Mammals

 

MAMMALS

 

lepre sarda palau itinereCAPE HARE
ORDER: Lagomorpha
FAMILY: Leporidae
SUBSPECIES: lepus capensis mediterraneus
LOCAL NAME: lèpparu
DIMENSIONS: length head-tail 35-55 cm; tail 11 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: middle size, small stretched head with big eyes, the ears are longer than the head, with black tips. The upper tooth row shows two pairs of upper incisors. Long narrow body, short tail. The forelegs are shorter and thinner than the hind legs, which are strong and well developed. Grey-brown to reddish-brown upperpart, white underside, the tail is dark at the upperpart and white at the underpart, which is clearly visible while running.

HABITAT: it inhabits various habitats. Its dens are surface-depression forms, well hidden in the vegetation, which the hare moulds on its own body. It feeds on shamrock and other herbs, but also on berries, roots or crops.

BIOLOGY: the mating period starts at the beginning of December and lasts until Spring, pregnancy lasts about 40 days, birth takes place in Spring or Autumn. Females give birth to 1-2 leverets.

 

donnola sarda palau itinere

LEAST WEASEL

ORDER: carnivora
FAMILY: mustelidae
SUBSPECIES: mustela nivalis boccamela
LOCAL NAME: beddhùla, breddhùla, donna di muru
DIMENSIONS: length head-tail 17-27 cm; tail 4-9 cm.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: the weasel is the smallest member of the Carnivora. It has a long slender body with a small, narrow head, sharp muzzle, big eyes, medium-sized rounded ears, long neck quite distinct from the head, medium-sized tail. The upper body is dark-brown, the belly is white, this difference being particularly evident on its flanks. Legs are short and thin. Females are smaller than males.

HABITAT: found in a range of habitats, it favours bushes and well hidden places like dry-stone walls; active mainly at sunset and at night. It feeds on rodents, reptiles, small birds, insects.  Its ability to climb trees enables it to hunt on chicks and eggs.

BIOLOGY: weasels mate mainly in Spring-Summer. Gestation is quite short, around 5-8 weeks. 4-6 youngs are given birth mainly in June-July.

 

cinghlale sardo palau itinere

SARDINIAN WILD BOAR

ORDER: artiodactyla
FAMILY: suidae
SUBSPECIES: sus scrofa meridionalis
LOCAL NAME: pulcàvru, polcàvru, polciàvru.
DIMENSIONS: medium length 100-120 cm (tail included); medium weight 50 kg; shoulder height 50 cm.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: compact and strong body. Large head with an impressive snout; adult males develop tusks from their lower and upper canine teeth, that can measure up to 13 cm. Short, quite thin tail ending in a tuft of bristles. Its legs end in strong hooves. It has a brownish-black back, covered with thick bristles, that form a short mane on the neck. Males are larger than females.

HABITAT: the wild boar lives in small groups called sounder, mainly in woods and in mediterranean shrubs. It feeds on grass, roots, wild and grown fruit, besides worms and snails, it also likes insects and grubs.

BIOLOGY: it mates in winter. The pregnancy lasts 16 to 20 weeks. It gives birth up to 8 piglets, which nurse for the first 3 months of life; they stay with the mother for a variable period, even after weaning.

 

REPTILES

 

lucertola bedriaga palau itinere

BEDRIAGA’S ROCK LIZARD

ORDER: squamata
FAMILY: lacertidae
SPECIES: archaeolacerta bedriagae sardoa
LOCAL NAME: tzirichèltula, tzirichèlta
DIMENSIONS: length 21 to 28 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: this species is endemic to Sardinia and Corsica. It has a robust trunk with smooth scales. Its colours are variable, usuallly brownish-grey with a blue-greenish sheen. It has a large, long, flattened head with a pointed snout; deep-set eyes, long, conical tail. Well-developed limbs, with 5 long fingers. Females are smaller than males.

HABITAT: it inhabits all sorts of rocky areas such as cliffs and stone surfaces. It is a sedentary species which stays in the same rocky area all life. It feeds on insects and spiders. It catches its prey either with quick and agile jumps after approaching it in a slow and sneaking movement or waiting for it until within reach.

BIOLOGY: mating takes place in Spring. Females lay 3 – 6 eggs; youngs hatch between July and September and are 5 – 6 cm long.

 

biacco palau itinere

WESTERN WHIP SNAKE

ORDER: squamata- Hierophis
FAMILY: colubridae
SPECIES: hierophis viridiflavus
LOCAL NAME: tzelpa, salpi
DIMENSIONS: length 150-200 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: it is a highly common, non-venomous snake; its colour is variable, usually dark with lighter spots. Very long body, without limbs. Its head is oval-shaped and quite small; big eyes with rounded pupils; rounded snout and wide mouth with small, pointed teeth; long tail, around a quarter of the total length of the animal. Females are smaller than males.

HABITAT: it prefers dry, sunny areas such as rocks, shrubs, Mediterranean bush, dry-stone walls and ruins. It feeds mainly on small mammals and birds, lizards and eggs. Big preys are choked to death by its coils before being swallowed.

BIOLOGY: mating takes place between April and June, after courtship ritual fighting. Between the middle of June and the beginning of July females lay 5-15 eggs. Youngs hatch in August-September, they are 20-25 cm long.

 

testuggine marginata itinere

MARGINATED TORTOISE

ORDER: Testudines
FAMILY: Testudinidae
SPECIES: testudo marginata
LOCAL NAME: cuppulàta, tastàinu
DIMENSIONS: length of the carapace 20 to 30-35 cm.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: very large land turtle. Its carapace is domed and flanged outward like a bell, colours vary according to the age from yellow or tan, to dark brown or grey-black. Undivided carapace over the tail. Head with large eyes and a robust, cutting beak with a rounded edge; long, thick neck. Stubby, robust legs; head, tail and legs are retractable. Males have a concave plastron and a longer and stronger tail than females.

HABITAT: it lives in particularly dry, hot areas, in a wide range of habitats. Although mainly herbivorous, it also feeds on invertebrates.

BIOLOGY: between June and July females lay up to 12 eggs, in a hole dug in soft soil. Incubation takes about 3 months. Youngs have a rounded carapace and more definite markings. 

 

BIRDS

 

poiana palau itinere

BUZZARD

ORDER: falconiform
FAMILY: Accipitridae
SUBSPECIES: buteo buteo arrigonii
LOCAL NAME: falcu lepparàiu, puiàna
DIMENSIONS: wingspan 113-140 cm –  length 51-57 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:  it resembles a small eagle. Its plumage shows variable colours from reddish – dark brown to whitish. Strong beak,  grey and hooked at the base, then black. Broad rounded wings. Yellow feet with long claws, short  rounded tail. Females are usually slightly larger than males.

HABITAT: various habitats such as hills and medium-height mountains. Buzzards feed mainly on small rodents, mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians,  big insects and carrions. They nest in trees and, rarely, in rocky areas.

BIOLOGY: courtship period is around February-March; after mating, usually in March-April, 2-3 eggs are laid. Both adults incubate eggs for 33-35 days, after hatching chicks are fed, initially, only by females. Chicks leave the nest after about one and a half month.

 

gheppio palau itinere

KESTREL

ORDER: falconiform
FAMILY: Falconidae
SUBSPECIES: falco tinnunculus
LOCAL NAME: falchìttu futtièntu
DIMENSIONS: wingspan 68-82 cm –  length 32-35 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:  medium size. Rounded head, hooked beak. Long, narrow wings, thin legs with robust dark claws, long, slightly rounded tail. It displays sexual colour dimorphism, females having a less colourful plumage and being slightly larger than males.

HABITAT: this bird exploits a broad range of habitats: hills, coasts, woodland. It feeds mainly on small mammals, small birds such as sparrows, lizards and big insects. It hunts by sight and when hovering, it is able to remain still even in strong winds by letting its wings vibrate very quickly.

BIOLOGY:  it nests in trees, buildings, rocky areas. From April to June between 3 to 6 eggs are laid, these are incubated largely by the female up to 29 days. Young become independent after about 60 days.

 

corvo palau itinere

RAVEN

ORDER: passeriformes
FAMILY: Corvidae
SUBSPECIES: corvus corax
LOCAL NAME: colbu
DIMENSIONS: wingspan 115-130 cm–  length 54-67 cm

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES:  it is the largest European raven. Its plumage is entirely black with a bluish-purple sheen; big head; large and heavy beak; wide, long, large rounded wings; wide wedge-shaped tail; thick, black feet; the sexes are similar in appearance.

HABITAT: ravens nest in single pairs, but in Autumn families can gather forming big flocks. They live mainly in upland areas and coastal cliffs. Omnivorous species, they feed on rodents, small birds, eggs and other birds’ chicks, but above all on carrions and refuse,  occasionaly on berries, seeds and fruit.

BIOLOGY:  pairs stay together for life and nest on cliff cavities. Females lay 4-6 eggs and incubate them for 20-21 days. Both parents fiercely defend their nest, they feed and take care of the youngs for  5-6 weeks.