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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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The Elephants

Posted by WishbonE at 3:19 AM

Friday, July 25, 2008

Elephants are intriguing animals. Their size leaves you awestruck; their strength is amazing, and they are very intelligent and affectionate beings. Amazingly, even with their large size, they can walk by silently - you won't even know they're passing by. It comes from the Greek word “elephas” which means ivory. This refers to their tusk.

Elephants are a family in the order Proboscidea which is also a Greek word referring to their distinctive anatomy, the tusk and they belong to the class Mammalia. They are the largest land animals that can their calf can weigh up to 260lbs. They can have offspring up until they are around fifty years old and may live seventy years or possible more. Elephants are sensitive fellow animals where
if a baby complains, the entire family will rumble and go over to touch and caress it. An elephant has been an icon for humanity for thousand years, appearing in cultures across Asia, Africa, America and Europe.

There are two living species of elephant, the African and the Asian which has been referred as Indian elephant. African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their ears which much larger. They are also typically larger than Asian elephant and have a concave back. African elephants are named for the peculiar shape ridges of their molar teeth, it is coarser and fewer than those of Asian elephant. The African elephant has only four toes on the front feet and three on the back. Interestingly, it has one more vertebra in the lumbar section of the spine. Elephant populations in West Africa, on the other hand, are generally small and fragmented, and only account for a small proportion of the continental total.

The Asian elephant, Elephas Maximus, is smaller compared to African elephant. The Asian elephant species is the only surviving member of the Asian elephant genus, but can be divided into four subspecies, the Sri Lankan (Elephas maximus maximus), the Indian (Elephas maximus indicus) and the Sumatran (Elephas maximus sumatranus). The Asian elephant, Elephas Maximus, has an enormous domed head with relatively small ears, an arched back and a single finger like protuberance that is located at the tip of the trunk. An Asian elephant has five toes on the front of the feet and four on the back. The males have tusks and the females have 'tushes', which are shore second incisors that just stick out beyond the upper lip. However, it is important to note that on occasion females some times have longer tushes than described.

Elephants live in a structured social order. The social lives of male and female elephants are very different. The females spend their entire lives in tightly knit family groups made up of mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts. Elephants play a vital role in the ecosystem they inhabit. They can provide water for other species by digging water holes in dry riverbeds.

About Dolphins

Posted by WishbonE at 2:52 AM

About Dolphins

Dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans. Cetaceans include all whales and dolphins. Some cetaceans, like the blue whale, are baleen whales and have horny plates hanging from their upper jaw that are used to strain food from the ocean. Others, like dolphins, are "toothed whales." There are almost forty species of dolphin in seventeen genera. They vary in size from 1.2 metres (4 ft) and 40 kilograms (88 lb) (Maui's Dolphin), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and ten tonnes (the Orca or Killer Whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacea, and relatively recent: dolphins evolved about ten million years ago, during the Miocene. Dolphins are considered to be amongst the most intelligent of animals and their often friendly appearance and seemingly playful attitude have made them popular in human culture. Dolphins are the "humans of the sea" ~ i.e., thinking mammals of the whale (Cetace) family, filling the ranks between whales and porpoises, just like humans fill the gap between gorillas and spider monkeys. Dolphins, like you and me, are mammals. They have teeth, are warm-blooded, have a four-chambered heart, and nurse their young from mammary glands. Dolphins also have hair — but not very much! The dolphin's name can therefore be interpreted as meaning "a 'fish' with a womb". he name was transmitted via the Latin delphinus, Middle Latin dolfinus and the Old French daulphin, which reintroduced the ph into the word.

  • Family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins)
  • Platanistoidea (oceanic and river dolphins)
  • Odontoceti (toothed whales; these include the above families and some others)
  • Bottlenose Dolphin, the most common and familiar species of dolphin.

The most familiar dolphin face is that of the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) of "FLIPPER" fame, with its distinctive curved "smile". Bottlenose dolphin are friendly, and readily co-operate in performing stunts. On TV, in the movies, and at marine parks, the dolphin you are most likely to see performing is a Bottlenose Dolphin. Bottlenose dolphin replace their outer layer of skin every two hours, so you won't see a Bottlenose dolphin without scars! Like whales, dolphins have a whale of time slapping their tails on the water trying to make the loudest possible noise. And, like teenagers around the world, one dolphin can drive the marine world crazy by slapping its flukes against the water as many as 20 times in a row! The speed of sound is about 4 times greater underwater, a fact you can pass on to your parents the next time they complain about the noise you make! Dolphin also communicate by making a clicking noise with their blowhole ~ as many as 800 ultrasonic clicks per second! This communication system makes it easy for them to precisely locate enemies - and food!

Dolphins are often regarded as one of Earth's most intelligent animals, though it is hard to say just how intelligent dolphins are, as comparisons of species' relative intelligence are complicated by differences in sensory apparatus, response modes, and nature of cognition. Furthermore, the difficulty and expense of doing experimental work with large aquatics means that some tests which could yield meaningful results still have not been carried out, or have been carried out with inadequate sample size and methodology. Dolphin behaviour has been studied extensively by humans however, both in captivity and in the wild. Dolphins are social, living in pods (also called "schools") of up to a dozen individuals. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can join temporarily, forming an aggregation called a superpod; such groupings may exceed a thousand dolphins. The individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations. They also use ultrasonic sounds for echolocation. Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. However, the cetaceans can establish strong bonds between each other. This leads to them staying with injured or ill individuals, even actively helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed. Dolphins occasionally leap above the water surface, sometimes performing acrobatic figures. Scientists are not always quite certain about the purpose of this behaviour and the reason for it may vary; it could be to locate schools of fish by looking at above-water signs like feeding birds, they could be communicating to other dolphins to join a hunt, attempting to dislodge parasites, or simply doing it for fun. Play is a fairly important part of dolphins' lives, and they can be observed playing with seaweed or play-fighting with other dolphins. At times they also harass other local creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Dolphins also seem to enjoy riding waves and frequently 'surf' coastal swells and the bow waves of boats. Occasionally, they're also willing to playfully interact with human swimmers.

Dolphins have a streamlined fusiform body, adapted for fast swimming. The tail fin, called the fluke, is used for propulsion, while the pectoral fins together with the entire tail section provide directional control. The dorsal fin, in those species that have one, provides stability while swimming. Most dolphins have acute eyesight, both in and out of the water, and their sense of hearing is superior to that of humans. Though they have a small ear opening on each side of their head, it is believed that hearing underwater is also if not exclusively done with the lower jaw which conducts the sound vibrations to the middle ear via a fat-filled cavity in the lower jaw bone. Hearing is also used for echolocation, which seems to be an ability all dolphins have. It is believed that their teeth are arranged in a way that works as an array or antenna to receive the incoming sound and make it easier for them to pinpoint the exact location of an object. Because dolphins need to come up to the surface to breathe and have to be alert for possible predators, they do not sleep in the same way land mammals do. Generally, dolphins sleep with only one brain hemisphere in slow-wave sleep at a time, thus maintaining some amount of consciousness required to breathe and keeping one eye open to keep a watch out for possible threats. The earlier stages of sleep can be observed in both hemispheres of the brain, however.

Dolphins are an increasingly popular choice of animal-assisted therapy for psychological problems and developmental disabilities. For example, a 2005 study with 30 participants found it was an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. However, this study was criticized on several grounds; for example, it is not known whether dolphins are more effective than common pets. Reviews of this and other published dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT) studies have found important methodological flaws and have concluded that there is no compelling scientific evidence that DAT is a legitimate therapy or that it affords any more than fleeting improvements in mood. Dolphins have few natural enemies, some species or specific populations having none at all making them apex predators. For most smaller species of dolphins, only a few larger species of shark such as the bull shark, dusky shark, tiger shark and great white shark are a potential risk, especially for calves. Some of the larger dolphin species such as Orcas may also prey on some of the smaller dolphin species, but this seems rare. Dolphins may also suffer from a wide variety of diseases and parasites. Some dolphin species face an uncertain future, especially some of the river dolphin species such as the Amazon River Dolphin, and the Ganges and Yangtze River Dolphin, all of which are critically or seriously endangered. A 2006 survey found no individuals of the Yangtze River Dolphin, leading to the conclusion that the species is now functionally extinct. Contamination of environment - the oceans, seas, and rivers - is an issue of concern, especially pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants which do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment are reducing dolphin populations, and resulting in dolphins building up unusually high levels of contaminants. Injuries or deaths due to collisions with boats, especially their propellers, are also common. Various fishing methods, most notably purse seine fishing for tuna and the use of drift and gill nets, results in a large amounts of dolphins being killed inadvertently.

About Tigers / Pantera Tigris

Posted by WishbonE at 3:05 AM

Thursday, July 17, 2008

About Tigers / Pantera Tigris

Tigers (Pantera Tigris) are the largest member of the felidae or cat family. These mammal cats are the biggest and most powerful among genus Pantera. They sport long, thick reddish coats with white bellies and white and black tails. Their heads, bodies, tails and limbs have narrow black, brown or gray stripes. There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Of these, the last three are extinct and the rest are endangered.

The word "tiger" is taken from the Greek word "tigris", which is possibly derived from a Persian source meaning "arrow", a reference to the animal's speed and also the origin for the name of the River Tigris. The generic component of its scientific designation, Panthera tigris, is often presumed to derive from Greek pan- ("all") and ther ("beast"), but this may be a folk etymology. Although it came into English through the classical languages, panthera is probably of East Asian origin, meaning "the yellowish animal," or "whitish-yellow".

Tigers are the heaviest cats found in the wild, but the subspecies differ markedly in size, tending to increase proportionally with latitude, as predicted by Bergmann's Rule. Large male Siberian Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) can reach a total length of 3.5 m and a weight of 306 kilograms. Apart from those exceptional large individuals, male Siberian tigers usually have a head and body length of 190–220 cm and an average weight of 227 kg (the tail of a tiger is 60–110 cm long). The heaviest wild Siberian tiger on record weighed in at 384 kg, but according to Mazak these giants are not confirmed via reliable references. Females are smaller - the size difference between male and female tigers tends to be more pronounced in the larger subspecies of tiger, with males weighing up to 1.7 times as much as the females. Consequently, females of the Siberian and Bengal subspecies weigh only between 100 and 181 kg. Island-dwelling tigers, such as the Sumatran subspecies, are much smaller than mainland tigers, with males usually weighing only 100–140 kg and females 75–110 kg. The extinct Bali Tiger was even smaller, with a weight of 90–100 kg in males and 65–80 kg in females. Tiger lifespan about 10 to 15 years.

Depending on geographic location, tigers can be found in a variety of habitats. These include tropical forests, evergreen forests, riverine woodlands, mangrove swamps, grasslands, savannas, and rocky country. Tigers occupy a variety of habitats from tropical forests, evergreen forests, woodlands and mangrove swamps to grasslands savannah and rocky country. They are mostly nocturnal (more active at night) and are ambush predators that rely on the camouflage their stripes provide. Tigers use their body weight to knock prey to the ground and kills with a bite to the neck. They are also very good swimmers and have been known to kill prey while swimming. Tigers essentially live solitary lives, except during mating season and when females bear young. They are usually fiercely territorial and have and mark their large home ranges.

Staples Sambar deer, wild pigs, water buffalo and antelope are the main diet of tigers. Also known to attack sloth bear, dogs, leopards, crocodiles and pythons as well as monkeys and hares. Old and injured tigers have been known to attack humans and domestic cattle.

The home ranges of male tigers are intrasexual territories. Male tigers exclude other males from their range, but not females. A male's home range usually overlaps the home range(s) of one to several females. Female and male tigers mark their home ranges chemically (through scent) and visually. Most marking is done along home range boundaries. The most common form of scent marking is through urine. A chemically modified urine called marking fluid, which has a strong, long-lasting smell, is sprayed on trees, bushes, and rocks. Scraping (abrading the ground with the hindfeet) is a common visual marker, placed in conspicuous areas along pathways. Scraping is often accompanied by deposits of feces or urine. Less common methods of marking include tree trunk clawing, cheek rubbing, and flattening of vegetation (through rolling) next to trails. Daily movement within the home range varies. Individuals will visit all parts of their range over a period of days or weeks. Siberian tigers have been recorded moving up to 60 km (37 mi.) per day, while Bengal tigers in Nepal covered about 10 to 20 km (6-12 mi.) per day. Adult female tigers (tigresses) tend to occupy the same home range for their entire lifetime, while males may shift or change their home range several times. Vacant home ranges in prime habitat are quickly filled by animals living in peripheral habitats, usually young adults.

In the historical past tigers were widespread in Asia, from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, to Siberia and Indonesia. During the 19th century the striped cats completely vanished from western Asia, and became restricted to isolated pockets in the remaining parts of their range. Today, this fragmented relic range extends from India in the west to China and Southeast Asia in the east. The northern limit is close to the Amur River in south eastern Siberia. The only large island inhabited by tigers today is Sumatra. Tigers vanished from Java during the second half of the 19th century, and in Borneo are known only from fossil remains.

In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild. Below is a breakdown of numbers by subspecies.

Bengal tiger: less than 2,000

Indochinese tiger: 750-1,300

South Chinese tiger: less than 20

Siberian tiger: around 450

Sumatran tiger: 400-500

Malayan tiger: less than 500

Caspian tiger: extinct

Javan tiger: extinct

Bali tiger: extinct


Posted by WishbonE at 2:24 AM

Friday, July 11, 2008

Catfish are very diverse group of bony fish. Catfish is divers group of fish that contains a wide variety of different species. Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food, and some are exploited for sport fishing, including a kind known as noodling. Many of the smaller species, particularly the genus Corydoras, are important in the aquarium hobby. There are currently 37 known Catfish families. Catfish have one of the greatest ranges in size within a single order of bony fish. Many catfish have a maximum length of fewer than 12 cm.

Extant catfish species live in inland or coastal waters of every continent except Antarctica. They are found primarily in freshwater environments of all kinds, though most inhabit shallow, running water habitats. Most catfish are benthic in nature, meaning they normally associate with the bottom of the water column. However, varieties of other lifestyles are also represented among the catfishes. A wide range of feeding behaviors and diets are represented by the catfishes. The fertilization of eggs in catfish can be internal, external, or even include sperm passage through female digestive tracts, the so called sperm drinking type of fertilization.

Catfish have a variety of body shapes, but mostly have a cylindrical body with a flattened ventrum to allow for benthic feeding. The Catfish can be recognized on its well-known and prominent barbells. The barbells are elongated tactile organs located close to the mouth; quite similar to the whiskers on a cat. Just like the cat's whiskers, the barbells are used to screen the environment and heighten the animal's awareness of its surroundings. The barbells are equipped with taste buds and they use the barbells when catching fish in dark and cloudy waters where the visibility is low. Although, these barbells may be absent in some species. However, they are not the only species with barbells; barbells are also found on several carps, the goatfish and a few shark species. Another known characteristic in catfish is its lack of scales. They also have the hollow leading ray on the dorsal and pectoral fins. These are very strong and they use it to excrete a potent protein when they are frightened or annoyed. All catfish, except members of Malapteruridae (electric catfish), possess a strong, hollow, bonified leading spine-like ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. These spines may be locked into place so that they stick outwards, which can inflict severe wounds, as their defense.

These species have been widely caught and farmed for food for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Judgments as to the quality and flavor vary, with some food critics considering catfish as being excellent food, others dismiss them as watery and lacking in flavor.

Komodo Dragon / Varanus Komodoensis

Posted by WishbonE at 12:29 AM

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Komodo Dragon / Varanus Komodoensis

The Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) are the world's heaviest living lizards. Reaching 10 feet (3 meters) in length and more than 300 pounds (136 kilograms), Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. Females are usually under 8 feet and weigh about 150 lbs. (68 kg.). They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and huge, muscular tails.
This species inhabit the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Gili Dasami, in central Indonesia. Komodo dragons have thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years, although amazingly, their existence was unknown to humans until about 100 years ago. The natural habitat of Komodo dragons is extremely harsh by human standards. These arid volcanic islands have steep slopes and little available water most of the year. A short monsoon season often produces local flooding. The average annual temperature at sea level on Komodo island is 80F. degrees. Dragons are most abundant in the lower arid forest and savanna.

Komodos are part of the awesome monitor lizard family. They can see up to 300 metres and their eyes are better adapted to seeing movement than stationary objects. Komodo dragons were initially thought to be completely deaf, however more recent research has shown that they can hear, albeit in a restricted frequency range. The Komodo dragon does not have a particularly acute sense of hearing, despite its visible earholes, and is only able to hear sounds between 400 and 2000 hertz.

Komodo Dragons are carnivores and their main hunting sense is that of smell. The lizard samples the air with its tongue then returns the two tongue tips to the mouth where the air is "analysed". A Komodo dragon can sense the smell of carrion up to four kilometres (two and a half miles) away. As the dominant predators on the handful of islands they inhabit, they will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans. When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in wait for passing prey. When a victim ambles by, the dragon springs, using its powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated, shark-like teeth to eviscerate its prey.
Given their size, Komodo dragons are not built for a long chase - however they can sprint at up to 20 kilometres per hour (12 miles per hour) for short periods of time. Their preferred hunting strategy to get food is thus to sit quietly in one spot waiting for something big and tasty to come near. Komodo dragons have also been observed knocking down large pigs and deer with their strong tail. Animals that escape the jaws of a Komodo will only feel lucky briefly. Dragon saliva teems with over 50 strains of bacteria, and within 24 hours, the stricken creature usually dies of blood poisoning. Dragons calmly follow an escapee for miles as the bacteria takes effect, using their keen sense of smell to hone in on the corpse. A dragon can eat a whopping 80 percent of its body weight in a single feeding.

There is a stable population of about 3,000 to 5,000 Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. However, a dearth of egg-laying females, poaching, human encroachment, and natural disasters has driven the species to endangered status.

About Earthworms

Posted by WishbonE at 5:45 PM

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

About Earthworms / Nightcrawlers

Great naturalist Charles Darwin carefully studied Earthworms and wrote:

" may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures."

Earthworms (folk names are "dew-worm", "rainworm", "night crawler" and "angleworm") are very important animals that aerate the soil with their burrowing action and enrich the soil with their waste products (called castings). Good soil can have as many as as 1,000,000 (a million) worms per acre. Earthworms belong to a large phylum, the Annelida, or segmented worms. They belong to the Class Oligochaeta. This name means 'few bristles' and refers to the few bristles, or setae, on each body segment compared with the many setae of marine annelids in the Class Polychaeta ('many bristles'). There are four pairs of setae on each segment. These can be detected as a roughness if the animal is stroked from tail to head.
Earthworms are diverse enough to be broken into four major families, with approximately 3,000 known species. Earthworms range in size from several millimetres to two or three metres in length.

The brain, hearts, and breathing organs are located in the first few segments of the worm. It has five pairs of hearts! The rest of the inside of an earthworm is filled with the intestines, which digest its food. Earthworms eat soil and the organic material in it - like insect parts and bacteria. The mouth is covered by a flap (called the prostomium) which helps the earthworm sense light and vibrations. Tiny bristles (called setae) are on most segments of the earthworm's body. Earthworms breathe in the same way as their aquatic ancestors. They don't have lungs, but instead breathe through the skin. In order for gas exchange to take place this way, the outermost layers of an earthworm are thin and must be kept moist. Mucous is excreted onto the skin to keep it moist. It is also wet by body fluid which is excreted through 'dorsal pores' located along the dorsal (back) midline in the grooves between the segments. This need for moisture restricts their activities to a burrowing life in damp soil. They emerge only at night when the evaporating potential of the air is low, and retreat deep underground during hot, dry weather. Light-sensitive tissues near the worm's head enable it to detect light, so they can avoid venturing out by day.
Most earthworms are scavengers that feed on dead organic matter. They feed by passing soil through the gut, from which nourishment is extracted, or by eating organic debris, including leaves accumulated on the surface of the soil. This method of feeding does not require highly developed sense organs (such as eyes, which would be of little use underground) or food-catching structures, and earthworms never possess the often very remarkable and versatile head appendages developed in some of the free-swimming, carnivorous marine polychaete worms.

The digestive system is divided into a number of regions, each with a special function. Food that enters the mouth is swallowed by the action of the muscular pharynx, then passes through a narrow esophagus that has three swellings on each side. These are the calciferous glands that excrete calcium carbonate to dispose of excess calcium obtained in the food. The food then moves to the crop, which seems to serve only as a storage organ, and then to the muscular gizzard. With the aid of very tiny stones swallowed by the worm, the gizzard grinds the food thoroughly. Food is then digested by juices secreted by gland cells in the intestine. It is absorbed by blood vessels in the intestinal wall and from there distributed to the rest of the body. This is something we should appreciate because earthworm droppings -- called castings when deposited atop the ground -- are rich in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and these are all important nutrients for healthy, prospering ecosystems. In your own backyard you might be able to confirm that grass around earthworm burrows grows taller and greener than grass just inches away. One study showed that each year on an acre (0.4 hectare) of average cultivated land, 16,000 pounds (7200 kg) of soil pass through earthworm guts and are deposited atop the soil -- 30,000 pounds (13,500 kg) in really wormy soil! Charles Darwin himself calculated that if all the worm excreta resulting from ten years of worm work on one acre of soil were spread over that acre, it would be two inches thick (5.08 cm).

In many soils, earthworms play a major role in converting large pieces of organic matter (e.g. dead leaves) into rich humus, and thus improving soil fertility. This is achieved by the worm's actions of pulling down below any organic matter deposited on the dried dirt, such as leaf fall or manure, either for food or when it needs to plug its burrow. Once in the burrow, the worm will shred the leaf and partially digest it, then mingle it with the earth by saturating it with intestinal secretions. Worm casts (see below) can contain 40% more humus than the top 6" of soil in which the worm is living.
As well as dead organic matter, the earthworm also ingests any other soil particles that are small enough—including stones up to 1/20 of an inch (1.25mm) across—into its gizzard wherein minute fragments of grit grind everything into a fine paste which is then digested in the stomach. When the worm excretes this in the form of casts which are deposited on the surface or deeper in the soil, minerals and plant nutrients are made available in an accessible form. Investigations in the US show that fresh earthworm casts are 5 times richer in available nitrogen, 7 times richer in available phosphates and 11 times richer in available potash than the surrounding upper 6 inches (150 mm) of soil. In conditions where there is plenty of available humus, the weight of casts produced may be greater than 4.5 kg (10 lb) per worm per year, in itself an indicator of why it pays the gardener or farmer to keep worm populations high.

Although each earthworm is hermaphroditic (having both male and female reproductive systems), it takes two worms to mate and reproduce. The reproductive organs are in the clitellum (the enlarged segments in the middle of an earthworm). The clitellum later forms a cocoon which protects the developing eggs.

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