Animals You've Never Heard Of - F Edition
DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of some of these animals.
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.
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 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!
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).
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.