Strange but True

By | January 1, 2015
From Xplor: January/February 2015

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

  • Mother mud daubers lay their eggs inside tubes of mud. The wasps pack the tubes with live spiders they have paralyzed with their stingers. When the baby wasps hatch, they eat the spiders, leaving only piles of legs behind.
  • Thirteen-lined ground squirrels spend more than half their lives sleeping. The drowsy squirrels crawl into their burrows in October, fall deeply asleep, and don’t wake up until April.
  • Least shrews are Missouri’s smallest mammals. Fully grown, the insect-eating animals are barely bigger than your dad’s thumb and weigh less than a ketchup packet from a fast food restaurant.
  • Bombs away! When flushed off her nest, a mother northern shoveler often poops on her eggs as she flies away. Biologists believe this makes the eggs less appetizing to hungry predators.
  • Female bunnies want brawny boyfriends. To show off, male cottontails box and bite each other. Often, one of the flop-eared fighters will leap into the air and try to kick his opponent in the head.
  • Seeing triple: Eastern screech-owls come in three colors. Gray and brown screech-owls are common in Missouri. Reddish-orange screech-owls are less common.
  • Male house finches get their reddish color from the foods they eat. Bright feathers may signal to female finches that a male is good at finding food. So it’s no surprise females seem to prefer the reddest males for mates. Mink — like their larger cousins, river otters — swim and dive with ease. Mink feel so at home in the water, they’ve been seen floating down rivers curled up in balls, apparently asleep.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White