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There are more species in the skink family than in any other lizard family. They generally have reduced limbs and smooth, overlapping scales with a bony plate in the skin underneath each scale. Prehensile-tailed skinks are the longest members of the skink family and are endemic to the Solomon Islands. These islands northeast of Australia are the only place in the world where prehensile-tailed skinks are native.
King vultures are very large, scavenging birds that soar high over a variety of tropical forests, watching for carcasses located by other, smaller species of vultures. With their large size, king vultures usually displace the smaller local species from a large carcass. Adult pairs cooperate to raise single offspring.
Cranes are a family of birds comprising 15 species that live across five continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia). Wattled cranes are named for the flaps of skin, or “wattles,” that dangle from their chins. These wattles indicate a crane’s mood, shrinking when they are nervous and elongating when they are excited.
Lesser hedgehog tenrec
There are 25 species of tenrec which are mostly found on Madagascar, but some are native to mainland Africa. The name lesser hedgehog tenrec is misleading, as tenrecs are not related to hedgehogs. Their closest relatives are moles and shrews. However, like hedgehogs, tenrecs have spines covering much of their bodies. Although the underlying muscular structure is less specialized than a hedgehog’s, tenrecs have well-developed muscles under the skin that allow them to raise and lower their spines.
Chilean rose hair tarantula
This medium-sized tarantula species gets its name from the pinkish hue of the hairs on its back. Like all spiders, Chilean rose hair tarantulas are venomous. Their venom primarily helps them eat and is not known to be fatal in humans, but reactions can vary widely from person to person. These tarantulas are known for their docile and relatively slow-moving nature. While males typically only live three to four years, females can live into their 20s.
Corn snakes, also known as red rat snakes, are a slender species of snake known for their orange coloration. This native Georgia species lives in many different habitats, ranging from forests to inside barns and attics. Corn snakes were once in trouble due to collection from the wild for the pet trade, but breeding programs have mitigated this threat.
Radiated tortoises are only native to the island of Madagascar but have been introduced to two other small islands to the east - Réunion and Mauritius. They are named for the yellow lined patterns on their shells. They are herbivores and much of their diet comes from grazing on grasses, which helps keeps plants trimmed back. The illegal pet trade and poaching are major threats, and conservation efforts are underway to save this critically endangered tortoise.
The ostrich is the largest living bird species on Earth and is related to cassowaries and rheas. Ostriches cannot fly and instead walk over the ground seeking all varieties of small animals and fruits to eat.
Zebras are among the most recognizable of all animals, with their distinctive striped color pattern. They are closely related to our domestic horses.
Giraffes are Earth’s tallest living mammals and specialize in browsing leaves and flowers from the tops of trees. Newborns may weigh over 100 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at birth.