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Cool Facts About Animals Presents
Thorny Devils
Discover cool facts about the thorny devil, including what it eats, what it poops, its unique way of drinking water, and its many, many defense mechanisms. You'll also learn about something called capillary action. Even if you don’t think you know what that is, you’ve seen it in real life, every day. Listen to the episode here.  
After the episode, do the activity! Find a link to a PDF of the activity here, or just read on below for fun with capillary action, defense mechanism drawing, and poetry creation.

Kids Listen Activity Podcast – Cool Facts About Animals on Thorny Devils 


Capillary Action


During our episode about thorny devils, we discussed how the thorny devils use capillary action to drink water through other parts of their bodies, like their feet. You can see capillary action “in action” with this fun at-home experiment. 


The Cool Facts About Animals Crew tried out a color-changing flower experiment, which you can see on our YouTube page if a parent agrees:


For this experiment, you need:

  1. Three cups 

  2. Water

  3. Two pieces of paper towel

  4. Two colors of food coloring that make another color (like yellow and blue, or red and yellow)

  5. A light-colored (preferably white) flower


Line up your three cups on a surface that can be easily cleaned up. Fill all but the center one up  about halfway with water. Add one color of dye to one of the cups with water, and one color of dye to the other. In the middle cup, put a flower. (Check the PDF for photos.)


Now, take your two paper towels and twist them up until they look like tight rods. Put one paper towel from the blue cup into the cup with the flower, and the other paper towel from the yellow cup to the cup with the flower. 


Do you see the color creeping up the paper towels? That’s already capillary action! The water molecules are adhering to the paper towel and climbing up it. 


Now you wait! Some things to think about while you wait:

  1. What color do you think will end up in the glass with the flower?

  2. Do you think the flower will turn color? What color?

If your experiment didn’t work (ours didn’t work for some of our flowers) think about why. Where did the capillary action go wrong? With a grownup, you might want to cut up your stem to see if you can see where the color stopped flowing up. 


If this experiment feels too complicated, you can take out a lot of steps and just put the flower directly in a glass with water and food coloring. That works too! You just won’t see the paper towel capillary action. 


Defense mechanisms


During our podcast, we talked about a lot of different defense mechanisms that thorny devils use. Do you remember all of them? They included:


  • A “false head” 

  • Thorns to deter being eaten 

  • Camouflage 


Do you remember any others? 


For this activity, make a drawing of yourself – either in human or animal form – with as many defense mechanisms as you want. They don’t have to be the ones that the thorny devil has. Maybe your defense mechanism includes having a body covered in an armor made of diamonds, or making a really stinky smell (like a skunk). Why did you choose the defense mechanism(s) you chose? 




At the end of our episodes, we like to do a riddle to give a clue about the animal we will be featuring in our next episode. 


One type of poem we like to do is a haiku. For haikus:


The first line has to be five syllables. 

The second line has to be seven syllables

And the third line has to be five syllables. 


Here’s a haiku about our cat, Tuna. 


Little tabby cat 

She only has four teeth left

Her purr makes us smile 


Another common type of poem is a rhyming poem. There are all sorts of different ways to rhyme. You can have the first line rhyme with the second, and the third line rhyme with the fourth. That’s called an “A, A, B, B” rhyme pattern. 


Or you can have the first line rhyme with the third, and the second line rhyme with the fourth. That’s called an “A, B, A, B” pattern. You can really rhyme in any pattern you want – “A, B, C, A, C” or “A, A, A, B.” It’s your poem! Here’s a rhyming poem, again about Tuna.  


Tuna has the loudest purr

Lions can’t compare 

She also has the softest fur 

And the fiercest stare! 


What rhyme pattern is that? If you guessed “A, B, A, B” you’re right – the first and third lines rhyme, and the second and fourth lines rhyme. 


Okay, now it’s your turn! Choose an animal, and make up a poem about it. Can your grownup guess what the animal is? When you’re done, we’d love to see it. You can email it to coolfactsaboutanimals@gmail.comor tweet us at @coolanimalspod. 

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