Yes, the small five consists of five tiny creatures that unlike the big five, are not actually game. They’re just adorable and worth seeing on your next African safari.
The small five may not be as visible as the big five, but they’re just as important to the ecosystem! The name of each these small creatures relates to its big five counterpart, so without further ado, here are the little five game animals!
The elephant shrew isn’t, as you might have guessed by the photo, related to the elephant, but it’s also completely unrelated to the shrew! They’re tiny and fast – they weigh a maximum of one pound (0.5 kg) and can reach speeds of up to 18 miles/h (29 km/h), which makes them one of the fastest mammals in the world.
They can be found in the southern part of Africa, pretty much in any type of habitat. Elephant shrews eat mainly insects and worms and use their elephant-like trunk to find their food. They’re a bit of a romantic, as they are monogamous and mate for life. Also, they’re incredibly cute, did we mention that?
The red-billed buffalo weaver is a bird that is native to Africa. It can be found throughout the African continent, and it prefers the dry savanna. Their diet consists of mainly insects, and they themselves are food for larger birds, such as eagles, hawks, as well as baboons and snakes. It breeds in colonies and one male can have up to three females in their nest chambers. If you love birds, the buffalo weaver is a must-see African birds.
The leopard tortoise loves dry environments and feeding on grass and succulents. It is one of the largest tortoises in the world and can weigh up to 88 pounds (40 kg). Did you know that the leopard tortoise will reach sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 15? It makes sense when you find out that they can live up to 80 years! The plastron (their underbelly) is flat in females and concave in males, so that during mating season, the male can comfortably mount the female. Another interesting fact about the leopard tortoise is the fact that their sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. If it’s between 87-93° F (31-34°C) the egg will produce a female tortoise and if it’s between 78-87° F (26-31°C), then the egg will be male.
Antlions are called that because the larvae devour ants, the same way a lion devours its prey. Even more so, they set little traps for the ants, which has made the insects quite popular since ancient times! The antlion larvae resemble bedbugs, while the adult antlions are similar to mayflowers. There are around 2,000 species of antlions, so there are plenty of chances of spotting one during your African safari.
There are around 300 species of rhino beetles, each of them wonderfully colored and beautifully shaped. The horn on the beetles is completely harmless to people, as is the beetle itself. The horn is actually an indicator of the beetle’s health and general nutrition, which consists of fruit, wood and tree sap. Rhino beetles are exceptionally strong, being able to lift up to 700 times their own weight! And they can also fly!
*photo source - Wikipedia
While on your next big five safari, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the little five as well! They’re too cute to miss and make awesome photography subjects!