Monday, July 6, 2009

Wildlife Experience!

During our last few days of school, we were lucky enough to be visited by several animals native to Southern California. These animals were brought to us by docents from Wildlife Experience. We were able to review some of our science lessons about animal adaptations, learn many new animal facts, and have a wonderful time!

This is a gopher snake, common in our area. This female is about 10 years old. Gopher snakes got their name because they enter gopher holes, not only to eat the baby gophers, but also to cool off. They can grow up to 6 feet in length. One physical adaptation of a gopher snake is that it looks like a rattlesnake, which helps to scare off predators. It can even sound like a rattlesnake by rubbing its tail on the ground to simulate the sound of a rattle.

Here is Ocho, the tarantula. Ocho is the Spanish word for 8, and like all arachnids, Ocho has 8 legs. In addition to 8 legs, tarantulas have 2 additional appendages for holding food and 2 main body parts. Ocho is a rose-haired tarantula, one of 2,000 types of tarantulas. She is a female and once had 250 spiderlings, or babies! One physical adaptation Ocho has is her spinnerets. These are glands filled with fluid. When a spider releases the fluid, it mixes with oxygen and turns into silk for creating a web.

This is Penelope, a Dumbo rat. She has 5 digits on each foot and a prehensile tail, which means it can be used to grasp things. As with all rats, she is very agile. We learned that rats make wonderful pets. They clean themselves and can even be trained!

Red - tailed hawks are often seen flying right over Chaparral! This one, named Shasta, is from Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Red - tailed hawks are able to see eight times farther than humans. They see in color, as we do. However, a wonderful adaptation they have is that they can even see colors in the ultraviolet range. They are also able to control the pupils of their eyes to focus clearly on their prey. Another physical adaptation is their strong talons, which they use to squeeze their prey and break its bones. Unfortunately for Penelope, rats are a favorite meal of red - tailed hawks!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacations and that you all had a great 4th of July! Leave a comment to let us know what you enjoyed about our Wildlife Experience or something new you've learned about animal adaptations.