Unusual wildlife

Unusual wildlife

Amazing animals

Madagascar is home to an amazing menagerie of weird and wonderful animals. Many are unique (or endemic) to this part of the world.

The lemurs are perhaps the most famous animal found only in Madagascar (see Lemurs). But there are plenty of other unusual ones and a trip to a small zoo reveals some of them.

For example, most of the world’s tenrecs are found only in Madagascar and nearby islands, where there are around 30 species. These are shrew-like or hedgehog-like animals, with dense fur or spines. The tenrecs in the video are the largest land-dwelling species. Known as the common or tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) – though they have a very small tail – these animals are insectivores. Their keeper says they will also eat fruit, as well as insects.

Dwindling forests

With the reduction of the eastern rain forests – see Forests – both geckos and chameleons are under threat. They’re also very collectible for the pet market, though quotas are now in place, limiting how many of certain species can be sent abroad.

Madagascar is also famous for its many and varied reptiles – there are over 365 endemic species. So for example, the island is home to around half the world’s chameleons. The beautifully patterned and coloured one in the video is the panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis).

Like this chameleon, geckos on the island can also be extremely colourful. Or, they may be just the opposite, having evolved to blend in with their environment. One species of gecko which likes to remain hidden is the flat or leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus), which lives on trees and vines. Of the 13 species, found nowhere else on the planet, the Uroplatus fimbriatus in the video is the second largest. Can you see how its skin is shaded in patches to provide the perfect camoflauge? And with its flat shape, its body hardly shows as a contour against a tree or vine where it can be found in the wild.