Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whose Tail?

As promised to the many school teachers and children that have visited the Museum, here's another "Guess Who?" blog--this time dedicated to animal tails.  We'll start off with an easy one--a large crustacean:
 Next, here are two tails:
This tail is hard to miss--especially when it "rattles!"
This tail might be a little hard to identify:
Here's another bird's tail--again, another tough one:
How about this tail?:
Here's an odd looking tail:
Finally, a tail way "off the beaten path"--in fact this animal is not at our Museum.  I spotted it (forgive the pun!) recently when my co-workers, Susan Summers and Bo Baker, and I led a VLM Family Safari to the National Zoo on March 24th:
Did you figure them all out?  The first one was of course, a lobster's tail--we have a rather large lobster on display in our World of Darkness Gallery:
The second photo was pretty easy as well--they belong to the two beavers we have on display on our Outdoor Trail.  I recently had the good fortune to meet Suzanne McBride, the licensed wildlife rehabilitator who raised these orphaned beavers.  Suzanne is the Secretary for a really wonderful local organization called Wildlife Response, Inc. located in Chesapeake, Virginia.  Many thanks to Suzanne and all the dedicated folks at Wildlife Response--keep up the good work!

You probably already know that a beaver's tail is used to help it swim.  Also, to warn other beavers of danger, it may slap it's tail on the water's surface.  Usually our beavers don't do that--they're used to people being around.  However, I've heard wild beavers do this and the sound is extraordinarily loud--it almost sounds like a loud gunshot!
The third photo was of the rattlesnake we have on display in our Mountain cove Habitarium.  This critter's tail is a warning to other animals to stay away--however, the rattlesnake does not always rattle its tail before it strikes:
The next two photos were of bird tails.  The first one belonged to a wild Canada goose.  At present a mated pair hangs out on the pond--and the female has laid eggs nearby.  Birds use their tail to help them steer when flying--sort of like a rudder or flaps on an airplane:
The second bird is a pelican we have in our Outdoor Aviary--they are flighted, so it's pretty amazing when they glide around in the Aviary.  On average a brown pelican's wingspan is about 6-7 feet:
Always a favorite--the sixth photo is an otter's tail.  An otter's tail is used like a rudder as it swims:
The fishy tail belongs to a sturgeon we have on display in our Piedmont/Mountain Gallery that showcases the wonders of the James River:
The final tail belongs to a cheetah we saw at the National Zoo located in Washington D.C.  When a cheetah runs, it uses its tail as a counterbalance:
Well, hope you enjoyed all the tails....more "off the beaten path" in two week!

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