Sunday 12 August 2018

Ecology Class with a difference 3rd class - Reptiles

The 3rd Ecology class with the Pitchandikulum Forest Consultants took place at a restored urban wetland.  After attending a lecture on reptiles, the children were asked to break into groups. Each group was tasked with finding snake skins which had been previously hidden by the educators.

Kids found skins of a common vine snake, cobra, vipers and rat snake. Each skin was hidden where a snake might typically shed it - under rocks, under a tree etc. 

Then the children learned how to identify the different snakes by counting the scales on the body.  This was painstaking work, but no child hesitated. Each one handled the skin and counted.  Kids have been told to refer to the field guide "Snakes of India" to better understand the different kinds of snakes.

Here is a write up by a 6th grader, S. Shameer who writes about all she learned:
August 2nd 2018.

On this date we learned about reptiles. There are many animals that can be classified in this family. Most of them are lizard, crocodiles, turtles and the coolest of all snakes. Now I think you got the clue about what we learned that day. First lets talk about-

We might think about lizards like yuck and disgusting but they are pretty cool. So of them don’t have eyelids.

Did you know the world’s largest reptile, the Komodo Dragon, is classified in the lizard family? And it is kind of dangerous. And you might think that you are live away from them. Aha! No you don’t! You live with geckos. Yes those yellow green animals GO in the lizard family but actually called Geckos. Yup, you might have been a roommate with them.

And do you know how they are just stick to that wall? Well they have thin small hair which can only bee see by microscope, they create static between the wall and their legs. When they see a predator, they fool it by leaving its tail behind. Yup, but their tail grows back. they will become prey sometimes so their population is always under control that way. And they also keep the mosquito population under control too.

Read and Reflect
1.    What are the 4 groups of animals that can go into the reptile family?
2.    What large reptile is classified as a lizard?
3.    True or false?
Some lizards do not have eyelids            TRUE or FALSE

Crocodiles, the difference between a crocodile and an alligator is that an alligator has a U shaped mouth and a crocodile has  a V shaped mouth. Also the alligator’s upper jaws are visible when they close their mouth but a crocodile’s jaws, all of them are visible when they close it’s mouth. So with that it can’t really bite.

So imagine you are walking and you are really tired. You want water and you see a pond near by and you go near it. Slowly you are drinking water and then……………..BAMM!!!!!! Now you are in the water getting rolled. The pressure feels like a lorry on your finger. And soon enough the crocodile breaks the body into pieces, which it gulps it down, with the bones!

This is actually what the crocodile does it is an ambush predator, a predator that waits for it s prey patiently inn the water by only sticking it’s eyes and head out of the water. The strongest bite, it doesn’t really have teeth so it can’t really bite  so it does the dead roll, thats when you feel the pressure. Lorry on your finger. And eventually it breaks your body into pieces. Which it gulps it down with the bones.

How do the bones get digested? Because crocodiles eat rocks before eating anything on purpose. And when they eat bones they easily get digested by hitting the rocks in the stomach. Imagine how heavy it would be.

Now, when a crocodile lay eggs, it does it like a turtle by digging a hole in the sand and helps them come out or when there is no sand around, it lyas eggs in the leaf litter. And when they hatch the babies can’t come out by themselves, the mother has to come and dig the leaf litter but when the mother is away? And the babies hatch? Well because their clicking sound. Which can be heard 1km away. So the mom comes and takes to the water and they learn to swim. I rate them 3/5 as parents because after the babies become 1 year, they are all by themselves.

All reptiles need three common things to live. Water and food which they already have. But the 3rd thing is SUNLIGHT. So they bask in the sun. it’s like their solar power. They absorb it on their skin, on their back. But what happens if they get too hot they just open their mouth and let the heat come out.

Crocodiles have some thing called scuts on their body which act like scales on their body. Also helps absorbs sunlight. The also have an 3 eyelids, one of them helps them underwater.

Read and Reflect:

1.    What is an alligator’s mouth shaped like?

2.    What is the name of the roll crocodiles do?

3.    How does the mom know when the babies hatched?

4.    True or False?

Crocodiles have the strongest bite TRUE or FALSE

Bonus: What is cute” about crocodile?

Turtles and tortoises:

Now I think yoou all know they have shells. There are 3 types of turtles mainly in India, those are the one that lives in freshwater, the other that lives in salt water. And the other one is tortoise (not a turtle).

The one we will talk about is the one that lives in salt water. It is the Olive Ridley Turtle. I t gets it’s name from it’s shell. It is green and shaped like an olive.

 Did you know, there is on in Orissa where 1-2 lakh turtles come to the sea and lay eggs. And they lay eggs between 100-200 eggs.

 When they lay eggs, they dig a hole and go to the water so it won’t stay with the babies who hatch after 45 days. So I rate it as 1/5 as a mom because as soon as it lay eggs, it goes to the wate. It can’t stay out for a long time. Now, after the babies hatch, it’s like a race for them mtoo go to the sea because other predators are waiting for them to eat. Eagles,, Birds………etc.
As soon as the male turtle go in the water they don’t come out because they don’t need to. Guess Why? Here is a clue: why do the females come out to do that the males don’t need to?

Also turtles are useful because they eat rotten fruits fallen in jungle if they live near a pond. So they help clean the forest.

Read And Reflect,

1.        Why is a specific turtle called Olive Ridley Turtle?
2.      In how many days do turtles hatch?
3.      How many eggs do they lay?
4.      How would you rate turtles as parents?


Yuck!? Is that what you are thinking? Not me, they are actually pretty coool. Did you know snakes and reptiles shed their skin. Not like all at the same time but one by one, when the wholes skin comes out it’s all together. It has everything. Like it shapes in it. The print of it’s scales and eyes too. The process is called Ecdysis. EC- dy-SIS. And when herpetologists (who study reptiles) find a snake shed, they record where they found it. The shape, the size and then they take this data to figure out which snake it is. But mostly by the scales. There are different scales on its body. They go in three groups of the body of the snake. Ventrant, dormant and cordal a.k.a back, front and on tail. You count the scales on each of those places, and there are special techniques to count them. After that, you look in a special book which has the number of scales you counted. If the book matches all the number of scales you counted, then, it is that snake.

 The dormant scales, because they are the scales that touch the ground, they create friction between the ground the snake’s body and that will cause the snake to slither easily.

Read And Reflect,
1.What is the process of shedding skin called?
2A: Cordal sclaes mean scales on the back  TRUE or FALSE
2B: Ventrant scales mean scales on the front  TRUE or FALSE
2C: Dormant scales mean scales in back.  TRUE or FALSE

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