We humans are a lucky race – everywhere you go, you’re bound to find more and more of us. Maybe that’s because we’ve used our higher brain functions to systemically obliterate so many other life forms. Either way, we’re one of the only species to spread right across our planet, and exist in so many different environments. Which other creature could exist in the Sahara Desert and the Amazon Rainforest ? We have adapted to live in the wettest and driest places, as well as high and low altitudes and a huge variety of climates.
Some species are a lot less widespread – in fact, there are some creatures that only exist in one tiny place in the world. Whether it’s because they’ve been hunted to the brink of extinction or whether they’ve just found somewhere that really suits them, you won’t find these animals migrating anywhere anytime soon. So, here are the Top 10 creatures that are native to only one place.
10. Ring Tailed Lemur
Now, if you’ve seen a certain kids franchise based on an African island, you’ll have a fair idea of where these ring-tailed lemurs live. If not, it’s Madagascar. What you may not realize is that they don’t live anywhere other than the island. In fact, all lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, but this is by far the most recognizable due to his long, stripy tail. They prefer gallery forests as their habitat, but many of these have been cleared for grazing land which has contributed to their near-threatened status.
Unlike some other rare animals, the lemurs breed well in captivity, and there are 2,000 of them in zoos around the world. In the natural order of things, however, they would only ever romp around the shores of Madagascar.
9. Hawaiian Hoary Bat
Here’s another creature that has suffered at the hands of humans, due to the loss of their habitat. On the island of O’ahu, for example, the bats were wiped out when men arrived in the 19th century and cut down their forests. The bat still exists on the other Hawaiian islands and its status is “endangered”, although the US Fish and Wildlife Service is working on a plan to reverse this.
The bat itself is tiny, weighing only 14-18g, although its wingspan is up to 13.5in. It gets its name from the white tinges on its brown and grey coat, which give it a “hoary” look. Its small size has caused problems for conservationists, who considered fitting GPS trackers onto the bats but couldn’t as they were just too small. Instead, they use a system called “echolocation”, which tracks the bats’ mating calls. No-one knows exactly how many hoary bats are left, but these efforts should stop the bat becoming extinct.
8. Vancouver Island Marmot
As the name suggests, this marmot is only found on Vancouver Island, a part of Canada that’s on the Pacific Coast. On maps, it doesn’t look quite like an island, due to the narrowness of the straits between it and mainland Canada, but it is entirely surrounded by water. It’s not where Vancouver is either…but Vancouver is nearby.
Vancouver Island is also home to this adorable marmot, a member of the squirrel family and extremely endangered, with only 75 left in the world. Only 25 of these are in the wild. Again, the blame for this has to go to deforestation and loss of habitat. There is a recovery plan in place by the Marmot Recovery Foundation, but there is a long way to go before the marmot is considered anything but endangered.
7. Guam Rail
Again, the clue to the location of this creature is in the name. It comes from Guam. Except it no longer exists in the wild in Guam, and can only be found in zoos, both in Guam and America. The rail has been in decline in Guam since 1968, but there were still 2000 by 1981. Two years later there were less than 100, and it was extinct in the wild by 1987. Nowadays, there are 159 in zoos, but efforts to reintroduce the rail to the wild have been unsuccessful. However, the most recent attempt (in 2011) is still ongoing, and there has been some evidence of the rail breeding.
The main predator of the rail is the brown tree-snake, which arrived in Guam after stowing away on military ships. The snakes have caused complete chaos on Guam, causing the destruction of the rail and the US Government plans to eradicate the snakes with poisoned mice, in order to give the rail a chance to re-populate the island.
6. Long-Tailed Slug
This unattractive creature is the new kid on the block when it comes to rarities. Only discovered in 2010, the long-tailed slug is a resident of the mountains of Sabah, Malaysia. Its name comes from the tail that is 3 times the length of its head, and which it wraps around its body while sleeping. Kind of like a big, slimy sleeping bag. They are also nicknamed “ninja slugs”, thanks to the darts they shoot at potential mates. These calcium carbonate darts pierce the mate and inject a hormone into her body, making her more likely to reproduce. Don’t try that on human girls – they might not like it.