I don't know about you, but it's a little too warm in the desert for my taste. Let's seek out greener (and cooler) pastures in search of our next set of pictures. The Nile Valley boasts some of the widest varieties of life anywhere in the world. Birds, mammals and reptiles live in the same area in combinations unknown elsewhere. Just taking a walk outside the cities can yield some marvelous wildlife finds. Most of what you'll find are smaller animals, such as rodents, birds, and small reptiles. There are larger animals, such as cheetahs and leopards found in Egypt, but they tend to keep to the unpopulated areas. Yet as recently as the 1960's, a cheetah was spotted near one of the major highways.
They look like the weasels, but this is a pair of mongooses. The mongoose is a highly-prized animal for its ability to fight and kill snakes, even the deadly cobras. The mongoose moves like lightning, making it very hard for a snake to strike and hit it. They will bit into the back of the head, right at the base of the neck, and keep biting until the snake is dead. Often, several mongooses will work to battle a single snake, for the mongoose is a communal animal. They live in underground "cities" of burrows, each one taking turns caring for the young, watching for predators, and hunting for food.
Here is a truly magnificent animal, the Lanner Falcon. No other animal living today is seen so much a symbol of Egypt as this one. Ages ago it was seen as sacred to the god Horus, who was said to take the form of this bird when he visited the mortal realm. It was also the bird of choice for use in falconry, a job at which it excelled. Its keen eyesight allows it to spot prey far below it while flying.
Life always finds a way to survive. Many animals have gone into the mountains or to the few unpopulated islands and banks of the Nile that remain, avoiding humans with every step. Other animals have chosen the opposite tact and have infiltrated the cities, successfully placing themselves alongside humans and surviving as best they can.
Didn't expect to find these in Egypt, did you? These are weasels, just like the ones found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are found all over the world as they can adapt to fit any environment. Weasels will eat anything, and they do devastating damage to the domestic fowls such as chickens and ducks, eating the eggs as well as the small chicks. For many Egyptians, the weasel is a great nuisance. They are often found living in the city, even in the walls of houses like mice, stealing food wherever they can find it.
This is an Egyptian Vulture, also called by the hopelessly unflattering name of Pharaoh's Chicken. They are called such, not because they were eaten in ancient times, but rather because when they are on the ground, they look a lot like chickens. They may be clumsy and waddling on the ground, but they soar like eagles in the sky with their mighty wingspan of almost six feet. This was the totem animal of the goddess Nekhbet, and was often used to adorn the crowns of the pharaohs.
Australia has the Duck-Billed Platypus, Egypt has the Hyrax. It's about the size of a rabbit, it looks like a member of the rodent family, but can you guess what it's closest relative is? The elephant. That's right, the Hyrax and the elephant are very similar, and they both may have evolved from a common ancestor. Its feet are the biggest clue, the toes are arranged like the toes of the elephant. The Hyrax lives at the base of the mountains, but occasionally comes into the lower areas when its curiosity gets the better of it. Like the elephant, it is a herbivore, that is, it eats plants. It basks in the sun by day in large colonies (herds, really), and goes out to eat at night.