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July 9, 2015 Animals that you probably don’t know about (but should)

This article is part of a series called Science by Compass.

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Ezo momonga

So, let’s kick start this list with the cutest of the lot. This little guy is a type of flying squirrel that looks quite remarkably like a pom-pom, and is endemic to Hokkaido, the most northern of Japan’s main islands. It’s such a well-loved animal (which really isn’t that surprising) that you can even find it on the ticket cards in the Hokkaido region.


LemurSunda flying lemur

Not so far away from where the ezo momongo lives is the Sunda flying lemur. The flying lemur inhabits quite a large area in Asia and is capable of gliding from tree to tree, and can travel a distance of up to 100 m through the air without losing an elevation of less than 10 m, which is a pretty nifty feat. However, whilst the species has not yet found itself on the threatened species list, the population has been on the decline due to deforestation and hunting.


RabbitFlemish giant rabbit

If you love rabbits and have always wanted to have one as a pet, then perhaps the Flemish giant, also known as the ‘king of rabbits’ is the rabbit for you. On average, they weigh around 7 kg, although they can weigh up to 10 kg (so undoubtedly, they would have quite a high daily food consumption). But why get a normal sized rabbit when you can get one that measures up to 80 cm long? Especially seeing as it means that you will just have more to love.


MothVenezuelan poodle moth

Discovered in 2009, the next critter on the list is perhaps a new species of moth with quite a rather interesting appearance. However, unfortunately, not that much is known about the Venezuelan poodle moth. But one thing is for sure, it is definitely better looking than our native Bogong moths.


FrogIndian purple frog

This little guy, also known as the ‘pignose’ frog, inhabits parts of India. It spends nearly the entire year underground and only surfaces for approximately two weeks of the year. However, it is currently classified as an endangered species with its existence being threatened by deforestation.


DeerChinese water deer

You probably would not be that surprised if I told you that the water deer is otherwise known as the ‘vampire’ deer. Its two rather impressive ‘fangs’ are used to fight fellow male rivals and only 60% of the ‘fang’ is visible, so you can imagine just how long the canine is in total. However, the water deer is currently on the threatened species list and is classified as vulnerable.


FenrecLowland streaked tenrec

Next on the list is quite an interesting looking creature. The lowland streaked tenrec inhabits areas in Madagascar with its spines acting as both a defence mechanism and a form of communication. In fact, it is the only mammal that uses stridulation to create sound – something that is associated with insects and snakes.


OkapiOkapi

Looking at the okapi, it would be easy to believe that it is a crossbreed of zebra and a horse. However, despite its appearances, the okapi is actually a member of the family Giraffidae, and is fairly closely related to giraffes. Living in Africa, this animal is currently listed as being endangered with the species being threatened by loss of habitat due to both human expansion and logging.


JerboaBaluchistan pygmy jerboa

This little rodent, also known as the ‘dwarf three-toed jerboa’, is endemic to Pakistan and lives in the sand dunes, this meaning that it is highly adept at surviving in harsh, dry conditions. This creature is so tiny that it is actually listed in the Guinness Book of World Record as the smallest rodent in the world (tied with the African pygmy mouse).


VultureBearded vulture

And finally, to finish off the list, we have the bearded vulture, a bird of prey that lives across quite a large area, including regions in Europe, Asia and Africa. At up to 125 cm in height, these birds feed off dead animals. But, it is not the flesh that they are after, but rather, the bone marrow – this making it the only species of bird that specialises in eating marrow. Like many of the other animals on the list, the bearded vulture is threatened due to issues such as the degradation of their environment.

This article is part of a series called Science by Compass.

Read the series >

Christie Wilson
is a student at the University of Sydney.