The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) is an oceanic bird that flies low over the sea's surface, scooping up prey such as squid, fish, and other marine animals. The wandering albatross, a name that aptly describes it's long travels, is well-adapted to lengthy, continous flight.
The wandering albatross has a wingspan of up to 11 feet (or more than three meters), the widest wingspan of any bird. The bird's expansive wings enable it to glide efficiently through the air, spending at times several months airborne. The albatross' bill is well-suited for capturing fish and other creatures from the water, with a hooked tip and razor-like edges. Unlike most other birds, the albatross' nostrils are small tubes located on the upper sides of their bill (instead of fusused nostrils at the top of the bill).
The wandering albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird, and is named so, because it is such an extensive traveler. It sometimes spends several months in the air, without ever touching down on land. They use the winds to search for food and to return to their nesting islands. Nearly all species of Albatross live in the southern oceans, which are the windiest oceans, but the wandering albatross can live up to 80 years of age. They feed mainly on squid, octopus, cuttlefish and crustaceans. The wandering albatross doesn't start breeding until it is at least seven years old. At the beginning of the breeding season, which lasts from November to July, many males may be seen around one female. Once the female has found a suitable partner, which may take a few years, they will remain together until one of them dies.
After the female lays one egg, it takes about 78 days for the chick to hatch. After a period of about nine months, its parents won't take care of it anymore. That is when it takes off, circling the globe many times before returning to the breeding ground to look for a partner.
Rattus exulans is the smallest of the three rats (Rattus rattus, R. norvegicus and R. exulans) closely associated with humans. R. exulans has a slender body, pointed snout, large ears, and relatively small, delicate feet. A ruddy brown back contrasts with a whitish belly. Mature individuals are 4.5 to 6 inches long (11.5 to 15.0 cm) from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and weigh 1.5 to 3 ounces (40 to 80 g). The tail has prominent fine scaly rings and is about the same length as the head and body. Female R. exulans have 8 nipples, compared to 10 and 12 nipples normally found on R. rattus and R. norvegicus, respectively. Morphology (skull size) of R. exulans has been shown to vary with latitude and island size. This effect is most pronounced in the tropics.