From a tiny tick-eating African bird, to a weird forest giraffe and to an endangered big-eared bat, the animal kingdom presents us with 10 extreme animals whose names begin with the letter O.
The oxpeckers, also known as tickbirds, are two species of bird of the genus Buphagus. Widespread to sub-Saharan Africa, the two species namely: Red-billed Oxpecker and Yellow-billed Oxpecker are characterized by their broad bills, short legs and sharp claws. Also, both species sport brown plumage and average about 23 cm long. Found mostly in open habitats, oxpeckers hunt in the group on the back of the host animal feeding on ticks, dandruff, fleas, flies and ear wax. Using their bills, they open new wounds consuming the fresh tissues and drinking the blood.
Olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii) are six species of solitary mammals endemic to the rainforests of Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Panama, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. This arboreal and nocturnal animal can grow to about 35 to 48 cm long and weigh 10 to 15 kg. The tail can measure up to 48 cm. It sports a light brown coat with short fur, round head, rounded ears, pointed muzzle, sharp curved claws, and sharp teeth. The Olingo’s main food source includes: insects, lizards, and fruits.
Opossums (Didelphimorphia), often called possums, are 60-plus species of small to medium-sized marsupials widespread in the Western Hemisphere. These excellent tree climbers average 76 cm long from nose to tail, and weigh between 4 to 6 kg. Opossums are omnivores, feeding on mice, snakes, birds, insects and at times eat fruits, nuts and grass. A very slow runner, an opossum when cornered by its predator usually “play possum”, mimicking a dead animal by lying motionless on the ground, eyes closed and its ear extended until such time a change to make an escape comes.
Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a giraffe-like mammal endemic found in rainforests of Upper Zaire and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Adults stand to about 150-170 cm at shoulder length, 210 cm in body length, weigh around 210-250 kg and with an average of 30-42 cm tall. It has deep reddish-brown coat and a distinctive zebra-like stripes on its upper legs and hindquarters. Built more like a zebra, the okapi has a horse-like head, thick neck with black muzzle, large ears and a prehensile tongue. This long, sticky black/blue tongue measuring about 30 cm is used to strip leaves, to clean its ears and to wash its eyelids. Lifespan in captivity is about 30 years.
Otters are twelve species in seven genera of semi-aquatic mammals comprising the family Mustelidae. They inhabit temperate regions of Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of North Africa. These playful mammals sport long, slender bodies, short limbs, muscular tails, sharp claws, and webbed paws. Otters average 0.7 to 1.8 m long and weigh 5 50 45 kg. Its diet includes fish and shellfish, amphibians, birds, small animals and other invertebrates.
The Onagers (Equus hemionus), also known as: Asian Wild Ass are five species of wild horses endemic to India, Iran, Israel, Syria, Pakistan and Tibet. Smaller than horses, but larger than donkeys, onagers sport muscular bodies, buff/brown coat, with a white underside, dorsal stripes and dark mane. Though short-legged, they are extremely fast and agile. Adults can reach up to 2.1 meters in length, and weigh 200 – 250 kg. It feeds primarily on grasses and tender plants.
Oropendolas (genus Psarocolius) are large blackbirds comprising the family (Icteridae) widespread in South and Central America. Generally, these passerine birds have chestnut, dark brown, chestnut or black plumage, long yellow tails, black legs, and pointed beaks. These colonial breeders typically inhabit forests, and open woodlands. Adult males, which are 50% larger than females average 30–50 cm long. Oropendolas feeds on fruits and large insects.
The Oryx is a large antelope native to near-desert regions of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It measures about 1.5 m at shoulder length, 1.5 – 2.3 meters long and can weigh up to 200 kg. It has a muscular body, curved horns, and a thick neck with short mane. The coat is fawn in color with distinguished black marking running down its legs. It feeds primarily on coarse grasses, roots and tubers.
Ozark big-eared bat
The Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) is a medium-sized bat found only in several caves in Missouri, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. An endangered species, this bat is about 10 cm long and weighs from5-13 g. It has large, erect ears about 2.5 cm, lump-adorned snout, and large wingspan reaching 30 to 34 centimeters. The Ozark big-eared bat diet includes moths, and other small bugs.
The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), is a small, inconspicuous migratory bird of North America. Adult measures around 14 cm long and weigh about 18 g. It sports olive-brown plumage with white belly mark with black streak. Eyes are surrounded with white rings, and a crown of orange feathers on its head. The ovenbird forage on the forest floor in search for foods which includes insects, spiders and small invertebrates.