We live in a wild world. Today we’re visiting the United States and Canada to take a look at the chipmunk. Be prepared, this is one cheeky little fellow.
They’re Not Chips or Monks!
There is about twenty-one different species of chipmunks living all over the United States and Canada. These rodents are closely related to the squirrel; however, chipmunks are smaller (8-10 inches long) and have black and white ‘racing’ stripes down their grey and reddish colored backs.
Wild World Fact…chipmunks make a range of noises from a “chuck chuck” to a higher-pitched “chip chip” sound.
These hard-working rodents prefer to make their homes under the ground. They dig out long tunnels that lead to a sleeping chamber. Here there’s a soft bed made from leaves, grasses or the fluff from seed heads. They also dig out another area to keep food in. Since chipmunks stay under the ground all winter long they need to collect lots of food when the weather is warm.
Have you ever stuffed so much food into your mouth at once that your cheeks puffed out? Chipmunk cheeks are extra stretchy so they can do just that.
The chipmunk is constantly searching for his favorite foods of nuts, berries, acorns and seeds, so when he finds it he loads up. Once his cheeks are full, he quickly bounds back to his den to empty his haul. The chipmunk may have to travel a ways from his den to find food, so these built in ‘storage compartments’ come in handy.
Wild World Fact…chipmunks have also been known to eat strawberries, grapes, apples and bugs.
So the next time you’re at a park, in the woods or even in someone’s backyard, keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked. You never know one of these cute little rascals might just pay you a visit.
Whether you lick it on a crunchy cone or spoon it from a dish, ice cream remains a favorite of kids and adults alike.
Let’s have a look at some fun facts about an even more fun food.
~ Ice cream goes way back to the Roman Emperor, Nero, who ordered ice to be brought back from the mountains. They would then add fruit toppings to it and serve it – something like a slushy.
~ the first hand-crank ice cream machine was invented in 1847.
~ it takes 12 pounds of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream.
Where did the ice cream cone originate?
In 1904 at the World’s Fair in St Louis, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes to serve it in, so he teamed up with the waffle maker. TahDah! The waffle cone was invented!
The most popular ice cream flavours are;
- Vanilla (most popular)
- Cookies & Cream
- Chocolate Chip Mint
What’s you ultimate favourite flavour?
The most unusual flavours are;
- Azuki Bean
- Hot dog
Would you try any of these? What weird flavour would you like see made into ice cream?
Here’s a fun thing to try. Create your own Lick-a-Thon.
It takes about 50 licks to finish one scoop of ice cream. Challenge you friends and family to see who finishes first. But watch out for the “brain freeze.”
For more fun facts on ice cream, check out the Internet or grab yourself a spoon and do your own research.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have the ability to crawl up the side of a building like Spider Man? Some animals and reptiles actually do have suction-powered feet that help them hunt, sleep and stay safe. Let’s explore the world of sticky toes.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
This unique fellow may be one of the coolest frogs on the planet. It has a neon-green body with bright blue and yellow markings, bright orange toes and bulging red eyes. It hunts at night and sleeps all day clinging to the bottom of a leaf using it’s suction feet to keep it in place. This frog lives in the tropical lowlands from southern Mexico, throughout Central America, and in northern South America. Besides their sticky toes, they also have a long sticky tongue that zaps up crickets, flies and moths.
Hairy Gecko Toes?
Did you know there are 1,450 species of gecko and 60 percent of them have sticky feet?
The gecko has evolved over the years to become one of the most powerful wall climbers around; however their feet aren’t sticky like tape. The bottom of a gecko’s foot has millions of teeny hairs. Each of these hairs, known as setae, has hundreds of even finer spatula-shaped split-ends. When the gecko presses his foot against a rough or smooth surface all these little hairs go to work and allow him to scurry, climb and stick. What a feat!
The sucker-footed bat of Madagasgar has small suction cups on its wrist and ankles. A special gland on the bat dribbles a sticky goo onto their suction-cups, allowing them to climb and balance. They use these sticky adhesions to sleep inside of rolled palm leaves – where they are safe from predators – and hunt for food. Along with sticky feet, these bats are black or brown in colour, have large ears and weigh about .3 ounces.
For more information on these sticky-toed creatures visit your local library or look them up on the Internet.
We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting Canada to take a look at the busy beaver. This furry rodent isn’t only fascinating, it has been used as Canada’s national symbol for over 300 years.
The Beaver Body
Beavers can range in size, but usually grow up to 3 feet (.9 m) in body length with another foot (30 cm) for its tail. It weighs in at a whooping 35-66 pounds (16-30kg) and is covered in a thick brown fur with a soft grey undercoat.
The flat black, scaly tail of the beaver serves two purposes – it acts like a boat rudder, steering the beaver through the water and gives the animal balance on land while it moves tree branches. The beaver also has two large front buck teeth that stick so it can cut and chew wood underwater. The back feet of this animal also have webbed toes which help make it a powerful swimmer.
Wild World Fact…the front teeth of the beaver never stop growing. Chewing on branches keeps the teeth trim.
Built Beaver Tough!
Beavers are nature’s builders. They spend most of their time “cutting” down small trees and forming them into a dome-shaped lodge or dam. The beaver also uses mud to help insulate his home and the only entrance way is through an underwater passage. The location of the beaver’s lodge can usually be found in the middle of a pond where it’s safe from predators. No pond available? The beaver will create his own by building a dam in a narrow stream. Once his structure is big enough the water is blocked and will build up creating a pond where a forest or field use to be.
Wild World Fact…the world’s biggest beaver dam is in Alberta, Canada, is 850 meters (2788 feet) long and can be seen from space!
Even though beavers are one of the largest rodents they are strictly herbivores. They eat leaves, bark, twigs, aquatic plants and roots. The beavers teeth and jaws are extremely powerful, so eating these tough entrees are no problem for him.
Wild World Fact…beavers will move on once food becomes scarce
For more information on the clever beaver, check out your local library, the Internet, a wildlife preserve or a national park.
You’ve probably heard about tornadoes – a furious, funnel of wind that tears a path of destruction wherever it goes. But did you know tornadoes can also occur over water? These are called waterspouts.
Ingredients for a Waterspout
~ Take 1 part humid air and 1 part high temperatures (80 to 90 degrees). Mix together.
As the humid air rises it will condense into tiny water droplets making a cloud. The more the water condenses the more heat is produced and the faster it will rise. Once this happens a funnel-shaped cloud can quickly form. If it extends towards a body of water the end result is a waterspout.
What to Look For
Like any kind of weird weather the conditions have to be just right to make a waterspout. Here are some things to look out for:
~ Dark, swirling spots on a body of water
~ Spiral pattern changes from lighter to darker
~ Winds pick up to 40 mph, kicking up spray in a circular pattern called the “Spray Vortex”
~ Clouds point downward to center of swirling water
~ Funnel cloud is formed and creates small waves called the “Bubble Wake” as it moves along the surface
~ After the vortex weakens and the funnel turns more rope-like, the waterspout will finally die out
Even though waterspouts aren’t usually as powerful as a land-based tornado, they can still do some damage. Frogs, tadpoles, fish and lizards that have been sucked up into the wild, whirling water have been known to later rain down on the land.
More Waterspout Facts
~ Waterspouts are very common in the Florida Keys, in fact they see between 400 and 500 per year. These usually occur between 11 am and 1 pm or 4 pm to 7 pm.
~ Waterspouts can also occur on the colder waters of the Great Lakes – ships have reported seeing 30 in one day.
To learn more about waterspouts, check out the Internet or your local library.
I live in the waters of South and East Australia. I’m closely related to the seahorse. I stay safe from predators using a neat form of camouflage. What am I?
The Leafy Sea Dragon, of course!
I’m Not Seaweed!
The leafy sea dragon is a wonderfully weird creature – it looks like floating seaweed – which is how it keeps from being somone’s lunch. It grows to 45 cm in length, is green to yellow-brown in colour and has thin bands or stripes around its body. However, the most amazing and beautiful part of the sea dragon is its leaf-like appendages – they really do look like floating seaweed!
Suck it Up
Just like a seahorse, the leafy sea dragon uses its tube-like nose and tiny mouth to suck up food. Its favorite meal are the teeny shrimp called mysid, sea lice and plankton. Since the leafy sea dragon doesn’t have any teeth, all the food it consumes must be small enough to fit through its long snout.
Along with the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon is the only species on earth where the males carry and raise the young.
A female will lay up to 250 pink eggs which are deposited on the males tail called a “brood patch.” This special area is where the tiny eggs are fertilized and given oxygen. The eggs will remain here for nine weeks until they turn color (purple or orange). Once the eggs are ready to hatch, Dad sea dragon will pump his tail up and down, helping his young to emerge from their eggs.
For more information on the leafy sea dragon or other marine fish and animals, check out the Internet, your local library or an aquarium.
We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the high mountains of the Himalayas’ in Napal to take a look at the red panda. This little guy may share the same name as the giant panda bear, but he’s very different. Let’s see why…
I’m Not Black and White!
What’s black and white and read all over? A newspaper…or in this case, a red panda!
As the name implies, red panda’s are red in color with white and black markings on their face and body. They are a lot smaller than a “normal” panda bear, weighing in at only 7-14 pounds (3-6 kilos), about the size of a house cat. They have small pointy ears and a long bushy tail that measures about 18 inches long (46 cm). The red panda uses its ringed tail as a cozy wrap-around to help keep it warm from the chill of the night air. The red panda’s feet are also covered in fur (top and bottom) and they have semi-retractable claws and an “extra” thumb on each paw to help them grip.
Wild World Fact…
…the “thumb” on the red panda is actually an extended bone from it’s wrist area.
It’s Time to Eat
The red panda is most active from dusk to dawn and lives mostly in the trees. When it’s not sleeping it spends most of its time looking for and eating bamboo – about 13 hours a day! Even though the red panda prefers the young tender shoots of the bamboo plant, it will also eat fruit, berries, insects, bird eggs and blossoms. Occasionally, it has even been known to indulge in acorns, certain fungi, seeds and small rodents.
Wild World Fact…
…over winter the red panda can lose up to 15 percent of its body weight
Mom red panda will give birth to 1-4 babies in the spring. The cubs are covered in thick grey fur and their eyes and ears are closed. Mom will tend to her young in the nest for 90 days. Though the red panda babies are full grown at 12 months, they still hang around their mother until the next mating season.
Wild World Fact…
…young red panda’s start their own families at about 2 years of age.
For more information on the red panda, check out your local library, the Internet, a wildlife sanctuary or zoo.
It’s a day of parades, fireworks, great food, carnivals, music and good company. It’s Independence Day, better known as the fourth of July, in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at this national holiday.
It All Started…
Way back in 1776 during the American Revolution, Richard Henry Lee proposed a legal separation from the Thirteen Colonies of England. This was done with a document called the Declaration of Independence. The Committee of Five, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams all signed this document giving America it’s freedom.
Whether you live in a small city or a big one, Fourth of July celebrations are something to look forward to. Check out these popular places to party on the 4th.
~ If you live in Washington DC you will be in for a day packed full of activities. The nation’s capitol does it right with a parade down Constitution Avenue, food vendors, music and a fun celebration all day long. The fireworks are set to fly from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and are sure to be spectacular.
~ Many people plan their Independence Day in New York. The Macy’s Fourth of July celebration is one of the biggest in the world. It’s so big, in fact, it takes 6 barges along the Hudson River to accommodate the 40,000 plus shells of fireworks!
~ If New York’s festivities is considered big, Boston’s is HUGE! This world-renowned celebration lasts for six days and is known as HarborFest. It includes live concerts, food, games and TV coverage leading up to the big fireworks display.
In Boston’s 37th year, grandiose church bells, canons and more fireworks then ever before were used and it just keeps getting bigger! If you’re close to Boston, check out this spectacular show.
No matter where you live or how your area celebrates, Independence Day is a reason to rejoice. It can be exciting, but let’s not forget the real reason behind all the fun – America’s freedom. This is a privilege that should always be remembered.
It’s Fun Friend Friday once again. Today we’re taking a look at a feathery friend the Parakeet. Let’s see why this bird has been named the most popular pet in America.
The Popular Parakeet
The parakeet is so popular it has three names; budgie (UK), budgerigar (Australia) and parakeet (USA). This colorful bird is 18 cm (7 in) long, and weighs 30-40 grams, so it’s a perfect pet for any household. It originates from Australia and was first introduced as a pet in 1840.
Parakeets in the wild are green, but now come in a wide range of colors and patterns thanks to captive breeding; from white, blue, yellow, violet, purple, mauve, olive green, cinnamon, cobalt blue and everything in between.
In the wild parakeets flock together in large numbers to stay safe from predators. They lay from four to nine eggs that hatch in about three weeks. The baby birds stay with their mom until they are around five weeks of age.
Feathery Friend Fact…parakeets can live to be 15 years old.
What Did You Say?
Parakeets are natural communicators and love to sit and chatter to themselves in a mirror. And unlike your furry friends, parakeets can learn how to talk. Males are more likely to pick up words, sounds and whistles than females. If you want to teach your pet parakeet to talk you’ll have to spend time each day giving him his lessons – that’s right, your parakeet needs to listen and learn to repeat words – just like in school. Start with one word or a two word phrase like, pretty bird, until your pet gets the hang of it. Be patient. Talking may not come easily to your bird, but with time and dedication, he could be chatting up a storm.
Feathery Friend Fact…how can you tell a male parakeet from a female? The color of it’s cere (fleshy part above the beak). Males will have a blue or purplish cere. Females will be white, brown or tan.
Now that you’ve decided to get a parakeet, you will need;
~ a suitable wire cage of appropriate size
~ cups for water and seed
~ parakeet seed
Feathery Friend Fact…most pet stores sell starter kits that include the basics all in one package.
Once you’ve picked out your special bird, remember that he will be a bit shy and, perhaps, scared when you first bring him home, so be patient and give your new pal a quiet place and some time to adjust. Talking to him in a gentle voice when you approach his cage and not making any loud or sudden movements will help him feel safe.
Make sure he has plenty of fresh food and water daily and clean out his cage (change the bottom liner/paper and scrub out dishes/perches) every week. Once your parakeet has adjusted to his new home, you can begin to handle him and teach him to talk. But just remember, like with any pet, your parakeet is a responsibility and should be treated with love and respect.
Parakeets enjoy the companionship of their human caretaker and will whistle and chatter when they’re happy. If you think this wonderful little bird would make a good pet for you, then grab a book on how to fully care for them. With lots of love and the proper care you could find yourself enjoying the company of a parakeet for many years to come.
We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the Pacific Coast of North America to sneak a peek at the playful and lovable sea otter. Let’s take a dive into the nature of this furry fellow.
It Otter Be…
- giant otter
There are 13 species of sea otters living in both fresh and salt water around the world. They have short brown to reddish-brown fur, with a small head and short limbs. They have sharp teeth and webbed feet with retractable claws on their front paws, and all of the species sport strong muscular tails that help them swim and dive.
The largest sea otter is the Giant Otter which can be found around the Amazon river. This guy can weigh up to 100 pounds (45.5 kg) and grow up to 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. The smallest otter is found from India to China and is called the Asian Small Clawed Otter. It’s considerably smaller at 11 pounds (5 kg) and is 3 feet (0.9 m) in length. All sea otters love the water and spend most of their lives in it.
Wild World Fact…
…sea otters have the densest fur of all animals – with 100,000 hairs per square centimeter – this is needed as the otter doesn’t have an extra layer of body fat to keep it warm.
The Seafood Diet
Otters not only love to eat they need to eat 25-40 percent of their own body weight just to stay warm. They consume approximately 100 different species of sea life including, crabs, mussels, squid and fish.
The otter hunts using sight and touch, plus it’s powerful swimming skills. It can also hold its breath up to six minutes. This fellow is also an excellent diver and will turn over large rocks in its quest for food. Once it has found a tasty morsel it will grab it with its front paws and bring it to the surface to eat, sometimes using it’s chest as a dining table.
The otter is one of the few animals that uses a tool - a rock makes a good hammer to crack open the tough shell of a mussel or crab.
It’s Sleepy Time
Since otters like to spend most of their time in the water, it’s only natural they would also adapt themselves to sleeping in it. The otter floats on it’s back with it’s head and feet stuck up in the air. The otter has also been known to find a kelp bed and roll itself around and around in a big leaf of sea kelp. This is the perfect “life-preserver” for the otter and keeps it from floating off.
Another way the otter sleeps is to clasp hands with a fellow sleepy otter, together they float and rest. A group of otters called a “raft” will cling to each other (front paws clasped) to rest and stay safe in bunches of 10 to as many as 100o individuals.
Wild World Fact…
…when sea otters form a raft the individual otters are usually all male or all female.
For more information on the wonderful sea otter, visit your local library, the Internet or a marine life aquarium such as Sea World.
~ retractable ~ to draw or pull back