6 Feb 2009

Spiny anteaters!

You can imagine how delighted we were to discover that Barb - Harmony Art Mom had scheduled a study on mammals based on the animals in The Burgess Animal Book for Children right when the book was scheduled for Jemimah's AO2 Natural History.

The nine week unit covers such mammals as rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, prairiedogs and marmots - not the most common mammals in our bushland, I must say, though, thanks to Mr Austin, we do have our fair share of rabbits...

Through Barb's Outdoor Hour Challenges, we've learned much more about the mammals that we're reading about in our school book. We've seen videos of squirrels' fantastic physical skills - and tested their memories, we've watched groundhogs and marmots, and laughed at their antics.

Jemimah's narrations on the animals that Barb has featured have been wonderful - much better than the narrations based on the books alone...too much information on too many unknown animals too close together. Not that we're not enjoying Burgess' book and getting a lot out of it - he's a gifted author, and it's a delighful book full of amazing animals that we'll probably never see but are sure to read about...someday; its just that with Barb's study we're enjoying it even more.

This week in Burgess were introduced to the peevish Prickly Porky. Yep, you've guessed it...Prickly is a porcupine. Now, in our garden a visitor named 'Prickly' wouldn't be a porcupine - he'd be an echidna. We see lots of those...they're even nicknamed "Porkies"!

We've seen hedgehogs too - Jemimah's Grandad lives in Wales and he has hedgehogs in his beautiful garden. A porcupine, on the other hand...they live merely in the pages of books, don't they?

Which of course begged the question:

What's the difference between a porcupine, a hedgehog and an echidna?

We don't follow too many rabbit trails in our homeschool (pun intended!), but we needed to follow this one!!

Here's what we found:


Relatives: Belong to the order Monotremata, of which there is one other member: the platypus. These monotremes are the only egg laying mammals.
Home: The long-beaked echidna is found in the humid mountain forests of Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya. The short-beaked echidna is more widely dispersed and can be found throughout Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea.
Eats: Use their sticky tongues to slurp up ants, termites, worms, and insect larvae.
Spines: Not barbed, different lengths & thickness. Fixed to skin. Spines can be moved individually. Can roll up but prefer to dig down to present spiny back. Extremely strong.
Head: Birdlike beak - part of skeletal structure, with tough hairless skin covering. Uses tongue to pick up food.
Feet: Quadruped, hind feet point outward and are rotated backwards.
Young: Called puggles

You can see them 'digging in' to hide from danger in this clip!


Relatives: Belong to Order Rodentia. Relations are guinea pigs, chinchillas and rats.
Home: North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Eats: Bark, roots, tubers, bulbs, seeds, leaves, sometimes insects.
Spines: Quills are hollow and barbed. Sit loosely on skin and detach and stick into intruders who come too close.
Head: Chewing teeth. Small button-like noses.
Feet: Quadruped, hind feet point forwards.
Young: Called porcupets


Relatives: Belong to Order Insectivora (insect eaters). Related to moles, shrews and tenrecs.
Home: Close relatives found in Europe, Africa, Philippines, Sumatra, Egypt, & Gobi desert to N China. Introduced to New Zealand.
Eats: Frogs, snakes, lizards, young birds, mice, insects.
Spines: Short spines. Not barbed. Fixed to skin. Roll into ball.
Head: Tiny sharp teeth, huge appetites. Small button-like noses.
Feet: Quadruped, hind feet point forwards.
Young: Called hoglets

We had great fun learning about these 'spiny anteaters'!

I hope you enjoy it too!!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great entry! I love all the info on the three animals together. I am finding it is a lot of fun to compare the different kinds of mammals as we work our way through the book as well.

    Don't you love YouTube? I can usually find something appropriate for each mammal....although I left off the rat videos for obvious reasons. I am going to be including a bat video even though it gives me the creeps. :) I also found a link to a page about bats in Australia so stay tuned for that challenge coming up.

    Thanks again for spreading the word.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom


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