Into The Wild: Savanna

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From Xplor: May/June 2018

Missouri’s savannas don’t have lions and elephants like Africa’s savannas, but our tree-dotted grasslands provide homes for just as many amazing plants and animals.


These fuzzy acorns come from a bur oak, and they're the largest seeds of any native oak. The trees that these acorns grow up to be are quite large, too. Bur oaks thrive in savannas where their thick, rough bark protects them from wildfires.


Green stink bugs make their living by sucking juices from plants. This can cause problems for farmers and gardeners. If you touch a stink bug, it may release a funky fragrance. Depending on who you ask, the odor smells like cilantro, angry skunk, burning rubber, or stinky feet. Pee-yoo!


Missouri has two kinds of foxes, and both may be found sneaking around savannas. Red foxes, which are more common in northern Missouri, have reddish-orange fur on their backs. Gray foxes, which are slightly smaller and are more common in southern Missouri, have grizzled-gray fur on their backs.

Did you know?

Gray foxes often climb trees to look for food or avoid predators.


Search the draws and valleys of a savanna, and you might be rewarded with a sweet treat. Wild blackberries ripen in June and July. The berries are safe to eat, but watch out for thorns on the brambles!

Did you know?

When a bullsnake feels threatened, it pretends to be a rattlesnake. The harmless snake coils up, shakes its tail, and hisses — really loudly. The snake’s name comes from its loud hiss, which sounds a little like a snorting bull.


In May and June, male bobwhites call to attract mates. Listen for their whistled bob-bob-white calls. Females often answer back with three or four short, clear whistles.

Heads Up!

Ticks and chiggers love savannas, so don’t forget to spray on bug repellent, especially around your ankles.

Also In This Issue

Robin Nest with Eggs
Check out the many ways and out of the way places birds build their nests.
birds of the prairie
Let’s dive in to a prairie and see who lives among the waves of green.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White