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Other Carnivores

Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)

The hyena is a carnivorous dog-like species of animal, native to parts of both Africa and Asia. Hyenas are scavenger mammals meaning that the hyena tends to eat another animals kill, rather than the hyena actually catching its own food. Well known for its cackling laugh-like scream, believed to be used in order to alert other hyenas of a source of food, is able to be heard by other hyenas for up to three miles. Reputed to be cowardly and timid, the hyena can be bold and dangerous, attacking animals and humans. The hyena is a remarkably intelligent animals, being compared to primates and humans in the evolutionary status of the hyenas brain. There are four known species of hyena, the spotted hyena, the striped hyena, the brown hyena and the aardwolf. All four hyena species have a bear-like stance as the front legs of a hyena are longer than the back legs of a hyena. The striped hyena, the brown hyena and the aardwolf all have a striped mane on the top of the hyenas neck that stands up when the hyena is frightened. The main of a spotted hyena is considerably shorter and appears to stand on end the majority of the time.

Hyena Fun Facts

  • Ancient Egyptians domesticated the hyena and used it as a food source.
  • Female hyenas tend to have three times as much testosterone than male hyenas.
  • Female spotted hyenas are dominant over the males.
  • Hyenas can go for several days without water.
  • In one feeding frenzy, a spotted hyena can eat up to one third of its body weight.
  • They are large and strong, but cowardly and are nocturnal in their habits.
  • Hyenas live in groups called clans, which can range in size from 5-80 members.
  • Hyenas are well known for the sound resembling laughter that they make when excited, hence the expression "Laughing Hyena."

Coatimundis (Nasua Nasua)

The Coatimundi, also known as the White-nosed Coati, is diurnal, living both on the ground and in the trees. This member of the racoon family is omnivorous, feeding on fruits, invertebrates, and other small animals. They feed by using their long noses, poking them under rocks and into crevices, and using their long claws to dig holes or tear apart rotting logs. Coatis are opportunistic omnivorous feeders eating fruit, invertebrates, like beetles, grubs, ants, termites, spiders and scorpions, and small vertebrates, including lizards, snakes, and rodents. The coati often is seen in large groups of up to 30 individuals. When surprised, the entire group will leap into the trees while emitting clicking and explosive "woofs" type of sounds. During the night, coatis sleep in the tree tops in nest of leaves and branches. Coatimundis are found throughout Belize, from the mangrove forests of the coasts, the savannas of the lowlands, the dense tropical forest of the interior. They range all through Central America and are quite common in Belize. Locally in Belize, the coati is known as "quash".

Coatimundi Fun Facts

  • A coati communicates through sounds of chirping, snorting, or grunting, to display its intention or moods.
  • They spend most of day in search of food, grooming, and resting.
  • Coatis walk with their ringed tails held high. When climbing, their tail is used for balance.
  • Their ankles are double jointed and extremely flexible, enabling the animal to descend trees headfirst.
  • So accustomed to arboreal life, coatis mate in the trees, creating nests for their young among the branches.
  • The offspring stay in the nest with their mother for 5 - 6 weeks before she rejoins the band.
  • The females are often related to each other.
  • The male coatis join the group only during the mating season.
  • Coatis rest in elevated places and niches, like the rainforest canopy.
  • A male coati does very little for its young ones.
  • The young coatis are solely brought up by the mother.
  • A male coati leaves the band once it is two years old.

Raccoons (Procyon lotor)

Raccoons are grey, medium sized bear-like omnivorous mammals surviving on a diet consisting of insects, plants and small animals such as fish and the occasional bird. Raccoons tend to be nocturnal but it is not uncommon to spot a raccoon during the day. The raccoon originally inhabited densely wooded areas and large forests but today the raccoon has adapted to living in mountainous and wetter habitats. The most distinctive feature of the raccoon is the black mask found around the eyes of the raccoon. The raccoon has a thick layer of fur which keeps it warm during the cold winters and raccoons also have extremely sensitive and and dexterous front paws with raccoons having been observed turning door knobs and opening jars. Raccoons forage for their food and raccoons are often found close to water. Raccoons have been observed washing their food in water before consuming it. Although the reasons for this behaviour are not really known, it is thought that the sense of touch of the front paws of the raccoon is heightened when wet.

Raccoon Fun Facts

  • The collective name for a group is a nursery or gaze.
  • Males are called Boars, females are called Sows and babies are cubs or kits.
  • Raccoons have a large array of vocalizations. They purr, whistle, growl, hiss, scream and even whinny.
  • The Raccoon is noted for their intelligence and good memory.
  • A raccoon's hands are so nimble they can unlace a shoe, unlatch a cage and grab coins as thin as dimes from your shirt pocket.
  • Raccoons use their front hand-like feet to hold onto their food before using their teeth to chew it up and swallow it.
  • In the natural world, raccoons snare a lot of their meals in the water.
  • These ring-tailed animals are equally opportunistic when it comes to choosing a denning site.
  • Their are around ten different species of raccoon that range in size but differ little in appearance.
  • Raccoons tend to mate in the late winter to early spring from January to March.
  • The female raccoon will give birth to roughly 5 baby raccoons.

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