Recently I was sitting at my desk entering health records when Aaron and Nick appeared at my door!!!
In my Caterpillars post, I talked about getting stung by one. In this post, I will show you a couple of other caterpillars that I found in Explore the Wild.
Once I found one caterpillar, which was a saddleback, my eyes began to see all the other caterpillars that are out in the area.
This caterpillar (above) was on the climbing structure in the lemur yard. I found it while I was putting the morning food out for the Ring-tailed lemurs.
This caterpillar (below) was on the water bowl in the wolf side cages.
Next time that you are outside, take a closer look at the plants or even different structures and you might see a caterpillar.
The other day while I was closing the farmyard, it began to pour. I had to construct a makeshift poncho out of a garbage bag, because I didn’t follow the golden rule of the boy scouts and was unprepared. I stood there for what seemed like an hour waiting for the duck to go into his stall for the night. Duck, being the duck he is felt it was better to be out in the rain and bathe in his pool instead.
Animals can bathe in dust or water and is extremely important to a birds health because it helps in the maintenance of feathers. My coworkers think I am weird because I bring my pet parrot in the shower when I have to clean up. (Bird people are very interesting)
Here at the museum, we provide ample amounts of water for all of our birds to bathe in. Its not uncommon to see the duck in water, but when we are lucky we catch a glimpse of our raptors.
Look closely below, our Barred Owl-Christoper is spreading his wings and taking a shower during the down pour.
The other day I was in the farmyard and talking with Max. Yes, I talk with the animals. They may not understand me when I tell them certain things, but they do recognize commands that are given and I know that they are not able to tell me they are tired of hearing the same stories. When I converse with our steer he tends to lick my arms, hands and anything else I might be holding. It is most likely he is not doing this because I am his awesome caretaker, but he wants to taste the salt that is on my skin. The most surprising thing that a lot of people don’t know is that the texture of Max’s tongue is rough like a cats, the reason for this is most likely grooming. The best part of Max’s tongue is that it has the ability to reach into his nostrils and lick out whatever may be lurking in there. Snot, dirt and boogers included.
The tongue of a giraffe is 18-20 inches! While researching many sources say that it is dark in color to prevent sunburning while it is used to pull leaves off trees
The blue whale possesses the largest tongue. It weighs 2.7 tons and is rumored to be its predators (orca whales) most desired part to eat.
The anteater has a 2 foot tongue which has very sticky saliva so insects have little chance of escaping and it dines on them.
Snakes can smell by having a forked tongue that collects particles in the air and brings them into the Jacobson’s organ which can then detect what they are.
Kent would get mad if I didnt mention the Blue Tongued Skink who flashes his tongue to scare predators away
Last year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the American Association of Zookeepers conference.
This year, a lot of us keepers were very lucky to be able to attend because it was held in North Carolina. Keeper Sarah and I were also lucky, because we were selected to present a paper this year. The topic was on enrichment and focused on inexpensive or free options. Even though I was presenting, it was said that Sarah was much more nervous then I, but all went well.
Special thanks goes out to Wendy for helping us with our professional looking power point! Luckily, Sherry signed me up for a course in this years conference that taught a lot about power point presentations and I think I finally have a good grasp of it.
This is a fossa, it is the main predator of lemurs. As you can see it kinda looks like a cat, but actually, it is related to the mongoose. They live in Madagascar and can grow up to 6 feet long but only weigh about 25 lbs. The fossa isn’t just a predator to lemurs, it’s the islands largest predator and a strict carnivore, so it feeds on just about anything it can. (although lemurs are their favorite meal) Similar to a cat they do have retractable claws, large teeth and hunt ambush style. They are solitary animals that spend their time on the ground and in the trees, hunting both day and night. A very agile animal that can maneuver high up in the trees with ease and can travel up to 16 miles per day. They are considered adults at 4 years of age, females give birth to 2-4 pups a year, in a den she has made. After 4 months the pups leave the den, then stay with their mother for another 8 months. After about 2 years fossa pups move off on their own.
And sadly they are endangered, primarily due to habitat loss.
The other day I was in the farmyard and observing our two rabbits, Betty and Jean.
Occasionally, I will give them access to run around inside the whole barn where they are kept so they can get some exploring time before guests arrive.
At this time, I see them hopping back and forth and sometimes they will jump in the air and twist. This behavior is associated with positivity and excitement. This behavior actually has a name and its called “binky.” Unfortunately, I dont have a video of our rabbits cutting a binky, but there are many on youtube!
One of my favorite aspects of working in Explore the Wild is the wildlife, whether it be foxes, ground hogs, raccoons, snakes or spiders. I found this spider recently and was quite sure it was a crab spider so I checked with Leon from the Butterfly house, who is an expert. He said it was a Running Crab Spider, they are in the Thomisidae family. They can actually be green, orange, and yellow in color, he also mentioned that they are very quick!
A few days later while showing Ranger Greg some interesting growth on a tree near Lemurs, I asked him what the above spider was. It resembles my favorite spider- the Green Lynx. But this one is actually a Orchid Orb Weaver.
The first time I ever heard our Canebrake Rattlesnake shake its tail it sent the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I was behind the scenes working with some other snake when it went off. The other day when I was cleaning exhibits I wondered how exactly its able to make that sound with its tail.
I did a little research and this is what I came up with.
If you have ever looked closely at the end of a rattlesnake tail, you will see that is composed of segments
The segments are hollow and are made out of keratin, the same stuff your finger nails are made of.When they are born, they have no rattles because the rattles develop after a shed. While it is true that after a shed a segment is produced, it will not tell the age of a rattlesnake (old wives tale)because the segments do come off in the day to day life of a snake.When the segments knock together as the snake shakes its tail, they knock together and that is how the sound is produced. It rattles an average of 61 times a second!
Below is a slow motion video of a rattlesnake moving its tail. You will need to click the link inside the box and it will open up in YouTube