ilex aquifolium)

 

Comfort Shopping

It’s getting cold out there and Christmas traffic can be a nightmare: if you do have to leave the warmth of your home, taking public transport is one way you can be a little bit greener whilst avoiding the jams.

American bison (Bison bison)

 

Eco gifts

Giving gifts at Christmas is a way to bond with loved ones. Buying thoughtful gifts made from recycled materials like rubber and plastic bags shows you are also thinking about the environment. This belted kingfisher (Megaceryl alcyon) knows exactly what gift to give.

Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

 

Have a very merry eco-friendly Christmas!

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

About

RSS feedArkive.org is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency:

Arkive twitter

Twitter: ARKive