Otters - north america
endangered primates
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Playing With Otters

River Otters live throughout most of North America and they have a very close cousin, the Eurasian otter which is very similar in both anatomy and behavior. But two other cousins, the Giant River Otter (South American species) and the Sea Otter have rather different biologies and behavior. In text and/or on-line sources have students research the behavior of North American River Otters and that of one of their more dissimilar cousins. When they have completed their research have them write a series of pen pal letters from a member of one species to a member of the other species. The letters should be as creative as possible but should also display a knowledge of the comparative behaviors of both species.


For the more visually creative students the pen pal letters can be replaced with pictorial diaries or cartoons, but again the pictures should show an understanding of the behaviors of both species.

Objective: deeper knowledge of American River Otters, knowledge of a related species, development of research skills, integration of scientific and creative skills

T is For Tortoise

The Gopher Tortoise is considered an indicator species for the health of the habitats in which they live, because many species share their tunnels and feed on their eggs. They are also animals who live a very long time, up to eighty years. Have students study the behavior of the tortoises and also the terrain in which they live. In Florida, the habitat that a turtle was born into 80 years ago may be very different in some respects than it is today. Have the students create a fictional Gopher tortoise born 80 years ago… and in a narrative form tell a fictional descendant about what life was like in the old turtle's youth. The story should indicate an understanding of Gopher turtle behavior, and a an understanding of some of the changes that have occurred in technology and devilment in that period.

Variation: A more speculative story could be told from the point of view of a tortoise born in 2003 when that same tortoise is in its 80s.

Objective: deeper knowledge of Gopher Tortoises, development of research skills, integration of scientific and creative skills

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