By Christina Wilsdon
Animal Defenses (Animal habit)
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Extra info for Animal Defenses (Animal Behavior)
Shells A sturdy shell is the primary defense for a variety of very slowmoving animals, such as turtles, tortoises, snails, and clams. Turtles and tortoises are reptiles with bodies enclosed in shells. Turtles spend much or all of their lives in water, while tortoises live on land. Both have shells made of two parts: an upper section called the carapace and a lower section called the plastron. The shell is basically a sturdy box made of bone. The inside of the carapace is made of bones fused together.
If a predator grabs the centipede’s hind end because it mistakes it for the head, the centipede can twist around and bite it. The shingleback skink, a lizard of Australia, also uses this tactic. Its stumpy head and tail look nearly identical. A predator that grabs the wrong “head” will be surprised to see the skink scurry off in the opposite direction. Many snakes also use the two-headed trick. They roll up in a ball and hide their heads in their coils when under attack. Then they wave their tails to threaten the predator and deflect its attack.
These bones include the turtle’s spine and ribs. The plastron is made of bone, too. In most species, the outside of the carapace is covered with plates made of a tough material called keratin—the same substance that forms hooves and fingernails. These plates are called scutes. Some turtles have just a few scutes embedded in a thick skin on the carapace. Some have none at all. Many turtles can pull their heads, tails, and legs partly or fully into their shells. Box turtles have hinged plastrons, so they can close the openings in their shells.
Animal Defenses (Animal Behavior) by Christina Wilsdon