Animals You've Never Heard Of - D Edition
DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of some of these animals.
Now here's a weird bunch. These toothless carp go by the scientific name Garra rufa, and they set themselves apart from the millions of other generic, silver colored fish in the world by being extraordinarily good skin eaters.
Yep, you heard me. In the many rivers that flow between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, these guys would nibble on people that went a'swimming. It was only a matter of time before some weirdo put this incessantly nibbling fish to some use, and began to market them as a treatment option for people with psoriasis and dermatitis. This fish nibbling nonsense is actually called Ichthyotherapy, the use of fish as wound/skin cleaning agents, and has been practiced at least since the 1940s, thought it is not very well documented.
The benefits are supposedly that the fish will nibble away the dead skin from your gross, flaky body, leaving behind a healthier looking you. In the 2000s this practice became very popular, and "fish spas" popped up in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. These spas are controversial and banned in much of the United States, however.
Social, intelligent, and remarkably unlike wolves in behavior, the dhole (also called the Asiatic wild dog) is shy enough to avoid people yet brave enough to chase, tree, and even kill tigers when they are in large enough packs. They were immortalized in Rudyard Kipling's Red Dog as a bloodthirsty army, stating "...what a terrible thing a dhole hunting-pack was. Even Hathi moves aside from their line..." But listed as Endangered by IUCN, this native of Southeast Asia is a mighty creature in a shrewd package.
In years gone by, dholes were commonly seen in packs of over a hundred individuals, but due to extreme habitat loss, prey depletion, and diseases brought on by encroaching domestic dogs, their families have lessened in number, with groups of 40 being very rare.
Rather than howling or wailing like coyotes and wolves, the dhole prefers to whine, squeak, and whistle. They frequently communicate with each other as they trail their prey though heavily forested brush, in order to keep check of their positions and the locations of their food.
Dholes are considered to be less territorial and much more social than wolves due to the abundance of food year-round, and are not as chained to a constant dominance hierarchy. Being more lax in nature, it is common for adults to let their pups eat first at kills.
Pictures of this thing have been making their rounds on the internet again, bestowing a daily dose of cute and striking up a few "what is that?"s along the way. The consensus is that it's a baby deer, but it is actually something much different. It's called a dik-dik, and it is an antelope, more closely related to a cow than a deer,
Barely over a foot in shoulder height, the dik-dik is one of the smallest antelopes in the world. It's hunted by almost everything in Africa, even snakes and lizards. It's a hard life being a dik-dik, nobody respects ya!
Dik-diks are monogamous, sticking closely to their mate all year round. Though the male does not assist with child-rearing, he will defend his lady from would-be Romeos and remains, for the most part, loyal to her. But it is the male, not the female, that may mate briefly with other partners before returning home.
Danube Crested Newt
Triturus dobrogicus is one species of the four similarly designed crested newts which live in Austria and surrounding countries. The Denube crested newt has the smallest range of the four, and is listened as Threatened under CITES because of habitat loss, pollution, and also hybridization amongst other populations of crested species.
During breeding season, the males develop large, fleshy crests from the bases of their tails to the middles of their heads, which they use to attract mates and intimidate competition. Females will lay hundreds of eggs singly, carefully selecting a leaf to attach each one to, and then skillfully curling the leaf around the eggs in protective, makeshift "husks."
Dwarf Day Gecko
Also known as the electric blue dwarf gecko, William's dwarf gecko, or simply Lygodactylus williamsi, this little known lizard has a knack for leaving big impressions on herpetoculturists. These small (2 to 5 inches) squamatas are known for their diurnal activity and their jewel-like, full-body shades of blue and green. It is typically the males which sport the most striking colors, but the gals can also have some appealing hues.
Because of depleting forests, these tiny little gems are quickly growing scarce. They live an arboreal life almost entirely restricted to Pandanaceae trees and are protected throughout the Kimboza Forest, which is the only location of their population. As a result of their critically endangered status, all wild-caught individuals found in the pet trade are poached illegally, and it is strongly recommended that anyone interested in these geckos buy captive bred individuals only. It is very likely that due to their small range they will soon become extinct in the wild.