North America is home to an extremely diverse range of animals, some of which are both prey and predator alike. When we picture a predator, usually what comes to mind is an enormous, intimidating creature with razor sharp teeth and claws, snarling and snapping viciously. However, did you know that the small, cute ladybug is a predator? Similarly, when we picture prey, we usually think of a small, timid animal bounding away to hide under a rock. As huge and regal as they are, it’s easy to forget that the American Bison fits into the prey category as well. Clearly not all is as it seems! We’ve researched and compiled a list of our favorite fascinating facts about some of the animals in the North American food chain.
American Bison: These creatures primarily eat grasses, weeds, and leafy plants, typically spending 9-11 hours a day foraging. The large protruding shoulder hump comes in handy in the winter, allowing them to swing their head from side to side, clearing the snow away to create a foraging patch.
Housefly: Houseflies don’t let their short lifespan (14 days) get in the way of making music! They always hum in the key of F.
Mantis: Closely related to termites and cockroaches, praying mantis have been known to stalk and kill hummingbirds!
Octopus: Our feathered friends aren’t the only ones with beaks – octopuses do too! They need these strong beaks to break open the hard shells of the prey they eat.
Wolverine: These animals have an incredible sense of smell. If an animal is hiding under the snow, a wolverine can smell it from 10-20 feet down. While we consider this a fun fact, I doubt the prey harbors the same sentiment!
Burrowing Owl: This owl was so named because it lives underground in burrows that have already been dug by small animals like ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
Nine-Banded Armadillo: The world’s most widespread armadillo can be found in North, Central, and South America. When startled, they can execute a five-foot vertical leap, thanks to the tension and flexibility of the armored “scutes” along its back.
Opossum: This scary-yet-adorable dumpster diver has the ability to neutralize any kind of poison, even those he’s never encountered! Opossums can do this because their bodies produce a protein called lethal toxin-neutralizing factor. So be nice to this little guy when you see him, perhaps his species will do great things for humankind someday!
Blue Whale: Yes, we know they’re enormous. But to put their size in perspective a bit, did you know that their tongue alone can weigh as much as an adult elephant? That is one massive creature!
These are just a few of our favorite fascinating facts that we’ve found. With an estimated 432 species of mammals, more than 800 species of birds, more than 100,000 known insect species, 311 known reptiles, 295 amphibians, and 1154 known fish species in the continental United States alone, there is so much more to discover! Don’t forget to check out our collection of nature books for more information about the incredible flora and fauna that can be found in North America.