Thursday, September 8
My name is Michaela Daniel, and I am a Seasonal Keeper here at Zoo Atlanta. You will find me, much like the amazing animals that I help care for, at Scaly Slimy Spectacular. One of the coolest things about this new building is that we give you a glimpse of varying animal habitats. I love seeing the wonder on your face as you come face-to-face with an alligator snapping turtle in the Georgia Extremes habitat or watching our giant Aldabra tortoises stroll across their yard.
However, at some point in your trip through this building, you will encounter an animal that remains motionless. Imagine that! You’ve come all the way to the Zoo to see these creatures and they have the audacity to sit still. Well, rather than dismissing them as dull, take a minute to think about the potential science behind their stillness. Take a good look around the habitat and note what you find. What type of animal is present in the habitat and what benefits would that animal have in remaining still?
I will use our mission golden-eyed frogs and Solomon Island leaf frogs as examples. Many times, you may walk past these frogs and find them in the same innocuous position within their habitats; the mission golden-eyed frogs will sit in the branches, and the Solomon Island leaf frogs will squat on the ground. They are not just utilizing their incredible camouflage to avoid predators. Thanks to its semi-permeable skin, the specific position in which the frog sits helps to determine the amount of water that the animal is retaining or absorbing from the surrounding environment. When you see a frog sitting with its legs tucked close to itself, that is the frog’s way of reducing the amount of water that is released into the environment. When a frog is stretched out with its belly touching the moist ground, the frog is increasing the amount of water into its body by absorbing it directly from the ground.
This is only a small example out of the numerous animals that reside at Scaly Slimy Spectacular. I hope that, as you wander past our habitats and see our animals, you will find a certain fascination not only when they are in motion but also in their stillness.
Seasonal Keeper, Herpetology