Monday, October 25, 2004

From Krissy's Place.....     Monday Morning Question:

If you could be an animal (other than a cat or dog - let's make this tougher!) which one would you be and why?I have many I would like to be.... I'll choose two:   I want to be a Tree Squirrel (Except in Goth Daughter's state..... lol) View this Picture

Squirrel is any of a group of small to medium-sized gnawing animals with a long, cylindrical body; a furry tail; and powerful jaws. Squirrels are some of the most popular and easily recognized animals because of their curiosity, liveliness, and wide distribution. They live on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

Types of squirrels

Squirrels make up one of the largest families of rodents (gnawing animals), the order to which beavers, mice, and rats also belong. The squirrel family, Sciuridae, consists of approximately 270 species. They may be divided into three general types: (1) tree squirrels, (2) flying squirrels, and (3) ground squirrels.

Tree squirrels are tree-climbing, bushy-tailed animals that inhabit most of the world's forests. They weigh from 1/3 ounce to 61/2 pounds (10 grams to 3 kilograms). They are active during the day. Familiar tree squirrels include the eastern gray and eastern fox squirrels of North America, the Eurasian red squirrel, and the giant and tricolor squirrels of Asia.

The origin and development of squirrels

Scientists believe that squirrels appeared early in the history of rodents. During the Cenozoic Era, beginning about 63 million years ago, forests of seed- and nut-bearing trees began to grow over much of the earth.The growth of such forests was probably a major factor in the evolution of squirrels. It accounts for many of the ways squirrels differ from other rodents. For example, squirrels have sharp incisor (front) teeth and powerful jaw muscles, well suited for gnawing through hard-shelled nuts and thick pine cones. Their sharp claws and flexible bodies help them grasp branches and leap from tree to tree. As a result, they can move easily through the treetops to get food and escape enemies. A squirrel's furry tail acts as a "balancer" when the animal leaps and climbs. The tail also serves as a blanket when wrapped around the body or as a signaling device when waved vigorously from a high perch.

Obtaining shelter. Second only to food in importance for squirrel survival is the availability of nests. Nests provide protection from heat and cold, a refuge from enemies, a place to raise young, and a storage site for food. A squirrel usually has more than one nest and can move quickly to an alternate nest if threatened.

Many tree and flying squirrels use different kinds of nests for winter and summer. The winter nest consists of a cavity in a tree trunk or branch lined with leaves, grasses, chewed bark, or other padding. The summer nest is a leaf nest consisting of twigs, leaves, vines, and other plant material woven into a ball in the fork of a tree branch. Some squirrel species use a leaf nest the year around. Such leaf nests are called dreys.

Raising young. How far north a squirrel lives affects how often the animal mates and how many young are born in each litter. In the Far North, squirrels usually mate once a year, in late winter or early spring. The resulting litter consists of four to eight young. Farther south, squirrels may have a second litter, but the litter size is smaller. In the tropics, many small litters of one or two have been reported.

A female squirrel carries her offspring inside her body from 36 to 43 days before giving birth. Newborn squirrels are pink, hairless, and helpless. They cannot see because their eyelids are sealed shut. The mother cares for the babies alone. Tree squirrels live with their mother for about 8 weeks before they become independent. Flying squirrels require a longer developmental period, 10 weeks or more, perhaps because these squirrels need more time to master the techniques of gliding.


A Hawk                  

Hawk refers to any of a group of birds of prey. Hawks have large eyes, hooked beaks, and sharp claws for detecting, capturing, and consuming animals. They belong to a family of over 200 birds that also includes ospreys, kites, harriers, Old World vultures, and eagles. Hawks live on every continent except Antarctica.

There are two basic types of hawks: (1) accipiters, or ambushing hawks, and (2) buteos, or soaring hawks. Accipiters include goshawks and sparrowhawks. Members of this group watch and wait for prey from a perch before rapidly chasing after the prey. Accipiters commonly inhabit forests, where their relatively short wings and long tails enable them to maneuver well. Buteos live mainly in open grasslands and in deserts. Most species have long, broad wings and fan-shaped tails, enabling them to soar in search of food. They use their excellent eyesight to spot prey from high up in the air. They then swoop down to catch the animal. Buteos include the buzzards and the red-tailed hawk.

When a hawk catches its prey, it often carries the animal to a perch. It then holds the prey with its strong feet and legs and tears off pieces of the animal with its beak. Some hawks eat bones, feathers, and fur as well as flesh. Because hawks cannot digest everything they eat, they throw up masses of undigested food called pellets.

Hawks hunt a wide variety of animals, including small mammals, reptiles, fish, insects, and other birds. They also eat animals they find dead. Hawks that prey chiefly on birds have long, thin legs and toes and elongated, sharp, curving talons (claws). These "bird hawks" include many accipiters. Hawks that eat mammals or reptiles have stouter legs, shorter toes, and thicker talons than do bird hawks. Most buteos belong to this group.

Female hawks grow larger and heavier than do males. Hawks measure from 8 to 40 inches (20 to 102 centimeters) in length, with a wingspan of from 19 inches to 7 1/2 feet (48 centimeters to 2.3 meters). They weigh from 2 3/4 ounces to 20 pounds (78 grams to 9 kilograms).

Hawk Mountain is a great place to visit in southeastern Pennsylvania.


valphish said...

Two good choices!  I picked a bird myself!  I have always wanted to fly freely.  Wouldn't that be fabulous?!

redbaranjj said...

LOL on the goth daughter comment!!!  Good one!!!  LOL!!!
I always wanted to be a bird myself...the Eagle.

groovynoodles said...

For the same reason as you, I'm afraid to be any small animal.  I LIVE with Goth Daughter, for heaven's sake.  I guess I'd have to go with an elephant or a hippo or something.  Though judging from the size of my butt and thighs, I'm pretty well on my way.  :)