Take a Walk on the Wild Side

By Daniela DeMarco and Pristine Jeffries

Fourth-graders at Ridgeline Academy

Did you know that a wild Desert Tortoise usually only drink water one time a year?  “Desert tortoises get most of the water they need from the plants they eat,” shared  Sam Huselton on a recent visit to Ridgeline Academy.  Ms. Huselton came from the Arizona Game and Fish Department to teach fourth-graders about animal adaptations and symbiotic relationships.

Ms. Huselton brought three animals with her and one of them was a great horned owl called Percy.   Percy can turn his head about 270 degrees, when the average person can turn their head about 180 degrees.  Percy has 14 bones in his neck compared to a human that has seven.

Students were excited to see and learn about the animals.  “I liked the way that she handled the animals, and I liked the way the animals were calm,” fourth-grader Katie Murphy said.


Another animal Ms. Huselton brought to our classroom was Jeep.  Jeep is a “young” desert tortoise with tough scaly feet.   Jeep has strong front legs used for digging and when he grows a little bigger he will go up for adoption.    We also met Pseudo – a gopher snake.  The gopher snake can grow up to eight feet long.  Pseudo looks a lot like a western diamondback rattlesnake.  When an animal tries to look or act like another animal is it called mimicking.  The word, pseudo, means false, like how Pseudo is a false western diamondback rattlesnake.

Interacting with the animals is a great way for a hands on experience.  My favorite part was when she pulled out the animals, each one was a surprise,” fourth-grader Arthur Moyer remarked.

Ms. Huselton also told our fourth-graders that the Kangaroo rat never needs to drink water and that the mountain lions are the top of the line predator.  We learned lots of things from her visit.  Sam Huselton studied science in school and went to a university to get her degree.   She has loved animals all her life, starting when she was a little girl – especially birds.

Take a walk on the wild side with the Arizona Game and Fish Department – its an unforgettable learning experience.

Contact; Sheril (Sam) Huselton, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Wildlife Education Outreach Coordinator at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086

(623) 236-7370

Cell (480) 276-1095

[email protected]


Noted by:  fourth-grade teachers at Ridgeline Academy; Michael Merloe, Diane White and Stacey Lane

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