We have been learning a lot about rocks and minerals and how they contribute to the soil, which we will study even further when we learn about plants. To help us learn a bit more about what animals can do for our soil, Krista from Wildlife Encounters brought us 6 different animals who help the soil all around the world!
The first animal Krista brought out was Monster the Black and White Tegu. Tegus like to eat snails and mollusks with their shell-crunching jaws. Because the Tegus have such a powerful jaw, they are able to break down the shells much more quickly than the Earth can, and they deposit the nutrients from the shells directly into the soil! Tegus live in South America in tropical and subtropical climates.
The second animal Krista shared with us was Butch the Madagascar Ground Boa Constrictor. Butch was a bit feisty, and he likes to dig holes in the ground that are big enough for his body. This provides channels for water to get deep into the soil and it also aerates the soil. Like all snakes, Butch has a very small brain and only has a memory of about 7 minutes, so they run solely on instinct!
The next animal that Krista brought out was very, very silly! His name was Sid the Salmon-Crested Cockatoo and he showed us some of his crazy dance moves and even imitated a fire alarm! Cockatoos, like many birds, eat nuts and seeds from trees and deposit the bits and pieces that they don't digest all around their environment., which brings nutrients to the soil and causes new trees and plants to grow. Sid's species also happens to be on the critically endangered list, so it is important to preserve and protect their natural habitat on the Moluccas Islands.
Krista then brought out Daffy the Flemish Giant Rabbit. Despite only being a few months old, Daffy is already 23 lbs.! Daffy likes to eat all sorts of plants (especially plants from vegetable gardens!) and she deposits the nutrients for these plants throughout the soil in her surroundings. Daffy's species is originally from Europe and was later brought to the U.S.
Krista also shared a very shy animal with us named Nibbles the Patagonian Cavy. Nibbles also is an omnivore (a plant eater) who deposits nutrients into the soil from the plants he eats. Nibbles is a relative to the guinea pig and can run up to 40 mph! His species lives in South America. We learned that if animals have eyes on the side, they like to hide. Eyes on the front, they like to hunt!
Rex the African Spurred Tortoise can usually be found in the Sahara Desert. Rex has great arms and claws for digging, which helps to bring air and water deep into the soil, just like Butch! Rex can dig holes so big, that three adults could fit inside by standing on one another's shoulders! Rex is only 25 now, but he can live to be over 100 years old. The rings around his shell tell us about how many growth spurts he has had, and he could grow to be as big as the black carpet he was standing on!
After the presentation, Krista let us pet Monster, Rex, Butch, and Daffy. Monster's skin felt like a football and Daffy was very fluffy. Rex went on an adventure all around Mrs. Healey's room!
Thank you to Wildlife Encounters for bringing such a meaningful learning experience to our classroom! We truly appreciate having the opportunity to do some hands-on learning with some very cool animals!