Bald Eagle

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ANIMAL:                                      Bald Eagle           Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Type of Animal: Eagle
Habitat: Wetlands, seacoasts, coastlines, rivers, lakes, marshes, streams, mangroves, shorelines, estuaries, pinelands, seasonally flooded flatwoods, hardwood swamps, groves, reservoirs, forests near bodies of water, riparian areas, pastureland/rangeland w/ trees, prairies, meadows, tundra, open forest, urban areas, rural areas, suburbs, dams, dumps, fish processing plants, open uplands near water, grasslands near water
Location(s): Alaska, Canada, continental US, & N Mexico
Appearance: Distinct brown feathers w/ white head & yellow hooked beak, yellow feet, dark talons, females larger than males, immatures dark brown w/ white streaks & black yellow tipped beak
Food/Diet: Fish (especially salmon but others too), carrion, refuse, birds up to size of cranes, vulture vomit, amphibians, turtles, young crocodilians, snakes, lizards, crabs, crayfish, rodents (including larger species like muskrat & beaver), small deer, moles, shrews, lagomorphs, sheep, otters, bobcat kittens, seal pups, domestic piglets, raccoons, cats, weasels, foxes, small dogs, mink
Status in Wild: Stable
Conservation: Banning of pesticide DDT in 1972 helped populations slowly recover. Removed from U.S. Endangered & Threatened Species List in 2007, even though populations have been stable since 1980’s.
Lifestyle: Monogamous pairs, sometimes found in groups of 4-30, especially at carcasses/salmon runs
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Tiercel Hen Eaglet Convocation
Weight: 9 lbs 12 lbs 2 lbs Gestation:

 

Life Span:

1 month
Height: 2.5-2.83 ft 2.91-3.08 ft
Body Length: 2.5-2.83 ft 2.91-3.08 ft 20-30 years
Tail Length: 1 ft Same
Main predators of adults are bears, wolves, & crocodilians. Owls, hawks, raccoons, gray squirrels, corvids, bobcats, gulls, golden eagles, other bald eagles (in rough times), wolverines, & foxes prey on young.
Pesticide DDT responsible for major decline in Bald Eagle populations until banning in 1972. This pesticide caused eggshells to thin, leading to less hatchings.
They often steal prey from other animals.
They play important roles in many Native American tribes.
Males have 5.9 ft wingspan while females have 7.5 ft wingspan.
Due to sibling rivalry, only 1 eaglet usually survives.
Fun Fact(s): They can dive up to 100 mph.
National symbol of the U.S.
Build huge nests known as aeries averaging 4-5 ft in diameter & 2-4 ft deep. Largest recorded was 9.5 ft in diameter, 20 ft deep, & weighed almost 3 tons.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

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ANIMAL:                            Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake      Sistrurus barbouri
Type of Animal: Viper
Habitat: Canal banks running through marshes/prairies, swamps, marshes, flatwoods, prairies, areas near lakes/ponds/rivers, creeks, sandhills, scrub pinewoods, mixed forests, longleaf pine-wiregrass forests, xeric uplands, woodlands, floodplains, hardwood hammocks, palm hammocks, field edges, palmetto hammocks
Location(s): Extreme S South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, S Alabama, S Mississippi, Louisiana
Appearance: Rounded dorsal spots, heavily flecked or mottled w/ black/dark brown whitish belly, grayish ground color w/ dark spots & some red spots, young snakes lighter than adults
Food/Diet: Small mammals, birds, lizards, amphibians, smaller snakes (including members of own species), earthworms, insects, small fish, centipedes, spiders
Status in Wild: Stable
Conservation: Breeding in zoos and breeding centers
Lifestyle: Solitary
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Snakelet Solitary
Weight: 3.5 oz Same 0.35 oz Gestation:

 

Life Span:

3 months
Height: N/A N/A
Body Length: 1.5 ft Same 0.5 ft 15-20 years
Tail Length: N/A N/A
Main predators are crocodilians, snapping turtles, larger snakes, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, weasels, otters, bears, cats, dogs, mink, & raccoons.
While venomous, deaths very rare due to small size & lack of potency. These snakes can be fairly aggressive to make up for small size.
Their venom is hemotoxic, targeting red blood cells and disrupting blood clotting.
While only moderately venomous, these snakes tend to be one of most responsible for human snakebites in North America.
Like all pit vipers, they use facial bits between eyes & nostrils to locate prey.
Sexually mature at 2 years.
Sometimes killed out of fear by humans.
Play important role in keeping rodent populations down.
These snakes often killed in rattlesnake round-ups.
Fun Fact(s): Rattle sounds like buzzing insect, leading to them sometimes being called buzzworms.
Also known as Florida ground rattlesnake, southeastern ground rattlesnake, ground rattlesnake, hog-nosed rattler, pygmy rattler, pygmy ground rattlesnake, & small rattlesnake.
Second part of scientific name in honor of American herpetologist Thomas Barbour.

Iranian Eyelid Gecko

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ANIMAL:                                Iranian Eyelid Gecko Eublepharis angaramainyu
Type of Animal: Lizard
Habitat: Semi-desert, gypsum, stony hills, ruins
Location(s): WC Iran, N Iraq, NE Syria, & SE Turkey
Appearance: Visible ear holes, short thick tapered tail, pale yellow w/ pattern of dark stripes & spots, tail top sometimes has blue, feet/snout/tail tip have pinkish tinge
Food/Diet: Insects, insect larvae, spiders, eggs, smaller lizards (including young of own species), young mice, worms, scorpions
Status in Wild: Stable
Conservation: Breeding from zoos & wildlife centers
Lifestyle: Solitary
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Hatchling Solitary
Weight: 3.06 oz 2.88 oz 0.36 oz Gestation:

 

Life Span:

1 month
Height: N/A N/A
Body Length: 9.5-10.5 in 8-9.5 in 4 in 10 years in wild, 15 years in captivity
Tail Length: 3.31 in 2.65 in 1.34 in
Main predators of adults are snakes, birds, larger lizards, dogs, foxes, cats, wildcats, weasels, mongooses, polecats, jackals, hyenas, camel spiders, large hunting spiders, frogs, wolves, & bears. Adult geckos & scorpions prey on young.
Also known as Iranian Fat-Tailed Gecko, Iraqi Eyelid Gecko, & Western Leopard Gecko.
They’re in same genus as popular leopard geckos.
Toes lack lamellae (sticky toe pads), reducing climbing ability. Instead, they have small claws improving traction while crawling across ground.
Their coloration is perfect for camouflage.
Tail acts as fat reserve, making tail shedding last resort.
Either crepuscular (active at dawn & dusk) or nocturnal.
Unlike many lizards, geckos can vocalize.
These geckos give high-pitched squeaks when captured, & will attempt to bite.
One possible threat is the pet trade.
Fun Fact(s): Angramainyu part of scientific name refers to Angra Mainyu, Zoroastrian spirit of darkness.
The subfamily they’re part of (Eublepharinae) is only gecko family w/ eyelids.
Like most lizards, it can shed its tail. These tails eventually regenerate.
Genus name derived from Latin word meaning good eyelid.

Ornate Box Turtle

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ANIMAL:                                  Ornate Box Turtle        Terrapene ornata
Type of Animal: Turtle
Habitat: Prairies, plains, grasslands, forests, pastures
Location(s): E Colorado, E New Mexico, Texas (except for far W), Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, S South Dakota, W Louisiana, W Arkansas, Missouri, parts of Illinois, NW Indiana, SW Wisconsin, extreme SW & SE Iowa
Appearance: Color variation w/ yellow lines from shell center to edges through gray, red-brown, or black coloration, males have large curved inner claws on back feet, longer thicker tails than females, males have reddish legs & sometimes, reddish jaws, males often have bright red/orange eyes, male has slightly concave plastron (bottom shell), black/dark brown carapace w/ yellow stripes, females have flat plastron
Food/Diet: Worms, spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars, carrion, fruit, berries, grasses, greens, crickets, beetles, melons, mushrooms, eggs, insect larvae, grubs, snails, slugs, vegetables, leaves, vegetation, flowers, baby mice, pill bugs, sow bugs, flies, stink bugs, cactus pads, young box turtles
Status in Wild: Threatened
Conservation: Breeding from zoos, aquariums, & breeders
Lifestyle: Solitary or small groups of around 4 individuals
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Hatchling Bale
Weight: 11.9 oz 14 oz Gestation:

 

Life Span:

2.5-3 months
Height: N/A N/A
Body Length: 3.9-4.3 in 4.3-5.1 in 32-37 years
Tail Length: 1 in 0.5 in
Main predators of adults are bobcats, bears, snapping turtles, alligators, foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, snakes, raccoons, cats, dogs, skunks, badgers, opossums, weasels, rats, corvids, otters, mink, pigs, & bullfrogs. Young preyed on by many birds, rodents, shrews, armadillos, & adult box turtles.
Threatened due to vehicle collisions, over-collection for pet trade, introduced species, climate change, pollution, & habitat destruction.
State reptile of Kansas.
Hibernate in burrows in winter.
They’re slow breeders, w/ males maturing at 8 years & females at 10 years.
Females lay 2-8 eggs per clutch.
Fun Fact(s): Humans shouldn’t eat them, since mushroom toxins may linger & cause poisoning to people.
Captive-bred individuals can make great pets.
Studies show populations have twice as many females as males, thought to be due to higher incubation temps producing females. Lower nest temps produce males.
While nonaggressive, they may bite and/or pee if handled roughly.

Eastern Box Turtle

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ANIMAL:                                  Eastern Box Turtle     Terrapene carolina
Type of Animal: Turtle
Habitat: Fields & edges, grasslands, forests, lake margins, pastures, shallow streams & nearby areas, ponds, puddles, forest edges, meadows & edges, wetland edges, thickets, woodlands, gardens, swampland, gardens, creek sides
Location(s): Found in E half of US in extreme S Maine, SE New Hampshire, S New England, SE New York as well as extreme SW area bordering extreme NW Pennsylvania, most of Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic states, SE US to CN Florida, Ohio, Indiana, S Illinois, & W & S Michigan
Appearance: High domed upper shell (carapace), hinged bottom shell (plastron), carapace usually brownish or black w/ yellowish/orangish radiating pattern of lines/spots/blotches, skin usually brown or black w/ some yellow, orange, red, or white spots/streaks, males in some populations have blue patches on cheeks/throat/front legs, males usually have red irises while females have brown irises, sharp horned beak, stout limbs, feet webbed only at base
Food/Diet: Slugs, snails, worms (especially earthworms), berries, mushrooms, grasshoppers, crickets, carrion, grasses, fruit, caterpillars, grubs, beetles, flowers, eggs, baby mice, fish, vegetables, greens, leaves, legumes, spiders, flies, crayfish, sow bugs, centipedes, pill bugs, moss, stones, sand, millipedes, melons, root vegetables, insect larvae, stink bugs, bread, duckweed, roots, cactus pads, grains, amphibians, small snakes, small birds, young box turtles
Status in Wild: Threatened
Conservation: Breeding from zoos, aquariums, & breeders
Lifestyle: Solitary or small groups of 3-4 individuals
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Hatchling Bale
Weight: 1 lb 2 lbs Gestation:

 

Life Span:

3 months
Height: N/A N/A
Body Length: 6 in 5.9 in 50-100 years
Tail Length: 2 in 1 in
Main predators of adults are bobcats, bears, alligators, snapping turtles, foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, snakes, raccoons, dogs, skunks, pigs, otters, cats, mink, fire ants, corvids, rats, badgers, opossums, weasels, & bullfrogs. Young preyed on by many birds, adult box turtles, rodents, armadillos, & shrews.
Threatened due to pet trade, vehicle collisions, & habitat destruction/alteration.
In N areas, they go into hibernation in October or November & usually emerge in April.
State reptile of North Carolina & Tennessee.
Fun Fact(s): Many American Indian cultures ate meat, used shells for ceremonial rattles, & buried them w/ dead.
They can retract almost completely inside their shell.
Their shells can completely regenerate.
Dangerous for humans & perhaps other animals to eat due to possibility of poisonous mushrooms & toxins lingering in flesh.

Pancake Tortoise

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ANIMAL:                                  Pancake Tortoise     Malacochersus tornieri
Type of Animal: Tortoise
Habitat: Rocky areas(especially those w/ rocky outcroppings known as kopjes) in scrubland, scrub brush, savanna, semi-desert, Acacia-Commiphora bushland, & Brachystegia woodland, found from 100-6,000 ft above sea level
Location(s): Native to S Kenya & N & E Tanzania, introduced population in Zimbabwe
Appearance: Named for thin flat flexible shell, brown top shell (carapace) w/ variable pattern of radiating dark lines, bottom shell (plastron) pale yellow w/ dark brown seams & light yellow rays, head, limbs, & tail yellow-brown, males have longer thicker tails, males have darker patterns on carapace, juveniles pale yellow more domed carapace w/ black seams & light yellow rays
Food/Diet: Grasses, fruit, greens, flowers, leaves, vegetables, succulents (especially aloe), seeds, weeds, legumes, berries, melons
Status in Wild: Threatened
Conservation: Breeding from zoos, wildlife parks & breeding centers
Lifestyle: Found in groups of up to 10 individuals
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Hatchling Colony
Weight: 12 oz 15-16 oz 1.6 oz Gestation:

 

Life Span:

4-6 months
Height: 1 in 1.5 in
Body Length: 6 in 7 in 1.67 in 25 years
Tail Length: 2 in 1 in
Main predators are mongooses, wild dogs, hyenas, feral/domestic dogs, leopards, lions, badgers, servals, & caracals.
Male competition helps w/ breeding success.
Lighter flexible shell doesn’t provide much protection, so often found lodged among rocks & crevices.
Usually only emerge from shelter for an hour at a time, mainly being active in morning, late afternoon, & early evening.
Breeds in January & February in wild, w/ females laying 1-2 eggs per clutch & she releases up to 4 eggs a season.
Threatened due to pet trade, habitat destruction, conversion to agricultural land, & overgrazing by livestock.
Due to dry climate, they get most moisture from food they eat.
In their rocky areas, lizards often share their homes w/ the tortoises.
They tend to have a low reproductive rate-another reason they’re threatened.
Fun Fact(s): When it gets very hot, they will estivate (hibernation during hot weather).
When threatened, it will run to a crevice & use legs to lodge itself as deeply inside as possible to prevent predator from getting it out.
One of fastest tortoises in world, running as fast as a kilometer an hour.

Gopher Tortoise

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ANIMAL:                                  Gopher Tortoise         Gopherus polyphemus
Type of Animal: Tortoise
Habitat: Sandy upland areas: sandhills, scrub, pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, coastal dunes, coastal grasslands, dry prairie, mixed hardwood-pine communities, dry hammocks, longleaf pine forest, sand dunes, sandy ridges, upland forests, old fields, yards, power line rights of way, pastures, roadsides, coastal plains
Location(s): Extreme SE Louisiana, Mississippi panhandle, S Alabama, Florida, S Georgia, & extreme SW S Carolina
Appearance: Males have concave bottom shells (plastrons), females have flat plastrons, males have longer gular projections, both sexes have yellow plastron, light to dark brown elongate carapace (upper shell), grayish-black or dark brown skin, elephantine back legs, shovel-like front legs, large blunt head, hatchlings have yellow carapace becoming darker w/ age, males have longer tail
Food/Diet: Flowers, berries, fruit (gopher apple is a favorite), legumes, grasses, leaves, prickly pear cactus, pine needles, stinging nettle, weeds, yucca, sedges, mushrooms, herbs, beech, melons, roots, vegetables, greens, carrion, poop
Status in Wild: Threatened
Conservation: Breeding from zoos, wildlife parks & breeding centers
Lifestyle: Solitary
Additional Info:
Males: Females: Young: Group:
Called: Male Female Hatchling Solitary
Weight: 12 lbs 14 lbs 4 lbs Gestation:

 

Life Span:

2-3 months
Height: 0.5-1.3 ft Same
Body Length: 10 in 12 in 3 in 40-60 years in wild, 80-100 years in captivity
Tail Length: 3 in 2.5 in
Main predators of adults are bobcats, foxes, coyotes, bears, dogs, cats, raccoons, alligators, eagles, large hawks, large owls, & feral pigs. Young preyed on by fire ants, skunks, snakes, armadillos, hawks, owls, falcons, crows, jays, opossums, & snapping turtles.
Sexually mature at 10-12 years.
Threatened due to habitat loss, development, hunting for meat, pet trade, mismanagement of wild lands, & gassing burrows to kill rattlesnakes.
They don’t drink much because they get moisture from food they eat.
They play important role as seed dispersers.
Fun Fact(s): State reptile of Georgia.
Only tortoise found E of Mississippi River.
One of few tortoises to actually make large burrows (up to 10 ft deep & 40 ft long), which are important for use by other species. Usually, only 1 tortoise found per burrow. Nearly 400 other species use these burrows. Largest burrow recorded 26 ft deep & 65 ft long in Panhandle.