'/> Amazing Animals: November 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Beautiful and Amazing Sea Star

A list of some popular species of sea star.

Sea stars, or popularly called starfish, are from the phylum Echinodermata and falls under the class Asteroidea. They have five arms and display a seemingly radial symmetry. Sea stars have a movable skeleton that aids them in moving and hunting for preys that include: oysters and clams. One major characteristic of sea star is that they can regenerate lost appendages. However, to produce a new sea star, the arm must be connected to any part of the central disk.

Currently, there are about 1,800 known species of sea star that inhabit all oceans. Majority of sea star species are found in the tropical-temperate waters around the Indo-Pacific regions. Other species live along the cold-temperate water of the North Pacific.

Below is a list of popular sea star species:

Blue Sea Star

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It is the most common species amongst sea stars. They live in coral reefs along shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific Region and around the Northern part of Australia. They are blue in color but others bear red or purplish spots along each of its arms. Blue Sea Stars (Linckia laevigata) can reach 30 cm in diameter with 5 tubular arms that are stretched out and typically have short, and yellowish tube feet. Known for its amazing regenerative powers, these creatures can also reproduce asexually and are excellent nocturnal hunters.

Eleven-armed sea star

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The Eleven-armed sea star (Coscinasterias calamaria), is widespread to New Zealand and the biggest sea star in southern Australia. They are found mostly hiding in rocks in search of algae during low tides. A beautiful sea star, it is normally blue in color and some individuals bear tints of orange, green, red, gray, cream and white. Although called the Eleven-armed sea star, it can have 7 to 14 arms that can reach up to 30 cm. in diameter. It can reproduce itself by self division– has the ability to generate even an arm into a new individual. Some Eleven-armed sea stars are known to own a set of arms at varying lengths that are capable to generate to its original length.

Spiny Cushion Star

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The Spiny Cushion Star (Culcita schmideliana) is a large species of sea star that doesn’t have arms and are found mostly in Indian Ocean; from eastern Africa to Malaysia. It usually grows up to 10 inches in diameter and may come in different colors.

Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

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Next to the Giant Sun star, the Crown-of-Thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is the second largest species of sea star found mostly in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and in the Red Sea. They are solitary animals dwelling in coral reefs and seabed that feeds upon coral polyps using their tube feet. Normally, Crown-of-Thorns starfish have 12 to 19 arms and can grow up to 40 cm. across. Like other sea stars, it is capable of self- regeneration from a battered limb to full sized.

Common Sea Star

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This species of sea star is widespread in on starfish in Arctic Norway, the north-east Atlantic and in southern Portugal. They inhibit in shell abundant gravel and rock. Common starfish (Asterias forbesi) colors include: orange, violet or pale brown. They have five arms and is normally 10-30cm (4-12in) across. Some species even grow up to can reach a length of up to 50cm (20in) in diameter.

Giant Sea Star

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This species of sea star is commonly found living in rocky sea shores and in seabed along the western shore lines of North America from Southern California to British Columbia. Giant sea stars (Pisaster giganteus) are large species that can grow up to 60 cm. in diameter and come in different colors such as: red, brown or purple. They can live up to 20 years.

Bat Sea Star

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Bat Sea Star (Asterina miniata)displays a webbed 5-sided radial symmetry and appears like a bat’s wing. They are found living among rocks and sand bottoms; in the low-tide line up to 290 meters. Bat sea star are abundant from Alaska to Baja California. They can have varying coloration from red, orange, yellow, brown, green, gray and purple. They can grow up to 8 inches in size.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Extremely Bizarre and Weird Lizards

Some reptile species are simply colorful and beautiful and some are extremely unique and bizarre.

You have already seen some of the most unusual-looking reptiles in the article “Weirdest and Bizarre Reptiles in the World”. It’s time to see extremely weird and bizarre lizard species.

Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko

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The Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus sikorae) is an awful-looking lizard species native to Madagascar. Like many lizards, it is capable of changing color to match its surroundings. This nocturnal and arboreal creature is threatened due to habitat loss and over collection. It can grow up to 20 cm in length excluding its tail.

Giant Spiny-tailed Lizard

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The freak-looking Giant Spiny-tailed Lizard (Cordylus giganteus), more commonly known as Sungazer, is a large girdled lizard species that can be found in Africa. It was commonly named Sungazer due to its habit of sitting at the burrow and facing the sun. This lizard is also a threatened species due to destruction of habitat and over-collection. It is also commonly known as Giant Zonure and Giant Girdled Lizard.

Philippine Sailfin Lizard

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Yes, the Philippine Sailfin Lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) looks absolutely bizarre. It can only be found in the island country of the Philippines. This weird-looking lizard, which is an excellent swimmer, feeds on fruits, flowers, leaves, insects and small animals. Aside from its very unusual appearance, the Philippine Sailfin Lizard can “run across water” because it has flattened toes. It can be found usually near bodies of water.

Emperor Flat Lizard

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Have you seen a lizard that looks like a frog? Well, it is right in front of you, the Emperor Flat Lizard (Platysaurus imperator). This bizarre-looking lizard species is the largest of its kind growing up to 146 mm in length. It can be found in the savannas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe inhabiting top of boulders on hills.

Crocodile Skink

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The physical appearance of the bizarre-looking Crocodile Skink (Tribolonotus gracilis) is a combination of a crocodile and a skink. It has the appearance of a crocodile and has the size of a skink. This lizard is characterized by a spiny, scaly and dull-colored body. It also has a very large head compared to the body size.

Golfo-Dulce Anole

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f you want to have a pet lizard, you should choose the Golfo-Dulce Anole (Norops polylepis). Why? Because this unique-looking lizard feeds on cockroaches, spiders and mosquitoes, you don’t have to buy insect repellants. It is native to the Gulf of Dulce in Costa Rica, hence the common name. This lizard is spectacularly peculiar for its orange-yellow dewlap, made of erectile cartilage that extends from its throat.

Like many lizards, its tail has the ability to break off at special segments in order to escape predators or fights. This impressive and athletic lizard can run fast and can jump many times its length. It can also climb straight up almost any surface at blinding speed. It is also commonly known as Many-scaled Anole.

Brilliant Ground Agama

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The Brilliant Ground Agama (Trapelus agilis) is one of the most brilliant, weirdest and freakiest of all animals. This agama species that can be found in Central Asia and South Asia has the ability to pretend that it is dead. It can be found in Afghanistan Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China.

Ruppell’s Snake-eyed Skink

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The Ruppell’s Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharus rueppellii) is a lizard that looks like a snake with limbs. This weird-looking skink species of Middle East can be found living in forested and shrubby areas. It can be found in Jordan, Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and Lebanon.

Eastern Blue-tongued Lizard

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This lizard is extremely unique for having a blue-colored tongue. The Eastern Blue-tongued Lizard (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) is a large skink that can be found in Australia. It is well-known for its blue-tongues, hence the common name. It has the habit of displaying it prominently when disturbed. This popular and unique lizard, which can grow up to 30 cm in length, gives birth to live young. It has a lifespan of 30 years in captivity.

Schneider’s Skink

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The Schneider’s Skink (Eumeces schneideri) is a lizard that looks like a corn cob. It is a skink species of Asia and Africa named after Johann Gottlob Schneider, a German zoologist. A perfectly smooth bodied lizard, it can be found in Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Libya and other North African countries and western Asian countries. It is also commonly known as Berber Skink.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dogs Versus Cats: Take Your Pick

Why cats are better than dogs/why dogs are better than cats.

Being an owner of dogs and cats for a number of years, I did make a study about which of the two animals is better to have as pet. And I’ve come to these observations and listed the pro’s and con’s of both animal. In this article we will focus our discussion on the advantages of dogs over cats and vice versa.

Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats

Dogs have a great sense of smell

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We all know that the first domesticated dogs are descendants of wolfs, and over the years dog breeders inter-breed several known good breeds to produced several varieties for specific purposes. One of them is the Beagle known for its excellent sense of smell. A good company to bring along on a hunting trip, beagles are now use by the police as ‘sniffer dog’ and are trained to tract and detect drugs and explosives by scent.

Dogs can guard you and your home

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Some breeds of dog are good in protecting and guarding one’s home, Doberman, German Shepherd and Rottweiler are among the few breeds that suits as guardian dogs. Though some such dogs have earned an unwanted bad reputation over the years, proper training can rid such bad behavior and in the long run these dogs can be excellent and loyal helpers. Have you ask some cat owners if they can tell how many cats have scared the burglars away?

Dogs help people with disabilities

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Some breeds are trained as guide dogs for the blind, bringing freedom and independence to their visually impaired owners. In some cases, dogs are also trained to be of aide for those people who have impaired hearing. Some of these breeds include: Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherd Dogs.

They are man’s best friend

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Researchers believed that dog is the first animal to have been domesticated, and over the years these friendly and loyal animals have proven that indeed they are man’s best friend. Would you believe that there are cases wherein dogs are brought in to a hospitals as therapy for the patients.

Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs

Cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt

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It is known that in Egyptian history, early Egyptians domesticated the wildcat. And according to their belief, to ensure that a family can have many children, one should have cats in the home—thus cat became associated with fertility. Ancient Egyptians often mummified their cats and buried with their owners or in their own special cemeteries. Also, cats have influenced greatly Egyptian arts, where cats are the subject of many naturalistic sculptures.

Cats keep themselves clean

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Cats use their tongues that are covered with papillae (small bards) to keep themselves clean. like scouring pads, which help them to keep themselves clean. An effective cleaning device, a cat’s tongue is used to comb dirt and dead hair out of its coat. While on the other hand, a pet dog especially those that are long-haired breed, will need a regular grooming and bathing. Adding woes to his owner is the dogs‘ habit of rolling in mud and other dirty places.

Cats can keep pests under control

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Cats as we all know are good hunters of rats and cockroaches and in so doing help in controlling pests population. Though there are certain dog breeds that are capable of running after rats and cockroaches, their batting average is way low as compared to cats.

The king of the beasts

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Most of us know that the Lion is the King of the Beasts and lion belongs to the cat family. Lion are natural predators, and the male can weigh up to 250 kg and stand 1.23 m tall. By comparison, male lion’s roar is more thunderous and more than that of the dog’s forefather–the wolf.

Monday, November 12, 2012

12 Poker-face but Gorgeous Owls

A list of some mean-looking, but beautiful owls.

There are more than 200 known species of Strigiformes (Owls). They are solitary and nocturnal birds of prey. They are found in all continents except Antarctica hunting small mammals, birds and insects. They may look mean, but if you analyze closely each species body anatomy you will be surprised to find out that owls are indeed beautiful birds. Below is a compilation of popular owl species that are mean-looking but at the same time adorable.

Striped Owl (Asio clamator)

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This medium-sized owl is found in South America and Central America. It bears a large, complex and asymmetrical ear tufts as well as a brownish-white facial disk rimmed. Striped owl has a black beak and cinnamon-colored eyes. Its upperparts are yellowish-brown striped with grimy brown. Its body anatomy include: Length 30-38 cm, wingspan 22.8 – 29.4 cm and weight 320-546 g. It lives in savannas, open or semi-open grassland, small groves and bushes. Striped owl’s diet includes: large insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

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The Barn Owl also referred to as Common Barn Owl is the most widespread species of owl. It is found on all continents except Antarctica and inhabits open lands, heaths, caves, buildings, wells and thick foliage. It is a pale, long-winged and long-legged owl that can reach up to 25-45 cm in length with a wingspan of about 75-100 cm. This owl has a whitish with a brownish edge facial disk and white with few black spot it too has a an off-white colored beak and yellowish to brownish feet. Its diet includes: small rodents, mice, shrews, and rats.

Philippine Eagle-Owl (Bubo philippensis)

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The Philippine Eagle Owl is the largest known Philippine owl. Known locally as “kuwago”, it can grow up to 40-50 cm in length, and a wingspan of about 35 cm. This owl is found inhabiting near lakes and lowland jungles of Luzon, Samar, Catanduanes, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao. It has small ear tufts, brownish facial disk and yellow eyes. It too has a dark brown wings and tail with whitish underparts. Based on its big feet and claws. it feeds on small mammals and rodents that include mice and rats.

Great Grey Owl or Lapland Owl (Strix nebulosa)

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It is among the world’s largest owl found from Alaska the Northern Rocky Mountains, and across Canada living in forested habitats. Some species are also endemic in northern Europe and Asia. It has a large head and yellow eyes with fluffy plumage. This owl also has a long tail and wings with heavily-feathered feet. Its wingspan can reach to about 152 cm and can grow as much as 61-84 cm in length. It primarily feeds on rodents, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits and at times hunt for birds.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

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A common owl found in America and also be found in South America and the Arctic living in woods, farmland and in suburbs. One main feature of this owl is its “horned” tuft feathers with big yellow-orange eyes. It has a pale gray upperparts with striped feather upper breast. The feet are well-feathered up to the toes. It can reach up to 18-25 cm long and carries a wingspan of about 1 -1.5 meters.

Common Scops Owl (Otus scops)

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It is a small species of owl with yellow eyes and ear tufts. It has a gray-buff feathers with patches of black. The common Scops owl is found throughout Southern Europe, Central Asia and in some parts of North Africa. Its habitat includes: parks, open woodlands and plantations. It can grow up to about 20 to 30 cm and feed mostly on insects, small lizards and frogs.

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

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It is a medium sized owl that usually grows from 35-43 cm long with a wingspan of about 69-82 cm. it is endemic in the forests of North America and Eurasia. This yellow-eyed owl has a rounded head with dark brown upperparts and a striped tail and underparts. Its diet includes: small mammals such as lemmings and voles. At times it hunts for birds, frogs and fish.

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

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This large owl with pale face and beard, no ear tufts is also known as wood owl or hoot owl. It has dark rings in its facial disk with yellow beak and brown eyes. The upperparts bare patches of gray-brown and a light colored underparts. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. It can measure up to 44 cm long and has a wingspan of about 112 cm. Barred owl lives in dense woods across Canada, United States and as far as Central America. It feeds mostly on mice, but at times hunt for rabbits, foxes and also birds like geese and doves.

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

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This small owl species with no ear tufts is found throughout Canada and Alaska and as far as Eurasia. It has a white facial disk outlined with black, a yellow bill and eyes, back parts are brown with bold white spotting, a dirty white with dark brown blemish under parts and its legs and toes are completely feathered. Boreal owl can grow up to 21-28 cm. long, can weigh up to 93-215 grams and a wingspan of about 55-62 cm. This owl diet includes: small mammals, birds, and insects.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

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This owl species has a very small body and a short tail. Its large head lacks an ear tufts because of its an asymmetrical skull. It too nave a brownish facial disk mark with whitish radials around the edge, which becomes paler around the eye region. The Saw-whet owl eyes are large and bright yellow-orange and it possesses a black bill. It grows up to 18-21 cm in length, weighs around 65-151 g and can have a wingspan of 42-48 cm. It feeds mainly on mice, frogs, insects, moles, bats and small birds like; sparrows, swallows and kinglets.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

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Snowy owls are the largest owl species in North America. A large white owl with some scattered spots, black bill and yellow eyes. The snowy owl can grow up to 50-68 cm in length and can weigh up to 1.6 to 2 kg. It hunts and prey on small rodents, rabbits, hares, ducks and geese.

Ethiopian Eagle Owl (Bubo capensis)

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This large-eared owl has dark brown with buff spotting apparatus coupled with creamy-buff under-parts laced with heavy dark blotching. It also has beige facial disk and orange-yellow eyes. Found mostly in the mountainous areas and rocky gorges of Ethiopia and South Africa. This owl can grow up to 48-58 cm and can weigh up to 900-1800 g. Its diet includes: birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals the size of hare.

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Best Animal Moms

If there are good dads, then here are the best animal mums.


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Ask every mother what is the hardest part of motherhood and all will be in unison in saying "giving birth is the hardest". How much more if you are to deliver a 90 kilogram baby. It's got to be a hard experience, that’s why our first mum, the female elephant, made it to the list. To add to the pain of giving birth, these mums have to endure the ordeal of a 22-month pregnancy. Baby elephant is born blind so it has to rely on her mother’s trunk for navigation. Since elephants do has a “matriarchal society” rearing a calf is not a problem for these animals. Every adult ladies in the community take turns in baby-sitting for the young ones.


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We all know that koalas eat only on one thing: eucalyptus leaves (a very poisonous leaves. A female koala is equipped with a special digestive tract can endure this otherwise deadly threat, their bowels contain special bacteria that detoxify the leaves. Newly born koalas or ‘joeys' lack eyes, ears and fur and the ability to detoxify eucalyptus leaves - so they have to rely on their mums care. Koala mothers help their young ones build up their tolerance by feeding them her own feces! For purposes of information, feces are the body’s solid waste matter, composed of undigested food, bacteria, water, and bile pigments and discharged from the bowel through the anus. Joeys stay in their mother's pouch for about six months feeding on milk and forming their missing parts. While caring and nurturing their joeys, mums get about 22 hours of shut-eye a day — that’s nearly 90 percent of her life spent snoozing!


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The female alligator has a creative and ingenious way of keeping the temperature on its nest at a constant one by building it; using rotting vegetation that produces heat so it takes from her the burden of sitting on her eggs. A very nice idea, don’t you think so? Even scientists marveled at the way female alligators handled the nest temperature. If the temperature is below 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s a girl and if it tops 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s a boy! Mothers carry their newborns in their jaws for protection as well as watching and aiding them to the water, where they will spend their early years on meals such as: fish, insects, snails and crustaceans.

Polar Bear

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Since male polar bears are known to be 'Macho Gigolo' – master of one -night stand; female polar bears have to suffer for the ‘quickie’ relationship. They have to put on around 180 kg (400 lb) during their pregnancy! So to sustain a normal pregnancy, prospective mums are advised to eat as much food as it could get. The reason is: if they can’t find enough food to double her weight; the poor fetus will be reabsorbed by the body. Isn’t it weird? But the good thing is; female polar bears, if ever they consumed that required diet, will have an easier time delivering the baby. All she would do is to dig a maternity den where she goes into a hibernation-like state, doesn’t eat for two months and also sleeps through the baby’s birth.


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Mother cheetahs have a nice way of rearing up their cubs and it needs a lot of patience. For two years or more, mom has to be always there to teach, guide and protect her cubs in the rigor of daily life. Teaching them how to spot and ambush a prey at the same time protecting them from possible predators. Once the cubs learned the tricks needed to survive the hostile environment, female cheetahs leave their children to fend for themselves and moves on to start a new family.


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We can call female orangutan as “Mrs. Do-it-all” spending almost 90% of her life high up in the trees, building a new nest every single night. These females nurse their babies the longest amongst animal, taking care of offspring until they reach the age of 6 or 7. Also, female children often stay longer to learn child-rearing skills.

Red-Knobbed Hornbills

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These small birds that are commonly found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi make holes in trees to serve as their nests. Since monitor lizards crave for their eggs, these wily birds have to design the entryway to their nests with a very special sealant — their own feces. Can you take that? The expectant mother has to stay in the hole for two months to incubate the eggs. In so doing, ignoring hunger pains to her detriment - the smell from her protection method.

Elephant Seal

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A behemoth in terms of size, the female elephant seal can weigh up to 771 kg (1,700 lb). During the pregnancy period that will take an 11-month gestation period, these moms-to-be must have to add weight each day. They don’t believe in slimming process. However, as soon as she gave birth and starts nursing her cubs, she’ll lose about 272 kg (600 lb) in less than a month.


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The female octopus doesn’t approve of birth control – she lays more than 50,000 eggs. This mum guard her eggs from predators and giving them fresh oxygen by gently blowing currents of water over them. How long will she do this? It takes 40 days for the eggs to hatch. And during this time, mum-to-be can’t hunt for food so what is her recourse? Well, having eight arms, eating one of them is no big deal. It's better to be live 7-legged octopus than a dead eight-legged creature.

Sea Louse

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Small but terrible, that amply applies to our top list. This small aquatic crustacean has a cunning way of luring male into his bachelor burrow for mating – in the company with 25 other pregnant females! Poor lady, and if that wasn’t bad enough, take note – once the babies are ready to be born, they make their way into the world by eating her from the inside out.

Check out:
Best Animal Dads