The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida). They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 320 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland (hence the name).This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals.
Like many mammals, sheep have highly reflective eyes due to a unique tapetum lucidum, making their eyes glow white when the darkness is broken with light. This shepherd got quite a shock when he decided to snap a photograph of his flock.
Baby sun bears are born blind, hairless, and helpless, and are completely dependent on their mothers for their first three months. Their mothers will carry them in their mouths or, unusually, by cradling them in their arms while they walk on their hind legs, a behaviour seen in no other bear species. The cubs nurse from their mother for around 18 months, and will stay with her until they are two years old. Females are ready to find a mate of their own by the time they are three, and males reach sexual maturity at around four.
The clouded leopard is so called because of the distinct, cloud-shaped patches on its coat. These same patches are, in China, believed to resemble mint leaves, and so in China these cats are known as “mint leopards”. In Malaysia, the arboreal habits of these predators have given them the name “tree tigers”.
We mentioned before that the clouded leopard has an extremely long and thick tail to serve as a counterbalance as it climbs through the trees. This tail, which is as long as the cat’s entire body, is the longest in relation to body size of any feline species. The clouded leopard’s teeth, particularly its canines (or fangs), are another unique feature of this animal. These canine teeth can grow over four centimetres in length; that’s as long as the fangs of an adult tiger! To put this into perspective, a tiger is over ten times larger than a clouded leopard. Much like the tail, these teeth are the longest in relation to body size of any cat species. This has lead to the clouded leopard being referred to as “the modern day sabretooth”.
While bears may be the world’s most iconic hibernators, they don’t all hibernate the same way. Even members of the same species, like black bears, differ in their approaches to overwintering, depending on where they live.
In eastern North America, food sources like nuts and berries stay available longer, so black bears in places like New York and New Jersey don’t start hibernating until November or December. But in the southwestern United States, where food sources get scarce earlier, bears can spend as long as six or seven months a year—more than half their lives!—in hibernation.
Before they settle in for a long winter rest, black bears spend the summer and fall in a state known as hyperphagia, chowing down on just about anything they can get their paws on.
Hey, look. It’s that Megaloceros giganteus portrait I started in April 2015… and finally finished.
Commonly known as Irish elk* or giant deer, M. giganteus lived in Eurasia during the Middle Pleisotcene and Early Holocene. It had the biggest antlers of any known cervid: it could reach up to 40kg in weight, and up to 3.64m across. In body size, it was similar to the Alaskan subspecies of moose, reaching on average between 540 - 600kg, with large specimens weighting 700kg or more.
It’s closest living relative is probably fallow deer (Dama dama)
*elk in British English is exactly the same animal as moose in American English. Don’t ask me why. Elk/moose live in Eurasia as well as North America, so it really doesn’t make any sens to me, but there you go.
Like most bears, sun bears are generally solitary when not seeking a mate. When in breeding condition, however, mating pairs seem quite affectionate with each other, with the two bears hugging, play-fighting, and nuzzling. Little is known about mate selection or habits, especially since there is no set breeding season, but there are some researchers who believe the sun bear is monogamous. Adult pairs, possibly mates, have been observed travelling with litters of cubs, which is extremely unusual for bears. However, this has yet to be confirmed.