A PARADOX OF PLAYTPUSES. Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Duck-billed platypus belong to a sub-group of mammals that lay eggs rather than giving birth to live young. When the first platypus was shipped to Britain from Australia, people thought it was a joke and that someone had sewn a duck's bill to a mammal's body. They are the only venomous mammal, with small poisonous barbs by their feet.
A BLESSING OF NARWHALS. Monodon monoceros. The 'unicorn of the sea' can dive a mile and a half deep in the ocean. Males sometimes cross tusks, but the purpose is not yet clear. It could be a form of duel, a way to clean their tusks, or perhaps just friendly.
A ROMP OF OTTERS. Lutra lutra. Otters are inquisitive, playful semi-aquatic mammals. However, the pups initially fear water and sometimes have to be pushed in by their mother.
SEA TURTLES. Cheloniidae. Sea turtles can live up to 80 years and spend most of their lives submerged. They mate at sea and the females come ashore to lay their eggs. A hatchling’s gender is dependent on the temperature of the sand. Climate change is affecting sea turtle populations as warmer temperatures cause an increase in the proportion of hatching female turtles and a decrease in the number of males.
30 animals in 30 days
WANDERING ALBATROSS. Albatrosses spend most of their life on the wing, and they also mate for life. At the start of the mating season, the couple will dance a complex dance in order to reaffirm their bond after months apart at sea.
OWL. Strix Aluco. Tawny owls emit the characteristic courtship ‘twit-twooo’ which is actually a duet between male and female. Labour is divided between breeding pairs since the female incubates the clutch of eggs, and the male is responsible for feeding the chicks once they hatch.
ORANGUTAN. Pongo. The word orangutan comes from the Malay language and means 'person of the forest'. They share 96.4% of our DNA and male orangutans grow a beard and moustache when they become adults. They also tend to make umbrellas for themselves out of big leaves when it rains.
MOLE. Talpa europaea. Moles are industrious diggers and can create 20m of tunnel per day. Large chambers within the tunnel system are lined with dry grass and used for nesting during periods of rest. Moles have highly sensitive noses and are almost entirely blind.
GRIZZLY BEAR. Ursos arctos horribilis. Grizzly bears spend nearly half their lives underground in a state of hibernation. Females even give birth during the winter, usually to twins. Mothers will lose a staggering 40% of their body weight in the process.
BADGER. Meles Meles. Like humans, they are omnivorous, although unlike us, they eat several hundred earthworms every night.
ZEBRA. Equus quagga. Each zebra's stripes are as unique as fingerprints—no two are exactly alike. Scientists still aren't sure why they have stripes.The patterns may make it difficult for predators to identify a single animal from a running herd and distort distance at dawn and dusk. Because of their uniqueness, stripes may also help zebras recognize one another.
The Bengal Tiger is critically endangered but in previous years their population has been increasing in Nepal. Despite growing up to 9ft long they are extremely agile tree climbers.
DARTMOOR PONY. Hoof-prints found on Dartmoor during an archaeological excavation in the 1970s show that domesticated ponies were to be found there around 3,500 years ago.
WATER VOLE. Arvicola amphibius. Ratty, in Kenneth Grahame's 'The Wind in the Willows', was actually a water vole. The waterside burrows of these strong swimmers have many floor levels that hinder flooding, as well as nesting chambers and a food store for the long winter months.
WOODPECKER. Dendrocopos Major. Great spotted woodpeckers are the most widespread and numerous woodpecker in the UK. They have a large range covering almost the entire Palearctic from Britain in the west to Japan in the east and reaching North Africa and the Canary Islands in the south-west.
EIDER DUCK. Somateria mollissima. In Greenland, eiders often nest near tethered huskies - a clever tactic which protects their eggs and young from predators. The female eider lines her nest with soft, downy feathers plucked from her own breast. In Iceland, these feathers are harvested after the chicks are grown and have no more need for the nest. The contents of 85 nests will fill one duvet.
Commissions and gifts
Commissions and gifts
For some Beatles fans!
Weird and Wonderful
The pangolin is the only mammal in the world that is entirely covered in scales. It has a peculiar gait, wobbling along on its hind legs. Its tongue is longer than its own body, and it uses it to slurp up insects. It doesn't have teeth so can't chew its food - instead, it is ground up by stones and keratinous spines inside their stomachs. Sadly, the Pangolin is endangered due to an illegal trade in its scales used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Seventh in the weird and wonderful series is the Yeti Crab (Kiwa hirsuta) - a hairy crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean.
Third in the series of weird and wonderful beasts to celebrate David Attenborough's 90th birthday is the lowland streaked tenrec. The streaked tenrec lives in Madagascar. If threatened by a predator (most commonly a fossa or Malagasy mongoose), he can be a vicious opponent. The tenrec erects the barbed quills on its back and on the crest around its head, pointing them completely forward, and drives them in to the attacker's nose or paws with body and head movements.
The axolotl is a type of cave-dwelling Mexican salamander. Although the axolotl is colloquially known as a "walking fish", it is not a fish, but an amphibian.