There are five senses that humans rely on: sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing.  These senses are all very important to us, but most animals seem to rely on only a few.  Because a lot of our animals search for food in dark, uncertain conditions where they also need to be aware of lurking predators at the same time, certain senses are heightened in order for them to be successful.  When vision fails, the sense of smell takes over.

 Everyone knows the distinct scent that a skunk emits when they feel threatened – this smell is used to deter predators from eating them.  This method works well against many predators, except the king of the night’s sky: the Great Horned Owl!  Owls’ hearing and vision are so amazing, that they have no need for using their sense of smell when hunting, so therefore, it is less developed than their other senses.  Because the odour of this striped mammal doesn’t affect the owls, they are able to monopolize on the population of skunks as a tasty treat, where other predators run the other way. PEEE YEWWW!!

 If you have ever handled a wild snake, you may have noticed that they emit a similar odour, which they use to protect themselves from harm. This opaque liquid is known as ‘musk’.  Snakes can excrete this musk from their anal glands, and its oily consistency does an excellent job of sticking to the snake’s attacker.  As curious park staff, we come away from encounters with our scaly friends with only stinky hands for a few hours.  But just imagine if you were the unlucky predator that tried to make the snake into a snack. YUCKKKKYYY!! 

 It might be hard to believe, but some fish rely heavily on their senses of smelling and tasting when searching for food.   Brown Bullheads are a common catfish that can be found within Rondeau’s Bay.  These fish are primarily nocturnal and are considered bottom-feeders.  They use their barbels (long whisker-like projections located on their chin) to search through the substrate for edible creatures.  Their smooth, scale-less skin is covered in thousands of tastes buds, which helps them detect food sources that are much farther away than their barbels can reach.  If you’d like a mental picture, try thinking of these fish as a giant, swimming tongue, tasting the flavours of the water which directs them to higher concentrations of food. COOL!!    

Brown Bullhead

The average visitor to Rondeau mainly uses their sense of sight and hearing to take in the beautiful surroundings.  Why not challenge yourself to experience our beloved park like some of the animals we talked about today.   Try and enjoy the earthy smell of our marsh, the sweet aroma of wildflowers in bloom, or the citrusy scent of the sassafras leaves.
Come learn more about some of these animals in our upcoming programs (see the Events Calendar).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Memberships Available
Become a friend of Rondeau today...