More black and white animals


In one of my last posts I wrote about 12 well-known black and white animals. In this one, we’ll take a look at some less-known ones. But not less beautiful! Here we go!

The Striped Polecat

Ictonyx striatus is a mustelidae of many names. It’s known as the African polecat, Zorilla, Cape Polecat and African Skunk. It lives in savannahs and dry areas of sub-Saharan Africa, is an unspecialised carnivore and is solitary. As its appearance and one of its names suggests, like the american skunk it has smelly anal glands that spray an irritating gas that momentarily blinds any predator (or unsuspecting human) that comes too close for comfort. Some people consider it the smelliest animal on earth… I’d have to smell them all to decide. And am not sure that I’d like to!


The Black and White Clownfish

Amphiprion ocellaris var. is a variety of the more common clownfish (see: Nemo) that lives in association with anemones. Usually in pairs or small family groups, these fish live in the anemone, keeping it clean, protecting it from predators and eating its leftover meals. Like the common clownfish, all individuals are initially male, then, once they reach a certain size, become female. There is only one female individual and the others are “kept” male by hormones that she excretes. Pretty cool, really.


The Banded Alder Borer

I love this family of insects. Cerambycidae are identified by their looooong antennae, longer than their body usually. This black and white species is called Rosalia funebris but isn’t as scary as its names seems to indicate. They lay their eggs in dead wood (so are not considered pests) and, strangely enough, commonly aggregate on freshly painted walls. Odd. Very odd.


The Eider Duck

This cutie pie (Somateria mollissima) is a northern sea-duck that migrates to warmer climates in huge flocks during the winter. Female eiders tend to go back to their birth site to nest, and this creates a high degree of relatedness in the colonies and consequent kin-based behaviours between the females that frequently lay their eggs in each other’s nests and rear the young in creches.

Blog eider drake

The Giant Leopard Moth

Hypercompe scribonia is a beautiful large (8cm) moth that lives in South and Eastern USA, down until Mexico. It’s first phase is, as usual, a horrific, hairy, black and red caterpillar (that aficionados call “Woolly Bear caterpillar”) that I personally would never like to meet. The adult moth actually have a metallic body with orange markings, but that would have ruined the photo for the “Black and White Animals” post.


The Pied Bat

Or Badger Bat. Or Striped Bat. Or Panda Bat. You can see where the nomenclature of this black and white bat is going…what’s next, Leopard Moth Bat? Honestly, the whole post was to introduce this amazing little bat that was discovered in 1939 but only recently (last year, in 2013) correctly classified as Niumbaha superba. Since 1939 only five specimens have been caught in the DRC, Ivory Coast, Ghana and South Sudan, maybe indicating that the species is more elusive than rare. Certainly more information is needed; up to now, all we know is that it’s gorgeous.



The Downy Woodpecker

The smallest woodpecker in North America, Picoides pubescens is black and white only when it’s a female. Males actually have a tiny red spot on the tops of their heads. I thought I’d mention that, for clarity. The Downy woodpecker is virtually identical to the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), with the only visual differences being size, length of tail and some extra black feathers on the tail, but genetically they’re completely different: even classified in distinct genera. An incredible example of convergent evolution, in which two fairly different animals turn out to be very, very alike!

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker


Hairy woodpecker (left) and Downy woodpecker (right)

The California KingSnake

I’m not going to spend many words on this reptile, simply because the black and white variation of Lampropeltis getula californiae is not a naturally occurring in the wild. This snake is non-venomous, originally comes from western US and Mexico and is commonly kept in captivity.


The black and white Colobus

These monkeys are Old World, African monkeys that are strictly frugivore, eating shoots, leaves, flowers and fruit. The Colobus guereza, in the photo below, is in my opinion the more elegant of the genus, is present in the west, central and east Africa. Offspring are born completely white, maybe to facilitate localisation in the event of an emergency. Here you can see some guerezas and a turaco, just for fun.


The Mimic Octopus

This invertebrate (Thaumoctopus mimicus) might look fairly normal but wait until you see this incredible video. It starts out black and white, yes, but can mimic most underwater animals’ shapes and movements. A true shape-shifter. My favourite? The flounder! (You MUST watch the video!)

Mimic Octopus Wallpaper 1

Mysterious and shape-shifting

The Nudibranch

Well, “nudibranch” is a general word that includes all soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusks that have external, “naked” gills. One of my favourite animals, they’re usually very, very coloured but in some cases elegantly clad in simple (and ever-fashionable) black and white.



Dolphins and Porpoises

Here (finally!) are some amazing black and white cetaceans. We already saw the Orca, a dolphin, in the other “Black and White” post, now it’s time for some less common marine mammals. Common and scientific names are under each photo.


Commerson’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii). Found mainly around the Southern tip of South America


Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) lives in most of the North Pacific


One of my favourite, the Hourglass Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus cruciger), that swims in the Antarctic and Subantarctic waters. Stay warm when you go looking for it!

Haviside's Dolphin

Heaviside’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) can be found off the coast of Namibia and western South Africa.

Southern Right Whale Dolphin

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) found deep in the oceans of the Southern hemisphere

There we go! Some of the less-known black and white animals that inhabit our wonderful Earth. So, how many did you know? How many are new to you? Are there any I didn’t share? Post your thoughts, opinions or other black and white animals in the comments below!


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