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~ CARD 141 J

SNOW LEOPARD ORDER FAMILY GENUS Ex SPECIES Carnivora Felidae Panthera uncia
SNOW LEOPARD
ORDER
FAMILY
GENUS Ex SPECIES
Carnivora
Felidae
Panthera uncia

The snow leopard is a solitary, high-altitude hunter, but because of the relative scarcity of food in its rocky Himalayan terrain, it often migrates with its prey.

rocky Himalayan terrain, it often migrates with its prey. K E Y F A C T

KEY FACTS

-J

SIZES

Body length: 4-5 ft . Tail: 3ft. Weight: 55-165 lb.

BREEDING

Breeding season: Toward the end of winter. Female comes into season twice. Gestation: 98-103 days. No. of young: Each litter contains 2-5 cubs.

LIFESTYLE

Habit: Solitary due to scarcity of food and harsh terrain. Each snow leopard remains within its own very large territory. Diet: Wild sheep, goats, deer, wild boar, small mammals, some birds. Lifespan: 20 years in captivity .

RELATED SPECIES

The snow leopard is related to the big cats of the Panthera species, but it does not roar.

01 STRI BUTION The snow leopard i nhabits northern Ind ia, the countries borderi ng
01 STRI BUTION
The snow leopard i nhabits northern Ind ia, the countries
borderi ng
the Himalayas, and the Soviet Union .
CONSERVATION
The snow leopard i s internationally recognized as an
endangered spec ies . Hun t ing for fur trade is banned, but
because of the high prices paid for its fur, the snow leopard
continues to be a prime target for poachers .
FEATURES OF THE SNOW LEOPARD Winter coat: Spots are arranged SUMMER COAT distinct rows .
FEATURES OF THE SNOW LEOPARD
Winter coat: Spots are arranged
SUMMER COAT
distinct rows . They are round
and charcoal gray, set against
in
a
light gray to yellow
background, which
grows paler
in
winter.
The background of the animal's
coat turns darker in summer.
Face: High eye
placement
allows the
animal to stay
low behind
cover when
stalking prey.
Hind legs: Extremely strong back
legs allow leaps of up to 50 feet ,
useful for surprising prey.
Paws: Thick
cushions of hair
protect the large
paws from heat and cold.

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The snow leopard lives high in the Himalayas and has long been hunted by humans

The snow leopard lives high in the

Himalayas and has long been hunted by

humans for its beautiful coat. Now

protected by laws banning the sale

of its fur, it is still illegally hunted

and sold for high prices.

~ FOOD & HUNTING

The snow leopard hunts alone because the rocky terrain and amount of food available in anyone area cannot support large packs. It preys on blue sheep, ibexes, wild goats, hares, and even birds and mice. In milder lower-altitude weather the snow leopard hunts deer, gazelle, and wild boar. It stalks its prey, then

springs and fastens onto it. It can leap up to 50 feet to reach high rocky crags where it rests or watches for prey. Like most meat eaters, it devours its prey beginning with the stomach, ripping open the belly and eating the entrails before moving to the rump. Unlike other leopards, the snow leopard does not roar.

~ HABITAT

The snow leopard lives in caves or rock crevices in the high rhododendron forests of the Himalayas and in rocky wasteland above the vegeta- tion line. Its light-colored coat protects it from summer heat

Left: Snow leopards live alone, except when mating.

and freezing winters. Thick cushions of hair around its paw pads act like snow shoes, enabling the leopard to move quickly over snow without sinking. In summer the hair cushions protect the animal's feet from jagged rocks and from rocks heated by the sun.

~ BREEDING

The snow leopard breeds at the end of winter when the female comes into season for a week. If she does not mate, she comes into season again for up to 70 days. After mating, the female makes a nest among the rocks. She gives birth to two to five cubs 14 weeks later. Much darker than their

mother, the cubs are blind for the first week, but they start to crawl within 10 days. At two months old they can run and eat solid food as well as suckle milk. By mid- summer they follow their mother to hunt, staying with her until they are a year old.

Right: Male snow leopards sometimes help rear the cubs.

DID YOU KNOW?

• The snow leopard is

slightly smaller than the leopard, but its dense fur makes it look larger.

• Compared to other cats',

the snow leopard's tail is longer in proportion to the

actual size of its body.

• Hunting kills most snow

leopards, but avalanches account for many fatalities.

• Snow leopard cubs de-

pend on th~ir mother for at least a year after birth .

pend on th~ir mother for at least a year after birth . Left: Humans rarely see

Left:

Humans

rarely see

the snow

leopard.

Right:

The snow leopard has a large territory ranging up to 40 square miles.

has a large territory ranging up to 40 square miles. ~ SNOW LEOPARD & MAN Hunted

~ SNOW LEOPARD & MAN

Hunted for its fur, the snow

leopard is extremely rare. It

has been protected in India since 1952, and is protected in the Soviet Union. Interna-

tional pressure has resulted in some protection for the snow leopard; it is now illegal to

possess or sell its fur. Still, the animal continues to be hunted by poachers. Unlike lions and tigers, the snow leopard breeds unsuc- cessfully in captivity. The snow leopard needs protec- tion in the wild to survive.

tigers, the snow leopard breeds unsuc- cessfully in captivity. The snow leopard needs protec- tion in

CARD 142

PRZEWALSKI'S HORSE GROUP 1: MAMMALS ORDER FAMILY GENUS &: SPECIES '1IIIIIIII Perissodactyla
PRZEWALSKI'S HORSE
GROUP 1: MAMMALS
ORDER
FAMILY
GENUS &: SPECIES
'1IIIIIIII Perissodactyla
'1IIIIIIII
Equidae
'1IIIIIIII Equus cabal/us przewalskii

Przewalski's horse is the only truly wild horse left in the world. Descended from a prehistoric breed, it is the ancestor of all modern horses but can now only be seen in zoos.

KEY FACTS

SIZES Height: From about 12 hands high (1 hand = 4 in .) . Weight: About 800 lb.

BREEDING Sexual maturity: 1-2 years; stallions (males) about 3 years. Mating season: Usually April or

May. Gestation: 11-12 months. No. of young: 1.

LIFESTYLE Habit: lives in small herds. Call: Neighs a greeting; squeals a threat or warning . Diet: Grass and plants . lifespan: At least 20 years .

RELATED SPECIES Przewalski's horse is the only subspecies of Equus cabal/us. All other horses, asses, and zebras, are members of the same family.

DISTRIBUTION

the borders

_

members of the same family. DISTRIBUTION the borders _ Range of Przewalski's horse. Once found from

Range of Przewalski's horse.

Once found from the Ural Mountains to Mongolia. Now confined to plains on either side of the Altai Mountains on

of Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Siberia .

CONSERVATION listed as an endangered species, it is probably extinct in the wild. Breeding in captivity has saved it from complete

around the world.

J

ex_t _inctio_n _Ab_out 300 horses live in zoos

FEATURES OF PRZEWAlSKI'S HORSE

1

horses live in zoos FEATURES OF PRZEWAlSKI'S HORSE 1 Body: Stocky, with short legs. Low-slung shoulders

Body: Stocky, with short legs. Low-slung shoulders that blend into t he back . Th is giv es it a more primitive look than other domestic horses.

Mane: Short, stiff, _ brushlike hairs that stand erect. No forelock .

Skull: Heavy jaw, broad muzzle, and unusually large teeth. Head: Large and thick, with a
Skull: Heavy jaw, broad muzzle,
and unusually large teeth.
Head: Large and
thick, with a
broad mu zzle .
Sandy-colored
nose.
Coat:
Yellow-brown , paler on the
belly, with black mane, tail, and
almost to the
ground. The
base has afan
of short, stiffer
hairs, similar to
the mane.
lower legs. The coat grows very
thick and woolly in the winter.
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Przewalski's horse is the only one of

BREEDING

~

several species to survive into the post-

glacial period. Its sturdy and rugged

appearance sets it apart from today's

domestic breeds. It is our last link with

an ancient, primitive breed of horse.

In its natural habitat, Przewal- ski's horse roams in small herds . These herds consist of a few mares (females) and young horses, lead by a stal- lion (male). Mares come into season at regular intervals, but usually mate in May so that the foals are born at about the

mate in May so that the foals are born at about the HABITAT ~ At the

HABITAT

~

At the end of the Ice Age, dense woodlands began to grow in areas that had once been tundra and grasslands. The horses that had lived there withdrew with the gla- ciers and migrated to Eurasia, where they found more

suitable areas of grassy plains. One of these early horses, now known as Przewalski's horse, originally roamed the Eurasian plains in large herds. Gradually over the centuries, its range and numbers dwin- dled until it only grazed on

the arid, semidesert plains on either side of the mountains

that form the boundary be- tween Mongolia and China . Przewalski's horse was last sighted in its natural habitat in

1968 . It is uncertain whether it

still exists in the wild.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Przewalski's horse is the only living wild horse species.

• The foal of Przewalski's

Przewalski's horse once roamed are also known as The Mountains of the Yellow

Horses.

pendently from one another.

• The Przewalski's horse's

order, Perissodactyla, includes

all mammals with an odd

horse weighs about five

Although Przewalski's horse

number of toes.

percent of its mother's

is

generally

cons idered to be

The horse's foot is actually

weight at birth . In contrast,

the ancestor of the modern

a single fingertip, with the

I the foals of domestic horses

horse, some experts think

last bone widened and

weigh about 10 percent of

that the two descended from

rounded into a hoof. This

their mother's weight.

a

now-extinct common

special adaptation allows the

• The Altai mountains where

ancestor and evolved inde-

horse to run

-1

same time the following year. A mare usually gives birth during the night to a single foal, which is strong enough by morning to move with the herd. If a foal lags behind a herd on the move the stallion will grip the base of the foal's

Left: Przewalski's horse has adapted to eat coarse grasses.

FOOD & FEEDING

~

Przewalski's horse is a grazer and lives on coarse grass and branches and sparse foliage

from shrubby trees . It feeds at

dusk, constantly on the move as it tears away at grass and leaves. In winter it may have to

dig through layers of snow to find any food .

At daybreak, it returns to

its

desert habitat to rest until sun-

set. As the horses move be- tween resting areas and feed- ing grounds they etch well- worn and deeply trodden paths into the plains.

Below: These rare and wild beasts are now only seen in zoos.

tail in its teeth and nudge it along. The mare suckles her foal for several months to a year. How- ever, when the foal is a few months old its teeth are devel- oped enough to graze. A filly (female foal) may stay with the

herd. The stallion drives out the young males after a year. Young males wander togeth- er in small herds until they are strong enough to gather their own harems of mares.

Below: The mare protects the foal during its first year of life.

The mare protects the foal during its first year of life. ~ ~ PRZEWALSKI'S HORSE &

~

~ PRZEWALSKI'S HORSE & MAN

Przewalski's horse has been domesticated for centuries, but man has never truly tamed it. Although the horse was a familiar sight to local Asian tribes, it was deemed discov- ered in the 1880s by Russian explorer Nicolai Przhevalsky

and was named after him. Humans are responsible for

the decline of Przewalski's

horse . It has been slaugh-

tered for its meat, driven from its sparse grazing areas, and allowed to interbreed with other domestic horses.

slaugh- tered for its meat, driven from its sparse grazing areas, and allowed to interbreed with

"" CARD 143 I

LLAMA '(~----------------------------~~~~~~~~~ ORDER FAMILY GENUS &: SPECIES ~ Artiodactyla Camelidae
LLAMA
'(~----------------------------~~~~~~~~~
ORDER
FAMILY
GENUS &: SPECIES
~ Artiodactyla
Camelidae
Lamaglama

More attractive than the closely related camel, the llama has the same facial expression. For many centuries this animal has provided transportation and food for many South American people.

KEY FACTS

KEY FACTS

SIZES Length: Head and body, 4-7 ft. Tail, 6 in. Height to shoulder: 3 1 /2-4 ft. Weight: 150-350 lb.

BREEDING

Sexual maturity: 1-2 years. Breeding season: August to

September in South America .

Gestation: 11-12 months.

No. of young: 1.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Sociable and friendly, but can be stubborn. Diet: Grasses, herbs, shrubs, and lichen. Lifespan: Up to 20 years.

RELATED SPECIES The llama is related to the bactrian

camel, Camelus bactrianus ferus,

and to the dromedary camel, C.

dromedarius.

Range of the llama. DISTRIBUTION Southern Peru through western Bolivia, northwest Argentina, and northeast Chile.

Range of the llama.

DISTRIBUTION Southern Peru through western Bolivia, northwest Argentina, and northeast Chile.

CONSERVATION Nearly three and a half million llamas live in South America. They are being replaced by modern means of transportation, and the ir wool is not in great demand .

T HE LLAMA AND ITS RELATIVES

The guanac o and vicuna are the only

species in t heir genus . The

domesticated llama and alpaca are

subspecies derived from the wild guanaco.

t wo

jJ

.-

Guanaco : A slim an i mal with a long

neck

coat. These are the most wide- spread of all the wild llamas .

and a shaggy , reddish brown

Alpaca : Its long , thick coat helps the alpaca graze at high altitudes. Its fine wool is considered better than the llama's.

Vicuna: Smaller and more graceful than the llama. Its head is shorter and its ears
Vicuna: Smaller and more graceful
than the llama. Its head is shorter
and its ears longer. Has a long white
mane at the base of the neck.

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~ BREEDING The llama breeds seasonally so that the birth of its young coincides with

~ BREEDING

The llama breeds seasonally so that the birth of its young coincides with the seasonal growth of vegetation. In the southern hemisphere breeding season lasts from August to September. Llamas mate in a sitting position. The female stands to give birth to a single young. Unlike most other mammals, she neither licks the newborn nor eats the afterbirth. The young walks and follows her 30 minutes after birth. It suckles for about four months.

Used primarily as a pack animal,

the llama had already been domesticated

by the Indians of South America when the Spanish

conquistadores arrived in the sixteenth century.

It is believed to have been bred from the wild

guanaco, a relative of the camel found on the

South American pampas and plateaus.

DID YOU KNOW?

 

The llama is the largest

When the Spaniards

member of the Camelidae family in South America and is the only native beast of burden to be domesticated in the western hemisphere .

invaded South America to plunder the Incan riches, 300,000 llamas were used to carry supplies in and out of the silver mines.

A llama can carry a 110-

A llama only allows itself to

pound load 16 miles a day at

be loaded with a heavy pack when it is part of a group .

altitudes of 16,404 feet.

when it is part of a group . altitudes of 16,404 feet. Left: Large, well-fed llamas

Left: Large, well-fed llamas can breed before they are a year old, but most breed at two years.

Far left: The

llama is an ideal domesti- cated breed because it survives with little care in the harsh Andes mountains.

~ FOOD &: FEEDING

An herbivore (plant eater),

the llama grazes mainly on grasses and herbs. It also eats shrubs, lichen" and other plants growing on the high mountains. It gets most of its

moisture from vegetation and

goes without water for days. Like camels, the llama is a

ruminant; it has a multi- chambered stomach and chews its cud (partly digest- ed food) twice to help digest the tough, fibrous vegetable matter. In this manner the llama gets plenty of nutrition from food with low nutritional value.

Found in the alpine grass- lands and shrublands of South America, the llama is the principal beast of burden in the Andes. Unlike horses and mules, it does not suffer from mountain sickness at high altitudes and it can walk sure- footedly through high moun- tain paths and gravel slopes. The llama is docile by na- ture, but it can be stubborn, stopping completely or lying down when its burden is too heavy. When upset, the llama will spit up a foul-smelling liquid from its stomach into

~ HABITS

the face of its handler. Males are used for pack animals while females breed and supply wool for the Indians. Little is known about their social behavior because they are domesticated and most males are castrated at an early age. Judging from other members of the Cam- elidae family, they would most likely gather in small herds with a male and a small harem of breeding females.

Right: The llama's thick, woolly fleece protects it from the harsh mountain climate.

woolly fleece protects it from the harsh mountain climate. ~ LLAMA&:MAN Nearly 1,000 years ago, settled,

~ LLAMA&:MAN

Nearly 1,000 years ago, settled, crop-growing tribes domesticated the llama as a source of meat. Since then it has been used mainly as a beast of burden. The Andean Indians use the llama to carry loads, and to provide meat, wool, and leather. They make candles out of fatty tissue, ropes out of llamas' braided long hair, and fuel out of dried dung. In recent decades the llama has been introduced into other countries, mostly as a novelty pet.

CARD 144

AARDWOLF '" GROUP 1: MAMMALS FAMILY GENUS &: SPECIES " ORDER ~ Hyaenidae Carnivora ~
AARDWOLF
'"
GROUP 1: MAMMALS
FAMILY
GENUS &: SPECIES
"
ORDER
~
Hyaenidae
Carnivora
~
Proteles cristatus

The aardwolf is the smallest member of the hyena family. It feeds almost exclusively on harvester termites, which it laps up with its long, sticky tongue.

'\:l

KEY FACTS

I ~~I

SIZES

~ Height: About 1l,!;1 ft. at shoulder.

Length:

Tail, %-1 ft. Weight: 18-26 lb.

Head and body, 1%-2% ft .

BREEDING Sexual maturity: 2 years. Breeding season: Varies with location. Gestation: Usually 60 days. No. of young: 1-5, usually 2 or 3.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Lives in den. Nocturnal, solitary. Diet: Termites and other insect larvae. Lifespan: Up to 15 years in captivity.

RELATED SPECIES There are 3 other species in the Hyaenidae family: the spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta; the striped

hyena, Hyaena hyaena; and the

brown hyena, H. brunnea.

Range of the aardwolf. DISTRIBUTION Found in parts of Africa, including southern Egypt, East Africa,
Range of the aardwolf.
DISTRIBUTION
Found in parts of Africa, including southern Egypt, East
Africa, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
CONSERVATION
The aardwolf is hunted for food and for its skin, and because
it is mistakenly thought to prey on livestock. In recent years
the aardwolf population has declined in some areas.
years the aardwolf population has declined in some areas. Ears: Large and pointed. Acute hearing allows

Ears: Large and pointed. Acute hearing allows aardwolf to

FEATU RES

OF THE AARDWOLF

Mane: Long mane runs down neck and back. It is raised to make the animal appear larger when threatened.

track sound of termites . Cubs: Quickly develop adult color and markings. Usually stay with
track sound of
termites .
Cubs: Quickly develop adult
color and markings. Usually
stay with mother until next
breeding season.

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The aardwolf is a solitary nighttime creature. It sleeps in a den taken over from

The aardwolf is a solitary nighttime creature.

It sleeps in a den taken over from other burrowing

animals during the day. At dusk it comes out

to hunt insects using its highly developed hearing

and its acute sense of smell.

~ HABITS

The aardwolf lives on the open plains and in the bush country of Africa. It wanders alone within a territory shared with other adults. To mark off its territory, it leaves a musky secretion on rocks and grass.

The territory contains up to a dozen dens, which the aardwolf uses in turn for six weeks at a time. Although the aardwolf can dig its own burrow, it is more likely to enlarge an abandoned den.

Right: The aardwolf does not destroy the colony of the termites it eats. In this way it ensures a continued food supply.

it eats. In this way it ensures a continued food supply. ~ BREEDING During breeding season,

~ BREEDING

During breeding season, the male aardwolf roams widely in search of females. It often strays into another animal's territory, causing a fight. Each male barks loudly and raises his mane to appear fiercer. A dominant territory holder can usually drive out intruders, but two evenly matched aardwolves may engage in a violent fight. Breeding usually occurs in fall and spring. Most females mate with the male in their

Left: The aardwolf changes burrows often, in part to avoid detection by predators.

territory, but they may also breed with intruders. The female gives birth to two or three cubs in an underground den. The cubs

st ay in the den for up to two

months. At three months they begin to accompany their parents on feeding trips. By about four months they are self-sufficient, but they stay with their mother until the next breeding season, when they leave to establish their own territories.

Right: Aardwolf cubs leave the den at three months to learn survival skills.

leave the den at three months to learn survival skills. ~ FOOD & HUNTING Unlike the
leave the den at three months to learn survival skills. ~ FOOD & HUNTING Unlike the

~ FOOD & HUNTING

Unlike the hyena, which is a scavenger, the aardwolf eats insects almost exclusively and rarely feeds on small mam- mals or birds. Its primary food is the harvester termite, but it may eat the larvae and car- rion beetles on dead animals. The aardwolf is so depen- dent on termites that its range and habits closely mir- ror those of its insect prey. It hunts at night when the termites leave their nest to

Left: An aardwolf feeds from the same termite nest several times.

feed. Because the termite sites are scattered, the aard- wolf hunts alone. In cold or wet seasons the night-active harvester termites are hard to find. Then the aardwolf feeds on larger, day-active termites. The aardwolf can remember the location of various termite nests in its territory. It also tracks termites through the sound they make as they move over hard ground. When it locates its prey, the aardwolf laps the insect up with its long, sticky tongue.

DID YOU KNOW?

• An aardwolf can eat as

many as 200,000 termites in one night.

• If an aardwolf is threat-

ened, it may spray its attacker with a strong- smelling fluid. This musky

substance is secreted by a

special anal gland. The aardwolf also uses this substance to mark off

its territory. • The aardwolf often loses its teeth later in life. But it does not need them for its diet of soft-bodied insects.

'" CARD 145 I

PIPISTRELLE ,,~------------------------------------------~ ORDER FAMILY ~ Chiroptera Vespertilionidae GENUS &:
PIPISTRELLE
,,~------------------------------------------~
ORDER
FAMILY
~ Chiroptera
Vespertilionidae
GENUS &: SPECIES
Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The pipistrelle emerges at dusk to hunt for flying insects. The smallest of the European bats, it beats its wings rapidly as it twists and turns through the air in pursuit of prey.

KEY FACTS SIZES Length: 1-2 in. Wingspan: 7 1 /2-10 in. Weight: Up to 1/2
KEY FACTS
SIZES
Length: 1-2 in.
Wingspan: 7 1 /2-10 in.
Weight: Up to 1/2 oz.

BREEDING Sexual maturity: Female, 1 year. Male, 2 years. Mating season: Fall. Gestation: 44-50 days. No. of young: Usually 1. Weaning: 30 -40 days.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Nocturnal. Occurs in colonies up to 1,000. Hibernates in winter. Diet: Small flying insects. Lifespan: Average 4-5 years.

RELATED SPECIES There are 48 species of pipistrelle distributed throughout most of the world.

Range of the pipistrelle. DISTRIBUTION Eu ro pe , except t he far n orth,

Range of the pipistrelle.

DISTRIBUTION Eu ro pe , except t he far n orth, eas t across western As ia as f ar as Lake Baikal in the Sovi et Un ion and down to Kashm ir and the Alta i mountain range .

CONSERVATION One o f t he more common bats across

pipistrelle has recently suffered sharp population declines in some areas.

its range, t he

FEATURES OF THE PIPISTREllE

THE PIPISTRELLE'S EARS Wings: Modified hands made up of atough membrane stretched between the bat's
THE PIPISTRELLE'S EARS
Wings: Modified hands made up of
atough membrane stretched between
the bat's four digits and the feet.
Fleshy spike in the center of the
ears is known as the tragus. Its
shape varies between species.
Tail~

Body: Small, mouselike body entirely covered with fur and supported by large wings.

The pipistrelle is widespread and common over much of its range. Versatile and adaptable, it

The pipistrelle is widespread and common

over much of its range. Versatile and adaptable, it

thrives in a variety of habitats from woodlands to the

middle of cities. Many colonies have set up house

at artificial roosting sites in buildings.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Most pipistrelles have

brown fur, but some may be gray, olive, reddish brown, bla c k, or white .

• Pipistrelles have been

found in a variety of un- usual places : in curtains

and vases, under floor- boards, and between the panes of double glass.

• Nearly 100,000 pipi- strelles hibernate in a certain Romanian cave.

• Scientists attach coded

bands to the pipistrelle's forearm to track its long-

distance migration. Some of those banded in the Ukraine were found to have flown more than 650 miles in fall to Bulgaria and Greece.

~ HABITS

Pipistrelles form summer nursing colonies and winter hibernation colonies that can contain up to 1,000 bats. They roost in trees, rock crevices, buildings, and hay- stacks. The small pipistrelle

can fit in gaps just half an inch wide. From spring to fall the pipistrelle sleeps during the day. It feeds after sunset but occasionally appears during the day in midsummer. The

bat is most active at dusk and just before dawn. Each bat spends two to five hours every day away from the colony making short feeding flights and stopping off at temporary roosts.

short feeding flights and stopping off at temporary roosts. Above: Dense, warm fur protects the bat

Above:

Dense, warm

fur protects

the bat

during the

cold winter

hibernation.

left: During

the summer

males live

together in

small groups.

Above right:

The pipistrelle must perch to eat larger insects.

~ HIBERNATION

The pipistrelle goes into hibernation in October to avoid the cold winter. The colony gradually stops feed-

ing and finds a sheltered ,site. During the next few months each bat uses up its fat stores to stay alive. After hiberna- tion the bat weighs only a fraction of an ounce.

The pipistrelle hibernates in quiet spots in large houses, church roofs, bell towers,

gaps behind shutters, hollow

trees, and rock crevices. The bat hangs or wedges itself head-down, gripping the surface with its feet. The pipistrelle does not sleep as deeply as other hibernating mammals and it regularly awakens, often because it needs to expel waste. At other times, it is disturbed by other bats and wakes up. During winter warm spells it may temporarily come out of hibernation and fly around.

~ FOOD &: FEEDING The pipistrelle mainly feeds on small flying insects, catch- ing and
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
The pipistrelle mainly feeds
on small flying insects, catch-
ing and eating them while in
the air. It eats larger prey on
a perch. The bat must eat
several hundred insects every
day to survive.
The pipistrelle usually
hunts in the same open area
near a tree or building. It
flies quickly and erratically,
with rapid wing beats,
dodging and turning in the
air 20 feet above ground.
NATUREWATCH
Common t hroughout Eu -
rope, the pipistrelle lives in
a wide range of h abitats in
both rural and urban areas.
These include woodlands,
wetlands, grasslands, farms,
and gardens.
It prefers ope n grassy
areas surrounded by trees
or bushes, but it also flies
low over the water to feed
on mayflie~ and insects .
flies low over the water to feed on mayflie~ and insects . Above: Pipistrelles cling together

Above: Pipistrelles cling together for warmth during hibernation.

Below: An archway provides an ideal roost for a pipistrelle.

~ BREEDING

Pipistrelles mate before hibernation in September, but the sperm does not fertilize the female's eggs until spring. The young's development depends on the weather and food sup- ply. Poor conditions halt the development of the fetus. Female pipistrelles form roosting groups in early sum- mer. They move apart from the roosting group to give birth but then carry their blind newborn back to the nursery group. The young develop rapidly and fly after about three weeks.

but then carry their blind newborn back to the nursery group. The young develop rapidly and

"" CARD 146 1

MANATEE

"" CARD 146 1 MANATEE ,,~------------------------------------------~ ~ ~ ORDER Sirenia FAMILY Trichechidae GENUS

,,~------------------------------------------~

~

~

ORDER

Sirenia

FAMILY

Trichechidae

GENUS &: SPECIES Trichechu5 manatu5

Trichechidae GENUS &: SPECIES Trichechu5 manatu5 One of the most endangered aquatic species, the manatee
Trichechidae GENUS &: SPECIES Trichechu5 manatu5 One of the most endangered aquatic species, the manatee

One of the most endangered aquatic species, the manatee gives birth every other year at most. It keeps waterways free of vegetation by consuming large amounts of food.

KEY FACTS

KEY FACTS

SIZES Length: Up to 15 ft. Average 8-1 3 ft. Weight: Up to 1,500 lb. Average 300-800 lb.

BREEDING Sexual maturity: 4-8 years. Breeding season: Any time of year. Gestation: 1 year. No. of young: Usually 1, occasion- ally twins. Weaning time: 12-18 months.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Generally solitary, or small groups. Larger groups form in cool waters. Diet: Aquatic vegetation. Lifespan: 30 years or more.

RELATED SPECIES There are 3 related species: the West Indian manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the West African manatee.

Range of the manatee. DISTRIBUTION Tropical and subtropical waters of southwestern United States as f
Range of the manatee. DISTRIBUTION Tropical and subtropical waters of southwestern United States as f

Range of the manatee.

DISTRIBUTION Tropical and subtropical waters of southwestern United States as f ar west as Texas . Also off West Indies and along

coast of northern

South America .

CONSERVATION Listed as vulnerable by the Wor ld Conservat io n Union, it ha s legal protection in most countries, but this protection is not always enforced .

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Exploited for its meat and hide

since the eighteenth century, the harmless

manatee is now a protected species.

Certain parts of the world value its

voracious appetite for underwater plants,

which keeps vital waterways clear of

choking vegetation.

which keeps vital waterways clear of choking vegetation. The manatee favors muddy bays, lagoons, slow rivers,

The manatee favors muddy bays, lagoons, slow rivers, and estuaries . It prefers water temperatures of 68° F or above, since it cannot survive in temperatures below 46 ° F. It migrates in the winter to warmer spots. The Amazonian manatee lives only in fresh water, but the other two species can survive in both fresh and saltwater. The manatee occurs singly

or in small family groups, but during tropical cold spells large numbers gather around heated water from power plants or the warm outflow of a spring . They float vertically in the water during cold mornings with just their snouts showing. As the sun gets hotter, more of their bodies rise above the surface. In large groups, manatees have been observed pressing

~ FOOD &: FEEDING As an herbivore, the manatee eats only aquatic vegetation. It feeds and rests in short periods throughout the day. It uses its dextrous forelimbs or large, deeply split upper lip to put vegetation in its mouth . The manatee's teeth wear down very quickly from sea grass and the large amounts of sand that it takes in with each mouthful. New teeth con- stantly grow at the back of the mouth and move forward at a rate of .04 inch a month, pushing out worn front teeth at regular intervals.

Left: The manatee swims well, and it relies completely on its aquatic environment.

~ MANATEE &: MAN The manatee has no natural enemies. It is man who has brought the manatee to its current vulnerable state. The manatee has long been hunted for its meat, hide, and o il. Between 1838 and 1942, several thousand manatee hides and countless cans of meat were exported from Brazil. More recently, pollution and loss of habitat through the damming of waterways have threatened the mana- tee's existence. Manatees are slow- moving, inquisitive animals, and a great number of them have sustained injury or have died after being caught in the propellers of high-speed boats.

The manatee needs large amounts of food to maintain its great weight. It eats 8 to 15 percent of its own body we ht each . Its dense

bulk keeps it steady in the water as it feeds. The manatee usually feeds while submerged, but it sometimes rises above the water.

while submerged, but it sometimes rises above the water. ~ BREEDING The manatee reproduces slowly. The

~ BREEDING The manatee reproduces slowly. The female gives birth

Right: The manatee uses its forelimbs like hands and arms to gather its food.

their big snouts together as if kissing, in what is thought to be

attempting to push rivals away. She may mate with more than one male. More than a year later, she gives birth underwater, immediately bringing the calf up to the surface on her

back to take its first breath. She suckles the calf for 12 to 18 months, feeding it vegeta- tion as well.

Below: "Mouthing " confirms the strong bond between mothers and calves.

a

greeting gesture. The manatee is a mammal, so

to a single calf every other year at most.

it

comes to the water's surface

Groups of males gather

to breathe. It can stay sub- merged for up to 15 minutes but usually surfaces at 5- to 10- minute intervals. It cannot survive out of water because it can't move, and its body weight makes it impossible to breathe without water support.

around a female ready to mate, nuzzling her and

DID YOU KNOW?

• Spanish colonists in the West

Indies named the manatee from mana, meaning "hand " and tener, meaning "to hold ."

• Known as sea cows, mana- tees and the related dugong- members of the Sirenian

family-are the only mam- mals that eat sea vegetation.

• The manatee's intestines

measure more than 150

feet long.

• The manatee uses its ex- tremely sensitive mouth

when searching for food and when communicating and

bonding with other manatees,

which is

• Nearly all mammals have

seven neck vertebrae; the manatee has only six.

called mouthing .

KEY FACTS LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT SIZES '\ GROUP 1: MAMMALS Length: Head and body, 8-17 in.
KEY FACTS
LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT
SIZES
'\
GROUP 1: MAMMALS
Length: Head and body, 8-17 in.
Tail,
-
Weight: About 6~ lb. Male larger
than female.
3~
7 in .
ORDER
FAMILY
GENUS
Marsupialia
Peramelidae
Perameles
'11IIIIIIII
BREEDING
Sexual maturity: Possibly 3
months but usually later.
Mating season: Any month .
Gestation: About 12 days.
No. of young: 1-7, usually 2-4 .
LIFESTYLE
Habit: Solitary; feeds at night.
Diet: Mainly insects and grubs but
also roots, tubers, and small
mammals.
Lifespan: Not known exactly but
probably 3-5 years.
• Range of long-nosed bandicoots.
DISTRIBUTION
Found in an isolated area in central Australia and around
the Australian coast. Also found throughout Tasmania .
RELATED SPECIES
There are 19 bandicoot species in
8 genera. The family Peramelidae
has 7 genera .
CONSERVATION
Long-nosed bandicoots are protected by law in Australia.
They are not as endangered as many of the other bandi-
coot species.
FEATURES O F LONG-NOSED BANDICOOTS
Coat: Sleek, coarse hairs, generally
a light grayish brown. They lack the
darker stripes on the back and rump
of all the other bandicoot species in
the family.
Limbs: Hind legs are longer and
stronger than forelegs and carry
most of the weight. Long , sharp
toes are adapted for digging.
~ r-:-~
Pouch: Opens
to the rear to
protect the young
from soil when
the mother is
digging. It
contains 8 teats
from which the
young feed.
Nose: Long
and slender,
tapering to a
point. Adapted
for rooting in
soil, rotting
wood , or
crevices.
Long-nosed bandicoots look like a cross between a small kangaroo
and a shrew. These insect-eating marsupials are found only
in Australia and Tasmania.

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Long-nosed bandicoots are odd-looking members of the marsupial family. They have a trunklike snout, powerful

Long-nosed bandicoots are odd-looking members

of the marsupial family. They have a trunklike snout,

powerful hind legs, and a pouch that opens

to the rear. They feed at night, darting quickly

here and there to avoid detection

by their many predators.

~ HABITAT

The four species of long-nosed bandicoot inhabit open plains, cleared grassland, and wooded areas along the coasts of Aus- tralia and in Tasmania. They also live in undergrowth and even in drainpipes near towns. Both the males and the fe- males have home ranges. The male's range is larger than

the female's, and he often has to defend it from invading males, sometimes fighting with teeth and claws. Long-nosed bandicoots are active mainly at night and sleep most of the day in a nest. They build their nests from grasses or sticks in a sheltered spot on the ground.

from grasses or sticks in a sheltered spot on the ground. Left: Using their powerful hind

Left: Using their powerful hind legs, ban- dicoots run with sudden bursts of speed and change direction quickly to outmaneuver predators.

Right:

Bandicoots hunt and feed at night. They have good hearing and excellent night vision.

at night. They have good hearing and excellent night vision. ~ ENEMIES Bandicoots are prey to

~ ENEMIES

Bandicoots are prey to many predators, including dingoes, snakes, and foxes. The Abor- igines hunt them for food, and farmers and gardeners often kill them because they damage crops and gardens as they dig for insects. Even though bandicoots have a high rate of repro- duction, many species are threatened with extinction and some are already extinct. The main threat comes from humans, who have destroyed bandicoots' habitats through cultivation. Another problem is the introduction of rabbits, whose grazing pattern alters the land and renders it un- suitable for bandicoots.

DID YOU KNOW?

• The name bandicoot de-

rives from a word in an Indian dialect meaning "pig rat./I It was originally ap-

plied to a rodent of the genus Bandicota found in India and Sri Lanka.

• Long-nosed bandicoots

are among the few bandi-

Bandicoot species range

Bandicoot species range

Bandicoots have the high-

Bandicoots have the high-

coots that make a noise. They emit a high-pitched call if disturbed .

in size from one foot to more than two feet long.

est rate of reproduction among marsupials.

~ BREEDING

Bandicoots are solitary ani- mals and come together only to mate. They can breed at

any time of year. During his nightly forages for food, the male searches for females that

are ready to mate. The gestation period is about 12 days. Newborns crawl into the mother's pouch and re-

main attached to her by a placental cord that nourishes them from her uterus. Long-nosed bandicoots' pouches open backward, un- like kangaroos', which open to the front. The young stay in the pouch for about seven weeks. After another week, they are weaned and leave.

~ FOOD & FEEDING

Long-nosed bandicoots eat mostly insects and larvae. They use their powerful claws to dig prey out of the ground and their long snouts to root prey out of crevices. Usually they find insects in the top four inches of soil. After a nightly forage, the area may

Left: Having caught an insect, a bandicoot crushes it with small, needle-sharp teeth.

be dotted with shallow holes. Besides insects, long-nosed bandicoots dig and eat roots and tubers. They also kill small rodents such as mice. After catching an animal, a bandicoot rapidly kneads it into a pulp with its forefeet before eating it.

Right: A bandicoot uses its toes and snout to dig insects and roots from the ground.

with its forefeet before eating it. Right: A bandicoot uses its toes and snout to dig

'" CARD 148 1 ,

BROWN HARE "~----------------------------~~~~~~~ - ~. ~,, • . j ORDER FAMILY ~ Lagomorpha Lepridae GENUS
BROWN HARE
"~----------------------------~~~~~~~ - ~. ~,, • . j
ORDER
FAMILY
~
Lagomorpha
Lepridae
GENUS &: SPECIES
Lepus europaeus

A sleeker, larger, and more athletic relative of the rabbit, the brown hare is able to adapt to a variety of climates. It has one of the largest distributions of any mammal species.

KEY FACTS

--~~--------------------------------------------------------------~

--------~ ~

SIZES Length: Head and body 11/2-2 ft. Ears 4 in. Tail 4 in. Hind feet 5-6 in . Weight: 8 1 /2-13 lb.

BREEDING Sexual maturity: 1 year. Breeding season: January to October. Gestation: 42-44 days. No. of young: 2-4 per litter. Litters per year: 3-4.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Active mainly at night. Normally solitary outside the breeding season . Diet: Mainly grasses and herbs, but also occasionally cereal crops, roots, and bark. Lifespan: 10-12 years.

RELATED SPECIES There are about 18 species in the genus Lepus. Related to all other hares, rabbits, and pikas.

Range of the brown hare. DISTRIBUTION Widespread across Europe except in Ireland and Scotland .

Range of the brown hare.

DISTRIBUTION Widespread across Europe except in Ireland and Scotland . Also found in Asia to central China and in parts of Africa . Introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and the United States.

CONSERVATION Modern farming techniques have elimina t ed

hare's food plants thus causing its numbers to decline.

many of the

FEATURES OF THE BROWN HARE OTHER SPECIES OF HARE Ears: Longer th an the head
FEATURES OF THE BROWN HARE
OTHER SPECIES OF HARE
Ears: Longer
th an the head
and tipped with
black. Laid flat
along the head
when the hare
lies low to hide
from predators
or when it feeds
Coat: Brown fur with white
underside. Yellow fur on
cheeks
and insides of
limbs .
Coat becomes denser and
redder from late summer to
early fall. The tai l has a
black
stripe on its upper su rface .
in
the open .
Mountain hare: Smaller anD
stockier than brown hare, with
shorter ears. Coat is similar to
brown hare but is not as rich in
color.
Legs: Long,
with powerful
hind limbs
Arctic hare: Pure white winter
coat with black-tipped ears.

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During springtime, brown hares can be seen running around, leaping in the air, and engaging

During springtime, brown hares

can be seen running around, leaping in the air,

and engaging in bouts of boxing. This frantic display occurs before mating and has given rise to the

expression "mad as a March hare."

~ HAB ITS

The brown hare lives in many habitats, favoring farmland, meadows, pastures, and fields of cereal crops. It also lives in marshes, open woodlands, and sand dunes, and up to 5,000 feet high in the Alps . Instead of digging burrows like the rabbit, the brown hare rests and sleeps by day in a form. A form is a shallow hole the hare scrapes out in a sheltered spot in the ground. The hare lies with its hind-

quarters in the deepest part, with its coat color blending into the surroundings. If disturbed, the brown hare lies still with its ears

flat against its body . If the

enemy comes too close, the hare can outrun most preda- tors with its long hind legs and sleek body. The brown hare outwits them by swerv- ing and running a zigzag route, backtracking and recrossing its own path.

~ FOOD & FEEDI N G

At dusk the brown hare feeds, staying close to the ground with its ears flattened along its back. Instead of hopping, it moves carefully, taking one step at a time. The brown hare mainly eats grasses and herbs, roots, cul- tivated cereal crops, buds, twigs, and tree bark. Rabbits and hares have

special ways to digest large amounts of plant food . Dur- ing the day they produce soft feces, which they eat to digest the food a second time. In addition to nutritional value, the feces also contain bacteria that help to break down the food in the stom- ach . The hares pass round, hard feces during the night.

Left: The brown hare uses its keen senses of smell and hearing to detect predators.

Right: A leveret (young hare)

feeds on solid food at two to three weeks old.

hare) feeds on solid food at two to three weeks old. NATUREWATCH crops such as winter

NATUREWATCH

crops such as winter corn .

Th e brown hare's fo ot-

p rin ts

than the rabbit's. Forefeet

p ri nts are side-by-side .

a re large r a nd deepe r

The brown hare rests dur- ing the d ay in long gra ss, scrub, or open woodland . Look for it feeding at dawn o r dus k in fi elds of short

DID YOU KNOW?

When frightened or hurt,

is the origina l Easter Bunny

the hare screams loudly. It

also grates its teeth to-

and that the Greek goddess of spring, Ester, created the

gether to make a warning

first

hare from a bird .

noise when annoyed .

In

isolated cases, ha res

• Some say the brown hare

have eaten their own young.

• Some say the brown hare have eaten their own young. Left: The leveret (baby hare)

Left: The

leveret (baby

hare) is well developed at birth and has its own nest.

Right:

Boxing oc-

curs during

breeding

when females

defend them-

selves from

aggressive

males.

when females defend them- selves from aggressive males. The brown hare breeds throughout the year, but

The brown hare breeds throughout the year, but it mates mainly in spring. Most young are born from March

to September. Males race around fields, leaping in the air, chasing and boxing with

around fields, leaping in the air, chasing and boxing with males and females during "mad March."

males and females during "mad March." The male mates aggres- sively, often mauling the female. She gives birth in early spring to two to four young and may have up to three litters a yea r. The leverets (young) .are born in a grass-lined nest in a form. Unlike rabbits, the hares are born fully furred with their eyes open. The mother puts each leveret in its own form and visi t s each night to suckle them . She gives a low call and they an- swer to help her to locate them in the dark. The leverets are indepen- dent of their mother at three weeks; they reach adult weight at eight months.

CARD 149

GAUR GROUP 1: MAMMALS ORDER FAMILY ~ GENUS &: SPECIES Artiodactyla Bovidae ~ Bas gaurus
GAUR
GROUP 1: MAMMALS
ORDER
FAMILY
~
GENUS &: SPECIES
Artiodactyla
Bovidae
~
Bas gaurus

With its rich dark coat and long white socks, the gaur is the largest and most impressive of all the wild cattle. This rare animal lives in a few mountainous forest areas in Asia.

'\l~K_EY~FA~CTS

[j]

SIZES Length: 8-10 ft. Height: About 5 ft. Horn length: Male, up to 3)1 ft.

Weight: Female, 1,500 lb. Male,

2,1001bs.

BREEDING Sexual maturity: Female, 3 years. Male, much later. Breeding season: Summer. Gestation: 9 months. No. of young: 1.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Forms small herds. Diet: Grass, herbs, and shrubs. Calls: Sharp, loud snort for alarm. Long, loud bellow for bull's mating call.

RELATED SPECIES The gayal is a domesticated form of the gaur. It is slightly smaller and is highly valued for the quality of its meat and hide.

• Range of the gaur. DISTRIBUTION Scattered herds on the Indian peninsula, Mayanmar, Nepal, western

• Range of the gaur.

DISTRIBUTION Scattered herds on the Indian peninsula, Mayanmar, Nepal, western Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

CONSERVATION The gaur is threatened by a reduction in its upland forest habitat. There have probably never been large numbers of gaur because their habitat requirements are very specific.

Horns: 2 to 3J.f feet long, curving upward and in- ward. Horns of old bulls are some- times shorter because they are broken or have worn down.

FEATURES OF THE GAUR

Forehead: Raised ridge of bone between horns. Lowered against opponent in threat display.

Dorsal hump: Flexed and displayed by the bull to impress a rival with his bulk. In this way males can establish dominance without fighting .

Dewlap: Loose folds of skin that give off body heat and cool the animal. '\
Dewlap:
Loose folds of
skin that give
off body heat
and cool the
animal. '\ .

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The gaur is a wild ox that lives mainly in small herds of no more

The gaur is a wild ox that lives mainly in small herds

of no more than a dozen animals. Active during

the day and most of the night, the gaur

alternates between grazing, chewing cud,

and sleeping for short spells.

~ HABITS

The gaur lives in herds to pro- tect itself. Its main enemy is the tiger, which can kill a full- grown adult. Related females and their young make up the largest herds. They are joined by a mature bull during breeding season. Individual bulls some- times stay with the cows all year and keep watch for pred- ators. The gaur benefits from sharing its range with wild pigs, deer, and birds that give loud warnings if there is an enemy approaching.

The gaur favors upland tropical forests. In the high mountain areas where it re- sides, cold is not a problem. But this wild ox needs wood- land to protect it from the burning midday sun. In place of the long, hairy coat of yak and bison from cold climates, the gaur has folds of loose skin that hang from the neck, known as dewlaps. It also has a hairy hump called the dorsal ridge. Both disperse body heat to cool the animal.

~ BREEDING

The gaur mates in summer, and the young are born in

spring when grass is plentiful.

A bull knows when a cow

is in heat (ready to mate) by sniffing her genitals and her urine. He then challenges his rivals for a chance to mate

with her. Fighting is rare. Instead, the winner is usually the one that threatens loud- est. The dominant bull may mate with 10 cows in one season, but the hierarchy of bulls changes regularly.

A cow leaves her herd to

give birth alone. She keeps a

careful watch for predators,

left: The gaur has a high ridge on its forehead between its two curved horns.

since unattended calves are often killed by tigers. About four days after birth,

the mother and calf rejoin the herd. The calf soon copies its mother's feeding posture. It noses the ground but does not yet nibble the grass. The calf remains close to its mother and nurses for about two months. The young are very playful, chasing each other and leaping around. But they are closely guarded on all sides by cows.

Young cows mature in the herd. At three years the bull joins a bachelor group.

Right: Despite its size, the gaur is shy and retreats if it detects an unfamiliar scent.

gaur is shy and retreats if it detects an unfamiliar scent. ~ FOOD & FEEDING The
gaur is shy and retreats if it detects an unfamiliar scent. ~ FOOD & FEEDING The

~ FOOD & FEEDING

The gaur grazes most of the day, although it takes time off early in the morning and in the afternoon to sleep and to chew cud (regurgitated food). Glades within the forest provide grass, but the gaur may also feed on lower slopes in the cool of the evening. Despite its size and bulk, the

left: A herd of gaur drinks at a water hole.

gaur is agile and can climb down steep gullies for food. The gaur grazes at night as well. Research suggests that wild cattle rarely sleep longer than an hour in any 24-hour period. Even this short period of sleep is made up of a large number of short, five-minute naps. In areas where a herd is constantly disturbed, this timetable may be confused.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Wild cattle species often

synchronize their actions. When threatened, a herd of gaur all thump the ground with their forelegs in unison.

• At one time the gaur was

prized by big game hunters, who considered it a chal- lenging quarry because of its

elusive habits.

• Cattle farmers sometimes

allow their herds to share pastures with the gaur. This

practice can endanger the wild herd, which may catch

diseases, such as foot-and- mouth disease.

• The gaur can attack a

predatory tiger and gore it

on its massive horns.

GRAY WHALE ,,~--------------------------~~~~~~~~ ORDER FAMILY GENUS &: SPECIES ~ Cetacea Eschrichtiidae
GRAY WHALE
,,~--------------------------~~~~~~~~
ORDER
FAMILY
GENUS &: SPECIES
~ Cetacea
Eschrichtiidae
Eschrichtius robustus

The huge gray whale can be readily identified as it cruises coastal waters. Its skin is dotted with white blotches and encrusted with patches of white barnacles.

blotches and encrusted with patches of white barnacles. KEY FACTS
blotches and encrusted with patches of white barnacles. KEY FACTS

KEY FACTS

----------------------------------------------------~

SIZES Length: 30-50 ft. Female slightly larger than male. Width of tail: 10ft. Weight: 25-40 tons.

BREEDING Breeding season: Winter. Gestation: 11-12 months. No. of young: Single calf. Weaning: 6-8 months.

LIFESTYLE Habit: Yearly coastal migrations of up to 6,200 miles (each way). Migrate in groups of 1-3. Diet: Plankton, shrimp, mollusks, and small fish.

RELATED SPECIES The gray whale is the only mem- ber of this whale family. Its closest relatives are the 9 other baleen whale species, including the blue whale, the right whale, and the minke whale.

Range of the gray whale. DISTRIBUTION Mainly confined to the coastal seas of the North
Range of the gray whale.
DISTRIBUTION
Mainly confined to the coastal seas of the North Pacific.
CONSERVATION
Whaling has greatly reduced the number of gray whales.
There are fewer than 200 on the Asian coast, but there are
about 17,000 on the North American coast, where the whale
I
is protected . Until the 1600s there were
North Atlantic, but they were hunted to
gray whales in the
----.-J
extinction .
FEATURES OF THE GRAY WHALE Dorsal bumps: The gray whale has no dorsal fin .
FEATURES OF THE GRAY WHALE
Dorsal bumps:
The gray whale
has no dorsal
fin . Instead it
has a series of
7 to 10 bumps
running along
the lower back.
Coloring: Dark gray but varies with
individuals. Some have light blotches
resulting from skin discoloration and
from patches of barnacles .
Blowhole: There are actually
two holes through which the
whale breathes. The blast
rises to 13 feet and on a still
day can be heard over a half-
mile away. The spout of water
rises vertically and appears as
a single column of spray.
Barnacles: These
crustaceans are
found mainly on the
head, around the
mouth, and on the
tail fin . One species
is unique to the
gray whale.
Whale lice: The
whale is infested
with small crus-
taceans, found
mainly on the
flippers and in
the folds of skin
around the eyes
and throat.

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BREEDING ~ Mating and birth take place in winter in the warm waters off Baja

BREEDING

~

Mating and birth take place in winter in the warm waters off Baja California and Korea . On the migration south, a female may be accompanied by two males, but she mates with only one. Not long after mating, the whales return north.

Gestation takes 11 to 1 2

months. When the females swim south the next year, they are ready to give birth. Calves are 13 to 16 feet long at birth and grow rapid- ly, adding another 16 feet in the first year. At two months, they accompany their moth-

The gray whale differs from other species of whales in many of its habits. Every year it travels up to 12,500

miles round-trip between its feeding and breeding

grounds. This journey is the longest migration

undertaken by a mammal.

HABITS

~

The gray whale may be the

most coastal of the great whales and often appears within half a mile of shore. It

is found along the northern

Pacific coast, with separate populations on the Asian and North American coasts. The whale's year is divided into distinct phases of feed- ing, migrating, and breeding. The North American popu- lation spends the summer in the rich feeding grounds of the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska's coast. At the end

of summer the whales begin

a three-month journey south, swimming down the Cana-

dian and U.S. coasts to their Mexican breeding grounds. The pregnant females give birth in these warm win-

ter waters, but after a few months they return to the northern feeding waters. The small Asian population of gray whales, which may be close to extinction, feeds in northern stretches of the Sea of Okhotsk off Siberia.

Above: During migration the whale swims close to shore at five to six miles per hour.

Right: Gray whales twist their bodies to the right when feeding

and use their snouts to rake up prey from the bottom.

and use their snouts to rake up prey from the bottom. ers on the migration north.
and use their snouts to rake up prey from the bottom. ers on the migration north.

ers on the migration north. Weaning takes place in late summer. From then on, the calf fends for itself. It makes the next southward migration

Above: Two calves frolic off the shore of Baja California.

alone. By then its mother is ready to mate again.

alone. By then its mother is ready to mate again. FOOD & FEEDING ~ The gray

FOOD & FEEDING

~

The gray whale does most of its feeding in summer, taking in great quantities of plank- ton, shrimp, mollusks, and small fish. It must build up fat reserves to live on during mi- gration and breeding. Like most great whales, the gray whale feeds by taking in water and straining it through rows of baleen plates on the sides of its mouth . Unlike oth- er whales, the gray whale is a bottom feeder. It dives down and stirs up sediment with its snout. After sucking in this cloud, it expels water and silt through its baleen but traps the bottom-dwelling animals.

Left: Baleen plates are made of com- pressed hair that becomes frayed. As water rushes out, food is trapped in the fibers.

DID YOU KNOW?

Instead of a small dorsal fin, the gray whale has a line of up to 10 ridges along its lower back.

Gray whales may help an

injured or sick companion

by pushing it to the sur- face to breathe.

On the Siberian coast,

where ice-cold waterfalls descend some of the sea cliffs, gray whales have been seen taking "show- ers." They may drive off skin parasites in this way.

A count on the body of

one gray whale revealed

100,000 whale lice.