Millions of people make their way to Africa to come face to face with massive animals, creatures with jowls as big as our heads and towering giants sticking their long necks into the trees. But what about the rest of the kingdom that often gets overlooked? Namely the tiny ones scampering out of the way of larger predators to avoid being stepped on or eaten for a midday snack. Madagascar is home to a wealth of tiny residents that are just as wonderful and unique as their larger neighbors. So on your next trip into the wilderness and national parks of this beloved island, look harder and soon you’ll see things you never saw before. Here are the wild and wonderful creatures of the miniature world of Madagascar.
You’d think you’d stumble upon a creature that was left behind by his UFO and alien friends when spotting the giraffe weevil. They’re strictly endemic to the island so you won’t find them in the wilds of any other parts of the world. They’re identified by their shockingly long necks and bulbous red body. The neck plays to their advantage during a fight with another male to win over a female weevil. Females are only able to lay one egg at a time during each gestation so count your lucky stars if you sight one of these hard-to-find insects.
Malagasy Giant Chameleons
Although they have “giant” in their name, they are anything but. Also endemic to Madagascar, the chameleons are considered the largest species of their kind and visitors will occasionally see them shooting out their incredibly long tongue to catch their insect dinners. You’re more likely to find them in the coastal lowlands of the island and are safe to be near as long you don’t upset them. In fact, locals love them since they play a vital role of keeping unwanted pests at bay (by eating them).
Thanks to their brilliant colors, they aren’t that easy to miss. It’s debatable that Madagascar is among the best places in the world to see hundreds of butterfly species in one park. Approximately 300 species are known to Madgascar and 210 are endemic to the region, so you’ll find specimens you’ve never seen before.
They’re not the only frog species you’ll find, but they’re definitely the most fascinating to look at. Reed Frogs are noted for their unique coloring and spotty patterns. Many of the frogs are marbled or milky-white with bold colors of neon yellow and black markings. A frog is capable of living up to five years and they’re often found sleeping on the underside of giant leaves.
Satanic Leaf-Tailed Geckos
It’s easy to mistake them for a leaf so be careful to inspect the leaf before reaching for one. Don’t get startled by their sinister-sounding name, satanic Leaf-Tailed Geckos are docile when left alone. They’re recognized for their leaf-like tails and skin that blends them into the woods, making them incredibly hard to spot. They can live for 10 years undisturbed in the forest.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
Not everything has to be about fluffy bunnies or beautiful butterflies, there are creatures that will make our skin crawl at the sight of them. Madagascar hissing cockroaches are definitely one of them. Unfortunate to say, they earn their name by (that’s right, you’ve guessed it) their awful hissing that will make your toes curl up. They can reach up to 3 inches long and can produce up to 60 nymphs (babies) each birth.
Grandidier’s Tufted-tailed Rat
They’re quite cute, aren’t they? Strictly found roaming the woods only in Madagascar, Grandidiier’s Tufted-tailed rats are currently on the “least concerned” list when it comes to endangered species. However, as deforestation continues, that status may change. So make your way to the island and see the majestic, small kingdom that remains invisible to most humans.
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