When we think of wild animals, we often think of lions, tigers, and bears. In some locations, wild animals include, foxes, possums, and coyotes. But does anyone ever think of a shark as a wild animal?
Call Of The Wild
A shark is a wild creature, that’s for sure. The Great White Shark is probably one of the wildest creatures out there and very well known for his size and teeth. There are plenty of species of shark that are active, busy, and wildly popular, but today we’ll consider some of the sharks that seem pretty wild just by their names. Are they as fierce as the land-loving animals with who they share a name? Or are they simply named as such because of their markings? The answers might surprise you.
The Leopard And The Leopard Shark
One look at these creatures side-by-side and you’ll see how the Leopard Shark got its name. With its dark spots and saddle markings, the shark is similar in skin to its land lubing namesake. The further similarities and differences are rather interesting.
- The Leopard is considered to be the smallest members of the large cat family, while Leopard Sharks are also on the small side for sharks.
- The smallest Leopard averages around 46 lbs. (21 kg) while the largest Leopard Shark ever recorded weighed in at 40 lbs. (18.14 kg).
- When it comes to lifespan, Leopards live up to 15 years in the wild and 23 years in captivity.
- The lifespan of a Leopard Shark varies, but they live to be about 30 years old.
- The gestation period of Leopards is 3 months and they give birth to a litter of 2 or 3 cubs.
- Leopard Sharks produce eggs that develop and hatch inside the mother and are then born. The litter can contain 4 to 29 pups.
- Leopards are carnivores who eat any animal that crosses their path.
- Leopard Sharks are carnivores who eat any invertebrates found on the ocean floor.
- Leopards are adaptable and can be found around the world in multiple habitats, from grasslands to mountains.
- Leopard Sharks are found in cool to warm waters in muddy bays and sandy flats on the Eastern North Pacific Coast, from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of Oregon.
The Zebra And The Zebra Shark
Another species of shark that sounds wild is the Zebra Shark. As a youth, this shark has stripes on its skin that resemble a Zebra. As this shark ages, the stripes turn to spots, making it look less Zebra-like and more Leopard-like, but the two are not the same.
- The largest Zebra on record weighs between 770 and 990 lbs. (350 to 450 kg). The smallest zebras weigh around 530 lbs. (240 kg).
- Zebra Sharks weigh between 44 and 66 lbs. (20 to 30 kg).
- There are different species of Zebra, but they all live in Africa in different areas.
- The Zebra Shark lives in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific in shallow areas.
- The diet of the Zebra consists of grass, though some will also eat twigs and leaves.
- Zebra Sharks prey on crab, mollusk, shrimp, and small bony fish.
- Zebras are preyed upon by lions, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs.
- Zebra Sharks are preyed upon by other larger sharks and marine animals.
- The gestation period for a Zebra is 12 to 14 months, after which time one foal will be born.
- The Zebra Shark produces up to 50 egg capsules within 4 months that are attached to rocks or corals until the pups hatch.
The Tiger And The Tiger Shark
Once again, the stripes say it all. Tiger Sharks are born with stripes that fade as they age, but this is where they get their name.
- Tigers can vary in size based on their species, between 165 to 716 lbs. (75 to 325 kg).
- Tiger Sharks are much bigger, weighing in at 1,800 lbs. (800 kg).
- Tigers are fantastic swimmers! They can forge a river or lake that is 3.5 to 5 miles wide (6 to 8 km).
- The Tiger Shark is actually a relatively slow swimmer, but when it comes to dinnertime, it can muster great speed to catch its prey.
- Tigers are carnivores and aggressive hunters. Their diet consists of large prey such as pig, deer, rhinos, and young elephants.
- Tiger Sharks are also aggressive hunters who eat just about anything that floats their way, from sea lions to birds; and even garbage.
- Despite the belief that Tigers are social creatures, evidence shows that they are solitary and like to roam and hunt alone.
- Tiger Sharks are solitary creatures who like to hunt alone; sometimes attacking other species of shark while hunting.
- Tigers live in different areas of Asia, from eastern Russia to northeast China, and India to Vietnam.
- Tiger Sharks can be found in warm waters all around the world, preferring deeper water, but frequenting the shallows to pursue prey.
Sadly, some sharks and land animals share important conservation woes.
- Leopard – The Amur Leopard is critically endangered, the Snow Leopard is endangered, and the overall Leopard population is near threatened.
- Leopard Shark – This shark is listed as least concern on the endangered list, but is protected from fisheries in California and Oregon so they are not overfished.
- Zebra – One species of Zebra is already extinct, the last dying in 1883. 2 species are currently listed as vulnerable, and 1 species is endangered.
- Zebra Shark – This species of shark is not threatened or endangered, but it is regularly taken by inshore fisheries so it might become vulnerable.
- Tiger – There are more Tigers in captivity than in the wild. Overall as a species, all Tigers are endangered, with some being critical.
- Tiger Shark – This species of shark is listed as near threatened due to finning and fishing.
As different as they might all be, animals of the world are similar in many ways. Always of interest, fun to observe, and important to keep safe.