Winter is upon us and most of the nation has already had its first taste of frost, freezing rain or snow. While this is coat and sweater weather for us, how do animals make it through the harsh weather?
Animals have special adaptations, these are special traits or behaviors that animals use to deal with the environment around them. These adaptations help animals deal with both cold and warm weather conditions. By adapting, animals are able to live in all sorts of adverse climates.
Wolves use their thick winter coats to help protect them from the weather. These coats help keep their skin drier and block out the cold wind. This is particularly important for the Arctic wolf, which lives in freezing weather all year long. Wolves dig shelters to provide them extra shelter in bad weather, which is another type of adaptation. They shed some of their thick coats in spring in preparation for summer.
Black bears are experts when it comes to adapting to their environment. They put on extra fat and hibernate to conserve energy through the colder months. This means they don’t have to hunt for food during sparse winter months. In the spring they come out and start the cycle all over again!
What kind of animal adaptations can you think of? Most animals have some types of adaptations, and when you visit us, you can see some of them in action. We invite you to come to the park and pay attention to the many different adaptations you may see during your visit!
Alpacas belong to the camel family. They are native to the mountainous areas of South America such as the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador and northern Chile. An Alpaca can reach up to 99 cm at the shoulder and weigh up to 180 pounds. They have thick, long hair which is considered to be of very high quality. Alpaca hair, called fiber, is prized for making clothing and other textiles.
Alpaca are no longer found in the wild, but are a domesticated species. They have been very important to indigenous people for thousands of years. Alpaca are very social animals that prefer to live in family units. Alpaca are vocal and make a variety of sounds to communicate, ranging from a barking-like sound to clicking and shrieking to warn others of danger.
Gopher Tortoises hail from North America and can be found in areas around Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. They are one of the oldest living species dating back 60 million years. They are considered an important species because they dig long burrows that eventually provide shelter for many other animals, like mice, foxes and skunks.
The Gopher Tortoise can reach about 12 inches long and has a life span of up to 100 years. They prefer living in dry areas where they scavenge for food. As herbivores, they eat a wide range of plants, grasses, legumes and mushrooms. Unfortunately populations are threatened by loss of habitat and predation.
The Coatimundi is a member of the raccoon family. They are native to tropical and subtropical areas in South America and usually live in forests. Their diet consists of fruit,insects, small rodents and bird eggs.A full grown coatimundi can weigh up to about 15 pounds and can be up to 44 inches long from head to the tip of their tail.
Female coatimundi are social and live in groups called “bands” while the males are usually solitary and live alone. All coatimundi communicate through a range of sounds from whining to loud alarms. Female new born coatimundi usually grow up and live in the same band they are from but males will leave the group after about 3 years.
Vervet monkeys are primates that come from southern Africa and some eastern countries. There are five subspecies of the Vervet, some of which have been introduced to areas of the United States, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. They live in a wide range of environments, ranging from woodlands and coastal forests to mountainous areas.
Vervets are social animals that live in large, organized groups. The males can weigh up to 18 pounds with females weighing around 12. They eat mostly fruits, flowers, leaves and seeds. Vervets communicate with each other with a range of calls and sounds and vocalizations.
The Yak is an interesting animal that is important to indigenous people of Tibet and the Himalayan area. Wild Yaks are very large and found throughout the Himalayan area of Central Asia. In the wild they can weigh over 2,000 pounds and stretch up to 11 feet from head to rear. The males are larger than their female counterparts. Domestic Yaks are smaller and usually top out at around 1,200 pounds.
Yaks have long thick hair that protects them from harsh environments.This includes a shorter undercoat and a longer overcoat. They also have a pronounced hump and horns, with both being more noticeable in males. They are herd animals that spend most of their time grazing, which is exactly how they spend their days here at the park!
The Red Brahma,which is also called the Brahman, originally came from India. In the early 1800’s they came to the United States and are the result of breeding 4 different Indian Zebu breeds.The Brahman is one of the most popular cattle breeds around the world as they are very hardy and do well even under adverse conditions, even in tropical environments.
Red Brahma have short, dense coats and a hump in between their shoulders. Brahman bulls can weigh up to 2,200 pounds and have a lifespan over 15 years.. They have distinctive ears that hang low like the ears of a dog. They spend most of their time grazing and can eat a wide variety of grasses and vegetation.
WildMike : September 24, 2015 10:01 am : Blog Post
Leopard geckos were first described in 1854. They are native to grasslands and desert regions in south Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India and Iran. When they live in areas that get very cold, they can actually go into a form of hibernation by burrowing underground.
An adult Leopard gecko can be up to 11 inches long and weigh up to 65 grams. They eat things like crickets, roaches, worms and other insects. They hunt for their food using their special ears, which are very sensitive and helps them locate prey. They are also ectothermic, absorbing warmth from the sun during the day for energy.
Leopard geckos are popular as pets. Have you ever seen one up close?
WildMike : September 18, 2015 11:42 am : Blog Post
Lechwe in the Delta
Lechwe are a type of antelope that are found in marshy areas around Botswana, Zambia, Congo and Namibia. They are typically brown with white underbellies. The males tend to be darker and larger, reaching up to 39 inches at the shoulder and weighting up to 260 pounds. The males also have long, spiral horns.
Since lechwe live in marshy areas, they eat a lot of aquatic plants. This type of area also offers some protection from predators. They are so adapted to this environment that their legs have a type of water-repellent that makes it easier for them to stand and run for long periods in knee-deep water.
If you come see our lechwe you might notice that their hind legs are longer than other antelopes, this is just another adaptation that lets them run in marshy soil.
How much do you know about camels? If you’re like many people, you have had limited experience with this unusual animal and as a result, there are many misconceptions about them. For instance, have you ever heard that a camel stores water in their humps? Actually, the humps on a camel’s back are made of fat, but this is a great example of how this unusual animal is often misunderstood.
There are two types of camels, the Dromedary, which have one hump, and the Bactrian, which has two.Both are highly specialized to survive in even the harshest of environments. These humps are special adaptations which lets the camel store fat for energy. This gives them an advantage in the desert where little food and water is available, but doesn’t raise their body temperature! They are often used as pack camels, capable of carrying up to 1,500 pounds and running up to 25 mph.
The camel is a great example of how an animal uses adaptations to survive in extreme weather conditions. Making their homes in North Africa, the Middle east and in Asia, the camel can survive harsh temperatures, go for long periods with little food and water, and have specialized eyelids which help keep out blowing sand so their vision is never compromised. You can see one of these unique animals in person when you visit our park.