About the Project

The ZooTrophy Animal-a-Day project began on October 15th, 2013 as illustrator Angela "LemurKat" Oliver began working her way, systematically but selectively, through the alphabet and presenting, via social media, an illustrated animal to the world. Daily.

All pieces are drawn as 2.5 x 3.5 inch collectible cards, using a combination of polychromos and prismacolor pencils, along with other art materials. Many are still available for purchase ($10) or trade, so drop her an email if anything captures your eye or if there is an animal you wish to request.

It is predicted this project will take her at least two years to complete - with approximately 36 animals being drawn for each letter. She has also used the images to create a collectible hardback encyclopedia series, playing cards and a desk calendar, as well as the ZooTrophy collectible trading card game.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Creature Feature #497: Nautilus

The Nautilus are primitive members of the Cephalopod Class. He is characterised by his logarithmic spiral shell and mass of tentacles (up to 90). If threatened, he is able to withdraw entirely into his shell, covering it with a hood. Although his tentacles lack the adhesive pads of his relatives, they are ridged to allow him a firm grip on any prey that might come within grasp. He uses these and his powerful bill to rip crustaceans from the rocks to which they might attach themselves.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Creature Feature #496: Natterjack Toad

The  Natterjack is a European Toad, living in sandy areas and heaths. He is noted for his loud and distinctive mating call, amplified by the large vocal sac in his throat. Adult toads are quite spread out across their range, and can travel large distances. Thus he needs a loud voice to call to the females. Small pools of water are required for breeding, and these are often ephemeral. The breeding period extends across the summer, allowing the toads to compensate for the risk of the pools drying out.

Currently classified as least concern, but under threat in some areas from urban development and habitat modification.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creature Feature #495: Narwhal

The Narwhal is the original unicorn, with his long slender tusk. This is the left canine tooth, elongated and protruding through his upper lip. In some individuals (about 1 in 500) both canine teeth have elongated, giving him two tusks. This tusk is not generally used for aggressive behaviour, but more as a sensory organ. It can measure between 1.5 and 3.1 m long and is hollow and covered in nerve endings. He also rubs it against the tusks of other males in social rituals to determine hierarchy. Some females also grow tusks. His main diet is fish and squid, which he mostly inhales without chewing as his other teeth are small and poorly developed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Creature Feature #494: Narcissus Flycatcher

6 days until the big #500! What animal will it be?

The Narcissus Flycatcher is named for his bright yellow belly - which is the same colour as the narcissus flower. He attains this colourful plumage for breeding season. He is a migratory bird, travelling across Asia, although vagrants have been found in both Australia and Alaksa. Like all Flycatchers, he follows a diet of insects.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creature Feature #493: Nanogoviós

Nanogoviós is the local name for this Pygmy Goby species, found only in Lake Trichonyis, the largest natural lake in Greece, and its smaller neighbour, Lyssimachia. The adult fish measure no more than 3 cm in length, with females being smaller than males. This makes him the smallest European teleost fish.  He inhabits vegetated areas, reaching a depth of around 15 cm.  He is under threat from eutrophication, in which the nutrient levels in the lake rise, creating an explosion in algal growth and deoxygenating the water.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Creature Feature #492: Namdapha Flying Squirrel

The beautiful Namdapha Flying Squirrel is a large flying squirrel, endemic to India. She is shy and nocturnal, found only in dry deciduous forests near water. Her gliding membrane extends from her forelegs to her hindlegs. Whilst this allows her to parachute from tree to tree, it does inhibit her agility through the branches. It is for this reason that she, and all flying squirrels, follow a nocturnal lifestyle. Due to her limited range and the wide occurance of poaching within this range, she is classified as Critically Endangered.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creature Feature #491: Naked Mole-rat

The Naked Mole-rat is the one of the only eusocial mammals in the world. She lives in a colony structured somewhat like a bee hive: with one fertile, breeding female with 1-3 fertile males. The other females are all reproductively suppressed. Smaller Naked Mole-rats assist in gathering food and maintaining the nest, whilst large individuals undergo guarding duty. They also aid in caring for the pups. When the Queen dies, another will take her place, her hormones adjusting so that she becomes fertile. Litters can number up to 28 pups, although the average is 11. Naked Mole-rats are almost blind, almost hairless and designed to survive in their subterranean burrows. Her lungs are small and her skin lacks pain neurotransmitters, which helps her survive in areas with low oxygen and high cardon dioxide and acid levels.

Generally speaking, Naked Mole-rats are probably the ugliest animals I have ever seen. The only other eusocial mammal is the Damaraland Mole-rat which is larger and hairy and therefore marginly cuter (although it's still moslty all buckteeth.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Creature Feature #490: Nabarlek

The Nabarlek is a Pygmy Rock-wallaby, standing only about 30cm tall. She is found only in three areas of  Australia, including Kakadu National Park. During the day she sleeps sheltered in rock crevices and caves, venturing out at night to forage on the grass. She is shy and secretive, and as such little is known about her behaviour. Rock-wallaby are the goats of the marsupial world, being extremely agile. The rocky habitat affords them protection from most predators.

She has not yet received a IUCN rating - being considered "Data defiicient" buy populations are thought to be on the decline and the patchy distribution could cause future complications. For the purposes of Zootrophy, she will be classified as "near threatened".

Friday, February 20, 2015

Creature Feature #489: Mynah

And at last - the end of the Ms! Oh, what a journey that has been... now to decide which of the 40-odd critters I drew should go in the book, as it will only take up to 37...

Mynah is a general term given to Indian and Asian members of the Starling Family. They follow an omnivorous diet, foraging on the ground for fruit, invertebrates and the occasional small vertebrate, egg or nestling. Some species are renowned for their ability to mimic sounds, including human speech, and the Hill Mynah is one of the best mimics in the bird kingdom - on par with the African Grey Parrot.  Mynahs nest in tree cavities, aggressively defending - and even stealing - them from other species. Partnerships are monogamous, and some species are believed to pair for life.

The illustrated species is one of the few birds that I dislike. He is an Indian Mynah, an omnivorous, aggressive bird of the tropics. Native to India, he has been introduced to eastern Australia (where he competes with the native honeyeater, the Noisy Miner, an unrelated bird with a somewhat similar personality and appearance), Florida, Hawaii, South Africa, Madagascar, parts of Eurasia and many of the Islands (Indian, Pacific and Atlantic). Populations also exist in northern New Zealand, where they destroy the eggs and chicks of the native birds. He is considered one of the #100 invasive pests, along with the red-vented bulbul and the starling.

Sadly, when one of my co-workers went to Fiji, I asked her to let me know what birds she saw and the only two species she identified were the Indian Mynah and the Red-vented Bulbul. Both co-exist well with humans.

I will be doing a seperate entry for my favourite mynah - the Rothschild (Bali) Mynah - at a later date.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creature Feature #488: Muskrat

The Muskrat is a medium-sized rodent more closely related to lemmings and voles than to rats. His preferred habitat is wetlands, and he is native to North America. With his thick, short pelt, he is favoured in the fur industry, which has seen populations introduced into Europe. Muskrats live in family groups of a mated pair and their offspring. They live either in a hole in the bank, or by constructing a "push-up" from vegetation and mud. In snowy areas, the entrances are plugged with vegetation for insulation. His diet is largely vegetarian, supplemented with small animals.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Creature Feature #487: Musk Oxen

... are extremely hard to draw.

The Musk Ox is a large Bovine, noted for his thick coat and named for the sharp odour of the bulls at rutting season. He makes his home in the Arctic tundra. Genetically, he is more closely related to goats and sheep than to other oxen species. His thick wool, which insulates him against the cold, is prized for its softness and length. Populations of Musk Ox have been domesticated for this wool and their meat.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Creature Feature #486: Musk Deer

Musk Deer are more primitive than true Cervids. Instead of antlers, the males bear elongated canine teeth. These are used in fights with other males over females and territories. To attract these females, the males produce musk from a special gland. Alas, this also attracts the attentions of hunters; it can fetch over $40,000 per kg on the black market and is allegedly an aphrodisiac. Each gland only provides a few 10s of grams and although the gland can be extracted without killing the deer, this rarely happens. The female gives birth to a single tiny fawn, who spends his first few months motionless and hiding.

This is a Siberian Musk Deer. Vulnerable due to the aforementioned hunting for the male's musk glands.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Creature Feature #485: Mudpuppy

The Mudpuppy are a Genus of aquatic salamander, native to the eastern United States and Canada. The best known is the Common Mudpuppy. He undergoes paedomorphosis, retaining his external gills (rather like an Axolotl). He is heavily reliant on these gills for respiration and Mudpuppies living in stagnant pools have larger, feathery gills than those inhabiting fast-flowing streams. He follows a nocturnal lifestyle and is an opportunistic carnivore, eating anything he can get in his mouth, including annelids, crustaceans, molluscs and insects.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Creature Feature #484: Mouse Lemur

The Mouse Lemurs are the world's smallest primates, measuring around 27cm from nose to tail-tip. This tiny Madame Berthe's - with an average body length of 9.2 cm - was first discovered in 2000, in the forests of Kirindy. She forages alone for insects, fruit, and small vertebratesm, although her preferred diet is energy-rich "honeydew", a secretion produced by the larvae of the Flatida coccinea bug. During the daytime, she sleeps. Sometimes alone, in a leafy nest or tree hollow, occasionally with company. There are more males in the population than females, and she tends towards promiscuity.

Like most of Madagascar's lemurs (90%) the Madame Berhe is endangered, threatened by deforestation and also hybridising with other, closely related, Mouse Lemur species.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Creature Feature #483: Mouse

Whilst there are thirty known species of Mice, the most commonly known is the House Mouse. This little rodent is native to Eurasia, but has been introduced to most of the world. Mice are voracious breeders, capable of 5-10 litters per year. She is ready to breed at six weeks of age, and wild mice generally live for about a year. During courtship, the male sings to the female with high-pitched, ultrasonic calls. House Mice have been domesticated and are frequently kept as pets. Their social structures are related to the availability of food. If food is available in quantity, large colonies form with a rigid hierarchy. Where less food is available, mice form individual territories.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Creature Feature #482: Motmot

The Motmot Family are closely related to Kingfishers and Bee-eaters. They occur in the neotropics - both in forests and woodland. He is distinguished from his relatives by his broad bill and - in many species -  the racquet-like feathers that adorn his tail feathers. These are created by abrasion and preening, causing the barbs to fall out, leaving only a naked shaft and a distinctive tip. When he sights a predator, he will wag his tail to show the predator that he is aware of the danger and ready to take flight. His diet is an omnivorous one, including fruit, insects and amphibians. Motmots in Costa Rica have even been observed feeding on Poison Dart Frogs.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Creature Feature #481: Mosquito

Mosquitoes belong to the midge family and one of the most irritating and dangerous insects in the world. Female Mosquitoes are ectoparasites, using a tube-and-needle like mouthpart to pierce the skin of her prey and then drinking its blood. This action leaves an irritated patch of reddened skin, that is exceptionally itchy. Worse however, is the Mosquitoes tendency to act as a vector for infectious diseases - such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, west Nile virus and filariasis. Mosquito require water to reproduce, but some species are capable of breeding in stagnant, standing water such as blocked gutters, disused watering cans and bird baths.

This species, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has managed to spread herself throughout the world. She is an aggressive day-time biter, and has adapted well to colder climates.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Creature Feature #480: Moray Eel

The Moray are a Family of mostly-marine Eels with a world-wide distribution and around 200 species. These slender fish lurk within crevices in the rocks and wait for prey to swim near, detecting it by scent. His jaws are wide, framing a protruding snout equipped with large teeth which he uses to grip his prey. His head is too narrow to create the low pressure used by most fish to swallow their prey, instead he is equipped with a second set of jaws. This is known as a pharyngeal jaw and moves forward, grasping the captured prey and transport it down the throat and into the digestive system.

This is a Fimbriated Moray.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Creature Feature #479: Moose

The Moose is the largest extant member of the Deer Family. During rutting season, the male sports a pair of fine antlers. These project out at right angles from his skull, with an average spread of around 200 cms. These antlers are used in territorial demonstrations and occasional fights. The cows favour males displaying a bigger rack. Outside of breeding season, he discards his antlers to conserve energy. Weighing up to 700 kg, he requires a large amount of fodder to sustain his strength and thus spends much of his day foraging. Whilst mainly terrestrial, Moose will enter the water to graze on  sodium-rich aquatic plant life. Moose are native to North America and around the Arctic Circle, including northern Europe and Russia.

An effort was made to establish the Moose in Hokitika, and then in Fiordland, New Zealand. Ten were released: four bulls, six cows, and subsequently disappeared into the dense forest. Although they are thought to have all perished - it was hardly ideal habitat (as a lecturer once told us, the moose would wander into the fiords to feed, discover they were much, much deeper than expected, and drown) - rumours still persist and occasional signs of their continued existence have been found, albeit nothing concrete (such as an actual sighting).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Creature Feature #478: Moorhen

The Moorhen are medium-sized water birds belonging to the Rail Family.  With his short rounded wings and stocky body, he is a poor flier although quite capable of cross long distances. Some species, especially those in island populations, however, have become almost flightless and three species - the Samoan, the Makira and the Tristan - are presumed extinct, victims of deforestation and predation by introduced mammals. His sturdy legs and splayed toes allow him to walk on uneven, soft surfaces and he is a capable swimmer. Omnivorous in diet, he consumes plant material, rodents, amphibians and eggs. Outside of breeding season he is sociable in nature, but when springs comes he will aggressively defend his territory against all potential competitors.

This is an Australian Dusky Moorhen.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Creature Feature #477: Moon Moth

Moon Moth is the common name given to various species of the Saturniid Silk moths. These include the largest species of moth - the Atlas Moth - as well as the Emperor Gum Moth, the Imperial Moth and the Madagascar Comet Moth, all of which have already been featured. Therefore its additional here is almost redundant, but I felt I needed to have at least one moth species for M - and this one gives me alliteration as well. However, of all the moth species, the Moon Moths are the most spectacular, closely followed by the hawkmoths - of which I've only draw two so far - and the Wasp Moths, which I am totally looking forwarrd to drawing (polka-dot wasp moth, here we come!).

Of course, I should have gone Malaysian Moon Moth for the full effect, but I chose instead to draw this colourful speciman, the Spanish Moon Moth. Her larvae feed on a diet of pine needles, and have very specific eating requirements, being reluctant to dine on the leaves of non-native Pinus trees. The Moth typically spends 6 weeks in caterpillar form, before pupating under leaves. Here she remains over the winter months, emerging with the spring to mate, lay her eggs and then die because, as I am sure you already know, adult Moon Moths cannot feed.

I'm just surprised I skipped the Luna Moth.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Creature Feature #476: Monito del Monte

The Monito del Monte is a marsupial mouse found in the forests of South America. He is the New World marsupial most closely related to the Australian marsupial species. Arboreal in nature, he constructs a spherical nest of waterproof leaves, lining it with moss and grass. His tail is somewhat prehensile and hairless on the underside, allowing him better grip against the tree branches. It also is used to store fat to last him through his winter hibernation period.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Creature Feature #475: Monitor Lizard

There are 77 species of Monitor Lizards, characterised by their sturdy limbs, powerful tails and claws and their long necks. Most favour a terrestrial lifestyle, although some species are arboreal. They occur naturally in Africa, Oceania and Asia. The Nile Monitor has established itself in Florida, where it is regarded as an Invasive Pest. Monitor Lizards are considered intelligent and have been known to hunt cooperatively to raid crocodile nests, with one lizard luring the mother crocodile away whilst the other breaks open the nest. The decoy then returns to help devour the eggs before the crocodile returns.

This speciman is an Australian Monitor Lizard, also known as a Perentie.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Creature Feature #474: Mongoose Lemur

The Mongoose Lemur is one of the smaller Eulemur ("true lemur") species and one of only two species to also be found outside of Madagascar - on the Comoros Islands (the other being the Common Brown). It is thought that they were introduced there. Mongoose Lemur change their sleeping patterns based on the temperature. During the  warm wet months he is more active during the day, but when it becomes drier, he follows nocturnal behaviour patterns. Although generally considered vegetarian, in captivity he has been observed stalking, killing and eating birds that venture into his enclosure.

Like 90% of lemur species it is likely he will become extinct within the next 20-25 years.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Creature Feature #473: Mongoose

The Mongoose are a Family of Carnivores that includes the meerkat and the four kusimanse species. They are found naturally in Asia, Africa and southern Europe and have been introduced to Puerto Rico, and parts of Hawaii and the Caribbean. Here they have become an invasive pest due to their diet of anything terrestrial: invertebrates, crustaceans, small mammals, birds. Despite their similar appearance, they are not closely related to the mustelid family (mink, ferret, polecat etc) but are actually more closely related to the felines. Mongoose are immune to neurotoxin snake venom; the Indian Gray Mongoose is famed for his ability to kill cobra, although this is not a regular behaviour.

This is a Yellow Mongoose.

The Malagasy "mongoose" species are not actually mongooses at all, but are their own Family. They will be dealt with indivually (or at least the ringtailed mongoose will be).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Creature Feature #472: Monarch

Today's entry is dedicated to the memory of Carol "Monarch" Schmidt, a fine artist who helped welcome me to the world of Artist Trading Cards and whom dedicated her time and passions to these astonishing insects.

The Monarch Butterfly is a milkweed butterfly with a cosmopolitan distribution. She is found in America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and parts of Asia. She has even been transported into space and bred in the international space station. In America, she is most noted for her long migration. During the summer months, her range extends up into southern Canada, but as the days grow shorter, individuals gather together and begin a journey south to overwinter in California and Mexico. Colonies can travel over 4,000 kms. In New Zealand the Monarch also migrates, albeit a much shorter journey. The life cycle of the Monarch is one that  most people are familiar with: they are reliant on milkweed plants, specifically the "swan plant" to reproduce. The female lays her eggs, and the tiny yellow and black striped caterpillars hatch. These caterpillars strip the swan plant, becoming somewhat toxic from their diet. This does not deter all predators however, and some will fall prey to other invertebrates such as praying mantises or paper wasps.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Creature Feature #471: Monarch Flycatcher

The Monarch Flycatchers are small Passerine birds with long tails. Numerous species exist, spread across various Genera and inhabiting Africa, Asia and Australia. True to their name, they are insectivores, snatching insects on the wing or gleaning them from branches. This fellow is known as a Black-naped Monarch.He is found in the Phillippines and Southeast Asia.

Creature Feature #470: Mole

Moles belong to the Insectivore Family and dine on worms and insects and spend the majority of their life underground.He is superbly adapted to his subterranean life, equipped with powerful front limbs for digging. To survive in these suffocating burrows, his blood cells carry a unique protein, allowing him to re-use oxygen inhaled above ground. His  burrow acts as a "worm trap", when he senses a worm has fallen in he scurries along and captures it. A special toxin in his saliva paralyzes the earthworm, allowing him to store it away in a  larder for future consumption.