The People's Tribune

Louisiana Museum Hosts Program On State’s Warm-Blooded Animals

Two More Programs To Be Hosted At Museum

The Louisiana Area Historical Museum welcomed Missouri Department of Conservation agent Karen Armstrong, who is stationed at the Kirksville office and has been an educator with the department for over 18 years.

This is the fourth year she has been invited to present a program for the “kids of all ages” series at the Museum.

With over two dozen pelts from various Missouri mammals on display, she was able to demonstrate some of the unusual and common characteristics of each.

Being warm-blooded, giving birth to live young, and having fur are just a few of the common characteristics the Missouri mammals share. One useful tip she gave was that any animal or person sprayed by a skunk should use Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove the odor because it cuts the oils in the spray.

Armstrong explained about the opossum and how it has 50 teeth, more than any other mammal in the world. She also spoke about another nocturnal animal in Missouri – the raccoon.

The classification of canine mammals in Missouri includes coyotes, red foxes and gray foxes. In response to a question about wolves, she stated that wolves are no longer in Missouri because they need a large home range and that is not possible any longer as people spread out over the state. One surprising fact she shared is that gray foxes can “climb” a tree to get persimmons off the tree, whereas other animals wait until they fall on the ground.

Armstrong pointed out that Bob-tailed Bobcats have many of the same characteristics as our domestic house cats. They are often out at night looking for prey. Badgers use their long claws to dig for small animals to eat, so the structure of their snout is different from many other mammals.

Aquatic mammals in our area rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds are plentiful in winter as well as summer because they are able to adapt to the frigid temperatures. They add layers of fat to keep warm and also have oily skin and dense fur so that water repels easily. The river otter and minks prefer moving water and they eat crayfish and mussels, as well as other items found in the water.

Armstrong showed a huge pelt from a beaver that may have weighed up to 75 pounds. Beavers have two types of fur, an insulating, fine fur underneath a denser fur on the outside. One amazing fact about the beaver is that can hold its breath for 15 minutes under water in order to complete its construction with logs and trees. In addition to having a flap that closes off their nose and ears, they have a clear eyelid that serves as goggles while underwater.

The spotted skunk is a medium-sized, slender mammal with a small head, short legs, and a prominent, long-haired tail. It is also called a civet cat, but this name is misleading and incorrect because this mammal is not closely related to the true civets of the Old World or to cats.

Interesting discussions were also held about armadillos and bats (the only flying mammal) in Missouri.

This program was presented by the Louisiana Area Historical Museum free of charge. There are two more Wednesday afternoon programs, one on June 12 and one on June 19, each at 1 p.m. More information is available by contacting Board President Judy Schmidt at 754-5697.

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