Rescue Ranch Virtual Classroom

Are you looking for something fun to do with your kids? Then look no further.  Here at Rescue Ranch we have created a virtual classroom where your children can learn about animals and participate in fun STEM projects with materials found right inside your home!  Each week we will highlight some of our Animal Ambassadors and teach you about their care.  We will also provide a lesson and activities about wild animals that you can do at home.  Click on the tabs below for each lesson.  More will be added each week.

Animal Enrichment

Introduction

  • Enrichment is defined as “the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something.” In our lives, it can be as easy as trying or learning new something new. This could be learning to do a dance from a different culture, trying a new painting technique, doing a fun new science experiment, and much more. We are always wanting to have new experiences in order to more enrich our lives.
  • For animals, enrichment is just as important! We want to ensure our animals have a stimulating life and are able to practice some of their natural behaviors.
  • In the wild, animals must find food, defend territories, escape predators and build homes. In zoos, animal facilities, and as pets, the majority of animals’ needs are provided for them. So it is important to provide other methods of physical and mental stimulation to encourage natural behaviors.
  • Below is a description of the types of enrichment with examples of what we do for our animals here at Rescue Ranch
    • Cognitive enrichment – This is giving an animal something they need to manipulate or move as well as giving an animal something for them to dig into. This can also include doing puzzle in order to get a treat. A few examples include hiding food under plastic balls for animals to dig through to find. It could also include giving a ball to an animal to play with.
    • Olfactory (smell) enrichment – This type of enrichment involves an animal using their sense of smell to engage the animal. This includes adding hair from a rabbit into our snake enclosures; adding pumpkins to enclosures, putting a small amount of scent on a stuffed animal and placing it in an animal enclosure.
    • Visual enrichment – This is changing something an animal sees. This could be as simple as adding a photo or a mirror to an animal’s enclosure. It would also include changing items in an enclosure such as toys, houses, and beds.
    • Auditory enrichment – This type of enrichment involves using sounds. This could be as simple as playing music while cleaning an enclosure. It could also involve using a noise machine that has the sound of rain, birds, and other animals.
  • Watch this Video to learn more about the enrichment we have done at Rescue Ranch!

STEM Activities

Additional Resources

Animal Adaptations

Introduction

  • Have you ever wondered why animals are so different? For example, why does a giraffe have a long neck? Why can some lizards drop their tails?
  • Now imagine a desert. Is that different than a rainforest? What about the arctic? Are all of those places different?
  • Animals live in many different places in the world and have special abilities, or adaptations, that help them survive in the environment where they live.
  • Adaptations are defined as characteristics, body parts, or behaviors that help an animal survive. Adaptations can be a physical adaptation or a behavioral adaptation. Physical adaptations refer to special parts of an animal’s body where behavioral one are special things an animal can do.
  • Here are a few examples of adaptations (Click here to view PDF whit photos):
    • Mimicry – When and animal copies the appearance, actions, or sounds of another animal of object. There are some flying bugs that look like bees in order to make animals not try to attack them. Watch Animal Tricksters video
    • Protective Coloring – This includes things like Camouflage, or blending in with the environment. Animals like walking sticks look just like the bark on a tree to make it hard to see them. It also includes having stripped fur that makes animals like Zebras blend in with the other zebras in the herd. This makes it hard for predators to detect where one zebra starts and one ends. Watch Animal Hide and Seek Video
    • Migration – Some animals mill migrate, or travel, to other places when it gets too cold for them to survive or when there is not enough food for them to eat. Animals such as birds and butterflies will migrate to warmer climates and then return when the weather warms up.
    • Playing Dead – Animals such as a possum and a hog-nosed snake will play dead when a predator is after them. Most predators want to catch live prey and will stop being interested in the animal if it appears to be dead already.
    • Escape – Things like running quickly, climbing trees, and an animal dropping their tail are all types of escapes. Cheetahs are able to run up to 60 miles per hour to get away or to get their prey. Animals such as bears, cats, and monkeys are able to climb trees to get away. Some lizards and geckos are able to drop their tails in order to get away quickly. Their tail will still move and the predator will go after that as the lizard gets away. The lizard is able to quickly stop the bleeding and create a scab where their tail was attached. Many lizards will also regrow a new tail.
  • Today, the animals we will focus on are our lizards. Look below for a list of a few cool adaptations our bearded dragons and our Uromastyx have.

STEM Activities

  • Challenge #1 – How important are our thumbs?
    • Humans are one of the few species of animals that have opposable thumbs that we use for gripping. What would it be like to not have a thumb. Use a piece of tape, string, hair tie, or other object to attach your thumb to your hand making it so you cannot use your thumb. Then try to do different things around the house that you normally do. Don’t cheat!!! Make sure you are not using your thumb for any of the activities. This could include opening a door, using scissors, drawing or coloring, jumping rope, building with legos, etc. Were the activities harder or easier to do without using your thumb,
  • Challenge #2 – How hard is it to eat without hands?
    • Birds have a very cool adaptation where they can hold food with their feet and bring it right to their beak. We can’t exactly bring out feet to our mouths unless we are super flexible. Have a parent tie a piece of food from a doorway and see if you can eat it while keeping your hands by your side or behind your back. Easy foods to try could be doughnuts, Cheetos,
  • Challenge #3 – Create your own animal and tell what adaptations it has.
    • Think of a place your new creature might live and what adaptations it would need to survive. If it is a warm place, find a way for your animal to cool off. If it is a cool place, find a way for your animal to warm their body. Think about what it would eat, where it would find or build a house, how it gets around (does it run, hop, fly, all of the above), and any other fun feature you want to include.

Additional Resources

Hibernation / Brumation

Introduction

  • What is hibernation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhrhcsICrE8
  • Many animals hibernate in the winter when food is scarce, or hard to find. Hibernating means the animal’s heart rate slows down so they do not need as much energy to survive. Many animals, such as the bear, eat a lot before hibernating. A bear can gain up to 30 pounds per week before it hibernates. During hibernation a black bear’s heart rate can drop from 40-50 beats per minute to 8 beats per minute and they can last as long as 100 days without eating or drinking! Some animals that hibernate include bears, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, opossums, frogs, toads, turtles, snails, fish, shrimp, and some insects.
  • Instead of hibernating, reptiles go into what is called brumation. They generally begin brumation in late fall. They often wake up to drink water and return to “sleep”. They can go for months without food. Reptiles may want to eat more than usual before the brumation time but eat less or refuse food as the temperature drops. However, they do still need to drink water. The brumation period is anywhere from one to eight months depending on the air temperature and the size, age, and health of the reptile. During the first year of life, many small reptiles do not fully brumate, but rather slow down and eat less often. Brumation is triggered by lack of heat and the decrease in the hours of daylight in winter, similar to hibernation. Reptiles cannot directly control their body temperature. They must rely on the environment to warm up or cool down. They have the ability to conserve energy and use it for other things like eating, hunting, and movement.

STEM Activities

  • Challenge #1 – Play a Food Collection Game
    • Find objects around your house that you can hide (could be Legos, easter eggs, toy cars, balls, etc…). Count out 20 items per person. Have someone hide the objects. Once that is done, everyone else finds them. The toys you are looking for represents food you are storing up for Winter. You can make it more difficult by hiding different toys per child or having each child find a specific color easter egg. This can be done inside or outside. Make sure you count out your items before and after hiding to ensure you found them all.
  • Challenge #2 – Create a Hibernation Door hanger for your bedroom
    • When an animal is ready to hibernate, they don’t want to be disturbed. Animals will hibernate in caves, underground, under leaves, and even in the snow. Look at some of the links below for ideas of how to make your own Door Hanger:
      • Use this template to trace the design onto a piece of cardboard
      • Use this idea but instead of wood, you can use cardboard from empty boxes and string, yarn, and old shoelace, etc. Be creative!

Sulcata Tortoise Facts

  • Diet: 
    • Sulcata tortoises are strictly herbivores, in the wild they will eat a variety of grasses, flowers, weeds, and cacti.
    • Here at the ranch our tortoises get a large salad a few times a week made of lettuce, leafy greens, vegetables and fruit.
    • They also get specialized tortoise pellets 3 times a week.
  • Daily Care: 
    • Sulcata tortoises are native to Africa, here at the ranch we have 3, two large tortoises that live outside year around and one younger tortoise that currently resides inside.
    • Our two outside tortoises have small barns that have been equipped with proper heating pads and lights to keep them nice and toasty when the weather gets too cold.
    • They require a lot of space so they have access to large grassy areas with a muddy area to cool off.
    • Our younger tortoise is too small to live outside so she has a large set up complete with a place to hide, large heat lamps/basking lights and a water dish large enough she can cool off in if she needs to.
    • All of our tortoises receive plenty of exercise and fresh water and food daily
  • Lifespan:
    • Sulcata tortoises can live to be 100 years old!
    • Males are larger than females. Full grown males can weigh up to 150-200 pounds and measure over 2.5 feet long. Full grown females typically weigh around 100 pounds and are a little under 2 feet long.
  • Lifecycle:
    • Sulcata tortoises can start reproducing at 15 years old
    • Tortoises lay eggs, they lay anywhere from 15-30 eggs per clutch.
    • Incubation (time it takes for eggs to hatch) takes place underground, the mother will dig a nest/burrow to lay her eggs in, it takes about 8 months for the eggs to hatch.
    • When they are hatching they will poke the tip of their beak through the shell of the egg. It can take one to two days for them to hatch from their eggs.
    • They have a yolk sack they use for nutrients in the egg.  It will stay attached to them for approximately one week as they use up the rest of the nutrients
    • When they are born they are only about 1½ to 2 inches in length and weigh less than an ounce. (That is about what a piece of bread weighs)
    • Hatchlings typically have a semi-soft shell after hatching, but it usually hardens completely by 6 to 8 months of age.
    • Sulcata tortoises do the majority of their growing before the age of 10, once they reach 10 years old they continue to grow but at a slower rate.
  • Adaptations:
    • Sulcata tortoises are native to the  deserts of central Africa. However, they have shown an amazing ability to adapt to various climates and habitats in captivity.
    • Sulcata tortoises are the third largest tortoise species in the world, with the second being Aldabras and largest being Galapagos Tortoises.
    • They have front legs that are very rough and bumpy that are used as protection. When a predator is near they will pull their head and back legs into their shell and use their front legs as a type of shield to protect their face.
    • Of all the animals with backbones, turtles and tortoises are the only ones that also have a shell. Their backbone is connected to their shell, and their shell grows with them as they get older.
    • The top of the shell is called the carapace and the bottom is called the plastron.
    • Tortoise shells are made from keratin, just like fingernails and they can feel through their shells.
    • There are two protrusions on the front, underside of the shell under the neck of the tortoise. They will use these to protect themselves and show dominance, male tortoises will ram into each other and can even flip over other male tortoises.
    • Tortoises do not have teeth, instead they have a powerful beak they use to grasp and pull in their food.
    • Tortoises do not have ears; instead they feel vibrations through their feet and shell.
    • Sulcata tortoises are very active. They can move up to 1 mile an hour and can dig a burrow up to 10 feet.
  • Tortoise vs. Turtle
    • Tortoises as terrestrial or land-loving animals. They have stubby feet that are better for digging and a heavy, dome-shaped carapace (top of shell).
    • Turtles however are aquatic or semi-aquatic. They tend to have more webbed feet or even flippers and their shells are more flat and streamlined.

Additional Resources

Showing Empathy

Please note – the day before competing this lesson, you will need to freeze a few plastic animals, coins, or other hard objects in a bucket or cup of water in order to compete the first activity.

Introduction

  • What kinds of things make you feel happy? Sad? Angry? Excited? How do you act when you feel these ways? Can you tell how someone else is feeling just by looking at them? How?
  • Next, let’s play a game of Charades! Can you make a face to show you are happy? How about sad? Can you show you are mad? Can you think of other emotions that you could act out?
  • If you found out a friend or classmate was feeling sad, what would you say? How would you help your friend or classmate feel better?
  • Watch The Present Video
    • How do you think the boy was feeling in the beginning of the movie? Why do you think that?
    • How was the puppy feeling at the beginning of the movie? How did he feel when the boy did not play with him?

 

STEM Activities

  • Challenge #1 – Frozen Animal Rescue
    • The day before completing this activity, help your parents collect different plastic animals, rocks, coins, or other hard objects. Put them in a bowl or cup of water and put them in the freezer.
    • Collect different materials that you think will help you to melt your ice. These could include:
      • Paint brushes and/or spray bottles filled with water (could use warm or cold to see which works the best)
      • Popsicle sticks or other hard objects to use as a chisel
      • Salt, baking soda, sugar, etc to see what will help to melt the ice faster
    • Once the items are frozen, run the cup or bowl under warm water to loosen the ice. Put the block of ice on a tray or plate (may be best to do this outside if possible)
    • See how quickly you can rescue your animals and items from the ice. Try different things to see what works best.
    • Talk about what you tried and how well it worked.
  • Challenge #2 – Create an animal using toilet paper tubes and recycled materials
    • Take an old toilet paper tube and different craft supplies and make your own animal. Be creative and have fun!

We can show compassion and empathy to our friends, family, strangers, and others. We should also show compassion to animals. Today we are also going to learn about our pet snakes that live at Rescue Ranch.

Click below to learn about the snakes at Rescue Ranch!

Take a look at the snakes that live at Rescue Ranch.  Can you tell some of the fun things they get to do for enrichment?  Enrichment, such as a different location, different textures, and different smells is vital for giving animals a way to express their natural behaviors.

Additional Resources

Kitbull Video (This is a video of a pit bull subjected to dog fighting and a lonely stray kitten. Parents may want to watch before showing children)

Snake Facts

Diet:

  • Only eat once every 7-14 days.
  • Can go up to 6 months or longer without eating.
  • Prey consist of mice, rats, eggs, small birds, lizards, or sometimes even other snakes.
  • At the Ranch: Snakes get fed one rat or mouse per week. They are not fed live and are fed in a separate container away from their enclosure.

Daily Care:

  • Require a heat lamp to mimic the heat from the sun they would get in the wild.
  • Typically need about 8-12 hours of light per day.
  • Humidity should be kept within ideal ranges depending on the species of snake (some require higher humidity than others) this is done by misting 1-2 times per day.
  • Given fresh water daily in a bowl large enough for the snake to fit into.
  • Enclosure should be checked for feces (poop) or urate (the solid form of pee) each day.

Life Span:

  • Lifespan depends on the species of snake, in captivity most snakes live to be roughly 15-25 years old while in the wild life spans are much shorter, typically between 5-10 years.

Life Cycles:

  • Breeding season tends to be in early spring and eggs are laid in early summer.
  • Most snakes tend to lay only one to two clutches of eggs per year.
  • Most snakes will lay a clutch of around 15-20 eggs.
  • Incubation typically lasts around 60 days.
  • Some snakes do give birth to live young including boas, anacondas, rattle snakes, copperheads, and garter snakes.

Adaptations:

  • Snakes can have anywhere between 300 and 800 bones in their body.
  • Snakes can have up to 10,000 muscles in their body.
  • Snakes lack the bone that connects their top jaw and bottom jaw which allows them to open their mouths up to 180 degrees (more than double what a human can!)
  • A snakes lower jaw is not connected all the way across meaning they can move both sides of their lower jaw independently.
  • Snakes do not have eyelids, instead they have a special scale that protects their eye called an eye cap.
  • Snakes see in infrared or heat vision which helps them find their food when hunting.
  • Snakes do not have noses, they smell with their tongues and a Jacobson’s organ found on the inside of their mouths.
  • Snakes do not have ears, instead they have special scales on their belly to help them feel vibrations.
  • Snakes shed their skin as they grow, adult snakes typically shed around 4 times a year while younger snakes shed every couple of months.
  • Snakes are considered ectotherms meaning they are cold blooded and require the sun to regulate their body temperature

Animal Training

Introduction

  • At the beginning of the school year your teacher goes over the rules, correct? This is an important thing so that you know what to do and what is expected of you. Your parents have rules and expectations of you as well. How do they let you know? They tell you. Fortunately for us, we speak the same language and can understand what we are being asked to do.
  • Now picture an animal like a dog. Do we speak the same language as them? It can be difficult to communicate with an animal until you work with them.
  • Training is an important part of any animal’s life, and is important for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation, which helps to keep them happy. It also helps to build their confidence when they know what you want them to do.
  • Training is best received when you use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement means rewarding an animal when he/she does something good, instead of punishing them when they do something not so good. This also makes the animal more excited about training. Imagine someone was teaching you math and every time you got a problem right you were given candy – wouldn’t that make you want to learn math? On the other hand, imagine if every time you got a problem wrong you had to give your teacher 5 dollars – would that make you like math?
  • Partner Activity – Practice using positive reinforcement to train each other. One partner will be the trainer and the other person will be the human dog.
    • Let’s start by using verbal cues, like “sit” or “lay down” or “do a jumping jack.” If the human-dog does the trick they are being asked to do, the trainer claps or snaps and rewards them with a high-five. Do this a few times and then switch who is the trainer and who is the dog.
    • Because we speak English we would understand if someone told us to “sit.” But imagine someone told you “dooblydeeboo” and kept saying “dooblydeeboo,” ‘dooblydeeboo” and expected you to do something and got mad at you when you didn’t understand. That is how a dog feels when people are speaking to them and expecting them to understand.
    • Next let’s use hand motions to get your partner to do the actions you want them to do. For example, if you want your partner to sit, you should point towards the ground or use a flat hand and do a downward motion. Remember to reward your “dog” for each step in the right direction, by a clapping or snapping and a high-five. See how creative you can be and how well you can get your partner to respond.
  • Did you find it easy or difficult to train your partner using on hand motions?  Now think about how your dog would feel. It takes a lot of patience to train an animal.  Think about being the dog…did you like it when you got a high five? Just like us, animals enjoy praise and want to continue when they are being praised for doing a good job.

STEM Activities

  • Challenge #1 – Agility course
    • For animals with a lot of energy, an agility course is a great way to work on their training. They will get mental and physical stimulation and it will help to tire them out so they sleep very well.
    • Your challenge is to use objects around the house or in the yard to create your own agility course where you go over, under, around, and through different objects.
    • Click on the videos links below for an example of animals doing agility –
    • Challenge #2 – Marble Maze
      • Create your own marble maze. This can be done using Legos and a Lego board, using paper towel or toilet paper rolls and a piece of cardboard, straws and paper, and much more. If you need ideas, search on the internet “Marble maze diy” to see lots of ideas.

Click below to learn about the rats at Rescue Ranch!

Take a look at the rats that live at Rescue Ranch.  Can you tell some of the fun things they get to do for enrichment?  These sweet girls are so curious and have lots of fun!

Rat Facts:

  • Diet:
    • Omnivores (they eat both plants and meat).
    • They can eat a wide variety of foods including fruit, vegetables, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds, eggs, yogurt and even lean meat.
  • Daily Care:
    • Rats are very energetic and clean animals, they groom themselves similar to a cat and do not like to be dirty.  Here at the ranch their enclosure is cleaned daily. All soiled towels or bedding is removed and replaced.
    • Rats are also given daily toys/enrichment to keep them busy. Enrichment can include scents, paper to shred, boxes to hide in, tunnels to explore, and even training sessions.
    • Rats are very social animals so it is necessary to give them time outside their enclosure and human interaction/handling daily.  They require a lot of attention so it is best to have more than one rat.
  • Lifespan:
    • Rat lifespans are pretty short unfortunately. Under human care they can live up to 3 years but in the wild they typically only live about 1 year.
  • Lifecycle:
    • Males are called bucks, females are called does and babies are called pups.
    • Rats are pregnant (gestation) for 21-24 days.
    • When babies are born they are considered altricial (born in an undeveloped state and requiring care and feeding by the parents). They are born hairless, it takes about one week for them to start to get fur and about two weeks for their to eyes open.
    • They typically have 10-12 babies per litter and can have up to 17 litters per year.
    • Rats can start reproducing (having babies) at 5 weeks old.
  • Adaptations:
    • Rats can come in a wide range of colors including black, brown, white, grey and tan.
    • They have long nearly hairless tails they use for balance.
    • They have teeth that continuously grow so it is vital to give them something to chew on to keep their teeth filed down to prevent overgrowth.
    • That have an amazing sense of smell, some have even been trained to sniff out land mines and diseases.
    • Rats are very agile; they can climb, swim, and jump up to 3 feet in the air and leap up to 4 feet.
    • They have dexterous hands and will often hold their food in their front paws when eating.
    • Rats are very clean animals, they will groom themselves and each other.
    • Vocalizations include squeaking, hissing, and chattering.
    • They are very intelligent animals and can easily be trained to do numerous behaviors.
    • They can be very affectionate and have excellent memories so they are able to recognize their favorite people.
    • A group of rats is called a mischief.

Animal Homes

Introduction

STEM Activities

  • Challenge #1 – Building a small house
    • Find a small plastic animal that you will build a shelter for. Look around the house to find materials you could use to build an animal home. Examples could include straws, popsicle sticks, paper cups, toilet paper tubes, index cards, paper, play-doh, and tape. The goal is for the house to provide shelter that the toy animal can easily go in and out of as well as for it to be able to withstand being blown on lightly.
    • Have your child begin by drawing a picture of what their house will look like before building it.
    • Assist your child with their ideas, asking probing questions that will guide them to creating a successful house.
    • Once your child has built a house, ask your child to show you how it works. Next lightly blow on it to make sure it stands.
    • Discuss what challenges your child may have had when constructing their house. Discuss which materials were the easiest or hardest to work with.
  • Challenge #2 – Working as a rabbit colony to create a burrow
    • Watch An Adventure Inside a Rabbit Burrow to see a rabbit burrow in action
    • Discuss how rabbits build and use a burrow to survive.
    • Find supplies around the house that could be used to build your own rabbit burrow/fort. Your goal is make a burrow with multiple rooms. Ideas of supplies could include sheets, tablecloths, cardboard boxes, chairs, and pillows.

Rabbit Care and Fun Facts

  • Diet:
    • They are herbivores. They eat lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, etc…
    • They also need access to hay all day. Most common are Timothy hay and Alfalfa hay.
  • Daily Care:
    • They need a puppy pen or large bunny condo. It should be large enough that they can hop around. They should be let out for a few hours each day to get some extra exercise.
    • Rabbits can be litter box trained. Rabbits poop up to 200 times a day, so they need someone to clean up after them regularly.
    • Their teeth are always growing, so they need wooden things to chew on. They are also very curious and need toys to keep them busy.
    • They need regular nail trims as their nails continue to grow. They also need regular grooming to remove excess hair as they shed.
    • Rabbits should never be soaked in a bath. Their body temperature can drop too quickly and could cause hypothermia. If they need to be cleaned, simply use a wet washcloth and gentle soap if needed.
  • Life Span:
    • Generally rabbits have a life span of 6 to 10 years. This time span depends largely on the breed of the rabbit.
  • Life Cycle:
    • A female rabbit is called a doe. A male rabbit is called a buck. A young rabbit is called a kit.
    • The mother builds a nest in the burrow with the hair pulled from her own body to provide warmth and protection of the newborns.
    • The newly born rabbits are born with their eyes and ears closed and without fur. So they cannot see or hear when they are first born. Around day seven, fur begins to grow. Eyes begin to open at day ten and ears begin to open at day 12.
    • They reach maturity at the age of 6 to 8 months.
    • Rabbits reproduce very quickly. This can be a major headache for people living in agricultural areas where rabbits are seen as pests. They can get pregnant as early as 6 months of age and have a gestation period of 30 days. They usually have a litter of 5-7. They can get pregnant again the day after they deliver their litter
  • Adaptations:
    • Large ears help draw body heat away from the core, preventing over-heating during warm months.
    • Large ears also helps them to have excellent hearing
    • Large hind feet provide rabbits with a very powerful kick, which they can use as a defense mechanism, or to power large jumps when escaping predators
    • Rabbits have eyes on the sides of their head, allowing them an almost 360° view. However, they cannot see what is directly in front of their mouths.

Cold Blooded vs Warm Blooded Animals

Introduction

  • For the most part, animals can be divided into two groups when it comes to their internal body temperature, cold-blooded (endothermic) and warm-blooded (ectothermic). Mammals and birds are warm-blooded and reptiles, insects, arachnids, amphibians and fish are cold-blooded.
  • Warm-blooded animals
    • Cooling off – Warm-blooded animals will sweat or pant to get rid of heat through water evaporation. They can also cool off but getting in water or going to a shaded spot. For example, monkeys have sweat glands throughout their bodies from where they can sweat but cats and dogs can only sweat through their paws. Elephants and rabbits are able to get rid of heat through the blood vessels in their ears. Many mammals will shed their fur when it warms up in order to keep them cooler during the warmer months.
    • Warming up – mammals have fur or blubber and birds have feathers that help trap their body heat in order to warm up. Some can also shiver in order to add more heat into their bodies
    • Advantages – They can live in almost any habitat.  They can stay active during the colder months and can seek food and defend themselves.
  • Cold blooded animals
    • Cooling off – Reptiles will go into a shaded spot, burrow into the cooler soil, open its mouth, and lighten up their skin color in order to cool off.
    • Warming up– Many cold blooded animals will bask in the sun. Lizards will expand their rib cases in order to have a larger surface area to attract more sunlight. Some cold-blooded animals will shiver to stay warm. Fish will either move to deeper water during colder months or some will migrate to warmer water. Many snakes, lizards, toads, frogs, salamanders and most turtles will hibernate during cool winters. Honeybees crowd together and move their wings quickly in order to keep warm
    • Advantages – Require less energy to survive. Since cold-blooded animals do not have to burn a lot of food to maintain a continual body temperature, they are more energy efficient and can survive longer periods without food.
  • Videos to watch

STEM Activities

Additional Resources

Animal Communication

Introduction

  • Communication is the act of sending and receiving information. When you were a baby you would cry to alert your mom or dad that something was wrong. Since you couldn’t speak yet, your parents had to figure out why you were crying. As you got older, you started to learn words and could tell your parents what you needed. As people, we communicate with our voices as well as our body language.
  • Animals do not have the ability to form words like we do. They must use what they have access to in order to communicate not only with each other but other species, as well. Some examples include:
    • Fireflies glowing to attract a mate
    • Cats rubbing against an object to mark it with their scent
    • Dogs licking their pups to bond, clean, and stimulate development
    • Peacocks using their beautiful tails to find and attract a mate
    • Elephants using their trunks to talk to other herds a long distance away.
    • Horses kicking other horses to establish dominance
    • Skunks using their smell to deter predators
    • Cobra snakes inflating their hood to scare other creatures
    • Baboons use touch to show affection and to groom each other
  • There are four main ways animals can communicate:
    • Visual: something easily seen. This type of communication is done with badges and displays. Badges are the natural coloring of the animal where displays are something the animal does to communication. An example of a badge is the bright colors of some toxic animals, such as bees and the poison dart frog. These colors act as a do not eat warning. An example of a display is when a bee finds food (nectar), they will do a waggle dance to show where it is located. Click here to see an examples of the Bee Waggle Dance
    • Auditory: something easily heard. Auditory communication is very important in birds, who use sounds to attract mates, convey warnings, defend themselves and their territories, and coordinate group behaviors. Some birds also produce birdsong, vocalizations that are can be long and melodic and tend to be similar among the members of a species. Watch “Why Do Birds Sing?” for examples of birdsongs.
    • Tactile: something easily felt – Most animals use this form of communication to show affection, comfort or fear, or even to establish dominance. For example, kittens will nuzzle their mothers to show affection. Another example comes from primates, like chimpanzees. They will clean each other to bond and show affection. Watch an example of a chimp cleaning another chimp here.
    • Chemical: something easily smelled – A pheromone is a chemical signal used to generate a response in another individual of the same species. Pheromones are especially common among social insects, such as ants and bees. Pheromones may attract the opposite sex, raise an alarm, mark a food trail, and more. Ants use pheromones to show the other ants where they have found food. Watch How Do Ants Find Food for an example of ants using pheromones.

STEM Activities

    • Challenge #1 – Communication Drawing game
      • Work with a partner for this activity. Each person should sit back to back with a piece of paper, a pencil, and a clipboard or book (a hard surface). Both people should draw a picture of an animal. Once both have finished drawing, one person should turn their paper over. The person looking at their photo should describe what they have drawn and the other person should try to replicate it. You cannot tell the other person what type of animal you have drawn. You must use clues such as “it has a round head and a oval shaped body.” “The animal has four rectangle shaped legs that are about an inch long”
    • Challenge #2 – Play a Game of Charades
    • Challenge #3 – Make a musical instrument
      • Use items you have laying around the house to make an instrument you can shake, hit, or blow into to create a noise. Feel free to google some ideas of homemade instruments. Be creative!

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