Ring-Tailed Lemur: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about ring-tailed lemurs.

  • Ring-tailed lemurs are a large primate found only in Madagascar.
  • They are one of the most widely recognized lemurs due to the very long, characteristic black and white ringed tail.

  • The ring-tailed lemur is a very vocal and social animal. They can live in groups of many lemurs with the females typically being more dominant.
  • Although ring-tailed lemurs readily reproduce while in captivity, they are still considered a threatened species. This is due largely to the destruction of their natural habitat – the forests and scrub land to the south of Madagascar.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs on average weigh about 4-5 lbs, and they have bodies ranging in length from 38-46 cm (excluding their tails).
  • Their tails can be more than 60 cm in length, and they are mainly used to help the animals balance.
  • Their diet mainly consists of fruit and vegetation, but they will eat insects and small vertebrates as they are known to be opportunistic omnivores.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are territorial and they will go to great lengths to protect what they consider to be their home turf. They can stand up on their hind legs and will jump and bare their teeth back in displays of aggression. Males mark the perimeters of their home range using scent glands.
  • They are known to sunbathe with their legs extended out and their undersides completely exposed to the sun. This is very often a group activity.
  • King Julien, a character from the Madagascar animated films, is based on a ring-tailed lemur.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are some of the most vocal of the primates. They communicate to warn each others about predators, to express contentment and to locate other members of the group.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are diurnal – they only come out in the daytime.

Red Admiral Butterfly: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the red admiral butterfly.

  • The red admiral butterfly is a common species of butterfly which is found in warmer areas of Europe, North America and Asia.
  • Its scientific name is Vanessa atalanta.

  • Red admiral butterflies can also be found in New Zealand, where the species was introduced.
  • They often don’t survive cold winters, and migrate to areas where it is warmer.The wings of the red admiral butterfly have distinctive red, black and dark brown colours, as well as orange stripes.
  • The species has a wing span of up to 8 cm.
  • Red Admiral caterpillars feed on nettles, while the adult butterflies eat tree sap, bird droppings and fermenting fruit.
  • They feed from flowers when other food is not available.
  • They often prefer to live in a small area, so that their chances of finding a mate are better.
  • After mating, the female lays her eggs on the upper portions of leaves.
  • The eggs are tiny, usually less than 1 mm across.
  • Once fully grown, the species lives for up to 6 months during the summer, and up to 9 months during the winter.
  • They thrive in several different types of environment, including mountains, forests, woods, marsh and seashore. They can be found in cities and even in homes, attracted by the warmth.
  • Red admirals are quite people friendly, and they will often perch on heads, arms or shoulders. Some farmers don’t like them because the caterpillars can eat hops and other crops.
  • Red admiral butterflies fly at night as well as during the day. Their natural enemies include many species of birds, bats, wasps, spiders and large insects.

When do hedgehogs hibernate?

Hedgehogs in Britain do not usually hibernate before November, and the latest they hibernate is January. They stay in hibernation until the spring.

Here are some facts about hedgehog hibernation.

  • Only three British animals hibernate: the bat, the dormouse and the hedgehog. Snakes and lizards become inactive during the winter months, but they don’t truly hibernate.

  • Hedgehogs hibernate when their main source of food – insects – becomes more scare in the winter months.
  • During hibernation the hedgehogs metabolism drops very low. Its heartbeat drops from 190 beats per minute to 20 beats per minute, it breathes in and out once or twice every few minutes, and its body temperature drops dramatically. The hedgehogs fat reserves keep the hedgehog alive.
  • If the temperature drops below 1 degrees C, a hibernating hedgehog will suffer from frostbite, and may even freeze to death. Hopefully before this happens, the hedgehogs body starts to shiver and its heart rate increases, causing the hedgehog to wake form hibernation ans seek a warmer nest.
  • If hedgehogs to do not put on enough fat before they hibernate, they will not make it through the winter.
  • In the spring, when hedgehogs come out of hibernation they are a third lighter than they were and they are very thirsty.
  • Hedgehogs wake several times during their hibernation, but they won’t leave the nest (called a hibernaculum) unless it gets too cold and they must seek a warmer spot.
  • The nest is about 50cm wide.
  • Very ocassionally, male and female hedgehogs may share a hibernating nest.
  • Hedgehogs don’t always hibernate. If it’s a mild winter, and insect supplies are still sufficient to sustain the hedgehog, there is not need to go into hibernation.

What next? Discover more hedgehog facts.

What are baby hedgehogs called?

A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet. This name has been in use since the early 1990s. They are sometimes called hedgehoglets. Before the 1990s, hedgehog babies were referred to as pups, urchins, kits or piglets. The term urchin is also popular today.

Here are some facts about European hoglets and hedgehog families.

  • The male hedgehog is not involved in the rearing of young.

  • Before the baby hedgehog is born, the mother makes a nest for it. This is often located under a garden building (a shed or garage), but it can also be under a bush or in pile of leaves or twigs.
  • Baby hedgehogs are in the womb for 35 days, and they are born with their first spines, which are white and covered by a layer of skin. The spines start to emerge through the skin as soon as the hoglets are born.
  • They are born with their ears and eyes closed, and it takes two weeks for them to gain full sight and hearing.
  • Their teeth grow about three weeks after they are born.
  • Hoglets (or hedgehog urchins) are ready to leave the nest after about two months.
  • Hedgehogs commonly give birth to about 4 or 5 babies, but they can have as many as 10 in a litter.
  • When they are distressed, hoglets make high pitched whining noise.
  • Most European hedgehog pregnancies happen between May and July (after the hedgehog’s hibernation).
  • Hedgehogs can roll into a ball when they are about ten days old.

What next? Discover more hedgehog facts.

Where do hedgehogs live?

There are seventeen different species of hedgehog, located across the world. These are: four-toed hedgehog (central and eastern Africa), North African hedgehog (Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco), Southern African hedgehog (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe), Somali hedgehog (Somalia), Amur hedgehog (Russia and China), Southern white-breasted hedgehog (Europe), European hedgehog, Northern white-breasted hedgehog (Poland, Austria and Greece), Long-eared hedgehog (Central Asia and the Middle East), Indian long-eared hedgehog (India), Daurian hedgehog (Russia and Mongolia), Hugh’s hedgehog (China), Desert hedgehog (Sahara Desert, the Middle East), Brandt’s hedgehog (Middle East), Indian hedgehog (India and Pakistan) and the Bare-bellied hedgehog (India).

Hedgehogs are not native to Australia, North America or South America. They have been introduced in New Zealand.

The most well-known of the hedgehog species is the European hedgehog. The European hedgehog is found in several different habitats, including grassland, woodland and meadows. They have even been seen in the Alps and Pyrenees. Hedgehogs thrive in hedgerows, gardens and parks, where they can find suitable material for their winter hibernation nests and a ready supply of food (mainly insects).

Hedgehogs are nocturnal (they come out at night and sleep during the day) and solitary. They don’t dig their own burrows, but they often use the burrows made by other animals as their den. The dens are often lined with grass and leaves. Hedgehogs have their own territory,and males have been known to chase away other male hedgehogs who are trespassing.

What next? Discover some more hedgehog facts.

Are hedgehogs lactose intolerant?

Yes, hedgehogs are naturally lactose-intolerant. They will eat most dairy products, but will experience stomach problems afterwards. Cottage cheese and plain yoghurt cause fewer problems to hedgehogs than milk and regular cheese.

In Britain, people traditionally fed the hedgehogs that visited their garden bread and cow’s milk. However, this is not recommended.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society advises that hedgehogs can be fed with any of the following foods: white meat-based dog food (without gravy), cooked minced beef or lamb, bran, unsweetened muesli, small amounts of raisins or banana, dry cat food, or hedgehog biscuits. Water should be offered instead of milk.

In the wild, British hedgehogs’ diet is mainly made up of insects and other mini beasts. More than half of their food intake comes from earthworms, beetles and caterpillars, but they will also eat slugs and snails, millipedes, earwigs, and larvae. Hedgehogs will also, from time to time, eat small mammals and birds’ eggs.

What next? Follow the link to discover more hedgehog facts.

How long do hedgehogs live?

The lifespan of a hedgehog depends on the species. There are more than ten different species of hedgehog (including the four-toed hedgehog, the North African hedgehog, the European hedgehog, the long-eared hedgehog and the desert hedgehog).

The smaller species of hedgehog usually live for 2 to 4 years, and the larger species can live for up to 7 years in the wild. In captivity, hedgehogs tend to live for longer. This is due to the fact that they don’t have any predators and always have access to food.

Some captive hedgehogs have reached the age of ten.

In the wild in modern Britain there are several things which can bring about a hedgehog’s demise.

  • Badgers eat hedgehogs, and they are occasionally eaten by foxes and birds of prey.
  • Hedgehogs can be poisoned by slug pellets, left out by gardeners to kill slugs.
  • Hedgehogs are often killed by being run over by cars as they are crossing Britain’s roads.
  • Hedgehogs can’t climb up sheer sides. As a result they are sometimes drowned in garden ponds and swimming pools, or starve to death in drains and at the bottom of cattle grids.
  • They can also become trapped in litter (plastic cups, tins, yoghurt containers) and tennis nets.
  • Many hedgehogs are killed when people have bonfires in their garden (hedgehogs often hibernate in leaf piles and branch stacks), and when areas of vegetation are strimmed.

In 2006 The British Hedgehog Society forced McDonald’s to change the design of their McFlurry containers because hedgehogs were getting stuck in them and dying of dehydration and starvation.

What next? Discover more hedgehog facts.

Do badgers eat hedgehogs?

Although badgers in Britain prefer to eat a diet of earthworms, slugs and underground grubs, when these foods are in short supply, they will eat hedgehogs.

Badgers are omnivores and they will also eat toads and frogs, mice, voles, young birds, small rabbits, eggs, and even small lambs when other food sources aren’t available.

Badgers will eat nearly all of the hedgehog, but they leave the skin with the prickles attached.

Some people believe that the increasing badger populations in Britain is responsible for the recent decline in the hedgehog population. While it is true that badgers will eat hedgehogs and compete with them for food (earthworms and slugs), the fall in the number of hedgehogs is also closely linked to the loss of hedgerows, an important habitat of the hedgehog.

Many of the hedgehog rescue centres around Britain are reluctant to release hedgehogs back into the wild in areas that have high badger populations.

In addition to badgers, in some parts of Europe weasels and wild ferrets will eat hedgehogs, and the Eurasian eagle owl often east hedgehogs, silently tracking them down at night before they have a chance to roll into a ball.

What next? Click the links to learn more about hedgehogs and badgers.

Facts About Platypus

Here are some facts about platypus.

  • Platypus are small, semi-aquatic mammals that are native to parts of Australia. They are covered in thick, brown fur that is waterproof and works as an insulation layer to keep the animal warm.
  • Platypus have webbed feet and a rubbery snout. Its webbed feet aid help it to swimming and they move really quickly through the water.

  • The platypus has a diet that consists mainly of insects, larvae, small shellfish and worms. A platypus looses their teeth at a very young age leaving hard tips or pads. They use these hardened areas to mash their food before swallowing.
  • Platypus belong to a species group known as monotremes, and it is one of the only mammals that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young.
  • Platypus feed their young through pores in the skin. They have mammary glands that secrete milk into grooves in the abdomen that allow the milk to pool making it possible for the young to lap it up.
  • The female platypus has two ovaries. However, only the left one is functional.
  • The eggs of a platypus are slightly rounder than a traditional bird egg. They are approximately 11 mm in diameter. Typically, the platypus will lay one to three eggs.
  • They actually produce a poisonous venom. The male platypus has a spur on its hind foot that allows them to inject this venom into an unlucky victim. This toxin is powerful enough to cause pain and can even cause the death of a small animal.
  • The platypus lives in freshwater. They construct their burrows along the water’s edge and can spend as many as 14 hours a day sleeping.
  • Unlike most mammals, the platypus does not rely on its sense of smell or sight to find its food. Instead, they use receptors that are located in rows along the snout These receptors allow them to locate their prey through electroreception.

Polar Bear Facts

Here are some facts about polar bears.

  • The polar bear is a large bear species, related to the brown bear. It spends most of its life in the sea and is found mostly within the Arctic Circle.
  • Adult bears can weigh up to 1,000 kg and can measure 3 metres in length. They have 42 teeth, which are ideal for their diet of mostly seal meat.

  • Bears mostly eat seals and can smell a seal up to 1.6 km away. If available, they also eat birds, plants and rodents and even rubbish and hazardous substances if they find them.
  • Polar bears are able to withstand the cold with up to 10cm of blubber, or fat all over their bodies.
  • They are excellent swimmers and can swim at a speed of 10 kmh.
  • The fur of a polar bear is not white, although the transparent fur appears white because it reflects the light. The hollow hairs can also trap the heat, keeping them warm.
  • Polar bear feet are large and covered with small bumps, to stop them from slipping on the ice. Their large feet also allow them to swim more efficiently.
  • Female bears like to build complex dens in the snow, with several rooms and even a ventilation system. They are picky about their building materials, preferring older snow to freshly fallen snow.
  • Polar bears were named an endangered species in the US in 2008. Global warming in the Arctic has led to fewer bears; today there are about 30,000 bears in the wild.
  • Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, calls itself the polar bear capital of the world. The town has a bear jail, where roaming bears are kept before being safely released.
  • Several companies, including Coca-Cola, use polar bears in their advertising. It is the mascot for several US colleges and polar bear plunges are popular, in which people leap into freezing cold water.
  • In 2009 the Eden TV channel floated a massive sculpture of a polar bear and her cub standing on a chunk of ice down the River Thames. It was intended to raise public awareness about the plight of the polar bears and the impact of climate change.
  • This is not the first polar bear to River Thames has seen. In 1252 Henry III was given a polar beat by the Norwegian monarch. The polar bear was kept in the Tower of London menagerie and taken by his keeper to fish and bath in the Thames.