Monday, July 25, 2016

Fauna of Japan

About 130 species of land mammal occur in Japan. The largest of these are the 2 bears. The Ussuri brown bear (Ursus Arctos Lasiotus) is found in Hokkaido where it plays an important role in the culture of the Ainu people. The Asian black bear (Ursus Thibetanus) inhabits mountainous areas in Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Smaller carnivores include the Red fox (Vulpes Vulpes), Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes Procyonoides), and Japanese marten (Martes Melampus). There are 2 wild cats in Japan: The Leopard cat (Prionailurus Bengalensis) of mainland Asia occurs on Tsushima island while the Iriomote cat (Prionailurus Iriomotensis) is unique to the island of Iriomote. Grazing mammals include the Sika deer (Cervus Nippon), Japanese serow (Capricornis Crispus), and Wild boar (Sus Scrofa). Among Japan's most famous mammals is the Japanese macaque (Macaca Fuscata), the world's Northernmost monkey. Marine mammals include the Dugong (Dugong Dugon), Finless porpoise (Neophocaena Phocaenoides), and Steller's sea lion (Eumetopias Jubatus). Over 600 species of bird have been recorded in Japan and more than 250 of these breed. A number of birds are endemic including the Japanese green woodpecker (Picus Awokera), Copper pheasant (Symaticus Sommerringii), and Japan's national bird, the Japanese green pheasant (Phasianus Versicolor). Several species are unique to the smaller islands including the Okinawa rail (Gallirallus Okinawae), Izu thrush (Turdus Celanops), and Bonin white-eye (Apalopteron Familiare). Most of the non-endemic birds are shared with China but a few originate in Siberia or Southeast Asia. Large numbers of migrant birds pass through Japan in spring and autumn including many waders. In winter, several sites are important for swans, geese, and cranes. Japan has about 73 species of reptile of which nearly half of them are endemic. Sea turtles and highly venomous but non-aggressive sea snakes including the Black-banded sea krait occur in warmer waters around Southern Japan. Venomous snakes include the midly venomous Tiger keelbackm and the more venomous front fanged vipers the Elegant pit viper, Okinawa habu, Tokara habu, Hime habu, and Mamushi. Many pitviper species, known as habus throughout Japan are endemic to the islands in the warmer Ryukyu island chain however the Mamushi (Gloydius Blomhoffi) is found on the main islands. Non-venomous rat snakes in Japan are the endemic Japanese common rat snake, Japanese forest rat snake, Japanese 4-lined rat snake, and King rat snake and Beauty rat snake which in Japan are found only in the warm Ryukyu islands but have much wider distributions on mainland Asia. 3 species of odd-scaled snakes are present in the Southern islands including the Formosan odd-scaled snake, Japanese odd-scaled snake, and Amami odd-scaled snake. Lizards include many endemic skink species, the Viviparous lizard, and the Okinawa climbing lizard (Japalura Polygonata). Freshwater turtles in Japan include the endemic Japanese pond turtle, Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle. The Chinese box turtle is found only on the Southernmost islands of Iriomote and Ishigaki in its Japanese range. There are over 40 amphibian species including the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias Japonicus), one of the world's largest amphibians. The Asiatic salamander family (Hynobiidae) is particularly well represented, many members of the family are found only in Japan. Over 3,000 different types of fish have been recorded in Japan. Important freshwater fish include the Ayu (plecoglossus Altivelis), Crucian carp (Carassius Carassius), and Common carp (Cyprinus Carpio). The Common carp is the ancestor of the well-known Koi carp. Small freshwater fish include the Pale chub, Japanese chub (Nipponocypris Sieboldii), and several species of bitterling including the endangered Rosy bitterling. The Southern Ryukyu islands are home to endemic species of colorful freshwater gobies in the genus Stiphodon. Notable anadromous fish include 6 species of salmon represented by the Chinook salmon, Chum salmon, Pink salmon, Coho salmon, Sockeye salmon, and Cherry salmon. Chars in the genus Salvelinus are represented by the White spotted char, Dolly Varden trout, and Kirikuchi char. The Japanese taimen (Husho Perri) is the largest fish to enter freshwater in Japan and may reach sizes of up to 2 meters in length, The Japanese taimen is a critically endangered species including the Japanese populations which are restricted to the rivers and surrounding ocean of Hokkaido. Also present in the Japanese dace (Tribolodon Hakonensis). Important saltwater fish include the Red sea beam (Pagrus Major). Mudskippers are found in warmer areas while coral reefs in the Ryukyu islands have many fish typical of tropical waters such as Parrotfish and Anenomefish. The little-known Goblon shark and Frilled shark have been recorded from deep waters in Japan. Japan has around 300 kinds of butterfly including several of the mainly tropical milkweed butterflies in Ryukyu. There are around 190 dragonflies including the primitive Epiophlebia Superstes. Other well-known insects in Japan include cicadas, crickets, and fireflies. Firefly viewing is a popular tourist attraction in some areas. Japan is also home to the world's largest wasp, the Asian giant hornet.

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