Wombat: Friendly or Deadly

The Wombat is a quadricep marsupial that is native to the continent of Australia. They have a thick fur brown coat, usually, and look as if you miniaturized a brown bear. Even though these animals may look cute and look like they cause no harm, they are extremely aggressive and can be fatal if threatened. Their main form of defense and aggression is to flee the area back to their burrow. There, they will wait with their teeth to attack a predator or anything that comes near it. They will also wait for the predator to come near the burrow and use their rump to smash the attacker’s head against the roof of the burrow, ultimately killing the danger.

Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff on Pexels.com

One of the most unique characteristics of the Wombat is their ability to grow rootless teeth. Usually, marsupials will have a few layers of teeth that grow in and that is it, similar to humans. However, Wombats can continually replace their teeth with new ones. This reduces the chance of losing the ability to defend itself as well as eat certain foods. When thinking of marsupials, the first one that comes to head is a kangaroo. They hop on their hind legs and have a long tails. Wombats do not do this and thus do not need a long tail to aid in their movement and balance. Instead, they have adapted long front paws that aid in their ability to dig a burrow for a safe place to hide.

As you begin to learn about Wombats you may realize that they are a force to be reconned with. But, what do these warriors of Australia eat? To your surprise, those never-ending teeth like sharks and big front claws like lions do not help them catch prey. Wombats are herbivores and mostly eat grasses, herbs, roots, and bark. Their body has even adapted to obtain most of their water from food and they can live years without drinking water.

If you are ever in Australia and wondering where you might find one of these marsupials, you can look almost anywhere from wet and dry lands to forests and slopes. Wombats are adapted for almost anything and just want a place where the soil is easy for them to dig in. If you do come across a Wombat, you can expect a 60-pound animal that is 3 feet in length and can run up to 25 miles per hour.

Stick Insects: Insects In Disguise

Stick insects, otherwise known as Phasmatodea, are not a singular type of species. The term stick bugs and stick insects is a common name for the order Phasmatodea. This order is described as having the appearance of natural shrubbery and contains more than 3,000 species. Some of their unique characteristics include the ability to regenerate limbs and produce offspring with an unfertilized cell (parthenogenesis).

These insects can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They often live in warmer, tropical climates like tropical forests and woodlands. In these environments, they will be able to blend into their surroundings and evade their predators. In fact, these insects are so well at hiding that you can pick one up without knowing it was an insect until it starts moving in your hand of course.

The most common stick bug is the Northern Walkingstick. They are relatively small in length reaching up to 90 mm or about the size of your hand. They are usually brown or green in color and have 4 major walking legs. Their main source of food is usually foliage and leaves.

One of the things you might have never realized is that some walking sticks have wings! Some are wingless like the Northern walking stick but, researchers have been finding evidence that some species of walking sticks are regaining the ability the fly.

Gerenuk: No Not a Giraffe!

The Gerenuk looks as if you combined a Giraffe and Gazelle together. It has a long slim neck and limbs with s-shaped horns (only in males) that resemble a common Gazelle. Reaching heights between 3-3.5 feet and weighing up to 90 pounds, these animals are found in the horn of Africa and the dry regions of East Africa. The diet of these animals is herbivorous and consists of shoots, leaves, flowers, plants, fruits, and blooms. Although there are no animals in the Gerenuk diet, this does not mean they are not in the diet of other animals. They are meaty meals for many animals on the safari including Lions, Leopards, wild dogs, and Jackals.

When living in the heart of Africa it may become hard for some animals like the Gerenuk to find and safely access freshwater. Oftentimes, lakes and rivers that are good sources of water are surrounded by predators of the Gerenuk. Over thousands of years, the Gerenuk has adapted their body to obtain almost all of their water needs from the plants and fruits it eats. This reduces the number of dangerous encounters the Gerenuk will have by a significant amount.

Another adaption of the Gerenuk is their long neck and unique vertebrae. These adaptions allow this animal to reach foliage and food sources that many other herbivorous organisms can not. The reason their vertebrae are so unique is because of their ability to allow the Gerenuk to stand on two legs. With the long neck and ability to stand upright the Gerenuk can double its height up to eight feet!