Thursday, June 4, 2009

See an Opossum and a Desert Tortoise

By Alasia, Amanda, Bethany, Garrison, and Lexi

On Monday, Wildlife Experience returned with two amazing animals.

First, we learned about footprints. You can figure out if an animal has been on a nature trail by looking at the footprints.
We got to hold rubber footprints from five different animals.

Here is Awesome the Opossum! Opossums are the only marsupials that live in North America. A marsupial is an animal that lives on land and has a pouch.

Awesome the Opossum has an amazing adaptation that she uses when she meets a predator. When an opossum is scared of something or someone, it tries to run away. If it can't outrun what is scaring it, then it will bare its 50 razor-sharp teeth and will snarl.

If that doesn't work it goes into a catatonic state. That means a chemical is sent to the opossum's brain that makes it fall asleep, and it releases a scent that smells rotten. The dead smelly opossum is "playing dead" and that can save an opossum's life. Minutes later, the opossum wakes up, but does not know what happened. It did not even know it was playing dead!

Wildlife Experience also brought a desert tortoise!

These reptiles are an endangered species because some people take them out of the desert to keep as pets. Those people might have pets that have parasites which could spread to the tortoise. Sometimes, they return them back in the desert and that virus can spread to other tortoises. When that happens, sometimes a tortoise dies or it could get extremely ill! If that happens, the animal control could come and rescue the animal. That is what happened to the tortoise picture above. This tortoise no longer has the disease and is used for classroom events

Have you ever seen either of these animals in the wild?

Have you ever played dead? When and why?

Please leave us a comment!


  1. thank you sharing about the opossum. I never knew they gave off a stink when they play dead.
    Aidan from Mr. Salsich's class

  2. Dear Mrs. Yollis' class,
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the opossum. It was very interesting.

    From Trinity in Mr. Salsich's class.

  3. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    Thank you for inviting the animal wildlife people to our class. I was so interested to learn about the opossum's catatonic state A.K.A. "playing possum".
    I'll have to try that some time!

    Shane J. :) ;D

  4. Dear Class,

    The opossum was so cute. I didn't know they were nocturnal. They must be out while I'm asleep!
    Can't wait to see what animals The Wildlife Experience people will bring next.

    Taylor G.

  5. Dear Amanda, Alasia, Bethany, Garrison, and Lexi

    It is amazing that the elk's hoofs are so big and that the raccoon feet are so small. I loved the pictures of the opossum and desert tortoise.

    Shane F:)

  6. Dear Class,

    We think it was very fun to touch the rubbery footprints! The elk's footprint was so big! When the opossum was a baby it looked cute!

    We learned that opossums have opposable thumbs which means they can use their hands like a human.

    Taylor S. and James

  7. Dear Class,
    I've never seen an opossum before and it looked so cute. Also, I never knew tortoises and turtles have different kinds of tails? I found out that a tortoise has a shorter tail than a turtle.

  8. Dear Class,
    I never knew that there was such thing as elk. I thought it was a deer.

  9. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    That was a great story of how an opossum and a desert tortoise came to the classroom. It's good to know how the opossum tries to get away from other animals and how the tortoise was lucked out and was saved by animal rescue.


  10. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I thought the picture of the turtle and possum was the coolest thing ever. I wish I was there!



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