Page 7 - Kind News magazine, November/December 2020
P. 7

                HUMANE HERO
        HOW DOES A SNAKE SENSE                                                CLUES

        THE WORLD?

                                                                           1  I can weigh up to 1,200 pounds
        In many ways a black-tailed rattlesnake is more sensitive             — as much as a car!
        to the world around her than we are. Step into her skin
        and see what it might be like...                                   2  I have a flap of skin, known as
           You are curled up on the ground next to a trail where a mouse has    a bell, that sways underneath
        walked recently. You have not moved in hours. You can smell that the   my throat.
        mouse was here days ago by flicking your tongue out and bringing   3  My hooves help me stay stable
        the smelly molecules from the air into your mouth. Two people         in the snow and marshy ground,
        approach. They are talking. You can’t hear them talking, but you can    acting as snowshoes!
     opposite page, redrover; this page, from top: life on white/bigstock; ruslankphoto/bigstock.
        feel the vibrations of their feet through the ground through special   4  Even though I am very big,
        sensors on your cool, dry scaly skin. You slowly move off the trail   I am a great swimmer and
        into the bushes, away from the feel of the vibrations. They pass by    can sometimes swim for
        you. Even though you can’t see them well because your vision is not    several miles.
        very good, you can tell their size exactly. You sense the heat from
        the two people through two pit organs on your snout, and they are   5  I am a herbivore, so I eat
        much bigger than you! How might you feel?                             tall grasses and shrubs in the
           Now see how much you can sense by going outside in nature!         summer and shrubs and
        Find a place you can sit and bring a notebook to write down your      pinecones in the winter.
        observations, or what you sense. First write or draw what you see.    6  Despite my size, I can run very
        Then close your eyes and sense what you can smell. Sense what you     fast: up to 35 miles per hour!
        can feel on your skin. Sense what you can hear. Open your eyes and   7  Although my eyesight isn’t very

        write down those observations. Now on one side of a piece of paper     good, I have a great sense of
        draw and label what you observed and on the other side of the          smell and hear very well.
        paper draw and label how you imagine the same scene would look
        and feel to a black-tailed rattlesnake.
                                                                            What am I?

        A black-tailed rattlesnake senses the world through smelling with her tongue,
        feeling vibrations through her skin and sensing heat through two pit organs
        in front of the eye, one on either side. If she senses something dangerous
        might be close, she uses her tail shaker muscles to rattle pieces of dead skin
        sections on her tail that she sheds several times a year. The fast vibration of
        the dried skin at 60 times a second creates the rattling sound when the snake
        feels threatened and warns people and predators to “Stay back!”

                      ANSWER:     LET MINNOW WHAT YOU THINK.                                  Nov/Dec 2020 | 7
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