Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)

  • Found in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, wintering in Florida, Mexico, and various parts of the Carribean. 
  • Typically 4.5-5.5 in length, with a wingspan of up to nine inches, and weigh around half an ounce. 
  • These finches feed primarily on seeds, but will sometimes also eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. 
  • They are mostly monogamous, with pairs producing two clutches of 3-4 eggs in late spring and summer. Young will leave the next permanently around two weeks after hatching.
  • Painted Buntings are most notable for their beautiful coloring, with males exhibiting bright hues or blue, red, yellow, and green. Females and young buntings are less dramatically colored, being green or dull yellow. 
  • They are currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to habitat loss and trapping for the pet trade, though this practice is outlawed in the United States. 

Image Sources: 1 2 3 4 

Further Reading:
Wikipedia article on the Painted Bunting
Cornell Lab of Ornithology entry on the Painted Bunting
National Audubon Society entry on the Painted Bunting

Indri (Indri indri):

  • Endemic to northwestern Madagascar. 
  • The largest of all lemurs, Indri can grow over two feet long and up to 20 pounds. Unlike other lemurs, their vestigial tails are only a few inches long, adding little to its size. 
  • Indri eat primarily leaves, but will also sometimes feed on flowers, seeds, and fruit.
  • Indri are monogamous, and reach sexual maturity at the relatively late age of 7-9 years old. Adult pairs will sire one infant every few years, and raise the baby for up to two years before it gains total independence. 
  • These lemurs play an important part in the mythology of the native Malagasy people, to the point where the hunting of Indri is considered taboo. Indri are described as having a common ancestor to humans in native myths.
  • They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, due to habitat destruction, fragmentation of social groups, and hunting for meat. 

Image sources: 1 2 3 4 

Further Reading:
Wikipedia article on Indri
Arkive entry on Indri
IUCN entry on Indri

Electric Eel (Electrophorus electricus):

  • Found in the watersheds of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, as well as other waters throughout South America. 
  • A large fish, they can reach over six and a half feet in length and up to 40 pounds in weight.
  • Feeds on various invertebrates, as well as fish and small mammals during adulthood. 
  • Males, which are much smaller than females, make a nest from their saliva during the dry season, where females lay up to 3,000 eggs. 
  • Well known for their electric shock, which comes from three abdominal organs. These organs make up the majority of their body and create two types of electric shocks, high and low voltage. The high voltage shock can range up to 500 volts, enough to potentially kill an adult human. 
  • Currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, they face the same risks of habitat destruction as all animals in the Amazon.  

Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus):

  • Found throughout most of Africa, except for the extreme Southern tip and Northern deserts.
  • It is the second largest Crocodilian, behind the Saltwater Crocodile of Australia. It typically ranges between 11-18 feet and weighs 500-1,700 pounds, with the largest being 21.2 feet long and 2,400 pounds. 
  • It can and will eat anything of it’s own size, including antelope, zebras, warthogs, giraffes, young hippos, buffalo, domestic animals, and even humans. In groups, they can hunt even larger prey like adult hippos and rhinos. 
  • Females lay eggs and bury their eggs in nests of rotting vegetation. The sex of their offspring is determined by the temperature at which they incubate, like many other reptiles. After hatching, young are protected by their mother for up to two years. Babies are often held in the mother’s mouth, or ride on her back. 
  • Nile Crocodiles are known for their powerful jaws full of sharp teeth. They are one of the only species of reptiles to regularly feed on humans, along with normal prey. Individual crocs will often hang around villages, tormenting the natives. Along with their jaws, crocs will use their massive bodies to buffet prey, and will launch out of the water at river banks to attack. Once in the water, crocs will spin in a ‘death roll’ to twist off chunks of flesh. 
  • Nile Crocodiles are listed as Least Concern, though some populations are threatened by competition, habitat loss, and hunting for meat, skins, and revenge. 

Danube Crested Newt (Triturus dobrogicus):

  • Found in Western Europe in the river systems of the Danube and Tisza rivers, but is commonly kept in captivity. 
  • Large compared to other newts, it grows to 7 inches in length and is heavily-built. 
  • Feeds on annelids and insects in the wild, and is given earthworms, bloodworms, waxworms, crickets, and fish or reptile pellets, among other feed in captivity. 
  • Males court females tail and crest displays, waving and lashing their appendages. Females lay their eggs on folded leaves, where they hatch into larvae within a few weeks. Due to a genetic deformity, about half of all eggs will die and not hatch. 
  • Living in temperate climates, the newts can survive temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary. 
  • Currently listed as Neart Threatened by the IUCN due to habitat loss, and are a protected species in the wild.  

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli):

  • Found on the North Island of New Zealand. 
  • Stands up to 16 inches high, with females weighing around six pounds, though males are considerably smaller. 
  • Feeds on invertebrates at night found by foraging through soil with its beak, which has its nostrils at the end, unlike other birds. 
  • Males and females form permanent bonds which can last up to 20 years. Females lay 2 eggs in each clutch. Kiwis are famous for having large eggs, up to one fourth of their body weight each, and can be up to the size of six chicken eggs. Males incubate the egg. 
  • The Kiwi is one of the national symbols of New Zealand. 
  • They are currently listed as endangered by the IUCN, with major threats from predators such as dogs, cats, and stoats. 

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae):

  • Indigenous to Europe and parts of Asia, it has been introduced to North America, Australia, and New Zealand to control poisonous ragwort. 
  • Small in size, the colorful moth typically has a wingspan of around 1.5 inches. 
  • Larvae feed on ragwort, but can turn cannibalistic when food supplies run low.
  • Females lay up to 300 eggs, which hatch into brightly colored caterpillars. 
  • As is indicated by their colorful pattern, the caterpillars are unpalatable from their diet of ragwort. Due to their veracious appetite for the plant, they have been used in several countries to eradicate it.  
  • It is not listed as in danger of extinction, and has in fact flourished in non-native environments. 

West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)

  • Found in the southwest of the Indian Ocean along the coastal regions of southern African and Madagascar.
  • Grow up to 6.5 feet and a bulky 175 pounds.
  • Opportunistic feeders, they will eat any fish or invertebrate available to them. 
  • Very little is know about their reproductive habits, or where they even spawn. 
  • Well known as a “living fossil”, Coelacanth-like fish have been found throughout several hundreds of years of the fossil record, and likely share physical traits with some of the precursors to the first land-faring animals.
  • Listed as critically endangered, (though the other species of Coelacanth is listed as Vulnerable), it’s thought that there are less than 500 individuals left today, and killing of the first is strictly outlawed.

Oriental Fire-bellied Toad, (Bombina orientalis):

  • Normally found in Korea, North-eastern China, and parts of Russia, with an introduced population in Beijing, and many kept as pets all over the world. 
  • Typically quite small, around two inches in length, with a drastic color scheme of green, black, and vivid orange. 
  • Feeds on insects in the while and is usually fed crickets and other small insects dusted with calcium powder to supplement their diet. 
  • Males are veracious maters and will jump on the backs of any passing toads, even other males. Females lay between 40-100 eggs, which, once hatched, become tadpoles, and then frogs about three to four months later. 
  • As their bright coloration might suggest, the toad is slightly toxic, though not nearly as dangerous as other frogs, such as Poison Arrow Frogs. Though handling is not inherently dangerous, excessive handling should be avoided and hands should always be washed afterwards. 
  • Listed as Least Concern, the animal can be bought in many pet shops and is one of the most popular amphibian pets.