Strange but True

By MDC | May 1, 2024
From Xplor: May/June 2024

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

Splitting hares: Black-tailed jackrabbits are born fully furry, with their eyes open, and they can take a few wobbly hops. In contrast, eastern cottontail newborns are nearly naked, their eyes are sealed shut, and they can’t hop for several days.

Lacking talons, loggerhead shrikes often stab their prey onto thorns or barbed wire for easier eating. The “butcher birds” let poisonous meals, like monarch butterflies, stick around for several days to give toxins time to disappear.

Northern rough greensnakes turn blue a few hours after they die. This happens because the yellow pigment in their skin breaks down more quickly than the blue pigment.

A butterfly’s feet don’t smell — they taste. Butterflies have flavor-sensitive cells on their toes. When they land on something, they can quickly tell if it’s good to eat or yucky.

Baltimore orioles are caterpillar-catching machines. During nesting season — when birds need lots of protein to lay eggs and feed babies — an oriole may catch up to 17 caterpillars per minute!

Frog fight! Male graytreefrogs fight other males who trespass on their territories. Fights often start with loud, aggressive croaking and — if the intruder doesn’t back off — end with shoving, kicking, and head-butting.

Bobcats have white spots on the backs of their ears. Biologists speculate the spots help kittens follow their mom in dim light. If a kitten falls behind, mom can raise her tail to display even more bright white fur.

Also In This Issue


Animals have adaptations to help them catch food, avoid being eaten, and survive nature’s unforgiving environments.

Fireflies in a Field

Forget what the calendar says. When you see the flicker of a firefly’s fanny, you know summer has arrived.

This Issue's Staff

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