Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Silky Anteater - The Smallest Anteater

The silky anteater, sometimes known as the pygmy anteater is the smallest anteater in the world, just slightly bigger than your hand!  What does the silky anteater have in common with some monkeys?  The silky anteater has a prehensile tail, meaning they can hang onto trees by their tail, leaving their hands free to eat.  The silky anteater eats up to 5000 ants a day, so you can understand why they would need to have their hands free!
The baby anteater is adorable.  Both parents care for the baby anteater and dad will give the baby anteater piggy back rides until the baby anteater is 9 months old and able to move by itself!  The baby anteater enjoys a healthy diet of regurgitated ants that its parents bring back.  Who's hungry?
If you are looking for a silky anteater try looking in Southern Mexico, through to Bolivia and parts of Brazil but your chances of seeing a silky anteater aren't very good since they are nocturnal (active at night), although you might hear one since the silky anteater emits a shrill call when scared or threatened.  Sources:  EDGE Mammals: Silky Anteater, Silky Anteater. See a video of a silky anteater

Help Save the Silky Anteater
The population of silky anteaters is not known since they are so hard to find, but it is thought that the silky anteater has been negatively impacted by habitat destruction, primarily due to cattle, soybean plantations, agriculture and logging.

(top) Silky anteater photo courtesy of:  Fincas Las Brisas
(right) This looks like a photo of a baby anteater, but it's actually an adult female silky anteater.  Silky anteater photo courtesy of:  Sabalolodge

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vaquita - One of the Rarest Animals on Earth

If you ever get a glimpse of a vaquita, you will have the honor of reporting the 66th sighting of a live vaquita ever!  That's right, to date only 65 confirmed sightings of vaquita have ever been reported.  Despite its critically endangered status, the vaquita is very easy going, taking its time swimming and even eating.  If you see a large vaquita, chances are its female and not male, since female vaquitas are larger than male vaquitas. 

Vaquitas live close to shore in shallow lagoons where there is a strong tidal pool mix, meaning lots of choices for dinner, but vaquitas are not picky eaters. 

Vaquitas are elusive creatures and are shy of boats.  If you have never heard of a vaquita, it may be because these shy creatures also go by other aliases including cochito and gulf porpoise.  These shy creatures are also the smallest marine cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) on earth!

Why One of the Rarest Animals on Earth Needs Our Help
Becuase it is one of the rarest animals on earth with an estimated  population of only 150 vaquitas remaining.  Vaquitas are only found in the Gulf of California in Mexico and have the most limited habitat of any cetacean.  The biggest threat to vaquitas is being caught as by catch in commercial fishing operations where they became entangled in fishing line and drown.  The government of Mexico is working to remove all gill nets from the vaquita habitat and to buy out affected fishermen.  Vaquitas habitat has also changed dramatically with the damming of the Colarado River in the U.S. which had a negative impact on the vaquita.  Sources:  Animal Info -Vaquita, Expedition Vaquita, Animal Bytes - VaquitaSee a video of a vaquita.   

Help Save One of the Rarest Animals on Earth - The Vaquita
Vaquita photo courtesy of:  SavetheVaquita

Friday, March 5, 2010

Red Uakari - the Red Faced Monkey

You are looking at a handsome red uakari, and he is not blushing, the red uakari always has a  face that red. Handsome you say? Why of course, because of his red face. The redder the face, the healthier the red uakari is thought to be. A pale face likely means that a red uakari is sick. The red uakari is also a social butterfly living in troops of up to a hundred individuals, then breaking into smaller groups during the day to look for food. The red face of the red uakari may also help them see each other in the dense forest. Unlike most New World primates, the red uakari has a short tail, but that doesn't stop it from making jumps of 20m+ across the rainforest canopy. Who needs a tail for balance, when you're so sure of your skill!

The red uakari is an endangered monkey and is only found in Peru and Brazil in the Amazon river basin living in swamp forests. There are reports that the red uakari has also been seen in Columbia, but these sightings have not been confirmed. The main threats to the red uakari are habitat loss, being hunted for food. I can't imagine eating a red uakari. Sources:  National Geographic:  Red Uakari, See a video of a red uakari in action!

Help Save the Red Uakari
Volunteer with the red uakari on an EarthWatch Expedition
Buy a photo of a red uakari, proceeds go to the Red Uakari Monkey Project
Visit the Amazon Animal Orphanage in Iquitos Peru, where rescued red uakaris may be seen
Volunteer at the Amazon Animal Orphanage and help rescued red uakaris
Donate to the Amazon Animal Orphanage and help pay for the care of rescued red uakaris

Red uakari photo courtesy of flickkerphotos
If you like monkeys, you may also like:  Cute Monkey Pictures  Monkey Mountain in Germany and Observing Endangered Samango Monkeys in iSimangaliso Wetland Park.