Archive for October, 2012

What are deer antlers made of?

Deer Antler

Deer are the only animals with antlers.  Antlers are solid bone growing from the foreheads of male deer and both male and female reindeer.  The male deer (“buck”) uses his antlers in mating season to fight other bucks, and sheds his antlers seasonally.

When new, antlers are soft and tender, and covered with furry skin called velvet.  The antlers quickly turn bony and hard and the velvet rubs off.  A young male’s first antlers look like straight spikes.  Older males have antlers with many braches, called points. – Dick Rogers

How do snakes move?

Snake

Despite the fact that they have no legs, snakes are able to move and get along very well indeed.  Most snakes slither along in a serpentine motion—pushing against the ground and weaving forward in  a series of graceful, S-shaped curves.

Many large, heavy snakes crawl straight ahead like a caterpillar, pushing with their belly scales and humping along.

Snakes called “sidewinders” live in the desert where the sand is too loose to push against.   This kind of snake moves in a series of sideways loops.

Snakes climb well, too.  And, oddly enough, they all can swim. – Dick Rogers

Why do fish swim in schools?

School of Fish

Some fish swim alone; others stay in groups known as “schools” or “shoals.”  A school of fish swims in formation, moving and turning with great precision.  The old saying that there is safety in numbers can be observed here.  Not only are many eyes better than one in watching for enemies, but when threatened, a school of fish scatters in all directions.

Since the predator must choose which fish, to pursue, usually only one fish is likely to be caught—a small price to pay for the survival of the group.  Schooling also insures reproduction and eases the task of food gathering. – Dick Rogers

Why do mosquito bites itch?

Mosquito Bite

The itchy welt you get from a mosquito bite is caused by an irritating saliva that the mosquito injects into your skin.  When a mosquito “bites,” it stabs its sharp snout into the victim’s skin.  While biting, the mosquito injects saliva into the wound.  The saliva mixes with the blood and keeps it from clotting and clogging up the mosquito’s thin snout.

Most persons are allergic to the mosquito’s saliva, and an itching well forms on the skin.  Only the female mosquito feeds on blood.  When does so because she needs blood for the development of the eggs inside her body. – Dick Rogers

How does a cow make its milk?

Milking Cow

A cow’s milk is made in a baggy organ called an “udder,” which hangs from its stomach Part of a cow’s diet of grass and grain is used as nourishment for itself, and part of it becomes milk.  Inside the cow’s udder are special milk-making cells that take food materials from the cow’s blood and turn them into milk.

The udder has four sections that hold the milk.  When a cow is milked, the milk squirts out through large nipples called “teats.”  Dairy cows are milked at least twice a day.  Champion dairy cows give over 50 quarts of milk each day. – Dick Rogers

Can dogs see colors?

Dog

Our world about us is so filled with color that it is hard to believe that dogs cannot see colors, at least by human standards.  What dogs probably do see is the world in black and white and many shades of gray—much like what you see when you watch a color television program on an ordinary black-and-white TV screen.

Cats, mice, horses and cattle cannot tell one color from another, and neither can deer or most other wild animals active at night.  During the evening, when the world is a shadowy, colorless place, the ability to see colors is not important for survival. – Dick Rogers

How did the butterfly get its name?

Butterfly

No one knows for sure how the butterfly got its name.  But there are many popular ideas.  One is that the butterfly’s name came from “flutterby,” so-called because of its fluttering flight.  Some people believe that the insect is so named because many butterflies have the color of butter.

Yet another idea is that the belief that butterflies stole milk and butter.  The scientific name for the butterfly family is “Lepidoptera.”  This name comes from Greek words meaning “scaly wings.”  The wings of butterflies are covered with dust-like scales. – Dick Rogers

Why does an opossum hang by its tail?

Opossum

An opossum is a furry animal that looks something like an overgrown rat.  It has a long tail without much hair on it.  The opossum spends a lot of time in trees, hunting and eating.  It has a special fondness for fruit, and likes to invade orchards at night.

The opossum often eats upside down.  To do this, it wraps its long tail around a branch, hangs head-down and grasps its food with all four feet.

After eating, the opossum sits on its hind legs and washes itself like a cat.  An opossum also uses its skillful tail as an extra hand for support while climbing. – Dick Rogers

What are apes?

The monkeys and apes are perhaps the most popular animals in the zoo.

Apes do not have tails.  In this way they are different from monkeys.  The ape family includes the huge gorilla and the big chimpanzee, the haggy red orangutan, and the long-armed gibbon.

Ape

The gorilla, biggest and most powerful of the apes, may weigh over 400 pounds.  Unlike the other apes that spend much of their time in trees gorillas are so heavy  they stay on the ground most of the time.

Next in size are the big orangutans.  In their homeland, their name means “the man of the woods.”  The male orangutan has white whiskers much like the beard of a man.

The chimpanzees are the showmen of the ape family.  They are easily taught and quickly learn to imitate man.  Some “chimps” have learned to skate, eat with a fork and spoon, and even paint pictures.

The smallest apes are the gibbons, the acrobats of the ape world.  They swing from branch to branch faster than a man can run.  Their arms are so long that they often touch the ground when they walk upright. – Dick Rogers

Is there a dog that can’t bark?

Tikoy

The breed of dog called the “basenji” (buh SEN jee) does not bark at all.  It is small, with perky ears and the habits of washing itself like a cat.  It is commonly known as the “barkless dog.”  The basenji can make noises, however.  It can snarl, growl, and whine, and when excited, it makes a kind of yodeling sound.

Because it isn’t a noisy dog, the basenji is popular as a house pet.  Basenjis originated in Africa as hunting dogs, where their keen sense of smell, intelligence and silence were useful for tracking prey.  You’ll never catch a basenji “barking up the wrong tree!” – Dick Rogers