Comb Duck and Knob-Billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) -

Comb ducks are one of the largest species of duck, and they are the only members of the genus Sarkidiornis.  There are two subspecies of comb duck.  They differ only slightly by size and color.  These ducks are common in pan-tropical regions of Madagascar, southern parts of Asia and northern parts of Argentina.  

Male ducks have a large knob on their beaks and are larger than females.  Juveniles are more mottled and their feathers are duller brown.  As they mature, their wings become black and iridescent, and their breasts and undersides become whiter.  They live and feed in groups, eating mostly water vegetation and sometimes fish.  Unlike many other ducks, they prefer to perch in trees.

Photos: (top) (bottom left) (bottom right)


Malaysian Cat Gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus) -

True to its name, they are native to Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Singapore.  Aeluroscalabotes is the only genus in its family, and this gecko is the only species in that genus.  The term cat gecko comes from the habit of curling its tail at rest and wrapping it around itself as it sleeps.  

Unlike most geckos, it does not have the adhesive feet pads.  Instead, it climbs trees using small claws and its prehensile tail.  It is thought to be one of the more primitive species of gecko.  Its small build likens it to some fossilized gecko ancestors. 

Their coloration can vary from yellow to red, and their eyes can be black, silver and sometimes a dark green.  They are nocturnal and not picky eaters.  In certain regions, they are protected from poaching for pet trade, but in other areas, populations are unknown. 

Photos: (top) (bottom left) (bottom right)


Gonatodes (Gonatodes daudini)-

Gonatodes is a genus of dwarf geckos that include many different species. Almost every species has a dramatic and unique color variation (in the males mostly). They mostly live in the forests of South America although some have adapted to live in cities and have been taken as pets.

They eat almost any bug that they can swallow.  Some species of Gonatodes are becoming critically endangered due to deforestation.

Most of the species have pointed noses and are rather narrow in body size.  However Gonatodes Daudini, shown here is the only one with large  scales, bright orange irises and the 3 eye shaped patterns displayed by the males. 

Photos: Strategy Forum INC on Flickr 


Thanks to all the new followers, and rhamphoctheca especially!! I’m feeling good today, so today is my favorite animal (currently).

Ground Pangolin or Cape Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii or Manis temminckii) - 

This terrestrial insectivore can grow up to about 3.5 feet and weigh around 40 lbs.  The pangolin is the only mammal to be covered in hard keratin scales.  They are stalky, robust animals that trek about on their stubby hind legs, and use their large tails for balance.  They travel like this to protect their sharp claws that they need for digging and hills and termite mounds. 

Mostly nocturnal, they spend the day curled up in burrows, usually of other animals.  Their scales make for poor insulation, but excellent protection against predators and sharp rocks in its burrow.  They have an excellent sense of smell and can detect underground insect nests.  While digging and feeding, it can close its ear holes, nostrils and eyes, each covered with thick skin to protect against bites.  Their 6 inch tongues are stored in a pouch in its throat.  Baby pangolins (bottom right) hold on to their mothers’ backs, similar to anteaters. 

All Asian and African pangolins are in danger of illegal hunting, habitat invasion and poaching.

Photos: (top) (bottom left) (bottom right)


Aardwolf (Proteles Christata) - 

Despite its name, the aardwolf is a member of the hyena family.  It is smaller than its Hyaenidae cousins and it does not hunt large prey.  Instead, it has a modified, long sticky tongue that it uses to eat insects and termites.  Occasionally, it will scavenge for carrion.  Because of its diet, sometimes their teeth wear or fall out.

They are nocturnal and live in burrows.  They are social and pairs will both work to raise cubs.  However during foraging, they will typically separate and feed alone.  

Since they cannot run very quickly, they rely on their foul smelling spray, and their mohawk like manes that can be raised to seem more threatening. 


Groove-Billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) -

A small sized member of the cuckoo family, it is known for having deep ridges running down its large bill.  (I am not sure what these are for). It has black iridescent feathers, and a tail the length of its body.  It is easily distinguished as a cuckoo because of the orientation of its toes.  Two toes point forward and two point backwards for better mobility on the ground. 

The nesting habits of this do not consist of stealing another bird’s nest.  Instead, they live in small communal groups, laying all eggs in one nest and taking turns incubating and caring for the hatchlings.  

They forage on the ground for insects and arthropods, and will occasionally eat fruits and berries.  They are common in tropical areas of South America and the Southern states during summer.  

Photos: (top) (middle) (bottom)