From Xplor for Kids
February 2013 Issue

Strange But True

Publish Date

Feb 01, 2013

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

  • What does a cooper’s hawk do after it catches dinner? It gives it a big squeeze. Unlike most raptors that kill with a bite from their beaks, Coops dispatch prey by clamping down on it — over and over if needed — with their needle-sharp talons.
  • Cedar waxwings sometimes eat overripe berries that have fermented and begun to produce alcohol. The alcohol makes the birds tipsy, which can cause them to drop drunkenly from the sky.
  • Short-tailed shrews use venomous spit to paralyze prey. Although they typically eat insects, worms, and snails, each shrew contains enough toxic slobber to kill nearly 200 mice.
  • Now you see me. Now you don’t. In the span of a few seconds, gray treefrogs can turn from bark-brown to leaf-green to match the color of their surroundings.
  • Many woodpeckers have crazy-long tongues that they use to probe inside hammered-out holes. The tongues also are needlesharp — perfect for skewering bugs — and barbed at their tips so dinner can’t slide off.
  • The alligator gar is North America’s second largest freshwater fish. Named for their toothy smiles and alligator-like snouts, these finned freaks can grow longer than your sofa and weigh more than 300 pounds!
  • Your parents probably warned you never to eat yellow snow. Well, don’t eat other-colored snow, either. Cottontail rabbits can tinkle pink, red, orange, or brown pee. The off-colored urine is caused by pigments in plants the rabbit has eaten.
  • A raccoon’s paw has 10 times more nerve endings than a human’s hand. Raccoons use their supersensitive digits to feel for food in murky water, unzip backpacks, and open picnic baskets.

Also in this issue

You Discover

With winter almost gone and spring just around the corner, there’s plenty for you to discover outside in February and March. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Predator vs. Prey: Green Heron vs. Bluegill

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

How To: Make a Bug-Out Bag

Keep a bug-out bag always packed, and you’ll be able to get your hide outside with a moment’s notice.


Whether the change happens slowly or suddenly, there’s more to nature than meets the eye.

Awesome Opossums

Take a closer look at this curious critter, and you’ll find opossums are actually awesome.

Wild Jobs: Biologist Jeff Beringer

Biologist Jeff Beringer uses space satellites to track Missouri’s black bears.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

Stay in Touch with MDC

Stay in Touch with MDC news, newsletters, events, and manage your subscription

Sign up