Wetlands provide important habitat for wildlife.
In wetlands you will find amphibians, reptiles, many kinds of birds and mammals. Wetlands provide nesting areas for insects, fish and endangered species.
Amphibians like to get wet, but they don’t have to be in the water all the time. Many amphibians can sort of “breathe” through their skin. Can you think of an animal that is an amphibian? Click here for an example. For a list of amphibians that are found in DuPage County, click here.
Reptiles are animals that have dry, rough, scaly skin. They are cold-blooded animals that do not regulate their body temperature internally; their body temperature is the same as the environment around them. That is why you often see reptiles that live in a wetland “sun bathing” on a rock or log; they bask in the sun to raise their body temperature. Reptiles include animals such as snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles and alligators. To find out what reptiles live in DuPage County, click here.
Birds love wetlands! Song birds, wading birds, swimming and diving birds, and raptors can all be seen in or near wetlands. The diversities of habitat and food sources make wetlands kind of like a “downtown” for feathered critters. Click here if you want to learn more about birds.
Mammals found in wetlands are some of the only ones with webbed feet (surprise!). Thick luxurious coats of fur keep them warm (and dry), but also make them prime targets for two-legged predators. What mammal can create it’s own wetland to live in? Give up?
- Sometimes frogs roll over and play dead when you handle them.
- Butterflies can know that something is good to eat just by walking on it, because they can taste with their feet!
- Touching toads cannot give you warts. Toads have wart-like bumps all over them, but the bumps on a toad are really glands under its skin. When frightened, a toad may urinate. Then it may give off a milky, bad-tasting poisonous chemical from its skin. Yuck!
- Beavers are super swimmers. A beaver can swim half a mile underwater without coming up for air.
- Beavers never stop growing. The biggest beaver ever found weighed over 66 lbs., which is pretty big for a mouse’s cousin.
- 10,000 years ago some kinds of beavers grew to be real giants. They were the size of grizzly bears.
- Some female shrimp can lay more than 500,000 eggs in less than 5 minutes.
- Some kinds of mints grow in marshes. Indians used these mint medicinally. For example, some Indians fed their children a special mint tea to get rid of worms.
- During World War I cattail down (the fuzzy brown fluff) was used to make artificial silk.
- Indians used cattails in many ways. For example, they used the flowers to make soups, breads, and puddings and they used the pollen to make breads. They also roasted and ate the seeds.
- Early settlers called cranberry plants “crane berries” because they thought the pale pink blossoms looked like the head and neck of a crane. Later, the “crane berry” got shortened to “cranberry”.
- The Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant that grows in bogs. This plant has sensitive trigger hairs on the inside of each leaf. If an insect brushes against at least two hairs the leaf closes up trapping the insect. Then the plant gradually digests the insect’s soft parts leaving the hard parts uneaten.
- The dragonfly is sometimes called the “Mosquito Hawk,” because it catches food by creating a basket from its six legs and scooping up its prey while flying.
- Did you know a Brown Pelican’s pouch can hold two or more gallons of water?