When it comes to categorizing animals alphabetically, the letter R offers up a particularly eclectic mix, encompassing animals from every genre under the sun, from rat to rhino! Read on to discover where they roam, what they eat, and how they attract a mate or repel an enemy. The list begins here with some of the world’s most fascinating creatures, many of whom are so different the only thing they have in common is the first letter of their name!
Scientific name: Procyon
Often called the common raccoon to differentiate him from other species, you can find this charismatic creature in North America. They are likely to be inhabiting a log or tree hollow. A member of the Procyonidae family, he is in fact one of the largest boasting a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in), and a body weight of 5 to 26 kg (11 to 57 lb). His coat is grey and the thickest parts are on his underparts, a physiological insurance against the cold weather he frequently braves.
Scientific name: Rattus
Black rats (Rattus rattus) and brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) are the most common species of rat. Sometimes, they are even referred to as ‘old world’ rats. They are related to mice but somewhat larger. The name ‘rat’ is often used to group together other small animals but it is important to know that these are not true rats. Examples of this would be the kangaroo rat and the bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis) Although these rodents are relatives of the rat they are not true members of the genus Rattus.
Scientific name: Corvus corax
This all-black passerine bird is often called the common raven as it is the most widely distributed of all corvids in the northern hemisphere. The name ‘raven’ encompasses more than 8 sub-species that are very similar in appearance and differences are only noted according to their respective habitats. The familiar raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years. These successful species have thrived due to their adaptability and opportunistic nature. They are very experimental in their diets and will try carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals, nesting birds, and food waste. Having tested the raven for problem-solving ability, it has been recorded that although named the common raven they possess uncommon intelligence.
Scientific name: Rhinocerotidae
The much-loved Rhinoceros is one of the largest remaining megafaunas: every rhinoceros will weigh in excess of one tonne in adulthood. They are herbivores, eating mostly vegetation by grazing on plants and grasses. Their custodial skin is positioned in an elaborate lattice structure. A remarkable ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to consume more fibrous plant matter when necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths; they rely instead on their lips to pluck food.
Scientific name: Erithacus rubecula
The familiar adult European robin is 12.5–14.0 cm (4.9–5.5 in) long and weighs 16–22 g (0.56–0.78 oz). He has a wingspan of 20–22 cm (8–8.5 in). The male and female have a similar plumage consisting of a red breast and face (more strongly colored in the otherwise similar British subspecies E. r. mesophiles), which is lined by a bluish grey on either side of his chest and neck. He has upper parts which are brownish, or olive-tinged in British, and the belly whitish, but he has brown feet and legs. His beak and bill match in jet black. The young robins are spotted white and brown. The robin is relatively unafraid of people and seems to intuitively know when humans are digging up soil and they will make an appearance in order to look out for earthworms and other food.
Scientific name: Corvus frugilegus
Perhaps the quality most admirable in the rook is its gregariousness. Not only do rooks nest collectively amongst themselves, but when wintertime approaches, they form flocks with ravens, crows, jackdaws, and others of similar appearance. No high falutin’ avian snobbery here! Quite a utilitarian trait given the enmity by which farmers often blame them for damaged crops. When it comes to the rook, and his cohorts, it’s nice to have friends in high places.
Scientific name: Crotalus Cerastes
It has become folkloric wisdom, for those who suffer from a fear of snakes that “they’re more afraid of you than you are of them” and to be sure, when one hears a rattlesnake rattle, the creature is expressing distress, and issuing a warning to potential predators. Nevertheless, fear at hearing the sound would be a completely justified response, given that rattlesnakes hold the rather nefarious record of being the leading contributor to snake bite injuries in North America
Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
One might wonder if the fictional portrayal of rabbits in our culture, from Peter Cottontail to the Easter Bunny, as harmless icons of benevolent cuteness, has a direct correlation with their status in the animal kingdom. In the biological chain of predator and prey, rabbits clearly are the latter. These meek and fluffy creatures live their lives defensively. Even so, nature has not left them completely unendowed with traits to help them survive. Not only do they have a remarkable field of vision, capable of overhead scanning, mother rabbits, knowing they emit a scent that could attract predators, will even avoid returning to their nest to avoid putting their offspring in danger.
Scientific name: Cervus elaphus
Who doesn’t like a well-prepared meal? Certainly not the red deer. With his 4-chambered stomach, this creature first ferments his food in a special chamber before finally digesting it placing him in a larger class of animals, one also beginning with R (ruminants). So, if you’ve ever had somebody tell you to ruminate, or to chew over something again, the biological actions of a creature like the red deer might be the cause!
Scientific name: Sciurus vulgaris
This bushy-tailed forest dweller may very rarely eat the occasional bird egg or nestling, but throw him a conifer cone and he’ll neatly strip everything away to get to the seed within (his food of choice) However, don’t expect them to share any with you, even if you’re a red squirrel yourself. He’s a solitary creature, not likely to share food with anyone else. It just goes to show that a cute appearance doesn’t necessarily equate to being a pushover!
Scientific name: Astrochelys radiate
These herbivorous creatures, whose favorite food seems to be the Opuntia cactus, tend to stay in the same area when it comes to dinner. Who could blame a slow-moving tortoise for wanting to keep things local when it comes to food? As a result, this dietary custom tends to leave the vegetation in these areas neatly trimmed. Sadly, their status has been listed as critically endangered
Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus
Though not capable of nighttime flight, the reindeer do have one thing in common with his fictional Christmas counterpart: he can be found largely in arctic and subarctic conditions. When it comes to mating, size does matter! To put it bluntly, the males with the largest antlers get the largest number of females. A pretty tall order given that the size of a male reindeer’s antlers is second only to that of the moose.
Unlike the reindeer (see above) or even many other penguins, the Rockhopper likes to dwell a little further away from the poles in more temperate climes such as the Falkland Islands. Because of the jagged topography of their landscape, they’re not able to slide on their bellies like their penguin brethren in more icy terrains. Instead, they hop about from rock to rock and hence the moniker!
Scientific name: Platalea ajaja
It has been said by many well-meaning nutritionists that “you are what you eat” and when it comes to the beautiful pink coloring of the Roseate Spoonbill, like his cousin the American flamingo, this is precisely the case. Their coloring is derived from their diet, crustaceans, and algae, consisting of the pigment canthaxanthin. The Roseate Spoonbill also, as the name implies could also say, is a case of you are what you eat with! It’s not every species that has a dining utensil as part of its physiognomy. And this creature puts his to good use, swinging his spoon-shaped bill from side to side in shallow waters to feed.
Scientific name: Sterna dougallii
When it comes to feeding, the roseate tern plunge-dives into the sea for fish. Unlike some other terns who fish in freshwater, so important to this bird that they even play a part in courtship. When a male roseate tern is interested in a female, he presents her with a fish. Not quite as ostentatious as a diamond ring, but infinitely more practical! Unusual for other birds of this genus, the roseate tern often exhibits kleptomaniacal behavior, occasionally stealing fish from other birds, most notably the puffin. In the summertime, the underside of the roseate tern often takes on a pinkish hue, thus the significance of its name.
Scientific name: Agalychnis callidryas
One of the most striking characteristics of this arboreal amphibian is its natural camouflage. With its eyes closed, the green back of this creature blends perfectly with the leafy surroundings of its leafy south American rainforest dwelling. If disturbed by a potential predator, however, he’ll open his green eyelids to reveal a frightening set of dark red peepers, chasing away the unwanted interloper like a fiery-eyed guardian of a haunted forest! Given that the females are larger than the males, and often make the choice when it comes to mating, this nocturnal species could be considered a midnight matriarchy.
Scientific name: Geococcyx californianus
Though obviously not as speedy as his cartoon counterpart, the roadrunner is nonetheless very fast indeed, reaching speeds of up to 20 miles an hour. Being able to sprint at such a velocity, means the roadrunner is more often found running than undertaking the more arduous task of flying. But perhaps just as interesting a character as his speed, is his Indiscriminately omnivorous diet. Indeed there seems to be nothing he won’t put in his bill: lizards, snakes, tarantulas, even scorpions. In fact, owing to his speed, he is one of the very few species able to prey upon another animal beginning with R – the fearsome rattlesnake!
Scientific name: Ovis canadensis
Also known as bighorn sheep, a ram is a species of sheep native to North America. Both horns can weigh up to 14 kg (30 lb) and the sheep will generally weigh up to 143 kg (315 lb). Recent research has found that there are 3 subspecies of Ovis canadensis, sadly, one of these is currently endangered: The presence of rams is considered a good indicator of how healthy the land is because the species is particularly sensitive to many human-caused environmental problems. Rams graze on grasses and shrubs, especially in winter and autumn, and seek out minerals from salt licks. They are pursued by hunters as well as black bears, grizzly bears, and wolves.
Scientific name: Brachypelma hamorii
The red knee spider (Brachypelma hamorii) is rather large! When researchers took a sample of 7 females possessed a body length of around 52–54 mm (2.0–2.1 in). The same research using 11 males revealed they were slightly smaller, with a total body length in the range of 46–52 mm (1.8–2.0 in). The males compensate for this, though. Their shorter bodies are counterbalanced with longer legs! The spider’s legs and palps are black to black-red with 3 starkly colored rings, deep orange on the area of the patellae nearest to the body with lighter orange–yellow further away, light orange–yellow across the lower area of the tibiae, and a whitish-yellow towards the base of the metatarsi.
Scientific name: Buteo lagopus
Also known as the rough-legged buzzard, the main characteristics in all plumages are long white tail feathers with one or more dark subterminal bands. The tips of the wings are long enough to reach past the tail even when the animal is perching. The rough-legged hawk has been said to be eagle-like compared to other hawks. The breeding areas are usually in areas that have plenty of open ground and unforested scrubland. It will depend upon the weather conditions and snowfall, but migrants generally arrive at breeding grounds in April and May
List of Animals That Start with the Letter R
- Red deer
- Red squirrel
- Radiated tortoise
- Rockhopper penguin
- Roseate spoonbill
- Roseate Tern
- Red-eyed treefrog
- Redknee tarantula
- Rough-Legged Hawk
Why not have a read of Animals That Start With the Letter P