Everyone amongst us has spent afternoons in our backyard garden, soaking in the sun and admiring the variety of flora and fauna in our childhood siestas. If you are someone who has always been interested in wildlife and love to incorporate them into your life in some way or other, you must get acquainted with the Pantagonian mara rodents and the Weaver ants. |
Pantagonian mara which goes by the scientific name of Mara Dolichotis patagonum would appear to be almost like an ordinary rodent, albeit larger, if you happen to chance by it. This breed whose features have often been likened to that of a jack rabbit has short four forelimbs with four digits and muscular hind limbs with three digits. It’s tail is entirely hairless while the dorsal pelage is grey with white patches. The underside is pale white and the rodent has an ochre chin and flank. It’s length is almost 30 centimeters while it’s weight can exceed up to 16 kilograms. Like the penguins, this rodent also seems to be monogamous, only changing partners in the off chance that one of the pair dies. The male members take the stance of an alpha male, protecting and taking responsibility for the pair.
The Pantagonian mara replicates the feeding habits of its doppelganger, the rabbits, being herbivorous and seeking out their food in the open regions of Argentina. They seem to consciously seek out sheltered habitats like shrubs but they can also be found in the over grazed and barren soil of Monte Desert Biome. In contrast to the other more exotic breeds, this species is quite an easy one to pet as they produce at most three young ones on a quarterly basis per annum. They tend to reproduce in a burrow and move into a communal den where they adapt to adverse hot and cold weather, being able to tolerate even an external temperature up to -10ºC. You can feed them rabbit pellets as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Human proximity makes them friendly while those who aren’t accustomed to it, tend to turn nocturnal.
The Weaver ants belonging to the ant genus Oecophylla are predominantly found in Australia, Southern India and southeast Asia. These arboreal ants are popular for their exquisite nest patterns on trees which they weave using silk larvae and leaves. They feed on a carbohydrate diet of the honeydew of small insects and their colony which ranges up to millions are mainly symbiotic. The length of these ants ranges between 8 and 10 millimeters.
The Weaver ants function on the foundation of a colony foundation created by the mating queen ants and the communication amongst themselves. The queens are responsible for laying the eggs and nourishing their offspring along with the minor ants. The worker ants, on the other hand, work in tandem to forage, defend the community and build a nest. The scale ants always remain in proximity to the nests and milk them honeydew. Their nest building is a cooperative process involving great force and strength as testified by the fact that the size of these waterproof nests ranges from a clenched fist to that of a human head. These ants have championed all boundaries of ecological achievement by creating their safe abode by holding the leaves in place and gluing them together within the course of a day.
Their communication is carried out through chemical exchange through tactile signals like body shaking. Pheromone trails are used to recruit more ants and patrol the task at hand. The color of these ants which can be anything from green, red or yellowish brown, are employed by the Asian farmers to protect their produce from the agricultural pests. Unlike other ants, these don’t sting but can spray an formic acid venom to defend themselves. Since they are rich in protein and fatty acids, the ants are more than suitable for human consumption as well as boosting plant growth. It is no wonder why in some countries like Thailand, the price of these ants are far above than those of beef.
Both the Patagonian mara and the Weaver ants are highly complex species of fauna whose diverse charm cannot be captured in the scope of an article. If you are truly a lover of wildlife, don’t just glance through the superficial characteristics of these species and delve deep into their respective habitats for a more comprehensive knowledge.
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