Wondrous Wildlife
By Vern and Lori Gieger
Mythbusters 101

     True or false. How creature savvy are you?
     1. Bats are blind.
     2. All bats carry rabies
     3. The Gila Monster has no anus, and its digestive waste is secreted via its mouth, which is what makes the Gila Monster poisonous.
     4. Milk Snakes are known to suck milk from cows.
     5. Venomous snakes are easy to identify because they have triangular heads.
     6. Some species of snakes can reach more than 50 feet in length.
     7. “Daddy long legs” are one of the most poisonous spiders, but fortunately cannot bite humans.
     8. Once a wild baby is left alone, the parents will not come back for it.
     9. Wild animals will reject their young if humans have touched them.
     10. Wolves will attack and kill humans.
     11. The decapitated head of a rattlesnake can still bite.
     12. Owls can turn their head all the way around.
     13. A porcupine can throw their quills.

     So how did you do?
     1. Bats have excellent vision.
     2. All warm-blooded mammals have the potential to carry rabies; however, less than 1% of bats actually have rabies.
     3. Umm. Yes, they do have an anus. Their venom is a nerve toxin, but poses no threat to humans.
     4. Milk snakes do not drink milk or any other liquid. Can you imagine a cow allowing a Milk Snake to clamp its teeth on one of her teats?
     5. Many snakes have a triangular-looking head. Including non-venomous snakes. This is not a good way to determine between venomous and non-venomous.
     6. Although there are documented cases of pythons exceeding 20 feet in length, rarely does a snake exceed 30 feet; the last one documented was killed in 1912 in Indonesia. Measuring 32 feet and nine inches, it is in the Guinness book of records as the world’s longest snake. The New York Zoological Society offers a reward of $50,000 to any person who can find a snake longer than 30 feet.
     7. These arachnids eat decomposing vegetative and animal matter. They are not a ‘true spider’, do not have venom, venom glands or fangs, so obviously they are not venomous.
     8. Not true, a parent may temporarily leave its baby unattended for a variety of reasons.
     9. False, especially with birds as they have a poor sense of smell.
     10. You stand a better chance of being hit by a meteorite than killed by a wolf. There is no documented case of a healthy, wild wolf killing a human in North America. By comparison, more than 20 people are killed and three million attacked each year by man’s best friend, the domestic dog.
     11. Hopefully you never get that close, but yes, the head of a rattler has been known to bite as much as an hour after it was completely severed from the body.
     12. Owls can rotate their heads three quarters of the way around. They cannot move their eyes from side to side; but have extremely flexible necks and can move their heads quickly giving the illusion of a complete turn.
     13. Nope, they cannot throw their quills, but they will swat you with their tail.
     * 10 to 13 Correct, Excellent! Pretty savvy! * 9 to 5 not bad, but there is room for improvement. * Less than 5, maybe you should watch “Animal Planet.”