This week, Wildlife Encounters paid the second graders another visit, this time with animals that help plants grow! While many of the animals we saw back in the fall were also helpful to plants and their soil, we learned about some new animals who also do their part to keep the Earth green.
The first animals we got to see were Masdagascar Giant Hissing Cockroaches. While you may not want to find these in your house, they are a great help to the plants and soil outside. They eat decaying plants and animals, break them down, and leave the soil rich with nutrients.
Even though Kaya the Wallaby eats plants, she helps them grow by only eating the parts of the plan that can easily grow back without damaging the rest of the plant. She also helps to spread and plant the seeds from the plants she eats when they leave her body and she steps on them to push them into the ground and spread them over long distances.
She also seemed very interested in eating our lunch!
Noah is a Green Winged Macaw who loves three things: berries, nuts and Alicia Keys. While the latter does not do much to help the planet, Noah also helps plants grow by spreading the seeds of the plants he eats!
OJ the Albino Corn Snake helps plants by protecting them from their predators. While OJ does not eat corn himself, he does enjoy the mice who do. Farmers rely on these types of animals to protect their crops and help them continue to grow.
It was also pretty cool to see a very special audience volunteer get to hold him!
Next, we got to meet a Giant Cane Toad, which helps to protect a very important plant to second graders--sugar cane! The toad protects the plant by eating bugs that fly around it. It also secrets poison from behind its eyes to protect itself from its prey which also gets on the cane plants, so animals and insects that try to eat the plant get sick or pass away.
Lastly, we got to meet Fauna the Brown Skunk. While Fauna has had her spray glands removed, we still learned to warning signs to know when a skunk is feeling threatened enough to spray. First, skunks will thump their feet on the ground to ward predators off. Then, they will wag their tails at a predator. Finally, they will stick their tail straight up in the air, at which point you will only have seconds to get at lease 15 feet away! Skunks do not like to spray, as it hurts their body, so they will only do so when they are feeling seriously threatened. Skunks help plants by eating only the parts of plants that will grow back, as well as the insects that destroy plants such as beetles.
Thank you very much to our friends at Wildlife Encounters for another amazing and informative visit! And thank you to all of the animals working hard to keep our Earth green :)