TODAY

TODAY   |  January 28, 2014

Animals with athletic survival skills

National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski joins TODAY with some wild animals who are impressive athletes in the game of survival, including the Arctic fox, wallaby, and alligator.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> oh, sorry, willie, i was caught up in the music dancing. sorry. the athletes of the world are heading to sochi, but we've got a few animals of our own and not these two.

>> yes, we do, tamron hall . a high jumper , sprinter and gymnast with impressive skills to survive in all kinds of bitterness, including this cold.

>> david, good to see you.

>> hey, guys, how's it going? right into it.

>> so this is, again, an arctic fox . as you said, al. beautiful, gorgeous white coat . i wanted to bring this guy on because they're so symbolic of the winter. and since the winter olympics are going on, i wanted to bring an animal that lives in the north. you can see how thick this coat is.

>> can i touch him?

>> you can gently give a nice pet. super, super thick. this is going to keep this animal completely warm in subfreezing temperatures.

>> how cold of temperatures do they survive in?

>> negative 60 degrees.

>> really?

>> yeah. these guys go out on to the sea ice , follow polar bears and feed off the seal kills.

>> what age is this?

>> this is an adult.

>> an adult?

>> yeah. they're very, very tiny. and believe it or not, what's going to happen in the summer, is they're going to lose this white coat and grow a gray or brown coat because up in the arctic the snow melts and the camouflage goes seasonally. and when he loses his winter coat, he looks like a teeny, tiny house cat .

>> and most importantly, what does the fox say?

>> they do all sorts of calls.

>> natalie has answered that.

>> did you know --

>> tamron's our arctic fox .

>> really?

>> you have a wallabe.

>> all of these are surviving in nature. believe it or not, she doesn't look terribly athletic, but she can hop at 45 miles an hour.

>> really?

>> yeah. and they can hop 28 feet from when they're running, they can go 6 feet up right in the air from a standing position.

>> what does that do in the wild?

>> helps them get away from dingos.

>> the dingo ate the wallaby.

>> they hang out in the mom's pouch for about nine months. born premature and goes in the mom's pouch.

>> what's going on?

>> okay.

>> all right. and the gator represents what here?

>> oh. hey now.

>> whip it.

>> whip it good.

>> so this guy is our strong man.

>> yeah.

>> as you can tell. this is an american alligator . beautiful, endangered species success story. pithing a little bit.

>> why?

>> he's saying don't come too close to me. you should stand over here.

>> and they have an incredibly strong bite. this is only a juvenile, he's just a few years old. these guys can get to be about 13 feet long, chomp down with 2,000 pounds of bite force. as much as getting hit by a truck.

>> a single row of teeth, not layered.

>> exactly. not layered and they lose their teeth and regrow them. but, yeah, you don't want to get chomped on by one of these guys. their opening force was not that strong. if you were holding his jaw shut, he wouldn't be able to open it up. but if they bite you, you definitely -- you're going to be in trouble.

>> how cold of a temperature can they survive?

>> close to freezing, but they are reptiles, they hibernate in the winter where it gets cold.

>> okay.

>> a couple more animals.

>> this is a really, really great animal, relative of the raccoon. you can see the striped tail here.

>> but his face looks like a possum a little bit.

>> yeah. this really long nose. they're very inquisitive with their nose. these animals are not animals you want to handle. this guy lives in captivity and used to being handled by people. but like any animal with a mouth, they can bite you. and they live in the desert southwest down into south and central america . you can see how acrobatic he is. so he's our gymnast. our olympic gymnast.

>> and on the last one.

>> yeah. this guy --

>> oh, wow. looks like a