Anna the Zoolab ranger came in to talk to Form 1 about the Rainforest. She tested their knowledge of the rainforest layers, and asked them to describe the habitat of the forest floor. The first creature was George the Giant African Land snail….who has more teeth than a shark! He has 10,000 teeth on his tongue.
Anna’s second animal was introduced as a 6-legged cave-dweller that likes to scuttle around on the cave floor…. It was Phillippe the cockroach! The children loved learning that cockroaches live on cave floors as they like to eat animal poo! This is a very clever part of the eosystem – without cockroaches our world would be full of rubbish. They have been keeping our world clean for 300 million years.
Phillippe can run straight through fire and he would be fine! He could be in the freezer for 3 years and he would survive! You can identify 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 and have two brains! Anna told the children that Phillippe has an Exoskeleton.
Form 1 had to be very quiet in order to see animal number 3… an 8-legged, hairy creature. She lives in the Understorey and was revealed to be Buttercup the Tarantula. She is very clever as she feels and ‘hears’ using the hairs on her body. She can even smell and taste with her hair. She prefers to flick her hairs off and cause intense itching to predators rather than biting them. Therefore Anna only let the children look, not touch her! She eats insects and they learnt that she is an ‘insectivore’. In addition to her 8 legs, she also has 8 eyes – so she can see 360 degrees.
Anna told the children that this Chilean Rose tarantula likes to live in a small space as they are agoraphobic. They are known as the Rose tarantula because when she is fully grown she will turn pink – with a pink back and teeth. She does not make a web like other spiders – instead she places a single strand of web out, waits for an insect to bump the string – and then she goes and attacks.
Animal 4 was another creature from the Forest Floor with abut 268 legs! It is a myth that they have millions of legs! Harry guessed that this was going to be a millipede. Anna put him on the floor and asked the children to watch Rudy the African Millipede as she moved across the floor. They learnt that she has cleaner mites under her body. The millipede’s legs felt like a hairbrush as Anna brought him round for everyone to touch.
Rudy is 8 months old and when fully grown will be about the length of a school ruler (30 cms!). Millipedes can live until they are about 7 years old although they are quite delicate animals. Taylor said it tickled when she help Rudy! Anna said Rudy makes a nasty smell to put predators off biting her!
The next animal was Bubba the White Tree Frog from Australia. He was very small – only about 5cm – this enables him to jump further because he carries less weight and means he can go very high up on the thin branches at the top of the canopy. He has a green back and a while tummy – and is camouflaged. Anna told the children to look at Bubba’s hands; they are not webbed but he can spread his hands really wide and his sticky pads help him to pull himself to safety when he is jumping from leaf to leaf. His tank at home is very tall as he likes to climb.
Anna spoke to the children about her final animal – the top predator in the Rainforest. Gracie knew that an animal that just eats plants is called a Herbivore. Anna explained that she couldn’t bring a snake from the Rainforest as they are far too big – but she brought a snake from America – Charlie the American Corn Snake. All snakes are carnivores – corn snakes are found in corn fields because they eat rats and mice that live there.
Charlie is an Albino – which is why he is quite pale in colour. He eats mice once a week on a Friday 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 Anna’s visit and we are very grateful to Zoolab for bringing the Rainforest to C.P.S!