Madagascar – Critters – Mammals II!


The time has come. This really is the last of the animal posts from Madagascar. The next posts will be entirely focused on catching up with the photography that has occured since – ravens, South Carolinan birds, and even some more panoramas. This is not the end of the Madagascar stuff though. Don’t worry about that. I have more panoramas lined up to show you, but before I can really get those out, this domain is going to change. More on that in future posts however. Let’s get into the Mammals!

Chiroptera
Now to most, the greek Chiroptera will mean most nothing, but to the select few, the parts of cheir for hand and ptera for wing may make clear that Chiropters are bats. We had heard that there was an area of forest to the north in which Madagascar’s largest bats roosted. So we embarked on a several hour hike to get to the forest. It was not until we arrived that we realised just how the bats “roosted”. The entirity of the forest was full of their leathery wings and gold-furred bodies. These bats are amazing, as they hang by their feet and fan themselves in the heat of the sun with their wings.

Pteropus rufus, Madagascar Flying Fox

D300 + 18-200mm VR @ 200mm 1/100s f/5.6

Then the forest errupted as a Madagascar Buzzard flew overhead. Hundreds of bats took to the sky, presumably to confuse the buzzard.

D300 + 18-200mm VR @ 70mm 1/400s f/5

D300 + 18-200mm VR @ 42mm 1/250s f/8

D300 + 18-200mm VR @ 200mm 1/1250s f/5.6

D300 + 18-200mm VR @ 200mm 1/800s f/5.6

I must say, seeing the bats like this, and knowing that they were both feared and respected by the Malagasy people nearby (the forest is sacred, and in some parts of Madagascar bats are thought to be the spirits of ancestors), was extremely hard-hitting. They are still endangered here however, because bats, apparently, make good eating.

Back at camp, we had set up long lines of pit-fall traps with a bright orange barrier streching between them. These traps caught a huge variety of creatures, and on several occasions, small mammals.
Tenrecidae
Despite looking like mice and other rodents, Tenrecs are in fact in a group of their own, over in Afrosoricida. They range from tiny, long tailed creatures (amongst the smallest of mammals) to large, hedgehog-lookalikes. They have some of the craziest hair styles in the animal kingdom, and most species are endemic to Madagascar.

Microgale brevicauda, Short-tailed Shrew Tenrec

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Though they are usually calm, sometimes they earn their names as “shrew” tenrecs.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Rodentia
Also in the traps were found more common-place, less exciting animals, but I figured I’d show you them regardless. Especially this little guy:

Mus Musculus, House Mouse

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

Suncus murinus, Asian Musk Shrew

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Rattus norvegicus, Brown Rat

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t actually need the traps themselves to catch these guys – they were in our camp every night, and in the rat traps almost every morning. This guy however was found in a bucket so it was necessary to take a picture of him.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Now you may have noticed that a large number of the animals depicted here have something on their eyes – spots of some sort. I don’t know what these are or why the are there, but they were incredibly common and I’m guessing were not healthy. More research should be done in this field.

And that’s it! That’s all I’ve got for you. Stay tuned for the rest of the week though, because more posts are coming up soon, and while we’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for some big news about this blog, its location, and its future.

Oh and one last thing: Prints! I’m starting printing on Wednesday, getting into the schwing of things. If you have seen anything on this blog, or think I might have pictures of a sort you are looking for, please contact me using the details on the contact page! I can ship worldwide, and print on demand 🙂


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