Check out the little 5 5
Take a safari in your own garden and …
EVERYONE’S heard of South Africa’s big five – the king of animals the lion, along with the elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard.
But there are another handful of creatures worth a look, and they’re smaller – much smaller. South Africa’s “little five” includes the ant lion, the elephant shrew, rhino beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise.
You also get the leopard toad, an endangered toad found in vleis in the Cape Peninsula.
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Male buffalo weavers are often brightly coloured, while their female mates are duller in colour. Some types of buffalo weaver all work together to build a giant shared nest.
Some people call ant lion larvae “doodlebugs” because of the odd squiggly trails they leave in the sand while looking for a good place to build their traps. Ant lions build sand traps to catch other insects to feed on. After an ant lion pupates (changes from one stage of its life cycle to another – like a butterfly) it turns into an insect that looks a lot like a dragonfly.
The average lifespan of a leopard tortoise is 100 years – a whole century. Leopard tortoises are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Leopard tortoise eggs take a year to hatch. You can tell if a leopard tortoise is a boy or a girl by looking at the belly. If it is flat, then it is a female; if it’s cupped, then it is a male.
Elephant shrews vary in size from about 10cm to almost 30cm, from just under 50g to over 500g. Elephant shrews are mostly diurnal, which means they are active during the day.
The rhino beetle’s big spikes are used by the males for fighting. Rhino beetles have become popular pets in Asia. Rhino beetles can lift 850 times their own weight, making them one of the strongest animals in relation to their own size in the world.
THE BIG FIVE: Lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard.