At Sierra Outdoor School, we are always observing the natural world around us. Unique animal sightings make for exciting moments. Here are the most remarkable creatures spotted by naturalists and students at Sierra Outdoor School in the year of 2013.
Sierra Nevada Ensatina
During hunts for decomposers, several groups of students have found the Sierra Nevada Ensatina, a type of salamander. As amphibians, salamanders are cold blooded and their body temperatures depend upon the outdoor air temperature. This explains why they can often be seen basking on rocks in the sun. When it gets too cold, they take shelter underground where it is warmer and some even hibernate. Some of these critters are special in that they breathe through their skin and can regenerate their tails.
The elusive and legendary Northern Flying Squirrel was spotted around the gym at SOS by several naturalists. Contrary to the name, these creatures do not actually fly but glide. They use a flap of skin, or paragrim, on their sides to help them coast from tree to tree. Flying Squirrels can be found throughout North America, east of North Carolina and all the way out to California. They enjoy eating mushrooms and help the spread the spores of the mushrooms they eat.
Students and teachers from Fauncher Creek were thrilled to find a Jerusalem Cricket on the blacktop one evening in November. Go figure, this creature just so happens to be nocturnal. Full grown Jerusalem Crickets can be as big as two inches. When threatened, these bugs may emit a strong odor and inflict a painful bite. The origin of the name ’Jerusalem Cricket’ is highly debated. However, the nickname ‘Potato Bug’ comes from the story that this creature could eat an entire potato for one meal.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more impressive creatures out there. Comment below to share your findings!
- Kim "Cedar" Pedersen