Many scientist are working in the field of animal behavior. To name a few Jane goodall, Dian Fossey, William Franklin, Francine Patterson and Merlin Tuttle. However few were beginning to realize that it is the instinct to survive that underlines all animal behavior. For this extensive field study was required to confirm this new direction.
Food is at the top of an animal’s survival list. The Koala in eastern Australia seldom climbs down to the ground. It takes a hundred big eucalyptus trees to keep a Koala in food during its lifetime.
Everywhere in the world , animals use their special abilities and methods to get the food they need. In the process of evolution each has developed special skill and technique to survive. Some animals- wolves, hunting dogs, and hyena, for example work together to chase and catch prey. Other , like tigers, are solitary hunters. Many kinds of spiders make traps to capture their dinners. A fish called an angler baits its prey. Whether animals harvest or hunt, trap or lure, they developed an amazing variety of ways to obtain the food.
A flying squirrel in summer eats mainly insects, berries, and mushrooms. As cold weather approaches , it begins collecting acorns and other nuts. By eating mostly stored food, the squirrel survives the winter.
Some animals have methods of acquiring food that require little effort and save a lot of energy. Nevertheless getting food is not so simple for every animal. When food is scarce, some plant eaters rely on food they have stored. Also, some animals during the winter nibble seeds and vegetables tucked away inside their burrows.
Other animals migrate, or travel, to areas where they find food. All winter reindeer live in mountains near Arctic Ocean. Wildebeests, large African antelopes, feed on grasses. The animals graze about ten hours a day. As they rest, they bring up partly digested food called a cud and chew it again just like a cow or buffalo.
Nectar provides fast food for hummingbird. It also eats spiders from the blossoms. For food it may visit 2000 flowers a day. Really hard working bird is not it? Butterfly sucks nectar from blossoms and juices from rotting fruit. They also drink muddy water for salts, and liquids from animal waste for proteins. Honeybees suck nectar through their tube like tongues. Chemicals inside their bodies turn nectar into honey. This sweet liquid is quickly turned into energy. Nearly all kinds of mosquitoes need sweet plant juices to stay alive. To produce eggs, however, female mosquitoes must bite people or animals. They need the extra protein that comes from blood. Male mosquitoes , on the other hand, eat only fruit juices and nectar. So kindly, spare male gender in blaming if you have got malaria. Even some bats feed on nectar. Mostly they feed on small insects.
Animals that catch and eat other animal for food are called predators. Here the food for the predator is a living animal- usually tries to escape for its own survival. Therefore it takes a hard work and skill for a predator to catch its prey. For example, the kingfisher, a bird, often makes several dives before it catches a fish. Scientists estimate that about 90% of a tiger’s prey escapes. Wolves give up a chase nine times out of ten. So lot of hard work is involved for survival for some animals. We human beings always grumble and whine if someone does not answer our phone. Or if the shop is found to be closed. Tigers, wolves and some other large predators often do not eat for several days. But when they do make a kill they eat hungrily. A wolf can gobble 9 kg. of meat at one time. A lion or a tiger can eat 27 kg. similarly. Many meat-eaters are scavengers. They save a lot of energy by feeding on dead animals. Hyenas, African painted dogs and wolves hunt in groups. Animals that hunt in packs use speed, strength, and teamwork to catch their prey. Big cats rely on surprise and ambush. They use their powerful front legs and claws to pull an animal down. Then they deliver a killing bite. Most prey can outrun predators that is why an element of surprise is essential for the large cats. Some small and weak predator steal the food, some may just rob smaller predators of their kills. Tricks or traps help these animals get their dinner.
The giant anteater raids anthills and termite mounds for food. It uses long claws to tear them open. Then the animal pokes its tube like snout into holes it claws in the insects’ homes. Its long sticky tongue darts in and out of the narrow tunnels, catching hundreds of insects with each flick. It is a wonderful world of animals.