Ever since the fist dolphin was placed into captivity these adorable sea creatures have been a fan favorite. This started way back in the 1870′s when sea animals would be found injured and brought back to aquariums to be rehabilitated. It wasn’t until the late 1930′s that Hollywood started using captive dolphins for movies and later started training them. Today there are more than 3000 Bottlenose dolphins in aquariums around the world.
Let’s take a closer look at these marvelous creatures and discover what makes them so special.
The Blowhole Nose
Dolphins are not able to breathe through their noses as most animals do, they have what is called a blowhole instead. This crescent-shaped, muscular flap is on top of their heads and can be sealed off when the dolphin is diving or underwater. Even though the dolphin has total control of its blowhole it must surface for air but it takes only 0.3 seconds for it to exhale and inhale. Some dolphins are able to hold their breath for as long as 30 minutes. Like our human noses the blowhole of the dolphin is a direct passageway to its lungs.
Another function of the dolphin’s blowhole is used for communication. Because this mammal doesn’t have vocal cords the blowhole pushes air back and forth through air sacs in the “nasal passages.” Tissue known as the “phonic lips” vibrate to make the dolphin talk with a series of clicks, chirps, whistles, squeaks, moans, grunts, and creaks.
As humans we automatically breathe without thinking about it, however, dolphins do not have this ability. So how does a dolphin sleep? First off dolphins don’t fall into a deep sleep, if they did they would drown! When the dolphin needs to rest it will float in a shallow pool of water or float just under the surface. When it has found a safe, comfy area the dolphin then lets one side of its brain sleep while the other side stays awake to continue breathing.
More Dolphin Facts
~ Dolphins live in family groups of 10 – 12.
~ The best known dolphin it the Bottlenose.
~ There are 36 kinds of sea dolphins and 5 species of river dolphins.
~ Dolphins are mammals and nurse their young with milk.
~ Dolphins use echolocation to find food.
~ Dolphins eat fish and squid and will sometimes hunt in groups.
~ Dolphins can leap from 15-30 feet into the air.
~ Dolphins are not fish. They need to breathe oxygen from the air he same as us!
For more information on dolphins visit your local library or an aquarium such as Sea World.
~ rehabilitated; restore to life or useful state
~ echolocation; determining the location of something by measuring the time it takes the echo to return from it.
Here’s a fun activity, print and colour your very own dolphin. Click here for Dolphin Colour Page
It’s furry friend Friday once again. Today we are exploring the world of domesticated rabbits. What does it take to keep this little fellow happy and healthy? Let’s find out.
Rabbits have been popular pets in the US since the late 1800′s. Rabbits known as Belgian Hares were brought into the United States from England in 1888. This became known as the ‘Belgian Hare Boom’ and from 1898 to 1901 many thousands of these bunnies were imported. Today, there is an organization called the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) which was founded in 1910 and is still the national authority on breeding and care of domestic bunnies.
Furry Friend Fact…the rabbit is the third most popular pet in England after the cat and the dog.
There are several different types of bunnies kept for pets, in fact, there’s way too many to list here, so we’re going to check out the most popular.
- Dwarf Bunny ~ grows up to 2.5 pounds, comes in various colors, has small pointed ears and can live from 7-10 years
- Lop-Eared Bunny ~ these can grow up to 15 pounds (depending on breed), have long ears that hang below their jawline, are intelligent and affectionate.
- Angora Bunny ~ a bigger rabbit, it can grow up to 12 pounds, depending on breed, docile in nature and likes attention, is social and very active. This rabbit needs to be groomed on a regular basis.
Furry Friend Fact…make sure you research each breed of bunny so you know what’s right for you.
You’ve chosen a bunny, so now what? First you have to decide where your bunny is going to reside in your home. Do you want a cage, pen, bunny condo or just a large area with a litter box, food and someplace quiet for him to get away from it all? Remember, bunnies are social creatures so he has to be able to interact with the members of the household in order to be happy and healthy. Plus, he will need to exercise. If you decide to let your new friend explore your home, be sure to “bunny-proof.” Rabbits are very curious, so you need to make sure there’s nothing for him to chew on, like electrical cords, carpeting, paper etc. Also, if your rabbit gets bored, he will look for fun things to do, so provide him with a cardboard castle filled with empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls, old phone books or other paper products you may find around your home.
Furry Friend Fact…a bored bunny is a destructive bunny. Keep him happy with things to chew on.
Even though we know rabbits like carrots, you have to feed him more than just that. Pet retailers sell a pre-package pellet that will give your bunny his basic diet, but you also have to give him grass hay. This is high in fiber and essential to your bunny’s health. Also, a fresh supply of water is a must have at all times.
Eat Your Veggies!
Like us, rabbits need some vegetables to keep them healthy, here’s a list of bunny-friendly veggies;
- Bok choy
- Broccoli leaves (stems or tops can make rabbits gassy)
- Carrot tops (carrots are high in calcium and should be given sparingly)
- Collard greens
- Dandelion leaves
- Kale (sparingly)
- Lettuce – romaine or dark leaf (no iceburg lettuce and no cabbage)
- Mustard greens
- Water cress
Bunnies can make a wonderful pet, but like all animals they’re a responsibility that isn’t to be taken lightly. Before you decide to bring a bunny into your family, do some research on the Internet, the library or ask your local bunny breeder or pet retailer to fill you in on all the details. Armed with knowledge and lots of love, you’ll have a fun furry friend for years to come.
We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the banks of the Pacific ocean to catch a glimpse of the frog-faced fish called a mudskipper. Keep your eyes peeled, we may find him lurking in the brackish mangrove swamps or on the mud flats after the tide has gone out.
Fish Can Walk!
You may be saying…fish can’t walk, they swim; however, the mudskipper is the exception to the rule.
The mudskipper crawls and flaps its way across the shoreline using its tail and specially developed front fins. It’s 12-30 inches long with big protruding eyes and small gills, which holds water so it’s able to breathe on land. The mudskipper is olive brown in color with bluish markings. It prefers food found on land like, flying insects, crabs and other small creatures.
Wild World Fact…Mudskippers must remain moist and will roll in puddles on land and wipe a wet fin across their eyes so they don’t dry out.
Mud, Skip, Jump!
Mudskippers not only walk on land, they can also leap in the air by bending and suddenly straightening their bodies. This gives them the ability to reach up to 2 feet (half a meter) in height. The mudskipper can also climb mangrove trees in search of food. Because of these unusual actions, mudskippers have also been called kangaroo fish, climbing fish, mudhopper and johnny jumpers. To avoid predators and to lay their eggs, mudskippers will dig a deep burrow in the soft sediment.
Wild World Fact…Larger memebers of the mudskipper family can skip faster than most people can move.
For more information on this and other marine animals, check out your local library, the Internet or a Marine Life sanctuary.
Did you know there’s a species of plant that smells like a rotting corpse?
The rafflesia (rah-FLEEZ-ee-ah), also known as the meat or corpse flower starts off like a brown, cabbage-like lump, but once it’s in full bloom it’s 3 feet across, and weighs up to 36 pounds!
The Biggest Stinker
The arnoldii species of rafflesia, found in Sumatra, is the biggest known flower in the world. However, the petals on this one aren’t typical. Each blossom has five meat-red, fleshy petals with white or cream coloured spots. These spots look like itchy, raised mosquito bites. If you were to peer deep inside the flower, you would see a round disk with plump spikes poking from it. But hold your nose cause this beauty reeks like rotting flesh.
The Stinky Trickster
Why do you think the rafflesia smells so bad?
a) to scare away animals
b) to attract flies
c) to help spread it’s pollen
If you guessed b and c, you’re right!
Mother fly thinks this big, stinky, mound is a pile of decaying flesh. It should make a good place to lay her eggs, so her larvae can feed on it once they’re hatched. But she’s wrong. The rafflesia is tricking her. As the fly wanders around inside the flower, pollen is getting stuck on its feet and back. When she visits another rafflesia, perhaps one even more stinky, the pollen will be deposited into the new flower. This is how the rafflesia’s reproduce and seeds can now begin to grow. Once the seeds mature, small animals such as squirrels and tree-shrews eat and spread the seeds around the forest floor. These seeds now have a chance to become big, reeking, piles of fleshy petals, too.
For more information on this and other ‘big stinkers’ do some research at your local library or the Internet.
We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the jungles of South America to venture into the rain forest where the pygmy marmoset, also known as a finger monkey, lives. Let’s take a look at this cute little critter.
Pygmy Marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world. They are 14 to 16 centimetres (5.5 to 6.3 in) length, with another 15-to-20-centimetre (5.9 to 7.9 in) for the tail. Males weigh around 140 grams (4.9 oz), and females only 120 grams (4.2 oz) – about the weight of an apple. Their fur is almost feathery in appearance and can range from black, brown, white, grey to tan in colour. They have long tails, small ears and 5 digits on each paw; however, unlike some monkeys, they lack a “true” thumb.
Wild World Fact… pygmy marmosets can jump more than 16 ft (5 m). Quite a distance for such a small monkey!
Give ‘Em the Gum
If you read a food label you may discover the pygmy marmoset’s favorite food – gum arabic. This is found in the acacia tree in it’s rawest form. The finger monkey will spend hours gouging holes in the tree’s trunk and branches to create a steady flow of the sap to lick from.
Wild World Fact…this monkey also enjoys eating fruit, nectar, spiders and insects.
Even though finger monkey’s are small they have a mighty call. They communicate by making high pitched squeaks, whistles, clicks and trills. In fact some of their calls are so loud it can’t be heard by the human ear.
Along with noise, the pygmy marmoset also communicates with facial expressions and body posture. To defend it’s territory the male monkey will flatten his ears, raise the hair on his head and chase the intruder away from his troop.
Wild World Fact…male pygmy marmoset’s will also pull back the corners of their mouths back in a grimace when defending their territory.
Finger Monkey Babies
The pygmy marmoset mom gives birth to two babies (twins) or sometimes three. She does this twice a year. Once the babies are born, mom marmoset will care for them along with the father. When the babies are two months of age they are grown enough to be away from their parents. At six months old the young are considered full grown, but may stay with the family unit until they find a mate and start their own troop.
Wild World Fact…Pygmy marmosets form small groups of up to 15 individuals. This group is called a Troop.
For more information on the finger monkey check out your local library, the Internet or a zoo.
Crayons are fun to use. They can take an ordinary picture and make it beautiful. Plus, they come in a wide array of colors. But do you know where crayons began? Let’s check out their colourful history.
Around 1885 two cousins by the names of, Edwin Binney, and C. Harold Smith, formed a company. In the year 1900 the men started to make slate pencils for schools. Along the way the came up with a wax stick used to mark crates and barrels, but it was loaded with black carbon and unhealthy for children.
However, this got the cousins thinking and by 1903 they had created the first crayons. There were 8 colors; black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green and were sold for a nickle. The name “Crayola” was created by Edwin’s wife, Alice, who used the French words for chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous) and combined them to get the word.
Color Me Crayons
As the company grew so did the number of crayon colors.
- 1949 ~ crayons had 40 different colors
- 1958 ~ 16 more colors were added. Plus, the box had a sharpener
- 1972 ~ 8 fluorescent colors are added
- 1990 ~ 16 more colors are added and 8 are retired
- 1993 ~ another 16 colours added
- 1998 ~ another whopping 24 colors added
- 2000 ~ “specialty sets” include glitter crayons, pearl brite crayons, and techno-brite crayons.
Today, the biggest box of crayons contains all 120 colors in a wide variety hues.
What’s the most popular color of crayon? If you guessed blue, you’re right. Out of the top 10 favorites, 8 different shades of blue were liked the best.
What’s your favorite crayon color? Let us know by leaving your answer in the comment section.
Happy Crayola Coloring!
Now that summer is here, you may have heard or seen grasshoppers bopping around in the long grass. Let’s find out more about this fun bug.
I’m a Grasshopper
There’s between 11,000 and 18,000 species of grasshoppers worldwide and they’re found everywhere except the North and South Poles. But even though they’re common, they’re also quite fascinating.
Did you know…
~ Grasshoppers have an exoskeleton [ek-soh-skel-i-tn] which means the skeleton is on the outside of their body.
~ They have two sets of wings for flying – a front pair that is tough and rigid and a hind pair that is soft and flexible.
~ The grasshopper has three pairs of very strong legs. They use these to walk and to jump twenty times their own body length. Imagine if you could do that!
~ Grasshoppers have five eyes – two eyes are on the front of the head, two more eyes are located on the end of each antenna and the final eye is between the antennae. It’s no wonder they’re so quick!
~ Grasshoppers don’t have any ears, they actually hear through their knees.
Here’s Something to Chew On
Grasshoppers like to eat most plants, but some favour the flavour of wheat, oats, corn, barley, rye, clover, alfalfa, and cotton – all things we use and farmers hate to lose. In fact, a large group of grasshoppers called locust can quickly and easily devour a farmer’s crop in a matter of minutes.
However, some grasshoppers are actually a help to farmers. The Turnbull will dine on the weeds that kill crops. Other grasshoppers like the Two-Striped grasshopper will eat plants that are toxic to cattle.
More Fun Facts
~ The smallest grasshopper is the Pygmy Grasshopper. It’s only 20 mm!
~ The largest grasshopper is called the Giant Grasshopper and measures in at 60-90 mm for females and 45–55mm for males.
~ If you grab a grasshopper you may get “spit” on. This strong, brown, gooey, liquid is called tobacco juice and is used to deter predators.
For more information on grasshoppers, check out your local library, a bug musuem or, perhaps even, your own backyard.
We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the African Savanna to take a peek at the world’s tallest mammal, the giraffe. These animals are fascinating and fun, so let’s take a looooong look at it.
Perhaps the first thing we think of we when hear the word “giraffe” is how tall this animal is. They measure 14-19 feet (4-6m) in height. The legs alone are taller than most humans – about 6 feet (1.8m). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long, measuring 21 inches (53 cm) and its tail can be another 8 feet long (2.4 m).
The giraffe’s long legs enable it to run up to 35 miles (56 km) for short distances and 10 miles per hour (16 km) on average. However, their super long legs also pose a problem – they have to spread them wide apart to take a drink of water.
Wild World Fact…A walking giraffe moves both right legs forward, then both the left
The giraffe is a herbivore, which means they eat different types of leaves and grass. Their favorite food is the leaves from the Acacia tree. They can pack away up to 75 pounds (34 kilos) of this food everyday, but they don’t drink as much water; only about 10 gallons (37.8 litres). Most of the moisture the giraffe needs is found in the thorny Acacia leaves.
Since these leaves are so spiky the giraffe’s tongue and lips are very tough to protect it. They also have an antiseptic (cleanser) in their saliva in case they do get poked.
Like a cow, the giraffe will chew its cud. This is done by the animal eating a large amount of food, then bringing it back up into its mouth to eat all over again. Talk about recycling!
Wild World Fact…the extra long neck and tongue of the giraffe helps it reach leaves on the top of the trees.
More Fun Giraffe Facts
~ Giraffe infants are almost 6 feet tall when they’re born and begin to walk in 10 hours
~ Giraffe’s are social and a herding animal
~ Even though the giraffe is silent most of the time, it is able to make sounds similar to a cow and goat.
~ Neck wrestling is a form of dominance displayed by the males in a herd.
~ The giraffe has a lot of heart – it weighs 24 pounds (10.9 kilos) and is 2 feet (60.9 cm) in length!
~ The spots on a giraffe are all unique, like our fingerprints, and as it ages they turn darker.
For more information on the giraffe, visit your local library, a nature preserve or the Internet.
Some of the smallest things on earth are surrounding us all the time, and we don’t even know it. Check out the following totally true teeny tiny things.
~ the smallest nest is built by the vervain hummingbird. It’s the size of half a walnut shell!
~ you have 6 million tiny cones in each eye. These cells make you see colour.
~ a person with a cold sneezes 40,000 germ droplets into the air.
~ the teeny thread of a silk worm’s cacoon, when unraveld, can be over half a mile (1 km) in length.
~ a trillion metric tons of the world’s water evaporates each day in the sun. Luckily, it all returns again in rain.
~ light is the fastest thing in the universe. It travels at more than 180,000 miles (300,000 km) per hour.
~ a glittering polar fog called, Diamond Dust, is made up of tiny ice crystals.
~ lightweight atoms called, Helium, escape easily – that’s why your balloons go down so quickly.
Can you think of anything else that is teeny tiny, perhaps, a flea? Let me know what you come up with by leaving a comment.
There is over 1 million known bug species in the world and more are being discovered all the time. However, you don’t need to be bugged by bugs. In fact, you may even find them fascinating.
The Angular-Winged Katydid
This guy looks creepy, but it’s actually quite harmless. This grasshopper-like insect is found all over the world and has eardrums that are located in its front legs. Plus, this creaky-critter likes to serenade at night. The male Katydid has a file-like patch on one fore-wing and a scraper-like area on the other. When he rubs these together a song is created. He can even control the volume by raising his wings to make a small cavity to tune it up or tune it down.
No need to get bugged by the European Mantid…unless, of course, you’re a male Mantid. Females of this species are well known for eating the male after she has mated with him. And once her babies hatch, the bigger ‘nymphs’ will often eat their smaller siblings. That must be why these insects prefer to live alone.
The brilliant glow of the Luna moth is no reason to be bugged; this insect doesn’t even have a mouth. However, they can still grow anywhere from 3-4 inches wide and 5-6 inches long. And unlike other moths, they come in shades of lime green to yellow-green. I suppose that’s why they’re also called the ‘Moon Moth.’
Yellow Garden Spider
Out of all the bugs, spiders tend to be the ones that “bug” people the most. But did you know Yellow Garden Spiders are a very common ‘orb’ web spider? They always build round webs, which can reach up to 2 feet across. Strangely enough though, each night it eats the old web. Talk about renovations!
To learn more about these and other fascinating bugs, check out your local library, a bug museum or, perhaps, your own backyard.