Local News

December 30, 2013

Children get up-close education on insects, amphibians, reptiles

OSKALOOSA — Due to a scheduling error at Blank Park Zoo Friday, children at the Scales and Tales Day Camp at the ISU Extension office learned about insects and insectivores as well as amphibians and reptiles.

Blank Park Zoo education specialist Audrey Sidey brought some insects as well as a hedgehog and salamander for children to look at and touch. Monica Post of Camp in a Can borrowed some reptiles from the Mahaska County Conservation Board for her part of the presentation.

The Mahaska County 4-H teamed up with ISU Extension to hold a two-day camp Thursday and Friday. The day camp was called “Camp in a Can: Scales and Tails.” Friday was the day children could see up close the animals they have been studying.

Sidey said Blank Park Zoo officials travel around the state to give presentations to schools, preschools and senior centers.

The first insect Sidey showed the children was a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

Sidey said she had a male cockroach, since you could see he had two bumps on his head that serve as horns.

The cockroach has an exoskeleton and holes in the exoskeleton allows the cockroach to blow air through them to make a hissing sound to scare off predators, she said.

“He is used to being held, so he is not scared,” she said.

The cockroach lives on the rainforest floor and feeds off dead plants on the ground.

“He’s like a garbage man,” she said. “He’s really important” to the rainforest.

Sidey’s next creature was a Chilean Rosehaired Tarantula.

“They live in the dessert,” she said. “They live underground for the most part.”

This tarantula weaves a web; however, instead of catching insects, the web is used to camouflage the entrance to the spider’s hole, Sidey said.

“She likes to eat insects,” Sidey said.

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