With sharp spines, a big, round nose, and a tail they can hang from, prehensile-tailed porcupines are nocturnal vegetarian rodents. They have short, thick spines, and their body color runs from yellowish to a orange-rust to brown to almost black. They weigh 4 to 11 pounds. Their bodies are 12 to 24 inches long, and their tails are almost as long as their bodies, adding another 10 to 20 inches. These porcupines use their prehensile tails for grasping and hanging.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are not well studied in the wild because they stay high in trees, are slow moving , and are largely immobile during the day – all of which makes them difficult to stop.

At night, they move around – slowly – foraging for food in treetops. Despite their lack of speed, they are surprisingly agile and climb quickly when necessary.

They cannot jump or throw their quills (no porcupine can!), but their quills detach easily when touched and can even embed themselves into their enemy’s skin. These defense are so formidable that porcupines have a longer lifespan and a slower reproductive rate than many other rodents.

When excited, these porcupines stamp their hind feet and shake their backsides.

When they are born, Brazilian porcupines are covered with red hair and soft quills which harden over time. They live in tropical rainforest trees of Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Trinidad, and some extreme northern sections of Argentina, rarely descending to the forest floor.

They eat leaves, stems, flowers, shoots, roots and the cambium layer found beneath thee bark of some trees. Their life span in an animal care facility: over 10-12 years; in the wild: 10-12 years.


White-Nosed coatis live in a variety of habitats from tropical lowlands to drier mountain forests in North, Central and South America. Females travel in groups called bands, which can number anywhere from 4 to 40 individuals while males 2 years and up travel alone.

Coatis are omnivores with a diverse diet, consisting of insects, spiders, lizards and other small animals, as well as fruits, nuts, plants and carrion. They use their long snout to sniff out critters underground, and then use their sharp claws to dig them out.

Coati mating season begins early in the year. During this time, solitary males will start to join female bands. These males will fend off rivals and mate with serval females. As mating season ends, males are forced out of the band and mated females will leave about 77 days later. Moms and pups return to the band about 5-6 weeks after birth.

Unlike the other species of coati, White-Nosed Coati populations are apparently stable, through lack of field data may drastically underestimate their numbers. Deforestation, habitat loss and introduced predators, such as cats and boa constrictors, all pose threats to their continual health. The Eastern and Western Mountain Coati species are either endangered or threatened.


Get up close and personal with our coati brothers with our Coati Connection adventure!
Click HERE for more information!




Geoffroy’s marmosets are small primates, easily recognized for their puffed white cheeks, face, and neck. They are sometimes called the tufted-ear or white-faced marmoset.

Geoffroy’s marmosets live an arboreal, treetop lifestyle in South American rainforests!

8 inches with 11-inch tails

Diet and Lifestyle
Geoffroy’s marmosets are diurnal and arboreal which means they are awake during the day and live in the treetops. They are omnivorous with a diverse diet of fruits, insects, small animals, and sap and gum from trees. In fact, they
have a special set of teeth to hammer into and scoop out this sugar-rich gum! At the Long Island Aquarium, our mammal trainers produce our own gum from plant material and sugar and hide it in toys around the exhibit to enrich our marmosets’ exhibit.

Smart Little Monkeys
In the wild, Geoffroy’s marmosets have observed to follow trains of plundering army ants. The ants flush out many hiding insects and, as the bugs flee from the ants, the marmosets can find themselves easy meals!

What was that sound? Is that a bird?
No! Those chirping sounds that you are hearing are the high-pitched vocalizations of our marmosets that they use to communicate with one another!

Lightweight Monkeys
These primates are tiny and can weigh as much as a juice box! Males may only weigh about 1/2 lb. to 3/4 lb. in the wild and females weigh only about 1/4 lb. In facilities, they can weigh up to a pound due to a reliable, healthy diet!

Turtle Bay

Torn apart by hurricane winds and typhoon surf, the docks at Turtle Bay are in disrepair. Yet, one person’s trash is another animal’s salvation! The docks are now overrun by turtles of shapes and sizes!

East African black mud turtles, red-eared sliders, and the alien-looking Australian snake-necked turtle are just a few species that you can see sunning themselves on the shattered docks. These ancient reptiles now call these waters home!

Long Island Aquarium’s Turtle residents are as hungry as they are friendly. For a small fee, you can purchase some turtle food to feed all of our turtles.


A cuttlefish is a type of mollusk, a Cephalopod, which has a highly developed central nervous system. Similar to octopuses and squids they arguably among the smartest invertebrates with the largest brain-to-body size ratio of all invertebrates. Also, they have an internal shell called a cuttlebone, which is porous and allows the animal to maintain buoyancy. They have a typical life expectancy of one to two years. However, there are over 120 different species of Cuttlefish in the wild.

Cuttlefish are remarkable for their ability to color change at will, using a set of specialized, pigmented skin cells and nerve cells, which interact to expand and contract, exposing various pigments as needed. This color change is useful for camouflage, communication between each other, and as a warning to predators.

Moray Eels

Moray Eels are a type of fish with dorsal and anal fins fused to the caudal fin, forming a single ribbon along the length of the fish.  There are over 800 known species of eels and more than 100 species of moray eel, including zebra morays (Gymnomuraena zebra), snowflake morays (Echidna nebulosa), and tessalata morays (Gymnothorax favagineus). Moray eels are not the vicious, deadly animals that many think they are. Most would rather hide in their burrows than attack a human and there is little evidence that they are venomous. Their body is actually brown but appear green due to a yellow mucus that covers their whole body!

Megalodon Display

If you think today’s sharks are scary, be glad you weren’t around 2.5 million to 15 million years ago. And that’s when the monstrous Megalodon ruled the seas, see for yourself at our Megalodon Display.

Also known only from fossilized teeth and vertebrae, Megalodon was approximately 60 feet long, which is the size of a city bus. And their teeth alone were 7 inches long, our Sand Tiger Sharks teeth are about 1 inch long! One look at the replica Megalodon jaws display and you’ll understand that it could literally swallow a Great White Shark!



Bugs represent the largest group of animals on Earth! They account for at least 75% of all known animal species and without them, larger animals could not exist. While insects can destroy crops, spread disease, and be a nuisance, they clean up environmental waste, pollinate many flowering plants and provide the food necessary for larger animals to survive!

Assembled by our entomologists at the LI Exhibition Center: Bug Exhibit, the Insect Preservatory contains several hundred preserved insect specimens. It showcases some of the largest, most beautiful, and most biologically interesting bugs in the world. Insects from every continent except Antarctica are represented in the Preservatory, including all sorts of beetles, stick insects, praying mantises, flies, wasps, and many more!

Some of our experts’ particularly favorite specimens are:

  1. Bee-Mimicking Robber Fly – Disguising itself as a bumble bee, this large predatory fly is safe from its own predators as it hunts for its prey. Also, you can find them right here on Long Island!
  2. Atlas Beetle – Also known as a rhinoceros beetle, this massive, horned, Asian beetle looks dangerous and intimidating. However, its horns are useful only for competition for mates; they are quite harmless and feed on decaying fruit.
  3. Titan Longhorn Beetle – This South American beetle is the largest beetle in the world and extremely rare.
  4. Bullet Ants – These South American ants have one of the most painful stings of any insect. Although their colonies are not the largest, a sting from one of these guys is like getting shot with a bullet!
  5. Giant Termites – These African termites are some of the largest in the world. They are responsible for constructing massive colonies out of sand and dirt that can be more than 15 feet tall.

Come and take a look at the rest of our specimens!

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Thousands of butterflies from all over the world now inhabit this overgrown, tropical garden, situated in a Victorian courtyard. Some flutter and flit from flower to flower, sipping nectar. While others enjoy feeding on fruit at several secluded feeding stations. Still, others hide in the many trees and vines, resting up for their next flight.

Because most butterflies only live for a couple of weeks, new butterflies arrive directly from Africa, Central America, South America, Asia, and North America constantly! The entomologists at the Butterflies, Bugs & Birds Exhibit receive 800-1,200 butterfly pupae each week! At any one time, there are 40-50 different species of butterflies flying in the habitat. The Exhibition Center receives 150 different species, so each time you visit, you will see new and exciting butterfly species!

You can follow trains of iridescent blue morpho butterflies as they chase one another around the exhibit! If you look closely in the darker corners of the exhibit, you might find tiny, transparent glass wing butterflies from South and Central America, which prefer the relative safety of the dark undergrowth of tropical rainforests. You can even marvel at the world’s largest moth, the atlas moth, which rests proudly in the garden’s trees and shrubs, showing off its mammoth 12-inch wingspan!

The Butterfly exhibit also features a butterfly laboratory and an emergence chamber where you can watch as hundreds of butterflies emerge from their chrysalises each day! If you are lucky, you will visit on a day when they receive butterfly pupae.

Please join us in this year-round exhibit, the only one of its kind on Long Island, and in New York!

Butterflies and Moths: Lepidoptera

Basic info: Butterflies and moths are types of insects with tiny, microscopic scales covering their wings and the surface of their body! There are over 180,000 known species of these animals and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In general, an adult butterfly only lives for a few weeks. Although they can live for very much longer as an egg, caterpillar (larva), or chrysalis (pupa), sometimes several years.

Butterflies versus moths: In general, there really are very few differences between butterflies and moths and the true distinctions between the two groups really involve minute differences in wing and body structure. However, butterflies do tend to have clubbed antennae, while moths have hairlike, comblike, or feathery antennae. Out of the 180,000 different species of butterflies and moths, there are only about 20,000 species of butterflies; the rest are moths!

Complete metamorphosis: All butterflies and moths start life as an egg and hatch into a caterpillar or larva, which will eventually turn into a pupa. Some butterflies and moths will spin a silk cocoon around their pupa. While others have developed many features on the surface of their pupae, which allow them to either blend in with their environment or inform predators that they are toxic; these are called chrysalises.

Tidal Marsh

This 3,000-gallon saltwater tank is home to about 15 different species of animal which were collected locally by Aquarium biologists. All of these animals use tidal marshes for part or all of their life for refuge from predators and for sources of food.

Shipwreck / Artificial Reef

Long Island Aquarium’s Shipwreck/Artificial Reef Exhibit features a variety of fish frequently found on, or around, shipwrecks, including grouper, angelfish, and lionfish (Pterois volitans).

Shipwrecks provide a hospitable environment for a variety of marine life. The walls, rooms, and compartments of a sunken ship provide protection against currents, light, and predators, allowing fish to thrive. At the same time, they offer hiding places for fish looking to ambush prey.


Our seals welcome all visitors to the Long Island Aquarium! Located right outside the main entrance, the 800-square foot natural rockscape pool provides a home to our harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and our gray seal (Halichoerus grypus).

Unlike sea lions, harbor seals and gray seals are true seals. They lack the ear flaps that sea lions have, but they are just as beautiful! They spend much of their day either lying around on the shorelines or hunting for fish and marine invertebrates in the sea.

The Long Island Aquarium’s gray seal, Gray Beauty, has a particularly compelling story. She was rescued by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. Despite her blindness from cataracts, Gray Beauty was patiently nurtured at the Long Island Aquarium until she was able to comfortably navigate the exhibit on her own.

The Aquarium’s Marine Mammal trainers work with our seals throughout the day. You can stop by anytime to watch the seals perform a variety of training behaviors or you can simply watch them play! Don’t miss the Seal Training & Feed Session daily.


Western Atlantic Harbor Seal
Scientific Name: Phoca vitulina
Weight: 200-250 pounds.
Length: 6 feet.                              Lifespan: 20-30 years.
Range: Northern Atlantic Ocean.
Habitat: Sandy and rocky coldwater coastlines.

Gray Beauty Waving

Gray Seal
Scientific Name: Halichoerus grypus
Weight: 300-700 pounds.
Length: 6-7.5feet.
Lifespan: 30-50 years.
Range: Northern Atlantic Ocean.
Habitat: Sandy and rocky cold water coastlines.

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