Archive for February, 2009

How long have cats been pets?


Cats are fun to keep as pets.  They make playful friendly companions.  The cat has been a favorite pet for a long, long time.  Many believe that the Egyptians tamed the first cats more than 4,000 years ago.  The Egyptian cat was one of the small wildcats found in North Africa.

Cats kept rats and mice from overrunning the great Egyptian grain storehouses.  Probably because they did such a good job in destroying these pests, the Egyptian worshiped the cat as a god.  An Egyptian who harmed a cat was punished.  By about the 9th century, cats were helping to keep farms, shops and houses in Europe mouseless.

But the early Europeans associated cats with witches and evil spirits rather than a god, and many superstitions grew up around cats. About cat, for example, was a sign of bad luck.  To many people today,  a cat is just a nice pet to have around. – Dick Rogers

How does a turtle get into its shell?


Everyone knows a turtle when he sees one.  Turtles are easy to recognize by their shells.  A baby turtle is born with a shell just the right size for its body.  As the turtle grows, its shell grows too.

The hard shells of most turtles are made up of a “bony box”  covered by horny plates.  A turtle can’t crawl out of its shell.  The shell makes up much of a turtle’s skeleton, and is firmly attached to its body.  Turtles are well-protected by their shells.  Some turtles, such as the box turtle, can pull their heads, tails, and legs into their shell when frightened.  Then, very few enemies can get at them.

All turtles hatch from eggs.  The mother turtle lays the eggs in a hole she has dug.  She then leaves them.  The sun’s warmth hatches the eggs in about two months.  As soon as the baby turtles are hatched, they are on their own.  They must be able to tend for themselves. – Dick Rogers

What is a scorpion?


A scorpion is a small animal with a long and narrow tall that has a poisonous sting at the tip of it.    Scorpions are not insects.  They are related to spiders.

They live mostly in the warm, dry parts of the world and range in size from yellowish-colored half-inch creatures to shiny black scorpions seven inches long.

The scorpion is armed with powerful pincers, like the claws of a crab.  When the scorpion walks, it carries its tall arched over its back so that the sharp sting is in position to strike.

When the scorpion is ready to kill, it seizes its prey in its pincers and plunges its stinger into the creature it is holding.  The poison will kill the spiders and other small creatures on which the scorpion feeds.

Only the sting of certain kinds of scorpions, is dangerous to main.  Oddly enough, the scorpion is unharmed by its own poison but two scorpions are likely to sting each other to death. – Dick Rogers

How does a frog catch its food?


The frogs catches insects and other small food animals on the sticky tip of its long tongue.

All summer long, the little frog squats, motionless, on the bank of a quiet pond or brook and watches for passing insects.  If a fly or cricket passes within reach, the frog’s long tongue will snap out like a flickering whip, so fast that you can scarcely follow the action.

The insect is caught on the sticky tip.  Just as quickly the frog flips its tongue back into its mouth.

The frog’s tongue is fastened at the front of its mouth, not the back, so that it can be flipped out a long way.  The frog’s mouth is equipped with feeble, practically useless teeth, which are present only in the upper jaw.  So it must live mostly on small creatures that it can swallow in one gulp.

Frogs also eat earthworms, spiders and minnows that they catch in the water.  Toads capture their food in much of same way frogs do.  Frogs and toads help man by eating many harmful insects to be found in gardens and on farms. – Dick Rogers

What is a pangolin?


Pangolin (pronounced pang GOH lin) is a strange animal inhabiting the warm parts of Asia and Africa.  Pangolin are perhaps better known as “scaly ant-eaters,” for they are just that.

The pangolin’s body is covered with sharp, horny scales that give the animal the appearance of a large pine cone.  The pangolin wanders about at night in search of anthills and termite nests, which it rips open with its strong, sharp claws.

Then it pushes out its sticky, wormlike tongue which may be a foot long.  It licks up the ants it uncovers and slurps the ants into its toothless mouth.  It may eat many thousands of ants at one meal.

When danger threatens the pangolin rolls itself up into a tight ball so heavily armored that few enemies can harm it.  When rolled up, the pangolin is almost impossible to straighten out.  Pangolins may grow to be from 3 to 5 feet long. – Dick Rogers

Do Bumblebee Make Honey?


The bumblebee is a large, black and yellow bee that buzzes loudly when it flies.  Its name comes from the old word “bumblen,”  meaning “humming.”  Like honeybees, bumblebees, too, make hone.  But we do not eat their honey.

Bumblebee nests are very different from those of honeybees.  They do not build hives of honeycombs.

Bumblebees may make their nests in an abandoned mouse nest, thick tuffs of grass, or in hoes in the ground.  Inside the nest, the queen bumblebee stores honey inside a waxen cell called a “honeypot,”  which serves her as a reserve food supply during cold and rainy weather.

Bumblebee honey is almost as thin as nectar and will soon sour if not eater.  Bumblebees are helpful to man – they carry pollen from one flower to another.  Only the young queen bumblebees live through the winter to start new colonies. – Dick Rogers

Why do cow’s chew their cuds?


A cow’s stomach has four parts.  It must chew its food twice before the food can be thoroughly digested.  You eat your food only once, but a cow eats the same food two times.

That is because the cow has an odd way of digesting its food – it has what amounts to four stomachs!

While the cow is grazing it swallows its food whole.  The first stomach just collects the quickly swallowed food.  The second part of the cow’s stomach softens the food and forms it into a ball called a cud.

Later, while the cow is resting, the cud moves back up into the cow’s mouth where it is chewed thoroughly.

This time, when the food is swallowed, it goes into the third and fourth parts of the stomach, where real digestion takes place.  Chewing a cud is called ruminating, and cud-chewer are called ruminants.  Sheep, deer and giraffe are ruminants.

In the wild, many of the ruminants must be prepared to eat quickly and run for safety.  When the animal reaches safe place, it can chew its food in peace. – Dick Rogers

What is an abalone?


An abalone is a kind of sea snail useful for its meat and colorful shell.  It is a kind of sea snail that can be found living in most mild seas.

In many places abalones are known as “ear shells” because their single flattened shell somewhat resembles a human ear.

The abalone spends most of its life clinging to submerged rocks with its flat muscular foot.  It can fasten itself to a rock so tightly that only a knife can pry it loose.

It feeds on the plants that it can scrape off the rocks with its rasp-like tongue.  Its hard shell, which may grow from a few inches to nearly a foot long, protects the abalone’s soft body.

Abalone steak, the snail’s large foot, is a popular seafood dish in many countries.  The pearly inner lining of the shell, called “mother-of-pearl,” is used in making buttons and other ornaments.

The abalone builds its shell out of lime from the water.  The shell grows as the abalone grows. – Dick Rogers

What are barnacles?


A barnacle is a short salt water shellfish that attaches itself to ship hulls, rocks, docks and other underwater objects.  Anyone who goes to the seashore is likely to see barnacles.

A barnacle hatches from an egg as a tiny, free-swimming creature.  But soon it fastens itself to any convenient object, such as the hull of a ship, pilling, rock, or even a passing whale.

Once attached, a hard, limy shell grows around the barnacle. The barnacles stays for the rest of its life in the place where it settles.  It eats by waving its feathery legs through an opening in the shell to pull tiny sea creatures and plants into its mouth.

The shell has a lid that can be closed in case of danger.

To sailors the barnacle is a trouble.  Masses of them clinging to a ship’s hull reduce the ship’s speed.  The only way to remove barnacles’ shell is to put the ship in dry dock and scrape its bottom.  – Dick Rogers