From Xplor for Kids
August 2013 Issue

Strange But True

Publish Date

Aug 01, 2013

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

  • Sproing! Nine-banded armadillos spring straight up when startled. This gives the armored animals a jump on hungry coyotes and other predators, but it doesn’t work so well for dodging cars.
  • Caspian terns plunge beak-firsti nto water to catch fish. Teenage terns have a tough time learning this technique. Until they master it, they mooch food from mom and pop.
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds normally beat their wings about 50 times a second. That’s fast, but it’s a bummer compared to a lovestruck hummer. When trying to impress a mate, male hummers flap their wings 200 times a second.
  • Fox Squirrels have sweat glands between their toes. When a squirrel gets excited or hot, its paw prints become wet from sweat.
  • Crunchy! Purple martins gobble down gravel and eggshells. The gritty bits stay in the birds’ guts to help grind up the hard skeletons of insects that martins eat.
  • Monarch caterpillars munch milkweed, a poisonous plant. But the caterpillars aren’t harmed. In fact, the more milkweed caterpillars eat, the more toxic they become. By the time they turn into butterflies, they’re so toxic, birds that eat them throw up.
  • Female plain pocketbook mussels wave lures that look like small, swimming fish. When a big fish strikes at the lure, the mama mussel squirts out a cloud of tiny babies. The baby mussels attach themselves to the fish for a free ride.
  • Badgers use long, sharp claws to dig up their dinner of voles, mice, and ground squirrels. At full speed, the furry dirt-drills can disappear underground in less than a minute. They can even out-dig a person with a shovel!

Also in this issue

You Discover

With summer winding down and autumn gearing up, there’s plenty to discover outside in August and September.

Predator vs. Prey: Roadrunner vs. Collared Lizard

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

How To: Read a River

Floating an Ozark stream is tons of fun, but tipping your canoe can be a drag.

Jaws of Life

Birds use beaks to weave nests, groom feathers, fight attackers, and capture food. With so many uses, it isn’t surprising that beaks come in all shapes and sizes.

Shadow Cats

Although they’re common throughout Missouri, bobcats dwell in the shadows, all but invisible to most people.

Wild Jobs: Katydid Wrangler Rhett Hartman

Mizzou student Rhett Hartman wrangles katydids to get inside the minds of these singing insects.

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

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