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Meet The Underground Mammals That Emerge In Spring


While schools are closed, we're creating a series of  "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

While it’s easy to become familiar with the animals frolicking in our own backyards, there’s a whole world of underground mammals who may be dwelling right under our feet!

On this "wildlife day" edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe and wildlife biologist Jim Pease explore the world of woodchucks, ground squirrels, pocket gophers and other mammals who spend the winter months underground.

Vocabulary for this podcast:

  • Hibernation, noun: the condition or period of an animal or plant spending the winter in a dormant state.
  • Torpor, noun: a state of physical or mental inactivity; lethargy.
  • Aestivation, noun: prolonged torpor or dormancy of an animal during a hot or dry period.
  • Fossorial, adj.: (of an animal) burrowing.

Conversation questions for this podcast:

  • What's the difference between hibernation and torpor?
  • The thirteen-lined ground squirrel goes by many names including striped gopher, leopard ground squirrel and squinney. Ask one of the grown ups in your family what they called them when they were growing up.
  • Have you ever heard a woodchuck whistle? Why do you think they make that sound?
  • Why do you think it's so difficult to spot a badger?
  • Can a woodchuck, chuck wood? But what if they could?
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa