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The Tiger

Tiger, Wildlife Centre, Devon, UK © Shirley Burchill

The tiger usually lives and hunts alone. The mass of an adult male tiger can reach 260kg, about three times the mass of a man. The female has a mass of around 160kg. Tigers can travel between 10km and 20km each night when they are hunting. The tiger does not hunt out in the open like the lion. It waits patiently in the long grass, perhaps near to the water’s edge, for its prey to come to drink. The tiger’s stripes keep it well hidden in the grass. When the prey comes within 20 metres, the tiger attacks. It kills its prey by biting through the back of the neck or, if the prey is large, biting and holding its throat. The tiger usually makes a successful kill once in every 15 attempts.

The tiger only kills once every six or seven days. Therefore, when it does eat, it eats a lot - up to 35kg of meat at each kill. Its prey is usually deer with a mass between 50kg and 200kg.

The Zebra

Zebra, Tanzania  © Shirley Burchill

The zebra herds graze on the grasslands and savannahs of eastern Africa. An adult zebra has a mass of up to 235kg and can run at a speed of 80km/h. When the herd is alarmed the zebra move quickly in all directions. Their stripes dazzle the predator and make it difficult to tell one zebra from another.

Shrews and Moles

drawing of a mole  © Shirley Burchill

Shrews are very active animals and they need to eat a lot each day. Their diet includes insects, earthworms and dead animals. Although they are carnivores, they will eat seeds and nuts if they are hungry.

They find their prey by touch. The shrew's nose is so sensitive to touch that it can detect worms which are only 1 to 2 mm in length. One North American shrew attacks large prey, such as frogs and newts. When it bites into its prey it injects a venom which quickly stops the prey struggling and escaping.

The mole burrows underground. It does not have any ears and its eyes can only detect differences between light and dark. It has a sensitive nose which it uses to find its prey by touch. It eats earthworms, beetles, fly larvae and slugs, which fall into its burrows.

The mole needs to eat between 40 g to 50 g of food each day. It also stores food, mostly earthworms, in its burrows. The mole bites off the head of the earthworm and saves the rest for later.

The Rhinoceros

There are two kinds of rhinoceros, the white rhino and the black rhino. The rhino has a mass of around 2,3 tonnes. It is not able to see very well but it has a good sense of hearing and a good sense of smell. The rhino is a herbivore, feeding on leaves. Because it is so large it needs to eat a lot of food each day.

Black rhino (called Susan), National Park, Nairobi, Kenya  © Shirley Burchill

The white rhino has broad lips for eating short grass. The black rhino has a pointed, movable upper lip for taking leaves from tall grasses and shrubs. Rhinos need to drink each day, although they can go for up to 5 days without water.

The Shark

Shark, Manley Aquarium, Australia  © Shirley Burchill

Most sharks are carnivores. They detect prey by using their sense of smell and by picking up vibrations in the water. A number of sharks will arrive and circle around the prey. Sharks have powerful jaws and many sharp, backwardly-pointed teeth. When the prey is attacked and blood flows into the sea water, the sharks get very excited. As they bite into the prey they twist and turn their bodies violently, trying to tear off pieces of meat. If one of the sharks is bitten and starts to bleed it will also be attacked by the other sharks.

The tiger shark eats many different fishes, sea turtles, birds, sealions, squid and crustaceans. These sharks will even eat the waste thrown overboard by passing ships.

Wolves

Wolves feeding, Thoiry Park, France  © Shirley Burchill

Wolves have a mass of up to 70Kg (about the same size as a fully grown man). They live to between 8 and 16 years of age in the wild. A wolf pack normally contains around 7 wolves when hunting deer. The pack can reach up to 20 wolves if the prey is larger. The hunting area of a wolf pack is about 1,000km3¸ The wolf pack is not always successful when hunting deer. For every 120 attacks the wolves make only 6 killings.

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© Paul Billiet and Shirley Burchill 2014