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, October 31, 2015

#715: Spider

Happy Halloween!

The third Arachnid this month, the Spider is probably the most well known of the Class. Spiders are characterised by their eight legs and venom-injecting fangs. With over 45 thousand species identified, they occur on every continent excluding Antarctica and every habitat except the air and the sea. They are almost exclusively carnivorous and use a variety of techniques to hunt. Orb web spiders build sticky webs,  in which to trap their prey; wolf and jumping spiders stalk, ambush and pounce; others fling bolas made from web, or use trickery to capture and devour other spiders. Because they are unable to digest solids, Spiders must liquify their prey before consumption. To enable this, they flood it with digestive enzymes and grind it between their pedipalps.

Spiders are useful in pest and insect control, their venom can be used in medicine or pesticides, and the spider silk werbbing can be used to make cloth. Yet they are one of the most commonly feared types of animal in the world. According to statistics, about 50% of women, and 10% of men, are scared of spiders. This may be an instinctual fear, as only a few species are actually harmful to humans and are unlikely to bite unless provoked and trapped. Spiders are beautiful too, they come in an array of colours and shapes.

Friday, October 30, 2015

#714: Sperm Whale

The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed predator in the world; mature males can average 16 m in length. His diet consists mainly of squid. The name is derived from the liquid wax contained in his head, named spermaceti (because of its resemblance to semen). Its purpose to the whale remains unknown; whilst there are many theories, the most plausible is that it aids in communication with the whale's sonar, allowing him to better pinpoint the location of prey. For early whalers, however, this wax became quite a prize. Each whale contained up to 500 gallons which could be processed into oil and wax. Sperm oil (pleasant name!) remains liquid even at freezing winter temperatures, and the wax was made into candles.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#713: Sparrow

Sparrows, like many other Passerine species, can be divided into Old World (Eurasia) and New World (Americas) Families. The two Families are not particularly closely related, but bear a superficial resemblance to one another. Other birds commonly (and inaccurately) named "Sparrow" include the Hedge Sparrow (aka dunnock, an accentor) and the Java Sparrow (a finch)

The most recognisable of the forty-plus Sparrow species is the House Sparrow. He is the most widely distributed wild bird in the world, occuring in evey continent, except Antarctica. Native to Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia, he has been introduced - both purposely and accidentally - to South America, North America, Southern Africa, Australia and numerous islands, including New Zealand. He is a survivor - able to live in both hot and cold climes, and thrives in the urban environment. A pair were even found nesting underground, in a mine. His diet, traditionally, consists of seed, grain and plant matter, but he has happily adapted to scavenging from human food waste as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#712: Spadefoot Toad

The Spadefoot Toad of America is named for the ridge of keratin on his feet, which help him to dig. A similar Family live in Europe, bearing the same name, but are not closely related. He makes his home in arid environments, burrowing  beneath the soil to find moisture. He can remain underground for months. After the rains begin to fall, he surfaces to feed on insects such as ants and grasshoppers and to breed. Due to the ephemereal nature of the desert pools, tadpoles must develop swiftly if they are to survive and they can hatch, grow and metamorphose within 14 days. Remarkedly, some Spadefoot tadpoles follow the typical vegetarian diet, whereas others become carnivorous, even predating their siblings (although they prefer not to).

What is the difference between frogs and toads?
Generally speaking, frogs are more adapted for an aquatic or humid environment. They have longer legs, smoother skin and are slightly slimy due to the mucus they excrete. Toads are adapted to drier habitats. They have nobbly, thicker skin and stockier limbs. In fact, all toads are frogs, as they are members of the same Order, but not all frogs are toads.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#711: Solifuge

The Solifuge is a speciesw of arachnid, sometimes known as the Camel Spider, although she is not a spider. Fearsome in appearance, and growing up to 15 cm in length, she is the stuff of nightmares. The apparent front pair of limbs are in fact sensory organs, known as pedipalps. Her most impressive feature are her jaws - which can be up to a third of her body length. These are used to seize potential prey - invertebrates, lizards, small birds, rodents - and grind them to a pulp so that they can be digested. Solifuges are not venomous and of no threat to humans, except for the horror/surprise factor.

Monday, October 26, 2015

#710: Sockeye Salmon

Salmon is the common name for several species of fish, all sharing the same Family, along with trout, char and grayling. Popular in aquaculture, they are farmed throughout the world. However, they are naturally found in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Most species, including the Sockeye, are anadromous; hatching in the freshwater, the fry then migrate out into the ocean to feed and grow. Once sexual maturity is attained, he begins the journey back up the river - normally the same river he was born in - to breed. Once he has spawned, releasing masive amoutns of hormones, his body begins to deteriorate and he dies.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#709: Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl makes her home in the Arctic tundra of the Northern Hemisphere,  ranging across North America and Eurasia. An opportunistic hunter, she preys mainly on lemmings and small mammals, but will follow traplines to seek larger prey such as racoons or hare. She is active during both day and night. During breeding season, she selects a site with good visibility - perhaps a raised mound - and scratches out a hollow. Here she will lay up to 11 eggs over the course of several days. Despite the age and size disparity between the hatched youngsters, there is little sibling conflict.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

#708: Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard is a large feline who makes her home in the  alpine and sub-alpine regions of Central and South Asia. Like most cats, she is solitary in nature. An ambush predator, she stalks along rocky ledges seeking prey, such as markhor, tahr and smaller mammals, on the lower slopes. Whilst related to lions and the other Panthera cats, Snow Leopards are unable to roar. Instead she hisses, chuffs, mews and wails. She has specialised adaptations to the alpine environment, including a thick coat, small ears, wide paws, with furred pads. Her tail is thickened and stores fat. She also has large nasal cavities, allowing better inhalation of the thin mountain air.

Friday, October 23, 2015

#707: Snapping Turtle

The Common Snapping Turtle of North America is named for his hornery disposition. He commonly makes his home in shallow ponds and streams, lurking beneath the mud, only his head exposed. His diet is a variable one; he scavenges on plant and animal matter, actively eating any living thing that comes within his range. Long-lived, he does not reach sexual maturity until 12-20 years old, depending on climate. Females travel long distances over land, seeking a suitable substrate - sandy soil - in which to lay her eggs. She will lay up to 80 eggs a year, but survival rates are low and predation by herons, mustelids and other predators common.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

#706: Snail

The Snail, like the Slug, is a Gastropod Mollusc. They are characterised by the presence of a protective shell, large enough to retereat into. There are many different species of Snails, some not particularly closely related. They can be found in a wide range of habitats: from the oceanic depths, to freshwater ponds, and in almost every terrestrial environment. Many species of terrestrial Snails, like this common garden snail, favour a vegetarian diet, and can be quite destructive on crops and gardens. Others - such as the Rosy Snail - are carnivorous. The Snail's shell is made from calcium, and they are not infrequently found on the sides of houses, where they graze on the stucco. This is not too much of a problem with the regular garden snail,  which is fairly small, but the African giant snail - the size of a mouse - can cause damage.

Other species of snails:
Oahu Tree Snail: Critically endangered, predated on by Rosy Snail.
Dlinzi Pinwheel: Critically endangered, habitat destruction.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#705: Small-clawed Otter

The Small-clawed Otter is the smallest Otter species in the world. She can be found in the mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of southern Asia. As the name suggests, her claws are very short, not protruding past her fleshy fingertips. This allows her greater manual dexterity when handling prey such as molluscs, crabs and other aquatic animals. Like her larger relatives, Small-clawed Otters live in family groups, with a breeding pair and their offspring.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#704: Slug

Slug is a name given to apparently shell-less gastropod molluscs. They lead a mostly terrestrial existence, and are prone to dessication - hence they favour a moist environment such as leaf litter, or beneath rocks. Many retain a remnant of their ancestral shell, although this is often internal. Slugs move using their flat underside - known as the "foot". By contracting the muscles and exuding a layer of mucus, they are able to move at a slow but steady pace. This mucus also aids in retaining moisture. Slugs are hermaphrodites and able to reproduce as both male and female. With some species - like this Banana Slug - the penis becomes trapped within the partner's body and must be chewed off before they can separate. After that, the Slug is only able to mate as a female.

Monday, October 19, 2015

#703: Sloth

The Sloth lives life slowly. There are six species, divided into three-toed and two-toed. Like their relatives, the Anteaters, the Sloth has highly specialised claws. These act as hooks, and will hold him onto the tree branch, even if he is shot from below. The Sloth's diet constists mostly of leaves, which are low energy and are difficult to digest - hence one reason why he is noted for being somewhat lethargic. As much as two-thirds of his body weight can be undigested food - and this can take over a month for his stomach to process. His sluggish nature also permits him to avoid predation, since he is also well camouflaged. Once a week he descends his tree to defecate in the same spot, digging a hole and covering it afterwards.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

#702: Skunk

The Skunks are a Family of Mustelids, notorious for their effective defense mechanism. His anal scent glands are more developed than that of related Mustelids and produce a sulphurous concoction of chemicals. If threatened, the Skunk will begin posturing: hissing, stamping and raising his tail, trying to deter the predator without resorting to his chemical warfare. He only carries enough for five or six uses, then requiring ten days to produce more. This spray is very efficient and can reach a range of 3m, and be targeting with precision. Skunks follow an omnivorous diet, including carrion, and are a primary predator of honeybees. He scratches at the front of the beehive, gobbling up any guard bees that come to investigate.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#701: Skink

The Skinks are a diverse Family of lizard, ranging in size from 7.5 cm to 36 cm. They are characterised by their long, tapering bodies, with no pronounced neck, and small limbs. Some species are entirely limbless. Sinks move much like snakes, their legs acting as stabilisers. Most species favour a diet of insects and other invertebrates, although a few feed on vegetative matter. They are a cosmopolitan Family, found in deserts, mountains, grasslands and woodlands. Leaf litter is a favourite habitat, as is tussock; most species are terrestrial in nature.
This fellow is a Mountain Skink, found in Arizona and New Mexico. It is one of the American Plestidon lizards, where juveniles are characterised by their blue tails. The Mountain Skink sometimes retains this into adulthood. If attacked, the Skink can shed his tail, severing blood vessels, bone and muscle and leaving behind the twitching appendage to distract the predator. Although capable of regeneration, the new tail will contain cartilage rather than bone. This process - known as autonomy - is found in other reptile species as well.

Friday, October 16, 2015

#700: Sifaka

To celebrate TWO YEARS of my Zootrophy, an Animal-a-day, project and to represent the #700th (actual/real) animal I have drawn as part of this project, I present to you an animal that has special significance to me:

The Sifaka are a Genus of lemurs, characterised by their long arms and shorter legs. Largely arboreal in nature, should a Sifaka need to travel along the ground, she moves with bipedal, sideways hops, using her forearms for balance. There are nine species, all of which are endangered, four critically. All favour a vegetarian diet and the eastern, rainforest, species dine on such a variety of plants that they cannot be successfully kept in captivity. This beautiful Silky Sifaka, and her black-furred cousin, the Perrier's, only survive in isolated  rainforest pockets, where seclusion has protected them from habitat destruction and hunting. The western, dry forest, species are more generalistic and have been succesfully bred in captivity.

The future of these rare and beautiful creatures is fragile. Madagascar is a country with unique fauna and flora, facing severe pressure from hunting, over-population and deforestation. Due to its poor economic status - it is one of the poorest countries in the world - it has also been exploited by other countries who have, and still are, pillaged it of natural wealth (ie: gemstones, rosewood). Climate change also brings with it additional challenges for the unique wildlife.

You have probably noticed that I, like many zoologists, have a fascination with Madagascar. The future of its wildlife lies not in zoos or other institutions - although they do play a major role - but in conservation and education. Now there are many projects working with the local people of the various regions to help them take responsibility for the survival of these species.

Heres's a link to how you can help: http://www.wildmadagascar.org/help.htm

Other Sifaka species featured in this blog:

Coquerel Sifaka (Endangered)
Crowned Sifaka (Endangered)
Diademed Sifaka (Critically Endangered)
Milne-Edwards Sifaka (Endangered)
Perrier Sifaka (Critically Endangered)

To come:
Verreaux Sifaka

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#699: Siamang

The Siamang is the largest species of Gibbon. He can be found in Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra. Both males and females possess an inflatable throat pouch. This can be inflated to the size of the ape's head, amplifying his vocalisations and allowing him to communicate with his neighbours. Siamang live in family groups - an adult pair and their offspring. Males play a large role in raising the offspring. His diet is entirely vegetarian. Siamang are under threat from the pet industry, with mothers being killed so that their infants can be poached, but the main threat comes from deforestation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#698: Shrew

The Shrew are diminutive insectivores, related to the Mole. She is equipped with sharp, spike-like teeth and a fierce personality. There are numerous species, spread across the northern hemisphere. In the tropics, females can breed all year round, producing up to 10 litters. In the temperate regions, she will not breed over winter. With a short lifespan (around 2 years), fecundity is the key to her success. Some species are known to echolocate, using ultrasonic squeaks to navigate her environment. Some species are venomous, delivering the poison via groves in her teeth.

Other relatives to the Shrew include:
Tenrec (to come)

Treeshrews, Elephant Shrews and an assortment of other speciesnamed with the word "shrew" are not closely related.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#697: Shoebill

The Shoebill is a large and distinctive bird, characterised by his massive, shoe-shaped bill. Omce considered to be a Stork, he is now thought to be related to Pelicans and his closest relative is the Hammerkop. He stands motionless for lengthy periods of time, scanning the water for fish. Patient and generally slow-moving, he strikes quickly when prey is sighted. Given his large bill and wide gape, he is capable of taking quite considerably sized prey - including small mammals, lizards and waterbirds. He is found in parts of eastern, inland Africa, favouring water with low-oxygenated waters, in which the fish must surface to breathe.

Monday, October 12, 2015

#696: Shield Bug

The Shield Bugs belong to a Superfamily of "True bugs" characterised by their sucking mouthparts and well-developed scutellum (the hard casing above the abdomen). Species are also equipped with scent glands in the thorax. These release an unpleasant liquid, which is used to deter predators and also gives them their alternative name of "stink bug". They are not Beetles - their shell is continuously, not divided for wings.

There are around 200 species of Shield Bug. This Australian species is known as the Metallic Shield Bug. They can be found on leaf litter or other bark and feed on vegetation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

#695: Sheep

True Sheep are  members of the Genus Ovis, in the Bovine Family. There are at least five species, one of which is the domestic sheep - thought to be descended from the Mouflon. This fellow is a North American species, the Dall Sheep. Other species include the Bighorn, the Urial and the Argali. Sheep are highly sociable ruminants, stockier than their relatives. They make their homes in mountainous and hilly regions. His main diet consists of grass, lichen and other plant matter and he does not require a lot of water. In wild species, both the male and female have spiraled horns, with the male's being much larger.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

#694: Shark

Sharks are cartilaginous fish ranging in size from 17 cm (the Dwarf Lanternshark) to the Whale Shark, the largest fish in the sea, who measures 12 m in length. Sharks can be traced back 420 million years. They favour a salt-water environment, although some species have been found in freshwater. Sharks replace their teeth continuously throughout their life. These grow in rows in their jaw, pushing forward like a conveyor belt. Nearly every species is carnivorous, and some are noted for being voracious predators. A few species feed on plankton.

This fellow is a Great White Shark, probably the most famous species.

Other species in this blog:
Leopard Shark
Nurse Shark
Goblin Shark

Friday, October 9, 2015

#693: Serval

The Serval is a medium-sized feline, found in the savannahs of Africa. She is characterised by her long legs. These are ideal for helping her find prey in the long grasses. Her elongated foot bones  allow her to attain speeds of up to 80 km/hr and assist her in jumping. She is capable of leaping 3 m vertically, allowing her to snatch birds in flight. Serval are capable predators - about 50% of their hunts result in kills.

They are sometimes kept as exotic pets in America, and have been hybridised with domestic cats to produce the Savannah Cat. Being intelligent and large, Serval and Savannah Cats do not make the most easily handled of pets and are banned in some countries.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

#692: Seriema

The Seriema of South America is a long-legged bird that does bear something of a superficial resemblance to yesterday's Secretarybird. His habitat is open grassland and dry woodland, where he occasionally grazes with livestock. Prey ranges from insects and other invertebrates, to small vertebrates, which are caught and beaten against the ground before being torn apart with the sickle-like claw on his second toe. At night, he roosts in trees. There are three species - this is the red-legged - and it is thought that his ancestors may have been related to the giant Terror Birds.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

#691: Secretarybird

The Secretarybird is a long legged bird of prey,  rather resembling an eagle on stilts. He can measure up to 1.3 m tall.  Predominantly terrestrial, he makes his home in the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. During the night he roosts in acacia trees. His diet is carnivorous and he will eat everything from insects up to small mammals. Whilst noted for killing snakes, these are not a major component of his diet. Prey is pursued on foot, and often kicking into incapacitation. The Secretarybird's claws are sharp, his kick powerful; he can shatter a human's hand with one kick.