(Contenido disponible en Español está marcado abajo)
Did you know that June is Mud Month? That’s why we’re dedicating today’s email to mud and the critters you can find in it (including one special animal with “mud” in its name). Read on to explore with us.
What is a mudpuppy?
Mudpuppies are a type of salamander. They’re found in Canada and the eastern part of the U.S., including Illinois, where they live in bodies of freshwater. They typically measure between eight and 13 inches, and hey have external feathery gills on either side of their head. Meet our mudpuppy in this special Critter Connection.
Guiding Question: What do you know about salamanders? What type of habitat do they live in? What kind of animal are they? Amphibian? Reptile? Something else?
Although some animals don’t raise their young, mudpuppy mothers actively protect their young. They mate in late fall and the females lay their eggs the following spring. They usually lay 50-100 eggs in cavities or under rocks, and they hatch after a couple of months. The mothers protect their eggs until they hatch and will also guard the nest while the young hatch and emerge.
Guiding Question: Compare mudpuppy moms to other animal moms that we’ve talked about. How are they similar? How are they different?
Let’s explore soil types
(Disponible en español)
Different types of soil have a very different feel. Let’s explore some soils with a hands-on activity. Click here for instructions in both English and Spanish.
When you think of mud, do you also think of worms? When it rains, we often see worms on top of the ground. The rest of the time they’re hidden beneath the surface. Worms eat bits of plants they find on grains of dirt and eat them whole. Their castings (or waste) can actually be a great fertilizer.
Teaching Tip: Want to explore worms up close with your young scientist? Click here to learn how to make your own wormery!
Make a puddle investigation
(Disponible en español)
The next time you spot a muddy puddle, do a puddle investigation with your young scientist. Click here to download the activity instructions in both English and Spanish.
Webinar Highlight: Composting with Worms
Composting is an excellent way to turn your food scraps into soil nutrients for your plants and garden. Kassandra Hinrichsen from Plant Chicago joined us to discuss how to begin composting with worms at home. Click here to check out the recording.
Behind the Scenes
Here’s a look at animal caretaker Ashley cleaning Patsy’s tank. It’s a dirty (and wet) job, but someone’s got to do it!