Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Science: Meet a Salamander, a Skunk, and an Owl!

As part of our animal adaptation science unit, Beverly Critcher from Wildlife Experience brought three wild animals to Mrs. Yollis' class for careful scientific observation. She brought a salamandar, a striped skunk, and a great-horned owl.

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Wildlife Experience is a non-profit wildlife education organization that brings native and exotic animals to schools and teaches children about the importance of our natural world. Here is Ms. C., the owner of Wildlife Experiences.

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First, we met an amphibian named Sally the Salamandar. She is called a tiger salamandar because of the stripes on her body.  Amphibians can breathe on land and in water. They have lungs, but also have tiny little holes called pores, on their skin. This physical adaptation allows them to breathe underwater.  

Photo by Mrs. Yollis

One physical adaptation she has is her large mouth. She can hunt for insects easily with this adaptation. She can even eat underwater! 

Sally the Salamander is twelve years old, and we got to touch her! How did her skin compare to the gopher snake? 

Photo by Mrs. Yollis 

The Chinese giant salamander is the biggest salamander in the world! It can grow to be 5 1/2  feet long. Here is a photo!

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Next we got to meet Trouble, a striped skunk. We know what you're thinking. Skunks spray up to fifteen feet! How could you have one in your classroom? The answer, Trouble's scent gland has been removed. 

Here is a video of Trouble enjoying some snacks. What can you tell from her body language? Check out the teeth and claws!

How do you know if a skunk is feeling anxious? Look for body language. If his tail curves up, the skunk is afraid. If his tail is down and flat, the mammal is calm.

There are three types of skunks in North America:

  • striped skunk (most common)
  • spotted skunk
  • hognose skunk

Skunks are omnivores, which means they eat plants and meat. Surprisingly, a skunk's favorite food is a black widow. They keep the black widow population down.

Baby skunks are quite small. 

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The final animal Ms. C. brought was a bird. Notice the glove she uses to bring out this wild animal.

Behold! Ms. C. brought a great horned owl! These birds look like they have horns, but they are just tufts of feathers. 

Here is a short video:

Look at those eyes!

We know we have great horned owls around our neighborhoods because Mrs. Yollis found this feather outside her door years ago. Look how it matches the tail feathers! 

Owls have asymmetrical hearing. One ear is up and one ear is lower on his head. The ear is a hole. 

The females are larger because they stay in the nest to defend.
The males are the hunters. The smaller you are, the faster you can fly, the better hunter you will be.  

Owls hunt and kill with their feet, so Ms. C wears a glove. Talons, or claws, are used for grabbing and stabbing. 

Owls have eyes on the front of their heads. They need the adaptation to turn the neck and see. Owls can turn their necks  2/3 of the way around!

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What did you learn from Ms. C.?

Use World Book Online to research facts to share. Remember, do not copy and paste! That's plagiarism!


  1. Dear Mrs. Yollis and Class,

    Wow! I loved all the animals, but I am going to zoom in on some of the animals that I liked the most and am interested in the most.

    I was most interested in the kinkajou, gopher snake, hedgehog,skunk and owl. The owl could not fly because the people who found it took it to their house as a pet. As it got bigger, it could not spread its wings out so when Wildlife Experience came to get the owl, he could not fly.

    The kinkajou is an endangered species because people are killing the kinkajou for their fur and kinkajous live in trees. People cut down trees for wood. Now there are very little kinkajous left in the wild.

    The gopher snake that we saw had a problem with his eye four to five years at Wildlife Experience. They had to put a needle in his eye four five years, and it helps him. Some people think the gopher snake feels like a hotdog.

    That skunk could not spray because they took all the spray out of him. Even if he stomps and pushes, no spray would come out! One day when the skunk was a baby in the wild a man was walking his dog and saw this baby skunk. He took the dog back to his house and then walked back, hid in the bushes and the mom had never come to back to pick up her baby skunk. So, the man took the skunk to Wildlife Experiences.

    The hedgehog has quills on its back. A lot of people think it’s like a miniature version of a porcupine, but that would be a baby porcupine. Porcupines have spikes on their backs. Hedgehogs have quills that cross each other. So they can only fight predators on their left or their right side.
    What was your favorite animal?


  2. Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

    It is really cool how the food chain works. The food chain is amazing when the littlest animal gets eaten then the next one has more strength. The last animal in the food chain has the most strength.

    My favorite animal was Tucker, the hedgehog. When Tucker was a hedgehog he was about the size of Ms. C’s palm of her hand. Hedgehogs don’t have spikes their stomach because when it curls up it will poke itself. My class got to touch the hedgehog quills. She only let us touch the bottom to the top, but didn’t let us touch the tips because they can really heart you. He looks so adorable, and he has really cool features.

    Sally the salamander was slimy and some people said it felt like a hotdog or a basketball. Sally has holes on her body, those holes are important because she needs them so she can breath underwater. The cool thing of Sally breathing underwater is that she can eat and breath underwater at the same time.

    Ms. C. also brought in a great horned owl. The great horned owl doesn't have horns like you think they do. The great horned owl can’t fly because somebody found him and cept him in a birdcage. Wildlife Experience thinks that the people who found the owl had the cage near some bathroom products. They think their children were spraying the owl with hair spray. That family could have gotten in a lot of trouble just by stealing that great horned owl. So, they called Wildlife Experience to come over and take the owl. Now since the cage was so small, The owl has to lean over because in the cage he had to bend down, but Wildlife Experience is taking care of him.

    I know this might sound crazy but Ms. C brought a skunk into or classroom. You might think that the skunk might of sprayed the classroom, but they got some people to remove the spray so we didn’t get sprayed. Ms. C. told us that when the skunk gets mad, and when he gets mad he tries to spray. He dosen’t know that he can’t spray. He likes to eat peas and yogurt. Yogurt is a treat to him. I thought Trouble adorable, and he looked a little afraid.

    I thought that all of the animals were amazing.

    What did you think of all of these animals?
    What other animals that you know that have cool adaptations.



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