Children's Author Bonnie Lee | Children's Books | Educational Children's Books
(Green-rumped parrotlets, Forpus passerinus)
Parrotlets originate from South America in the area of Peru and Ecuador. Their natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, and/or moist lowland forests. One of the most common species kept as pets is the Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) also known as Lesson’s Parrotlet and Celestial Parrotlet.
The natural coloring for this species found in the wild is green. These miniature parrots in the wild travel in flocks, which, depending on the species can range from, as low as four to over 100 birds.
A Parrotlet is the second smallest kind of parrot in the world measuring (4½–5 inches in length) – the smallest being the pygmy parrot species of Australasia (averaging around 3 inches in length). Parrotlets rarely grow bigger than 5 inches or 13 cm. The body is stocky and the tail is short and broad.
Parrotlets are sexually dimorphic, meaning males can be distinguished from females. Males have markings of cobalt blue on their head, wings and tail and back, they also have blue streaking back from their eyes. Females generally lack these blue markings.
Parrotlets are intelligent, fearless & quite charismatic, they are known to be very territorial and may attack other species of birds; they often demand a lot of attention! The most popular pet species are the Pacific, Mexican, and green-rumped species.
Parrotlets spend most of their day playing with toys, hanging upside down or eating. Since the parrotlet is an intelligent and curious bird, it is important to provide it with plenty of toys and things to investigate in the cage, otherwise it may grow bored and listless. Parrotlets need to sleep at least for 10 hours with darkness and quiet.
Parrotlets’ beak is quite large and powerful in proportion to the body. Many people refer to them as “amazons in pint-sized bodies” because of their often fearless nature.
Parrotlets are bold, fearless & very territorial and while their vocabulary is limited, they make their presence known. Parrotlets can mimic, but the voice is very small and sometimes it is difficult to recognize words. Some learn to talk, while others never will. Generally speaking, males are more inclined to speak than females. They may to learn up to 10-15 words, and some of them also learn to whistle tunes and sounds they are exposed to. My Momo learned to say “Kiss Kiss”.
Parrotlets have quite the appetite; they eat more than cockatiels do even though they are smaller. As pets, Parrotlets can eat small or mini pellets, they as enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as cooked quinoa, sprouted bread, and their favorite millet.
Parrotlets form strong pair bonds with mates; their expected lifespan can range from 12 to 20 years.
(Megalonychidae (two-toed sloths) & Bradypodidae (three-toed sloths)
Sloths belong to one of two families, known as the Megalonychidae (“two-toed” sloths) and the Bradypodidae (three-toed sloths). All sloths have three toes; the “two-toed” sloths, however, have only two fingers. Two-toed sloths are generally faster moving than three-toed sloths. Both sloth types tend to occupy the same forests.
Sloths live in the tropical rain forest of Costa Rica. They hang upside down, clinging to the tree limbs with their toes or claws.
Sloths can sleep around ten hours per day, and the other time is spent eating mostly tender shoots and leaves of the Cecropia trees. These leaves provide very little energy and do not digest easily, therefore, the Sloth has a large, specialized slow acting stomach with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves, and the digestive process can take a month or longer.
The sloth has a very slow metabolic rate and maintains low body temperatures, around 86-93 degrees F.
Sloth furs exhibit specialized functions: the outer hairs grow in a direction opposite from that of other mammals. In most mammals hairs grow toward the extremities, but because sloths spend so much time upside down, their hairs grow away from the extremities in order to provide protection from the elements while the sloth hangs upside down.
Sloths have short, flat heads; big eyes; a short snout; long legs; and tiny ears, stubby tails, usually 6–7 cm long. Altogether, sloths’ bodies usually are anywhere between 50 and 60 cm long and weigh around 8.75 pounds. The average lifespan is somewhere around 20 years; although there have been 40 year old sloths.
Sloths climb down to the ground about once a week to urinate and defecate, and go to the same spot all the time, where the sloths seem to find each other for breeding purposes. Sloths go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable to predation while doing so.
Sometimes the sloths’ low level of movement actually keeps females from finding males for longer than one year.
They also mate while hanging. Females normally bear one baby every year. Mother sloths give birth to their babies upside down. Infant sloths normally cling to their mother’s fur. But they sometimes fall, it’s not the fall what kills them, it’s because the mothers don’t go down to get them back.
Sloths’ claws serve as their only natural defense. A cornered sloth may swipe at its attackers in an effort to scare them away or wound them. Despite sloths’ apparent defenselessness, predators do not pose special problems: sloths blend in with the trees and, moving only slowly, do not attract attention. Only during their infrequent visits to ground level do they become vulnerable.
The main predators of sloths are the jaguar, the harpy eagle, and humans. The majority of recorded sloth deaths in Costa Rica are due to contact with electrical lines and poachers.
Sloths are very slow creatures on land, but are very competent and fast swimmers under the water. When do they go into the water? If and when they want to – that’s up to each individual sloth.
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Koalas are marsupials, related to kangaroos. Koalas and most other marsupials live in Australia and neighboring islands. The word koala may come from an Aboriginal word meaning no drink. Although koalas do drink when necessary, they obtain most of the moisture they need from leaves.
Most marsupials have pouches where the tiny newborns develop. A koala mother usually gives birth to one joey at a time.
A female koala is pregnant for only 35 days before giving birth; most of the joey’s growth and development takes place in the mother’s pouch.
Once a newborn koala latches onto a nipple in its mother’s pouch, the nipple swells in its mouth so the joey can’t be separated from its food source.
Koalas have thick woolly fur that protects them from both heat and cold. It also acts like a raincoat.
Koalas have thick, grayish fur, with white on their chests, inner arms, and ears. They have large furry ears and leathery noses. Mature males have brown scent glands in the center of their white chests. They rub these on their home trees to mark their territory.
Koalas live in trees, sometimes coming down to the ground to seek shade or another tree. They occasionally jump from one tree to the next. In an ideal habitat in the wild, male koalas live about 10 years, while females may live a few years longer.
Koalas are found in the wild only in the forests of eastern Australia.
Koalas live in bushland with other koalas. Each has its own home trees which are generally not visited by other koalas except in mating season.
Koalas have their own built-in cushion! The fur on a koala’s bottom is extra thick so that the koala can comfortably rest in trees.
Koalas spend as many as 18-20 hours a day napping and resting.
Though koalas look like teddy bears and are sometimes even referred to as koala bears, they are not bears.
Koalas smell like cough drops because of their diet of here are many kinds of eucalyptus trees. Koalas will eat from only a few of these; a koala can eat 2 1/2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day.
A koala’s territory is up to 100 trees.
Fruit bats can be found anywhere in the world, they mostly like to stay in the tropical areas because not only do the tropics have an abundance of fruit, but also they have the heat.
Bats do not like cold weather and while some bat species are willing to hibernate, the fruit bat is not one of them. You can find fruit bats in places like California, Hawaii, Mexico and the tropics.
Their food consists on fruit, blossoms, nectar, pollen and small seeds of native trees. The fruit juice and pulp is obtained by crushing the fruit. They spit out the skin and fiber after swallowing the juicy pulp.
Fruit bats diet contains mostly fruit and no insects or blood at all. They do tend to feed from flowers, taking a cue from the butterfly and eating the sweet nectar out of the flowers, but generally speaking a fruit bat will stick to just fruit.
Larger fruit bats will sometimes eat an entire fruit piece whole, for they have a larger mouth, bigger teeth and they are able to swallow a larger fruit whole. The smaller fruit bats will just hover and flap their wings in front of the fruit or flower, stealing bites from the fruit.
Fruit bats are the largest of bats and one of the most important to humans.
Many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy on our table would not exist without fruit bats. While eating fruit, they disperse the seeds all along the ground and pollinate the flowers of many plants. Depending on the species, these bats may consume up to twice their body weight in fruit in less than three hours.
Fruits that depend on bats for pollination or seed dispersal include: Banana, Peach, Dates, Carob, Avocado, Jack fruit, Plantain, Mango, Guava, Cashew, Fig & Durian
Fruit bats tend to live in large colonies, or “camps.” in dense forest areas. Within these camps, one male fruit bat usually lives with up to eight female bats.
They have five toes with long claws on each foot. The long claws allow them to hang from trees. They hang upside down most of the time but they straighten up to urinate or defecate by hanging by their thumbs.
Their long arms have special skin between their fingers. This skin creates wings that allow bats to fly. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Fruit bats have very good senses of smell and sight (contrary to the myth that all bats are blind).
Fruit bats are nocturnal, and hang from their feet during the day. They may hang with their wings wrapped around their bodies, or, if it is hot, may use their wings to fan themselves.
Although fruit bats are good at flying, landing is another story! Fruit bats can’t land gracefully, and instead must crash into bushes or trees to come to a stop, or try to latch onto a branch as they pass by. Sometimes these crash-landings disturb other fruit bats at the site, and cause noisy fights amongst them.
Their keen sense of smell is important in locating their food. They have sensitive noses and large eyes that enable them to pick up the scents of flowers and ripe fruit and locate them in darkness. Sometimes they travel long distances in search of their favorite trees.
Baby fruit bats drink milk from their mother’s nipples. The nipples are in mum’s armpits.
Baby bats are about 2 months old when they can fly on their own; their mothers spend a lot of time teaching their babies.
Sometimes fruit bats are called flying foxes because of their little fox-like faces.