Monday, June 6, 2011

Wildlife Experience: Tarantula and Turkey Vulture

Today, Beverly from Wildlife Experience was back in our class to share more.

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.

The subject of today's lesson was super senses. 
Humans have five senses: hearing smelling, feeling, seeing, and tasting. Animals do too. 
Some have super senses!

A bush baby's super sense is sight. If an animal has huge eyes, it tells you that it can see well at night.

Here is a picture of a naked mole rat. It has no hair, and like a mole, it spends all of its time underground. This rat doesn't use sight, since it is underground, and it has skin where there should be eyes. It has a strong sense of  smell, touch, and can hear really well. 

 Below is a picture of a fly taken under a microscope and with added color. Notice the mouth part and  the big red sockets.  Each tiny dot sees an image, so a fly sees several images at the same time. 
A fly can  see all around.

Meet a Tarantula!

Here is a female, rose-haired tarantula named Ocho. These spiders are found in Mexico, so Wildlife Experience  gave her a Spanish name! Ocho means eight!

Arachnids have two body parts, eight legs and live on land. They have an incredible sense of sight. In fact, it  has eight eyes! It also has two spinnerettes on the abdomen. Tarantulas have a tiny gland on the abdomen and when touched, and  mixed with oxygen, it makes silk. Like raptors, female tarantulas are larger than the males. Arachnids  give birth to 250 eggs! That's a lot of siblings!

Below is a shed from Ocho.

This is a shed from a red-kneed tarantula.

Meet a Turkey Vulture!

This is Ripper, a turkey vulture. Vultures have a great sense of smell. In fact, they  can smell something dead that is two miles away! Most birds do NOT have a good sense of smell. Kiwi birds and the turkey vultures have excellent ability to smell. 

Unlike the owl, a turkey vulture's talons are not that strong. They use their beak to rip and tear at their prey. Vultures eat dead things.When they find something dead, the devour it. Beverly said that vultures   fill a part of their throat called a crop, and if a car comes by, it vomits the meal so it's light and can fly away. When the car passes, the vulture comes back to eat the vomit. Yuck!

What did you think of our two newest local animals?

How are tarantula, turkey vulture, gopher snake, and barred owl alike?

How are they different?


  1. Dear Mrs Yollis and students,

    what a great week you all have had been able to get up close to some of your wildlife. Wow what a great experience for you all!

    I really enjoyed reading all those interesting facts. Have to admit I really am not a great lover of spiders. As a matter of fact I know someone who has a real fear of them.
    Does, anyone know what name is given when you have a fear of spiders.

    Here in Australia we have some very huge spiders too. This spider is called the Huntsman spider as it looks rather dangerous but is really harmless. It does look abit like Ocho. Another spider here in Australia is the Australian trantula spider which is also called the Bird eating spider because they make a humming noise when they feel threaten. They live in huge borrows too.

    Thanks again for this wonderful post.

    From a very cold winters day here down under,

  2. Dear Beverly,

    This is Miriam and Adia from Mrs Yollis' class.

    We loved your post! It was very exciting to see all of the animals. When we looked at the tarantula, we got terrified! Although, we knew it wouldn't hurt us.

    Once Adia went to a birthday party at a poolside, and she discovered a horrifying orange and black tarantula. It was KING SIZE! Her two year old brother almost got bit by it, when a scared animal rescuer came by. He came and kicked the tarantula into the bushes. AAH!

    We looked up some facts on Wikipedia about tarantulas, but of course, we did not plagiarize:

    There are approximately 900 species that have been discovered.

    The largest tarantulas can eat and kill animals as big as lizards, mice, and birds!

    All of the species of tarantulas are invertebrate, and that means they don't have a backbone.

    Depending on the different types of species, the body length of tarantulas ranges from 2.5 to 10 centimeters with 8-30 centimeter leg spans.

    The largest tarantula, the Goliath Birdeater from Venezuela and Brazil, has been reported to have a weight of 150 grams (a.k.a 150 paper clips) and a leg span of up to 30 centimeters!

    We learned the majority of North American tarantulas are brown.

    The turkey vulture was fascinating to learn about, too! We have also done some research on turkey vultures. Here they are:

    The turkey vulture is a scavenger and feeds on a lot of carrion.

    It finds its meals using its keen eyesight and sense of smell.

    They are birds found throughout the Americas. (North and South America)

    The turkey vulture has a wingspan of 67-72 inches and a weigh of 1.9-5 pounds.

    We hope you liked our various facts and the story!

    Miriam and Adia

  3. Dear Mrs. Yollis,
    I enjoyed reading your posts about the visiting animals. It is fun to learn about animals we may not see very often outside of a zoo!

    I laughed when I saw the photo of the naked mole rat! They are so funny looking with their huge teeth and hairless bodies! That's why I love Mo Willems story Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.
    I got scared when I saw the tarantula. I have to admit I DO NOT like SPIDERS! I can handle the regular Daddy Long Leg spider and other little ones I see in the garden.
    However, big hairy spiders turn me to mush! Whoever held that tarantula was very brave in my eyes!
    I love my DOG!
    Mrs. Hembree


* * *
Getting feedback is important to our writers. Let us know what you liked or what you learned.

Steps to Comment:

1. Write your comment in the box below. Be sure that you have proofread it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Students should have a parent check it!

2. Choose an identity. (If you have a gmail account, use it. If not, choose name/url. You can leave the url blank if you do not have a blog.)

3. Click "Publish your Comment". You may preview your comment before publishing if you'd like.

Important: All comments MUST be approved by me.
:-) Mrs. Yollis