Posts Tagged ‘Madagascar’

by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Disturbing news for lemur conservation

March 3rd, 2014

The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported troubling news for lemurs in the February 21 issue of their Science Magazine. The report states that lemurs the most imperiled
group of large vertebrates.

Read the full article: Schwitzer et al 2014_Science-Averting Lemur Extinctions.

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

The Fossa

September 20th, 2013

A fossa eating a meal

 

This is a fossa, it is the main predator of lemurs. As you can see it kinda looks like a cat, but actually,  it is related to the mongoose. They live in Madagascar and can grow up to 6 feet long but only weigh about 25 lbs. The fossa isn’t just a predator to lemurs, it’s the islands largest predator and a strict carnivore, so it feeds on just about anything it can. (although lemurs are their favorite meal)  Similar to a cat they do  have retractable claws,  large teeth and hunt ambush style. They are solitary animals that spend their time on the ground and in the trees, hunting both day and night. A very agile animal that can maneuver high up in the trees with ease and can travel up to 16 miles per day. They are considered adults at 4 years of age, females give birth to 2-4 pups a year, in a den she has made. After 4 months the pups leave the den, then stay with their mother for another 8 months. After about 2 years fossa pups move off on their own.

And sadly they are endangered, primarily due to habitat loss.

 

fossa pup

Join the conversation:

  1. “they’re always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off”.

    -King Julien

    Awesome animal, misleading spelling of the name also as it is pronounced foo-sah

    Posted by mattS

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Looking Out for Lemurs in Madagascar

March 8th, 2012

This article is written by PhD student Jenna Pyle, who is studying with Drs. Michelle Sauther and Frank Cuozzo (Lemur Biology Project.). They are doing their research at the Beza Mahafaly Reserve in Madagascar. Really, it’s worth reading. (Click here).

A group of ring-tailed lemurs forage for food and bask in the sunlight at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. (Photo/Michelle Sauther).

Join the conversation:

  1. Thanks for sharing Jenna’s article here. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. My brother recommended I would possibly like this blog. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t believe just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

    Posted by Karl Hassenger

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

QuikPost: Cyclone Giovanna- a blow to Madagascar

February 22nd, 2012

I received an email today from “lemur folks” with news about Cyclone Giovanna and its effects on Madagascar:

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94911

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

History of the Lemur

November 9th, 2011

Often times while I’m training the Ring Tailed Lemurs I over hear visitor’s comments.  “Oh look- she’s feeding the…. Raccoons? Monkeys? What is that animal?” At the end of each session I ask, any guests that managed to stay interested long enough, if they have any questions. Typically by this point they have read all the exhibit signs and know that the cute little animals with looooong tails are Lemurs. But what is a Lemur?

Training the Ring Tailed Lemurs

 

The word Lemur-which means ghost- because of their nocturnal behavior, reflecting eyes, and vocalizations, describes a small monkey-like mammal.  In fact these creatures can be quite elusive and there are probably several species yet to be discovered.

 

Mouse Lemur- notice the reflective eyes

 

Lemurs are in the order Primates- just like you and me and monkeys and apes. But not as advanced- you could call them pre-monkeys. They are in the suborder Strepsirhini and you may hear them called Prosimians.  The suborder Strepsirhini includes: lemurs, bush babies, lorises, and the aye aye. The other suborder under Primates is Haplorhini which include: monkeys, baboons, gibbons, orangutans, chimps, gorillas, and humans. You may hear us called Anthropoids as well. Strepsirhines are distinguished from Haplorhines by a number of physiological and morphological features of the inner ear, blood circulation and digestion.

Aye-Aye

 

So here’s the deal. Stepsirhinies appeared first, these early primates were nocturnal and aboreal and many current day lemurs still are (with exceptions of course) By the time Haplorhines arrived, lemurs had already drifted over to Madagascar and any remaining lemurs were quickly wiped out, too much competition with the higher more developed and advanced monkeys. Lemurs were isolated on the island and with little competition and predation they were able to inhabit all the different environments the island had to offer, there are lemurs in the moist tropical rainforest as well as the dry deserts areas of the island. This gave them the ability to develop into the many different and unique lemurs species there are today. Lemurs only live on Madagascar and the Comoro Islands- that means they are endemic. (Native to a specific region or environment and not occurring naturally anywhere else)

The Island of Madagascar

 

Enter humans…dun dun dun…2,000 years ago when humans first arrived on the island  they literally sent 15 species of lemur into extinction and pretty quickly. All of those 15 species were larger than the current day lemurs. There was even a gorilla sized lemur around 400 pounds- that’s a Lightning (our donkey) sized lemur! The biggest threat to lemur population today is still human encroachment. All lemurs are considered endangered or threatened to become endangered, in fact many are critically endangered, including our own Red Ruffed Lemurs.

 

What makes a lemur different than a monkey?

Check back soon for my next post, I’ll describe the differences between lemurs and other primates.

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

by , Keeper
Hiya! I'm Mikey. That's all you get. :)
I work Tuesday through Saturday and you can usually find me training the bears, mucking with the reptiles and saying bad words in Italian to the aquatic filter systems.

So you like the lemurs…?

March 15th, 2011

Hi again everyone!  So it was time to write my next blog post and as I was sitting and thinking and sitting and thinking and sitting (and getting yelled at for sitting too long) and thinking some more I was trying to decide what to write about.  I could write about some of the animals here at the museum.  Or some of my coworkers.  Or about how one day I’ll have my own show on Animal Planet (it could happen!).  But one of my favorite things that I enjoy writing about are exotic and strange species.  Especially ones that are potentially lethal.  :)  And I was thinking about how much everyone who comes to the museum seems to like the Lemurs.  Now they’re cute and fun and all, but I want to tell you about some of the other animals that call Madagascar home and would live side by side with the Lemurs if they were living in the wild.  They are a very diverse bunch and most cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

To start, Madagascar is home to about half the world’s Chameleon species.  Chameleons are small to mid size lizards which are famous for their color changing abilities.  But, contrary to popular belief,the chameleon generally does not change it’s colors to match it’s surroundings but instead to convey emotions, defend it’s territory and communicate with others.

The Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox)

Madagascar also doesn’t have very many large mammalian predators.  The biggest is an animal in the mongoose family called the Fossa.  It looks like a cross between a cougar and a dog and was originally classified as a type of cat before being reclassed in the mongoose family.  They grow to between 22-26lbs and will hunt and eat practically anything they can catch including insects, rodents, reptiles and Lemurs.  They are active both in the trees and on the ground and have retractable claws to help them climb.

Madagascan Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)

One very cool species that hails from Madagascar (and that we have on display here at the Museum) is the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach.  These guys are very cool (yes I know- make all the  “Mikey grew up in Queens” jokes you want!).  They are one of the larger species of cockroaches getting around 2-4inches and are wingless.  The males are easily discernible because they will actually grow “horns” on the front part of their carapace.  The females will carry the egg case internally and release the young after they have hatched.  The parents and offspring will usually remain in contact for extended periods of time and these roaches can live up to 5 years.  These roaches also can quite loudly “hiss” in certain situations.  Many insects can make hissing noises by rubbing together various body parts. The Hissing Cockroach is believed to be the only one that can do it by expelling gas through their breathing pores (spiracles).  There are three main hisses.  The Disturbance Hiss, the Female attracting hiss, and the Fighting hiss.  These guys are occasionally kept as pets by people as they do not bite and eat only plant material so are easy to care for.

Madagascan Flying Fox (Pteropus rufus)

Another fun species, and one which CAN fly is the Madagascan Flying Fox.  These large fruit bats live in colonies which number between 10 and 5,000 animals and will spend their nights feeding on the various fruits in their area.  Or more accurately, the fruit juices which are squeezed from the fruit in the mouth during feeding.  Also accidentally ingested are a large number of seeds during feeding.  These seeds will pass through the digestive tract and be dispersed at various foraging sites, during flight or at roost.  Studies have shown that some seeds actually will grow better after being passed through the bat’s digestive system.  Because of its ability to travel long distances and its capability as a seed disperser and pollinator, the Flying Fox  is widely believed to be a key species in perpetuating the health and diversity of the forest ecosystem.  They also will eat flowers, nectar and leaves and some plants have even evolved to attract some nocturnal animals as pollinators.

Madagascar also is home to 258 species of birds, although only 115 of these are actually true natives of the Country.  These species have a broad range, encompassing everything from owls to ducks, and pigeons to a family of birds called Couas which are types of Cuckoos.  And up until a few hundred years ago, Madagascar was home to giant land birds.  The largest was called Aepyornis or the “Elephant Bird” and stood 10 ft tall and weighed over half a ton.  It was closely related to the ratites (emus and ostriches) of today.  and is believed that these birds were quickly pushed to and over the brink of extinction due to over hunting by modern man.

Blue Coua (Coua caerulea)

Aepyornis- The Elephant Bird

Okay, and now for my final creature that calls Madagascar home…I figured I would leave you with something cute and adorable to feel warm and fuzzy about when you’re done (No, not me.  But thanks for thinking it!).  So here it is… The Nile Crocodile!  Yay!  How huggable is that?!  :)  Don’t you just feel the butterflies?  I know what you’re thinking… “Mikey, aren’t the Nile crocodiles more of a mainland African species, primarily freshwater but with the occasional foray out into the salty sea?”  (See? I knew that was what you were thinking!)  And you would be right, but there are also Niles living in Madagascar too!  How fun is that?!  They generally like the Western and Southern Regions but there is also a population living in the cave system under the Ankarana nature reserve which exhibits unique behavior that other crocs don’t.  In fact, studies are currently underway to see if these animals are possibly a subspecies of Nile, slightly divergent from the normal population of Crocodylus niloticus.  The Nile crocodile generally preys on any wildlife it comes across, livestock and while man is not normally on it’s menu, it has a very opportunistic appetite.  As well as the size, power, and intelligence to take down human prey.  There is a real problem with poaching in Madagascar on the crocs, but at least for now, the population living within the caves seems to be thriving.  They are the second largest species of crocodilian and can grow over 16 feet long, and weigh over 1,000 lbs.  In working with many different types of crocs, I personally also feel that Niles are one of the smartest species as well.  But then again, I’m partial- they are my favorites!  :)

Crocodylus niloticus

Well, that’s only a tiny glimpse of some of Madagascar’s species.  If I wrote about all of them, I would be here for weeks, you’d get bored, my computer would short out and Sherry would be very unhappy with how little other work I would be getting done.  Plus I’d get hungry and that is definitely not a good thing.  Definitely, definitely not.  Hope you found this interesting, I sure enjoyed writing it.  There’s all kinds of other amazing things that live in Madagascar, from awesome little geckos, to little insectivorous mammals called tenrecs.  By all means, as long as your online, check them out.  Until next time, this post has been brought to you by the letters M & R, the number 007, and the color Orange.  Have fun Kids!  :)

Join the conversation:

  1. I love your posts, Mikey!

    Um, so how do humans who actually have to live near Nile crocodiles manage the proximity? Is that part of the hunting problem, or is it just commercial? Because, while I understand the problem intellectually, if one of those guys were in my backyard, I’d be all for getting him hunted out!

    Posted by Libby
  2. Hey there Libby!
    Thanks very much! I love all your great comments! And I’m so glad you enjoy reading the posts!

    As for the crocs… the proximity is not part of the hunting problem- it’s really the skins. Crocodile skin is highly sought after and can go for a hefty price. So even if it’s a threatened species, it is still hunted. Sometimes even illegally, for its skin and other body parts.

    You also asked about how people who live near crocs co-exist. All I can say is: Carefully. From what research I’ve done, it seems that the people try not to take unnecessary risks and are always very aware of what lives in the area with them. Mistakes can be fatal. I can’t speak from experience because there are no crocs wandering the means streets of Queens, mind you (and no, there are no Alligators in the sewers either!). But from what I’ve read it just seems that after centuries upon centuries of cohabitation, the crocs are just another part of life and the people deal with them just as they would other things in their lives. It’s just very intimidating to us possibly because we aren’t used to that lifestyle.

    Posted by Mikey
  3. Director Comment :

    When, according to the fossil record, did the elephant bird live?

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  4. Hey Sherry,
    Actually as far as the fossil record can tell the Aepyornis started out way back in the Pleistocene and survived until just a few hundred years ago. Most accounts say into the the 1700′s actually. Although there are a few reports and unsubstantiated claims of evidence from the 1800′s as well. Either way, they are sadly gone now, and it’s in the very recent past. Missed them by that much! :(

    Posted by mikey

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.