Lutz Children's Museum teaches kids how animals protect themselves

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Somers - posted Thu., Feb. 27, 2014
Lutz Children's Museum representative Chris Zachau allows the children to pet Raspberry the hedge hog. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Lutz Children's Museum representative Chris Zachau allows the children to pet Raspberry the hedge hog. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Somers Public Library invited Lutz Children’s Museum to teach the local children about different animals that use camouflage and poison to protect themselves from their natural predators. On Feb. 20, the students on a school break were given an hour-long presentation of live animals, animal shells and skeletons.

Lutz Children’s Museum representative Chris Zachau answered many questions and listened to several stories from the kids, who ranged in age from kindergarteners to fifth-graders. One of the first demonstrations that Zachau offered was that of the puffer fish. He explained, “When the puffer fish feels threatened, it inhales an excessive amount of water and makes its body bloat so that the spikes on its body will be sticking out as if they were weapons. The end of the spikes are poisonous and any predator that is looking to harm the fish will be poisoned and die.”

“If their spikes come out, why doesn’t the poison come out in the aquarium tank?” said Shea Arcari. “I have seen puffer fish with other fish and they weren’t dead.”

Zachau answered the girl with a big smile on his face. “That’s a great question,” said Zachau. “The spikes are poisonous to the touch. The other fish won’t get poisoned unless they try to attack the fish, because the poison is on the end of the spikes.” Zachau explained that the best way to handle the skeleton of a puffer fish is to put a finger in the mouth and hold the tail at the same time. The kids loved to feel the spikes of the fish.

Another sample that Zachau had with him for the event was an acrylic block with all the stages of a crayfish’s life. “Raccoons really like to eat crayfish,” said Zachau. “They just reach right in to the water and grab the crayfish and eat them. Even though the crayfish have claws like lobsters that clamp on to its prey to be able to eat it, they are no match for raccoons.”

“What if a Lobster chops what’s coming after them?” asked 5-year-old Kayden Levesque.

“If he pinched my finger when I went to pick him up, it would probably hurt,” replied Zachau.

“I had a crayfish in my aquarium once and it snipped off the tips of the other fish’s tails,” said Chase Arcari.

Turtles were among the animals that were being explored that day. Zachau explained that there are some turtles that like to swim and others only stay on dry land. “All turtles have exactly 13 scales, no matter what type of turtle it is,” explained Zachau. “Some have small scales and others have larger scales. It will depend on what size the turtle is. All turtles stay in their shells throughout their entire life and the shell grows with the turtle.”

The Lutz Children's Museum operates on donations, and would greatly appreciate any unwanted items that could be used for their animals such as paper products, carriers, pet food or blankets. To donate items, call the Lutz Children’s Museum at 860-643-0904. For more information on upcoming events at the Somers Public Library, visit

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