Put yourself in the place of a harmless snake. You’re just lying in the grass, minding your own business, when suddenly a great big foot comes crashing down right next to your head. You take off through the grass like greased lightning. In the distance someone screams, “Snake!” Which one should be more afraid, the human or the snake?
A snake is simply a long, thin animal. It does not have arms or legs. It crawls along the ground on its belly.
Snakes are reptiles. Like all reptiles, snakes are cold-blooded. They can’t control their own body temperature, and so they have to lie in the sun to get warm and in the shade to get cool.
“If you want to live and thrive, let a spider run alive!” That is an old English saying that means not killing spiders will bring you good luck. There is also a myth that killing a spider will bring bad weather.
Letting a spider live won’t bring you good luck or good weather. But scientists say there is no good reason to kill a spider. Most spiders will not harm you. They rarely bite. Only 30 of the 40,000 species (kinds) of spiders cause illness when they bite people. The black widow and the brown recluse are two spiders that have painful or deadly bites.
Turtles were crawling and swimming around when gigantic dinosaurs walked Earth. The first turtles lived about 185 million years ago. The dinosaurs died out, but turtles lived on. Many kinds of turtles still thrive today.
Tortoises are a kind of turtle that lives all its life on land. Other turtles live at least part of the time in water.
WHY DO TURTLES HAVE SHELLS?
A turtle is the only reptile with a shell. The shell is made of a bony or a leathery material. A shell is like a suit of armor. Most turtles can protect themselves by pulling their heads, necks, and legs into the shell.
They can move silently through the forest. They can kill a huge wild boar with a single bite. Their roar sends shivers down your spine. They are perhaps the perfect killing machines. They are tigers.
TIGERS ARE HUGE CATS
Tigers are members of the cat family. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and house cats are also members of the cat family. Tigers are the largest cats, and the only cats with stripes. They live in large forests in southern and southeastern Asia.
What is the biggest animal on Earth? Hint: It’s not an animal that lives on land. It’s the blue whale. Blue whales can grow to be 80 feet (24 meters) long and weigh 150 metric tons. The heart of a blue whale is as large as a small car!
WHALES ARE NOT FISH
The body of a blue whale looks a lot like the body of a fish. All whales look like fish, but whales are not fish. Whales are mammals that live in water.
There are many differences between fish and whales. Whales are much bigger than fish. Fish stay underwater all the time and breathe through gills that take oxygen out of water. Whales breathe through lungs just as you do, so they must come up for air. Fish are cold-blooded, which means their body is the same temperature as the water around them. Whales are warm-blooded (like humans), and so their bodies always stay warm. Fish lay eggs. Whales, like almost all mammals, give birth to live young and feed their babies on mother’s milk.