Posts tagged ‘Rivers’

What is a capybara?

We usually think of rodents only as small, gnawing creatures, such as squirrels, rats and mice.

But can you imagine a rodent as big as a large goat?  The capybara is.  In fact, it is the largest rodent living today.

When fully grown, a capybara may be as long as four feet and weigh over 100 pounds.

Capybara

It resembles an overgrown guinea pig.  Its thick body is covered with coarse, reddish-brown hair.  It has webbed toes and almost no tail.

This big, water-loving rodent lives along the banks and rivers and lakes in South America, where it feeds mainly on water plants and other vegetation.

At the slightest sign of danger, the shy capybara plunges into the water, often remaining below the surface for several minutes.

When resting on land it sits on its haunches like a dog.  The capybara’s voice is a low clicking sound.  It also makes sharp whistles and sometimes grunts like a pig. – Dick Rogers

 

How did the alligator get its name?

Alligator

The word “alligator” comes from the early Spanish name “El Lagarto.” Meaning “The Lizard.”

Alligator are large reftiles related to the crocodile.  They resemble lizards in their shape.

The early Spanish explorers, mistaking the reptile for a large lizard called it “el lagarto,” meaning “the lizard.”  The name changed in time to our modern word “alligator.’

The American alligator lives in the swamps, rivers and lakes of the southeastern United States.

The great body, covered with an armor of thick, leathery scales, may grow to be 12 feet or longer and weigh more than 400 pounds.  The huge powerful tail serves to drive the animal through the water.

Alligators are meat eaters.  They eat fish, shakes and turtles, and any other small animal they can catch.  They will even attack dogs or deer that come to the water’s edge to drink.

But unless frightened, even the largest alligator will usually leave people alone. – Dick Rogers

 

What is an osprey?

The osprey is a large bird of prey that resembles the eagle.  A full-grown osprey may be 2 feet long with a wing-spread of nearly 6 feet.

It is dark brown above, white below, with enough white on its head to be easily mistaken for the bald eagle.

Osprey are found near rivers, lakes and sea-coasts all over the world.  A common name for the osprey is “fish hawk”  because it feeds almost entirely on fish.

Osprey

It fishes by flying over the water.  When it spots a fish swimming near the surface it dives feet-first, hits water with a great splash and seize the fish with its long, sharp talons.

Sea eagles often rob the osprey of its catch.  The eagle is not a very good fisherman.  When it spies an osprey with a fish, it swoops down and forces the osprey higher and higher until the osprey tires and drops the fish.

The eagle catches the fist in mid-air. – Dick Rogers

 

What is the largest snake in the world?

Perhaps the largest in the world is the giant anaconda, which lives in tropical South America.  It may grow to be nearly 30 feet long and weigh over 250 pounds.

This giant snake, also called a “water boa,”  lives in swamps and rivers.  It has olive-green skin, often with many black rings or spots.

Anaconda

The anaconda is not poisonous.  It kills small animals for food by constriction.  That is, it squeezes its prey to death by winding its powerful coils tightly around the victim.

It does not have to squeeze hard enough to break the victim’s bones, it squeezes just enough to stop the victim’s breathing.

The anaconda then swallows its prey whole, without chewing.  It can swallow animals much larger than its head because its jaw is hinged so it can be stretched far apart.

The anaconda does not need to eat very often.  It may take several days to digest a large meal. – Dick Rogers

How did the stone fly get its name?

The stone fly is a curious insect that is hatched under water.  It gets its name because the nymph, or young, are generally to be found under stones in brooks or streams.

Stone Fly

When mature, the nymph crawls out of the water and shedding its skin, becomes an adult stone fly and lives among the stones and brush along the banks.

And adult stone fly may be from ½-inch to 2 inches long and is often colored to match its surroundings.

The hind pair of its four wings is so long that it is folded flat over the back when the insect is at rest.

Despite its wings, it is a poor flyer, and when disturbed it generally scuttles away rather that fly to safety.  As a result of pollution of rivers, stone flies have disappeared from many places where they were found in great numbers a few years ago.

They once formed the main diet of trout and other fishes. – Dick Rogers