Jo the Zoolab ranger came in to talk to Form 1 about the Rainforest. He tested their knowledge of the rainforest layers, and asked them to describe the habitat of the forest floor. The first creature was Brian the Giant African Land snail….

Jo’s second animal was introduced as a cave-dweller that likes to scuttle around on the cave floor…. It was Wade the cockroach! The children loved learning that cockroaches live on cave floors as they like to eat bat poo! This is a very clever part of the ecosystem – without cockroaches our world would be full of rubbish. They have been keeping our world clean for 300 million years. You can feel a male cockroach as they have bumps on their heads where their horns are. If cockroaches become decapitated they can still live for 10 days as they are very tough bugs!

Form 1 had to be very quiet in order to see animal number 3… She lives in the Understorey and was revealed to be a tarantula. Isaac T described the difference between ‘poisonous’ and ‘venomous’. Venomous is if the animal bites or stings you – therefore Jo only let the children look, not touch her! She eats insects and they learnt that she is an ‘insectivore’. As the children watched, Felicia had finished her meal and was cleaning her fangs using her pedipalps. Jo told the children that this Chilean Rose tarantula likes to live in a small space as they are agoraphobic.

 

Animal 4 was another creature from the Forest Floor with about 200 legs! The children guessed that this was going to be a millipede. Jo put him on a blanket and asked the children to watch Max as he moved across the floor. They learnt that he has cleaner mites under his body. The millipede’s legs felt like a hairbrush as Jo brought him round for everyone to touch.

Max is five years old and millipedes can live until they are about seven years old. Charlie R said he thought that the legs would feel softer but they were actually quite spiky on his hand. Mrs Unwin and Ms Turner were quite surprised too and thought it felt like the spikes from a hairbrush. Jo explained that if a millipede feels threatened it will spray urine into the mouth of the predator so that it doesn’t get eaten.

Jo spoke to the children about the dangers of deforestation in the rainforest and the creatures that live in the canopy. Jo explained that he couldn’t bring in a rainforest snake as they are becoming endangered. However, he introduced us to his corn snake, Plisskin, and told us that he comes from America.

He explained that when snakes shed their skin they push and then the skin goes back on itself (a bit like taking off a sock!).  It takes about two hours and they are quite grumpy when they are shedding their skin.

They learnt that Pllisskin has 420 bones in his body. Having recently shed his skin he was looking very handsome. Even Miss Houghton was brave enough to touch him!  He eats two mice once a week and eats them whole! This is possible because he has a quadrate bone in his mouth that is already dislocated and floats in cartilage  – so it is an urban myth that snakes dislocate their jaws! 

The children learnt a huge amount from Jo’s visit and we are very grateful to Zoolab for bringing the Rainforest to CPS!