From Xplor for Kids
September 2016 Issue

Strange but True

Publish Date

Sep 01, 2016

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

Get a grip!

To help them hang on to slippery, slimy fish, ospreys have pokey pads on the soles of their feet. The pads must work. Ospreys catch up to seven out of every ten fish they go after.

Birds aren’t the only animals that migrate.

In September, monarch butterflies point their antennae southward and flutter as far as 3,000 miles to evergreen forests high in the mountains of central Mexico.

Cottontails aren’t Missouri’s only bunny.

Swamp rabbits live along streams and in wetlands in the Bootheel. As their name suggests, the water-loving wabbits — um, rabbits — are strong swimmers and often jump in the water to escape predators.

After an aphid lion finishes eating an aphid…

…it adds its victim’s shell to the pile of other victims on its back. Biologists believe this creepy camouflage helps hide aphid lions from ants, birds, and other predators.

Ants in your pants?

Common grackles sometimes crouch over anthills and let the angry insects crawl all over their bodies. Why? Ants release acid, which biologists believe helps rid the grackles’ feathers of parasites.

The harmless hog-nosed snake sure looks deadly.

When threatened, it hisses and flattens its head like a cobra. But the snake is a big fake. If its bluff fails, the hognose rolls onto its back, flops out its tongue, and pretends to be dead.


When frightened, a meadow jumping mouse uses its oversized hind feet to jump up to 12 feet in a single bound. If the tiny mouse were human-sized, it could leap over six school buses parked end-to-end.

Also in this issue

Monarch Butterfly

Get Out!

Don’t miss the chance to discover nature at these fun events!

Persimmons ripening in fall leaf litter

Into The Wild

Before winter’s whiteness drifts in, Missouri’s trees paint our state with dazzling colors. But pretty leaves aren’t the only things you’ll find in a fall forest.

Bear cubs cradled by researchers.

Into the Woods With a Bear Researcher

Jeff Beringer studies bears. Maybe because his last name starts with “Ber?” Or maybe because studying bears in the woods is fun, surprising, and important? Let’s ask him!

bobolink on barbed wire

Masters of Migration

More than 300 kinds of birds can be seen in Missouri, and over half of them migrate.

Predator Vs. Prey: White Pelican vs. Gizzard Shad

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight: White Pelican vs. Gizzard Shad

Boy shooting a home made bow

How To: Build a Bow

You don’t need an expensive bow to practice archery. Here’s how to make one for less than $5 using plumbing pipe.

This Issue's Staff:

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

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