Archive for September, 2012

Why does a cow chew its cud?

Cow Chewing

Chewing a cud is the way a cow digests its food thoroughly.  A cow has a special stomach with a storage section called a “rumen.”  When the cow eats some grass, she chews it just enough to moisten it.  The food collects in the rumen, where it is softened and formed into a ball called a “cud.”

Later, when the cow is resting, the cud moves back up into the cow’s mouth for careful chewing.  After that, the food is swallowed into other parts of its stomach for more complete digestion.  Camels, deer, goats and sheep are other cud-chewing animal.– Dick Rogers

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What are bighorn sheep?

The Bighorn is the wild sheep of North America.  They live in the highest parts of the rocky mountains, where other animals find it difficult to go.  They are sometimes called Rocky Mountains sheep.

These sure-footed creatures are able to make death-defying leaps from rock to rock in the dizzy heights of the highest parts of their rugged mountain homes.  The Bighorn gets its name from the great circling horns of the male sheep.

Their cloven hooves are much like rubber pads, and they can dash down the treacherous slopes at top speed and climb seemingly sheer cliffs, where no other animals but the mountain goats dare to climb.

Bighorn Sheep

Lambs two or three weeks old can go wherever their mothers go.  Wild sheep do not look much like any of the sheep we raise today.

Domestic sheep have short legs and a coat of thick wool.  Their horns, if any, are usually short.

Wild sheep have long legs and long horns.  They do not have wooly coats.  They have coats of hair more like that of a deer.

Man has brought about great changes in sheep since he first tamed them. – Dick Rogers

What kind of bird is a mutton bird?

Fat, young shearwaters are known as mutton birds on Australian Islands.

The mutton bird is another name for a kind of seabird known as the shearwater.  Shearwaters are very fat when young and are considered good to eat, especially on Australian islands where they are known as mutton birds.

Mutton Bird

The shearwater’s real name comes from its habit of shearing or skimming close to the water as it soars just above the waves on its long, slender wings.

The shearwater can glide for many hours, riding the air currents with barely a wing beat.

The shearwater comes ashore only  to nest, usually on an island where it can be safe.  Here it lays one large while egg in a hole dug in the ground.

The young chick grows up slowly and becomes extremely fat, and weighs more that its parents.  At this point, the parent shearwaters simply fly off, leaving the fat chick entirely alone, to live only on the fat in its body.

In about a week, the young shearwater has slimmed down and comes out of its underground nest to exercise its new wings, then flies off. It may be three to four years before it returns to land again.  – Dick Rogers

What is a killer whale?

Killer Whale

Killer whale is the name of a large porpoise.  It gets its name from the popular belief that it is a blood-thirsty killer.

It has a glossy black back and a white underside.  These creatures often measure 30 feet in length and can weigh 10 tons.

Killer whales get their name from the widely held belief that they will attack any creature in the sea – and, like man, are some of the few animals that kill for sport.

Though they have the reputation as killers, killer whales have not been known to attack swimming men or boats.  Killer whales often hunt in packs, and will attack other whales many times their own size.

Their mouths and throats are big enough to swallow seals, penguins, and young walruses whole.  Only the tusked adult walrus holds the killer at bay.

When killer whales see a seal on a floating chunk of ice, they rush up under the ice and crash into it, knocking the victim into the water.  Killer whales also feed on fish and even sea birds.

Killer whales are found in all the oceans of the world, but prefer to live in the cold arctic and Antarctic waters. – Dick Rogers

What is a flying fox?

A flying fox is a kind of large bat, not a fox.  It is the largest bat in the world.  Its wingspread may be more than four feet, and its hairy body may be a foot long and weigh as much as three pounds.

The flying fox gets its name because its face and long, slender snout look like that of a fox.  Flying foxes are also called fruit bats.

Flying foxes live in most tropical parts of the world, where fruit is continually ripening.

Flying Fox

They spend the day nesting in trees, hanging upside down from branches with their wings folded around their bodies like blankets.

At sundown the bats leave their roosts and search for an orchard of ripe fruit to eat.  When fruit is hard to find, flying foxes live by fishing.  They skim over the water and catch fish with their feet.

Unlike other bats that must depend on the echoes of their own voices to guide them as they fly about at night, flying foxes and other fruit bats have good eyes, and guide themselves mostly by sight, just as you and I do. Dick Rogers

Is the sea anemone a plant or an animal?

When it is time to feed, the sea anemone will open up like a flower.

The sea anemone (pronounced “un NEM oh nee”) is a strange sea animal whose many graceful tentacles (tiny arms) often look like the petals of a flower.

Sea Anemone

A cluster of sea anemones looks very much like an undersea garden of brightly colored, red, purple, green, and blue blossoms.

Although sea anemones may look like harmless flowers, their touch means death to small fishes and other small sea creatures.

When a small fish happens to swim too close to the sea anemone and touch the tentacles, tiny, needle-like poisoned threads shoot out of the tentacles and sting the fish.

Then the tentacles drag the helpless prey into the sea anemone’s mouth.

The foot of the sea anemone allows it to slide about slowly on rocks.  But usually, they anchor themselves by gripping rocks, shells, or burrow into the sandy floor of the ocean.

Then a sea anemone is disturbed, it pulls its tentacles inside the body.  It then looks like a round lump on the rock. – Dick Rogers

How does an octopus eat?

Octopus

The octopus has a powerful parrot-like beak in its mouth that it uses to crack the hard shells or crass and oysters.

The octopus is a sea animal with a soft, bag-shaped body.  It gets its name from two Greek words that mean “eight feet.”  We call its eight feet “arms.”

The octopus dwells on the ocean bottom where it crawls about on its arms, searching in every crack and crevice for its favorite food of shrimp, crab, and mussels.

On each of the eight arms there are two rows of cup-like suckers which help the octopus grab and hold very tightly to anything it catches.

The arms do not squeeze and prey, but pull it toward the creature’s mouth.

An octopus has two very strong jaws that look like the beak of parrot.  It uses its jaws to crush crab shells and to tear apart the food it eats.

The long, snakelike arms and large, unwinking, strangely human eyes give it a frightening look.  Most kinds of octopus are only about as big as a man’s fist, and do not attack people.

Some however, have poisoned jaws and bites from even a small octopus. – Dick Rogers