Palestine Viper (Lat. Vipera palaestina or Daboia palaestina).
Range: Palestine, north through Lebanon and Syria, east through Jordan.
Habitat: Rocky hillsides, overgrown with small brush, open woodland, agricultural areas, adjacent or close to rivers, streams and/or other water sources.
Size: 36 - 40 inches. The largest seldom exceed 4 feet.
Characteristics: May be reddish brown, beige, olive or grayish-yellow with a broken pattern in dark gray, black or reddish, edged with dark black. On the head is a dark V-shaped marking.
Behaviour: Nocturnal during the warm summer months, spending the day in crevices, burrows, or clumps of vegetation. To ambush small prey mammals, they wait coiled in a suitable spot. They also forage for birds and nestlings in low shrubs and trees.
Reproduction: Lay up to 20 eggs. Young hatch in 5 - 6 weeks and are 8 inches long. They feed on nestling rodents and probably lizards.
Diet: Small mammals, birds, and lizards.
Miscellaneous: The relationships of many vipers is not clearly understood and there is some doubt about the correct classification of the Palestinian viper. It is usually considered a seperate species but has previously been considered a subspecies of the closely related Ottoman viper of west Turkey and several islands.
Palestine (Orange-tufted) Sunbird (Lat. Nectarinia osea or Cinnyris oseus).
Subspecies and Distribution:
N.o.osea : Levant and western and southern Arabia.
N.o.decorsei : Afrotropics.
10-12 cm, 8 g, wingspan 14-16 cm. Small but fat-bodied passerine, with long decurved bill, rather broad-ended wings, straight tail, and rather long legs, adapted to nectar feeding and frequently hovering to do so.
Adult male breeding looks all-black at distance but shows multi-colored iridescence and orange breast tufts at close range. Non-breeding male, female and juvenile olive-grey above, dusky white below.
Restless, with fast, flitting flight between flower clumps.
Sexes dissimilar in breeding plumage, marked seasonal variation in male.
Occurs within small region in eastern lower middle and lower latitudes of west Palearctic, in Mediterranean and desert climates, with higher temperature than experienced by most Nectariniidae. Also uses wider range of habitats from lowlands near sea-level with gardens, orchards, bushy river banks, and rocky valleys to mountain summits clothed in juniper.
Food and Feeding:
Invertebrates, nectar, and other plant material. Nectar is taken with long, brush-tipped tongue from opening of tubular flowers and also from small flowers such as those of Citrus trees. Capable of hovering near aperture of flower but more often sips nectar while perched alongside.
Takes nectar from large flowers, Hibiscus, Cconvolvulus and Malvaviscus by perforating corolla with bill. Takes insects hidden in flowers and sometimes catches them in flight. Insects also picked off leaves.
Feb-Sep in Palestine but sometimes in winter at Eilat. Feb-Sep in Arabia.
Nest site, at tip of hanging branch of tree of bush in sheltered place, close to wall of house, or vine covering ceiling of balcony.
Nest, rather untidy pear-shaped purse c 18 cm long, 8 cm wide at base, with circular side-entrance near top and protected by small awning, traqiling beard of leaves and twigs hangs from base. Outer fabric of thin stems, roots, leaves, plant down, and bark, bound with hair, wool, and cobwebs, and lined with feathers, wool, paper fragments, and leaves.
1-3 eggs, sub-elliptical, smooth and glossy. White, very finely speckled reddish-brown. Base color pale grey of varying from yellowish to greenish to white, with small ill-defined violet-grey or brown-grey blotches and spots in loose circle at broad end.
Incubation 13-14 days, by female only.
West Palearctic and Arabian race, nominate, resident, locally despersive, or short-distance migrant. In Palestine, nomadic in winter. in Palestine, spread of distribution in recent years obscures formerly clearer local movements and not known to what extent these still apply.
Status and Conservation:
Not globally threatened. In Palstine increased since 1940.
In Palestine subspecies N. o. osea abundant resident in all regions of the country.
Palestine (Yellow-vented or White-eyed) Bulbul (Lat. Pycnonotus xanthopygos).
Status and distribution:
Main range is in coastal parts of Arabian Peninsula but also breeds in the Western Palearctic in southern Turkey from about Antalya eastwards, in coastal Syria and Lebanon, Palestine and adjacent west Jordan, parts of the north and extreme south of Sinai and north-eastern Saudi Arabia.
Apparently makes no seasonal movements.
Found in palm groves, orchards and gardens, wadis and oases, most habitats with trees and bushes, often close to human habitation.
Palestine Uhu or Pharaoh (Desert, Savigny) Eagle Owl (Lat. Bubo bubo ascalaphus).
Status and distribution:
Replaces the Great Eagle Owl in deserts from North Africa to Iraq. Breeds in north Mauretania and Morocco, over much of Algeria and Tunisia, and known from a very few scattered localities in Libya. Also breeds patchily in the Nile Valley and elsewhere in Egypt and Sinai, in Palestine, Jordan and western Iraq, perhaps still survives but rare in Syria and Kuwait.
||Palestine Field Mouse
Palestine Field Mouse (Lat. Microtus philistinus).
Palestine Fox (Lat. Vulpes vulpes palaestina)
||Palestine Mole Rat
Palestine mole rats (Spalex ehrenbergi) are rodents, native to Mediterranean coastal areas of northern Palestine and Egypt.
The six-inch long Palestine mole rats weigh between four and eight ounces and are entirely covered by a heavy coat of fur. Vestigial eyes have disappeared completely beneath the skin and are barely visible, so it is difficult to determine which end of the animal is which! Even so, look carefully at their heads, because they are wonderfully adapted to their tunneling life in a subterranean environment. Blunt heads serve as shovels, helping to push dirt out of the pathways as the animals excavate through the ground. Their noses are padded with a fingernail-like substance and are used as tools to pack dirt into the tunnel walls. Strong muscles connect the head and body and reinforce the bulldozer-effect of the head. Those muscles also result in a neck almost as wide as the body, thus contributing to the cylinder-like appearance. The ears lie comparatively far back on the head and their external openings are very small-look carefully and you'll find them.
These solitary animals normally come together only during the breeding season, November through January, which is the rainy season in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tunnel systems in their native habitat are often found in close proximity and may even be interconnected, but the animals don't cross into each other's territory. Burrows are extensive and include living, sanitation, and storage rooms as well as chambers used for sleeping. Resting chambers are usually found in above-ground piles of dirt mounded up from tunnel excavations. Total length of the tunnel in a burrow system may vary between 213 and 640 feet.
The favorite foods of the Palestine mole rats are roots, bulbs, and tubers. Considering their diminutive size, they have healthy appetites. In the wild, almost 40 pounds of potatoes and sugar beets have been found stockpiled in one of their burrows. Due to both their choice of food and the quantity they eat, mole rats can be a problem to farmers if they establish tunnel systems in an agricultural area. On the other hand, mole rats are a boon to archaeologists, a very common species in the Mediterranean region, because their burrowing unearths sherds of pottery and other fragments of former civilizations, thus guiding archaeologists to the best sites to dig for the remnants of earlier human habitation.
Encounters between members of the same sex or during the non-breeding season frequently result in injury or death to one or both of the animals. Their constantly growing, large incisors, so well-suited to excavating tunnels, provide a strong hint of the potential injury they could inflict on an unwelcome intruder.
Because members of this species are loners and meetings tend to be violent, communication is important, both to warn off potential confrontation as well as to signal readiness for breeding. Mole rats that share a tunnel system can warn off other inhabitants of the species with sound and smell, but mole rats in near-by tunnels have developed an alternative form of communication and seem to signal each other by head drumming. Israeli researchers studying Palestine mole rats created enclosures that simulated their natural homes by using Plexiglass tubes which the animals used as tunnels. Zoologists observed that the mole rats would occasionally enter the tubes and tap the upper front part of their head between one to twelve times on the tube's ceiling .
This "head drumming" occurs in a series of bursts that result in vibrations which may travel through the ground and be sensed by other mole rats. Field studies have shown drumming occurs in a pattern very similar to the behavior observed in more controlled situations.