Tuesday, 1 January 2008

My Twelve Favourite Animals

How can anyone list their dozen favourite animals? Surely it must be an impossible task, especially as any list is likely to change from week to week as one comes across a new species (either in real life or on the Internet). But I like doing the impossible so I decided to attempt it any way –here is my list as at 1st January 2007:-

The Blobfish
A delightful fish that inhabits the deep waters off Australia and Tasmania, The Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is one of those creatures that one cannot help but anthropomorphise. It is the perfect grumpy, old man.

The Dumbo Octopus
Another sea creature, the Dumbo Octopus ( Grimpoteuthis sp.) often has large fins which resemble mammalian ears but this specimen is the one I love.

The Tiger
I have chosen the Tiger (Panthera tigris), the largest of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, for its grace and power. It represents one of the major big mammal species that has become threatened over the years because of Man’s appalling treatment of the environment.

Broad-bodied Chaser
As an amateur entomologist I had to pick a couple of insects and one had to be a dragonfly. I chose the Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa), primarily because I have some lovely pictures of it and, unlike the Tiger and the Dumbo Octopus I can see one only a mile away from home most sunny days from June to August. The one on my hand is a female whilst the blue-bodied one is a male.

The Glasswing
Butterflies have always been my favourite creatures and I suppose they form one of the few enthusiasms which has never waned since my childhood. i should perhaps have chosen a British species or at least one which I had photographed in a butterfly house but in the end I settled for The Glasswing (Greta oto) as it is one of the most fabulous of creatures.

Lace Monitor
If I had the money, time, space, environmental conditions, and staff to maintain it I would have a collection of reptiles and amphibians. Unfortunately, with so many ‘if’s I‘ll just have to settle for admiring them in the zoo. Among my favourites is the Lace Monitor (Varanus varius).

Philippine Sail-fin Lizard
Another reptile which has been near the top of my favourites list for years is the Philippine Sail-fin Lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus ) , a large semi-aquatic lizard that can grow to 90cm long.

Giant Otter
As I mentioned in the introduction to this post the lists is likely to change from week to week and this is a species which has only been added because of meeting one a few days ago. The Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is about as long as a human being. We had such a lovely chat I had to include him.

Zebra Spider
Probably my most exciting find of the year was in September when I came across a Zebra Spider (Argiope bruennichi). Not to some people’s taste but I was delighted.

Barn Owl
Picking one bird species out of so many that have their special place in my heart was not an easy task but in the end I settled for the Barn Owl (Tyto alba). It is one of the most widespread of all birds and represents beauty, power, grace and an eerily silent flight.

Ring-tail Lemur
Well, I had to include one of those mammals that make the word cute automatically spring to mind. In this case I have gone for the Ring-tail Lemur (Lemur catta). In fact they are pretty noisy and can be quiet aggressive towards each other but their cuddly fur and large eyes make up for those minor blemishes.

Honey Possum
And finally, the ultimate in cute – the tiny, nectar-feeding Honey Possum (Tarsipes rostratus) from Australia. The Honey Possum inhabits fields and small shrubs, running along the ground and climbing with speed and dexterity. These little marsupials range from 6.5 to 9cm long.

I may try this same exercise again in twelve months time and it will be interesting to see the changes.

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