The Most Fascinating Creatures From India’s Animal Kingdom

The Most Fascinating Creatures From India’s Animal Kingdom

[Note to readers: If we’ve missed out on some amazing creature roaming our forests or seas, let us know in the comments section below. We’d be happy to add it to this compilation!] 
We’ve done a fair few of these. Extinct animals, migratory birds, the dinosaurs that used to roam our subcontinent—you name it, we’ve done it. But somehow, the very topography of the country ensures that there’s always more to learn as far as the bio-diversity of this country is concerned. The varied climate, landscapes and size of area alone have proven to be great refuge for varied life forms and naturally, a few strange things have made India their home.
From tree-climbing crabs to man-eating catfish, we love unique creatures as much as the next nature nut, so here’s a quick peek at what we’ve been looming over all along.

I. The Purple Frog

Found in the Western and Southern India, the Purple frog is peculiar in more ways than one. For starters, its appearance is nothing like other frogs – it has a small, pointy head which is, well, weird for a frog. Secondly, its lifestyle is fascinating too. The slimy amphibian lives underground all year, and visits the surface of the earth for just two weeks during the monsoon season for mating purposes. The reclusive lifestyle is what kept it away from biologists for many years, till it was finally found and fully described in 2003.

II. The Sea Pig

These plump, transparent creatures live in the deep abyss of the ocean, often moving together in a school of 600 or more. However, they occasionally wash up on shore, or are victims of deep-sea trawling, which has reduced their numbers greatly. Apart from their appearance, Sea pigs are also known to host various parasitic invertebrates, including gastropods (snails) and small tanaid crustaceans.

 III. The Indian Flying Fox

Before you begin wondering if your whole life was a lie, the Indian Flying Fox was actually a name given to the great Indian Fruit Bat, which has a peculiar resemblance to a fox. When fully grown, it is pretty huge too - its wingspan can measure as much as five feet in length. Like the other members of its nocturnal family, this one uses ultrasonic sounds which the human ear cannot pick up. We’ve seen a fair few of them hanging around in Mumbai so we can vouch for this.

IV. Lion Tailed Macaque

A monkey who dwells in the Western Ghats, the Lion Tailed Macaque’s appearance is very similar to that of a Lion’s. It has a silvery-white mane and a tail which has a black tuft at the end, quite similar to a lion’s tail. Unlike other Macaque’s, this one avoids humans, so going near it for a closer look is inadvisable.


V. The Coconut Crab

One of the biggest crabs in the world, the coconut crab is shy and rarely seen in public places. The crab can grow up to three feet in length from foot to foot. If not hunted, the crab lives for 60 years – about as much as the average Indian lifespan. If that wasn’t enough, these crabs can also climb and live on trees. Yep.

VI. Slender Loris

A small, miniscule primate, the Slender Loris looks more like a pokemon than an actual animal. An easy target for bigger prey coupled with the fact that it has a small body, big eyes and a very well developed index finger means that it spends most of it life in the trees. Evidence suggests there may be only about 100 animals still existing, which would make it among the top five most-threatened primates worldwide.


VII. The Indian Stick insect

Also called the Carausius morosus, the Indian stick insect’s name is, well, pretty self explanatory. The insect is often spotted while camping or trekking, and is also used by various schools. Apart from the fact that it can easily pass off as a twig, the most fascinating feature of the insect is that it can reproduce without mating. A stick insect? What next, the Indian leaf insect? Pfft.


VIII. The Indian Leaf Insect

Damn it. While one passes off as a twig, the other one passes off as a leaf. Their camouflage is so brilliant that it makes it almost impossible to spot it. To confuse predators further, when the leaf insect walks, it rocks back and forth, only to mimic a real leaf being blown by the wind.


IX. The Curved Spiney Spider

The curved Spiney Spider is another oddball. It grows up to 10 mm in length, and has a hard, flat body with three spines on the abdomen. While it may seem scary, the bites of a Curved Spiney Spider are actually considered to be harmless.


X. The Giant Devil Catfish

The Giant Devil Catfish, or the “Gooch” as it is locally called, is a catfish that lives in various rivers around India. The fish is humungous – it grows upto 6.6 feet in length and weighs over 200 pounds. Catastrophe struck the Kali River as it faced a series of attacks from the man-eating “Goonch”, most of which resulted in the death of the swimmers. These incidents made quite a furore and were shown on animal planet as well.

Image Courtesy - the-goonch-catfish.blogspot

XI. Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle

Think a sloth is adorable? Try this softshell Turtle. Six feet long with a very weird appearance, the turtle spends 95% of its lifespan motionless – buried in the sands doing absolutely nothing. The only time the animal moves is to eat, or to lay eggs. It is found in some parts of south India and various other parts of Asia as well.

XII. The Mimic Octopus

Okay so, um, we’re kind of cheating with this one here as it does not exactly live in India, BUT HEAR US OUT. This animal is so brilliant that there was no way we were going to leave it off the list. Discovered only a few years ago, the mimic octopus is the only animal in the world that can change its shape to mimic other animals. No, it does not pretend to do so nor does it use camouflage – it ACTUALLY changes its shape and size to hunt or to hide. Although found nowhere in India, the octopus lives close to Indonesia in the Indian Ocean, and quite frankly, that’s the only loophole we needed.

[Note to readers: If we’ve missed out on some amazing creature roaming our forests or seas, let us know in the comments section below. We’d be happy to add it to this compilation!]