Here are 20 fun facts about a few of the wild things that live here in the Southeast - some even live in your own backyard!
Did you know?...
A squirrel can locate a nut that he buried months ago, under a foot of snow, using only his sense of smell.
Hummingbirds beat their wings on average of 70 times a second – and faster if they have to! Newly hatched hummingbirds are the size of a penny – and they have every organ inside of them as a bald eagle does!
A little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes each hour he’s working his night shift.
Raccoons have great manual dexterity – they can open zippers, turn door knobs and unlock gates. They can also pick fruit or pine cones off of a tree, aim and throw them at an advancing dog!
Rat snakes will often rattle their tails in the leaves to mimic a rattlesnake, thus seeming more dangerous than they actually are.
Virginia opossums are the only marsupial in North America.
Turkey vultures are more closely related to the stork than to birds of prey – their Latin name means “cleansing breeze”. They can consume bacteria and viruses that can cause sickness or even death to other animals – including humans!
A toad’s urine doesn’t make warts, but it does taste bad enough that if you had the animal in your mouth, you would promptly spit it out!
A red tailed hawk sees his world faster than we do – about 8 times faster – he can see every single wing beat of a hummingbird!
Red shouldered hawks sometimes roll over, and actually fly upside down for short periods while mating.
Eastern King snakes eat other snakes and are immune to most other snake’s venom.
Gopher tortoises do not reach maturity until they’re around 15 years old. And they can remember exactly where they used to live – when they were an egg!
Screech owls don’t actually screech, they make a whistling, trilling sound – more like a dove. Owls have fringed feathers that allow them to fly silently – thus allowing them to sneak up on nocturnal animals that have a super sense of hearing.
Beavers form monogamous relationships and live in close family groups. They build intricate lodges that contain a “dry room” for family gatherings and a food pantry that acts like a kitchen. Oh yes, and they can chew down a large tree with their teeth!
Bald eagles add on to their nests year after year – one nest was found that was used for more than 30 years, ten feet across, twenty feet deep and weighed more than a jeep wrangler!
Barn owls can eat more than its’ own weight in mice and rats in one evening!
Deer antlers are the fastest growing living tissue on earth – they continuously grow, unlike horns which if broken, can never grow back.
Female crickets do not chirp. The males do the chirping and you can tell the temperature by counting cricket chirps - count the # of chirps in 15 seconds + 37 = degrees in Fahrenheit!
Skunks spray sparingly – after 5 or 6 sprays they have to reload and that takes up to a week to accomplish.
Dragonflies can remain in the air all day without landing - they have 30,000 lenses in their eyes and can see 360 degrees around them!
And this is just a very small sampling of the amazing animals that live in and around your backyard. We encourage you to keep learning about local wildlife and their amazing adaptations!