Leaping Wildlife

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Costa Rica

Let’s celebrate this weekend’s Leap Day by joining some of the Earth’s most talented leapers.

 

Wildlife leapers come in all shapes and sizes.

 

One of my favorite leapers is the impala. Prime prey for many of Africa’s large mammals, impala’s defense includes leaps. Look at those long, thin legs…what magic they can do.

 

Impala, Botswana

 

They have a leap so unique, it has it’s own word: stotting.

 

While running, they fly through the air, land on their forelegs, then kick up their hind legs, and land on all four again. It’s all so fast you don’t know what happened until it’s over. There are many theories for the purpose of this tactic, mainly defense (see link above). There’s a stotting photo at the end.

 

The Klipspringer is another leaping African antelope, lives on rocky cliffs. Their name comes from Afrikaans:ย  klip (“rock”) springer (“leaper”).

 

This klipspringer was about a mile above us on a rocky hillside, gracefully darting across a precipitous granite wall.

Klipspringer, Botswana, Africa

 

More leapers live across the world in Australia where hopping kangaroos are a classic sight. They hop with the aid of large, stretchy tendons in their hind legs; the tail is also an aid.

 

Grey Kangaroos, Australia

 

This wallaby was only as tall as my knee, and her hop was not very big. I think the joey in her pouch might’ve had something to do with that.

Mareeba Rock Wallaby, Australia

 

This kangaroo, on the other hand, was nearly as tall as me.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Australia

 

Once when I was on an Australian back road, a mob of large kangaroos came clomping by at great speed. There were about a half dozen of them, and what a cacophony with their long hind feet and tails slapping the ground.

 

They tried to change course when they saw our jeep, but they were moving at such high speed that even when they stopped hopping, their large, heavy bodies kept sliding.

 

And then there’s monkeys. They sail through the air, land on a tree limb, grab onto vines, and skillfully make their way through a forest. They use their tails, too.

 

If you have ever spent a night in a monkey’s world, you are familiar with the sounds of this mischievous mammal pouncing on the rooftop above you.

Blue Monkey, Mt. Kenya, Kenya, Africa

 

We had the fortune of watching these colobus monkeys effortlessly swinging through the trees.

Colobus Monkey, Mt. Kenya, Africa

 

Frogs jump. This crazy one landed on glass, affording a good view of their powerful jumping legs and suction-cup toe pads.

 

Spring Peeper, Frog, Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin

 

Many frogs can jump more than 20 times their body length.

 

We found this frog sleeping in the ladies’ room blinds, in Mareeba Australia. It was a hot day in the Fahrenheit hundreds and this opportunist found a cool spot…no jumping that day.

 

Frog in the ladies room, Australian Green Tree Frog, Ranoidea caerulea

 

These two colorful frogs are tiny–about the size of your thumb. With their petite size, they are far more difficult to spot than you would think, considering their loud colors.

Painted Reed Frog, Botswana, Africa

 

This tiny poison dart frog chose a soggy grass patch to hide in. For every step I took to see it, a cloud of mosquitoes poofed up. About 20 mosquito bites later, it landed on this more posable wood piece.

 

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Costa Rica

 

Rabbits hop. We happened to startle this one while hiking in Nevada. We were in rattlesnake territory, so I was relieved it was only a rabbit that hopped out of the undergrowth.

Rabbit, Nevada.

 

Last summer I accidentally startled a large rattlesnake, and that’s when I did the hopping.

 

And where would we be without leaping lizards in our world?

 

Lizards have a long list of predators, so they have to be quick. Whether they are small…

 

Dwarf Gecko, Belize

or large…

Green Iguana, Belize. Photo: Athena Alexander

…they can vanish in an instant.

 

My favorite lizard, the basilisk, can be seen here demonstrating the muscular legs that lend them their leaping skills. They not only leap on land, they leap on water, too.

Basilisk Lizard, Belize

 

Not to be outdone by mammals, amphibians, or reptiles, some of our long-legged insects have incredible leaping abilities. Spiders, crickets, grasshoppers and katydids, to name a few.

 

Katydid, California

 

I live on a dry, chaparral mountain and hot summer days are great for watching grasshoppers. They leap so high I can’t even see where they go. It’s only when they land that I see them again. Their long legs catapult them into the air and their wings extend the leap into flight.

 

I’ve read that if humans could jump the way grasshoppers do, we would be able to easily leap the length of a football field.

 

Even though Leap Day only occurs once every four years, we have the pleasure of these leaping creatures every day on Earth. Makes me want to leap with joy.

 

Written by Jet Eliot.

All photos by Athena Alexander except for last photo.

Stotting black-face impala. Photo by Yathin sk, Namibia. Courtesy Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

83 thoughts on “Leaping Wildlife

  1. This takes me back to some of the PBS nature shows I watched as a kid ๐Ÿ™‚ All your photos are great, but I really enjoyed the frog in the blinds. Quite a surprise, ha! Thank you for this post.

  2. Plenty of leaping lizards in south Florida, as you probably know. There are snakes and deer too! But all the rest are unique to their birthplace. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post Jet!
    Great photos as usual Athena! Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Jump for joy! What a wild and wonderful collection of leaping creatures youโ€™ve both encountered over the years. The photographs and facts are lovely, and although there are some exotic animals shared here, I think my favourite photograph is of the bunny in full flight. Great photograph!
    Thanks, Jet, and we hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

    • I’m always happy to “see” you, pc, and your comment was a delight. I like that bunny photo too. That bunny took us both by such surprise, and it was fortunate Athena was quick on the draw. We were on the far back property of a lodge we were staying in, and I don’t think any humans had been back there in days. All the wildlife seemed surprised by us, which is so very lovely. You, too, have a wonderful weekend. I hope you and Mrs. PC, and Scout too, enjoy this rare Leap Day.

    • I was surprised when we saw the impala doing that crazy stotting thing. I doubted what my eyes were seeing until my friend and our guide, a frequent Africa visitor, explained. Thanks so much for your visit and kind words, Deborah, much appreciated.

  4. What a fun, creative posting, Jet. You wove together a wonderful narrative and Athena’s photos are awesome. If I had to choose favorite photos, they would probably be those of the colorful frogs. Kermit was always my favorite Muppet and I have always had a thing for frogs. I “blame” the National Geographic images from my childhood of red-eyed frogs for imprinting me to frogs.

    • Funny that you mention the frogs, Mike, because while I was composing this post I actually had to cut out a few of the frog photos, there were so many. I’ll have to do another post sometime just on frogs because I think, like you, they are such cool animals. I smiled at your childhood mention of frogs, and understand completely. Many thanks for your lovely message.

  5. I’ve never seen so many different frogs! I think the Impala is a very sleek and beautiful animal. Thanks for this lovely tour Jet and Athena! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  6. Such a clever post. Leap day – leaping animals. Our own mule deer also engage in stotting. (Which Iโ€™ve been spelling as stodding all these years. Oops!) They can really move when leaping on all fours.

    • So glad you enjoyed the leaping post today, Craig — it was really fun to do. And I liked hearing that you’ve seen your mule deer stotting. It’s a fun thing to witness and I’m glad you’ve seen it. Many thanks, my friend. I hope your weekend is full of laughs and leaps.

    • Really fun to put together the leaping wildlife post, Bill, and I am happy you enjoyed it too. Thanks so much for visiting every week and commenting, it is much appreciated.

  7. Pingback: Leaping Wildlife โ€” Jet Eliot | huggers.ca

    • Glad you enjoyed the leaping wildlife gallery, Cindy. That tiny dwarf lizard was great fun to find. So very tiny! And I think your recent Australia posts were a great inspiration for the kangaroo photos.

    • I do think frogs are amazing, too, Jan. I’m going to have to do a post on one sometime soon. There is a pond about a half mile away and right now, every night, the chorus of frog sounds is astounding. I open the window and sit in the dark marveling at it. I hope you have a great Leap Day, Jan.

  8. Do we only get a leaping post every four years? What a shame if so, but what a fun post this was! So many wonderful critters, each with their own beauty, even deadly beauty in some instances.) I can’t decide on a favorite photo, because each has something special about it. But it’s a good problem to have.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    janet

    • I so enjoyed your comment, Janet, hearing that you liked all the photos, couldn’t decide on a favorite, and what a fun indecision that was…made me smile. I think I’ll probably address other leaping creatures before the next leap year–the topic of animal locomotion is huge and varied and fascinating. I always appreciate your visits and comments, my friend.

  9. I loved this, Jet! This was wonderful. I love tree frogs! The one sleeping in the ladies room looks exactly like “Fred” our token tree frog that hangs out under our grill cover. He’s also been known to slip inside the house. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I have a frog who does a similar thing, Jill, one and sometimes two, like to hide in a yard tarp that I have outside. I have to be ginger every time I open it, because invariably they will plop out. Ours are chorus frogs (tiny), which might be what you have. Really fun, isn’t it? Enjoyed your comment, thanks so much.

  10. Isnโ€™t the animal kingdom amazing! As are Athenaโ€™s photos ๐Ÿ˜Š Perhaps weirdly I really like the shot of the rabbit – Iโ€™ll have to have a think about why. Also love all those lizards and the frog in the ladies room – clever thing isnโ€™t it.

    • As always, I enjoyed your comment and visit today, Alastair, thank you. I, too, like that rabbit photo. I like it for the action. And yes, indeed, the animal kingdom is truly amazing. I’m really happy I got to share the leapers with you today, thank you. Wonderful to “see” you.

  11. February has always been my least favorite weather month, so I found myself grumbling the other day about having an extra day in the month, but you managed to make it special with these absolutely enjoyable leaping stories and photos. I’m always amazed at the places and wildlife you’ve seen and loved the collection you shared this week!

    • And now that February is over, ACI, you can jump for joy. Really appreciated your visit and kind words, my friend. Since you’re into NFL, I can tell you that when I watch NFL players before the game doing that two-legged jump as warm-up, I am absolutely amazed. Cheers my friend, spring is not far away.

  12. Even the familiar here (for me, the hyla of Horicon Marsh) stands out with unusual clarity & hue. Then by leaps & bounds the less familiar strike me with their magic & wonder. Again, amazing photos & accompanying text. Thank you!

    • What a joy to receive your wonderful words, my friend. We do have some fantastic leapers in this world, familiar or not, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the presentation here. Thanks so much, Walt.

  13. Great fun! I watched a video of stotting from BBC Africa with background music from The Nutcracker, I think. Pure Joy!! Thank you for this informative and lively post.

    • I’m glad you looked up the BBC Africa video, Nan. I found it after your mention, and liked it, of course. Stotting is cool. Those adorable cheetah cubs sure added to the appeal as well. The BBC jeeps and photographers and videographers were always nearby in Africa, on every trip I made there. They would spend hours and days and weeks out there on the hot savannah, waiting for something to happen…often get nothing. I always appreciated their patience and tenacity. Thanks so much for your visit, dear Nan.

  14. These photos are astounding. There’s something so JOYFUL in the leaping. We like to think the leaping animals are happy. However, I once saw my golden dog Henry leap. He was still a puppy, about 6 months old, and on our walk he picked up a stick which turned out to be a snake. Henry leaped three feet high (he also screamed – I didn’t know dogs scream). Poor Henry didn’t pick up another stick until he was over puppyhood. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Happy be-lated Leap Day, Jet!!! You just gifted the hugest smile!!! Your photography is beyond amazing…I fell in love with all of these but was pretty stunned that You caught that shot of the rabbit running away, from his level….that’s crazy! And the frogs. WOW! Thank You for this all! Cheers!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • ACK!!! Thank You for the correction. Lord! I’m sorry, Athena! Jet, I totally forgot that Your beautiful woman takes the pictures!!! That it’s a team effort. Y’all blend Your gifts beautifully!!! Cheers, Athena…and thanks for the wonderful photographs!!! ๐Ÿค—โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • I thought it was so funny, too, to find that big frog in the window slats of the ladies room. It was such a hot day…perhaps I was envious. Glad you enjoyed the leaping wildlife, Bertie. Many smiles to you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Thank you, Jet for this wonderful tour. These creatures were beautifully captured! Great information and photo. We had to cancel our trip to Costa Rica…

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the leaping wildlife, Amy. I’m sorry to hear you had to cancel your CR trip, but it’s good you did. I did a post today on Costa Rica, maybe that’ll help. Many thanks, Amy, and stay well.

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