Strange but True

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From Xplor: July/August 2020
  • Fish need oxygen just like people do. But while we use lungs to get oxygen from air, fish use gills to get oxygen from water. If oxygen in the water runs low, fish can suffocate.
  • When startled, a western ratsnake (aka black snake) will often vibrate its tail in dry leaves. Biologists believe the harmless snake may be trying to sound like a venomous rattlesnake to scare away attackers.
  • Many birds take a dip in a bird bath or splash in a puddle to wash off. Whiteeyed vireos have a different way to stay clean. The shrub-loving birds rub their bodies against dew-soaked leaves in the morning.
  • Leafcutter bees snip circles from leaves with their sharp jaws. They stuff the cutouts in their nests to make “sleeping bags” and lay an egg inside each one. When the eggs hatch, the babies have a dry, cozy place to live and grow.
  • Because ants bite and sting, many predators prefer to eat spiders. To avoid snack attacks, some jumping spiders pretend to be ants. Not only are the eight-legged imposters shaped like ants, they also raise their legs to imitate an ant’s antennas.
  • One way to tell boy and girl red-eared sliders apart is to look at their toenails. Boys usually have longer front claws than girls do. And when a slider guy wants a girlfriend, he waves his long claws in the female’s face.
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds stitch spider silk into their nests. The webbing holds the nest together and anchors it to a branch. And when the pea-sized eggs hatch, the stretchy silk lets the nest expand as the baby hummers grow.

Also In This Issue

American Bumblebee
Plants and animals team up to keep nature abounding with blooms.
Black-Necked Stilt
Learn to spot these summer visitors when you’re at the lake or on a float trip.

This Issue's Staff

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