where living things live. Plants, animals and humans choose habitats
for many reasons, depending upon their particular needs. A cave habitat
is different from a hilltop glade habitat. Forests provide different
habitats than meadows, stream banks or farmer's fields. Humans have
changed and provided habitats for many kinds of plants and animals.
Building a small dam for a water mill or a large one like Norfork Dam
creates new habitats for fish. Building a road changes the habitats
of forest creatures. Building towns and cities changes the habitats
of plants and animals and even people who lived there before.
The Meaning of Habitats
by Jeff Viets, Dora Fifth Grade
A habitat is an environment or a place where an animal,
plant or person lives and how they survive in that area. For example,
a fox will kill its prey, bury it and eat it later. That's how a fox
manipulates its habitat and survives. Here are some more examples:
live in lakes and streams close to wooded areas. They are best known
for cutting down trees to build dams, creating a pool deep enough to
protect the underwater entrance to their house, which is built of sticks
in the middle of the pool.
Beavers can live up to 20 years. They eat mostly leaves,
twigs and tender tree bark.They are well adapted to living in water,
having webbed hind feet, a flat tail shaped like a paddle, and flaps
on their nostrils that can close when they are swimming underwater.
They can fell tall trees with their chisel-like teeth.
There are 36 different species of weasel. The common, longtailed weasel
is the one that lives in the Ozarks. It lives in a den made from a hollow
place in rock piles, under tree stumps, and in abandoned rodent burrows.
It eats earthworms, insects, frogs, lizards, rabbits, shrews, birds
A squirrel is a black-eyed, furry-tailed rodent with round ears.They
have lots of energy and use their long, bushy tails to for balance.
The most common squirrel in the Bryant Creek watershed is the gray tree
squirrel. They make nests high in the trees in hollowed out nests in
the tree or in a nest made of leaves on a sturdy branch. Their favorite
foods are nuts and seeds, but they will also eat corn, fruit, and mushrooms.
A skunk is a small furry animal that is mostly black with a white stripe
down the center of its back. When scared or in danger it will spray
a foul-smelling liquid. The odor will remain for days on whatever it
touches. Before it sprays it gives a warning by stamping its front feet
or hissing or growling. Skunks can live up to seven years, living in
underground dens and foraging for food, which consists mostly of small
rodents and certain insects. The skunk is found all over Missouri.
A river otter has a long, slender body and lives in burrows hollowed
out of riverbanks. It eats fish, insects, birds and small mammals. It
can live up to 25 years. It has few enemies, but man is one. It is the
largest member of the Mustelidae family, which includes the mink, skunk
Raccoons are night animals with a bushy tail ringed in black and a black
mask around their eyes. They live in hollow logs, stumps and trees and
can live up to five years. They eat frogs, crayfish and other freshwater
creatures, including fish. They have long sharp claws and always wash
their food before they eat it, so they tend to stay within reach of
fresh water. Raccoons were hunted for their fur by Native Americans
and European settlers.
A rabbit called a wild cottontail has long ears and thick brown fur,
except for its tail, which is white underneath. Its eyes are on the
sides of its head and it has strong back legs, both of which it uses
to elude capture. Rabbits are prey for many predators, including man.
It is a vegetarian and eats grasses, barks and twigs. It can live up
to five years or more, making its nest in grassy areas on the ground,
in thickets or under brushpiles.
The opossum is one of the few animals with a pouch for carrying its
young, making it a marsupial. The opossum can also hang from a branch
by its long, hairless tail. They live in nests under stumps or brushpiles.
An opossum will faint or fall into shock when surprised by a predator,
which is why when someone pretends to be asleep, we say they are "playing
'possum." Their lifespan is about three years.
Its flattened vertical tail and thick, coarse hair makes the muskrat
well adapted for aquatic life. They are found in fresh or salt water
marshes, lakes and the edges of streams and ponds. They eat stems of
cattails, mussels, grasses, clams, frogs and fish. They are found near
water from Bryant Creek to the Missouri, and they are prey for the coyote,
mink, raccoon, hawk, owl and alligator.
Foxes have keen hearing and an excellent sense of smell, along with
a bushy tail and large, pointed ears. They live in many kinds of surroundings
and can make their home underground, in a cave, among rocks, in a hollow
log, or sometimes in hollows in trees. They can live up to 14 years
and are a very efficient predator, hunting small animals or preying
on a farmer's chickens.
There are 53 different deer species in the world. The whitetail deer
is the one found in the Bryant watershed. It is swift, running at speeds
up top 40 miles per hour, and is a good swimmer. It lives in a wide
range of habitats and travels far in search of forage, mostly at dawn
and dusk, and holes up during the day, napping in secluded meadows.
If you're out hiking and come upon a trampled grassy area in brushy
thickets, you have likely found a "deer bed."
The mink is a small member of the weasel family, and has a bushy tail
and very fine, soft fur. They can be found by lakes, woodland streams
and marshes. A swift predator, it eats crayfish, frogs and fish, and