ANIMAL A-Z…


Learn more about our amazing animal collection. Click on a letter below to find an animal or use our animal search:

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Scat, Spotted (Scatophagus argus)

Scat, Spotted
Scat, Spotted
Spotted scat are also known as spotted butterfish, common scat and argusfish. They have a quadrangular body which is greenish-brown to silver with redish brown spots. Their dorsal spines are mildly venomous and they grow to about 38cm in length.
Fun Facts... The scientific name 'scatophagus' translates to 'excrement eater' and is used because of an unusual habit - the fish float near toilets in Southeast Asia and eat anything that shows up!

Location... Found in the Indo-Pacific, from Kuwait, north to Japan and south to New Caledonia

Habitat... Marine, fresh and brackish water in muddy coastal areas such as estuaries and mangroves. 

Diet...
Feeds on worms, crustaceans and plant matter

Least Concern

Sea bass, European (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Sea bass, European

Reaching lengths of about 1 metre, the European sea bass is a large fish, covered by large, regular scales. Depending on its origin, its colour can range from dark grey, blue or green on its back with a white or pale yellow belly. Its flanks are silver-blue or can sometimes be pale gold or bronze. As juveniles, they are paler in appearance and have dark spots on the back and upper sides but these disappear by the time the fish is about a year old.


Fun Facts...

During the spawning season, the female sea bass can produce between a quarter and half a million eggs per kilogram of her own body weight!



Location...

Found along all European coasts from northern England to northern Africa and throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea.



Habitat...

Inhabits coastal waters and estuaries around outcrops of rocks.



Diet...
Juveniles feed on invertebrates but as they mature, start eating smaller fish.

Least Concern

Seabream, Black (Spondyliosoma cantharus)

Seabream, Black
Seabream, Black

The black sea bream is a large oval-shaped fish sometimes growing up to about 40cm. They are silver in colouration with some individuals displaying 6-9 vertical bars on their sides. They have a single long dorsal fin and a large forked tail. Juveniles usually have yellow stripes on their sides and a dark edge to their tail.


Fun Facts...

The black sea bream starts its life as a female, then becomes male when they reach a length of about 20cm. However the white sea bream does the opposite and starts life as a male and becomes a female later.



Location...

Found mainly in the Eastern Atlantic, around the coasts of Great Britain and Scandinavia to Northern Namibia, Gibraltar, the Mediterranean and Black Sea and also South to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. 



Habitat...

Found over seagrass beds and rocky, sandy bottoms to a depth of about 300metres.



Diet...
Feeds on seaweeds, small invertebrates and crustaceans.

Least Concern

Seabream, Gilthead (Sparus auratus)

Seabream, Gilthead

The gilthead seabream has an oval shaped body, which is silver-grey in colour and has a distinctive gold and black band between the eyes.


Fun Facts...

The gilthead seabream is one of the most highly regarded members of the seabream family in terms of flavour and taste. They are born as male and will become female at about 3 years of age. They are a protandric hermaphrodites. 



Location...

This fish can commonly be found in the Mediterranean Sea as well as along Eastern Atlantic coasts from Great Britain to Senegal.



Habitat...

The gilthead seabream is found in both marine and brackish water environments, such as coastal lagoons and estuarine areas. This fish is usually found in areas with rocky or sandy sediments, with young fish at depths of up to 30m and adults found at depths of up to 150m.



Diet...
Mainly carnivorous and feeds on shellfish, such as mussels and oysters

Least Concern

Shark, Bala (Balantiocheilos melanopterus)

Shark, Bala
The bala shark is not a true shark, but is given its name due to its torpedo-shaped body. Its large eyes help it to find its prey - crustaceans, insects and larvae. 
Fun Facts...

Location... Native to Malaysia and Borneo.

Habitat... They are found in rivers and lakes.

Diet...


Endangered

Shrimp, Cleaner (Lysmata amboinensis)

Shrimp, Cleaner
Shrimp, Cleaner

Other sea-creatures will often visit this little critter in "cleaning stations" to have parasites and dead skin removed from their bodies which the shrimp eats. 

Cleaner shrimp are easy to spot as they have red and white stripes down the body and four long white antennae. The antennae are used to perform a "dance" which advertises that the shrimp is ready to clean! A relationship where both species benefit is called mutualism.


Fun Facts...

The cleaner shrimp has to be very trusting of its client; it will often clean the teeth and mouth of carnivorous fish, without being eaten!



Location...

Red Sea and Indo-Pacific ocean.



Habitat...

Shallow waters of tropical reefs.



Diet...
Scavenge on parasites and dead tissue on the bodies of many species.

Not Evaluated

Shrimp, Fire (Lysmata debelius)

Shrimp, Fire
Shrimp, Fire
The fire shrimp is also know as the blood red fire shrimp or scarlet cleaner shrimp. It is deep red in colour with long, white antennae, which it uses to signal to fish that it is ready to clean them. It grows up to about 3cm in length and has white spots on its abdomen.
Fun Facts... This shrimp is a hermaphrodite, so any two individuals may mate. They hang onto rock overhangs, waving their antennae, waiting for large fish to appear, so they can clean thier bodies, gills and fins. 

Location...

Habitat... Found in the Indo-Pacific, including Bali and Sri Lanka

Diet...
Feeds on parasites, coral polyps and small invertebrates.

Not Evaluated

Shrimp, Peppermint (Lysmata wurdemanni)

Shrimp, Peppermint
Shrimp, Peppermint

This shrimp species is very attractive with a light pink to red coloured body. They have darker small red stripes along its body, giving it it's common name. Their eggs are however bright green. Peppermint shrimp are mostly nocturnal spending the night scavenging, and are a fairly reclusive and shy species.


Fun Facts...

The peppermint shrimp's claim to fame is that is eats the pest anemone aiptasia! Peppermint shrimp begin their lives as males, but may later become hermaphrodites!



Location...

Located in the Western Atlantic.



Habitat...

Living in tropical waters around rocks, rubble and coral.



Diet...
A carnivorous scavenger

Not Evaluated

Silver dollar (Myleus rubripinnis)

Silver dollar

The silver dollar is a large, silver-coloured fish, which is typically peaceful and found in large schools


Fun Facts... Silver dollar will lay their eggs amongst floating plants, these then float to the sea bed and will hatch after just three days! 

Location...

The silver dollar is found in South America, in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins, as well as northern and eastern Guiana Shield rivers.



Habitat...

The silver dollar is usually found in slower-moving areas of main rivers, where the vegetation is dense and hangs over the river bank. 



Diet...
Herbivorous - feeds on plants growing in the water or nearby.

Not Evaluated

Smoothhound, Starry (Mustelus asterias)

Smoothhound, Starry
Smoothhound, Starry

The starry smoothhound is a slender species with two large dorsal fins, the first is larger than the second. It is very similar to the common smoothhound, apart from it is the only species of smoothhound to have white spots. These white spots however can be very faded which is why they can be commonly mistaken for the common smoothhound. The back and flanks are grey to grey-brown in colour and the spots are always white. The underside is also white and they have no dark spots or bands.


Fun Facts...

These sharks do not lay eggs like a lot of fish and give birth to live young. There is usually about 7 to 15 pups in a litter.



Location...

Found in the northeast Atlantic, from the British Isles and North Sea to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean Sea.



Habitat...

Inhabits continental and insular shelves and is commonly found on or near sand or gravel bottoms, up to depths of 100 metres.



Diet...
Feed mainly on crustaceans but will eat some fish.

Least Concern

Snail, Assassin (Clea helena)

Snail, Assassin
This southeast Asian species is a carnivorous snail that eats worms and other snails!
Fun Facts...

Location...

Habitat...

Diet...


Not Evaluated

Snail, Giant African land (Achatina spp.)

Snail, Giant African land
Snail, Giant African land
Giant African land snails have a dark reddish-brown shell with some white markings, although colouration can depend on the individuals surroundings. When snails are fully grown they can have seven to nine whorls and are narrow and conical in shape. They are the largest species of snail in the world with their shell reaching up to 20cm long. They can also live up to 10 years old. They eat up to 500 different types of plants and are therefore classed as one of the worlds most invasive species. 
Fun Facts... Giant land snails are hermaphrodites, meaning that one snail is both male and female.

Clutches of eggs can reach up to numbers of 1000!

During periods of drought, the land snail will go into a 'summer sleep' called aestivation and will seal themselves in their shell to prevent drying out. 

Location... Is native mainly to East Africa, but has been introduced to other parts of Africa, the Indian Ocean islands, Asia, the Caribbean and Australia!

Habitat... The Giant African land snail can live in many areas, mostly humid, forest areas but can also be found in coast land, planted forest, shrub lands and even urban areas. 

Diet...
Vegetables and fruits, they also need a calcium source

Not Evaluated

Snail, Turbo (Astraea tecta)

Snail, Turbo

The turbo snail, also known as the astraea snail, can be identified by its conical shell with prounounced ridges circling it. It can grow to about 4 cm in height and is coloured either orange, purple or olive green. The colour is usually due to algae that grows on the shell. 


Fun Facts...

If this snail is dislodged or falls and lands on its back, they cannot right themselves. They need help from the current or passers by to help nudge them the right way up!



Location...

Found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.



Habitat...

Inhabits reefs and gravel bottoms where there is a lot of algae present.



Diet...
Grazes on algae and other plant matter.

Not Evaluated

Snake, Corn (Pantherophis guttatus)

Snake, Corn
Snake, Corn
The corn snake is also known as the 'red rat snake'. They are constrictors, therefore are not venomous. There are a variety of colours; brown, grey, reddish-brown and orange and have alternating rows of black and pale marks on their bellies, resembling a checkerboard pattern. Albino corn snakes can also be found. 
Fun Facts... They have over 100 teeth, which point backwards down the throat to minimise the chance of food escaping from them. 
 

Location... It is not very likely to find corn snakes in the wild but they do thrive in captivity. In the wild they are found in eastern and southern central United States and northern Mexico. They are abundant in Florida.

Habitat... Deciduous forests are preferential, and rocky regions where crevices and logs provide good nesting opportunities. They are often found in fields, grassy areas and suburban areas. 

Diet...
Carnivorous. Rodents and other small mammals.

Least Concern

Soldierfish, Big eye (Myripristis pralinia)

Soldierfish, Big eye
Soldierfish, Big eye

Reaching up to 20cm in length, the big eye soldierfish can be identified by its scarlet red colour, with white tips on its fins and its big eyes. It is also know as the the 'scarlet soldierfish' due to its colour, which can often change in different lights and if the fish feels threatened. They are rarely seen during the day as they are a very secretive fish, only coming out at night to feed.


Fun Facts...

Although rarely seen during the day, they can often be heard by divers by the different pops, grunts and clicks they make.



Location...

Distributed on the Indo-Pacific, from the east coast of Africa to French Polynesia, as far north as the Rykuyu Islands (off the southern coast of Japan) and as far south as New Caledonia (Off the eastern coast of Australia).



Habitat...

Nocturnal species found in caves, lagoons or under ledges of coral reefs.



Diet...
Zooplankton such as shrimp and crab larvae.

Least Concern

Squirrelfish, Big eye (Holocentrus adscensionis)

Squirrelfish, Big eye
Squirrelfish, Big eye

The slender body is an oval shape with large 'squirrel-like' eyes. These big, sensitive eyes are used to hunt for prey in minimal light. Squirrelfish are dull red or pinkish in colour, sometimes blotched. The maximum reported length of the squirrelfish is 61cms but they more commonly reach a length of 25cms.  

A nocturnal species, hiding in deep crevices or under coral ledges during the day. At night it usually moves over sand and grass beds.

 


Fun Facts...

This fish is capable of producing sound with its swimbladder for intra-specific communications. 



Location...

Western Atlantic: North Carolina, USA and Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the West Indies and Caribbean shores.

Eastern Atlantic: Gabon, Angola, St Paul's Rock , St. Helena and Ascension Island.



Habitat...

Occurs in shallow coral reefs as well as deeper offshore waters. 



Diet...
crabs and other small crustaceans

Least Concern

Squirrelfish, Striped (Sargocentron xantherythrum)

Squirrelfish, Striped
Squirrelfish, Striped

This vividly beautiful fish are so called for their nocturnal nature and bright red colouration, with horizontal white or silver stripes. They reach about 17cm in length and have very sharp gill spines and rough scales which often causes them to get snagged in fishing nets. They are a very social fish and are usually found in large schools. 


Fun Facts...

Most squirrelfish are able to make sounds by vibrating their swim bladders. These noises are used to communicate danger to other squirrelfish and also to warn off other fish that threaten it. 



Location...

Found in the Indo-Pacific with a large population found around Hawaii.



Habitat...

Usually inhabits caves and ledges in coral reefs during the day.



Diet...
Carnivorous: Crustaceans, worms and starfish.

Not Evaluated

Starfish, Common (Asterias rubens)

Starfish, Common
Starfish, Common

The common starfish or common sea star is the most frequent and familiar starfish in the north-east Atlantic. It has five arms and usually grows to between 10 to 30cm across, although larger specimens of up to 52cm across have been found! The common starfish is usually orange or brown and sometimes violet; those found in deep-water are often paler in colour.


Fun Facts...

If starfish are attacked by a predator, they can detach their arms and regenerate new ones!



Location...

Widespread around the coasts of the British Isles.



Habitat... The common starfish is well adapted for a wide variety of substrates, including coarse and shelly gravel and rock. 

Diet...
Mainly feed on molluscs, especially bivalves and snails. Also scavenge on dead sea-creatures.

Not Evaluated

Starfish, Red knobbed (Protoreaster linckii)

Starfish, Red knobbed
Starfish, Red knobbed

The red knobbed starfish is also known by a variety of other names, such as African sea star, red spine sea star and African red knob sea star. This is a very distinctive species of starfish, with a thick grey body with lots of red tubercules found on each arm. These tubercules are connected by red lines, givng the starfish a grid-like appearance. This starfish can grow to a maximum diameter of 30cm.


Fun Facts...

The red knobbed starfish is most active during the day.



Location...

Indo-Pacific.



Habitat...

The red knobbed sea star is found in a range of locations, from shallow rock pools to reefs up to 100m deep.



Diet...
Eats a wide variety of other animals, such as soft coral, sponges, clams, other starfish and a variety of invertebrates.

Not Evaluated

Starfish, Sandsifting (Astropecten polyacanthus)

Starfish, Sandsifting
These sand sifting star fish are also known as comb starfish and can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
Fun Facts...

Location...

Habitat...

Diet...


Not Evaluated

Starfish, Spiny (Marthasterias glacialis)

Starfish, Spiny
Starfish, Spiny

The spiny starfish is a large species reaching lengths of 70cm across, from arm to arm. It has 5 narrow arms with 3 longitudinal spines along each, giving it its common name. The spines are usually white in colour, with purple tips and the body and arms are brown, grey, yellow, reddish or green in colour with with purple tips to the arms. 


Fun Facts...

To eat the starfish expands its stomach which appears to come out of the starfish, along with the enzymes used for digestion. It then sucks up its already digested food!



Location...

Found in the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea.



Habitat...

Inhabits sheltered muddy or rocky bottoms to fully exposed rockfaces.



Diet...
Feeds on molluscs, shellfish and fish.

Not Evaluated

Stick insect, Macleays spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum)

Stick insect, Macleays spectre
Stick insect, Macleays spectre
The macleays spectre stick insect, also known as the giant prickly stick insect, can reach up to 15cm long. They can be a variety of colours such as browns, green, yellow, lichen and even silver. Females are larger than males and have a wider body covered in spikes used for defense. Females do not have wings, whereas males possess long, thin wings, which are their form of defense. Males also use their wings to travel in order to find a mate. 
Fun Facts... The females abdomen mimicks that of a scorpion, when threatened the stick insect will raise up their abdomen giving the impression of a scorpion ready to strike. 

Females can lay 300-1000 eggs in a lifetime. 

Location... These impressive insects are found in Australia and New Guinea. 

Habitat... These insects prefer tropical rainforests and grasslands. Adults prefer high temperatures ranging around 24 degrees. Nymphs prefer warm temperatures with a high humidity. 

Diet...
Eucalyptus, hazel, hawthorn, rose, raspberry, bramble and oak.

Not Evaluated

Stingray, Motoro (Potamotrygon motoro)

Stingray, Motoro
Stingray, Motoro

The body of this ray is an oval disc and has a greyish-brown upper surface, covered with distinct orange spots. Its underside is white and males have a pair of "claspers" on each pelvic fin which look like fingers extending backwards from the inside of the fin. The motoro's main defence is the single spine barb at the tip of its tail which can deliver a very painful sting.


Fun Facts...

Unlike most other fish, these rays are live-bearers. The young fish develop inside and are born live and fully-formed. Whilst inside their mothers they feed on a milky substance and the nourishment of their yolk sacs.



Location...

Found mainly in South America, in Uruguay, Paraguay, Orinoco and Amazon River Basins.



Habitat...

Inhabits freshwater rivers mainly in calm waters and the sandy margins of lagoons, brooks and streams.



Diet...
Fish and invertebrates such as worms and crustaceans.

Data Deficient

Sweetlips, Harlequin (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

Sweetlips, Harlequin

The harlequin sweetlips is also known as the spotted sweetlips or clown sweetlips. This fish changes colour throughout its lifetime, as a juvenile it is brown with large white spots and as it become adult the body colouration changes to white with numerous small black spots. The harlequin sweetlips is a large species and can grow to a total length of 60cm.


Fun Facts...

The juvenile harlequin sweetlips is thought to imitate a noxious flatworm in appearance to help avoid predation.



Location...

The harlequin sweetlips are found in the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific. It is found in the Indian Ocean around the Maldives and Cocos Islands and the western Pacific from Sumatra to Fiji and New Caledonia, north to the Japanese Ryukyu Islands and south to Rowley Shoals, off the western coast of Australia. 



Habitat...

Juvenile harlequin sweetlips are usually found in coral-rich lagoons, with adults found in deeper water, usually in sheltered areas such as under ledges or in caves. Usually found at depths of up to 30m.



Diet...
Feeds on crustaceans, molluscs and small fish

Not Evaluated

Sweetlips, Oriental (Plectorhinchus vittatus)

Sweetlips, Oriental
Sweetlips, Oriental

This fish undergoes a dramatic colour change from childhood to adulthood. Juveniles are reddish brown overall with white or cream coloured blotches, the adults are light overall with black lines down the body and yellow on the fins. Juveniles are solitary fish, while adults occur singly or in groups. They can reach lengths of up to 85cm.  

 

 


Fun Facts...

Also known as 'grunts' due to their ability to make a grunting sound. This sound is produced by their teeth rubbing together which is then amplified by their air bladders. 



Location...

Indo-West Pacific: East Africa to western Indian Ocean to Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. 



Habitat...

They inhabit coral reefs and inshore rocky reefs. They have a depth range between two and 25 metres. 



Diet...
Crustaceans, snails, slugs and worms

Not Evaluated
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