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Friday 29 January 2010 Ornamental snake

Ornamental snakeThe ornamental snake is an Australian snake. Poisonous, the snake belongs to the cobra family. These snakes have short tangs with paralyzing venom. With a stout body, wide flat head distinct from the neck, and a stout body, Ornamental snakes have their own presence. The scales on the body are of lighter shade with dark streaks, giving the snake an amazing appearance. As the belly is creamish or on the whiter tone, it reflects a stark contrast with the upper and lower abdominal part thus giving the snake a unique identity.

The snake is found in the Brigalow woodland belt. It is usually found inhabiting on clay and sandy soils. It also grows on natural leaves found near the rivers, forests and marshy areas. Sites which are rich in ground cover with fallen dead leaves, timber, twigs, loose bark are also inhabited by Ornamental Snakes. The site with abundance of frog dwelling in marsh or a pool of accumulated water, become very attractive to this species of snakes as frogs seem to be their staple diet and offer a good meal to them. To elaborate, the diet of Ornamental snakes consists exclusively of frogs. The very reason clarifies the abundance of Ornamental snakes at a site near Nebo, which is considered to be the hub of young frogs.

A thorough research indicates that these snakes make a repeated attempt to attack these frogs and do not consume them immediately. This was evident from the snakebites signs found on the toads and frogs, around the trap site. But as the frogs are very attractive to these snakes, even some large toads and frogs were found dead or killed every morning. One distinctive feature is that Denisonia maculate species is very aggressive and stoic. It never kills it prey instantly. The dead bodies of frogs found near the dwelling sites of these snakes reveal, extensive injuries with skull raptures and cell breakdown.

The Ornamental snake is similar in size in both its genders. Be it male or female both are of similar size and texture and possess huge fangs in front of their mouth. These snakes are found only around a small area of Queensland in Australia. Even in Queensland the snake is found mainly in the Brigalow region, along the basin of Fitzroy and Dawson Rivers.
Throughout an extensive research done on this species, its population reflected a steady uniformity without any significant changes. Yet as the development in the surrounding areas is taking pace the habitat of Denisonia Maculata is considered to be under a threat. Grazing, deforestation, crop production is leading to the clearing of marsh and under cover regions, which were the dwelling sites of the Ornamental snakes. Moreover a deliberate attempt to introduce foxes and cats can also pose a threat to these snakes as they become a natural prey to the cat family. One other looming threat is the indigestion of poisonous cane toad, which is abundant near the inhabited area, by the ornamental snakes leading to immediate death. Though the snake species is not yet decreasing in its population yet if it is not conserved sooner then it may lead to a sharp decline in its population.

Considering the gravity of the situation the Australian Reptiles Association has briefed various objectives and strategies to conserve the species. A deliberate attempt is being made to educate about the biology and ecology of the ornamental snake, their distribution, population status, possible dangers and developing awareness of the snake’s contribution in preserving environment and maintaining an eco balance. Special reserves have been developed to reduce the threats to the species still dwelling outside the reserves.

Picture of the ornamental snake by Stewart Macdonald (Smacdonald), licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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Wednesday 13 January 2010 Swamp Rabbits - The Largest Cottontail Rabbits

Swamp rabbit riding a logThe swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) is quite similar to its cousin cottontails and is the largest member of the Sylvilagus genus. Generally, the color of its coat is brown and its short tail is white from underneath. Both the male and the female members of this species weigh about 1.5 to 2.7 kg (3 to 6 pounds). In most of the lagomorphs, the females are larger than their male counterparts.

The swamp rabbits most commonly feed on plants, grasses, and reeds. They are found in marshy lands. These rabbits construct their nests above the ground in little dens using dead plant material and the fur they shed. If a predator has been seen, then swamp rabbits can run as fast as 45 km per hour generally in vague zig-zag outlines.

These rabbits are found all over the south of Central America and on the coastal regions of Gulf. Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama are the places where swamp rabbits are found in abundance. They are also found in some parts of Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and Kansas.

The swamp rabbits prefer marshy lands, swampy lowlands, tributaries of big rivers, cypress swamps, and flood plains. They make their habitat close to water. They make shallow depressions in tall grasses, leaves or other materials which can provide a cover to rest during the daytime. They are nocturnal foraging animals.

Among all the cottontail rabbits, the swamp rabbit is the largest one. The weight of a female Swamp rabbit is 57.94 - 93.91 oz (1646 - 1668 grams) and males weigh up to 65.64 - 90.08 oz (1861 - 2554 g). The total length is 17.8 - 21.73 inches (452 - 552 mm). The fur of their head and back is generally a mixture of rusty brown, dark brown, and black. Their throat, tail, and vent part are white. A cinnamon-colored ring is clearly visible around their eyes.

The breeding season of swamp rabbit starts from mid February but it may occur throughout the year. The gestation period is about 35 to 40 days. The female gives birth to 2 or 3 litters per year and there are 1 to 6 individuals in one litter. After two or three weeks, the young ones become independent. Both the male and the female reach their sexual maturity when they are about 6 to 7 months old.

The swamp rabbit lives for one and half years (on an average) but it may live up to 10 years in the wild in favorable conditions.

These rabbits are most active when the climate is cool. They like to roost at dawn, dusk, or in the night since they are nocturnal animals. During the day, they take rest and remain motionless in large hollow tree logs or long and dense grass. Like cottontail rabbits, swamp rabbits run very fast if they sense any danger and leap in the water and remain still inside water with only their nose being above the water level. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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