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Animal Watch

Monarch Butterflies are now on the Red List of Threatened Species

by Hanna Eyobed, age 17

Karen Oberhauser, one of the world’s top experts on monarch butterflies, has always pushed for greater awareness of the risks they face. That’s why she thinks it could be a good thing that monarchs were declared endangered in July. “Certainly it’s negative that monarchs have reached this point where they need to be listed. But it’s positive that they have this recognition and that, hopefully, this will bring more people on board to do what we can to preserve monarchs.”

Madison residents can help by planting the only food migratory monarch butterflies can eat as caterpillars: milkweed. Sam Harrington has been very impactful in the Madison community, she is a climate journalist who began making a difference in 2017, when she decided to put her parents’ lawn in Middleton to use by planting a quarter of an acre with plants native to Wisconsin. She planted species like yellow coneflower, royal catchfly, butterfly weed, and purple prairie clover. She eventually planted over 60 species and documented what was planted, what survived, and what animals they attracted. “It feels like an investment in the future, one that I want to live in, one that’s full of pretty flowers and butterflies and I have a good relationship with the land of the place where I’m from.”

Michelle Martin and her work with Monarch butterflies is another example of local change. In July of 2022, as she was inspecting her milkweed plants in her garden, she spotted a monarch egg. She then proceeded to carefully cut the piece of the leaf off, took the egg into her home, and put it on a fresh milkweed leaf in a habitat made specifically for butterflies. During the process of its birth, Martin was consistent in taking care of the caterpillar by adding fresh milkweed. As time went on she added sticks to the enclosure. The caterpillar hung from a chrysalis and after two weeks it hatched into an adult butterfly. After a couple of days, as the butterfly regained its strength, Martin released it. Martin isn’t the only witness to the butterflies she raises, as she is a teacher who shows this process to her class of two-year-olds at Big Oak Child Care Center in Madison. She understands the importance of nature in the lives of developing children and believes that implementing the process of raising monarch butterflies is transformative. It allows her students to be amazed and respectful of the beauty of nature and gives them a sense of urgency to protect it. [Read More]

The Okapi Is a Unique Relative of the Giraffe

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

Okapis are mammals that originate and live in the Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Scientists say this animal looks like a cross between a deer and a zebra. However, its nickname is the “forest giraffe" and it is a relative of the giraffe. The Latin name of an okapi is Okapia Johnstoni.

The okapi is a herbivore and uses its tongue in the same way as the giraffe to get leaves from branches. The diet of an Okapi consists of fruits, buds, leaves, twigs, and other vegetation. Its four stomachs help it digest all of these foods. The tallest an Okapi can grow is around five feet. Due to its brown and white stripes, an Okapi can camouflage to look like streaks of sun shining through the trees in the rainforest.

Okapis can live up to 30 years in captivity and usually weighs 440 to 660 pounds. The International Union for Conservation reports that the Okapi is on the endangered list and scientists are in a race to save them. [Read More]

Wisconsin DNR Drafts New Plan for Wolf Hunt

by Zayn Khalid, age 12

Hunters and animal rights advocates are frustrated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because they did not set a standard for wolf hunting. Animal rights advocates want wolf hunting to be illegal, but hunters want to hunt. What will the DNR do?

In the past, it was legal to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. In 2012, former Governor Scott Walker established an annual fall wolf hunt in the state. This hunt has become the biggest argument between animal rights advocates and hunters. Animal rights advocates say that “wolves are too majestic to slaughter,” but hunters say wolves kill farmers' livestock. The DNR paid out more than $3 million from 1985 to 2021 to provide for the loss of farmers’ livestock.

A group called Hunter Nation won a court case forcing the DNR to hold the month of February 2021 for hunting. The outcomes were chaotic as hunters killed 218 wolves in four days, going way past their 119-animal quota. Animal advocates worried that the February hunt decimated the population of wolves, which convinced a Dane County judge to hold off on the annual fall hunt. [Read More]

The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years. [Read More]

2.5-Yard Elephant Tusk Fossil Discovered in Israel

Researchers in Israel recently found a 2.5-yard-long fossil that belonged to a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant. It is believed to be the largest fossil ever found at a prehistoric site in the country.

This amazing fossil was discovered near a piece of land called a kibbutz on the central plain running parallel to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The discovery was made by researchers from Israel Antiquites Authority (IAA) in a joint excavation from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. Avi Levy, lead researcher of the find, called this fossil, “The largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.” This site is at least 500,000 years old based on the stone tools recovered from the area, the antiquites authorities said.

“Very puzzling, very enigmatic,” said Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist also in the discovery, because it was not known whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or they brought the animal’s tusk to this spot. [Read More]

You Can Find the Beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Your Own Backyard

by Sofia Zapata, age 12

Have you seen any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying in your neighborhood recently? They are commonly seen in Wisconsin, but usually only during the warmer months. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. In the bright sun, these beautiful, tiny, precision-flying birds sparkle like gems, then dart away to their next food source.

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird has fascinating attributes that make its tiny physical futures unique. Their wings flap up to 55 times a second at a relaxed pace. However, when a hummingbird increases their speed while moving forward, they flap 75 times a second. The wings of this hummingbird aren’t the only things that go at a fast pace. The tiny hearts of these birds beat 225 times per minute and can increase to 1,250 beats per minute. Compared to hummingbirds, the human heart averages from 60-100 bpm. This is to put the physical abilities of the ruby-throated hummingbirds into perspective.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that are able to fly backward. This species is one of the biggest aerial migrators. During their migration season, they travel across the Gulf of Mexico, and it takes them around 18 hours to fully cross. Once they arrive at a safe place, they create a nest that is the same size as a small walnut. A fun fact about the male hummingbird is that it weighs the same as a penny. Male hummingbirds begin to mate during spring by flying and chasing their mate. Afterward, when the nest is made in a tree, the females will begin to lay around two eggs. [Read More]

Nature’s “Vacuum Cleaner:” The Matamata

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The matamata lives in South America and is part of the turtle family. The matamata lives in the northern part of South America, in Brazil, Venezuela, but can sometimes be found in northern Bolivia, Ecuador, eastern Peru, Colombia, the Guianas, and Trinidad. They are about 18 inches in length and weigh around five to six pounds. Other than eating fish, they eat small birds and small mammals. This particular species lives up to 30 years.

Scientists compare this species to a vacuum cleaner, because it swallows its food rather than chews it. Camouflage is a common hunting tactic for the matamata. When in hunting position, it looks like an unassuming mossy rock in the water. They have fleshy appendages close to their mouths that look like weeds hanging and can act as a lure for fish. The nose on the matamata acts as a snorkel, allowing them to breathe air while they wait for food to approach so they can swallow it whole.

The word matamata is a phrase in a Native language that means “I kill” and its scientific name is Chelus fimbriatus which means fringed turtle. A matamata’s neck is almost the size of its back. In comparison, if the same were true for humans, our necks would be about three feet long. The matamata is one of the turtle species that breathes air, unlike other turtle species who get oxygen from water. [Read More]

Native Asian Moth Spotted in Washington State

by Justin Medina Ruiz, age 13

On July 7, 2022, a giant moth with a ten-inch wingspread was discovered in a garage of a home in the state of Washington. Thankfully, the moth species does not pose a public health threat. The Atlas moth originates from the tropical forests of Asia and has not been seen before in the U.S.

It is not clear how this moth found a way to get to Washington. However, scientists found on eBay, an e-commerce company, an account selling Atlas moth cocoons for $60 each. This account was later taken down because the Atlas moth is a quarantine pest, meaning it is illegal to obtain, sell, or harbor, no matter if they are adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae.

In spite of that, the individual sighting does not mean that there is a population of the Atlas in the U.S. The state’s agriculture department asks the public to take photographs and collect Atlas moths if they find one. This would help determine whether there is a population or not. If there were an infestation, it would be harmful to the region’s fruit-growing industry because like other moths and caterpillars, they enjoy feasting on the leaves of cherry and apple trees. [Read More]

Will the Tasmanian Tiger Roam the Earth Once More?

by Sandy Flores-Ruíz, age 16

For the past years —scientists have thought about reviving extinct species. Scientists in Australia and the U.S. have recently started a multi-million dollar project to bring back the Tasmanian tiger from extinction.

The stripes on the back of the Thylacine gave its nickname of “Tasmanian Tiger,” despite the animal being a marsupial, a type of Australian mammal that raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo, instead of a tiger.

The Tasmanian tiger went extinct in 1936 when the last known tiger, Thylacine, died in the Hobart Zoo. Years before humans arrived in Australia, these tigers roamed free. However, once humans started to populate Australia, the population of these tigers decreased. The last known tigers to roam free on the island of Tasmania were then hunted to extinction. [Read More]

Learn More About the Majestic Bald Eagle

by Soren Dahl, age 11

Bald eagles have many amazing majestic features that we can learn about.

The bald eagles wingspan is 5.5 to 8 feet long. To put that in perspective, an average human male is 5.9 feet tall. The eagle’s talons are two inches long. They use these monster talons to catch fish and other prey. The color of the bald eagles is unique, when they are young their heads and tails are brown. As they age, their heads and tails become white. The bald eagle’s lifespan in captivity is typically forty seven years old, but in the wild they live up to twenty five years.

Bald eagles eat seabirds, waterfowl, mammals, and reptiles but in the winter if they are desperate, they will also eat carrion, which are dead animals and other scraps of meat. Bald Eagles hunt by standing on a perch that overlooks the water. When they see a fish in open water they swoop down and snatch it out of the water. [Read More]

Quetzalcoatlus: The Flying Giant

by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

The Quetzalcoatlus is the biggest flying creature of the late cretaceous period. It is not a dinosaur, it is actually a pterosaur, which was a group of flying reptiles. Its wings were 40 feet wide.

Quetzalcoatlus had a crest, long neck, and a long sharp beak. Some scientists think that the Quetzalcoatlus looked through the sand with its sharp beak to find crabs and worms, others think they hunted for fish along the water. It lived about 70 million years ago in North America, around where Texas is now.

Archaeologists found the first fossil of the Quetzalcoatlus in 1975, and it took them years to realize that such a big reptile could fly. Quetzalcoatlus started to fly by launching itself eight feet in the air, because its muscles were able to push it up, and its light bones helped it fly. [Read More]

Researchers Discover Significant Drop in Animal Population

by Jonah Smith, age 14

Exploring the sea is something that most of us don’t think about, but it’s important to understand the dangers of it as well as see how it can be successfully accomplished.

A common danger is running out of oxygen. This may happen because the diver has gone too far down underwater and does not have enough time to return to the surface. Another massive danger is underwater pressure, which can crush and kill the diver. This may happen because the pressure is so high that it crushes the bathysphere, an old kind of submarine that was used throughout the 1930s.

William Bebee was a man on a mission to break many records, especially those in the science field. William was born in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1870s, and in the 1930s he began breaking records in New York Zoos. In 1934, he set the record for the deepest bathysphere descent at a depth of 3,028 feet. At the time many believed it was a bad idea. [Read More]

Gray Wolf Walks from Minnesota to Wisconsin

by Aissata Bah, age 13

R2L, a gray wolf, started his long journey from a forest in northern Minnesota to Wisconsin, ultimately walking 264 miles at the age of one and a half.

His journey is worth acknowledging because it highlights the steps it takes for the gray wolf to reach Wisconsin. R2L’s adventure started in 2021, walking for miles to reach his destination. His journey was not uncommon as many male wolves tend to leave their habitat.

His journey was actually more challenging than expected, going through Minnesota for seven weeks to finally reach southeast Wisconsin. Some researchers have been tracking R2L, other wolves, and even other animals with the common goal of checking dens for reproduction and other activities. [Read More]

Learn More About Okapis

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

Okapis are mammals that originate and live in the Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Scientists say this animal looks like a cross between a deer and a zebra. However, its nickname is the “forest giraffe" and it is a relative of the giraffe. The Latin name of an okapi is Okapia Johnstoni.

The okapi is a herbivore and uses its tongue in the same way as the giraffe to get leaves from branches. The diet of an okapi consists of fruits, buds, leaves, twigs, and other vegetation. Its four stomachs help it digest all of these foods. The tallest an okapi can grow is around five feet. Due to its brown and white stripes, an okapi can camouflage to look like streaks of sun shining through the trees in the rainforest.

Okapis can live up to 30 years in captivity and usually weighs 440 to 660 pounds. The International Union for Conservation reports that the okapi is on the endangered list and scientists are in a race to save them. [Read More]

Team Flier or Team Glider?

by Alejandro Berrueta, age 11

There are many animals known as fliers and gliders in the world. Bats, lemurs and flying squirrels are a few of them.

Bat wings are made out of skin and are supported by long bones in their arms. Their wings neatly fold around their bodies to protect them from any danger. At night they hunt for food and during the day they hang upside down in cave ledges or from tree branches.

There are more than 950 different types of bats; the bat is the only mammal that has the ability to fly. Insect-eating bats snatch their prey in mid-air. Other bats eat pollen and nectar from flowers. Flesh-eating bats eat frogs, birds, fish and lizards. [Read More]

Scientists Say Invasive Species of Crayfish Might Leave Wisconsin on its Own

by Lah’Nylah Bivens, age 15

The rusty crayfish appeared in Wisconsin 50 years ago. Since this crayfish is not native to Wisconsin it is considered an invasive species. The rusty crayfish pushed native crayfish out of their dens and ate the native aquatic plants, causing harm to the lakes. This harmed the local spawning grounds, leaving fish unprotected.

Rusty crayfish may have found their way to Wisconsin by traveling in buckets to be used as bait. These crayfish are native to Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and the streams of the Ohio River Basin states. They also can be found in New Mexico, Northeastern states, areas in Ontario, Canada, and states surrounding Wisconsin.

Crayfish reproduce at alarming rates due to the female rusty crayfish laying around 80 to 575 eggs at a time. It takes about three to six weeks, depending on the temperature of the water, for the eggs to hatch. Scientists have studied these crayfish over the years and have found that the population can die off naturally. Due to destroying their own habitats and fungal diseases, recent studies have shown that the rusty crayfish population has dropped to zero. [Read More]

Moths Are the Pollinators of the Night

by Melanie Bautista, age16

An accidental discovery by researchers at the University of Denmark found that moths pollinate a third of red clover flowers.

The head of the project, Jamie Alison researches insects that pollinate plants. Alison and his team of researchers were trying to study more about bees and how the red clover got pollinated. Instead, they found that moths play a huge part in the pollination process.

The research group set up 15 time-lapse cameras in the Swiss Alps, where red clovers are found. This made it easier for researchers to keep track of pollinators' visits. From June to August 2021 the cameras captured 36 red clover flowers. Nine of the cameras took images in the afternoon and again at night. The other six 6 cameras snapped photos every 5 minutes. [Read More]

Do You Want a Pony as a Pet?

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

Many years ago, people used all different kinds of ponies to haul carts or to farm. Today, ponies are often enjoyed as pets.

Fell ponies were used for mining, traveling, farming, and pulling carts. These ponies are usually strong and carry humans for long distances. Their height can reach up to 60 inches. These ponies are more popular among kids than adults.

Welsh mountain ponies originated from Wales in the United Kingdom. Their life span is about 35 years and they weigh nearly 500 pounds. These ponies are known to be the most beautiful ponies in the world because of their black or dark brown fur with white markings. They have also been useful for sports like jumping and driving. [Read More]

The Critically Endangered Giant Ibis Faces the Risk of Extinction

by Leilani McNeal, age 17

Hunting, habitat disturbance, and deforestation are all activities that may change the natural adaptations of various bird species. This means the chance of extinction continues to grow, and in the process, birds would begin to look and act differently.

In an effort to bridge an understanding between the biodiversity crisis and the wide range of bird species, the Current Biology journal published an extensive study that examines variously distinctive avian species and their survivorship rates. As a whole, the global extinction crisis surpasses not only the loss of species but will also result in fewer specialized features that have driven birds’ life strategies and way of living, according to Dr. Emma Hughes, lead author of the study and UK ecologist at the University of Sheffield.

Hughes and her team cross-examined the physical traits of birds and the evolutionary variances between species, known as phylogenetic diversity, across nearly 8,500 bird species. This segued into a process of eliminating birds from most to least threatened. [Read More]

Sponges, Creatures of the Sea

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

When you hear the word sponge, you may think about cleaning or washing dishes. This cleaning tool was named after a real-life organism in the sea called a sponge. This creature has been used by humans for centuries! Sponges are usually mistaken for coral or plants, but they are actually animals that play a major role in their ecosystem.

The earliest known species of sponges were discovered roughly 600 million years ago. Today, there are over 8,000 different sponge species that belong to the phylum Porifera. This phylum contains four main classes: Demospongiae, Hexactinellida, Calcarea, and Homoscleromorepha.

Demsopnogiae makes up about 90 % of all sponges, meaning it is the most diverse by far. Hexactinellida is a rare glass sponge, Calcarea is made up of calcareous sponges and the homoscleromorpha is the simplest and rarest kind of sponge. [Read More]

Fun Facts About the Black-Handed Spider Monkey

by Joseph Zheng age 8

Spider monkeys are well known for their name. Although their name may sound like they are spiders, they are actually mammals. Black-handed spider monkeys live in Mexico and South America and can weigh up to 17 pounds. They climb and use their long prehensile tails to move or hang onto other branches.

A spider monkey's meal can consist of fruits, leaves, nuts, flowers, and insects. They eat their daily meals to help them grow and continue to reproduce so they don't go extinct. A black-handed spider monkey can only have one baby at a time. When a baby is born, it hangs onto its mother’s chest until it reaches at least five months old and can climb on its own. If the baby can not reach a branch, the mother will stretch herself like a bridge so it can climb over.

As you can see, there is so much to learn about these fast tree climbers. Although they may sound scary, they are actually pretty cool because they can use many body parts to move around treetops. [Read More]

Bald Eagle Shot Near Milwaukee Dies During Surgery

by Sol Saray, age 11

A bald eagle, America's symbol of pride, was shot on December 7, 2022, in southwest Milwaukee County. The Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center tried to save the eagle, however, it died during surgery.

The bald eagle had a broken beak, fractured humerus, and a wound in the muscle as well as other sensitive parts of its wing. The Humane Society tried CPR but failed. The center in Milwaukee called the surgery “a complex and specialized surgery to stabilize his fracture and further treat his injuries.”

Authorities are searching for who shot the eagle. That person could be fined $100,000 and serve up to one year in prison: the punishment for a first offense. On the second offense, killing a bald eagle is considered a felony and comes with heavier punishments. Eagles are protected by law under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. [Read More]

Growing Population of Invasive Moth Species in Wisconsin

by Desteny Alvarez, age 18

Recently, we have seen a rise in the number of spongy moths in Wisconsin. These moths cause skin rashes and are a danger to our environment.

According to Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), around 202,000 spongy moths, formerly known as gypsy moths, were trapped in the summer as part of a federal program. The average number in Wisconsin was 20.1 moths per trap. It was 9.3 moths in 2021. This increase was expected in Wisconsin’s central-eastern areas, smaller than expected in the southwest, as expected in west-central areas in the state, and even higher in northwest areas.

Spongy moths are an invasive species. Their caterpillars devourer leaves of trees and shrubs. If eaten by a large group of caterpillars, many trees lose their leaves and die. Caterpillar hairs also cause skin rashes or other reactions in some people. An aerial spray, used by DATCP, helps stop the moths. [Read More]

The Original Animals

by Joseph Zheng, age 8

The first land animals explored planet Earth around 450 million years ago. Before this time most early creatures came from the ocean.

There were prehistoric Arthropods, creatures similar to modern day insects, millipedes, and spiders that had tough exoskeletons on the outside and jointed legs. If prehistoric arthropods were still roaming the Earth today, such as the arthropleura, they’d be a creature you would not want to encounter. It was longer than most humans, as well as the largest land arthropod ever. This creature resembles a giant centipede and measured about seven feet in length!

As animals began to surface on land, they adapted to their new environment. Amphibians slowly developed backbones that helped them move quickly in and out of water. They often returned to their original environment to breed and lay eggs. [Read More]

Who is the Fastest Mover of Them All?

by Malak Al Quraishi, age 12

Many animals use their speed to catch their prey and others use their speed to escape predators. They all move in different ways.

The cheetah can run up to 60 miles per hour, but that speed is not sustainable because it uses all its energy in a single sprint. It catches its prey by jumping and attacking it. The cheetah’s long skinny legs and strong body help it reach top speed. The tail helps it balance while it chases its prey.

The prey is different. The hare hops fast away from predators 40 miles per hour. The pronghorn is brown with antlers and white stripes around its neck. Its belly is all white and has a very small tail. It is not faster than the cheetah, but can run for longer and will often tire cheetahs out. It can only run at 40 miles per hour for about 10 minutes. The kangaroo jumps for food and water and is found in deserts of Australia. It jumps for long distances and runs up to 43 miles per hour. [Read More]

Should We Add Insects to Our Diet?

by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 14

When we think about consuming bugs, most of us would immediately respond by saying, “ew!” Although bugs may look nasty or creepy, they are a good source of protein. If insects are raised and prepared correctly, the protein they carry can be beneficial for our bodies. Raising them requires less water, less land, and overall less resources than other animals.

Though a lot of us did not grow up having insects as part of our meals, scientists have been trying to figure out how to incorporate and make them appealing to humans. Many people throughout the world eat bugs as part of their culture. From ancient times, people have eaten bugs as it was believed it would give you knowledge. A common insect many have tried are crickets. These insects, like many others, are good for your body.

If you are interested in having insects as a small snack, the best option is to do research and buy them at a local grocery store. Do not go to your backyard, garden, or local park and grab them since these insects can contain chemicals and germs that are harmful to the human body. [Read More]

Carnivores Aren't the Only Dangerous Predators!

by Aubrey Bevenue, age 11

Amphibians, like many reptiles, are carnivores. They use many ways to trap, track and hunt their prey.

Chameleon lizards are hunting machines because their eyes can move in different directions at the same time. They track prey moving in any direction: up, down, left, or right. When a fly goes past a Chameleon, the lizard sticks out its super-long tongue and pulls the fly back into its mouth.

Salamanders are known to be another deadly hunter. They slowly and quietly approach their prey, then quickly kill it with their sharp teeth and tongue. [Read More]

A Snake in a Tree?

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The green mamba is a species of snake that lives in Western and Eastern Africa.

The snake has a coffin shaped head due to its venom glands that sit right behind its eyes. Like humans, the green mamba’s pupil size decreases when there is a sign of light, meaning that this snake hunts in daylight.

The mamba primarily spends its time in trees instead of on the ground. The scales of a green mamba help it slither easily across trees while also serving as an illusion to hunt down prey. In terms of diet, these snakes consume lizards, birds, and rodents. In some instances, they will also eat bats. Sometimes, the green mamba hunts on plantation farms where cashew nuts, coconuts and mangoes are grown. These places are useful because they are common spaces where rats and birds are located. [Read More]

The Only Canids Known to Fish

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

For the first time, researchers observed a fox fishing for food. After seeing the red fox, they joined the group of land mammals that also hunt for fish.

A male red fox was seen fishing in Spain in March 2016. The researchers that captured the moment were Jorge Tobajas and Fransisco Diaz. The fox raised many questions for researchers, such as, are there other foxes that know or have learned to fish by watching other foxes?

When Jorge and Francisco were watching the red fox by the reservoir’s shore, it suddenly went nose first into the water and came out with a large carp. This canid hunted one carp after another and eventually caught ten after a few hours. While hunting, the fox made no mistakes and hid most of his catch but shared carps with a female fox. [Read More]

Black Mamba: Deadly, but Shy

by Kaleab Afeworki, age 15

The black mamba is the biggest and some say the scariest snake in Africa. A lot of people are fearful of this snake because of its speed and strong venomous bites.

The black mamba’s jaw works a little differently compared to other animals. The jaw bones are very loose which allows for its jaw to strech widely, allowing it to eat larger prey. Another body part that makes the black mamba a skillful predator is its belly scales. The large belly scales help grip to the ground while moving.

The black mamba’s bite is one of the deadliest bites in Africa, however, this snake is shy and it stays away from areas populated by humans. Regardless, if it is feeling disturbed, it will not hesitate to attack. Once it bites, venom will flow in the body and will cause death within six hours. People who encounter the black mamba can try to run away from it, but if you're in long grass, the black mamba could most likely catch up to you, since they move quicker in this environment. [Read More]

Barn Owl Sightings Increase in Wisconsin, but the Future of this Iconic Bird Remains in Doubt — by Juanes Palma, age 9

In 2018, a unique species of barn owls were reported for the first time in over two decades in Wisconsin by The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The owls were spotted in September of 2018 as a pair of these birds were found in the cavity of a dead tree. Recently, there has been an increase in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and other near states. [Read More]

Crocodiles and Alligators-Dinosaur Relatives Still Alive Today — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Crocodiles are some of the few living creatures today that were alive at the time of the dinosaurs. Their lifestyle and anatomy have helped crocodiles survive for millions of years. [Read More]

The Bald Eagle: An Iconic Species on the Verge of Extinction — by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 11

The bald eagle is one of the most recognized and powerful birds on Earth. [Read More]

La matamata: la “aspiradora” de la naturaleza — por Aarosh Subedi, 10 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

La matamata vive en Sudamérica y es parte de la familia tortuga. Esta especie vive en la parte norte de Sudamérica, en Brasil y Venezuela, pero algunas veces se puede encontrar en el norte de Bolivia, Ecuador, el este de Perú, Colombia, las Guayanas y Trinidad. Miden alrededor de 18 pulgadas de largo y pesan alrededor de cinco a seis libras. Además de comer pescado, comen pequeños pájaros y pequeños mamíferos. Esta especie en particular vive hasta 30 años. [Read More]

The Differences Between African and Asiatic Lions — by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

When talking about lions, people are usually thinking of African lions. However, there are also lions roaming in Asia known as the Asiastic lions. [Read More]

Leopards Are Large and Powerful "Supercats" — by Ian Kosharek , age 10

Leopards are a type of cat that live mainly in Africa, but they can also be found in China, Malaysia, and even Korea. There are more leopards in the wild than any other wild cat—that is why they are called supercats! [Read More]

Gigantic Lace Lizards Find Home in Australian Cities — by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

Which reptile can climb on trees or, sometimes mistakenly, on people and also horses? Which reptile has a heavy tail but can swim and stay underwater for an hour? It is the gigantic lace lizard! [Read More]

Fun Facts About the Short-Head Seahorse — by Juan Esteban Palma Zuluaga, age 10

The short-head seahorse is a unique-looking fish with interesting characteristics. It is known for its curled tail that reminds many of a monkey's tail and has skin like an alligator, and its head resembles a dragon or a horse. [Read More]

Learn About the Vampire Squid — by Abigail Gezae, age 10

Vampire squids don’t actually share many resemblances to Dracula, and they aren’t after your blood. Instead, they are creatures that live deep in the ocean, around 2,000 to 3,000 ft. [Read More]

Invertebrates: The Boneless Group of Animals — by Aarosh Subedi age 10

Invertebrates are animals that do not have any backbones; they also have features unique to the specific species. [Read More]

The Iconic Australian Shingleback Skink — by Daniel Garduno Martinez, age 11

Think of an animal with armored scales, a blue tongue, and a mighty bite. This might sound like a crocodile or alligator that ate one too many ring-pops, but it is the shingleback skink; a small lizard that lives in the dry ecosystems of southern Australia. [Read More]

The Grizzly Is North America’s Giant — by Moore Vang, age 14

The grizzly bear or the brown bear is one of the most dangerous bears in North America. It is gigantic, extremely powerful, and wildly unpredictable. Its fur is light brown with white-tipped hairs and it has a distinct shoulder hump. Interestingly, it can run as fast as a horse but only for a short duration. [Read More]

The Perilous Life of Baby Penguins — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Life for baby penguins can be challenging. These egg-shaped birds often have difficult childhoods as they face the cold tundras of Antarctica. [Read More]

Is That a Leaf or a Gecko? — by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

The leaf-tailed gecko is a fascinating reptile. It can only be found in the rainforests of Madagascar and can grow up to eight inches long. Since leaf-tailed geckos are extremely rare, their lifespan is still unknown to scientists. [Read More]

Red Panda? More like Red Raccoon! — by Dalya Alquraishi age

The red panda is a cute and fuzzy animal that lives in China and the eastern Himalayas. It is commonly believed that these mammals are related to pandas, however red pandas are instead more closely related to raccoons. [Read More]

Learn About the World's Smallest Elephants — by Ashley Mercado, age 13

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal on the huge island of Borneo. These elephants are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size. Compared to other elephants, Bornean elephants have larger ears, straighter tusks, and are smaller. [Read More]

Can You Run Faster than an Ostrich? — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

The largest bird in the world cannot fly, but it can kill with just its feet. The ostrich can grow up to nearly 8 feet. Male ostriches make a big booming sound to warn other ostriches when danger is near. These large, flightless birds tend to live in dry, open areas as well as woodlands in the country of Africa. [Read More]

Learn About the Beautiful and Endangered Green Sea Turtle — by Joseph Zheng, age 7

Green sea turtles are notable for being one of the largest sea turtle subgroups in the oceanic world. The name of this species is quite simple as it is named after the color of their skin and shell, the color green! Ironically, a green sea turtle's most distinguishable physical feature is its relatively hard shells. [Read More]

Learn All About The Ouranosaurus — by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The Ouranosaurus is a magnificent dinosaur that lived in parts of Western Africa. It is known for its back sail which resembles a boat sail. The name Ouranosaurus is used to define a brave lizard in the Arabic language. This dinosaur mesaured 23 feet long and it weighed up to 4,900 to 8,800 pounds. [Read More]

The Scoop Behind Slow Moving Triceratops — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

Triceratops lived about 65 to 70 million years ago in North America, and were the last dinosaurs on Earth. Scientists believe that these dinosaurs lived in groups to survive; triceratops formed a circle around the young to protect them. [Read More]

Cómo las abejas hacen crecer las plantas — por Maya Maclin, 10 años

Polinizadores son muy importantes en nuestra Tierra. Te sorprendería lo mucho que ayudan las abejas y los polinizadores. ¿Sabías que necesitamos tanto a los polinizadores que las flores dependen en un 80 por ciento de la polinización? [Read More]

What Brought About the Extinction of the Megalodons? — by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

Megalodons, an extinct species of mackerel shark, were the ocean’s biggest predator for millions of years. The appearance of great white sharks brought competition to the megalodons. It is a popular theory that great whites were the reason for the megalodon's extinction. [Read More]

The Brontosaurus: Not a Real Dinosaur... Until Now! — by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13

Sauropods, some of the largest animals to ever roam the earth, were long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs often portrayed in movies eating from the top of the trees. The Brontosaurus, also known as the “thunder lizard,” is part of the sauropod family, but until recently many thought it didn’t exist. [Read More]

Wolves in Wisconsin: A Conservation Success Story with an Uncertain Future — by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16

The Federal Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 in order to protect wildlife and plants throughout the country in danger of extinction. In Wisconsin, the gray wolf benefited from the act since it kept these animals from becoming extinct. [Read More]

Rodent, not Rat — By Dilma Attidekou age 8

About more than half of the mammals on the earth are rodents. Rodents are small mammals that live all over the world, and there are many different kinds of them. All rodents have the same kind of jaw. Their teeth are used for grinding and gnawing food. If a rodent does not gnaw or grind its teeth, they will grow until the rodent isn’t able to eat anymore. [Read More]

Why You Should Stay Away From Nile Crocodiles — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Nile crocodile? It is a big and dangerous creature, and hundreds of people are killed by it annually. [Read More]

From Water to Land Back to Water Again: the Evolution of the Qikitania — by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

There are many speculations regarding evolution and how it took place. Many think of evolution as a linear timeline; but this is not always the case and such can be seen in creatures like the Qikitania and Tiktaalik. [Read More]

This Madagascar Chameleon May Be the World's Smallest — by Dani Garduno, age 10

There has been a modern-day discovery of a tiny chameleon species. This chameleon is named Brookesia nana. This interesting reptile species was discovered in 2012. Surprisingly, this nano-chameleon species is about the size of a human fingertip! [Read More]

Scientists Study Sleep-Deprived Mosquitoes to Prevent the Spread of Deadly Diseases — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Humans and mosquitoes are more alike than you may want to believe; new research suggests mosquitoes prefer sleep over food when sleep-deprived. [Read More]

Aprenda sobre los elefantes más pequeños del mundo — Por Ashley Mercado, 13 años

El elefante de Borneo es el mamífero más grande de la enorme isla de Borneo. Estos elefantes también son conocidos como elefantes pigmeos de Borneo debido a su tamaño. [Read More]

The Ocean's Largest Omnivore — by Jonah Smith, age 13

Just off the Australian coast, in the Indian Ocean, tropical fish biologist Mark Meekan is looking for an animal that could be the world’s largest living omnivore. Meekan is from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Perth, Australia, and he specializes in the study of whale sharks. After he spots one, he dives into the water with a hand spear and takes small samples of the shark's skin, which he uses to study characteristics like their diet. [Read More]

World’s Smallest Sea Turtles Found Alive in Gulf of Mexico — by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

The world's smallest sea turtle, known as Kemp's ridley, lives in the Gulf of Mexico. In the past 75 years, the population has diminished to the point that they are now the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Recently, the sea turtle population has increased off the coast of Louisiana. [Read More]

How a Rare Asian Bird Found a Home in Nevada — by Camila Cruz, age 14

The Himalayan range in Asia is home to the largest and highest peaked mountains, including Mount Everest, where a rare bird species called the snowcock is found. Additionally, snowcock birds can be found in the Ruby Mountain range in the state of Nevada. Now, how did this rare bird species arrive from Asia to the United States [Read More]

How Dinosaur Eggs Reveal Differences in Species — by Camila Cruz, age 15

Modern birds have many similarities to dinosaurs, from their feathers and feet to hollow bones and laying eggs. Recently, paleontologists found another feature dinosaurs shared that is their unique way of hatching, called tucking. [Read More]

Fun Facts About Beluga Whales — by Max Moreno, age 10

The beluga whale is one of the most intelligent whales. This whale is mostly known for its ability to smile and make faces. It can also perform tricks like making a bubble ring with its mouth, propelling backwards, and swimming up to 13 miles per hour. [Read More]

Bottlenose Dolphins; Friends of the Sea — by Joseph Zheng, age 8

Dolphins roam through warm ocean waters across the world. One species in particular is unique: the bottlenose dolphin. [Read More]

El águila calva: una especie icónica al borde de la extinción — por Santiago Rosero Perea, 11 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

El águila calva es una de las aves más conocidas y poderosas en nuestro mundo. Las águilas calvas cazan en lagos y ríos. La medida del cuerpo de un hombre es de alrededor de 90 centímetros, mientras que el cuerpo de una mujer tiene un promedio de 108 centímetros. El peso de un águila calva es de 14 libras, mientras un águila arpía pesa 11 libras. [Read More]

Wisconsin's Year-Round Birds — by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

Have you heard of some of Wisconsin’s year-round birds? Today, I’m going to talk about the American Robin, Mourning Dove, and Song Sparrow. [Read More]

Learn the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard — by Max Moreno, age 9

People may easily mistake a cheetah for a leopard. However, there are many differences to look for that can help you tell these two species apart. [Read More]

Why Do So Few Cubs Turn Into Big Cats? — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Wild cat babies, known as cubs or kittens, are easy targets to male lions. Mother cats guard their cubs until they are of age. [Read More]

Cardinals in Wisconsin: These Beautiful Birds are Moving North — by Allison Torres, age 13

Northern cardinals are highly valued and favored songbirds in North America. These birds typically nest in Northern Wisconsin, along with parts of Minnesota and even Canada. [Read More]

Not Really a Big Cat, the Caracal Is a Hunter that Lives in Asia and Africa — by Sol-Saray, age 10

A desert lynx, also known as caracal, is a wild cat native from Africa, Asia, and parts of India. They can be found in woodlands, grasslands, savannahs, and forest. [Read More]

Tiger Wandering: Scientists Have Important Questions About Unusual Spider — by Dani Garduno, age 10

Researchers have taken a big interest in learning about a species of spider called the Tiger Wandering. This spider’s features include very unusual legs. [Read More]

Why Do Butterflies Migrate? — by Abigail Gezae, age 9

Have you seen a big group of butterflies flying around? Do you know why? It might be because they are migrating. [Read More]

How Wisconsin Manages its Black Bear Population — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

It is getting easier to see black bears in Wisconsin. It’s becoming more common to see black bears because their numbers in Wisconsin are growing. So, if you decide to go camping in our state, it's possible you could see a black bear roaming around. [Read More]

The Kaluga Sturgeon Is the World's Largest Freshwater Fish — by Dani Garduno, age 10

Imagine many different species of fish all scattered around Eurasia and suddenly, all the fish swim away – and then the Kaluga Sturgeon appears. There is a lot to learn about this fish, such as its size, length, body, and whether or not it's a threat to human beings. [Read More]

Deadly Piranhas Stalk the Amazon River in Large Groups — by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9

Did you know that a piranha's sharp and pointy teeth help them bite off chunks of flesh from their prey? The powerful jaw of the piranha helps it catch and grab onto its prey. These creatures travel in groups called schools, making the piranha strong attackers and defenders. [Read More]

Disgusting Animals Play an Important Part in the Ecosystem — by Sol-Saray, age 9

All animals are built differently, some are cute or scary-looking, and others are just ugly and disgusting. Some of these ugly creatures may have skinny crooked legs or are covered in little bumps. Most fish and flies have huge eyes that do not blink or move. Ugly animals have similarities and differences, however, to humans many are smelly, scary, or disgusting. [Read More]

The Ballad of the Humpback Whale — by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 12

Humpback whales have songs they use to communicate with each other just like humans, but with complex sounds instead of words. [Read More]

Aprenda sobre el largato sungazer puntiagudo — Aloniab Gezae, edad 8

¿Te gustan las lagartijas? Si lo hace, le gustará el lagarto sungazer porque este lagarto tiene púas de la cabeza a la cola [Read More]

The Last Living Dinosaurs — by Amelia Mieko Pearson, age 12

You may not know this but birds are dinosaurs! As much as they do not look like dinosaurs, the connection between these two species does exist. In the Jurassic age, 150 years ago, the first bird was hatched from a small and feathery raptor-like dinosaur and became another branch of the dinosaur family tree. [Read More]

How Does a Boa Constrictor Hunt? — by Aloniab Gezae, age 7

Do you like snakes? Hopefully you do because today you will be learning about a snake called the boa constrictor! Boa constrictors are big and dangerous. They eat mice, rats, lizards, and birds. The lifespan of a boa constrictor in captivity can be up to 40 years! That’s a long time! Boa constrictors can swim and like living near rivers and lakes, specifically inside rainforests in South and Central America. [Read More]

We Bet You Don't Know About this Hyena! — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

You might think there is only one type of hyena, but no, there's more! There are two different types of hyenas: brown hyenas and Aardwolf hyenas. These hyenas look like dogs, but they are cat-like carnivores. A carnivore is an animal that only eats meat. Brown hyenas can easily digest skin and bones with their sharp teeth. They scavenge for lions that have previously been killed by other carnivores or hunt for their own prey. [Read More]

No es realmente un gato grande, el caracal es un cazador que vive en Asia y África — Por Sol-Saray, 10 años

Un lince del desierto, también conocido como caracal, es un gato salvaje originario de África, Asia y partes de la India. Se pueden encontrar en bosques, pastizales, sabanas y bosques. [Read More]

Unique Leopard Species Struggles to Survive — by Lah'Nylah Bivens, age 15

Arabian leopards are the smallest leopard species. Scientists consider this species to be closely related to the African leopard. [read more]

King Cobra vs. Mongoose: Who Wins? — by Jonah Smith, age 13

The debate about the king cobra vs. the mongoose is a long-lasting argument about which animal would win in a fight. Some people think that the king cobra would win while others firmly believe that a mongoose would be victorious. [read more]

The Secret Life of Pollinators — by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

A plant has a lot of needs in order for it to be healthy. These needs include water, sun, and soil. Insects like the yucca moths, bumblebees, and honeybees take the pollen and nectar from plants. [Read More]