From the fascinating mallard ducks to the gentle Dugongs, these animals whose names start with the letter D simply capture the imaginations of many.
The animal kingdom comprises more than two million species; some beautiful and colorful while others are odd-looking and bizarre. If you are asked to name 10 popular animals that begins with the letter D, how would you do it? Below is my own list of popular animals that starts with the letter D.
The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), is a migratory duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical areas of New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Africa, and across the Northern Hemisphere. This dabbling duck prefers calm, shallow freshwaters, but is sometimes found in wetlands and salt waters. On average, mallard duck grows to about 56–65 cm long, weighs 0.9–1.2 kg and a wingspan of about 81–98 cm.
A distinguishable feature of Mallard Duck is the male’s green head and yellow bill, but sport shimmering purple-blue wing feathers that can be seen as a patch on their sides. A noisy species, the male has a nasal call, the female has a “quack” stereotypically associated with ducks. During mating season, mated pairs migrate to and breed in the northern parts of their range and build nests on the ground.
African wild dog
The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) is a carnivorous mammal native only to Africa, found in open plains, wooded areas and in scrub savanna. Other name includes: the Spotted Dog, Painted Hunting Dog, the Cape Hunting Dog, or the Painted Wolf. African wild dogs are lean, long-legged animals which can grow up to 75 to 110 cm at the shoulder and can weigh about 18 to 36 kg. Unlike dogs, African wild dogs have only four toes per foot, big rounded ears, and each animal has its own unique fur color. Its irregular coat can feature patches of red, brown, yellow, white and black fur.
These canines are social animals living in a pack led by a monogamous breeding pair. Social interactions are common like sharing food and aiding weak or sick members; touch, actions, and vocalizations are some of the known methods of communication used by group members.
Hunting in packs, The African Wild Dogs chase its prey in a wide, open space. After a successful hunt, the pack goes back to the den carrying food in their mouth to feed those who are left behind such as females and pups. The African Wild Dog’s diet includes: hoofed animals such as Impala, large birds like Ostriches, and other big animals, such as zebras and wildebeests. With diminishing open spaces, African wild dogs are now considered endangered animals. They are also quite susceptible to diseases spread by domestic animals.
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus),is a medium-sized, long-legged, fast-moving deer found in almost all states of America, Mexico, Canada, and Central and South America. It lives in marshes, grasslands, farmland, rainforests, conifer forests, and deciduous forests. White-tailed Deer can grow to about 1.8 to 2.4m tall at the shoulder. On average, males (bucks) weigh about 160 kilos females (does) weigh up to 80 kilos.
During summer, an adult White-tailed Deer has reddish-brown coat which turns to grayish-brown in winter. A buck can easily be recognized sporting a set of antlers having several times. During the mating season (rut), bucks fight over territory by using their antlers. Female deer give birth to one to three fawns (young deer), usually in May or June. These young deer, sport a reddish-brown coat with white spots.
The White-tailed Deer is an herbivore and has four-chambered stomach. This nocturnal, ruminant mammal feeds on a diet that includes; fruits, leaves, twigs, nuts, corn, cactus, grass and even poisonous mushrooms.
In the wild, predators such as mountain lions, bobcats and coyotes preyed on young white-tailed deer. When it senses danger, it wag its tail, and it uses its speed to outrun predators. In so doing, it can sprint up 48 kilometers per hour, leaps up to 3 meters and can run as far as 9 meters in a single bound.
The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial found in the island state of Tasmania, Australia. Tasmanian devil has stocky, squat and muscular body, with a large head, long whiskers and black fur. Notable traits include; releasing pungent odor when harassed, creating extremely loud screech, and fierceness when feeding. It can grow up to 76 centimeters long and can weigh up to 12 kilograms. Although a strictly carnivorous, a Tasmanian devil also hunts for small preys such as wombats, snakes, small native mammals, sheep, birds, frogs, reptiles, fish, and insects.
Tasmanian devils are known to display “devilish” acts which include lunging, teeth-baring, lunging, and loud and wild growls when threatened by a predator, fighting for a mate, or defending a meal. A nocturnal animal, Tasmanian devils spent the day alone in burrows and hollow logs and appears at night to hunt.
The Dingo (Canis lupus dingo)is commonly referred to as Australia’s wild dog, though it is also found in Thailand. It is a domestic dog which has reverted to a wild state for thousands of years and today lives largely independent from humans in the majority of its distribution. The dingo shares similar characteristics with other South-East Asian domestic dogs and Indian pariah dogs.
The average dingo grows to about 52–60 cm tall at the shoulders and weighs to about 10 to 15 kg. measures 117 to 124 cm from nose to tag. The average weight is 13 to 20 kg. It has a fairly large head, erect ears and a pointed muzzle. Most dingoes are bi-colored, though there are some red individuals and the rare white dingoes. All other color patterns are a result of interbreeding with domestic dogs. with other domestic dogs.
Dingoes may hunt alone or in packs consisting of up to 10 individuals. Dingoes are opportunistic hunters, preying on small animals such as: rodents, rabbits, lizards and birds. Though dingoes breed only once a year, females can give birth to a maximum of five letters. Baby dingoes will depend on her mother for food and protection up until they reach eight months. Also, hybrid ones have been produced since dingoes interbreed with domestic dogs. Having a large population, farmers considered them as pests. Proof of this is the famous “dingo fence” that has been erected to protect grazing lands and herds of sheep.
Prairie dogs (Cynomys) Is rabbit-sized rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They live in underground burrows on prairies and open grasslands. These ground squirrels (not dog) have five different species, namely: Gunnison, Mexico, Utah, white-tailed sand black-tailed prairie dogs. There are five different species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs.
Prairie dogs are mainly herbivores, but at times eat some insects. Prairie dogs can give birth to 1-6 pups yearly, which are born blind and furless and require a month of close nurturing of their mother.
They are highly social animals living in colonies or “town” which are composed of other families living in a strict social hierarchy. Family groups (a male, a few females, and their young) live in burrows, and have assigned tasks such as sharing food, guarding burrows against other prairie dogs, and groom one another. burrows and cooperate to share food, chase off other prairie dogs, and groom one another. A dog kiss is a familiar greeting between family members.
These rodents are well adapted to predators. They can detect possible threats from a far distance using their dichromatic color vision, and then with a high-pitched call alert other prairie dogs the presence of imminent predators. Their burrows generally contain several routes of escape.
Prairie dogs are mainly herbivores but at times eat some insects. It feeds primarily on grasses and, in the fall, broadleaf forbs. Prairie dogs have 1-6 pups (babies) yearly, which are born blind and furless and need about 30 days of close nurturing from their mother.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Ursiops truncates) is the most popular species from the family Delphinidae. Much of its popularity is due to the wide exposure it gets from many aquarium shows, in movies and television programs. Who will ever forget Flipper! Bottlenose dolphins can be trained to perform complex tricks.
The dolphin species are found in all tropical oceans and warm and seas. The Common Bottlenose Dolphin has short and is grey in color and can be between 2 and 4 metres (6.6 and 13 ft) long, and weigh between 150 and 650 kilograms (330 and 1,400 lbs). It has a short and distinct snout, grey in color and can reach up to 3 to 4 m long and can weigh to about 500 kg.
In the wild, Bottle dolphins can reach a speed of over 30 kilometers an hour. They travel in groups called pods which vary in sizes, from a group of 15 to over 100 or at times reaching 1000 animals. The Common Bottlenose Dolphin also uses sound for communication–emitting snapping sounds and listen back to echo to know the exact location of objects nearby, including potential prey. By means of echolocation, they tract their potential prey which may include: shrimps, squids, eels, and wide variety of fishes. Bottleneck dolphins don‘t swallow foods instead they chew it!
The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the heaviest living species of lizard native to the islands of Komodo, Flores, and Gili Motang in Indonesia. It is a venomous lizard that will grow up to 3 meters and weighs up to 150 kg. Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have elongated flat heads, bowed legs, large, strong tails and scaly skin.
Having a poor sense of hearing, Komodo dragons rely on their tongue to feel the air, smell and taste things around them. Being the leading predators, Komodos will eat anything that comes their way. These foods may include: deer, pigs, small Komodos, water buffalo and carrions.
To catch prey, Komodo dragons lie in wait and when an innocent prey When hunting, a Komodo dragon lies in wait for passing prey. When a victim walks by, it immediately jumps on the innocent victim, using its strong legs, sharp claws and serrated teeth to disembowel its prey.
Animals that are lucky enough to escape a Komodo’s jaw escape will have to worry about another thing — the dragon’s venomous saliva. the jaws of a Komodo will only feel lucky briefly. Its saliva swarms with several strains enough to kill a victim within a day due to blood poisoning.
Leafy Sea Dragon
The leafy Sea Dragon, Phycodurus eques, is a marine fish endemic to the waters of southern and western Australia. They are related to pipefish and seahorses. Leafy sea dragon’s body sports a brown to yellow color pattern, long, pipe-like snouts, and olive-tinted thin tails. It will grow to about 35 centimeters.
The Leafy Sea Dragon propels itself using its pectoral fins located at the edge of its neck and dorsal located on its back near its tail. Its lobes of skin resemble that of seaweed allowing it to camouflage with its surroundings. Like seahorses, sea dragon males are responsible for childbearing. However, unlike seahorses that have a pouch, male sea dragons instead have a spongy brood patch where females deposit their bright-pink eggs during mating.
Sea dragons feed on small crustaceans, plankton, shrimp, small fish. and sea lice. It catches its prey using its ability to be camouflaged.
The Dugong (Dugong dugon) is a large marine mammal which are related to manatees, is one of four extant species of the order Sirenia. But do you know that both mammals are related to the elephant. Dugongs will grow to about 2.4 to 3 meters and can weigh up to 231 to 499 kg. These mammals can stay underwater for six minutes before surfacing and at times breathe by “standing” on their tail with their heads above water.
Dugongs are exclusively bottom feeders; their diet consist mainly of sea-grass. Their primary feeding mechanism is uprooting sea-grass by digging furrows in the sea floor with their snouts. Dugongs graze on underwater grasses day and night, uprooting them by digging furrows in the sea floor with their snouts.
Dugongs spend much of their time alone or in pairs, though they are sometimes seen gathered in large herds of a hundred animals. Female dugongs give birth to a single calf after about a 13-month gestation. A baby Dugong swims close to her mother for about 18 months.