Australian Water Dragons (Intellagama lasueurii) lounge and bask around pond edges at the University of Queensland, where I saw this handsome fellow. The colorful markings under his chin advertise his masculinity to the local lizard ladies… and to rival males too.
Researchers painted a model Water Dragon (actually a plastic iguana with a few glued-on additions) with either brown markings or red markings. (1) The toy was then introduced among resident Water Dragons to record their response to the intruder. When the toy had brown markings, the real Dragons attacked faster and more often.
Those fancy red and yellow stripes attract mates, but also deter rivals.
- Baird, TA, TD Baird, and R Shine. 2013. Showing Red: Male Coloration Signals Sam-Sex Rivals in an Australian Water Dragon. Herpetologica 69(4) 436-444
I hate to break it to you, but there’s really no such thing as a bunny.
Among rabbit-like animals, we have “rabbits”, “hares”, and “pikas” (by the way, NONE of these animals are rodents – rabbits and rodents diverged fifty million years ago).
Rabbits are generally smaller than hares – slightly shorter ears too. The big difference, though, occurs at birth. Rabbit young are born after a much shorter pregnancy (30 days rather than 42 days) and the babies are less developed. Just-born rabbits (“kittens”) haven’t grown any hair yet, whereas the hare babies (“leverets”) are furry.
Rabbits also enjoy a cozier household than hares. Rabbits live in underground burrows, called warrens (check out this concrete cast of a rabbit warren). Only the Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) stays above ground like hares.
If you’re wondering how those poor Cottontails deal with cold winter weather, see this neat Urban Wildlife study by the Lincoln Park Zoo. And while we’re on the subject of urban rabbits, read how city-rabbits are trading their sprawling suburban homes for compact city flat.