- Published: 21 January 2010
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Sherwin Miller age 9, of Tucson, Arizona, for her question:
Does a turtle have many natural enemies?
A turtle may live longer than any other animal: His early life, however is full of dangerous enemies. In fact, only a few turtle eggs ever get to be full‑grown turtles. The first two or three years are the hardest, But once grown even a little six‑inch box turtle may live to count 50 birthdays, Some of the giant turtles live for 150 to 200 years and maybe longer, For, when grown most turtles are covered in a tough shell of armor plating,
Every turtle begins life as an egg, So lets see how a mother turtle lays her clutch of eggs, She is of course, fully grown. Few enemies will bother, her as she ambles along seeking a patch of soft earth. For no hungry animal wants to break his teeth on her hard shell.
Mrs. Turtle may be a small slider or a 20‑pound snapping turtle. Or she may be one of the giant ocean going turtles. If she is a water dweller, this is the only reason she ever comes ashore. She comes to lay her eggs on the land. This is because all baby turtles must be hatched in the ground, Some go to sea as soon as they are able and never come on land again except to lay their eggs.
Whatever kind of turtle Mama is# she begins by digging a hole in the ground, She anchors her front legs and scoops out the. dirt with her back legs, if she strikes a tough root or a hard stone she stops, Then she seeks out a new spot and starts all over again, The hole‑digging job may take her four or five hours. When it is deep enough to suit her she stops to get her breath,
Now begins the egg laying. She drops one hard‑shelled egg in the bottom of the hole and carefully covers it with dirt. Then comes another and another, Each one is packed down with loose dirt, Then the top of the strange nest is leveled off and. trodden down even with the ground,
You might think that the turtle eggs are safe, So does Mrs, Turtle for she ambles off to leave them hatch in their own time. But maybe we were not the only people watching the hiding place, The bright eyes of a skunk may have been watching through the bushes, Rats., weasels and other hungry egg eaters may try to find the nest by smell, Men may spot a place as likely spot for turtle eggs and start to dig, The eggs are good to eat. Only a few of each years turtle eggs get a chance to hatch.
The hatching may take all summer, The new born are small and their shells are soft, Often they stay below ground for weeks. They feed on the rich yolk left behind in the shells, Some, hibernate all winter with no extra food, The babies try to keep out of sight, Their soft shells make them easy prey to hungry meat‑eaters.
In two or three years the youngsters are able to face the hungry world, They are too tough to chew and too big to swallow whole, They can wander about looking for food in safety. They may be pestered by insects and some will be crushed by the traffic as they try to cross the road, A few will be scorched by forest fires, The really big fellows have man to fear for their precious oils and fats.
A fear turtles, especially box turtles will perish from over‑eating. These fellow get so fat they can no longer pull their heads and tails under the protection of their shells and get eaten by rats, skunks and weasels.
Janice Meurs age 10 Albany, N. Y.., for her question:
Is aluminum mined?
Aluminum is the old earths favorite metal. There is more of it hidden in the ground than any other metal. Various compounds of aluminum are present in almost all clay. However] it is so well hidden in clay that it is not worth our while to get it out,
Most aluminum is extracted from a rock called beauxite. Beauxite may be soft or stony, It comes in pink and several other colors. It is not nearly as plentiful as common clay, But it is much richer in aluminum. It usually occurs close to the surface of the grounds in which case it is mined in open pits. Deeper layers are mined with shafts and tunnels.
The impurities are removed from the ore and alumina is left. The alumina usually goes through an electrolysis process to become aluminum metal, Six tons of beauxite may yield two tons of alumina. Two tons of alumina yields about one ton of silvery aluminum.