Winning the cutest. bat. ever. award is the Bumblebee bat, which at its largest measures 1 inch. These tiny mammals hover like hummingbirds and like all bats prefer caves and love feasting on insects. They can easily perch on the tip of your thumb. This tiny bat dwells in Thailand and is considered one of the 12 most endangered species. There are fewer than 200 remaining.
Bumblebee Bats are found in areas in Sai Yok National Park in the Kanchanaburi Province of western Thailand. They have also recently been discovered in Myanmar.
Small colonies consisting of 10 - 100 individuals roost high up in limestone caves. When they roost they are spread out so that they are not touching each other. These caves are found in forested areas near rivers.
Bumblebee Bats feed on insects. They either take them from foliage or capture them in the air.
Very little is known about reproduction in Bumblebee Bats but it is thought that they give birth to a single young in late April each year.
It is not known if Bumblebee Bats have any predators. Their main threat is the annual burning of the forests near their caves in Thailand
This unusual amphibian is blind, lives to 100, and goes ten years at a stretch without food. It lives in the subterranean waters of Italy, Croatia and Herzegovenia, where it skeeves out the locals with its strange, human-like skin. Its nickname, in fact, is the “human fish”. Unlike most amphibians, the olm lives in the water for its whole life. Another oddity of the olm: its neotenic (larval) gills.
Everyone knows the beloved endangered kiwi is a flightless bird. As if to make up for its winged impotence, the kiwi is actually a violent, temperamental little bird. But its quirks don’t stop there. The only bird with whiskers is also distinctly dog-like in its ability to sniff out food and threats. In fact, it has the most highly developed sense of smell of any bird, lifting its “nose” (beak) into the breeze to determine its surroundings, just like a dog would. That’s probably because kiwis are also the only bird to have prominent nostrils. Contrary to popular belief, the kiwi does have wings, but they are tiny and difficult to detect under the loose, fluffy, hair-like feathers. The kiwi has many other unusual characteristics: the eggs are relatively huge, being one-fifth the bird’s weight; kiwi pairs mate for life – as long as 30 years – but tend to have feisty relationships; the females are larger and more dominant than the males.
Their survival rate has been poor since man has introduced domestic animals to the New Zealand Islands which means that it is their responsibility to keep them safe in the future. Protected sanctuaries have been designed to keep the kiwi bird in and the predators out however the birds are still classified as endangered.
Goliathus: The African Goliath Beetle
The Goliath beetles (named after the biblical giant Goliath) are among the largest insects on Earth, if measured in terms of size, bulk and weight. They can weigh up to 3-4 ounces. The larvae live for 1-2 years, the adults live about 3 months. The scientific name of the Goliath beetle is Goliathus goliathus. Adults range in length from 80-115 mm, and the largest and most massive of all insects. It occurs in West Africa and surrounding regions. The larvae live in soil and feed on decaying organic matter. The adults are strong flyers, and their loud buzz when flying often attracts attention.
Goliath beetles, like almost all other beetles, possess a reinforced first pair of wings (called elytra) which act as protective covers for their secondary pair of wings and abdomen. Only the second pair of wings (which are large and membranous) are actually used for flying. When not in use, they are kept completely folded beneath the elytra.
Each of the beetle’s legs ends in a pair of sharp claws (called tarsi) which provide a strong grip useful for climbing on tree trunks and branches. Males have a Y-shaped horn on the head which is used as a pry bar in battles with other males over feeding sites or mates. Females are without a horn, and instead have a wedge-shaped head which assists in burrowing when they lay eggs. Apart from their massive size, Goliathus beetles are strikingly patterned as well. Prominent markings common to all of the Goliathus species are the sharply contrasting black vertical stripes on the pronotum (thoracic shield).