It’s Winter time here in the UK and the temperature outside has been close to freezing for several days. We’ve had a flurry of snow, a little ice and plenty of frosty mornings. Sometimes, the water in the bird bath is frozen, so I melt it with warm water from the tap and leave out some bread and fruit for the birds to eat if they visit our garden.
My 7-year-old has noticed the birds plumping themselves up as they sit in the bushes and hop around the bird-table. “Why do they make themselves look fat?” she wondered. Let’s find out…!
Hedgehogs are small mammals that live in hedgerows, grasslands, woodlands and meadows. They are found in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa and can live for about 7 years.
Hedgehogs can be easily recognised because of the spiky prickles (called ‘spines’) they have all over their backs and the grunting, snuffling noises they make. They look cute but you shouldn’t try to pick one up because it might feel frightened and try to prickle you with its spines.
But my daughters want to know why hedgehogs are prickly and whether they are prickly when they are born?
Moths, like the one in the photo above, are insects with scaly wings. If you disturb one, you might see what looks like dust falling from its wings but the ‘dust’ will actually be some of the tiny scales dropping off. Like butterflies, they have two pairs of wings and long, rolled-up tongues (probosces) but, unlike butterflies, moths tend to have thick, hairy bodies and their antenna may be feathery and don’t have a ball-shaped ‘club’ at the end.
Many types of moth are ‘nocturnal’, which means that they are active at night but sleep during the day. You might have seen moths in the evening-time when it starts to get dark because they can be attracted to the lights in our houses when they are fluttering about. So, why do moths like the night-time? And if they like light, why don’t they just come out during the day?
Our pet cat likes to dip his paw into his water bowl before he drinks. I think he does this to check that there is actually some water in his bowl and to see how deep it is. But lots of cats don’t like water and my 7-year-old wants to know why.
Ladybirds (or ladybugs) are a kind of beetle that can often be found in fields, hedges and gardens during the warmer months of the year. Ladybirds can be red, orange or yellow and they have small black spots on their wing covers. There are lots of different species of ladybirds but the most common type found in Britain is the seven-spotted ladybird, which has red wing covers with seven black spots.
Many gardeners are pleased to see ladybirds because they eat aphids (tiny green insects that munch on plants). But you might have heard about the arrival of a new species – the harlequin ladybird – which is causing a spot of bother. So, let’s find out more about why the harlequins are seen as trouble-makers…
Birds of a feather flock together, as the saying goes. The word ‘flock’ decribes a group of birds feeding, resting or travelling together. But why do birds hang out and travel long distances in groups instead of doing it on their own?
Our cat, Fishfingers, goes outside several times a day so that he can wee and poo in the garden. When we first got him, we put a litter tray (a plastic tray filled with bits of clay or sawdust that he could use as a toilet) inside the house, just in case he needed to use it. My 6-year-old noticed that if Fishfingers did use the litter tray, he would then spend ages afterwards trying to cover up his wee/poo with the clay or sawdust.
But why does Fishfingers try to cover up his wee/poo? Let’s find out about cat behaviour to work out the answer: