- The yellow-bellied sea snake is the only true sea snake. Did you know that the yellow-bellied sea snake’s venom is more poisonous than a cobra’s?
- The polar bear is the largest land carnivore and has a reputation as the only animal that actively hunts humans.
- A butterfly has its sense of taste on its feet.
- The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived - bigger, even, than the dinosaurs. Yet they are elusive creatures, and little is known about their lives.
Funda of Fundas
The meerkat is a type of mongoose. It has a long banded body and short legs. It’s easy to recognize, with its slender black-tipped tail, pointed face and black patches round both eyes. It lives on the dry open plains and scrub of southern Africa. Meerkat is a South African Dutch word meaning 'Lake Cat' since meerkats are often found near stretches of water.
Meerkats stand upright in the early morning sun to warm up, sniffing the wind to check out their surroundings. They take communal living very seriously indeed, and each member of the pack has a specific task. Some stand on sentry duty, finding a convenient vantage point where they can watch for predators, such as eagles. If danger is sighted, the sentry gives a warning bark, and all the meerkats flee to the safety of their burrows. While sentries keep watch, other meerkats take care of the very young and supervise the older members of the playgroup. Those that aren’t on duty can take a nap in the shade, or rest in a cool underground burrow to escape the midday heat.
When meerkats meet a predator on the ground, these plucky little animals immediately huddle together. This show of strength often drives the attacker away. They have a very high immunity to venom and stings, which is just as well because they like to eat snakes and scorpions! Meerkats have a clever way of dealing with scorpions by nipping off the sting before eating the body. They also feed on insects, birds, roots and fruit.
by Aniket Kumar (11 years)