Last Thursday, the entire second grade was treated to an encore presentation from Wildlife Encounters. Again, this wonderful organization brought several animals to SMS, this time with a focus on how animals contribute to the plants of our ecosystem.
The first animal we were introduced to was an amphibian. The WHITE TREE FROG is responsible for eating insects that would otherwise harm plants. Found in Australia, the White Tree Frog, actually isn't white at all! It can be found in shades of back, brown, or even purple!
Once the frog was placed back in its container, Kirby introduced us to a familiar animal: the SIX-BANDED ARMADILLO! In the fall, we met a three-banded armadillo, but unlike that interesting animal, Tatu and other six-banded armadillos cannot role up into a ball (they have too much flubber on their bellies!). Tatu also has the important job of pest control. Searching for termites and worms, he gives the soil a good mixing while digging for his food.
|Although covered in scales, the armadillo is actually a mammal! It has hair, delivers live young, and is warm-blooded making it the only shelled mammal!|
Once Tatu was placed safely back into his cage, Kirby and Kat brought out another familiar critter: a MINI-LOP BUNNY named Iris. This cuddly, sweet animal originates from Holland and is a seed disperser. She eats the seeds of fruits and vegetables, hops away, and then poops the seed out in a new location.
|Black bunnies often don't survive in the wild as they can't rely on camouflage for protection.|
After Iris went back in her cage, we were introduced to a second grade favorite: THE NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE. Hollywood was a crowd-pleaser from the start and was happy to show off his ability to snatch peanuts for a delicious snack! Porcupines are great climbers and are often found in trees. Porcupines have extremely poor vision and are very slow moving, which would cause them to be quite defenseless without their quills (although fisher cats have quickly discovered that porcupines have no quills on their bellies!). Porcupines are strictly herbivores and are also seed disperses and are responsible for the spreading of many tree seeds.
|Kirby demonstrated what strong climbers porcupines can be! As they are largely nocturnal, porcupines can often be found sleeping in trees during the day.|
|Hollywood is shedding his thick, winter coat! He left us a present of fur and quills to study further after he left :)|
While we were sad to say goodbye to Hollywood, we enjoyed meeting the next animal: Grumpy Gus, the ARGUS MONITOR LIZARD. This Australian animal is another animal responsible for insect control. Its large throat pouch, loud hissing sound, and ability to stand on its back legs makes it appear big and scary to its predators. While we didn't get to see him standing on his back legs, we were able to hear his hissing noises when we listened carefully.
|Grumpy Gus still has a scar from an injury he received before he was rescued by Wildlife Encounters.|
The final animal we were introduced to, which holds a special place in my heart, was a CHINCHILLA! Native to the Andes Mountain Range, these animals are their own farmers! They have the ability to grow their own food! Living in a volcanic habitat, their food source is often wiped out by lava flow. To rebuild their home, chinchillas hop down the mountains, eat plants, hop back up the mountain, poop (up to 50 times a day!) and use their large back feed to "plant" the discarded seeds. Pretty impressive for little balls of fluff!
After meeting this chinchilla, I was excited to share with our class that I used to be the owner of a pet chinchilla! While I would not recommend having a chinchilla as a pet (they are very active, social animals who require a LOT of attention!), Willy was a wonderful addition to my home for a very long time!
Again, after the presentation was complete and we had met all of Kirby and Kat's animal friends, we were allowed to use a "two-finger touch" to pet the argus monitor lizard and the chinchilla! So fun!
Thank you again to Wildlife Encounters for sharing your wonderful creatures and enhancing our science unit!!