On the wild side: Children’s Nature Center in Fruita hosts fun for all ages
WHAT: Children’s Nature Center
WHEN: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: 404 Jurassic Ave., Fruita
COST: $5 for children 12 and under, $7 for adults, and $21 for immediate family of four
INFO: www.childrensnaturecenter.org, 970-245-6588
There is only one place to see poisoned dart frogs, iguanas, large snakes, and a variety of other unique animals between Denver and Salt Lake City, and it’s located in Fruita — 404 Jurassic Ave.
The Children’s Nature Center opened in January 2014, so far hosting more than 56 field trips and 2,000 students.
It’s also home to animals from every continent but Antarctica.
Be on the lookout for the following critters during your next visit:
1. Eclectus Parrots
The nature center currently hosts a male and female eclectus parrot.
In the wild, a female stays in her nest for nine months, sustained with daily feeding by up to seven different males.
Females are red and males are green; this species is the most sexually dimorphic of parrots.
These colorful birds are native to Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, with a screech loud enough to echo throughout their natural habitat — jungles.
Archerfish are found in India and some rivers in southeast Asia.
They have special lenses adapted to correct distortion seen between water and air.
Archerfish usually hunt along the riverbanks for insects. They use a jet of water sucked in and shot out through a groove at the top of their mouths.
The jet of spit is accurate for 1-2 meters, reaching up to 5 meters.
3. Fly River Turtle
The Fly River turtle is the only flippered freshwater turtle in existence.
This species is considered a living fossil.
Females and males come together only to mate, as they are very territorial animals.
Their native land is Australia and New Guinea.
4. Giant Russian Legless Lizard
Although it looks like a snake, it’s actually a lizard.
This legless creature has external ears and eyelids.
Its many scales are uniformed.
Its tail makes up two-thirds of its body.
The tail shatters like glass if grabbed, giving it another common name — the glass lizard.
This lizard resides in Turkey, Syria, and central Asia.
5. Albino Burmese Python
The Children’s Nature Center hosts a python named Sunshine, which came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
Pythons are usually dark in color, but through breeding Sunshine is an albino (a popular practice in the pet trade).
The python is a constrictor, squeezing its prey to death before consuming it.
This snake species is native to Asia, growing up to 23 feet long and 200 pounds.
Pythons are excellent swimmers, able to hold their breath up to 30 minutes.
To learn more about the animals living at Fruita’s Children’s Nature Center and summer camps, visit http://www.childrensnaturecenter.org.
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