Not Just for Kids
|photos by Nancy Hoffmann
Cats and horses are two animals that like to roll.
Time for a Good Roll
by Nancy Hoffmann
Dont get dirty
Wash your hands
Brush your teeth.
I bet your parents tell you that all the time. Thats because humans are always trying to stay clean.
While we wash and bathe, many animals make themselves as dirty as possible. The way they get dirty is by rolling around in sand, dirt, mud, grass or anything that smells interesting to them.
Do they know something we dont?
Humans always think of pigs as being, well, piggy. After all, they spend their days rolling around in the mud. But pigs dont have sweat glands, so, on a warm day, they roll in the mud to keep cool. The mud also acts as a sunscreen and keeps biting insects away.
Unlike pigs, horses sweat all over their bodies. After a long ride, theyre very sweaty, but they dont like their hair to be wet. It makes them itchy. So they roll in the dirt to dry themselves and get a good scratch on their backs and necks.
Rolling is also social for horses. Its how they get their herd scent. Each horse in the herd will roll in the same spot, one right after the other. The lowest ranking horse always goes first, and on up the ladder they travel with the highest ranking horse rolling last. At our farm, lower ranking Blue (right) rolled first, followed by Bo (top). A herd may roll in one place so much that they wear away the grass and create a small dust bowl, which then becomes the official rolling spot.
Yes, animals that live in our homes and sleep in our beds also like to roll in the dirt.
Dry, dusty sand or dirt thats been warmed by the sun is a cats favorite place to roll. With very sensitive skin that needs to be itched, cats roll simply because it feels good. Rolling also makes the cat smell like the earth, which masks its cat smell when its time to hunt mice.
Even hamsters like to roll in sand. But theyre not trying to get dirty. Instead, hamsters use the sand to remove grease and oils from their coats.
One animal loves to roll in stinky, smelly things such as horse manure or a dead squirrel. Thats the dog.
No one is really sure why dogs roll in such awful things, but there are a few theories.
One theory is that dogs roll in stinky stuff to disguise their own scent so the prey they hunt wont be able to smell them. Remember, even though our dogs eat food out of a can, they are descended from wolves and still have a strong instinct to hunt.
Another theory is that the dog is actually leaving its scent on that big mound of horse manure and is thus claiming the pile of poop as its property.
Of course, it may be that what smells awful to us smells good to a dog. Dogs may like the smell of rotten things the way we like the smell of perfume.
Which of these theories sounds right to you?
Can you think of any other animals that youve seen rolling in the dirt or mud? What about cows, bears or elephants? Try to find out if they roll and why.
Instincts are behaviors animals are born with and dont have to learn, like making a nest to sleep in. Instead of instincts, humans have intelligence to learn new behaviors, behavioral scientists have decided. Do you agree? Or do you find yourself instinctually making warm, cozy nests?
Saturday, February 28
Ages 4-6 learn about the Bay and Calvert history; then enjoy crafts and snacks. 10am @ Calvert Marine Museum, 14200 Solomons Island Rd., Solomons. $10 w/member discounts; rsvp: 410-326-2042 www.calvertmarinemuseum.com.
Peanut Butter Madness
Celebrate National Peanut Butter month by making a peanut butter birdfeeder, funny faces with hot organic waffles and apple sail boats. 10am-noon @ Whole Foods, Harbour Center, 2504 Solomons Island Rd., Annapolis. free; rsvp: 410/573-1800 or customer service desk www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
Meet Marylands Dinosaur
Ages 3 and older discover Marylands state dinosaur, the astrodon, and explore its history and origin at the Maryland Fossil Finds exhibit. Also crafts and puppet show. 1-4pm @ Watkins Nature Center, 301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro. $3: 301-218-6702 www.pgparks.com.
Fairy Tale for All Ages
Wizards, trolls, enchanted hills and faraway lands of magic are the stars of the musical tale Peer Gynt. Bring your parents for music by Beethoven the whole family can enjoy. 7:30pm @ Calverton Schools Black Box Theater, Calverton School Rd., Huntingtown. free; rsvp: 410-586-1247.
Sunday, February 29
Most Excellent Adventure
The Annapolis Orchestra wants you to come along as it travels through musical history, exploring Beethoven, Bach, Dvorak and Gershwin. Two shows. 2pm; 3pm (Meet the musicians and their instruments 1:15pm & 4:30pm) @ Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. $10; rsvp: 410/761-2118
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