By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
They only come out at night.
Laura DeCook, a naturalist with the Mahaska County Conservation Board, led the first in a series of educational classes for young people at the Oskaloosa Public Library Monday afternoon. DeCook will host programs about various nature-related topics each Monday at 2 p.m. at the Oskaloosa Public Library. She’ll also be at the Eddyville Elementary School Cafeteria at 10 a.m. July 20 for a similar program.
The first installment of the program focused on nocturnal animals, said DeCook. In speaking to the children, DeCook helped them understand why certain animals are nocturnal and what qualifies them as such. She explained that many nocturnal animals take advantage of the cover of dark and the cooler nighttime temperatures in the summer in order to hunt their prey.
“Their eyes are adapted for seeing in the dark a lot better than some animals during the daytime or even humans,” said DeCook.
DeCook brought along several examples of nocturnal animals in the form of pelts. She said the children enjoy guessing which animals once wore the pelts. On Monday, she brought pelts from a coyote, opossum, and a bobcat, and white tail deer, which are all known to be active during the night.
DeCook said she also wanted to explain to the children what they can look for when riding in a car at night. She explained that different nocturnal animals will give of their own reflections from their eyes.
DeCook also discussed one of the better-known nocturnal animals — bats. She said it’s important for children to know about the positive role bats play in controlling insect populations.