15 wild facts about animals

By Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala


Mongooses have been known to attack large snakes such as cobras and they often fight on till one of them dies. They are fast on their feet, have thick coats, and even if they do get bitten by a snake, they are not affected by snake poison.



The mouse-deer is tiny – even smaller than a small dog such as a pomeranian! Unlike other deer, the mouse-deer can run up a branch for a short distance to avoid danger!



Elephants are greedy giants. To maintain their huge size, they have to eat large amounts of food. They can eat up to 300 kg a day, which is like you and me eating about 660 loaves of bread in one day! Elephants also have a mighty thirst, and so drink over 200 litres of water a day, which is like us drinking 600 bottles of water a day!



Monkeys leap from branch to branch and tree to tree. In order to do this, they have to be able to judge distances very well, otherwise they will fall s-p-l-a-t onto the ground! This ability is called depth perception. Monkeys have very large eyes and excellent eyesight. Like us, they do not see things as flat surfaces. They can see a box as a box and not a square. That is, they see objects in three dimensions.


Blue Whale

The blue whale is the largest living mammal on planet Earth and is the largest animal to have ever lived. It can grow to a length of 27 metres and weighs 150 tonnes, which is the same as 50/30 African bush elephants! Its heart is the size of a small car! Even the largest dinosaur was lighter than the blue whale, and it would take three of the largest dinosaurs to weigh as much.



Leopards are good climbers and can also be seen resting on branches of trees in forests. They are such good climbers that they can carry their prey high up and hide it in trees to eat later.


Spinner dolphins  

Spinner dolphins have a habit of leaping upright out of the water and spinning in the air. This is why they are called spinner dolphins.

Toque monkey

The toque monkey has large pouches in each cheek, called cheek pouches, and it picks up food with its hands and stuffs it into its mouth till these cheek pouches are bulging – looking rather like youself when you have stuffed your mouth with too many sweets!


Asian palm civet

Asian palm civets are rarely seen because they are nocturnal, but they are very common. If you hear scuffling noises in the ceiling of your house at night, you can be sure that it is a palm civet making this noise, as they are nocturnal. Sometimes they urinate through the ceiling. The urine smells horrible and the smell lasts for a long time.

The Barking deer

The Barking deer are is a very timid, solitary animals. When startled or alarmed, this deer stamps its legs and yaps like dog, which is why it is called a barking deer!



There are fruit-eating bats and insect- eating bats. Insect-eating bats control pests such as mosquitoes. Recently, scientists in Sri Lanka found that nearly 15% of the food of Schneider’s leaf-nosed bat (the commonest bat in Sri Lanka) was made up of mosquitoes. In the US, it is reported that one bat can eat 600-1,000 mosquitoes and other insect pests in just one hour!

The fishing cat

The fishing cat feeds on fish, crabs, and other small animals that live in water (aquatic animals). It  sometimes dives head first into the water to catch them! This is why they are called a fishing cat. It also feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and frogs.


The black-naped hare

The black-naped hare is the only wild hare or rabbit found in Sri Lanka. Did you know that hares and rabbits have the disgusting habit of eating their own poo?



Shrews are small mouse-like animals with long snouts. Baby shrews follow their mother in a funny way. Each young shrew holds the base of the tail of the baby shrew in front so that the mother runs along with a row of babies trailing behind. This is called caravanning behaviour, as the row of shrews is like a string of caravans that used to follow each other across deserts.



The rusty-spotted cat

Found in Sri Lanka, the rusty-spotted cat is the smallest wild cat in the world. Your kitty cat at home is twice as big as a rusty-spotted cat!

Read more interesting facts like these in “Mammals of Sri Lanka for Children” by Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala. Please email for more information.


(Photos Krishan Kariyawasam)