In frigid winter weather, striped skunks curl up for power naps that can last several weeks. During these super-sized slumbers, the musky mammals burn fat like marathon runners. Female skunks, in particular, may drop 40 percent of their weight.
Over a third of all the Indiana bats in the world spend winter hibernating in Missouri’s caves. During their deep sleep, the little bug munchers crowd together on cave walls in clusters of up to 500 bats per square foot.
Ozark witch hazel zooms to bloom first in Missouri most years. In mid-January — often while snow still blankets the ground — the shrubby trees unfurl frilly, flashy flowers to lure any flies, moths, or bees that may be buzzing about.
Northern saw-whet owls normally eat mice, but they occasionally prey on birds — sometimes birds bigger than themselves. They are known to take robins and even pigeons, which weigh three times more than a saw-whet.
Although they’re not much bigger than a hummingbird, golden-crowned kinglets can survive temperatures more than 40 degrees below zero. The hardy brrrds often huddle together on chilly nights to stay warm.
Why doesn’t a duck's foot freeze in icy water? Plumbing. As warm blood flows down a duck’s leg, it passes alongside cold blood returning from the foot. This cools the blood down so it doesn’t lose much heat but keeps it warm enough to avoid freezing.
Every inch of a catfish's slippery skin, from its whiskery barbels to the tip of its tail, is covered with taste buds. But this sense-sational skin isn’t made to savor flavors. It helps a catfish nab snacks in dark, murky water.
Next time you complain about having to eat broccoli, consider the cottontail. Rabbits eat their own droppings. By having food pass through their digestive tracts twice, bunnies absorb more nutrients.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill