Sunday, November 20, 2011

Woolly Bear Caterpillar!

Gregory and I have been living on Salt Spring Island for about three weeks now. Last week we went for a walk to explore the area, and ended up waking on a trail in the forest. The trail goes all the way to the top of Reginald Hill, which overlooks Fulford Harbour.

Taken by Greg at the top of the hill.

On the way there I discovered a super cute and fuzzy little animal that excited me. Gregory was taking photos along the way and managed to capture my surprise to find this little guy nestled amongst the grass blades.


Gasp! 




Sooo fuzzy!

This little caterpillar is called the Woolly Bear because it seems like they have furry bodies. It's not actually fur that's covering them and keeping them warm in the Winter, but hair-like bristles. I knelt down to get this close-up photo as the caterpillar checked out his surroundings. These caterpillars have this mass of fuzzy-like bristles because they live in cold places and live throughout the Winter. They have a special substance that keep them from freezing entirely, although they are in-active during the Winter. Once the weather gets warmer in the Spring, these fuzzy caterpillars wake up from their hibernation-like nap and start doing one thing: eating! They spend the Spring, Summer, and Fall eating, eating, and eating some more. They eats all sorts of different plants and a few years ago National Geographic said that these smart insects will eat more of a medicine-like leaf that makes their sick tummies all better. The Woolly Bear Caterpillar has a sick tummy when flies lay eggs inside the caterpillar's bellies! But, after eating this special leaf (that is related to caffeine) the fly eggs are defeated! These caterpillars live for over a decade before turning into the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Travels

Since the end of September, I've been travelling across Canada, from the East Coast to the West. I saw a lot of cute animals along the way, especially considering I stopped into the Toronto Zoo!

Here are some of my favourite animals that I've seen during my travels:


Tortoise
(at Natural History Museum, Halifax, NS)

I met this Tortoise named Gus in Halifax. He is 89 years old! Tortoises are related to Turtles, but unlike a lot of Turtles, Tortoises live on land and do not swim. A lot of Turtles either live in water (coming up for air) or close to water. But Gus here prefers the grass outside the Natural History Museum.

He also loves to munch on bananas and is quite a messy eater. Tortoises also like grass and flowers, and some like an occasional worm or insect.

A super cool things about Tortoises (and Turtles) is their amazing shell! It's connected to their bodies and acts as protection from predators, weather, and also provides a great place to sleep. Tortoises can retreat completely inside their shells, while some Turtles, such as Sea Turtles, cannot go inside their shell at all.




Gus, the Tortoise!




Black Squirrel
(in Lafontaine Park, Montreal, QC) 


I saw a lot of super cute and fuzzy Black Squirrels while in Montreal. These dark colored animals are actually Eastern Grey Squirrels, but with a different color pigment. This is the opposite of an albino animal, which are all white.

These Black Squirrels were quickly scurrying all over the park, up and down trees, and even checking out trash cans for food.

The word Squirrel can be translated into "Shadow Tail", which is equally as cute!





Deer
(on Wolfe Island, Kingston, ON) 

While visiting friends on Wolfe Island, we saw these cute wild deer in their backyard! The sun was setting and these adorable creatures were jumping about on the grass.

These are White-Tailed Deer, hence their cute little white bums and tail undersides. I love when they jump and their tail flops in the air! Male Deer have antlers and are generally bigger than female Deer. The name for a female Deer is "doe", while baby Deer are called "fawns.





Elephant
(at Toronto Zoo, ON) 

The Toronto Zoo had a lot of spectacular animals, many of which I have already written about on my blog (Red Pandas, Sea Otters, Hippos). This Elephant really enjoyed scratching themself against this pole and shortly after this photo was taken also had the biggest pee I have ever seen!

I believe this is an Asian Elephant (as opposed to an African Elephant) because African Elephants have much larger ears. I think the coolest thing about Elephants are their trunks! With their trunk they can pick up things, like branches to eat, as well as drink water, bathe themselves, and even greet their friends with a sort of handshake (wrapping their trunks together).





Raccoons
(in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC) 

I haven't seen many Raccoons in my life, until I went to Stanley Park and saw a bunch! These two in particular were hiding from the rain under a boardwalk. There were signs all over the park warning against petting or feeding them, but I still really wanted to pet a Raccoon.  Gregory tried his best to convince me that despite how cute and fuzzy they are, a Raccoon might bite me. Of course I know all the reasons not to approach wild animals, but that doesn't mean I want to cuddle them any less. Ultimately I did not pet any Raccoons, but took some cute photos instead.

I saw another pair of Raccoons swimming across a river! I couldn't believe what great little swimmers they were.







Raccoons have very sensitive little front paws, which they use for a lot of important tasks. They can inspect their food using these fuzzy paws and will even remove bits and pieces that they don't want or like. These super cuddly looking animals eat a lot of different foods, including plants and animals. 

Raccoons are also fantastic climbers.


My dreams to pet a Raccoon will still live on. In fact, I think I may write and illustrate a book about wanting to cuddle Raccoons. Perhaps in the end I'll turn into a Raccoon!


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