Meet the Sunny Animals of the Seychelles!    
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Bonjour, adventurous viewers, and welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today we’ll travel to the world’s oldest oceanic islands, the Seychelles.

Spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is located some 1,500 kilometers east of Africa and northeast of the island of Madagascar. Several million years ago, it separated from Earth’s large land masses at a time before modern mammals had evolved. The island nation’s unspoiled environment, with no naturally occurring land mammals, possesses great biodiversity, and is home to an array of unique wildlife endemic to the region.

In the pristine forests of Seychelles’ islands, an abundance of native insects helps maintain the balance of forest ecosystems. One of the species of the flightless Giant Tenebrionid beetle is endangered and only found on Seychelles’ Frégate Island. The species is formally known as the Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid beetle.

One of these beetles would now like to tell you more!

Fred the Frigate Island Giant Tenebrionid Beetle

This is Fred. Did you know that we’re vegetarians? We consume both living and lifeless plant materials and are major decomposers of the forest, working silently, but diligently, to keep the woodlands thriving! On average, we’re about two to three centimeters long with a bark-like, dark-brown shell. If you look closely, you’ll notice that we have long legs too so that we can move lightly on muddy ground.

Giant Tenebrionid beetles live in large social groups and are often seen clustered tightly together. We’re arboreal and nocturnal, meaning that during the day we normally hide in crevices or under the bark of trees, and at night come out to look for food. Being relatively large and flightless, we prefer staying in one spot unless we really have to move. So the tree we’re on is most likely our home, as we hardly ever move away from it.

In fact, according to a recent study, the farthest one of our species has ever travelled is 19 meters. Bravo to him or her! Can you tell how old I am? No one really knows how long we live in the wild, but researchers have learned that we live longer and more happily in our native habitats!

Sandra the Sooglossidae Frog

Hallo, I’m Sandra the Sooglossidae frog. You probably can’t see me very well as our species contains some of the world’s tiniest frogs. If you can even spot us, we live in the misty mountain forests! The smallest member of our family is called the Sooglossus gardineri frog and they are typically nine to 12 millimeters long, smaller than the nail on your little finger! Their young are usually only 1.6 millimeters long, and are literally too small to be seen by the unaided eye.

The size of my family, Sooglossidae, is relatively small as well, consisting of only two genera and four species. However, despite our tiny size, we do seek to live high above it all! Our family has only been recorded living on the two highest of Seychelles’ 115 granitic islands; namely, Mahé and Silhouette.

In our free time, we love to rest under piles of leaves on the rainforest floor, in rock crevices, in hollow plant stems or on the bases of leaves near the stem. Usually the only thing that will cause us to leave our favorite spot is rain. During these wet periods, we hop around, look for food and pair up with mates. Males call during the day or night from wherever they are hidden, and unlike other frogs that call in choruses, they sing individually.

Female frogs lay their eggs on land and stay with them until they hatch into tadpoles, which usually takes two to three weeks. Without water to swim in, the babies cling to their mother’s back until they mature into froglets and finally hop off to explore the world on their own! The young of the amazing Sooglossus gardineri emerge from their eggs as fully developed frogs, not tadpoles!

The next animal we’re going to meet is the Seychelles Scops Owl, also known as the Bare-legged Scops Owl, a rare Scops Owl species found only in the highland forests of Mahé Island in the Seychelles. Like all owls, they’re nocturnal, meaning they’re active at night and sleep during the day.

Sam the Seychelles Scops Owl

Sam the Owl here. My species live in the Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé Island. As you can see, our plumage is mostly reddish-brown with patches of black streaks. We have fairly small ears located on top of our heads, and as our secondary name suggests, our long, gray legs are un-feathered.

Similar to most Seychelles land birds, mother Seychelles Scops Owls lays a single egg in a nest made of material from exotic plants. It usually takes about three to four weeks for the eggs to incubate and another four to six weeks before the young finally leave the nest. Thanks to the conservation efforts of naturalists, we now have a small, but stable population in our lovely haven on Mahé Island.

Another fascinating nocturnal animal unique to Seychelles is the Sheath-tailed bat, one of only two mammals endemic to the islands. In the past this unusual bat was probably abundant throughout Seychelles; however, the species underwent a dramatic decline during the mid-to-late 20th century and is now extinct on most of the islands.

Sheila the Sheath-tailed Bat

This is Sheila the Sheath-tailed bat. You might be surprised to learn that only about 30 to 100 of us are left in Seychelles today, making us possibly the world’s rarest bat. The majority of our family members live on Silhouette Island, and the others are scattered around in Mahé, Praslin and La Digue Islands. Did you know that bats are very clean animals? We exist in large social groups and enjoy one another’s company in our own up-side-down world.

On average, we weigh about 10 to 11 grams and females are generally heavier than males. In the daytime we roost in shaded areas to avoid the sunlight, cleverly hiding under the large fronds of endemic palms, and at night we come out to have fun! In the dark, we use echolocation to detect objects and navigate. We also have excellent vision except that we see everything in shades of gray.

Did you know that we play a very important role in the ecosystem? Besides being significant contributors to island ecologies by helping disperse the seeds of many tree species, we’re often very good indicators of environmental health as well. Thus, the decline of bat populations is related to the general quality of the surrounding habitat. And protecting our home means protecting yours too!

Also endemic to the islands, the Seychelles Magpie Robin is among the world’s rarest bird species and was critically endangered in the 1970s. Historically, these lovely birds were found on most of the granitic islands of Seychelles, but today, only about 154 remain and are spread across the islands of Frégate, Cousin, Cousine and Aride.

Rita the Magpie Robin

Hey friends, this is Rita the Magpie Robin! Thanks to the efforts of bird lovers, we have been down-listed, or rated as less in jeopardy of extinction, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals. We went from “Critically Endangered” status to “Endangered” status as a result of conservation work.

Adults of our species are a glossy, coal-black color except for a white patch on each wing; juveniles have duller plumage with gray-colored edges on white wing bars. Mother Magpie Robins give birth to a single, pale-blue egg in a nest made of dry grass, coconut fiber and small twigs. And after an incubation period of 16 to 23 days, the chick hatches. Newborns usually live in the nest for another 16-22 days before we’re ready to fly off on our own.

Did you know that we’re good singers too? Magpie Robins’ voices vary from rough, throaty calls to melodic songs. You can find us in woodlands, plantations and around gardens.

The Whale Shark, the largest of Seychelles’ marine animals, grows up to 20 meters long and visits the islands year round. These giant sea dwellers have a lifespan of up to 70 years and come to Seychelles in search of plankton, their main food source. Whale Sharks are mostly gray with white bellies, and their skin is marked with pale, yellow spots and stripes unique to each individual.

Wallace the Whale Shark

This is Wallace the Whale Shark and I hope you are enjoying your time in the Seychelles. You might be surprised to learn about my species’ swimming style. We use our entire bodies to swim, which is not common for fish, and attain an average speed of around five kilometers an hour. We sometimes encounter divers when we swim close to shore, and usually let them hitch a ride! We’re quite gentle and love to play with these interesting humans that look a little odd with their snorkeling tubes! We’re filter feeders and have huge mouths that can be up to 1.5 meters wide!

Native to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles archipelago, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise is one of the world’s largest tortoise species and one of the longest- lived animals on Earth. Aldabra Giant Tortoises can live 200 years or longer. Adwaita, a tortoise born in 1750, reached the longest-ever measured life span of 255 years, passing away in 2006. Today, the oldest known living tortoise is a male Aldabra Giant named Esmeralda, who just celebrated his grand 170th birthday! Esmeralda lives on Bird Island, another of Seychelles’ islands.

Tim the Aldabra Giant Tortoise

Greetings, this is Tim the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. Thanks to years of conservation work, approximately 100,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoises now live in Seychelles. Males are generally larger than females, with the shell of males being around 120 centimeters in length and their weight around 250 kilograms. Females have a shell around 90 centimeters long and weigh up to 150 kilograms. Under our domed-shaped shells, we have four stocky, heavily scaled legs to support our weighty bodies.

Most Aldabra Giant Tortoises live on the islands of the Aldabra Atoll, with a few residing on the island of Zanzibar as well as in conservation parks in Mauritius and Rodrigues. Aldabra Giants are found in various habitats including grasslands, low scrublands, mangrove swamps and coastal dunes.

We thrive on a plant-based diet and in nature browse on grass, leaves and woody plant stems. One interesting fact about us Aldabra Giants is that we have relatively long necks, which allow us to explore tree branches up to a meter above the ground.

The kind of habitat we live in determines the shape of our shell; those of us who live in environments with food available higher above the ground have a more flattened top shell; the front part is slightly raised to allow the neck to freely extend upward. In contrast, those of us that live in places where food is available on the ground have more dome-shaped shells. I’m going to go take a nap, so bye for now!

The Seychelles is a truly wonderful place and the residents, animal or human, will always welcome you with a smile. The islands await you! Au revoir, fun-loving viewers! We truly enjoyed your company today on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. May we all support conservation work worldwide to help preserve precious flora and fauna.
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