7 amazing animals unique to Madagascar
Africa is a continent where wildlife knows no bounds. Herds of elephants roaming free, prides of lions stalking their prey, and cheetahs racing through the Savannah. Unlike the rest of Africa, you won’t run into zebras or giraffes in Madagascar. Here in the 8th continent, you’ll find lemurs, chameleons, and other iconic wildlife unlike anywhere else in the world. In fact, 70% of the animal species found in this country are not found anywhere else on Earth, making it a truly unique adventure. Here’s our list of some of the most unique animals you’re sure to encounter on a trip to Madagascar.
Despite its cat-like appearance, this animal is actually the largest of the Mongoose family. These sleek predators can weigh as much as 26 pounds and generally grow up to six feet long. With retractable claws and sharp teeth, the fossa easily dominates the forests of Madagascar. Its favorite prey is the lemur, but as the island’s largest mammal, it will take on any challenger.
Malagasy Leaf-nosed Snakes
Malagasy leaf-nosed snakes are easily identified by the flat, leaf-shaped heads, and can grow up to three feet long. While they are not deadly to humans, these oddly shaped reptiles enjoy taking down lizards and other small animals for their main meal.
Bonus fun fact: Scientists are still unsure as to the evolutionary purpose of this snake’s unique shape!
True to their name, these amphibians are either a bright shade of red or orange. Female tomato frogs are generally brighter in color and larger than their male counterparts. Despite their small size, the tomato frog is able to fend off predators by secreting a poisonous mucus through its pores.
These small nocturnal mammals are a distant relation to apes, chimpanzees and humans. They are defined, however, by their large, bright eyes, large ears and extended toes. The bushy tail of an aye-aye is usually larger than its body. The combination of its over sized tail and claws make this creature an excellent climber. In fact, aye-ayes spend most of their lives in trees and rarely come down.
Darwin’s Bark Spiders
Even if spiders aren’t your favorite animal, you can still appreciate the incredible bark spider. The web of these arachnids is the strongest material made in nature – it’s ten times stronger than kevlar! The webs of Darwin’s bark spiders can get up to 30 square feet and span rivers that are 82 feet across. Pretty impressive for a spider that averages only about a quarter an inch in size!
These creatures are truly masters of disguise. The light-reflecting bodies of the flat-tailed geckos have similar coloring to dead leaves and bark, making them nearly invisible to predators. When night falls, the geckos brave the Madagascar wilderness to feast on insects.
As an insectivore, the tenrec is a gentle animal. There are several variations all with their own features. However, the rarest is the web-footed tenrec. This specific species resembles a river otter and inhabits waterbeds and streams. The meal of choice for the tenrec consists of fish, insect eggs or frogs.
Madagascar truly is a wonder of nature. The region’s forests and shorelines are bursting with distinct life forms. A trip to this African island will not be soon forgotten.