Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Indian Wildlife

Indian Animals
CatsFamily= Felidae. Claws adapted to strike and hold prey. Teeth designed to bite cut and tear flesh. Supreme in combination of grace strength and agility.

Senses all highly developed. Bristling Whiskers are sensory tactile organs.

Largest eyes. A well developed system of muscles within the eye contracts and dilates the pupil as per needs. (In smaller cats the pupil contracts to narrow perpendicular slit, while bigger cats have small circular opening. In dark pupil dilates to maximum to allow as much light as possible to enter and fall on a highly sensitive retina.

Feet. A
Bengal tiger tracks show only impressions of toes and deeply cushioned pad. There is no trace of sole or heel. Cats walk on toes- digitigrade movement. The raising the heel and the sole alters the balance of the body throwing it forward and increases the impetus of the movement. A cat’s spoor show only 4 toes but the fore foot has five toes where in the 5th toe is set high on the limb. Hind foot has 4 toes.

Teeth. (30) When jaws close the canine interlock. Canines are fang like and separated from other set of teeth to ensure complete penetration. Canines are supported on powerful short jaws by great biting muscles for whose attachment special provision is made in wide sturdy cheek arches and bony crest of the skull.

Canines and incisors are weapons for seizing, holding and biting.The cutting of meat is work of Molar or Cheek Teeth one-on each side both upper & lower Jaw-Carnassial or flesh tooth. (Crowns are compressed into sharp cutting blades indicating excusive diet of flesh.
Carnassial or flesh-tooth(modification of molar teeth) is large and well developed, set in that part of jaws where the biting muscles exerts the greatest pressure. Flesh teeth are ideal for shearing flesh off bones and crushing hard food.Incisor teeth (six in nos.) are small pincer shaped used to gnaw soft gristly ends of bones to scrap tendinous attachment of muscles.

Jaws: Lower jaw moves on transverse hinge which gives strength to joint but limits side to side movement (Not required). In up & down motion sharp bladed cheek teeth work against each other like scissors to cut meat.

Tongue is rasp like. Taste buds are small set on margins.Mos numerous are conical papillae encased in horny pointed sheaths which cover the tongue. These sharp rigid points give the action of rasp suited for licking bones.


Family Viverridae.Most related to cats.General characteristics. Nocturnal. Keen eyes, smell and hearing. The facial vibrissae or whiskers are mobile and can be switched backwards and forwards. Depend less on hunting live partly on vegetable matter. They are seed dispersal agents too. Ex. Peepul.

Feet. Short compact feet. Claws well protect and retractile. True civets(Viverrinae)-Can climb well but rarely do look for food on ground. They walk on their toes. Paws are small and compact. Pads are well cushioned and soles are covered with hairs.

Tree Civets (Paradoxurinae). Retractibility varies. Feet are built for climbing. They are plantigrade-entire sole is pressed to ground. The foot is short and broad and all toes are set a level. Sloes are hairless. Longer more sinuous bodies & longer tail.

Teeth (40). Meat eaters have more molars with sharp blade like crowns. Molars are built for cutting meat and grinding vegetables. True civets have broad crowned many cusped molars.

Tree civets are molar teeth are more broader crowns.

Tongue: Civets have smooth tongue. Rasp is not required as they crush bones and swallow them.

Defence. Stink glands –some civets discharge a yellow fluid from their anus at the attacker. Masked with dark and light hair. A warning coloration.

The Small Indian Civet: Viverricula indica. Over 3 ft in entire length. One foot tail. Wt ¾ kg. fond of ber tree.Twany grey or greyish brown, lined and streaked on back. Spotted more or less on in rows along flanks. Some cross bars on neck. Tail ringed.Ground civet heavy forests, long grass or scrub. Shelters in holes. Rocks or grass. Attack by stealth.

The Common Palm Civet or Toddy Cat. Paradoxurus hermaphroditus.Head and body 2 ft. tail 2 feet. Wt3/4 .5 kg. Limbs dark black or brown. Black or brownish civet. Long coarse hair. White Patch below eye. Sometimes one above it & one on each side of nose.
Habitat. Well Wooded lives much on trees. Mango trees or pal trees favorite.
Large Indian Civet. Viverra zibetha. Length less than 5 ft. Erectile crest long deep black in color on back. Dark hoary grey washed with yellow or brown. Dark bands may ornament chest and shoulders & form loops & rosettes on hind quarters.Tail ringed.
MongooseFamily Herpestidae.
General Characteristics. Small ears rarely project above head. Less semicircular than Civets. Made up of series of complicated folds which can shut down over one and another completely closing the ear too assist in burrowing. Attacks openly. Rushes and pounces too. Digs out its victim. Sits on haunches or hind claws to increase the vision range. Bangs eggs on floor or sucks out the contents of bird eggs. Stink glands but only Striped Neck and Crab eating mongoose use them.. Have anal glands anus enclosed in a glandular sac. More predatory in habit live by hunting. Less sensitive to snake poison.
Claws: are long very long digging claws. Feet splayed, digits freer. Teeth. Sharp Bladed meat cutting teeth. Thorny patch on tongue is thorny papillae used as rasping tool.
Common Mongoose. Herpestes edwardi nyula. Grizzled pepper and salt appearance. Hair alternately ringed with black and white. Length 3 ft.wt 1.4 kg. Males heavier and bigger. Tail tipped with white or yellowish black.
Small Indian Mongoose. Herpestes auropunctatus. 18 to20 inches. Small, short tailed, olive brown, gold flecked, soft silky fur.
Lives in holes burrowed by itself. Diurnal in habit.
HyenasFamily Hyena. Legs like dogs’ skull and teeth like cats. Broad head with long pointed erect ears. Facial vibrissae or whiskers poorly developed.
Fore limbs are long and sturdy. Hindquarters drooping supported on short knock kneed hind legs. Walks on its toes. Four on each foot. Claws short and blunt. Non-retractile.
Jaws: large and powerful for crushing bones. Shape of skull to provide good attachment for powerful muscles which work with jaws and teeth.
Teeth are large but canines less developed. Molars are large and strong. Second and 3rd premolars have massive conical crowns. These teeth have large basal ridge which acts as guard to protect gums when bone is being crushed.
Anal glands in a large sac hung above anus.
Habits. Scavenger Hunts rarely. Nocturnal. Sight plays little part, hearing none at all. When cornered by dogs the animal lies motionless the dogs loose interest in a supposedly dead creature.
Striped Hyena. Hyaena hyaena. Length total 5feet. Ht 3ft. Wt 38.5 Kg female 34 kg. Mating in cold weather young are born in hot weather.
DogFamily: Canidae
Well shaped head, large pointed muzzle, large erect ears, deep chested muscular body (lung power), bushy tail, slender, sinewy limbs. Professional Hunters.Exceedingly keen sense of smell. Sight & hearing acute.
Feet. Not designed for striking or seizing prey. Small and compact. Claws short and blunt. Toes held together by elastic rimmed webs, well cushioned pads.
Jaws& Teeth. (42) Long jaws provide space for wide array of teeth. Jaws controlled by powerful cheek muscles for holding. Canines separate from other incisor teeth for interlocking. Incisors are forwardly placed for biting gnawing and stripping skin. Cheek teeth have compressed triangular crowns while largest flesh teeth have two great cusps for cutting meat sideways. Tuberculated crowns are well adapted for cracking bones and crunching.
Wolf. Canis lupus.Ht 2.2 ft to 2.6 ft. length 3ft to 3.6 ft tail 1 ft+ Wt 18 -27 kg.Large skull. Breeding season end of rains.Seven Molar teethJackal Canis aureus. Ht1.5 ft.length 2ft to 2.6 ft. Wt 8-11 kg. Scavenger and hunter. Hunts small animals. Sometimes hunts in pack a small deer. Breeding season any.Seven Molar teeth
Indian Fox. Vulpus bengalensis. Lt.1.6ft. tail 1ft+, Wt 1.8 to 3kg.
Wild Dog (Dhole). Cuon alpinus. Ht 1.5 to 2 ft. Head & Body 3ft. tail 1.5 ft. Wt 20 kg. Legs shorter. Tail bushy, ears rounded at tip. Six molar teeth in lower jaw. 12-14 teats.
BearsFamily Ursidae.
General Characteristics. Smell dominant sense. Hearing & sight poor. (Auditory bullae-bony prominences in skull placed behind ear opening are flat & depressed. Swollen and well developed in animal with keen sense of hearing.)Sense variably developed in bears. Sloth is comparatively short scented. Brown Bear sense of smell stronger Himalayan black bear can see and hear better. Facial vibrissae rudimentary. Omnivorous.(Hibernation) Body mechanism brought to standstill. Hear action reduced, temperature falls below normal.Feet. Adapted to climbing. Limbs powerful, feet padded, and great claws. Broad naked soled feet. (Climbing species have matted hair on soles) Inward twist to fore paw in tree climbing bears this compels a bear to strike with a round arm swing.
Teeth. Low flat crown of cheek teeth designed for crushing. Not cutting planes to cheek teeth, flesh teeth in distinguished fro other molars.

Sloth Bear. Melursus ursinus.
General characteristics. Sloth bear sleep in open (tall grass or under shade of tree) in winters. In hot 7 rains in caves and dens. Tolerates heat better than tiger but constantly thirsty.
Ht. 2.2 ft to 2.9 ft. Lt. 4.5 to 5.5 ft. Wt Males. 127 to 145 kg. Fem. 64 kgs upwards.
Elongated muzzle & grizzled appearance. V breast patch. Longer claws on fore feet.
Feed in hot weather on banyan, figs, Mahua, mango, jamun, bael, ebony. Large rock bee (apis dorsata) smaller forest bee (apis indica). Insects, termites.
Breeding hot weather. Gestation seven months. Maturity2-3 yrs.

Flying Squirrel.
Class Mammalia. Order Rodentia.
Limbs connected with membrane or a parachute.
Large Flying squirrels.Large Brown Flying squirrel: Petaurista petaurista philippensis. General Characteristics. Nocturnal. Roost in a hole in a tree. May sleep on its back with parachute open to keep cool. Food is fruits barks resin gum. Insects. Larvae. Loud alarm call and chattering cry.

Artiodactylia-even toed ungulates. Oxen, sheep, pigs, deer, antelopes, camels.
Family Bovidae. Oxen, sheep, goats, antelopes & gazelles.
GaurFamily Bovidae. Bos gaurus.
Feet’ shod with horny hooves to face rough terrain (All hoofed animals walk on tips of their toes and no. of toes are reduced not more than 4). 3rd & 4th toe greatly developed equal hooves which encase these present flat surface to each other & look like a single hoof cleft in two hence ‘cloven hoofed’. Others reduced. Ist toe is wanting. 2&5th either reduced or absent.Hooves of gaur small close knit for hard stony ground. Buffalo hooves wide splayed for marshy life.
Teeth are for long mastication. Grinding teeth have broad crowns with fold and ridges of hard enamel braced on either side by soft layer of dentine which bears the brunt of grinding. No incisor teeth in upper jaw replaced by soft pad. Canines absent or rudimentary in upper jaw. Lower jaw has canine and incisors brought in close contact together-grass cropping apparatus.
Stomach is 4 chambered. 1st largest paunch serves to contain large quantity of hastily chewed food. Here it under goes softening process & returned to mouth in small boluses which is thoroughly chewed known as ruminating or chewing the cud.
Food when pulped enters 2nd chamber reticulum or honey comb as its walls are celled like honey comb. Here the food is pressed and shaped & sent into gullet from where it is sent to 3 rd & 4th chamber, actual digestion takes place in last chamber. Antelopes and Deers have similar complex stomach.
Horns of all Bovids persists for life, have a core of bone arising from skull & an outer sheath of true horn The outer sheath is hollow & can be removed from its bony core. Hence the name hollow-horned ruminants. This distinguishes them from Cervidae-ruminants with solid horns. Oxen horns of both male & female are nearly equal in size but in goats and sheep female horns are smaller.
In Gaur sense of smell keenly developed. No glands. Breeding. Rut March, April, May young seen from nov-march.
Sub-Family Antilopinae –antilopes & gazelles. General characteristics. Horns may be present in females are cylindrical & lyre shaped. Gland under eyes as in Black buck. Large inguinal glands (between groin) and between hooves.

Chinkara or Indian Gazelle. Gazella gazelle. 2 feet at shoulder. Wt 20-23 kgs. Horns 10-12 inches & of does 4-5 inches-15-25 rings. White streak down each side of face and dusky patch above nose. Can be waterless for long.Breeding peak is April, minor autumn. Gestation 5.5 months.Males territorial hold about 200 meter demarcated by fecal stations used repeatedly.

Black Buck. Antelope cervicapra. Ht. 32 in at shoulder. Wt40kgs. Horns 20 inches. Horns. No spiral in 1st yr. In 2nd yr. large open spiral & 3rd year more spiral when black color is obtained. Breeding. All yr. main rut Feb, March.
Sub Familae- Boselaphinae- Horns are not ringed & keeled in front. Females do not have horns.

Four Horned Antelope or Chowsingha. Tetracerus quadricornis. Ht. 25 in. Posterior horns 3-4 inches. Anterior horns 1-+ inch. Glands between hooves of hind legs in both.Dark stripe in front of each leg more defined in fore leg. More dependant on water.Breeding. Hot weather and rains. Young are born ion Oct to feb. Gestation is 8 to 8.5 months.
Nilgai or Blue Bull. Boselaphus tragocamelus. Ht Male.52-56 in. Horns 8 in. Keeled triangular at base & circular at tips. Breeding all season. Gestation about 8 months.
Cervidae- Deer ruminants with solid horns. Large fissure or opening in skull below each eye –lachrymal fissure. Unlike Ox, tushes or canines are present in upper jaws. Unlike Bovidae gall bladder absent except in musk deer. Scent glands below eyes & between the hooves.
Swamp Deer. Cervus duvaucelli branderi. Ht 54. inch Wt. 170-180 Kgs. Horns 30 inch round curve. Less nocturnal.Breeding Rut Nov-Dec.
Sambhar- Cervus Unicolor. Ht 5 ft +. Wt 220-320 Kgs. Horns 26 inch in length and 38 inch in girth. Horns are shed in end March to May. Velvet during rains and clear by November. Rut Nov-Dec. Young are born in May & June.
Chital or Spotted Deer. Axis axis. Ht 36 in. Wt 85-90 kgs. Horns are shed in August & September. Velvet till end of Dec. Breeding. Rut in May. Breed in the interval of six months.
Muntjac or Barking Deer. Muntiacus muntjak. Ht.20-30 in. Wt.48 Kgs. Antlers short brow tine unbranched. Set on bony hair covered pedicels. Upper canines well developed used in defence. Have a frontal gland in forehead. Diurnal Main rut in winters. Has affinity for water & need to drink often.
Family Suidae.
Wild Boar. Sus scrofa. Ht. 36 inch. Wt 230kgs. Lower tusks 12. inch. Acute sense of smell.Young are born in two seasons. Before rains and after rains. Gestation four months. Prolific breeders.
Ape. Primates.
Many structural characters as man. Thumb is opposed to other fingers. Hand can pick and hold objects. Here limbs are for locomotion. Bones of hands are free and articulated to wrist such that palm can be moved up and down with ease.
Feet. Toes are long and flexible and thumb is large and opposed to fingers with such foot objects can be seized and held. Feet have become powerful grasping organs for climbing-human foot has lost this power.
Teeth – molar teeth have broad crowns with cusps and ridges for grinding tough vegetable matter.
Cheek pouch help cram food. Macaques have these but not Langurs. Langur’s stomach does his work. It is three chambered stomach. Macaques and baboons have a stomach of carnivorous animals as they are omnivorous.
Well developed vision and hearing.
Indian Monkeys. Family Cercopithecidae. Sub- family-Cercopithecinae—macaques Colobinae-Langurs.
Rhesus Macaque. Macaca mulatto. Wt 7-10kgs. Mating October to Dec. Birth March and June. Second Sept. to October. No birth in Nov. March.
Langurs. Hanuman Monkey. Presbytis entellus. Wt. 34 -36 kgs. Breeding AprilMay. Birth feb onwards. Gestation – 6 months.