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Who is Stalking Whom? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

photo Western Diamondback Rattler in Sonoran Desert

During the worst of the summer heat in the Sonoran Desert, I ride my horse in the mornings around the stables. I enjoy trail rides through the brush, around the washes. In some areas, trails have been worn in the sand by a multitude of hooves. This becomes important later.
In the evening, Button and I take a walk and she has an opportunity to roll in the sand. Lots of nice sand in the area. It was a hot evening with a lovely breeze, so we walked some the trails through the thickets. I’m always looking around for dangers, real and horse-imagined. We were almost back to the arena, when I decided to ‘power walk’ back. Button was in the rut and I was walking on the trail’s edge. I looked up, then with a sudden start saw two white stripes move on the ground in front of me. A Western Diamondback Rattlesnake was nestled in some dead branches alongside the trail. The reptilian gentleman was looking at the large mammal about to step on him.
Realizing my mistake, I threw myself forward over him and in front of Button. She, fortunately, didn’t step on me or panic at the presence of the rattler. Button went into the arena for her roll and I went back to get a photo. The rattler posed nicely, slowing his amazing rattles, so that I could count all 12 of them. We each went on our own way.
The next morning, the snake wasn’t in the same place, but had moved over to a yucca in the path between the two arenas. Several riders were afraid to pass him, but Button and I strolled by, wishing him a good morning.
The third day, I couldn’t find my new snake friend anywhere. I hoped he had moved to good hunting rounds.
The fourth day was Button’s day off from being ridden. We were taking a quick morning walk so we could both stretch our legs because we wouldn’t have our usual exercise. The plan was the cross the wash, circle around the bush on the other side, then back up to her stall. We plowed through the deep sand, reached the bush, heard the rattle (the first time we’d heard his rattle), said a hasty good morning, circled wide and headed back down the wash in the other direction. I hate it when I hear bushes rattle.
I mentioned these encounters and one person suggested that the rattler was stalking me. Actually, it could be said that I, and Button, were stalking the rattlesnake! He was quietly minding his own business and the two of us came into his area, invading his personal space. It’s all in the point of view. Sadly, I haven’t seen this magnificent fellow again.
If you’d like to learn more about rattlesnakes, I recommend Don’t Make Me Rattle, in which I show all the reasons we should respect these beautiful reptiles, rather than be afraid of them. They do so much for us and many people haven’t a clue. Grab a copy today and then pass it on so that others can learn all about them, too, including how to avoid contact on the trail.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle
There’s Much More to Me
Than You Know!
I Am Shy and My
Rattle is Only a Warning:
Please, Stay Away!
For All Ages
Reading Level 6+
Bold and Vibrant Illustrations
by Nicholas Thorpe
Written in Rhyme
40 pages
COMPLETE BOOK DESCRIPTION HERE
Learn all about the rattlesnake’s place in our ecosystem. Learn why we should respect them, not fear them.
See why they flick their tongues, learn why they are called pit vipers, the purpose of the venom, and much, much more in this in-depth look at rattlesnakes.
A Review of Don’t Make Me Rattle! By Helene Woodhams
Arizona Daily Star:
“A rattle from a reptile is not a welcome sound, but if it makes you tread carefully, it’s served its purpose, says Tucson author Elaine A. Powers. In a picture book chock-full of rattlesnake facts, she emphasizes the good they do (eating rodents, scattering seeds, and aiding cancer research), as she imparts interesting reptilian lore. For instance, although toxic to those on the receiving end, venom acts like saliva for a rattlesnake, a necessary digestive aid since they lack teeth for chewing. And rattlers are surprisingly social creatures who bunk together when it’s cold–forming a ‘rhumba’ of rattlers. An unabashed rattlesnake fan, Powers bemoans how willingly we exterminate them, largely because they look so unlovable. She gets no argument there from illustrator Nicholas Thorpe, whose threatening rattlesnake pictures, some with mouths agape and dripping venom, are undeniably scary. The third in the “Don’t” series is for kids in grades K-4.”

NOTE: Lyric Power Publishing LLC offers supplemental educational and fun workbooks and activity sheets.  One of them is 46 pages and jam-packed with fun activities that teach all about this magnificent creature.

Book cover Western Diamondback RattlesnakeLifeCycle, Facts, Traits, True or False, Puzzles, Graphs, Charts, Coloring Pages, Comoare/Contrast

It is called My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake for Grades K-3.

A special thanks to you from Lyric Power Publishing for stopping by today. We appreciate you!

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New Word: Geckolet by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Geckolet image courtesy of Wikipedia

As a sixty-something year old biologist, I am excited to learn new things. I believe in learning new things every day. Recently, while listening to a conference, I heard a word I wasn’t familiar with: Geckolet. I’m familiar with geckos, after all, I have two species (Native Western Banded Gecko and invasive Mediterranean House Gecko) that live around my house, but what is a geckolet?

Not only is the geckolet (Sphaerodactylus) smaller than other geckos, but they have round, instead of vertical, eye pupils. Some geckolets are tiny, less than an inch long from their snout to their vent. These are the smallest reptiles in the world, which means they’re interesting to me. You might be able to tell around here that I do love my reptile family!

They are the focus of a good number of my fun (rhyming and adventure tales) children’s science books. I hope you’ll take a look at books such as Tabby and Cleo: Unexpected Friends on my Books Page.

A bright green children's book cover, showing a Five-Fingered Fairy riding a Bahamian Boa

A Magical Chapter Book about
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy and Her
Adventures with Cleo, a Bahamian Boa

Reading Level: Ages 8+

52 Pages

Tabby Comes Alive in
Illustrations by Nick Thorpe

Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, who comes from the Five-Finger Tree, Tabebuia bahamensis, loves the native plants, animals and people of The Bahamas. She makes friends wherever she goes!

When Tabby is attacked and almost eaten by a rat, a Bahamian Boa comes to her rescue. But she has seen so much fear of  the boas, Tabby is afraid. The boa, Cleo, gently introduces herself and she and Tabby become friends.

After witnessing many attacks on Cleo, Tabby decides to help her find a new home. They go to Mama Hope’s Garden, and Mama Hope teaches her grandson, Scottie, and her neighbors about boas. They are not venomous and they are responsible for killing rats that would otherwise overrun the islands.

Along the way, Tabby helps animals they meet to realize their foolish animosity toward each other and she helps them to, instead, become friends–like she and Cleo did.

Mama Hope realizes the only safe place for Cleo is at Retreat Gardens. They take Cleo there and Mama Hope’s grandson can finally see the Tabby, the fairy.

“Science is important and needs to be studied,” Tabby tells Scottie, “but there are some things you need to believe in your heart to see.”

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Cantata Sulcata! Video with Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and a special Hello to all my Fans!

It’s ME! Curtis Curly-tail Lizard–the only lizard with his own Blog and YouTube Channel!

Does that make me special? It sure does!

I just LOVE my work! I have the best job in the whole world!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Cantata Sulcata! Please click on the image below to learn all about Cantata and other Sulcata Tortoises.

Have a great day!

image of a curly-tail lizard pointing to a cell phone showing  a picture of a Sulcata tortoise
Click on our picture and come and learn all about Sulcata Tortoises.
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January 18 is National Thesaurus Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

 

photo of a page of a thesaurus
A page from Roget’s Super Thesaurus (c) 1998

What would we do without the Thesaurus?

Before the age of the Internet, we used a thesaurus made of paper that we held in our hands. (For you younger folks, a thesaurus, despite its spelling, is not a kind of dinosaur.)

When writing, we often search for just the right word to convey our message. Or we find ourselves using the same words over and over.  In situations like these, a writer would pull their thesaurus off the bookshelf.  A thesaurus lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts.  A synonym is a word that means exactly or almost the same as another word, such as writer and author. These books were invaluable or indispensable to writers.

Nowadays, of course, thesauruses or thesauri are still used, but they are on found online. Whether hard copy or digital, the thesaurus is still necessary for composition. The English language is a diverse collection of words and it’s fun to learn them. As an author of over 25 scripts and books, I am grateful for the thesaurus that allows me to fully utilize, employ, or exploit as many interesting, informative, and appropriate words as possible.

a green book cover with illustrations of a hickatee and a sea turtle
Thesauruses do come in handy when writing! I don’t like to repeat words when I write about wonderful reptiles in nature. The turtles above are found in the Cayman Islands. Learn all about the differences when these two battle it out in Hickatees VS. Sea Turtles.
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Are Racer Snakes Increasing as Invasive Green Iguanas Have? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Cayman Racer snake on cement
Cayman Racer snake image courtesy of www.thecaymanislands.ky

I like to write about topics to educate or share an interest of mine.  In today’s installment, I want to pose a question, one to which we may never know the answer.  As part of native iguana conservation, a great deal of effort is currently spent eradicating invasive green iguanas.  Green iguanas have been introduced, either accidentally or intentionally, in many places where they didn’t live.  As a result, these lizards become pests, destroying the vegetation, out competing the native animals for resources, and even eliminating species through hybridization.

One such place is the island of Grand Cayman. Grand is the largest of the three islands that make up the country of the Cayman Islands, located south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea.  It is about 76 square miles in size.  Green iguanas found Grand to be paradise and soon their population increased to 1.5 million invasive lizards on this island. If you do the math, that comes out to 20,000 green iguanas per square mile! There are only 53,000 people in that same area.

The removal of the iguanas is the topic of other posts here, but a question came up during the discussion of the invasive lizards the other day.  On Grand Cayman, there are native predators of iguanas and other lizards, which include the endemic Cayman Racer (Alsophis cantherigerus caymanus). These snakes can grow to over four feet but are usually smaller. Fortunately, these snakes have been shown to enjoy the invasive iguanas in addition to their native lizard prey.

The question that arose is: With the increase in the number of prey lizards, did the population of racers increase as well?  And if they did, how will removing the excess invasive iguanas affect the snake population? Unfortunately, racers are killed by people’s pets, their dogs and cats, like many other animals, but maybe the extra green-iguana food helped increased their numbers in spite of this. An interesting question, don’t you think? And what will happen to their populations when the invasives are under control? Will the snake numbers dwindle?

We may never know, but situations like this remind us of the impact we humans have on ecosystems. We introduce indiscriminate predators with our pets, we introduce invasive species that affect ecosystems, and we destroy habitats with our buildings. We need to be aware of what we are doing and pay attention to how we affect the natural homes and environments of the animals that called all of these places home before we did.

Is the cold weather keeping you indoors? Children will enjoy continuing their education by working the activity sheets and coloring pages in our fun, comprehensive and interesting supplemental workbooks, such as these pictured below.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

A book cover, dotted background, orange letters My Book About Rattlesnakes of the United States, with a list of all rattlers

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of Cayman Islands passport cover

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.
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Saving the World’s Fauna and Flora by Elaine a. Powers, Author

Image of dark blue mountains against lighted sky, with words for IUCNOnce a year I travel to an “exotic” location–not to play, but to work with the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, for iguana conservation. The IUCN is a democratic union comprised of influential organizations, both governmental and public, and top conservation experts, in a combined effort to conserve nature and enable sustainable development. There are more than 1300 member organizations and more than 15,000 experts. These members make the IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and what is needed to protect it.

I am thrilled to be part of this organization and hope I contribute in my own small way to the important work they do. Their website: https://www.iucn.org/.

Header for website CITESAnother important organization for the worldwide protection of wildlife is CITES, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES publishes a voluntary international agreement that provides a framework for the parties to adopt their own domestic national legislation. So far, 183 parties have joined together. More information is available at: https://www.cites.org/eng/.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headThirty fun pages all about iguanas!

NOTE: Iguanas are among my very favorite animals because of their intelligence, strength, and when domesticated, their affection toward their caretakers. Their personalities are fascinating and unique, and sometimes I think they can read minds! To learn more about these amazing reptiles, please enjoy our comprehensive workbook and activity sheets, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

To see all of Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational workbooks, go to the Our Workbooks tab.

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Does a Dead Scorpion Glow? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

image of a dead scorpion glowing in moonlight
Photo by Terry. Incredibly, even fossilized scorpions glow under UV light!

I was asked if dead scorpions glow by a friend who found a dead scorpion on his patio. I confess, I didn’t know. My guess was that the scorpion wouldn’t glow after death because, I hypothesized, the fluorescent chemicals were actively produced by the living animal.

The part of the scorpion’s body that glows is located in the exoskeleton, the hard, protective covering. Within the cuticle of the exoskeleton is the hyaline layer, which reacts to black light or moonlight. Interestingly, scorpions don’t glow right after molting. The cuticle must harden first. So, is the glowing material part of the hardening process; or is it incorporated into the cuticle during the hardening?

Not much is known about the glowing material.

What is it made of?

Why do scorpions have it?

Several hypotheses have been put forth:

  • Detection of UV light and visible light, so they know when and where to hide.
  • Sunblock.
  • Prey attraction and confusion so they are easier to catch.
  • Communication with other scorpions.

But, back to that original question: Does a dead scorpion glow? Surprisingly, it does!

Lyric Power Publishing is proud of its comprehensive, educational and fun workbooks, like the one below, My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, a fellow desert dweller of the scorpion;

image of children's workbook cover, with picture of western diamondback rattler and a listing of the activity sheets insideActivity sheets and coloring pages include the rattlesnake description, lifecycle, parts, facts, traits, and diet; cut and paste, compare and contrast, learning about graphs and charts, word search, and a crossword puzzle. It’s a jam-packed rattlesnake workbook!

and it’s science-based children’s books written in rhyme. Learn everything you need to know about rattlesnakes in this fun-to-read book with vibrant, exciting illustrations.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me RattlePeople fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

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It’s National Parents as Teachers Day and National STEM/STEAM Day

boy and mother with book on table about turtlesEveryone knows that parents are their child’s first teachers. From teaching them how to say mommy or daddy, to counting on their toes, to learning how to walk, parents are the most important teachers of children. As kids grow into adults, they still look to their parents for guidance. On November 8, we’re celebrating that relationship.

While parents are teaching their children, they should include science.  After all, November 8 is also National STEM/STEAM Day. Don’t know what those letters stand for? STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Math. Education in these four areas is critical for the future. STEAM includes the equally important Arts, including humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media.

At Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, we encourage both kinds of learning, investigative and creative, and we like to make learning fun! Check out our books here and our workbooks here, and enjoy learning about science!

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

38 Pages of Turtle Facts, Traits, Diet, Survival, Label the Parts, True or False, Cut and Paste, Reading Comprehension, Color by Math, Write the Differences, Vocabulary, Word Definitions, Cause and Effect and More!

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Oh, Those Red-Reptile Eyes! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

In the human world, red eyes are usually reserved for people possessed by demons. However, in reptiles, red eyes are not unusual and serve an important purpose.

It’s usual for males of a species to be more colorful than the females, because the females need the protective coloration of camouflage. In box turtles, the males often have bright red irises. That makes it easy to determine that he’s a he. Females have brown eyes. I think this Eastern Box Turtle’s eyes are quite attractive.

close up of head and red eye of make eastern box turtle

Equally impressive are the red eyes of rock iguanas. Both males and females have red sclera. Rock iguanas live on Caribbean islands made of white limestone. It’s thought that the red coloration protects the iguanas’ eyes from damage of the bright sunshine reflecting off the rock. So, the red sclera is like us wearing sunglasses. Everyone needs to protect their eyesight.

close up of red eye of rock iguana

Silent Rocks is published by Lyric Power Publishing, about the disappearing Sister Isle Rock Iguanas. We hope to inspire the native people and visitors alike to do all they can to save them.

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline. These vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The reduction in population is the result of human activity on their habitat and the threats can only be eliminated by human action.