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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jessie’s Animal Adventures

Considering Australia has 7 of the 10 deadliest animals in the world, it was only fitting that I visited loads of animal parks, sanctuaries, zoos and reserves! Next stop, RIP Steve Irwin’s home zoo and grounds, the Australia Zoo just outside of Brisbane, and Sydney Wildlife World in the middle of bustling Sydney!

Let’s talk about animals… a quick and fun science lesson! (After all, I am in the Pacific for the purpose of teaching Biology lab and class!!)

Snakes – everywhere!
Australia is home to the most highly venomous snakes in the world. It is also the only continent on which the venomous varieties outnumber the harmless ones. Although less than one third of the world’s snake species are venomous, they make up 65% of Australia’s snakes! Many are beneficial in that they eat small rodents which destroy crops and property. ALL snakes, venomous and nontoxic, are protected by law in Australia.
Indian Taipan - world's most venomous snake

What is a “Monotreme”?
The platypus and echidnas (2 species of echidnas)… Platypus are covered in fur, have the ability to suckle their young, as well as the ability to regulate their body temperature --- ALL characteristics of Mammasls! Platypus also lay eggs and have a single opening for the purposes of reproduction and excretion, which are typical characteristics of bats and reptiles. Platypus and echidnas are the only monotremes in the world, and are unique to Australia and Papua New Guinea (small island just north of AUS).

Croc versus Gator?
The most reliable way of identifying a crocodile versus an alligator is to look at their teeth: In crocodiles, the teeth of the lower jaw fit into grooves on the outside of the upper jaw, so when the mouth is closed BOTH upper and lower teeth are visible. In alligators, the teeth of the lower jaw fit into sockets in the upper jaw, so when the mouth is closed ONLY the upper teeth are visible. (PS- There are no alligators native to Australia.) Snout shape is not a reliable way of telling the difference, as snout shape can vary within each species.
Saltwater crocodile

That’s all I’ve got! Enjoy the animal adventures!

Pix Australia Zoo
Pix Sydney Wildlife World & Aquarium