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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

#805: Viper

The Vipers are a Family of venomous snakes, widespread across the world. She comes equipped with a long pair of fangs, hinged for deep penetration. These fangs are hollow, and are generally folded back into a sheath, revealed when the snake is hunting or threatened. Vipers do not always inject venom - venom production is energy-expensive, and can take time to replenish. Venom is generally injected when they seek to immobolize prey.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

#804: Violin Beetle

The Violin Beetles are five species of terrestrial beetle occuring in Southeast Asia. His leaf-shaped body and cryptic colouration allows him to camouflage against the forest floor and his flattened shape means he is able to squeeze into narrow crevices. Larvae are commonly found in the layers of bracket fungus. Both larvae and adult beetles are predators, hunting insect larvae. If threatened, he excretes butyric acid.

Friday, January 29, 2016

#803: Violet Sea Snail

I confess, I initially chose the Violet Sea Snail merely for its name and because I never have enough invertebrates for this alphabet. But once I started learning about it, I realised that here was another awesome animal I had never heard of before.

The Violet Sea Snail is a marine mollusc with an unusual hunting technique. He excudes mucus, trapping bubbles of air to create a "raft", to which it clings, upside down. He then travels with the waves and the wind, preying on - get this! - free-floating hydrozoans, such as the Portugese man o' war. All Violet Sea Snails begin life as a male, changing to a female as she ages. Eggs are retained by the female until the larvae hatch.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

#802: Vicuña

The Vicuña is a member of the camelid Family. Like her cousin, the guanaco, she lives in the high alpine regions of South America. She is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic alpaca. Vicuña produce a very fine wool, perfect for keeping her warm when the high altitude temperatures reach freezing point. This wool is one of the most expensive fibres available, as wild Vicuña can only be shorn every three years. Once, hundreds were poached and killed for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#801: Viciria

Viciria are a Family of jumping spiders, characterised by their slender abdomens. Like all spiders, he is carnivorous, feeding on insects.

This species is Viciria praemandibulari, the wide-jawed viciria, and this is a male.The female is more brightly coloured. Like many jumping spiders, Viciria display a level of maternal care, with the female tending to her eggs and newly hatched offspring. The wide-jaws viciria lives in Indonesia, Singapore, Sulawesi and Sumatra.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#800: Vesper Rat

The Vesper Rats are two species of New World Rat found in Central America. She leads an arboreal lifestyle, foraging through the branches for fruit and seeds. During the day, she sleeps in a nest constructed from twigs and leaves. She breeds throughout the year, constructing the nest with the assistance of her mate and birthing up to three offspring. Infants are born partially furred and blind; they remain attached to the mother's teats for the first two weeks, and are weaned at three weeks.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#799: Vesper Bat

The Vesper Bats are the largest Family of Bats, spread across every continent excluding Antarctica. They are predominantly insectivorous, using echolocation to pinpoint their prey with accuracy. Some of the larger species have techniques for hunting fish and even birds. Many species are colony roosters, with caves being a popular residence, although some favour hollow trees or animal burrows. This fellow is a Pallid Bat, found in western North America and Cuba.

Other species of Vesper Bat in this blog:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#798: Vervet Monkey

The Vervet Monkey occurs naturally along the eastern coast of Africa. Here he inhabits savannah, riverine woodland, coastal forest and  up into the mountains. He has also been introduced to parts of America, including Florida.His diet includes a lot of fruit, but he also enjoys flowers, leaves, seeds, insects and bird's eggs. In some areas, where his range encompasses that of people, he is considered a pest. Troops range in size from ten to 70 individuals with males leaving to join other troops when they reach sexual maturity,

Saturday, January 23, 2016

#797: Verreaux's Sifaka

Verreaux's Sifaka is probably one of the more well known Sifaka species. She is found in the lower western and southern regions of Madagascar, generally inhabiting dry or spiny forest. Like all Sifaka, she is vegetarian, and her diet consists mostly of leaves. Troops range in size from 2-12 individuals. Whilst these are often family groups, some also consist of one dominant male and, effectively, his harem of females. Females, however, are dominant over males. The Verreaux's Sifaka is probably most well known for her form of locomotion. Generally she will leap between trees, but when the gap is too wide, she must come to ground. Unable to walk on all fours, she instead "dances", making bipedal hops with her arms slightly raised.

Friday, January 22, 2016

#796: Vermilion Flycatcher

The Vermilion Flycatcher is a small and brightly coloured passerine found in the lower North American states and Central America. True to his name, he feeds mostly on insects, which are snapped from the air, although he has been observed catching small fish. Only the male is the bright and vivid red, the female is rather more drab. This allows her camouflage as she incubates their 2-3 eggs.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#795: Vermilion Darter

The Vermilion Darter is a Critically Endangered freshwater fish, found only in Turkey Creek in Alabama.This river drains more than 54,000 acres of farmland and, as such, is filled with sediment and undesirable chemicals. The diminutive Darter wasn't officially identified as a distinct species until 1992 and was classified as Endangered in 2001. In 2007, a recovery plan was set in place and, finally, in 2010 15 miles of critical habitat have been protected in the hope of saving the species.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#794: Velvet Worm

There are 180 species of Velvet Worm, found in tropical and southern temperate habitats. It is thought that he hasn't changed much in 500 million years. Unlike arthropods, he lacks a hard exoskeleton and is instead covered in tiny scales, giving him a velvety look and providing a waterproof covering. He is prone to dessication, and favours moist humid habitats. Carnivorous in diet, the Velvet Worm is an ambush predator, squirting his prey with slime to subdue it, before injecting saliva that dissolves the prey's insides.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#793: Velvet Leatherjacket

The Velvet Leatherjacket is a filefish found in the waters of eastern Australia and New Zealand.Generally solitary in nature, he feeds mainly on sessile and encrusting organisms, such as sponges. He is also known to occasionally nibble at the fingers of divers. His scales are covered in tiny spinules, which give him a velvety appearance. Eggs are laid and fertilised in rocky nests, where they are left to hatch without parental attention.

Monday, January 18, 2016

#792: Velvet Spider

Most of the Velvet Spider species are found in the Old World - the Mediterranean, Africa, Europe - with one species found in South America. Many are referred to as "ladybird spiders" due to her distinctive colouration. They display some unique behavioral traits, with some forming a social colony that cooperate in brood-raising. More unusually, the Seothyra species plays brood host to her own offspring, feeding them first by regurgitating her own liquified insides, and then, when those are gone, they devour what is left of her.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

#791: Velvet Gecko

Velvet Geckos are a Genus of gecko endemic to Australia. They are arboreal and nocturnal, patterned in a cryptic but colourful shades that provide camouflage during the day. As night falls, he ventures out to hunt for invertebrates, and may even consume smaller geckos. Habitat varies, from caves to spinifex fields, woodland to rock face. Like other geckos, the Velvet Gecko cannot blink, and must lick his eyes to keep them moist.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

#790: Vasa Parrot

The Vasa Parrots are somewhat odd-looking parrots, native to Madagascar and surrounding islands. Flocks consist of a female with 3-8 mates, all of which assist her in raising the chicks. The male is able to invert his cloaca, turning it into a hemipenis and creating a copulatory tie. This assists in fertilisation, assuring the male greater chance of fathering offspring. This feature is generally found in lizards, not birds. During the nesting period, the female sheds her head feathers and will sing to her males, encouraging them to regurgitate food.

Friday, January 15, 2016

#789: Variegated Squirrel

The Variegated Squirrel can be found in North and Central America. He can be found in both dry and wet forest, but favours the arid environment. He is solitary and diurnal, constructing a nest in which to sleep through the nights. Unlike his more northerly relatives, Variegated Squirrel do not hibernate, but will become less active through inclemental weather. His diet consists of fruit, seeds and nuts and he plays an important role in seed dispersal.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#788: Vaquita

The Vaquita is found in the Gulf of California, where less than 100 individuals remain.This diminutive dolphin is one of the smallest Cetacean species, growing about 140 cm long. She is generally solitary in nature and favours lagoons and shallow water. Here she preys on small fish, crustaceans and squid, which she locates using echolocation. Her greatest threat comes from illegal trawl-netting, especially around the critically endangered totoaba. This large fish is famed (and now farmed) for its swim bladder, a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Sadly, demand for this has pushed not only the totoaba to the brink of extinction, but Vaquita also become entangled in the nets and drown.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#787: Vanga

The Vanga Family are unique to Madagascar and are comprised of 22 species. Although related, the species range in size from 12-32 cm, and show diversity in beak shape. Many have shorter, sharp beaks and closely resemble shrikes. Others, like this hook-billed vanga and the aptly named sickle-billed vanga, are distinctively different. Habitat ranges too, with species adapted to rainforest and dry forest. Most feed on invertebrates: worms, millipedes and occasionally small vertebrates, although two species favour fruit.

This fellow is a helmeted vanga:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#786: Vampire Squid of Hell

The Vampire Squid is a deep-sea denizen of temperate and tropical seas. He is named for his cloak-like webbing and red eyes. His body is covered in photophores, which produce bursts of light. When threatened, he ejects a sticky cloud of bioluminescent mucus, which may last for 10 mins and dazzles the potential predator, allowing the squid to escape. The Vampire Squid is neither a squid nor an octopus, he shares features with both and is placed in his own Order, Vampyromorphid.

Monday, January 11, 2016

#785: Vampire Bat

The Vampire Bats are three species of South American bat, named for their highly specialised diet. This consists, almost exclusively, of blood.Vampire Bats are fairly small, measuring only 7-9 cm in length. He approaches his prey across the ground, hopping and creeping using his elongated thumbs, before making a tiny incision with his teeth. His saliva contains an anti-coagulant, which keeps the blood flowing. In one night, he can double his weight with blood. Vampire Bats are highly social and cooperative, and if one bat does not drink enough in one night, the others will share theirs.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

#784: Urial

The Urial is a subspecies of wild sheep, inhabiting the grassy slopes below the timberline. This environment is largely treeless, and Urial are predominantly grazers, but will occasionally browse on shrubs. Males are characterised by their large, curved horns; female's horns are much smaller. Outside of breeding season, the rams and the ewes rarely interact. During breeding season, the ram will mate with 4-5 females. Five months later, before giving birth, the ewes retreat into isolated gullies or ravings to give birth in relative safety.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

#783: Urchin

The Urchins are around 950 species of marine echinoderms. He is characterised by his symmetry and spines, which protect him from predation. They are dioecious, with individuals being either male or female. Males tend to live in more elevated and exposed positions, whereas females favour low-lying locations. Urchins feed on algae, which is consumed through an orifice in his lower half - this acts as both mouth and anus. It is studded with calcium carbonate "jaws" and features a fleshy tongue-like structure. Whilst Urchins have no apparent eyes, his entire body is a sensory organ and sensitive to touch, light and chemicals. Locomotion is slow, but achieved by adhesive tube feet.

Friday, January 8, 2016

#782: Unicornfish

Unicornfish are a number of Naso species, related to tangs and surgeonfish. He is named for the horn-like appendage between his eyes, which tends to be longer in males. He grazes on algae, shifting to zooplankton if his horn gets too long for him to successfully scrape algae from the substrate. Generally fairly drab in colour, some species will change their colouration in response to stimuli - such as when he is courting a female, or seeking the assistance of cleaner wrasse.

This is a Bluespine Unicornfish.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

#781: Umbrella-mouth Gulper

The Umbrella-mouth Gulper is a deep sea fish, named for his enormous jaws. These are used to consume crustaceans and it is thought that he swims along, mouth agape, collecting everything in his path. Squids and smaller invertebrates also are collected, as well as gret mouthfuls of water. These are flushed out through his gills. As he matures, his jaws and teeth atrophy, to be replaced by enlarged olfactory organs. These may help him locate a mate in his almost lightless habitat. It is suspected that he will die soon after spawning. Very little else is known about this bizarre predator, as it lives at such extreme depths that it is generally only seen when inadverently captured in a fishing net.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#780: Umbrella Cockatoo

The Umbrella Cockatoo is endemic to Indonesia. Here he inhabits lowland tropical rainforest, feeding on nuts, berries, fruit and the occasional insect. Like all cockatoos, he is intelligent and curious, and highly social. This, combined with his affectionate nature, makes him popular as a pet. Every year, hundreds of birds are taken from their natural habitat and smuggled out of the country. He is also suffering from habitat loss.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#779: Umbrellabird

Behold, the first of several "Umbrella" pre-faced species!

The Umbrellabird are three species of cotinga, inhabiting the rainforests of  Soiuth America. This fellow is the long-wattled species. This wattle can be inflated and amplifies his booming call. Females have greatly reduced wattles. His diet is omnivorous, and he dines on lizards, insects and fruit, with a preference for palm nuts.

Monday, January 4, 2016

#778: Uma

As I near the end of the alphabet, you will notice that I start to "cheat" a little. Until now, I've more-or-less avoided scientific names, unless the critter has no common name - but there are precious few creatures beginning with U - and even less with X.

This fellow is an Uma, a Genus of fringe-toed lizards. There are six species, who occupy the low desert areas of North America. They are named for the fringe of scales along their hind toes. These help the lizard to move swiftly across the shirting sand dunes of his desert home. He is specialised in other ways too: his upper jaw overlaps the lower, he can close his nostrils and flaps close his ear openings. His upper and lower eyelids interlock. These adaptations stop the intrusion of sand into his body.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

#777. Ulyssus Butterfly

The Ulysses Butterfly is a large blue swallowtail butterfly, found throughout northeastern Australia and surrounding islands. She measures an average of 15cm in width, and can be found in rainforets and suburban gardens. Her vivid blue colouration comes through the microscopic structure of the scales on her wings, which interferes with light and causes the irridescence. The underside of her wings are a rather more subdued brown, allowing her to camouflage when she sits at rest. As she flies, the blue flashes and attracts attention, hopefully from males - not predators!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#776: Uguisu

The Uguisu, or Japanese Bush Warbler, is more often heard than seen. He is noted for his musical call, which heralds the spring. Unfortunately, his songmanship has led to males being captured and kept in a cage.He sings to attract a female, and her eggs are laid in a cup-shaped nest, well hidden in the thicket. His diet is predominantly insectivorous. His guano is used in face cream, and advertised to smoothen and illuminate the skin.

Friday, January 1, 2016

#775: Uakari

New Year, New U!
First U, in fact.

The Uakari are four species of New World Monkeys, of which the most well known is the Bald Uakari. He is, as you may have noticed, characterised by his completely bald head. The skin lacks pigment, and the redness is caused by the multiple capillaries running under the facial tissue. The redder the skin, the healthier the animal and the more attractive he is to potential mates. The species is susceptible to malaria, and ailing individuals are noticeably paler. His diet is almost exclusively vegetarian, with seeds making up the majority, although the occasional invertebrate is eaten. Troops are large - up to 100 individuals - with males leaving their natal group.