Stingray Babies Are Cute Too
January 20, 2009
The Houston Zoo's Kipp Aquarium has seven tiny new additions to its growing family. (The Zoo) is proud to announce the birth of seven baby stingrays. Their mom and dad are checkerboard freshwater stingrays, a species from South America. Dad can be seen swimming in Kipp Aquarium, while mom and babies are staying in their cozy tanks in the Aquarium Quarantine until they are ready to go out and meet the public.
The video below takes you behind the scenes to the Aquarium Quarantine Building with its bubbling tanks full of exotic marine life, including our new crop of baby stingrays:
You can see stingrays in Kipp Aquarium as well as in the Natural Encounters building. Varieties in these exhibits include orange-spotted freshwater stingrays and white-spotted freshwater stingrays.
Orange spotted freshwater stingray
Stingrays get their name from the spine or barb located on their tail, seen near the very left of the photo above. "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died after being stung in the chest by a marine stingray as he was snorkeling off the coast of Australia; however, this unusual accident misconstrues this primarily docile animal, which uses its stinger not to hunt but to defend itself if it feels threatened. Stingrays prefer slower prey such as aquatic insects, molluscs, or crustaceans. In the video above you can see bloodworms floating near the bottom of the tank, a food offering for our baby stingrays.
Stingrays glide gracefully by undulating their body like a wave. Their flat bodies allow for terrific camouflage on the floor of the ocean or a river, where they can bury themselves in the sand so only their eyes are showing. They have large spiracles near their eyes that allow them to breathe easily while buried and motionless.
Marine stingrays can be found in tropical coastal waters throughout the world, and freshwater stingrays are found in Asia, Africa, and South America. Adult stingray species range in size from palm-sized to up to 14 feet in diameter. Most species are widespread and abundant, but there are a few species listed as vulnerable or endangered due to polluted water or other habitat degradation.
A group or collection of stingrays is commonly referred to as a "fever" of stingrays.