BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

Post written by Kim Fraser, Black Footed Ferret Program Coordinator.

BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

The Black-footed Ferret (BFF) (Mustela nigripes) is the only ferret native to North America and lives on the short grass prairie of the Great Plains. BFFs are members of the Mustelidae family which is often referred to as the weasel family, and includes mink, badger, marten, otter, weasel, fisher, wolverine, and domestic ferret. They are nocturnal, solitary, require large expanses of landscape, and spends their whole life on prairie dog colonies. In the prairie dog burrow systems they seek shelter from predators and weather, eat, sleep, and raise their young. Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog and they eat over 100 per year. BFFs are called fossorial predators, meaning they hunt underground. Their home range is in 12 Western states including Canada and Mexico. Considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America it has been federally protected for over 40 years.  The BFF Recovery Program is one of the most successful recovery programs with over 50 State, Federal, Tribal, NGOs and private landowner partners that all participate in recovery efforts.

Why should we protect black-footed ferrets?

In 1974 when the Endangered Species Act was enacted the Black-footed Ferret was in the top 10 species listed for protection. No one knew then how difficult or easy saving a species from extinction would be. Today, we know recovering an endangered species involves many partners, time, and effort. Since the ESA became law some species have had survival success and some have not. Many people have asked is it worth it?  Is preventing the extinction of an iconic species like the black-footed ferret worth the effort? The answer is yes, it is worth it, and here’s why. The BFF is an important member of the prairie ecosystem and their presence indicates a healthy habitat that supports many other species. Without black-footed ferret conservation efforts, prairie dogs and other associated species such as burrowing owls, swift fox, mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, prairie rattlesnakes, and many others could easily succumb to current threats. So by conserving black-footed ferrets, we have to conserve prairie dog habitat and that saves an entire ecosystem and its inhabitants that call the short grass prairie home!

  

Why should people care and help save this species from extinction?

Maybe it’s because BFFs capture the imagination that there’s this rarely seen and secretive animal living on the short grass prairie underground. And even though it is one of the most endangered mammals, most Americans will never have the opportunity to see a live BFF.  It’s like a fairytale character of the prairie that represents the wild, and people are passionate about the wild and fascinated about the animals that live there.  When folks learn about BFFs they are amazed that something so cool lives right in their backyard- in America.  We all know about other species that are in trouble across the globe, like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees and rhinos. And it is good to care about what happens to all species on our planet because we are a global living place. Every day we hear about how these other species are doing and how we can help them and that’s important.  But here is an animal that makes its home right here, it belongs to us as Americans as one of our native species. We should care and protect BFFs so they will remain part of the wilds of North America.  One way to help save BFFs is by learning all you can about them.  Because by learning you will come to care about them, and when you care, you will want to help save them. So you see by caring and helping to save them from extinction you are being a BFF or Best Friend Forever not just to black-footed ferrets but to future generations so they too will have BFFs living wild and free on the prairie.

 

The museum is proud to have two black-footed ferrets on-site in partnership with the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. You can see what our BFFs are up to while we’re closed via our Ferret Cam: fcmod.org/ferret-cam!

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Amazing Amphibians

Post written by Willow Sedam, Live Animal Husbandry Team Member.

Amazing Amphibians

Did you know that amphibians were the first animals to live on land? Or that they swallow by blinking and pushing the backs of their eyes into their throat?

Today, we’re looking at the amazing world of amphibians!

What is an amphibian?

Toads, frogs, and salamanders are all amphibians. While amphibians are a wide and varied class of animals, they all have a few things in common.

Amphibians have slimy skin which they can breathe and drink through and has to be kept damp at all times. Amphibians lay squishy, shell-less eggs in water. And they all start out life as aquatic larvae, later metamorphosing (like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly) into their adult form, growing legs and shedding their tails!

Because water is so important to amphibians, they are often found around ponds, streams and marshes. But spending so much time in water means they can often be the first animals affected by a change in water quality. Amphibians can be the first warning that something is wrong with an environment, as they are very sensitive to pollutants, and a decline in amphibian populations can be a clue to scientists that something is wrong. But when amphibians are doing well, that means the environment around them is, too – which is why they are such important animals to learn about and protect!

At the museum, we have four species of amphibians on display, two of which are native to the US, and one that can be found right here in Colorado!

Fire-bellied toad

Despite being called toads, these Eurasian amphibians are technically frogs – you can tell by their long legs and preference for swimming.

These amphibians display two interesting types of coloration at once: camouflage, which blends them into their environment, and aposematism, which warns predators that they might be dangerous. Much like poison dart frogs, fire-bellied toads are brightly colored to warn predators that they are toxic. However, while poison dart frogs are bright all over, fire-bellied toads limit their bright warning coloration to their bellies. When a predator looks down on a frog, it sees only the green and black camouflage on its back, and might not notice it. But if the frog is threatened, it can rear up on its back and show off it’s bright belly that acts just like caution tape and says: stay away from me!

This behavior, called an unken reflex, actually gets its name from fire-bellied toads and the German name for their species, Unke.

Southern toad

Our southern toad is actually more of a southeastern toad, hailing from the warmer and wetter parts of the American east coast, from North Carolina to Mississippi. These amphibians are true toads – warty, with short legs ill-equipped for swimming and jumping but built perfectly to dig. They actually have claw-like spurs on their back legs that help them build burrows to stay safe and moist when the weather gets too hot, too cold, or too dry for them.

Like all amphibians, they lay their eggs in open water – about 3,000 of them per season! After only a couple of days, these eggs hatch into tadpoles, which undergo metamorphosis when they’re barely half an inch long!

Tiger salamander

These salamanders are a Colorado native and can be found in marshes and ponds right here in Fort Collins! But they’re not picky about where they live – they’re actually the most wide-spread salamander species in North America, ranging from Canada all the way to Mexico! Their name comes from the yellow and black splotches on their skin, which look a little bit like tiger stripes. Like tigers, they are also ferocious predators – even if they don’t look like it. When they emerge from their burrows to hunt, they look for anything they can eat – worms, spiders, and beetles, even frogs and smaller salamanders are all fair game!

Our salamanders at the museum get so excited during feeding time, that sometimes they’ll even try and bite their caretaker’s fingers! Unlike frogs, salamanders actually have teeth – lucky for the people feeding them, they aren’t very sharp.

White’s tree frog

These Australian frogs are very popular in the pet trade because of how calm they are around humans – even wild frogs will find their way into people’s sinks, laundry roo

rooms, and bathtubs, no matter if they’re occupied!

Unlike some frogs, White’s tree frogs do not have long sticky tongues that they use to catch prey. Their preferred method of hunting is close-range. Once they’re close enough to a bug or other tasty morsel, they lunge at it with their mouth open wide and scoop it up into their gob with their hands.

These frogs are also very unique for the way they protect their delicate amphibian skin. They secrete a goo from their skin that is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, allowing them to stay safe and free from disease even when they’re living in places that are mucky and full of germs. The virus-fighting ability they possess is so impressive, it’s even being studied for use in human medicine!

Amphibians are amazing animals, coming in so many different shapes and sizes. From legless, soil-dwelling caecilians to flying tree frogs, they all play an important part in our ecosystem!

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Daily Discovery: Pollination Investigation

Post written by Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Pollination Investigation

Did you know that one out of every four bites of food you eat comes courtesy of bee pollination, according to the United States Department of Agriculture? In their search for nectar, bees bring pollen from one flower’s anthers to another flower’s stigma, paving the way for cross-pollinating plants to bear new seeds. Find out how it works in the activity below!

Supplies:

  • Pencil and paper
  • Colored pencils, markers, or crayons (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 1 pipe cleaner or 3 cotton swabs
  • A fine powder, such as powdered sugar, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika… or even the ‘chip dust’ at the bottom of a bag of chips

Instructions:

  1. Draw two flowers of the same species and one bee, or print the template out (included in the PDF). Color your bee and your flowers if desired. Cut the bee and the two flowers out.
  2. If you are using a pipe cleaner, cut it into 6 pieces and tape on to the bee as legs. If you are using double-ended cotton swabs, cut in half and attach 6 the halves to the bee as legs.
  3. Fly around like a bee! Land your bee in the center of the first flower, in search of nectar. Have your bee take a big drink of nectar (which it will later use to make honey!), then fly off to the second flower. Did your bee accidentally bring some pollen from the first flower to the second? This is pollination!
  4. How can you help bees do their important work? Check out these tips from National Geographic!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Fancy Rats / Descubrimiento en casa: Ratas de compañía

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Fancy Rats

FCMoD’s fancy rats ( Rattus norvegicus domestica ) are some of the museum’s most charismatic animals, but are they really all that fancy? Learn more about these furry creatures and channel your inner zoologist as you observe animals in your own backyard!

Fancy Rat Life History:

Being a fancy rat simply means that they are domesticated; they are tame animals and common household pets. The word “fancy” means that humans “appreciate or like” them more than the non-domesticated brown rats. What other animals are considered domestic? Do you have pets or farm animals that live with you? What animals do not make good pets?

Physical Characteristics:  Rats are mammals and vertebrates. This means they are warm-blooded, have hair or fur, and have a backbone. Fancy rats have a wide range of different colors of fur, unlike wild rats who are usually dark brown (an adaptation to help them blend into their environment). All rats have a long, furless tail that are used for balance when they are climbing and exploring their habitat.

Habitat: Wild rats can live almost anywhere! They are found on all continents except Antarctica. If they are not living in people’s homes as pets, they prefer living in damp environments where they can tunnel.

Diet: Rats are omnivores – they’ll eat almost anything! In the wild, they eat a mixture of plants and small animals. At FCMoD, our fancy rats eat a bunch of fruits and vegetables. Naturally, they are scavengers who love to seek out food, which is why they like to live around humans – to break into food storage and help themselves!

Fun Facts:  Rats are often stereotyped in untrue ways, but they can be affectionate, intelligent and clean. They are highly social animals and at the museum, the rats are all siblings and love to snuggle while they nap!

Backyard Observations: Pets!

Whether it is in your backyard, neighborhood, or at a Natural Area, animals can be observed just about anywhere! Zoologists use science to observe animals and learn about their behaviors and their habitat. You can be a backyard zoologist and observe similar domesticated animals like the museum’s fancy rats and record what you discover!

Supplies: 

  • Writing utensil
  • Paper
  • Computer and Internet Access (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Create a way to record your animal observations and behaviors. You can write a journal entry or maybe create an observation chart, or use our guiding questions to think deeper about the animals you see!
  2. If you have a pet who live with you at home, watch them throughout the day and record what they do. If you have multiple, compare and contrast their behaviors.
  3. If you don’t have any pets, take a walk with your family and look for pets, farm animals or other domesticated animals on your walk. You can also visit https://explore.org/livecams/farm-sanctuary/wisconsin-pasture-farm-sanctuary to observe farm animals though camera live streams!

Guiding Questions:

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.


Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Ratas de compañía

¡Bienvenidos al descubrimiento en casa!

Nosotros en el Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins estamos muy contentos de invitarlos a visitar nuestro contenido lleno de actividades, creatividad, conocimiento ¡y mucho más! Con ideas nuevas cada semana, descubran un mundo mágico lleno de aprendizaje y diversión ¡para toda la familia y en su propio idioma!

Las ratas de compañía (Rattus norvegicus domestica) son uno de los animales más carismáticos que viven dentro del Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins (FCMoD). En general, las ratas no tienen buena reputación, entonces, ¿por qué tenemos algunas de ellas como mascotas? ¿En realidad, hay alguna diferencia entre los diferentes tipos de ratas? Vamos a aprender más de estas criaturas peludas. ¡Encuentra a tu zoólogo interno mientras observas a los animales que hay a tu alrededor!

La historia de las ratas de compañía:

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una rata salvaje y una rata de compañía? Las ratas de compañía son animales que pueden ser domesticados; son dóciles y comúnmente se vuelven mascotas que se llevan bien con los humanos. ¿Puedes pensar en otros animales que también son domésticos? ¿Tienes mascotas o animales de granja que viven contigo? ¿Puedes observar cuáles animales no podrían ser mascotas?

Características físicas: Las ratas son mamíferos y vertebrados. Esto significa que tienen sangre caliente, pelo o pelaje y una columna vertebral que les ayuda a mantener su cuerpo recto. Las ratas de compañía pueden variar en el color de su pelaje, mientras que el de las ratas salvajes usualmente es de color marrón oscuro. Las ratas salvajes adoptaron este color para poder ocultarse en su medio ambiente. Todas las ratas tienen una cola larga y sin pelo, y esta parte del cuerpo les ayuda a trepar y mantener el equilibrio, superando obstáculos mientras exploran su ambiente.

Ambiente natural/hábitat: ¡Las ratas salvajes pueden vivir casi dondequiera! Se pueden encontrar en todos los continentes excepto en la Antártida. Cuando no están viviendo en nuestros hogares, prefieren vivir en un ambiente húmedo donde puedan cavar túneles y hacer sus escondrijos.

Dieta: Las ratas son omnívoras—¡comen casi de todo! En la naturaleza, comen una variedad de plantas y animales pequeños. En el museo, nuestras ratas comen muchas frutas y vegetales. En su estado natural son carroñeras y les encanta buscar comida, por eso les gusta vivir alrededor de los seres humanos. ¡Así pueden colarse en nuestras despensas y tener todo un banquete!

Datos curiosos: A menudo, a las ratas se les da un estereotipo falso, sin embargo, son cariñosas, inteligentes y limpias. Son animales muy sociables y, en el museo, todas las ratas son hermanas. ¡Les encanta acurrucarse cuando se duermen!

Observación al aire libre: ¡Mascotas!

Ya sea en tu patio, en tu cuadra o en un área natural, se pueden observar animales en cualquier sitio. Los zoólogos utilizan la ciencia para aprender sobre los comportamientos y hábitat de ciertos animales. ¡Tú también puedes ser zoólogo empezando en tu propia área! Observa a los animales domesticados que hay alrededor -como las ratas del museo- ¡y apunta lo que descubres sobre ellos!

Artículos necesarios: 

  • Algo para escribir (lápiz, pluma o marcador)
  • Papel
  • Computadora y acceso al Internet (opcional)

Instrucciones:

  1. Observa el comportamiento de algún animal. Puedes escribir tus notas en un diario o hasta hacer un dibujo. Si deseas, usa la guía de preguntas que está abajo para pensar más profundamente sobre los animales que estudias.
  2. Si tienes una mascota en tu casa, obsérvala durante el día y toma nota de lo que hace. Si tienes más de una mascota, compara sus comportamientos y su interacción.
  3. Si no tienes ningún animal en casa, da un paseo por los alrededores con tu familia y observa algunas mascotas, animales de granja u otros animales domesticados.
  4. También puedes visitar el sitio web: https://explore.org/livecams/farm-sanctuary/wisconsin-pasture-farm-sanctuary  para observar videos de animales de granja ¡en vivo!

Guía de preguntas: 

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Meet Tara, FCMoD’s Ornate Box Turtle!

Post written by Willow Sedam, Live Animal Husbandry Team Member.

Meet Tara, FCMoD’s Ornate Box Turtle!

Have you met our Ornate Box Turtle, Tara?

Ornate Box Turtles are a species of box turtle native to the great plains of the midwest – including Colorado! Our Tara was a wild turtle who was taken in by the museum after she was hit by a car and her shell was cracked – look closely and you can see the places where the scutes (the separate bits of hard keratin covering a turtle’s shell) are scarred from her injury.

But how do cold-blooded animals – who can’t warm themselves up on their own like we can – survive the harsh Colorado winters we get if they don’t have a museum to live in?

When it gets cold, reptiles will go through a process much like hibernation, called brumation. Unlike hibernating animals, who are asleep for the whole winter season, brumation only occurs in cool temperatures, and if it warms up enough, even in the middle of winter, brumating animals will wake up, go about their business, and go back to brumating when it’s cold again. In the wild, Ornate Box Turtles spend most of their winter cuddled up in a nice pile of soil, deep enough below the ground that frost can’t reach them.

And while Tara lives inside the museum, where it’s the same warm temperature all year-round, she will sometimes brumate, too! Even though she’s not having to hide away from the cold, she can tell that it’s time for her to brumate because of how short the winter days are.

But Tara is a true Colorado native, and once it warms up, she’s ready to go outside. As part of her care, the Animal Encounters team take her out for regular walks for exercise and enrichment. You wouldn’t think a turtle of all things would need walking, but what Tara lacks in speed she makes up for in energy and determination.

Sometimes she spends her time walking around the museum indoors, especially if it’s still a little chilly out for a cold-blooded animal like her. But her favorite walks are outside walks – in the museum’s Big Backyard! She’ll spend as much time as she can exploring the yard, digging in the dirt, and doing her best to sneak away from her caretakers, often by blending in with rocks and bushes like a camouflage master.

Ornate Box Turtles are opportunistic omnivores – meaning they’ll eat just about anything they can find, including plants, bugs, and even carrion. When Tara’s out in the backyard, she likes to forage for extra snacks, trying to catch and eat any ants and beetles she sees. While we see a tiny, cute, turtle, many bugs see a hungry predator! But the funniest thing she likes to do when she’s out on a walk is to pick things up in her beak. She does it with rocks, sticks, and bark chips – she’ll search around for the perfect something, pick it up, and just hold it in her mouth while she wanders!

So next time you’re out enjoying the warm weather, keep an eye out for Colorado’s native reptiles who may also be soaking up the sunshine! You might even see one of Tara’s cousins out in the wild, eating ants and basking in the sun.

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Daily Discovery: Tube Sock Black-footed Ferret!/Descubrimiento en casa: Muñeco de hurón patinegro hecho con calcetines

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Tube Sock Black-Footed Ferret!

It’s time to get cuddly! Using your knowledge on BFFs and reference photos, create your own black-footed ferret (BFF) stuffy to have and to hold!

Supplies:

  • Tube Sock(s)
  • Newspaper
  • Cotton balls
  • Tissue paper
  • Sticks
  • Small rocks
  • Buttons
  • Glue
  • Scrap fabric
  • Markers or paint

Instructions:

  1. Using what you know about BFFs, create your own black-footed ferret stuffy! Get crafty with unexpected things in your house; this ferret was colored by rolling it in used coffee grounds!
  2. If you have the matching sock try making a tube sock prairie dog or maybe a BFF sock puppet!.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Muñeco de hurón patinegro hecho con calcetines

Usando tu conocimiento sobre el hurón de patas negras o patinegro, y con la ayuda de algunos materiales caseros y fotos para referenciar, haz tu propio muñeco ¡y acurrúcate con él!

Artículos necesarios:

  • Calcetines/medias
  • Papel periódico
  • Bolas de algodón
  • Papel de tisú/seda
  • Palitos
  • Piedritas
  • Botones
  • Pegamento
  • Retazos de tela
  • Marcadores o pintura

Instrucciones:

  1. Después de leer los datos sobre los hurones patinegros -también llamados hurones de patas negrasque incluimos más abajo, utiliza este nuevo conocimiento y empieza a crear tu peluche. Para construir su forma y obtener su semejanza, usa cosas inesperadas que ya tengas en casa. Por ejemplo, puedes teñir tu peluche usando café molido desechado, como en la foto más abajo.
  2. Si tienes el otro calcetín, utilízalo para hacer un amigo (podría ser otro animal como un perrito de la pradera) para tu peluche; otro hurón o también podrías hacer un títere.

Aprende más sobre los hurones patinegros.

El hurón de patas negras o patinegro es la única especie de hurón nativo de Norteamérica, y también la única que vive en las praderas de pastos cortos en Fort Collins. Son uno de los mamíferos que están bajo peligro de extinción en el continente, por lo tanto, están protegidos bajo la Ley de Especies en Peligro de Extinción (Endangered Species Act). En el año 1979, pensábamos que el hurón de patas negras ya estaba extinto, pero en 1981 fueron redescubiertos en Meeteetse, Wyoming, y afortunadamente, un programa desarrollado para criarlos en cautividad salvó esta especie de su extinción. Hoy día, con la ayuda de muchos colegas y socios, los hurones de pies negros ¡están en vías de recuperación! En el Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins (FCMoD), estamos orgullosos de apoyar los esfuerzos para la recuperación de los hurones de patas negras, e incluso cuidamos a dos de ellos en nuestra exhibición permanente. ¡Nos encantaría que los visitaras!

Aunque parecieran un lugar sin mucha vida, las praderas de pastos cortos están llenas de biodiversidad. Ahí hay muchos hogares de animales diversos, incluyendo el búho llanero, las serpientes toro, los sapos Woodhouse. También se podrían encontrar antílopes, zorros, halcones, liebres, reptiles, diferentes insectos, tortugas y perros de la pradera. Estos últimos son la especie clave que apoya los muchos animales que viven en este ecosistema, especialmente los hurones de patas negras. Más del 90% de la dieta del hurón consiste en perritos de la pradera, y usan sus madrigueras como su hogar para protegerse del clima y de los depredadores, pasando prácticamente ahí toda su vida.

Para más información sobre los hurones patinegros y su ecosistema respectivo, visita el sitio web https://blackfootedferret.org/, y/o sigue la página del Centro Nacional para la Conservación de Hurones de Patas Negras (National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center) en inglés aquí: https://www.facebook.com/FerretCenter/.

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Aw – Rats!

Post written by Willow Sedam, Live Animal Husbandry Team Member.

Aw – Rats!

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a museum? For the critters who are a part of our Animal Encounters exhibit, living in a museum is just a part of their daily life!

Our mischief (a group of rats) of four fancy rats are the only mammals in the Animal Encounters exhibit at the museum. They are an important part of our mission to educate the public about animals and how they crawl, slither, and skitter in-and-out of our daily lives. Our rats travel regularly through the museum to meet people as part of the live animal presentations and events to help educate the public about life on earth. But what do they do when they’re not helping educate the public?

At the museum, the rats’ morning starts around 8:00 am, when the Animal Encounters staff come in to take care of all the animals before the museum opens. They’re usually all fast asleep in a big fuzzy rat pile. They are not very happy to be woken up – but they need to come out of their enclosure so that the staff can clean it and make their breakfast.

Once they’re up, each rat gets put in their own brightly-colored exercise ball and is set loose in Animal Encounters for their morning exercise – although each rat treats their “exercise” time differently, as some prefer to find a quiet corner to nap in, while others like to run around and sniff everything they can.

Each rat is named after their distinct and varied appearances. Black and White is a white rat with black markings, and the busiest, always running around hiding food in her favorite food-hiding spots. Black Rex is named after her fur – rex is a name for animals bred to have soft and curly fur – and her fur is definitely soft, but because it’s so fluffy, it’s always sticking up in crazy directions! Blaze is a white rat with a gray “blaze” marking down the top of her forehead, who loves to snuggle and take naps. And Brown is your typical brown-furred rat, and the most adventurous of the mischief, always spending her exercise time exploring the museum and bumping into people’s ankles.

Rats are nocturnal, which means they’re most active during the night, and prefer to spend their days sleeping – something you might have noticed if you’ve been to the museum and seen them all curled up in a sleepy pile. However, once they’re done with their morning exercise and back in their enclosure, sleep is far from their minds, because it’s time for breakfast!

Rats are omnivores, much like humans, meaning they eat meat and plants. In the wild, rats will eat just about anything – including agricultural crops and discarded human food. At the museum, we offer them a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, greens, and rat kibble, to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. But just because rats are omnivores, doesn’t mean they don’t have standards! Our rats have favorite foods just like we do: they love sweet potatoes and curly lettuce the most. Just like us, they also have a least favorite food, like squash – they’ll leave it completely untouched in their food bowl, even when everything else has been eaten!

Rats are very smart animals, and need enrichment to live happy lives in captivity. Enrichment is a term for anything that is provided to animals to keep them from getting bored – like interesting treats, puzzles, and new toys. At the museum, we have several strategies for changing up the rats’ routines to make sure there’s always something interesting going on. They get food treats, from peanuts hidden around their enclosure, to blocks of alfalfa hay, to cute little rat-sized “hamburgers” made of seeds and dried fruit. They also get new toys like wicker balls and salt licks regularly – and every so often they get new hammocks, tunnels or houses to cuddle up in. Every time they go back in their enclosure after their morning exercise, there might be something new and exciting waiting for them!

By the time the rats have had their exercise, gotten their home cleaned, and finished eating breakfast, it’s usually close to opening time. Once the museum is open again you can come in and see exactly how the rats spend the rest of their busy rodent day. And they’ll be just as excited to see you as you are to see them!

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Daily Discovery: Make your own Bee Buzzer!

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Education Lead.

Daily Discovery: Make your own Bee Buzzer!

BZZZZZZZZZ! The bees are coming! Make your very own bee buzzer and rock out with these amazing pollinators.

Supplies:

  • Popsicle Stick
  • Tape- any will do!
  • Scissor
  • Index Card
  • Eraser Heads
  • Rubber Band
  • About two feet of string
  • Stapler
  • Color Pencils or Markers

Instructions:

  1. Take the index card and cut it into a square.
  2. Break out the color pencils and draw a bee on the index card.
  3. Once you’ve drawn your sweet honey bee, go ahead a staple
    the card to the popsicle stick.
  4. Next, tie and tape the string to the stick.
  5. Place the eraser heads on each end of the stick.
  6. Lastly, stretch the rubber band over each eraser.
  7. Voilà you have created your very own bee buzzer.

Take a firm grip of the string at about half way. Start swinging
building up speed until you hear you bee abuzzing.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian.

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Daily Discovery: Over on the Farm Finger Puppets

Post written by Lea Mikkelsen, Early Childhood Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Over on the Farm Finger Puppets

Follow along with FCMoD’s live stream Storytime in the Home: Over on the Farm. Then grab your craft supplies and create some adorable farm finger puppets! Keep practicing your counting at home with the lovely flashcards featuring illustrations from the book.

Supplies:

  • Printed finger puppet activity sheet
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers
  • Glue (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Color the finger puppet activity sheet.
  2. Cut out the finger puppets.
  3. Cut a small slot to connect the paper ring that goes around your finger or use glue to close the ring.
  4. Have a farm animal finger puppet show! Tip: Try doing a video chat puppet show for your friends and family while you practice social distancing!
  5. Print out the additional coloring page and the farm animal flash cards to keep the discovery going!

Tip: Don’t have a printer? Try drawing and cutting out your own finger puppets from paper! Here is a tutorial!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Image Credit: Arty Crafty Kids

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Buell Foundation. Their support helps make access to early childhood education at FCMoD possible for everyone in our community.

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Animal Cams!

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Animal Cams!

Here at FCMoD, we love animals. And during times like this, we want to provide resources to our furry friends – both near and far!

  • Need a pick-me-up about now? The Atlanta Zoo has their PandaCam up for your daily does of cuteness.
  • Who doesn’t love animals? Hang out with jelly fish, beluga whales, and more through the live cams from the Georgia Aquarium.
  • With ten live cams to choose from, you can experience the wonder of the ocean no matter where you are. Thanks to the Monterey Aquarium.
  • The San Diego Zoo has live cams of Panda’s, Baboon’s, Penguins, and so many more animals! Hop on today to tell our furry friends hello!
  • Tune in to the Houston Zoo webcams and enjoy a live look at animals that call the Houston Zoo home!
  • Want to know what our black-footed ferrets are up to during the closure? Check it out via our Ferret Cam!
  • Iowa is showing off their fishy friends on their webcam!
  • Chattanooga introduces their Meerkats, Snow Leopards, Tamarins, and Spotted Genet daily!
  • Can you spot the fastest animal on the planet – a cheetah! Try on the live cam from the Pittsburgh Zoo.
  • A little closer to home – the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has live feed of their Giraffes.
  • Kansas City has everything from penguins, giraffes, and polar bears waiting to make and meet new friends online!
  • Can you spot the jellyfish on the live broadcast from the National Aquarium?

Even though the museum is closed, we want to continue to inspire creativity and encourage hands-on learning for all!

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