Tag Archives: Behaviour

Gone Fishing

Fishing spiders (genus Dolomedes) do not spin webs to catch pray. Instead they hunt by anchoring themselves to shore with their hind legs and extending their front legs onto the water surface to detect movement much like other spiders use webs. When they detect the ripples from prey, they run across the surface to subdue it using their foremost legs, which are tipped with small claws.

They are able to travel on water because they are covered all over in short, velvety hairs which are unwettable (hydrophobic).

They are also more than capable of going underwater. The hairs on the abdomen trap air, allowing it to carry its own air supply when it submerges.

The nursery web spider (Dolomedes minor) do not restrict themselves to stay close to open water but are capable fisherman none the less.

New Zealand Nursery Web spider (Dolomeded minor)

(#54 of 100)

Eyes too big for my stomach? Not a problem.

When the sea star encounters food too large for its mouth it can pass part of its cardiac stomach through its mouth to envelop and digest the meal outside its own body.

It also uses this trick when eating shellfish. It pries the shell slightly open and inserts its stomach through the crack to digest the shellfish inside its shell.

Sea star at Wellington’s south coast.

(#39 of 100)

Some cats purr others can only roar.

Some cats species can purr and others roar but none do both.

It was thought that the characteristics of the hyoid bone determine which cats can roar as all the roaring cats:

  • lion (Panthera leo)
  • jaguar (Panthera onca)
  • tiger (Panthera tigris); and
  • leopard (Panthera pardus)

share the same hyoid bone structure.

However, turns out the snow-leopard (Panthera uncia) also shares the same hyoid bone structure, but does not roar but purr.

Back to the drawing board I guess.

Panthera leo the roaring cat with the biggest roar.

(#36 of 100)



Most four legged animals have a definitive gait change when they want to move faster; walk, trot, galop.

The elephant by contrast walks and walks faster. Even at its top speed at least one foot always touches the ground.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana).

(#33 of 100)


Deadliest of the Big Five, the smallest Herbivore.

The Cape Buffalo, (Syncerus caffer) now has the distinction of killing more hunters than any other member of the big five (the five animals most dangerous to hunt on African safari).

No doubt economics (hunting package price) and relative numbers contribute significantly to this position.

The other members of the big five family:

  • Elephant
  • Black Rhinoceros
  • Lion
  • Leopard
Cape Buffalo, (Syncerus caffer) in Addo Elephant Park.

(#29 of 100)

Motherly ‘Love’

The New Zealand nursery web spider ( Dolomedes minor) is a spider endemic to New Zealand.

The female of the species carries her eggs with her until they are ready to hatch, she then spins a “nursery” in which the young spiderlings can develop.

She guards the nursery by sitting on it at night and hiding close by during the day.

Have a closer look; you will notice the little spiderlings in the nursery (where her posterior middle leg touches the web).

New Zealand nursery web spider ( Dolomedes minor) on nursery web with spiderlings.

(#26 of 100)

Take some Poison – For your protection of course!

Locusts / grasshoppers of the order Phymateus eat poisonous plants like the milkweed and store the poisons in their bodies to deter their predators.

There are a number of species and subspecies with a variety of colours. This image is of the  common milkweed locust (Phymateus morbillosus).

Common Milkweed Locust (Phymateus morbillosus) at Witzenberg, Wolseley, South Africa.

(#20 of 100)


I sleep with one eye open.

Dolphins, much like human swimmers have to consciously think about breathing as breathing can only occur at or above the surface.

Unlike human swimmers, dolphins remain in the water indefinitely and have to sleep in it. To manage both surface breathing and resting they “sleep” one half of their brain and close one eye at a time.

It is common for dolphins to rest in pairs, keeping an eye on their partner (inner eyes open).

Dusky Dolphins, Kaikoura, New Zealand

(#18 of 100)