This Month’s Critter Visitors!

Happy Fall from Eagle Bluff!

This week we had Wayzata West Middle School in house- one of our largest groups during the entirety of the school year. They’re lucky in the fact that the 222 students they brought get to stay for FIVE days instead of the usual three! We’re glad the week went really smoothly!

The other school groups we’ve had so far have all reported great visits with tons of fun had. However, we often get visitors on campus that aren’t of the human variety. We’ve been collecting some photos of some of these visitors over the last month or so, and thought you all would love to learn some more about them!

Our first visitor to come around was towards the end of the summer. This Painted Turtle had made its way up from a nearby pond onto the deck of the Discovery Center!

Our first visitor to come around was towards the end of the summer. This Painted Turtle had made its way up from a nearby pond onto the deck of the Discovery Center!

Fun Facts about Painted Turtles:

  • A Painted Turtle’s shell is made up of different parts called scutes. The scutes are made out of the same material as our fingernails- keratin. As turtles grow, they form new layers of scutes underneath the old ones, and once those are ready, the old ones will fall off.
  • Painted Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, so they tend to spend a lot of time basking on the shores of ponds, lakes, and rivers. We often see them during our Canoeing Class on the Root River.
  • The Painted Turtle is the most widespread turtle of North America, and can be found in waters from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
This Little Brown Bat found its way into the Schroeder Building a couple of weeks ago. It did a good job of startling a few of our staff! It was safely released back outside as well.

This Little Brown Bat found its way into the Schroeder Building a couple of weeks ago. It did a good job of startling a few of our staff! It was safely released back outside as well.

Fun Facts about Little Brown Bats:

  • One Little Brown Bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes PER HOUR! So those mosquitoes we all despise out there actually do have an important job- feeding those bats!
  • Eagle Bluff has Little Brown Bats that hibernate on site. There is an old tunnel running underneath the bluff that is specifically kept closed and maintained for those bats in the winter time.
  • The White-nose Syndrome is a big issue that bats are currently facing. It’s a fungus that wakes bats up too early during their hibernation, and they end up using up too much energy before it’s warm enough to leave the caves. If a site is affected, it has been known to devastate 90% of that site’s population. We do not currently know of any bats with White-nose Syndrome on site, but the nearby Mystery Cave in Forestville State Park does. So unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time until it is here at our site.
Eagle Bluff staff found this Tiger Salamander crossing a nearby road during a thunderstorm. It hadn't rained in a while, and the amphibians were taking advantage of it!

Eagle Bluff staff found this Tiger Salamander crossing a nearby road during a thunderstorm. It hadn’t rained in a while, and the amphibians were taking advantage of it!

Fun Facts about Tiger Salamanders:

  • Tiger Salamanders are the largest land-dwelling salamander on the planet, with the ability to grow up to 14 inches long!
  • They tend to emerge from their burrows at night to search for food, and will rest during the day.
  • Because they are amphibians, their skin has the ability to absorb materials (such as water) from their surroundings. This makes them great bio-indicators for habitats since they will absorb unhealthy pollutants as well. For this reason, only handle amphibians if your hands are completely clean and free of sunscreen and bug spray!

Of course we have seen tons of other cool animals moving in and around the area- White-tailed Deer, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Soft-shell Turtles. Fall is a great time of year to see animals on the move. Hopefully you all will have a chance to get outside and do some searching of your own!

For all of our readers out there, if you know someone or are someone who is enthusiastic about animals, you will want to consider our Wildlife Care 101 Summer Camp in June 2014. The campers will get to catch and take care of critters like these, as well as work with our resident birds of prey! Keep it on your radar!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s