Strange but True

By MDC | November 1, 2023
From Xplor: November/December 2023

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

Hellbender dads are protective parents. After a mama salamander lays up to 400 eggs under a rock at the bottom of a stream, she splits. Dad sticks around to guard the nest until the eggs hatch four to six weeks later.

Before going number two, a river otter often shuffles from one back foot to another, shaking its furry bottom in what some biologists call a “poop dance.”

About 60 to 70 percent of a pecan nut is made up of heart-healthy oils. The tasty tidbits are packed with so much oil, when they’re touched by a flame, they ignite and burn like candle wicks.

When food runs scarce in winter, downy woodpeckers split up to look for it. Males usually search higher in trees, on tiny branches, and even on weed stems. Females stick to bigger branches and tree trunks.

Oyster mushrooms get most of their food from the logs on which they live. But they also eat tiny worms called nematodes. When one wiggles over a mushroom, the fungus stuns and digests the worm to get nitrogen and other nutrients.

When it dives underwater, special muscles flex in a hooded merganser’s eyes, causing the lenses to bulge out. The change in shape improves the duck’s vision underwater, helping it snap up prey like small fish and insects.

Red foxes make a variety of sounds, but the one you’re most likely to hear in winter is a blood-chilling scream. Girl foxes make these noises during mating season to call to their boyfriends.

Also In This Issue

Deer in Snow

Critters have tons of tricks to stay alive when temperatures dive

This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber