Thursday, May 26, 2016


Steve Irwin was an inspiration. To say that he had a way with animals would be an understatement, and it wouldn’t come close to describing the innate connection he had with the natural world and animals that live in it. This week we are going to take a look at a very unusual and endangered turtle, which is named after Steve Irwin.

Meet Irwin’s Turtle (Elseya irwini)

Photo credit: George Graff – National Aquarium

This turtle was discovered by Steve Irwin and his father, Bob, in 1997.

Irwin’s Turtle can only be found in only one river on the continent of Australia in Southern Queensland. However, one of these turtles lives at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Photo credit: Jeff Tan

Not a lot is known about this turtle, but we do know that it eats snails and vegetation and can grow to a length of eleven inches. They are dimorphic (two different forms – color or size of a species). The male turtle is usually half the size of the female. Another pronounced difference between the male and female, is the pale head and pink nose of the female. Also, her head is covered by a horny sheath. You can see this clearly in the above picture taken by George Graff at the National Aquarium.

Photo credit: George Graff – National Aquarium

There is concern that Irwin's turtle could become extinct due to the building of a dam at the upper portion of the river system in which it lives. At the current time, the number of estimated individuals is 5,000-6,000. There is much controversy in Australia about the status of this unusual turtle and the threat that the dam poses. "The Threatened Species Scientific Committee did state that the species restricted range and demographic characteristics suggest that the populations may collapse." (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2009. Elseya irwini (Irwin't Turtle) Listing Advice.) 

Many of you probably watched ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ on television. I certainly did. He played an enormous part in helping people connect with animals and understand their behavior. We learned a lot from watching him and we felt and shared the enthusiasm he had—it was contagious. I trust that Australians will do all they can to ensure the survival of Steve’s namesake, Elseya irwini, Irwin’s Turtle.

To learn more about this endangered turtle, visit the following sites:

To learn more about Irwin’s turtle and the controversy of the dam at Urannah, visit this site:

Thank you so much for stopping by to read about this endangered turtle. Please visit again next week. 


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The importance of cotton as a commodity cannot be overstated. We need it! We wear it! We fought over it during the civil war! So, in the immortal words of Eli Whitney, “Keep your cotton-pickin’ hands off my Tamarin!” Oh, that’s not the way it went, but today it’s the way we’re going to say it, because this week we’re meeting a critically endangered primate called the Cotton-Top, or Cotton-Headed Tamarin.

Photo credit: Lisa Hoffner,

At one time, this odd looking primate could be found throughout Colombia. Now, it has been confined to the northwestern corner of the country. Deforestation is their greatest threat. Their jungle home has been cleared for roads, agriculture, housing and food production. The trees have been taken down for timber, and charcoal. The fragmented forests that remain after this destruction, are too small to support a healthy tamarin population. As a result, the numbers of this magnificent little primate have declined significantly. over the last few decades. Current population estimates are just 6,000 in the wild.

The Cotton-Topped Tamarin is a very social animal. It lives in groups of 3 to 13 members. They are very territorial and mark their home boundaries, and will become combative with other groups who stray too close to their home range.

These tamarins are territorial, scent marking their home ranges and defending them with showy confrontations, fluffing up their fur and making loud calls to scare away intruders and attract individuals from their own group.” (Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford)

This primate, which weighs less than a pound, is diurnal (active during the day), and arboreal. It eats fruit, insects, vegetation, small mammals and bird eggs. It gets all the moisture it needs by licking leaves wet with dew or rain.

Like other primates, much of their free time is spent grooming each other. They run their claws through each other’s fur looking for and removing any small particles or bugs they may find there.

Photo credit:

Conservation is key to ensuring the survival of the Cotton-Topped Tamarin. This short video gives you some information about this primate, and what we can do to protect it.

 If you’d like to learn more about this primate, visit the following sites:

My thanks to for some of the information and photos. I do hope you’ll return next week for a look at another unusual animal.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!