I have learned a lot about horses in the past two years. But there is one ability that continues to amaze me: the agility of the horse’s tongue.
Above is a friend of mine, Simby. He has Cushing’s disease, which is treated with a small pill, Prascend.
I give the same medicine to my mare in a handful of pellets. She eats her pill, eagerly. I figure the tasty morsels hide the pill of similar size, and it readily eaten and swallowed.
So, when my friend asked me to give Simby his pill while she was traveling, I agreed. After all, I’d just give him his pill in a handful of pellets, right? My friend warned me he would spit it out, but how could he with such a big tongue pick out a small pill from among all those pellets?
Well, big tongue aside, Simby had the dexterity to pick out the little pink pill from the midst of the pellets and spit it out! He didn’t waste any pellets, either.
Their tongues do have twelve different muscles, and the top has protuberances called papillae to provide traction. This is important in moving food into the mouth and, apparently, in removing unwanted pills!
Every day is an adventure with horses.
Book Note: Kids on summer break? Why not give the gift of a fun adventure tale that weaves the science of the animals, plants and ecosystems into the story? Making science education fun is my goal as a retired-scientist-now-author, because science sticks when it’s fun.
Every seventeen years, the Brood X Cicadas emerge from the ground in the northeast US. They climb and fly, singing their mating call, mate and produce the next generation. With over a million per acre, there are a lot of big, very noisy insects out there.
Something different this year is the number of recipes being offered for cooking and eating these large insect morsels. After all, as part of the effort to conserve our planet, we are being encouraged to eat other more sustainable protein sources. And these insects are high in protein and low in fat.
A few years ago, at a Reptile Show, one of the vendors offered roasted grasshoppers and crickets for consumption. If you were willing to taste one, you’d get an entry into a drawing for some nice prizes. I am a curious eater, so I ate one of each. I discovered that the roasted insects were delicious, reminding me of pistachio nuts! Most of the insects were still available at the end of the event, so I was rewarded with a full serving. Oh, and I did win the drawing for the grand prize.
Consequently, I was interested in the various articles about preparing and enjoying the plentiful cicadas: Recipes for eating them raw, roasted, boiled, grilled, and even smoked. There are instructions for making spicy popcorn cicadas from the Washington Post, cheese grits and blackened cicadas from Bon Appetit, on a nice asparagus salad or a cicada-nymph spring salad from the Brooklynbugssite. You can have them on a pizza, in tacos, or with chili guacamole from the AMNH. For dessert, you can have chocolate -covered cicadas or in a rhubarb pie. Yum!
Newly hatched cicadas, called tenerals, are preferred because the shells haven’t hardened. Storage is easy: use them immediately, refrigerate or freeze them. Choose the method that’s best for your recipe. If the only cicadas you can find have hardened, females are best, because they’re filled with fat–males are hollow. Remove the wings and legs, if you’re using the adults. Unless you like the crunch, they’re not very flavorful.
I was curious to try this unfamiliar food item when the FDA squashed my desire. The cicada flavor is apparently reminiscent of crab and I shouldn’t eat crab. You see, I’m allergic to shellfish and the FDA warns people not to eat cicadas because they are related to shrimp and lobsters! Oh, great, another food I’m allergic to!
Crustaceans are responsible for life-threatening allergies in many people. Insects and crustaceans are arthropods and share many proteins that might be the cause of the allergic reactions. In addition, chitin, a complex carbohydrate involved in the body structure of arthropods, has been implicated in allergies.
Those of you who can, enjoy those cicadas! Please share your experiences with those of us who can’t in a Comment field.
Book Note from Curtis Curly-tail Lizard: Hi, friends, it’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! I’ve been busy over at my YouTube channelwhere all kinds of stuff is happening! But I thought I’d butt in here. Elaine, as wonderful as she is, hasn’t written any books about insects yet, but because she knows how much they mean to me, she includes them in my stories. If you love island life, you’ll love my tales! Summer is here and kids love to read fun books. Pick up a Curtis Curly-tail tale today! My adventures are irresistibly fun science books! Who makes science fun? Elaine A. Powers, that’s who! (Though I, yes, I, Curtis Curly-tail lizard, inspired her writing career! In other words, where would she be without me? You can read the true story here.)
My latest adventure was a doozy! Check it out here:
P.S.–Boy, do those big bugs get my saliva going! Elaine, please prepare and ship me some Cicada salads ASAP, to: Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, the Most Famous Lizard Ever My Perfect Den Warderick Wells Island The Exumas The Bahamas
Hello, my fine reptile friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! I’ve been curled up in my den on Warderick Wells a lot lately, but I HAD to peek out because this Wednesday is March 17th, when we all wear green—for Green Iguana Day! Some of my best friends like Ezra above are Green Iguanas and I love to celebrate this day with them.Check out Green Iguana Day in the video starring . . . ME, of course!
And maybe you can watch some of the other videos at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, where I introduce my reptile friends. You’ll likely learn something fun about other animals that you didn’t know. That’s my job, and I’m stickin’ to it!
Don’t forget to wear green on Wednesday, March 17th!
Book Note: My friend, Allison Andros Iguana is not a green iguana (she has a lovely red head and a black body), but she is very brave! You can learn about the flora and fauna of the Exuma Islands when you come along on our adventure in the latest book in my series: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away. Elaine A. Powers writes about how the animals of the islands survive hurricanes, and she weaves this into a tale of friendship and courage that is available at Amazon.com. Elaine loves to make science education fun.
Welcome to Tales and Tails. I am Curtis Curly-tail, the very special lizard who launched Elaine’s career as the author of science-based children’s books–and now, she’s expanding to include science books for adults! Elaine has asked me to share my point of view and I’m very happy to have a place to write about what it’s like to be a lizard. I may even interview a few of my other reptile friends and tell their stories, too. Stay tuned!
But for now, Elaine has asked me to tell how her first book came to be–and, yes, it is all because of ME! Here is the true story:
When your tail is perfectly curled, you are asked to pose for a lot of pictures. But I, Curtis Curly-tail, wanted MORE—I wanted adventure, communication, friendship . . . STARDOM!
I needed a very special human, one who could see AND hear
me. And there she finally was! Sitting on the beach, near my den! I scampered
over to her and her friends. Out came the cameras. I posed for a few typical
shots—turning this way and that, sunlight glinting off my scales, showing off
my perfectly-curled tail to my best advantage.
They were smitten! I climbed onto my new friend’s sneaker and looked up at her. Using a mind-meld technique (for over two hours, I might add) I was able to send her one of my adventures! And she “got” it!
I didn’t go back with her to the ship—I’d been there and done that—but I knew when she got back to her cabin, being a writer, that she would have to sit and type up my story.
Several months later, a mother and child sat near my den on a blanket, under an umbrella. She was reading a children’s book to her young child. It was my story! There I was on the cover of the book, entitled Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers.
I jumped for joy! My dream had come true! I would be famous! Curly-tails would make way for me when I cruised the beach. I would finally find my mate! My photos would be enlarged to poster-sized and hang in children’s bedrooms. Maybe they would rename Warderick Wells Cay after me!
~ “Excuse me. Curtis?” Elaine butted into my fantasies. “Elaine! This is my part of the blog!” ~ “I know, but you were getting carried away. You actually are pretty famous, but they will never rename the cay after you. Isn’t having your own You Tube channel pretty spectacular?” “It is!” ~ “And isn’t being a lizard that dictates his thoughts to a human who can hear him pretty awesome?” “Yes, Elaine.” ~ “Okay, then, my little friend, let’s wrap this up.” “I will. You can go now.” ~ “I sure can.”
Humans are so bossy! Oops, sorry. I didn’t mean every human.
Welcome to Tales and Tails, where we focus on reptiles, fun and adventure—oh, and science books, too. Of course!
It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! How is everybody out there? I hope you are staying strong and well.
Are you familiar with collective nouns? I knew they existed. They’re the words that describe a specific group of animals, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. Lizards like me are found in a lounge, i.e., a lounge of lizards (like in the photo above). Other reptiles have fun collective nouns, too. Alligators are found in a congregation, while crocodiles collect in a bask. Cobras form a quiver, while rattlesnakes, a rhumba! That’s one of my favorites. One I have a hard time understanding, though, is an army of frogs. Where did that come from? How threatening would an army of frogs be? (Although, from a reptile point of view, it does sound a bit slimy.)
Mammals have some interesting collective nouns, like a leap of leopards, a horde of hamsters, or a sneak of weasels. That one made me laugh. Then, I learned a collective noun I had never heard of: Fluffle. What is a fluffle a group of, you may ask? I certainly did. A fluffle is a group of wild rabbits. A fluffle of wild rabbits. Can’t you just imagine a group of fluffy, jumping rabbits? I thought this was the perfect collective noun.
Well, it’s time for me to return to my lounge and pose for some pictures on the beach. I just love showing off my perfectly curled tail!
Until next time, take care and please, check out the Curtis Curly-tail seriesof books, especially my latest adventure when I was caught in a hurricane: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! I think you’re gonna love them. After all, the stories are about my adventures, andElaine A. Powers, my friend and the author, sneaks science into them. She always says, “Science is fun! Let’s show them!”
I say, “Sure! As long as it’s about me!” She just shakes her head and smiles.
The show must go on! And that reminds me, please come on over and watch me in my starring role on my YouTube page. Lots of fun and interesting things there to learn about really cool (literally) reptiles.
Hello, my friends! It’s been a while! I’m just getting back home after the hurricane on Beach Cay. Phew! THAT was an adventure! If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is now available at Amazon.com. But I’m back, and my friend, Elaine Powers, author, asked me to tell you how to find a lizard. I’d be happy to!
Some of my lizard cousins live “in captivity” with humans. This living situation has advantages and disadvantages. A caring person will provide hiding spots for young lizards, so they feel comfortable. We lizards retain all our survival instincts in captivity and like to hide from possible predators. And, young lizards are so very tasty. (I hear the seagulls talking about this on my beach. Shudder.)
There is one problem with good hiding places, however. On occasion, it becomes hard for the human to locate their reptilian family member.
The photo above is what Twizzler, a Spiny-tail iguana’s, human saw when looking for the young iguana. Is that a lizard body part? she thought. Or just another piece of the plastic rock formation?
Okay, yes, it was a body part. When she looked behind the rock, she saw identifiable parts of Twizzler, his snout and tail.
And what is the part of Twizzler’s body seen in front of this rock? His human claims Twizzler’s knee is in the picture. I’m a lizard and I can’t see it! Can you? Please make a note for me in the comments, if so. I’d love to know where it is. Thank you for your help.
I do have a clue if you ever need to find a lizard: Remember to look for the tail. We lizards often forget to pull in our tails. Of course, Twizzler could have felt comfortable enough to leave his tail out. After all, there are no predators in his enclosure, and he knows that now.
Now, back to me! Here is my latest adventure story. I just love being the star of Warderick Wells and having my friends see me on You Tube!
Until next time, you all take care out there. Be good to each other–life is short.
Hi, friends! It’s me—Curtis Curly-tail! Did you miss me? (Come on over and see me at my YouTube page.) I missed you, too!
Did you know there is more than one English? I was wondering about Elaine a few times when she didn’t understand something I said–I am from the Bahamas, a member of the British Commonwealth–but I’ve recently learned because of a blog post Elaine wrote that her English is actually different from my English. There’s a US English and a British English! Some of our words are even spelled differently. Elaine said in the post she will continue to write in US English, at least for now. (We will see about that.)
Elaine got me wondering about the other differences in the two Englishes. Brits and Americans also use different terms for the same objects. (That explains her confusion.) Some British words, like “boot” for the trunk of a car, make good sense. However, some involve animal terms and are a lot more fun.
What they call a ladybird in Great Britain, you call a ladybug in the US. A metal clip with long serrated jaws often attached to an electric cable is called an “alligator clip” in the US—but we call it a “crocodile clip” in the British Commonwealth. Did you just choose a similar reptile to be different? Personally, I’m glad both the gators and crocs have a metal clip named after them. Go, reptiles! I’m thinking someone should name something after Curly-tail lizards, too! Of course, it’s got to be curly. And the first one should obviously be a “Curtis.”
Another fun name in Great Britain is the term for crosswalks. Those stripes on the road where pedestrians walk across are called “zebra crossings!” Do real zebras cross there? I might have to take a trip to find out. Then Elaine could write another Curtis Curly-tail adventure: Curtis Curly-tail and the Crossing Zebra! I’m not sure how I’d get there by boat, but she will figure it out.
(Right, Elaine? Right? Okay, okay. The fourth book in the series just came out. You’re probably waiting for inspiration. But aren’t I always inspiring??)
That’s right, my compadres–the next book in the Curtis Curly-tail seriesjust came out. That’s four now–ALL ABOUT ME! What can I say? When you’re a star, you’re a star! I hope you’ll go over and grab a copy ofCurtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! by Elaine A. Powers. (I mean, you’ve GOT to find out if I make it back home after a hurricane that blows me away. Just pretend like you didn’t see this post until after you read it. It’s really good–lots of weather and environmental science woven into the story. Kids don’t even notice–they just learn the science. And that, my friends, is how Elaine rolls. I just love that!
Did you know that people sometimes call lizards toads? Toads—which are amphibians, by the way, not reptiles like us lizards. Even this lizard’s scientific name refers to toads! Phrynosoma means “toad-bodied”–all because they have flat, round bodies and blunt snouts. The correct common name for these interesting lizards is Horned Lizard—not horny toad!
The Horned Lizard doesn’t move around much, allowing its camouflage to help protect it from predators. The spines on the Horned Lizard’s back are modified scales, but they still make the lizard hard to swallow, especially when it puffs up. Roadrunners have learned to swallow the lizard with the spines facing away from them, so they don’t puncture their innards. That is an interesting fact from the rhyming and fun science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!, by Elaine A. Powers.
The horns on the lizard, however, are true horns, since they have a bony core. The lizard in the above photo is a Regal Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma solare. It gets its common name from the row of horns on its head. Regal Horned Lizards eat harvester ants, lots of harvester ants, over two thousand per meal. And they eat during the incredibly hot days in the desert!
Along with camouflage, spines, and running, Horned Lizards can also squirt blood from their eyes. (Ewwww, right?)The bad-tasting blood hits the predator’s mouth, discouraging it from eating the lizard. Now, that’s one trait I wouldn’t mind having. “Come on down, seagull! Open wide!”
So, dear readers, when you see any of these wonderful, interesting lizards, please don’t call them horny toads! Remember they are the amazing Horned LIZARDS–reptiles. Just like me, of course!
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.
It’s not only animals that need protecting during hurricane season; people are also in danger. In this story, as in real life, people come together to help not only each other, but animals and the environment, as well. Along with the destruction caused by hurricanes, Elaine also discusses the positive effects in the book. (Yes, there are benefits from hurricanes. I’ll bet you didn’t know that!)
Hello, everyone! I’m Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and every year, all of us in The Bahamas worry about hurricane season. I wrote here before about Hurricane Dorian, which hit the northern part of my country, causing a lot of damage. Of course, this the time of the year, weather is newsworthy in many places–like all the terrible fires now burning in California. For my friend, Elaine, in Arizona, it’s the monsoon season. It amazes me that Elaine hopes for monsoon rains, while we Warderick Wellians hope the hurricanes will avoid us!
June 1 marked the official hurricane season start in the Atlantic Ocean, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, weather doesn’t always abide by the calendar, as Elaine has mentioned about Southern Arizona’s 2020 monsoon season. It never started. Everything is very dry there and the heat has been rather extreme. Elaine’s prickly pear cactus plants are drying up. It’s pretty bad when cactus dry up.
In the Sonoran Desert, the air rises upward due to the hot temperatures warming the ground. This creates a vacuum that can pull in moisture-containing winds from the west, including air from Baja California in the Pacific. Monsoon rains are powerful and can cause flash floods, lightning strikes can ignite fires, and winds can knock down trees and poles. They also create microbursts, which are like tiny tornadoes. But, after the heat of May and June, the refreshing rains allow the cacti to rehydrate, wildflowers to bloom, ocotillo to produce leaves. Animals, from insects to mammals, increase their activity. It is normally a time of fun and frolicking. The water is much needed by the plants and animals in the desert and much missed this year. Elaine and her friends are all still hoping the rains will come.
I hope you’ll stop by and visit me at my YouTube channel, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. And I’m very excited to tell you that a new book will be added to the Curtis Curly-tail collection very soon. It’s about my experiences with the yiggies on Beach Cay. What’s a yiggie? You’ll soon find out in Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! I’m so excited and I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes on sale!
I hope you’re enjoying the summer weather, wherever you are. Take care of yourselves and each other out there! I sure am on Warderick Wells!
“Hello to all! I’m Curtis Curly-tail and I am here to tell you about my latest YouTube video, which focuses on Roadrunners in Southern Arizona. Did you know when these large birds leave tracks behind, you can’t tell what direction they came from or where they went? I wish I could do that! And roadrunners are really, really fast. That makes me a little afraid of them, too. They do love their lizard snacks!
We lizards are pretty fast, ourselves. So far, so good.
But I’ll bet you didn’t know that reptiles enjoy the zucchini AND the flowers. That’s a hint for those of you who have too many fruit on your plants—just pick the flowers off the plants and feed them to your favorite plant-enjoying reptile, like tortoises and iguanas. I’ve even heard that humans also enjoy the flowers.
Zucchini don’t seem to grow near my home on Warderick Wells in the Bahamas, but I hope to someday enjoy zucchini flowers and the fruit, too! In fact, if you’re headed my way, you don’t need to worry about the date to sneak some zucchini into my den!
Speaking of my den, I don’t seem to spend a lot of time there. I hope you’ll come along on one of my crazy adventures! (I just can’t seem to help myself . . .) You’ll learn about ecology and conservation in fictional stories by Elaine A. Powers. She’s pretty awesome—who would’ve thought you could make science fun with rhymes and adventure stories? Why, me and Elaine, of course!
Here I am for your educational needs AND pleasure:
I’ve heard from many people staying at home now that lots of people want to write a book and writing creatively is a good use of time. I would even say it is a perfect use of time when the stories are about me–or even other reptiles, once in a while.
People often ask me for advice about publishing the stories they’ve written. After all, I’ve had several books written about me—I even inspired the first one! So, I do have some advice for potential book publishers.
My first suggestion is to have other people read your story. It’s impossible to proofread your own book. To make proper edits—to find gaps in the plot or missing dialog responses, or you might have a weak setting—you must have other eyes on your words. But be careful about who you choose to read your story. I could have Clive read anything I wrote, but he’s a friend and he would tell me it’s wonderful, whether it was or not. He might even think it’s wonderful just because I wrote it.
If you want to write, you start by putting words on a page, by typing, or handwriting, or using a dictation app, whatever suits your style. As you know, every journey begins with a single step. Writing starts with the writing of a single word. Don’t even worry about whether or not the writing is good. Just get the words out. You’ll be going back and editing when the chapter/section/story is done—again and again, after you have received critical, honest, and sometimes even brutal feedback from others. It does take a village to write a good book worth reading.
If you want to read books written about me, check out the Curtis Curly-tail Series. Elaine A. Powers, who wrote them because she loves making science books fun to read (inspired by my perfection, of course!) had many people read and help edit these books. You can read their names in the acknowledgments at the back of the books, as proof. (Actually, she’s the one who taught me about beta readers, but I’m sure she learned it from a writing expert and now I’m passing it on to you!)
So, write those words down and don’t worry about perfection—no one ever finds it the first few times through. And ask for beta readers and for honest feedback. You’ll be surprised by how much better a writer you’ll become.
It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know me as the perfect curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas, who inspired Elaine A. Powers to write her very first children’s science book (fun science adventure tale, that is) called, most appropriately, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. Who knew Elaine would go on to write 25children’s science books? Not me! But there was a need to make learning science fun and she grabbed the moment and ran with it. I am so proud of her!
Then she asked me to write for her blog and star on her YouTube channel, as well. What could I say? Who doesn’t want to be famous? I do have a bit of the star-strut going on at the beach near my home on Warderick Wells. And the girl curly-tail lizards–well, they get giddy and giggly when they see me. Someone’s gotta be that guy and it may as well be me.
After I started Elaine on her career as an author, I sent her out visiting schools and organizational meetings, teaching about us wonderful reptiles. She brought iguanas, tortoises and turtles and they were always a smashing hit! However, with the virus pandemic, Elaine hasn’t been able to take her scaled friends out and all of them are really bummed. Especially, Blue, the rock iguana. (The big guy is pictured with Elaine below.) He loved the attention he got and misses the people he was meeting. Now, schools are closed and Elaine and her reptile family are all stuck at home.
Animals have many ways of communicating, and humans don’t communicate like we do. You must use electronic technology over distances. I think that’s a decent alternative. I myself am very familiar with photography, posing for all the tourists as I do on the beach. This new electronic technology allows for “live” images–you can see each other in real time! Much more amazing than a photo, unless the photo is of me, of course! And, you can hear your voices, too. It’s called video conferencing, and a group, a crowd (that’s a collective noun) of humans, can communicate simultaneously. Very impressive.
Once I learned about video conferencing, I told Elaine, “You have to do this! You can’t meet with them in person now, but you can talk to them online. You can teach about the reptiles and show the iguanas and tortoises to classrooms or during meetings.”
She said, “But the people won’t be able to touch the reptiles. And Blue loved that!”
“I know. So far, I can’t figure that one out. But this isn’t going to last forever. Someday, you’ll be out and about again. In the meantime, people need to know all about us reptiles. We love it when people learn about and understand us. Come on, Elaine–say yes! You are needed! And Blue can ham it up for the camera.”
“Well, I guess we could give it a try.”
“That’s the spirit! It’ll be fun, just like your books!”
We must all adapt these days. And, don’t forget about us very interesting reptiles! Contact Elaine through her website, www.elaineapowers.com today! Or at www.lyricpower.net, to schedule an online get-together with Elaine and Blue and Myrtle and Calliope and Rango and Cantata and Chile and Turquoise and–well, you get the picture! Or, you will!
After the exciting session from the Powers home, stop by and see me at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks on YouTube. You can learn a lot about reptiles from me, too. That’s my job and I’m stickin’ to it!
Hello, everyone! I’m Curtis Curly-tail. You may know me as the perfect Curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas with an itch for adventure. OR, perhaps you’ve seen me starring at my very own YouTube page, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. Well, of course, I do! I am perfect, as they say!
Every morning I start the day by basking in the sun to warm up my body. I am a Sun Worshipper, after all. It’s warm on my cay but nor overly hot. I love to pose for visitors, and I’ve heard them say that I look my best when the sun is glinting off my shiny scales. I turn this way and that so they get their best shots. When I’m not riding Horace the Hutia, that is! YEE-HAW!
However, some of my friends who live in the Sonoran Desert don’t worship the sun. I agree with them that there’s a bit too much sun when it gets to be 110 degrees, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that my tortoise friends all run out into the rain when a storm starts.
Sonoran Desert Tortoises, like Zoe, pictured above, prefer to drink from the puddles that form when it rains. That ensures the water is fresh. Zoe carries all her water around in her bladder so it’s important to keep her reserve filled. The scarcity of water in the desert is why you should never pick up a desert tortoise. If she empties her bladder to scare you off, a popular defense mechanism for reptiles, she will lose the water that keeps her alive.
I like helping my human friends prepare the meals for my reptilian companions. This morning I was collecting pads from the prickly pear cactus for the desert tortoises. I only harvest the young pads due to my size. Locally the pad is called a nopal. People also eat them.
The problem is, prickly pear cactus have spines, really big spines. That’s why they’re called prickly. But my human friends are smart like me and many planted the “spineless” prickly pear, Opuntia stricta. Cactus spines are very sharp and difficult to remove because they have hooks to keep them in the skin. They also come in different sizes. You may avoid the obvious, big spines but then be impaled by smaller ones.
Since I was asked to collect young pads from the spineless prickly pear cactus, I wasn’t worried about injuries. Using my perfect hands, I snapped off a pad – and they do snap off easily. But, when I snapped off the second one, I realized I had pain in my perfect little fingers. I looked down to see tiny spines stuck between my scales.
Why did I have spines from a spineless prickly pear cactus in my fingers? Well, they have fewer spines than the regular prickly pears, but they aren’t really totally, perfectly spineless. I kept going, though, adding more spines to my collection until I had enough pads for their tortoise meals.
The tortoises enjoyed their meal, while I spent the rest of the day picking out spineless prickly pear cactus spines and contemplating these not-totally-spineless cactus plants. So, here it is—Be careful out there among the cacti!
Stop by and say hi at my YouTube Page. And check out the fun books my good friend, Elaine, a human, has written about tortoises and turtles!
Howdy, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know how I LOVE to bask in the sun? Well, I’ve recently learned that some of my friends go underground when it gets cold—to stay warm!
My human friend, Elaine, wrote here at Tales & Tails that round-tailed ground squirrels spend the winter underground to stay warm. Yes, it gets cold in Southern Arizona during the winter, unlike the warm tropical weather of the Exumas, where I live. But ground squirrels don’t actually hibernate like some other mammals do—they go into a state of torpor.
Both the state of torpor and hibernation are means for mammals to survive cold temperatures, conserving energy due to low food availability. Hibernation and torpor both involve lowering body temperatures and breathing, heart, and metabolic rates. What’s the difference between them? It’s all in the planning. Animals that hibernate plan for it. They store fat in advance and stay in the quiet state for as long as possible. When the warm temperatures finally arrive, the animals take a while to wake-up, using up a lot of their energy reserves.
Torpor happens involuntarily and only lasts for short periods. It’s like a deep sleep. Waking up takes less time and involves violent shaking from muscle contractions. I call that shivering.
As scientists have learned more about hibernation, the definition has changed. Animals once believed to be hibernating were in fact in the state of torpor. Today, the term hibernation includes true hibernators and those asleep in torpor.
Here’s a fellow desert-dweller of Elaine’s, that hibernates during the cold winters.
Another interesting state is aestivation, which is an entirely different topic, in my estimation. Do you like my word play? Aestivation and estimation? I think Elaine should explain what aestivation is and use my rhyme in one of her books—with credit, of course!
For information about a desert dweller that goes into torpor–not hibernation–the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake–check out the 46-page workbook and activity sheets at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. It’s educational, but it’s full of fun activities. Elaine always says, “Learning should be fun! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”
Or, a perennial favorite is the rhyming, thrillingly illustrated Don’t Make Me Rattle! People fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why they should be respected, not exterminated.
Today, I wanted to ask you if you knew that Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana, come in different colors? And, if they come in different colors, how do you tell if a lizard is a green iguana?
You look for the subtympanic scale. “What is that?” you ask. Well, I don’t have one, so I had to look it up myself. The subtympanic scale is that large scale on the side of the green iguana’s head. Sub means below and tympanic means ear. So, it’s the big scale below the ear. I have a friend who calls that scale the “jewel.” She always admires the beautiful coloring in the iguana jewels.
Here are some of my green iguana friends, in very different colors. As you can see, they are not just green–but they are all still called “green.” Even the green green iguanas come in different shades of green. It can be confusing, if you ask me.
The native range of the green iguana is southern Mexico to central Brazil and several Caribbean islands. If you don’t live in those areas, why should you know how to identify a green iguana? Because they’re very popular as pets in people’s homes and they have been introduced to many other places in the world, where they don’t belong and can be causing harm. That means they’re “invasive.”
If you enjoy learning while coloring and doing activities, I encourage you to be creative. To learn more in fun ways about iguanas, please see our 30-page workbook full of activity sheets about iguanas, My Unit Study on Iguanas. Remember that the green iguanas you color, don’t have to be green!
Hello to all my friends out there! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and each other in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to the day when my human friends don’t have to worry anymore about the virus called Covid-19! (If I could, I would banish it right now!) Until this passes, please take good care out there.
I love having made so many friends through my sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, and today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise. She’s a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. (I just love that in a tortoise!)
I don’t want to tell Zoe she’ll never be the star I am, of course, but take a look at my You Tube channelon your small screen at this beauty in her habitat and learn about what it takes to be a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert.
One day, my friend Rango, a Rhino Iguana, and I, a perfect curly-tail lizard, were discussing over Zoom our favorite basking spots. I prefer a nice piece of karst, myself. I like a spot where I can put my front feet up a bit, angle my back to the sun and soak in the rays.
But Rango the Dragon, as I call all iguanas—can you blame me?— lives in a house, not on an island like I do. Oh, she has a lovely place to bask under a suspended heat lamp or in a sunbeam through the window or door. She even has a servant who brings her meals while she basks. I guess there are advantages to living in a house. I have to find my own food and make sure I don’t become a snack for a seagull where I live!
I learned Rango likes to bask at an upward angle, too. Her substrate is flat tile, though, not bumpy karst. So, what does she do? She finds something else to perch on–a comfortable height and something hard that can hold her weight.
The other family members include tortoises of various sizes. Rango has selected the smaller tortoises as her desired perches. I don’t know how the tortoises feel about being used for this purpose, but they don’t wander off.
I admire Rango for her creativity, but I do hope she thanks the tortoises, especially Myrtle, who is a very famous tortoise. She has her own book, for Pete’s sake! That’s it below, a rhyming book favorite of the wee ones! (Human wee ones, that is.)
Thanks for stopping by at Elaine’s author website. Hope you’ll look around. See ya next time!
Hello, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! I’m visiting my friend and author of fun science books, Elaine A. Powers. She’s working with Brad Peterson, who is, among other things, a talented graphic artist and animator. He had the idea to educate about reptiles by showing them eating.
Of course, I agreed to help with the videography. (I know—I know what you’re thinking. I love to be in the spotlight, and I do. But, I’m also very curious and I enjoy learning about everything, so I volunteered to be on the filming team.)
As you will see on my YouTube channel Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, many of the family members cooperated. However, some were shy about being filmed while eating, while others were just plain hostile to the idea.
Turquoise, above, a hybrid green iguana, would not let me film her eating. In fact, she continued to glare at me until I left. And, no matter how I tried to sneak up on her, she wasn’t fooled. That is one alert dragon—I mean, iguana,of course!
Speaking of iguanas, they are awfully large, aren’t they? But quite fascinating. Did you know they don’t have vocal cords and make no sounds?
To learn more about them, check out “My Unit Study on Iguanas,” a 30-page workbook filled with fun and educational activity sheets.
Hello, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail, at your service! Well, actually, I’m here today for my friend, Trevor. He asked me to share his rant with you.
Trevor is a Box Turtle. He recently posted a selfie at the beginning of a literacy school event on social media. Numerous comments were added about what an attractive tortoise he was. Tortoise!
Trevor isn’t a tortoise–he’s a turtle! He was incensed, upset, incredulous, even! He obviously has red eyes. Don’t people know that all tortoises have black eyes?
And, Trevor says, he’d sure like to see ANY tortoise try his trick below! Only turtles with lightweight shells and webbed feet can climb screen doors!
Trevor has stomped his little feet (with turtle-webbing between his toes) and insisted that Elaine Powers, his caretaker and author of fun science books, write a book entitled Don’t Call Me Tortoise! Elaine wrote Don’t Call Me Turtle! for Trevor’s roommate, Myrtle the Red-foot tortoise, because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle, driving her nuts!
I have to back Trevor on this one. Personally, I think Elaine should’ve written Trevor’s book long ago. Am I going to have to push Trevor onto her foot, so he can transmit the turtle-poem to her, like I transmitted my story?
Nah! She’s got this! Right, Elaine? Right?
Below is the fun, rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, that tells about the many differences between turtles and tortoises. Geez, the little ones love that book! (Learning with fun rhymes helps with keeping busy.)
P.S. — It’s only right for all the Trevor’s in the world that Don’t Call Me Tortoise! is on its way, too.
And, because a lot of kids are unexpectedly home from school, check out the fun turtle and tortoise activity sheets and workbooks at Lyric Power Publishing!
My friend Trevor Box Turtle is a true ambassador for turtles. He enjoys meeting both children and adults, and they love seeing a turtle that can fold up into a box. But Trevor is so friendly that when asked to close into a box, he doesn’t like to fold the hinge in his plastron to demonstrate how it works. He always wants to be out, taking part in the action. He usually will fold up half of himself, but soon his head is back out, taking everything around him in.
Sometimes, Trevor gets paid for his visit. No, not with money–what would a turtle do with money? Trevor takes his payment in snails! Back when he lived in New Jersey, Trevor’s favorite food was the slugs he found outside. He would croak happily as his face became covered in slime.
When he moved to Arizona, he didn’t have a source for slugs. It’s just too dry in the Sonoran Desert. Instead some people grow snails inside their homes. These are the people who generously share their snails for Trevor. So, the next time you wonder what to give your Box Turtle as a present, think snails!
My friend Elaine lives in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona in the US, while I live on Warderick Wells Cay in the Bahamas. Even though we’re over two thousand miles apart, we share a family of birds. I like to have an occasional adventure and when I was visiting the Leon Levy Preserve on Eleuthera recently, I saw a magnificent bird, the Great-Lizard Cuckoo, in a tree. PHEW! I usually see these birds on the ground running. When you’re a lizard, seeing a running cuckoo can be terrifying! They eat lizards, you know.
Watching the cuckoo run, I realized I had seen something
similar in a video my friend Elaine sent me. In the Sonoran Desert and many other
places, there’s a bird that runs just like my Great-Lizard Cuckoo. That’s because the Roadrunner is a member of
the Cuckoo family.
Cuckoos are found on all the continents except Antarctica and they’re all magnificent. I’m so glad my friend and I can both enjoy these wonderful birds. If you want to learn more about Elaine’s Roadrunner, check out her book Don’t Make Me Fly! It’s all about the roadrunner and it’s lots of fun because it’s written in rhyme.
Living on a Caribbean island beach is wonderful (except for dive-bombing seagulls looking for a snack) but some days I do get bored. I love watching people come ashore from their boats, but when they leave, I wonder where the boat is going. Where do those tourists come from? Do they have an island, too?
One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out for myself. I crept into a sneaker on the beach and traveled with its owner to the big city, delighting in the many sights and sounds a small cay doesn’t have.
Eventually, though, I wanted to go home. It didn’t take me long to realize that getting onto a tourist boat from my beach was much easier than catching a ride home would be. How would I find a boat going to Warderick Wells Cay and get on it? And I had no idea how I would cross the water between the boat and my beach again. I had acted without thinking–but I also knew I had to try to find my way home.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s me, Curtis! Welcome to my first “Tails” post!
Today, I’m telling you the story of Myrtle, a Red-foot TORTOISE who lives with Elaine. When Myrtle grew tired of everyone calling her Myrtle the Turtle, one day she asked Elaine to write a book about the differences between tortoises and turtles. Of course, Elaine said yes. (She and Myrtle are best buds. Elaine is pictured below reading Myrtle’s book to Myrtle.)
Well, what do you know? It turned out not just tortoises love the science book–kids do, too. Don’t Call Me Turtle! has fans across America, just like the children’s book I asked Elaine to write!
Don’t Call Me Turtle is written in rhyme and I gotta tell you, the five and under age group LOVE the rhymes, which tell the differences between the two hard shells:
“My tortoise shell is heavy; it takes strength to walk on the ground. But a turtle’s shell is lightweight, perfect for swimming around.”
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