Is That Torpor or Hibernation? by Curtis Curly-tail

Howdy, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know how I LOVE to bask in the sun? Well, I’ve recently learned that some of my friends go underground when it gets cold—to stay warm!

My human friend, Elaine, wrote here at Tales & Tails that round-tailed ground squirrels spend the winter underground to stay warm. Yes, it gets cold in Southern Arizona during the winter, unlike the warm tropical weather of the Exumas, where I live. But ground squirrels don’t actually hibernate like some other mammals do—they go into a state of torpor.

Both the state of torpor and hibernation are means for mammals to survive cold temperatures, conserving energy due to low food availability. Hibernation and torpor both involve lowering body temperatures and breathing, heart, and metabolic rates. What’s the difference between them? It’s all in the planning. Animals that hibernate plan for it. They store fat in advance and stay in the quiet state for as long as possible. When the warm temperatures finally arrive, the animals take a while to wake-up, using up a lot of their energy reserves.

Torpor happens involuntarily and only lasts for short periods. It’s like a deep sleep. Waking up takes less time and involves violent shaking from muscle contractions. I call that shivering.

As scientists have learned more about hibernation, the definition has changed. Animals once believed to be hibernating were in fact in the state of torpor. Today, the term hibernation includes true hibernators and those asleep in torpor.

Here’s a fellow desert-dweller of Elaine’s, that hibernates during the cold winters.

Gila Monster image courtesy of David Mark from Pixabay

Another interesting state is aestivation, which is an entirely different topic, in my estimation. Do you like my word play? Aestivation and estimation? I think Elaine should explain what aestivation is and use my rhyme in one of her books—with credit, of course!

For information about a desert dweller that goes into torpor–not hibernation–the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake–check out the 46-page workbook and activity sheets at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. It’s educational, but it’s full of fun activities. Elaine always says, “Learning should be fun! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”

Book cover with photo of western diamondback rattler
book cover graphic of rattlesnake

Or, a perennial favorite is the rhyming, thrillingly illustrated Don’t Make Me Rattle! People fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why they should be respected, not exterminated.

How Do You Know if a Lizard is a Green Iguana? by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, out there, friends and fans! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail!

Today, I wanted to ask you if you knew that Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana, come in different colors? And, if they come in different colors, how do you tell if a lizard is a green iguana? 

You look for the subtympanic scale. “What is that?” you ask. Well, I don’t have one, so I had to look it up myself. The subtympanic scale is that large scale on the side of the green iguana’s head.  Sub means below and tympanic means ear.  So, it’s the big scale below the ear. I have a friend who calls that scale the “jewel.” She always admires the beautiful coloring in the iguana jewels.

A blue Green Iguana

Here are some of my green iguana friends, in very different colors. As you can see, they are not just green–but they are all still called “green.” Even the green green iguanas come in different shades of green. It can be confusing, if you ask me.

The native range of the green iguana is southern Mexico to central Brazil and several Caribbean islands. If you don’t live in those areas, why should you know how to identify a green iguana? Because they’re very popular as pets in people’s homes and they have been introduced to many other places in the world, where they don’t belong and can be causing harm. That means they’re “invasive.”

A Green Iguana
If you are interested in passing out these descriptive booklets, which are free, please use the contact form on Elaine’s website to obtain them.

If you want to know the differences between a green iguana and their cousins, the rock iguanas, Lyric Power Publishing, LLC has several identification booklets to help you tell them apart.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas

If you enjoy learning while coloring and doing activities, I encourage you to be creative. To learn more in fun ways about iguanas, please see our 30-page workbook full of activity sheets about iguanas, My Unit Study on Iguanas. Remember that the green iguanas you color, don’t have to be green!

‘Zoe the Star’ Tortoise! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello to all my friends out there! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and each other in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to the day when my human friends don’t have to worry anymore about the virus called Covid-19! (If I could, I would banish it right now!) Until this passes, please take good care out there.

I love having made so many friends through my sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, and today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise. She’s a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. (I just love that in a tortoise!)

I don’t want to tell Zoe she’ll never be the star I am, of course, but take a look at my You Tube channel on your small screen at this beauty in her habitat and learn about what it takes to be a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert.

And for the kids and kids-at-heart in your home, have some fun with science education using the activity sheets and workbooks from Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

Here’s an example or two:

Twenty-three fun, engaging, and interactive pages on the Freshwater Turtle.
Ideal for your young learners.
Four ecology coloring and information pages; three spelling and tracing pages; what freshwater turtles eat coloring page; label the parts of a freshwater turtle coloring page; complete the life-cycle of the turtle (same for both freshwater and green sea turtle); three color by addition and subtraction pages; two learn to spell coloring pages; and several teacher information pages suitable for creating bulletin boards about freshwater turtles.

47 pages of captivating activities that kids from kindergarten through 3rd grade are certain to enjoy! Includes spelling pages, two Venn-Diagram activities: bats vs. parrots, and bats vs. rats; math pages, reading comprehension pages for both bats and rats; a teacher-driven felt board activity; rhyming words, less than-greater than coloring sheet; two word searches, and MORE! Students will gain a deeper understanding of the Caribbean Fruit Bat and the rats that live on Cayman Brac and how they affect the ecology.

Why Can’t She Use a Tortoise As A Pillow? by Yours Truly, Curtis Curly-tail

One day, my friend Rango, a Rhino Iguana, and I, a perfect curly-tail lizard, were discussing over Zoom our favorite basking spots. I prefer a nice piece of karst, myself. I like a spot where I can put my front feet up a bit, angle my back to the sun and soak in the rays.

photo of curly-tail lizard Curtis
Here I am on karst near my home!

But Rango the Dragon, as I call all iguanas—can you blame me?— lives in a house, not on an island like I do. Oh, she has a lovely place to bask under a suspended heat lamp or in a sunbeam through the window or door. She even has a servant who brings her meals while she basks. I guess there are advantages to living in a house. I have to find my own food and make sure I don’t become a snack for a seagull where I live!

I learned Rango likes to bask at an upward angle, too. Her substrate is flat tile, though, not bumpy karst.  So, what does she do? She finds something else to perch on–a comfortable height and something hard that can hold her weight.

The other family members include tortoises of various sizes. Rango has selected the smaller tortoises as her desired perches. I don’t know how the tortoises feel about being used for this purpose, but they don’t wander off.

I admire Rango for her creativity, but I do hope she thanks the tortoises, especially Myrtle, who is a very famous tortoise. She has her own book, for Pete’s sake! That’s it below, a rhyming book favorite of the wee ones! (Human wee ones, that is.)

Thanks for stopping by at Elaine’s author website. Hope you’ll look around. See ya next time!

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs
Don’t call me Myrtle the Turtle! I’m a tortoise! Learn the differences in fun rhymes inside!

Not Everyone Wants to Be a Star! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! I’m visiting my friend and author of fun science books, Elaine A. Powers. She’s working with Brad Peterson, who is, among other things, a talented graphic artist and animator. He had the idea to educate about reptiles by showing them eating.

Of course, I agreed to help with the videography. (I know—I know what you’re thinking. I love to be in the spotlight, and I do. But, I’m also very curious and I enjoy learning about everything, so I volunteered to be on the filming team.)

graphic of a curly-tail lizard
Check out my You Tube Channel!

As you will see on my YouTube channel Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, many of the family members cooperated.  However, some were shy about being filmed while eating, while others were just plain hostile to the idea.

Turquoise, above, a hybrid green iguana, would not let me film her eating. In fact, she continued to glare at me until I left. And, no matter how I tried to sneak up on her, she wasn’t fooled. That is one alert dragon—I mean, iguana,of course!

Speaking of iguanas, they are awfully large, aren’t they? But quite fascinating. Did you know they don’t have vocal cords and make no sounds?

To learn more about them, check out “My Unit Study on Iguanas,” a 30-page workbook filled with fun and educational activity sheets.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas

Tabby Sure Has My Attention! How About Yours? by Curtis Curly-tail

I like to think of author Elaine A. Powers’s You Tube channel as MY channel. It does, after all, say at the top of the page, “Curtis Curly-tail Speaks!”

But, I’m like, “Whoo, hoo! Look at that girl go!” I mean, have you seen and heard Tabby the Five-Finger Fairy on You Tube?

I’d read her books, of course–but I think I’m in love! Click the picture and see for yourself!

And remember, I’m here in The Bahamas with Tabby and you’re really far away! While I’m working on the girl, please check out her new video–and her books so important for The Bahamas!

Thanks from all your Bahamian Friends!

a book cover about Tabby the five finger fairy and Cleo a bahamian boa
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!
A brown book cover with illustrations of bahamian boa snakes
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, is a good friend to everyone she meets. After Cleo, a Bahamian Boa, rescues her in their first book, Tabby & Cleo: Unexpected Friends, Tabby tells us about the natural history of the often misunderstood endemic Bahamian Boas, which have an important place in Bahamian life.

He’s NOT a Tortoise! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail, at your service! Well, actually, I’m here today for my friend, Trevor. He asked me to share his rant with you. 

Trevor is a Box Turtle. He recently posted a selfie at the beginning of a literacy school event on social media. Numerous comments were added about what an attractive tortoise he was.  Tortoise! 

Trevor isn’t a tortoise–he’s a turtle!  He was incensed, upset, incredulous, even! He obviously has red eyes. Don’t people know that all tortoises have black eyes?

And, Trevor says, he’d sure like to see ANY tortoise try his trick below! Only turtles with lightweight shells and webbed feet can climb screen doors!

Trevor has stomped his little feet (with turtle-webbing between his toes) and insisted that Elaine Powers, his caretaker and author of fun science books, write a book entitled Don’t Call Me Tortoise! Elaine wrote Don’t Call Me Turtle! for Trevor’s roommate, Myrtle the Red-foot tortoise, because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle, driving her nuts!

I have to back Trevor on this one. Personally, I think Elaine should’ve written Trevor’s book long ago. Am I going to have to push Trevor onto her foot, so he can transmit the turtle-poem to her, like I transmitted my story?

Nah! She’s got this! Right, Elaine? Right?

Below is the fun, rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, that tells about the many differences between turtles and tortoises. Geez, the little ones love that book! (Learning with fun rhymes helps with keeping busy.)

P.S. — It’s only right for all the Trevor’s in the world that Don’t Call Me Tortoise! is on its way, too.

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs, pointing at the viewer
Learn the differences between tortoises and turtles today!

And, because a lot of kids are unexpectedly home from school, check out the fun turtle and tortoise activity sheets and workbooks at Lyric Power Publishing!

Good Thing He Doesn’t Eat Lizards! by Curtis Curly-tail

My friend Trevor Box Turtle is a true ambassador for turtles. He enjoys meeting both children and adults, and they love seeing a turtle that can fold up into a box. But Trevor is so friendly that when asked to close into a box, he doesn’t like to fold the hinge in his plastron to demonstrate how it works. He always wants to be out, taking part in the action. He usually will fold up half of himself, but soon his head is back out, taking everything around him in.

A Box Turtle closed up into a box.
Trevor does fold up sometimes . . . but doesn’t like to do so when he’s meeting new people.

Sometimes, Trevor gets paid for his visit. No, not with money–what would a turtle do with money? Trevor takes his payment in snails! Back when he lived in New Jersey, Trevor’s favorite food was the slugs he found outside.  He would croak happily as his face became covered in slime.

Favorite payment for a visiting Box Turtle

When he moved to Arizona, he didn’t have a source for slugs. It’s just too dry in the Sonoran Desert. Instead some people grow snails inside their homes.  These are the people who generously share their snails for Trevor. So, the next time you wonder what to give your Box Turtle as a present, think snails!

As a voice for the lizard community, I’m just grateful Trevor doesn’t think of us as a delicacy!

And, to learn about my other very interesting turtle friends, the Hickatee, please click on the book, Hickatees vs. Sea Turtles, below.

a dark green book cover: Hickatees vs Sea Turtles

There’s Cuckoo Birds Everywhere! By Curtis Curly-tail

My friend Elaine lives in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona in the US, while I live on Warderick Wells Cay in the Bahamas. Even though we’re over two thousand miles apart, we share a family of birds. I like to have an occasional adventure and when I was visiting the Leon Levy Preserve on Eleuthera recently, I saw a magnificent bird, the Great-Lizard Cuckoo, in a tree. PHEW! I usually see these birds on the ground running. When you’re a lizard, seeing a running cuckoo can be terrifying!  They eat lizards, you know.

Watching the cuckoo run, I realized I had seen something similar in a video my friend Elaine sent me. In the Sonoran Desert and many other places, there’s a bird that runs just like my Great-Lizard Cuckoo.  That’s because the Roadrunner is a member of the Cuckoo family.

photo of Greater Roadrunner in the Sonoran Desert
Photo by Elaine Powers
illustration of a desert roadrunner
Strong. Fast and Courageous, Roadrunner Doesn’t Need To Fly

Cuckoos are found on all the continents except Antarctica and they’re all magnificent. I’m so glad my friend and I can both enjoy these wonderful birds. If you want to learn more about Elaine’s Roadrunner, check out her book Don’t Make Me Fly! It’s all about the roadrunner and it’s lots of fun because it’s written in rhyme.

Adventure I Must! says Curtis Curly-tail

Living on a Caribbean island beach is wonderful (except for dive-bombing seagulls looking for a snack) but some days I do get bored. I love watching people come ashore from their boats, but when they leave, I wonder where the boat is going. Where do those tourists come from? Do they have an island, too?

Illustration of a green curly-tail lizard on yellow beach
“Shoes on the beach! Now’s my chance!”

One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out for myself. I crept into a sneaker on the beach and traveled with its owner to the big city, delighting in the many sights and sounds a small cay doesn’t have.

Eventually, though, I wanted to go home. It didn’t take me long to realize that getting onto a tourist boat from my beach was much easier than catching a ride home would be. How would I find a boat going to Warderick Wells Cay and get on it? And I had no idea how I would cross the water between the boat and my beach again. I had acted without thinking–but I also knew I had to try to find my way home.

You can find out what happened in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, which is Elaine’s first book (inspired by me), published by Lyric Power Publishing and available at Amazon.com.

Don’t Call Me Turtle!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s me, Curtis! Welcome to my first “Tails” post!

Today, I’m telling you the story of Myrtle, a Red-foot TORTOISE who lives with Elaine. When Myrtle grew tired of everyone calling her Myrtle the Turtle, one day she asked Elaine to write a book about the differences between tortoises and turtles. Of course, Elaine said yes. (She and Myrtle are best buds. Elaine is pictured below reading Myrtle’s book to Myrtle.)

Well, what do you know? It turned out not just tortoises love the science book–kids do, too. Don’t Call Me Turtle! has fans across America, just like the children’s book I asked Elaine to write!

Don’t Call Me Turtle is written in rhyme and I gotta tell you, the five and under age group LOVE the rhymes, which tell the differences between the two hard shells:

“My tortoise shell is heavy; it takes strength to walk on the ground.
But a turtle’s shell is lightweight, perfect for swimming around.”

Thanks for reading my first post! ‘Til next time!

A Big Hello from Curtis!

Welcome to Tales and Tails. I am Curtis Curly-tail, the very special lizard who launched Elaine’s career as the author of science-based children’s books–and now, she’s expanding to include science books for adults! Elaine has asked me to share my point of view and I’m very happy to have a place to write about what it’s like to be a lizard. I may even interview a few of my other reptile friends and tell their stories, too. Stay tuned!

But for now, Elaine has asked me to tell how her first book came to be–and, yes, it is all because of ME! Here is the true story:

When your tail is perfectly curled, you are asked to pose for a lot of pictures. But I, Curtis Curly-tail, wanted MORE—I wanted adventure, communication, friendship . . . STARDOM!

I needed a very special human, one who could see AND hear me. And there she finally was! Sitting on the beach, near my den! I scampered over to her and her friends. Out came the cameras. I posed for a few typical shots—turning this way and that, sunlight glinting off my scales, showing off my perfectly-curled tail to my best advantage.

They were smitten! I climbed onto my new friend’s sneaker and looked up at her. Using a mind-meld technique (for over two hours, I might add) I was able to send her one of my adventures! And she “got” it!

I didn’t go back with her to the ship—I’d been there and done that—but I knew when she got back to her cabin, being a writer, that she would have to sit and type up my story.

Several months later, a mother and child sat near my den on a blanket, under an umbrella. She was reading a children’s book to her young child. It was my story! There I was on the cover of the book, entitled Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers.

I jumped for joy! My dream had come true! I would be famous! Curly-tails would make way for me when I cruised the beach. I would finally find my mate! My photos would be enlarged to poster-sized and hang in children’s bedrooms. Maybe they would rename Warderick Wells Cay after me!

~ “Excuse me. Curtis?” Elaine butted into my fantasies.
“Elaine! This is my part of the blog!”
~ “I know, but you were getting carried away. You actually are pretty famous, but they will never rename the cay after you. Isn’t having your own You Tube channel pretty spectacular?”
“It is!”
~ “And isn’t being a lizard that dictates his thoughts to a human who can hear him pretty awesome?”
“Yes, Elaine.”
~ “Okay, then, my little friend, let’s wrap this up.”
“I will. You can go now.”
~ “I sure can.”

Humans are so bossy! Oops, sorry. I didn’t mean every human.

Welcome to Tales and Tails, where we focus on reptiles, fun and adventure—oh, and science books, too. Of course!