Animals of the Chaparral

05/12/2010 21:05

The Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosomatinae coronatum)

This little reptile is found in California, and is a tan-brownish color with black blotches. It eats slow-moving, ground-dwelling insects like ants, spiders, and sowbugs. They lay about 10-30 eggs, and hatching is different for each individual animal. They grow to be about 6 inches long, and can live from 5 to 8 years. The horns on the back of their head can be used as a digging tool or as a weapon for defense. When threatened, they can constrict the blood vessels in their eyes and shoot a well aimed stream of blood about 4 to 5 feet to confuse their captors and run away.


The Aardwolf (Proteles cristata)

The aardwolf is a cousin of the hyena with its long front legs and short back legs. They are a light buff color, and have 5 to 6 black stripes on their sides, black banded legs, and their legs below the knees are completely black. Aarwolves also have a small mane and large, bushy tail. These strange mammals can be found in Angola, Zambia, Fynbos, Southern Egypt and Tanzania. The aardwolf has a long, sticky, aardvark-like tounge that helps them eat harvester termites, insect larvae and eggs of small ground-nesting birds. They reach sexual maturity at 2 years and have about 2 to 4 cubs. The aardwolf can spray a skunk-like, musky fluid from their anal glands when threatened. Their large ears help them hear termites, and can keep them trap heat or lose it to stay warm or cool respectively. They can grow to be about 15 to 20 inches at the shoulders, and 50 to 60 pounds. Their tails can be about 8 to 12 inches long.


The Long-Toed Salamander  (Ambystoma macrodactylum)

The long-toed salamander can live in almost any environment, from the wet rainforest to the cold mountain meadows and to the dry chaparral. They are slender, black amphibians with golden speckles, an oval head, bulbous eyes and a blunt nose. They have a yellowish-green dorsal stripe and a pinkish, white-flecked underbelly. The long-toed salamander gets its name from its long fourth toe on its hind feet. They are nocturnal animals that eat insects, tadpoles, worms, beetles and small fish. They lay a mass production of about 400 eyes that take 2 to 3 weeks to hatch. They grow to about 8.5 centimeters long for about 6 to 10 years. The long-toed salamander's tail can store fat to be used as food later, or can create a sticky poison. They can regenerate their body parts after one is lost. They also can secrete a sticky poison that is stronger than rubber cement.


The Island Gray Fox (Urocyon littoralis)

These extremely small foxes are found only on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands off the coast of California. They have become smaller due to insular dwarfism and natural selection, which means the smallest of the species are usually able to live longer, and have passed on their small genes to their offspring, which made the entire species extremely small. They are the second smallest foxes in the world, after the Fennec Fox, growing to about 5 to 6 inchies in height at the shoulders, and 3 to 4 pounds. Their tails can be 4 to 12 inches long. They are solitary, diurnal animals that are mostly active in the morning and at night. They hunt insects and deer mice, but also eat fruit like manzanita, toyon, saltbush, prickl pear and sea-figs. Island Gray Foxes mate for life, and breed between January and April. They give litters of 2 to 3, and they are nursed for 7 to 9 weeks, and finally leave their parents in September. They can live from 4 to 6 years.


The Gopher Snake (Pityophis catenifer)

This light-colored nake has brown and black saddles and blotches, keeled scales and round pupils. They can be found anywhere from Idaho, to southwestern Canada to northern Mexico, and hunts rodents, rabbits, birds, bird-eggs, lizards and insects. They kill their prey by constriction. They snakes mate in Apirl and May, and the femal can lay 1 to 2 clutches of about 7 eggs. They hatch 50 to 80 days later. The Gopher Snake can grow to about 36 to 96 inches long and can live up to 16 years! These snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes, because they will coil up and shake their tails. They don't have a rattle at the end, but will hiss. These snakes are not poisonous, so they aren't really too harmful. They also have a large scale on their head that helps with burrowing.