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A Quest To See The Most Unusual Animals

You have seen animals from Madagascar to Mongolia, giraffes are as normal to you as a dog and you have encountered wild animals on African Safaris, in the jungle and in the Australian desert –and you think your thirst to find the weirdest, most unusual animals will never be quenched? Your next challenge is to see these bizarre and exceptional creatures:

USFWS - Pacific RegionFrist off, start right here in Europe. In rivers in the UK and across most of the continent you can find lampreys. They are one of the most primitive vertebrates alive today and resemble the shape of eels. They are parasites attaching themselves to fish and sucking the living tissue of them. The scars left on the host fish are round holes on the body.

Saddleback caterpillar
flickr | David AmslerNext, head east to North America, where you can look out for the saddleback caterpillar. If you are anywhere between Texas and Florida, you may find this slug moth. Its bright green ‘saddle’ should be easy to spot. It is only about an inch long – but that doesn’t make in a cute animal to pick up! If you look past the bright colours you can spot the spines all over its body, which are connected to poison glands, making this a very a very painful encounter. Additionally, the caterpillar will arch its back to get as many spines as possible into the attacker.

Pink Fairy Armadillo
flickr | Pat McGrathAfter the US, Central and South America have a few unusual animals to offer. The pink fairy armadillo. Look for it in dry grassland or sandy plains since they are good diggers and can bury themselves completely; it is their defence mechanism.  They are solitary animals living mainly underground. Your best chance of spotting one is when they come out for food at night.

Maned Wolf
flickr | Adam RifkinWhen you get to South America, you can go on the hunt (for a good picture, no other hunting allowed!) for the maned wolf. Three foot tall, it is easier to spot than the previous animals. Look out for a fox with very long legs, living in open forests or the savannah. It can rotate its big ears to listen for prey such as wild guinea pigs or rodents.

flickr | Ruth HartnupIt is time to cross the Pacific to Australia to see the Dugong. In the warm waters along the coast of Queensland and the Northern Territory as well as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, he roams the seas. Every few minutes they come up for air, standing up on their tails and popping their heads out of the water.
The Dugong is also called a sea cow, because it spends its time grazing underwater. It is under high risk of extinction due to habitat loss. The quality of seagrass deteriorates through industrial activities and coastal developments, not leaving enough food for the Dugong to breed normally.

Snub Nosed Monkey
flickr | su nekoIn Asia, try and find the golden snub nosed monkey in the Zhouzhi National Nature Reserve. A fifth of the remaining 20,000 live there so it is your best bet. They can be found in high altitudes of up to 3,000m (10,000 ft) but they are threatened by logging and human settlement. It has also been hunted for a long time for its meat, bones and fur, putting on the endangered species list.

flickr | David BrossardTime for Africa which is full of unusual animals, starting with the most hunted animal in the world – the Pangolin. It is hunted for its scales, skin and meat and is the most trafficked animal on earth.  
Due to this tradition, all eight species of Pangolin are now endangered.

With all the research and knowledge we have of animals, what makes Pangolins truly unusual is how little we know about them. For example, we don’t even know how long they live!

flickr | William Warby You can find the Warthog, but it won’t be a particularly pleasing sight. Its name already hints at the numerous warts on its head, which are ‘protective bumps’. Warthogs are part of the family of domestic pigs and the young are called piglets. Even though they look impressive, Warthogs mainly graze and when threatened tend to simply run away – at a speed of up to 30 mph!

Living in sub-Saharan Africa, they can go for a few months without drinking if water is sparse.

Bat-eared fox
flickr | Dave PullinWhat could a fox need such big ears for? The answer is simple: He listens out for his prey!
The bat-eared fox’s ears are 5inches long and allow him to locate tint beetles and bugs. Surprisingly, the majority of their diet is termites. Being the size of a small dog, a bat-eared fox will eat over one million termites a year! They even get their water from the fluids of their prey.

Look out for it in two regions: In the east in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania and in the South in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

flickr | Frank Vassen Another relatively unknown animal is the Tenrec. It is often mistaken for a hedgehog. Similarly to hedgehogs, their defence mechanism is to roll up and raise their spines. They are mainly found in Madagascar, where there are over 30 species, while there are only very few on the mainland.

Tenrecs have a number of predators ranging from birds to snakes and currently one of the main threats is the deforestation of Madagascar. Although they have been living on the island for millions of years, the loss of habitat means that some species may not survive the end of this century.

Do you want to try and seek out some of these unusual animals? Take a look at some of our wildlife conservation projects here.

By Claire Herbaux – Online Journalism Intern
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