Today's Fact

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ring-tailed Lemur

Lemurs are primates found only on the African island of Madagascar and some tiny neighboring islands.

Ring-tailed lemurs are unmistakable because of their long, vividly striped, black-and-white tail. They are familiar residents of many zoos.

Lemurs use their hands and feet to move nimbly through the trees, but cannot grip with their tails as some of their primate cousins do. Ring-tailed lemurs also spend a lot of time on the ground, which is unusual among lemur species. They forage for fruit, which makes up the greater part of their diet, but also eat leaves, flowers, tree bark, and sap.

Ring-tailed lemurs live in groups known as troops. These groups may include 6 to 30 animals, but average about 17. Both sexes live in troops, but a dominant female presides over all.

Did you know? 
Ring-tailed lemurs rub stinky secretions into their tails and wave them at rivals.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Mississippi River and Its Wildlife

Alligator Gar
The Mississippi River is one of the worlds' great commercial waterways. It flows from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico through cotton fields, swamps, and marshlands.

The Mississippi River feeds hundreds of smaller waterways as it flows through Louisiana. These waterways in turn provide habitats for many animal and bird species. Today, the entire area is threatened by chemical pollution. Another danger comes from the fast-growing water hyacinth, which blocks sunlight.

One of the Mississippi's most unusual inhabitant is the paddle fish, which has a spatula shaped snout. This fish gathers plankton by swimming close to the surface with its mouth wide open.

The alligator gar is a 10 foot long fish that has armored scales and huge jaws with sharp, closely set teeth. It preys on all kinds of water life, including small and medium sized alligators. The huge fish waits motionless for prey to pass and then lunges, crushing its prey with its paws.

On the riverbed, the alligator snapping turtle lies in wait for fish. A brightly colored lure attached to its tongue entices prey into its mouth.

Birds on the river include the great blue heron, the purple gallinule, the red-winged blackbird, and the pied-billed grebe, whose bill is specially adapted for catching crayfish. The brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird, is endangered because of heavy pesticide levels in the fish it eats.

Did you know?
Muskrat seats riverside reeds. They also use them to build a large nest.

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