Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Peru : the Living

[CREEPY-CRAWLY WARNING! Don't look down!!]

So I thought I'd share some pictures of cute and fuzzy animals that I took on holiday in Peru.

See? Cute and fuzzy!
It's a Chicken Tarantula ... so called because they kill chickens. It lives in rodent holes in the Amazon forest. The rain forest has an appalling number of arthropods, many of which take it in turns to be VERY LOUD right round the clock. We saw lots of Army Ants - the trick is never to stand still without checking the ground at your feet - but the really scary one is the Bullet Ant, which is a fast lone ant less than an inch long. It has that name because being bitten by one hurts like being shot.  We were scared of those...

This is a Spectacled Cayman. They live in rivers and aren't dangerous.

Capybara - they are always attended by cow-birds.

This the Stinky Bird - the Hoatzin. It's about the size of a chicken and is just amazing. Its chicks are born with claws on their wing-joints, like dinosaurs. If threatened they jump into the river, swim away underwater and use their claws to climb back up low-hanging branches.

Away from the jungle and up in the Andes, this is one of the Condors we saw. They come up out of the Colca Canyon, where they nest, at about 8am, riding thermals and gradually getting higher until they can fly off to go scavenging on the high sierra. We were very very lucky with condor-watching and saw at least seven that morning. They were happy to come within a few yards of us.

There are several members of the camel family in Peru. These are Vicunas, the wild version. They live at high altitudes.

Alpaca are bigger with cute snub noses. They're domesticated animals used for meat and fleece and come in lots of different colours.

Llamas (which are tall with roman noses) are used for meat (tough), carrying stuff and luring tourists. I think it's a Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle she has on her head.

For fans of small fuzzy mammals - the wild Vizcacha, which looks like a rabbit but has a long fluffy tail. They climb all over the ruins at Machu Picchu :-)

And I had to include some tree pictures in this post. This is the Walking Palm, which shuffles ent-like across the landscape at about 10cm a year.

And for all you fans of dodgy-looking vegetables out there ... the Erotic Palm. I don't make this stuff up! Considered an aphrodisiac by the people of the Amazon, who clearly still hold with the doctrine of signatures.

Coming up - Peru: the Dead ... a mummies post :-)


Jo said...

Wonderful pictures! The rabbitty creature I can't remember quite how to spell is like something out of a fairy tale :)

Janine Ashbless said...

It's so sweet, isn't it? I'm impressed you made it past the tarantula, Jo!

Chris said...

I think the Eagle is actually a Harpy Eagle...

Janine Ashbless said...

Ooh, very possible Chris. Our guide said something about it being a "black-chested" eagle, but of course I don't know good his bird-knowledge was.