Animals You've Never Heard Of - F Edition

DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of some of these animals.

The fat-tailed dunnart uses stored up fat reserves from its tail to survive on when food sources are scarce.
The fat-tailed dunnart uses stored up fat reserves from its tail to survive on when food sources are scarce.

Fat-tailed Dunnart

This cutie from down-under is quite the charmer! Who knew Australia could be the home of something so adorable?

In spite of looking totally innocuous, the marsupialian Fat-tailed dunnart is more carnivorous than the average mouse-like thing. It is actually one of the smallest carnivorous mammals in the world, and while the majority of its diet seems to be arthropods and amphibians, it will also tackle the mice that invade your home if it feels so inclined. How's that for fighting fire with fire?

Fat-tails use many tactics to survive in the arid Australian landscape, such as only coming out at night, using stored fat from their tails during times of hardship, and practicing a phenomenon called daily torpor. Daily torpor is best described to the layman as "false hibernation," where the body slows down its metabolism and lowers its temperature throughout the day.

Momma flying lemur and baby flying lemur enjoying life in the trees. Flying lemurs are strictly arboreal.
Momma flying lemur and baby flying lemur enjoying life in the trees. Flying lemurs are strictly arboreal.
Flying lemurs can change the direction of their glide in mid-air.
Flying lemurs can change the direction of their glide in mid-air.

Flying Lemur

Out of all the strange creatures that use elongated skin flaps to glide (flying snakes, flying frogs, and flying squirrels to name a few), the flying lemur has got to be the most unusual of them all. They are not actually lemurs, and they do not actually fly, but they are the most proficient mammalian gliders in the world. This is obviously due to their massive flaps of skin, collectively called the patagium. Just look at those things! They even have webbed feet! Because of this, they have the ability to glide over 300 feet in one trip.

Flying lemurs eat a diet of fruits, veggies, and flowers, even though they have a deceivingly carnivorous set of chompers. But do not be fooled by their scary teeth! They are quite harmless, and the females can often be seen carrying around their young, shrouded in the makeshift pouch of their patagium.

Fiji Crested eggs have one of the longest incubation times of all reptiles - taking nearly 190 days to hatch!
Fiji Crested eggs have one of the longest incubation times of all reptiles - taking nearly 190 days to hatch!
The Fiji Crested is regarded as a totem animal in its native home. Its name, "vokai," is considered  a sacred word.
The Fiji Crested is regarded as a totem animal in its native home. Its name, "vokai," is considered a sacred word.

Fiji Crested Iguana

Fiji Crested iguanas are named after the small "plume" of spines that are most prominent along the backs of their necks. They are also from Fiji. Go figure!

In fact, today they only live on three known islands in Fiji, thanks to the introduction of feral trees, rats, goats, and even cats which have all but destroyed their populations on the other islands they once called home. They are now critically endangered, and are rare to even see in zoos.

When threatened, they have the ability to darken their colors from green to black, and can feign aggression if cornered. Because of their fearless behavior and color changing abilities when angry, many Fijians are scared of them!


Like cats, fossas have retractable claws.
Like cats, fossas have retractable claws.
Like hyenas, female fossas exhibit transient masculinization by developing a "pseudo-penis" at around 2 years of age. This fake male organ is actually an enlarged clitoris.
Like hyenas, female fossas exhibit transient masculinization by developing a "pseudo-penis" at around 2 years of age. This fake male organ is actually an enlarged clitoris.

Fossa

Looking somewhat similar to the civets and binturong seen in previous Animals You've Never Heard Of articles, fossas were once classified as viverrids with the others because of their comparable evolution. However, they were recently moved from Viverridae to Eupleridae due to differences in biology. They remain somewhat a mystery to taxonomists, and disputes still reign as to whether they are more cat-like, civet-like, or mongoose-like.

Whatever they are technically, without a doubt we know them to slinky, solitary carnivores that hunt primarily lemurs in Madagascar. Yes, just like in the movie (except they don't travel in packs).

With no eyes and only primitive ear holes, golden moles rely on tactile sensations to travel, escape danger, locate food, and identify breeding partners.
With no eyes and only primitive ear holes, golden moles rely on tactile sensations to travel, escape danger, locate food, and identify breeding partners.
"Draw me like one of your French moles."
"Draw me like one of your French moles."

Fynbos Golden Mole

This thing looks pretty cute, right? And how could it not be? It's small and fuzzy, and scurries around in the desert eating things that tend to bug people (Heh, get it? Bug?). With its silky golden fur, its stubby little legs, its beady black eye- ...Wait a minute.

This thing has no eyes.

Neither does it possess the gonads one would think a mammal should have. Like birds and lizards, golden moles have cloacas. And a cloaca is just one of the things that separate them from "true moles," which belong to a different order entirely.

Are you wondering where the word fynbos came from? No? Well, the word fynbos is an Afrikaans term, and is used to describe the particular terrain in which this little creature digs its intricate underground tunnels in. It is a place found only in South Africa.

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Comments 7 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great collection of animals. Nice job. I want to see a lemur fly.


innerspin profile image

innerspin 3 years ago from uk

Yay, I've not heard of all these critters. ( Love your disclaimers.) If memory serves me correctly, which it usually doesn't, fossa are in Madagasgar, the movie. Love this series, thanks!


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

What an interesting article! I have heard of a flying lemur, but none of the others rang a bell. That fat-tailed dunnart is a cute little guy. I could use him in my attic to take care of the mice that like to come in when it's cold! Voted Up and Interesting. Nice job.

Pearl


Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa A Smith 3 years ago from New York

Yup, people are now familiar with fossas because of the popular animated movie. But I've never heard of the first one. Weird that those moles have cloacas.


Theophanes profile image

Theophanes 3 years ago from New England

Always a joy to read these articles. I got to a see a Fossa at the zoo once... beautiful animal. I was totally enamored. As usual the rest are new to me. Great job, keep it up! Cannot wait for the Q and X editions. ;)


Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 3 years ago from Washington state Author

Theophanes, you and me both! I'm probably going to have to get really creative with some of those later articles ;)


6 months ago

i've heard of them all but the article was still cool

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