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The Amazon Rainforest: Animal Facts and Photos

The Amazon Rainforest: Animal Facts and Photos

Written by KC Adams

amazonrainforest,pic

Despite the title, this book is not merely a list of facts, but a comprehensive view of the Amazon RainForest and the life within it. I knew that this rainforest was the largest on earth, but I did not realize that this rainforest receives a whopping 52% of the daily precipitation for South America containing 2/3 of the world’s fresh water supply and 20% of the world’s oxygen.

The animals inhabiting this world are diverse and bizarre. Most of us are familiar with tropical birds like the macaw and toucan and monkeys like the squirrel monkey and marmoset. Some of the unusual animals include the sloth who sleep fifteen to eighteen hours a day and the nocturnal maned wolf that is often called a red fox on stilts. Poison dart frogs can be as small as a paper clip, but their poison excreted through their skin is powerful enough to kill a human. Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents, who are friendly to humans. On the other hand, the piranhas living in the river eat their prey alive. Be on the lookout for the anaconda, the largest most powerful snake on earth. Living in the water, these hunters catch their prey with their fangs and drag them under water to drown it before they swallow it alive.

Animal selections are written well even if they are succinct. Pertinent information on diet, habitat and lifestyle is presented. Questions follow the descriptions for discussion. The photos are clear and appealing, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in learning about this intriguing region. Great choice for elementary and middle school students or homeschooling parents.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
Website: Little Miss HISTORY.com
Tel/Fax: (518) 325-5199

The History of Household Pets

Humans seem to have a need to bond with animal friends. In my own household, we have had experiences with a myriad of pets. Some of these are common choices like dogs, cats, and birds while others are a bit unusual like seahorses and hermit crabs. I thought it would be interesting to explore how the types of pets in households evolved over time.

Most Americans love their pets. Our first settlers came here with dogs, cats and farm animals. During the early days of our country, most pets were both farm workers and pets. They were often known as favorites. By the 18th century, the settlers had also begun to tame wild animals. Visitors to America were shocked to deer wearing fancy collars and kerchiefs walking the streets and even meandering through homes. Ironically, many Americans saw no problem in hunting the very same kinds of animals they kept as pets.

Squirrels on leashes followed their owners and sat placidly on their shoulders. If they were caught when very young, they were easy to tame. Squirrel nests were frequently robbed of their young babies which were sold in the city markets. Because squirrels gnawed wood, tin cages with metal bars were developed. The fact that squirrels liked to run led to cages with mills and waterwheels. Does this sound remarkably similar to pet hamster cages used today? Children particularly loved flying squirrels. The well-known painter, John Singleton Copley painted a portrait of his half-brother, Henry, playing with his pet squirrel in 1766.

Wild songbirds like cardinals and mockingbirds were frequently sold in the city markets for use as pets. Wealthy citizens could be observed playing organs and flutes while standing in front of caged wild birds trying to make them sing songs to classical music. Many owners believed songbirds could be taught to sing to a tune. If a song were played over and over, birds would imitate the music. Peter Kalm, a Swedish-Finish explorer of the 18th century writes in his accounts that turkeys, wild geese, pigeons, and partridges were often let free in the morning being so well tamed that they flew back home in the evening.

Kalm talks about other wild mammals as well. He says beavers were tamed to bring home their fishing catch to their owners. Some otters were observed to follow their masters. When the master went fishing in a boat, otters were seen jumping into the water and coming up with a fish for him. Kalm remarked that raccoons appeared domesticated, yet at night continued to kill poultry. Owners needed to carefully hide sugar and sweets from them. Kalm mentions a deer in New Jersey so tame that it runs into the woods for its own food, but at night brings wild deer home to its master providing him the opportunity to hunt deer at his doorstep! Indeed, the deer was a very common pet in the early to mid 18th century. A 1730 painting in the New York Historical Society depicts a young boy from Manhattan with a pet deer wearing a collar. In Virginia, the Revolutionary War hero, Dr. Benjamin Jones kept more than one hundred deer to amuse the family children and grandchildren. As time went on, Americans learned that as they become older, deer became troublesome. Increases in population and traffic particularly the invention of automobiles led to the elimination of deer as pets.

Today we are attached to more domesticated pets such as cats, dogs, and birds. It is hard to imagine the energy it must have taken to tame the wild mammals most of us now view as animals to hunt or nuisances in the 21st century.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….children’s book series http://LittleMissHISTORY.com