Today, Beverly from Wildlife Experience was in our class.
They are a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world.
To book a program for your southern California school, click here.
First, the class talked about animals that come out at night (nocturnal)
as well as day dwellers (diurnal).
Diurnal animals: lizards, squirrels, crows and ravens, snakes, hawks, and vultures
Most California animals are nocturnal: coyotes, owls, raccoons, bats, bobcats, mountain lions, and possums
Beverly said that wildlife is all around, even if we don't see it. We can look at what they leave behind and know that they are around: bones, fur, owl pellets (if you open the pellets, you'll find undigested bones!), feathers, tracks, dung or scat.
Meet a Gopher Snake
The class got to learn about a gopher snake. Beverly said that gopher snakes often retreat into gopher holes during hot days. That is why they are called gopher snakes! These reptiles are found all over California.
Snakes are cold-blooded, are hatched from eggs, have lungs, but do not have eyelids. They smell with their tongues!
Some people thought that the snake might feel slimy. When we touched the snake, we discovered they are not gooey, but feel like rubber or a basketball!
Gopher snakes are not poisonous. These special snakes have a color adaptation. Their color pattern looks a lot like a rattlesnake, so predator get confuse. In addition, gopher snakes employ a clever behavioral adaptation. They will shake the tip of their tails in the sand or in dry leaves to pretend like they are a rattlesnake! Great strategy for survival!
|Snakes grow their entire lives, and here is a recent shed from this gopher snake.|
Here you can see the that they shed their eye caps!
|Beverly shared this photo of a cobra snake.|
|On the reverse of the photo, she shared that a snake has a backbone, which makes it a vertebrate animal!|
Snakes are near the top of the food chain.
Some animals eat snakes: raccoons, owls, some hawks, and coyotes.
Meet a Barred Owl named Hoot
(Only found in northern California)
Hoot is a boy, and Beverly said that the girls are bigger by about a a third. The females stay in the nest, while the smaller males go out and hunt. Barred owls are nocturnal, and live in northern california.
Our local area is home to three types of owls:
|Owls have a bone in their neck that allows them to turn 2/3 of the way around. They cannot spin their heads all around!|
Like reptiles, birds lay eggs. However, some bird create nests for their eggs.
Beverly shared a hawk nest.
The hawk used: twigs, cotton, feathers, bark, paper bags, newspaper, a dryer sheet, and even horse hair!
|Notice all the horse hair used in this smaller nest.|
|Red-tail hawk egg|
|Here's an ostrich egg. An ostrich is the largest bird in the world.|
What did you learn from Beverly?
Have you ever seen or heard either of these animals near your house?