Russia’s Top 10 Most Unusual Animals


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1.Russian Desman

Desmans belong to the same family as moles but are adapted for a more aquatic lifestyle. They posses a similar long, cylindrical body, but the tail is longer and flatter than that of a mole and is broadened by a fringe of stiff hairs. The legs are also covered in stiff hairs and the thick, waterproof coat is brownish-red in colour, fading to ashy-grey on the underside. The snout is long and flexible and the back feet are completely webbed in order to provide propulsion in water. See more here.

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2. Russian Raccoon Dog

The raccoon dog is a small species of canine, native to parts of eastern Asia. As it’s name suggests, this wild doghas markings that closely resemble those of a raccoonand has also been known to display similar behavioursincluding the washing of food. Despite their similarities however, raccoon dogs are not actually closely related to the raccoons found in North America.

Raccoon dogs are unique canines as they are the only dog-like mammal that hibernates through the winter. Although raccoon dog hibernation is not true hibernation, it means thatraccoon dogs are able to sleep through severe snowstorms when there is not enough food to allow them to survive. Raccoon dogs usually become more active again in February when the warmer, spring weather begins to return. See more here.


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3. Russian Mole-Rat

The giant mole-rat or Russian mole-rat (Spalax giganteus) is a species of rodent in the family Spalacidae found in a limited area ofKazakhstan and southern Russia. It feeds on roots and tubers and lives underground in a burrow that it digs with its teeth. The IUCN has assessed it as being “Vulnerable“.

The giant mole-rat is native to the North Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Chechnya and southern Kalmykia located between the northern ends of the Caspian and Black Seas. It is restricted to a range of less than 50,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and its distribution within that area is quite patchy. It lives underground in burrows in damp sandy soils in semidesert areas, in river valleys, on plains, in shrubby or reedy areas and in disturbed and cultivated soils. See more here.

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4. Russian Dhole

A week ago, I went to an all-day seminar for zoo volunteers. In her part of the presentation, Northern Trail supervisor Diana Weinhardt told us several, or perhaps all seven, of the zoo’s Asian wild dogs — a highly social species also known as dholes — have been climbing a tree in their exhibit. We knew she wouldn’t lie to us, but I envisioned something short and shrubby. Thursday was finally warm enough to make the half-hour Northern Trail hike tolerable, and in the dhole-viewing gazebo, I gazed fondly at a pile of five napping Asian wild dogs before lifting my eyes and jumping half out of my skin. I mean, this tree is really pretty tall, is it not? The dhole looks as if it were photoshopped up there, but I swear it wasn’t. See more here.


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5. Saiga Antelope 

Saiga antelope have an extremely distinctive appearance with an enlarged nose that hangs down over the mouth. Despite their common name theseungulates are thought to be intermediates between antelope and sheep. The coat is sparse and cinnamon-buff in the summer but becomes white and around 70 percent thicker in winter. The underbelly is light in colour throughout the year, and there is a small mane on the underside of the neck. Mature males have almost vertical horns; these are semi translucent and are ringed in the bottom sections. See more here.

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6. False Zokor

The false zokor (Myospalax aspalax) is a species of rodents that is found in China and Russia. The False Zokor leads a very secretive life, spending all of its time underground where it zipps through its intricate maze-like burrows. For this reason, very little is known about its behavior. It’s about 19-26 cm in length with a gray/dirty cream velvety coat. Its not blind but relies more on its well-developed senses of smell and hearing to navigate its dark habitat. The zokor is built to dig with large claws (up to 3 cm in length) that it uses much like shovels to clear a path in the dirt. See more here.

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7. Amur leopard cat

While the leopard cat is one of the most common small cats in Asia, its subspecies Euptilura, commonly known as Amur leopard cat or Far Eastern forest cat, is rarer. Euptilura is larger than many of the AsianLeopard cat subspecies. It is also different in appearance. It’s dense, short, usually rosetted coat is more red and gray than other subspecies. Euptilura has heavy bones and muscles, long legs, a small head and thick tail. See more here.

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8. Siberian Musk Deer

As the name suggests, musk deer are responsible for the production of musk, a strong-smelling substance that is one of the most expensive animal products in the world . Unlike true deer of the family Cervidae, the male Siberian musk deer does not possess antlers, but instead has two prominent, tusk-like canine teeth, which protrude below the lower jaw. These grow throughout the deer’s life and may reach up to 10 centimetres in length. The Siberian musk deer has a stocky body, with relatively short, thin front legs and longer, more powerful hind legs. See more here.


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9. Pallas Cat

Known also as the ‘manul’, which is Mongolian in origin, this wildcat appears much bigger and heavier than it truly is: its hair keeps it warm in cold weather but also gives the illusion because of it’s stocky frame that it’s larger than it appears. They have longer and denser fur and undercoat than any of the other cats, underneath all this fur they are the same size as domestic cats. See more here.


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10. Russian Flying Squirrel

Photographer Yevgeny Popov, who was recently hiking in the Ural Mountains in search of a particularly rare bird, instead caught sight of perhaps an even rarer occurrence.

A Russian flying squirrel — a member of a nocturnal species and the only of its kind in Europe — was spotted and photographed by Popov as it jumped from tree to tree near Mount Iremel in the Chelyabinsk region.

Spotting a flying squirrel in broad daylight is “unreal,” Popov told the TASS news agency, which ran the story. See more here.

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8 thoughts on “Russia’s Top 10 Most Unusual Animals

  1. Fabulous animals I would never have known about. Thanks for sharing these!
    I wonder what one would get if the flying squirrel and the vampire deer were DNA combined? A blood-sucking deer with wings? Or, a fanged squirrel the size of a mule?

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