Archive for August, 2009

How does the earthworm dig its hole?

Earthworm

Earthworms are worms that live in warm and moist places throughout the world.

As anyone can guess from their name, earthworms live in the ground.  The earthworm digs its burrow by actually eating its way through the soil.

As the worm digs, it swallows the dirt and digests the decaying plant and food matter in the dirt.

The soil passes through the earthworm’s long body and is left on the ground in little heaps of dirt balls, called castings.  Thus the earthworm makes a home for itself and gets its meals at the same time.

Earthworms are good friends to farmers and gardeners.  By digging burrows, earthworms leave tiny holes in the ground which make it easy for air and water to get to plant roots.

The castings of the worms help keep the soil rich for growing plants.

The earthworm is sometimes called an angleworm or fishworm, because it is a popular bait used by fishermen. – Dick Rogers

Why do cat’s eyes glow in the dark?

Cat

Most of us have seen a cat’s eyes shining at us in the dark as we drive by.  The cat’s eyes themselves do not glow.  The glow is only a reflection of the cat’s headlights.

A cat has an extra mirror like material in the back part of its eyes.  This special material reflects direct light and causes the cat’s eyes to “glow”  brightly.

A cat’s eyes have slit like pupils.  In bright light the pupils become narrow slits that shut out much of the glare.

At night they widen to great circles to let in all the light there is.  But even a cat cannot see in total darkness, as some people think.

Many animals active at night, such as deer and raccoons, have this mirror like material in their eyes, too. – Dick Rogers

What is a sapsucker woodpecker?

The rat-ta-tat-tat of a woodpecker is a well-known sound.  Woodpeckers are found in almost all places where there are trees.

Sapsucker Woodpecker

When a woodpecker drums on the trees, it may be chiseling out a nest, drilling holes in wood to get something to eat or it may be drumming out a song to its mate.

Woodpecker called sapsuckers get their names from their habit of drilling rows of small rounds holes in the bark of trees and drinking the sap that collects.

The sapsucker’s tongue ends in a brush.  It uses this to lap up the liquid sap.

Sapsuckers drill so many holes in the bark of a tree that their work sometimes injures the tree.

Sap, however, is not the only food the sapsucker eats.  Its diet also includes insects and wild fruits.

A common sapsucker of North America is the yellow-bellied sapsucker.   Its belly, as its name tells, is yellow.  – Dick Rogers

What is a gooney bird?

The playful and sometimes comical sea birds commonly seen on Midway Island in Pacific Ocean are often call gooney birds.

The gooney bird is really a large albatross, resembling an overgrown sea gull.

Albatross

Its long, narrow wings, often stretching seven feet from tip to tip, allow it to glide and sail over the water for hours with barely a wingbeat.

It sometimes follows a ship for days, feeding on scraps of food thrown from the ship.

When not nesting, the gooney ranges the high seas, seldom coming close enough to be seen from land.

After several months at sea, the bird seems to have forgotten how to land when it arrives at its nesting grounds.

The touchdown speed is usually far too great, and the once graceful flier becomes an undignified gooney bird awkwardly sprawling across the ground. – Dick Rogers

 

What is a Gila monster?

A Gila monster (pronounced HEE la)  is a large, poisonous lizard that makes its home in the deserts of southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Gila Monster

It is easy to recognize a Gila monster.  It has fat, clumsy body about two feet long and is covered with beadlike orange-and-black scales.

The Gila’s short, stumpy tail is a storage place for fat.  The creatures can live on this stored-up fat for months.

The bite of a Gila monster is similar to that of a poisonous snake.

When the Gila bites, it will often chew its victim, working the poison into the wound with its grooved teeth.

Small animals die quickly when bitten.  Usually, human beings suffer only painful swellings.

Fortunately, these lizards are very slow-moving and it is easy to keep out of their way.

Gila monsters are named for the Gila River region of Arizona, where they were first discovered.  – Dick Rogers

What is an impala?

The impala is a swift, golden-brown antelope that is famous for its high, graceful leaps.

A three-foot-tail impala can leap a feet high and sometimes cover as far as 35 feet in one jump while running.

Often, the impala seems to jump for the fun of it.  when running, it holds its head up high like a deer.

Impala

Herds of as many as 100 impalas may be found living on the grassy plains of Africa.

They are plant-eating animals and must be prepared to eat their food quickly and run, for impalas are a favorite food of lions.

The long, black lyre-shaped horns of the buck (the female has no horns)  are a good means of  defense, but impalas rely on their keen sight and swifts, bounding leaps to escape enemies.

Not even the swiftest lion can always catch an impala.

Later, in safety, the impalas chew balls (or cuds) of food they swallowed earlier while grazing.  – Dick Rogers

 

What is a chipmunk?

A chipmunk is a friendly, chattering little animal that looks like its cousin the ground squirrel.

A chipmunk is smaller, though, and is easily recognized by the light and dark stripes running down its back.

Chipmunks live in the forests or forest edges in parts of North America and Asia.

The chipmunk’s home is a burrow dug in the ground, it contains storerooms and a leaf-lined nest.

Chipmunk

Curing the day, the lively little creatures scamper about the ground looking for seeds and nuts to eat.  They have inner cheek pouches which they can stuff with food.

People often feed chipmunks for the fun of seeing them fill their cheeks.  When they are filled with a load of seeds, each cheek may swell to the size of the head itself.

Chipmunks sleep through much of the winter.  But they store food in their burrows to eat during the winter lust in case they should wake up hungry. – Dick Rogers