Strange but True

By MDC | May 1, 2023
From Xplor: May/June 2023

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

Although it’s perfect for predator protection, a nine-banded armadillo’s armor is heavy. To cross wide rivers, an armadillo gulps air until its stomach inflates, then it floats across. For narrow streams, it simply walks along the bottom.

Wahoo! Mama wood ducks nest in holes high up in trees. A day after hatching, the babies follow mom to the entrance hole and bail out. The little fluff balls sometimes fall over 200 feet without being injured.

Three-toed box turtles are Missouri’s longest living reptiles. Many reach their 60th birthday, and a few may live 100 years or longer.

Nest fest: If a yellow warbler finds a cowbird egg in its nest, does it kick the egg out? Nope. It simply builds a new nest atop the unwanted egg. If cowbirds keep coming back, this can result in a stack of up to six nests.

Striped skunks can spray at birth, but the blind, helpless babies have little control over where their funk flies. By the time they’re 3 months old, the little stinkers can aim accurately and fire at will.

When a predator grabs a five-lined skink by the tail, the little lizard leaves its behind behind. By flexing special muscles, the skink snaps off its tail and squeezes blood vessels shut. As the detached tail twitches, the skink slinks to safety.

Coyotes are Missouri’s fastest land animal. The cagey canines can zip across grasslands at a blistering 43 miles per hour. Humans are at the back of the pack, reaching speeds of only 27 miles per hour.


Also In This Issue

Illustrated drawing of a mole, snake, and a bird

Some creatures dine where the sun doesn’t shine. Here’s what’s on the menu.

This Issue's Staff

Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Laura Scheuler
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber