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Turtleford Community School
Grade 5


Animal Report example


     Throughout many slow moving bodies of water you will find a small rodent called a muskrat.  A muskrat's size is an average of 50cm, half of which is its tail.  A muskrat's coat is usually reddish-brown, or dark brown, with a lighter underbelly.  They weigh about 1kg.  Muskrat's teeth are about 2 cm long and orange.  They got their name from the musky smell they make at breeding season.

        Muskrats are well adapted to live in water. They have stiff hairs on their large back feet which act as webbing to propel them in the water. They use their long scaly tails to make themselves go faster when they swim. Their tails are like no other animal because they are flattened vertically. They move their tails rapidly from side to side to push themselves through the water.  Muskrats have a skin flap behind their teeth and nostrils to keep out water when they swim. They can also close off their ears when they are underwater. They can stand having a lot of carbon dioxide in their bodies which lets them stay underwater for a long time, up to 15 minutes.

        Muskrats will have six to eight young in a litter.  The babies are born from April to August.  For one week, the young are blind and helpless and then begin to resemble the parents more and more.  Muskrat females are usually the main parent to raise the young.  Six weeks after birth young muskrats are ready to leave home. Muskrats can have more than two, or three litters during the warm months.

        Muskrats can be found from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.  Muskrats live in slow moving rivers, ponds, marshes, or lakes.

        Muskrats eat cattails and water plants but will eat carrots if they can get them.  To get food they swim to the bank, sever a reed, and bring it back to the lodge.

        To cope with freezing waters, muskrats build piles of reeds accessible from underwater and feed off it during winter.  Muskrats also build small lodges called pushups; they eat in them in winter and on them in summer.

    In Cree stories it is a muskrat that dives down into the water to bring up the mud from which the world is created. The word for muskrat in Cree is wacask, or ᐊᐧᒐᐢᐠ.

      Muskrats are an interesting animal found all over North America.

Animal Report Sites

Alberta Amphibians 


Hinterland Who's Who 


Cornell Bird Lab 


Wildlife of North America /


Canadian Herpetological Society


Canadian Geographic Animal Facts

First Nations

First People's of Canada

First Nations Games and Activities

Student Animal Reports

Mule Deer Animal Report

Mule deer, also known as Odocoileus hemiones, are beautiful animals. They can weigh 95 to 330 pounds, or 43 to 150kgs. Their fur colours can be light brown and white or dark grey. They have lots of special features, like big ears, which they use to be aware of their surroundings. They have white butts, and they bounce and grow antlers every year.

When they have young they have one to two, but rarely three. Young mule deer are born in the spring. The mom will keep her young until the following spring. Both of their parents don’t raise them, just the doe does. During the rut, a time where bucks chase does to mate, the buck stays around, but when the ruts over the bucks gone. The young look different from full grow mule deer, because they are smaller have no antlers. Also, they have spots as a way of telling that they are young.

Mule deer live in a few different locations, like the southwest part of the States, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. They can be found in the hills, which is a landform that extends above the surrounding territory. They are also found in grasslands; an open and continuous flat area of grass. They are often located in temperate forest at high latitudes. Lastly, they live in crop lands that include areas used to produce crops for harvest.

Mule deer are herbivores. A herbivore is an animal that feeds on plants and they eat green plants, nuts, corn, trees and twigs. They find food by smelling it out and seeking freshly cut areas, but mule deer have little trouble finding food in the spring, summer and fall.

This is how mule deer deal with seasonal adaptations. In spring and they mostly eat and raise their young. The bucks start growing their antlers that they lost in the winter. In fall, they start eating to prepare for the harsh winter. During the winter the buck competes for breeding opportunities and will fight fiercely to show their dominance.

There are many other interesting facts about mule deer. For example, mule deer have seven different relatives. Some of these relatives include, Sitka and Columbian Black tail deer. Also, mule deer’s eyes are located on the side of its head providing 310 degrees of vision. Mule deer get around by stotting. This is when deer use all their legs to get off the ground at once. When the legs hit the ground, they bounce back up. Mule deer can jump up to two feet high in the air and up to 15 feet in distance stotting. It helps them jump through logs and trees. They also can almost jump anything while stotting.

​Mule Deer Encounter

A story about the animal I chose took place when I was hunting with my dad and grandpa. My grandpa lives in Asquith, but he comes to Turtleford every hunting season. One day, we were hunting mule deer and we went to the river hills to look for a mule deer buck. My dad was looking left of the hill and my grandpa was looking the other way, and then I saw a huge buck with a nice set of antlers. My grandpa shot it, but when he did, he broke the tip of the antler off. Then my dad shot and killed it. My dad took the antlers to the taxidermist and he put the tip of the antler back on. Those antlers are hanging up in my dad’s basement.

All about pocket gophers


    Pocket gophers can come in many colours or sizes.  They blend in with dirt.  They can be black, brown, gray and golden brown.  They are darker o the front and lighter on back. Pocket gophers are built for living underground.  They have whiskers to feel around and sharp claws to dig.  They have small black eyes and tiny ears.  They can grow up to 4 to 6 cm long and can weigh up to 75 to 210 grams. 



   A pocket gopher can live up to three years.  They can have up to 5 pups.  They stay with their mother for a month or more.  The pups leave on their own once they are old enough.  They reach adulthood after eleven months. 



    Pocket Gophers live in grass prairies and woodland areas.  Pocket gophers will flock to areas that will provide their needs. They live near gardens, in fields and backyards.  They only dig far in the summer and dig less in the winter. 


     Pocket gophers eat grubs, worms and plants.  They like peas, carrots and corn. They are not picky eaters.  They will eat lots of different stuff.  They can dig under gardens and eat roots of plants. 

Seasonal adaptations

   In the summer pocket gophers will need to find food.  They also can dig far.  In the winter they will need to find more food. It is hard to dig in the winter.  The snow covers all the holes too. 



    The pocket gophers scientific name is geomyidae. They can dig 6 feet deep.  They dig farther when the soil is wet.  The tunnels can cover up to 185 square meters.  They can run fast and are not easy to catch. 

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northern pocket gopher (notice the long front claws for digging and the small eyes)
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mound of dirt at the entrance to a northern pocket gopher burrow

Asian Water Monitor.

Scientific Name: Varanus salvator


The Asian Water Monitor is a large brownish blackish lizard. They also have yellow spots on their underside. They have very long necks, sharp teeth, claws and powerful jaws that are used for hunting. Hatchlings start out very small at only 10 inches, but over the course of one year they grow over 2 meters! The lizards also have very long, muscular tails that are flat.


These reptiles reproduce in large numbers. The female lizard can lay up to 40 eggs a year. These eggs hatch 56-64 days after they have been laid. They hatch out of a mound that is similar to an ant hill. After hatching they do not return to this mound. Asian Water Monitors are not raised by their parents. They are abandoned before they hatch. The major difference between the adults and the young is size. An adult Water Monitor can be over 2 meters and newly born lizards are only 25cm long.


Water Monitors live anywhere from Asia to the islands of Indonesia. They can be found in Sri Lanka, India, Indochina and many other places. These lizards live in wetlands, swamps, along river banks, canals and more. They need to live in places that are hot, humid, and have lots of water so they can survive.


The Asian Water Monitor eats many different foods like fish, frog, rodents, birds, crabs and snakes. These lizards are hunters and carnivores. Using their sharp claws and teeth they chase and capture their prey in the wild. Their long and muscular tails are used to defend themselves, climb trees, and swim helping them capture their prey.

Seasonal adaptation:

These reptiles need a warm and wet environment to live. They live near the equator because the temperature is both warm and doesn’t change very much. Since the temperature stays the

same the Water Monitor does not need to worry about changing seasons. In colder weather the Lizards will lay in the sun to stay warm.


These reptiles can do lots of cool things like stay underwater for half an hour while hunting for prey. Their teeth are so strong that owners of Water Monitors have said their bite is worse than a rattlesnake. The lizards have many names like Rice Lizards and Ring Lizards. They are also the second heaviest and second longest lizards in the world.

 North American Beaver
 (Castor Canadensis)
   The beaver is North America’s largest rodent. They are a nocturnal mammal and can roam on land and in water. Adult beaver can be 1.2 meters long and weight over 27 kilograms. They have dark fur on their back and sides, lighter brown on their chest and belly. They have short front legs and heavy claws. Their tail is flat and hairless and is used to slap the water to signal danger and as a warning to their predators. Their fur is waterproof with an oily secretion from their scent glands called castoreum. They have a thick layer of fat under their skin to keep them warm under water. They have very sharp teeth in order to cut through trees and other woody vegetation. Their teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime but the animals gnawing keeps them filed down. They have webbed feet that help them swim through the water. When they are underwater a special membrane covers their eyes and their nose and ears close.
   Beaver can be found near lakes, rivers, marshes and ponds in North America. They are very hard working and build dams or lodges of sticks and mud. A beaver dam is dome shaped and can be up to three meters tall and as large as twelve meters wide. It has one large central chamber and two entrances. The floor is just above the water and covered in wood chips. They also have a vent that lets in fresh air.  Beaver live in a family group or colony. A colony is made up of one female, one male and their young.  They are territorial and protect their lodge from other beavers by marking it with their scent.
   Beaver are herbivores. Their diet consists of tree bark, roots and water plants. The beaver especially like the bark of birch, maple, aspen, beech, poplar and alder trees. They eat the tree bark and cambium which grows under the bark. They gnaw down trees and gather other food in the fall so they have plenty for the winter. They keep a cache in their dams where they store bits of wood, bark and branch clippings. They can also swim under the ice in the winter and eat roots and plants that are under water.
   In the winter their sturdy bodies conserve heat. Their tails store fat and act like a heater in the colder months. Their thick fur and dense underfur help them conserve heat. The oil in their fur makes it water repellent and this helps keep them warm and dry in the winter and when they are under water.
   Beaver mate when they are three years old. Their pregnancy lasts for three months and they have a litter of kits a year between April and June. They can have between one to four babies per litter. Both parents look after their young for two years. A female makes a soft bed in the lodge for birth. The babies eyes are open when they are born. They can swim twenty four hours after birth. Young beavers are weaned at two weeks and by six weeks they are eating solid foods. The older young help out with newborn kits until they are around two to three years old and can move on and breed. Beaver live until they are ten to fifteen years in the wild.
   Some fun facts about beaver are that they can run on land, but not very well. They can swim six miles per hour and stay under water for fifteen minutes at a time. They can fell as many as 300 trees per year. Beavers have a big impact on the ecosystem. Dams help to alter the flow of rivers, prevent erosion and raise the water table which helps purify water and break down toxins.
   The early European explorers main attraction to make money was beaver pelts. Canada offered a beaver population of millions. In the early 1700’s the fashion of the day in Europe was fur hats. The Hudson’s Bay Company also had the beaver on the shield of it’s coat of arms. This showed how important this little rodent was to the company. Sir Sanford Fleming also made the beaver a national symbol when he featured it on the first Canadian postage stamp in 1851.

My Beaver Encounter

        I have had many encounters with beavers but this was my most recent. About a week ago my family went out to my dads field to check that the beavers hadn’t built a dam that would flood it. This field was the farthest we own from our farm and has a very rough road in to get to it. We had to race across the field as quick as we could so we would not get stuck in order to get to the creek.

      We walked down to the creek and saw many logs that had been stripped of bark. There were also many trees still standing in the ground that had been chewed off and looked like the end of a pencil. We only saw one beaver swimming and as we got closer it slapped its tail many times to warn us we were getting too close.

        My dad and I walked over an old beaver dam to take a closer look at a larger dam. The dam looked like a bunch of sticks stacked up on top of each other held together by mud. The water was low and we were able to see into the abandoned dam. There were no beavers nearby.

       I was happy the beaver was not making a new dam that would make my dad mad. That was one lucky beaver! I think beavers are cool. They are very interesting to watch because they are so busy.
20160417 beaver 1small.jpg
beaver along the Turtle River
beaver lodge in winter

Moose Alces alces

If you ever see a moose up close you will be amazed. The moose is the largest deer in the world. The moose's total length is 2.1 to 2.8 meters (7 – 9 ft) and their weight is 227 to 535 kilograms (500 - 1180 lb.). The color of a moose can be light brown to a very dark brown color, but their lower legs are white. If you ever see a moose and wonder what's on its chin you will see a loose amount of skin. This is called a dewlap. The length of a moose's head is almost as long as a horse's head. Bull moose are famous for their large antlers,

In May or June after eight months in gestation a cow moose gives birth to one to three calves, usually two. Calves usually weigh 11 kg (25 lbs.) at birth. The cow moose raises the young on her own until they leave at one and a half years old. A bull calf may develop button antlers during the first year. Moose live in the northern coniferous forest. They live in the river hills and swampy woody areas. They seem to prefer areas that have been disturbed by flooding, avalanches, and forest fires. In lowlands they frequent streamsides or bushy areas with abundant deciduous woody plants.

 I'm surprised how big a moose is because of what their diet is. Moose are herbivores. A moose will eat up to 35 kg. (70 lbs.) a day. Moose eat plants, fruit, and bark. Eighty percent of the moose's diet is wood, mostly twigs and branches. They sometimes find food at the bottom of the lake; they consume aquatic plants which provide moose with sodium. A moose prefers deciduous trees and shrubs over conifers,

Moose have different ways for dealing with different seasons. Bulls lose their antlers during winter and they grow back five months later. In winter a mane of hair as long as sixteen cm develops along the spine over the humped shoulders and along the neck. The summer mane is much shorter. Moose normally escape predators by trotting at a high speed, but in winter with lots of snow they charge the predators. Moose suffer from winter ticks. They protect themselves by rubbing against trees and diving into the water.

Moose are very interesting creatures. Did you know that moose can swim 9kilometers per hour (6 miles per hour)  and dive twenty feet under the water? They can swim up to ten miles without stopping. Moose have very poor eyesight. If a bull moose is castrated, he will shed his antlers and grow new deformed antlers that he will never shed again.  These are called devils antlers. Moose can live ten to fifteen years in the wild. I have been very lucky to have a bull, cow, and calf moose walk right past my house into the swampy area. They are a very amazing animal.

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a moose near Turtleford

Black Bears

Black bears are the most widely distributed bear species. They are found only in North America with a population of approximately 800,000. They live primarily in forested areas but will leave forest areas to find food. In the winter they live in dens which could be a cave or a hollow tree. They usually carry in a few mouthfuls of grass to lie on during its sleep.

Even thought they are called black bears they are not always black. They can be black to brown to honey coloured and even white with a long shaggy coat. Black bears are medium sized bears. Their weight is between 40 kilograms to 270 kilograms and their height is between 137 centimeters and 183 centimeters. An adult male is about 20 percent larger than females. They have 2.5-centimeter-long claws on large wide feet.

Black bears are omnivores. Their diet is 95 percent plant material: leaves, buds, berries, flowers, fruits, and roots. They also eat animal matter: insects, bees and honey and even young hoofed animals. Around humans they will try to eat garbage. They are good swimmers and have exceptional smell and eye sight which helps them find food.

Black bears have 1 to 5 cubs (usually 2 to 3) every 2 years. The babies are born in January when their mom is hibernating. They are born at 0.27 to 0.40 kilograms and their back legs are not developed yet. They are also blind. They are 2 kilograms to 3 kilograms when the cubs leave the den in spring. The mother is the one who raises the cubs and they will stay with her for 18 months.

Black bears are very good adapters to seasonal changes. In winter they hibernate in dens to avoid cold weather and lack of food. They eat

up to 20,000 calories a day to put on weight for hibernation since they can lose 20 to 40 percent of their body weight. Black bears are not true hibernators since they sometimes wake up on warm days in winter to look for food.

There are lots of interesting facts about the black bear:

1. Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg, a female American black bear cub that lived at the London zoo

2. One adult black bear swam 14.5 kilometers along the Gulf of Mexico

3. The biggest wild black bear ever recorded was shot in New Brunswick in 1972 and weighed an estimated 500 kilograms

4. A subspecies of black bear with white fur, known as Kermode or Spirit Bear, lives in British Columbia

​Black Bear story

Lots of people around here will have a story about a black bear. A long time ago my grandpa and his friend were moose hunting. They where walking in the forest and they came upon a male black bear. It scared the crap out of them and they ended up shooting it. On their way back they seen two cubs and they were ready if they had to shoot another one. And now that bear hangs on their cabin wall.

Short-tailed Weasels

I chose a short tailed weasel for my report because they are so cute, and a little short tailed weasel is living in my dad’s calf barn. Short tailed weasels live up to 4-6 years old.  Weasels are prey and predators, they hunt for rabbit sized prey and smaller. They will hunt and eat voles, shrew, rabbits, rats, chipmunks, and other mammals in their habitat. When those animals are not available short tailed weasels will eat birds, frogs, eggs, fish and insects.  Males hunt and scavenge for bigger prey then females.

A weasel’s appearance is very cool because they change colour in the summer and winter. In summer a weasel’s short fur is dark brown with a tan belly and neck.  In winter a weasel is all white with black around its eyes.  A short tailed weasel has a long body, short legs, long neck, and triangular head, round little ears, dark brown eyes, and long white whiskers. On the tip of a short tailed weasel’s tail is a black spot of fur to distract predators to attack the tail and not their head. A short tailed weasel is 18 to 33cm long and it weighs 28 to 170g.

A weasel’s habitat is very interesting because they live in many different places. Such as open field, woodlands, thickets, road sides, and farm land. They can live across North America, Europe and Asia. They thrive in environments with lots of small prey (small rodent) and with an available source of water. Most weasels live in either abandoned burrows, or nests under trees, or rock piles.

The social behavior is pretty lonely for a weasel, except for mating or weaning their young. Weasels are solitary animals that fend for themselves in the wild.

The reproduction on weasels is crazy because it can have up to 15 kits in one year (kits are baby weasels) and a weasel usually has two batches of kits in a year. A weasel is pregnant for one month and she is most likely to have her baby’s in the summer. The mom is the only weasel to look after her young the dads don’t help. A baby weasel is different from the mom because when it is born it is born hairless, toothless, and helpless. A baby weasel will be weaned at 6-8 weeks of age, when is makes its first kill.

If you are wondering, a weasel does not hibernate.  Weasels are active all year long. Weasels often kill more prey then the can eat, storing the left overs for later. A weasel is the world smallest mammal predator. Did you know a group of weasels is called a boogle!


Black Bears

Scientific name: Ursus Americanus

What do you think of when you hear the word “bear”? Some people think of Winnie the Pooh or Paddington. What comes to mind for me, is a ferocious, wild beast; ready to gobble me up whole (well, maybe spit the bones out.) Around here there are mostly black bears, so I decided to research them because I suspect there is more to bears than picnics, teddies and vicious attacks.

Black bears need to get their food and shelter from the land. They prefer the forest and alpine habitats of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba because they can easily find what they need. Black Bears like to eat: roots, berries, insects, fish, carrion and garbage. Yes they are not picky eaters! Black Bears are often spotted by our lake lot; hanging out by the garbage dump. Black Bears make their dens in caves, hollowed out tree trunks and rock piles. Our area is perfect for them.

Black Bears look like you`d imagine. Black Bears get their name from their fur coat colour. They have small eyes and rounded ears. Their large body can grow from 1.3 to 1.9 meters long (4 to 7 feet). Black Bears have a long brown snout, but a short, tiny tail. A male adult bear weighs about 40 to 270 kilograms (150-300 lbs). He`d have to eat a lot of berries and bugs! Black Bears stock up on food in the fall so they can hibernate for up to seven months over the winter. Maybe that is why we sleep with teddy bears? Because they like to sleep so much.

Black Bears have their babies after they are safe and have rested about midway during hibernation. Mating usually happens in June and the cubs are born in January. They have a shorter gestation than humans. Cubs are usually born with their eyes closed and weigh about only 250-500g. Usually two or three cubs are born in a litter. They spend their early months cuddling in the den with their mother for body heat, by late April they are ready to go exploring.

Black bears are introverted and are protective of their privacy. They have a critical space if you enter that space, they will defend it; especially if their cubs are close by. If you encounter a black bear you should back away slowly. They don`t look like track stars, but they can run very fast and climb easily. Black bears are intelligent too and have excellent eyesight. They are sort of like a superhero in disguise.

Black bears should be respected, now that I know more about them, I can appreciate black bears. They would rather live by themselves and not bother with me anyhow, I wonder what they think of us? Is there a cub out there a cub out there collecting data on humans?

black bear small.jpg

     Male coyotes weigh up to 8 to 20 kg and female coyotes weigh up to 7 to 18 kg. A Coyote’s fur is light grey and red with black and white. Coyotes have long ears with black tips and white tail. They shed in autumn and become completely white except for the ears. Coyotes have long powerful hind legs. A Coyotes body length is 56-65 cm (22-26 in) including a tail measuring 6.6-10.2 cm (4.05.5 in).

     Coyotes live in packs. Humans are a coyote’s biggest threat followed by cougars and grey wolves. Coyotes have powerful hind legs to hunt deer, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Coyotes hunt by themselves unless if there hunting a hoofed mammal.

     Coyotes have 3 to 12 pups yikes!! Coyotes mate from January to March. The average gestation period for 60 days therefore pups will be born anytime in mid-March or mid-May. Coyote pups leave their mother in about nine months after they are born. Both parent coyotes raise them equally. Coyote pups don’t look much like adult coyotes. They resemble a Chihuahua with short muzzles, small ears and dainty little feet until they are 4 weeks old. Coyote pups are also different from the adults because there coat colour is a different color it is dark brown on their back and then on their face it is red.

     Coyotes eat deer, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Coyotes aren’t picky eaters they will adjust their hunting skills to whatever is available. They hunt small prey alone and large prey in a group.

     In winter they will grow more fur so they don’t get cold. In spring they give birth to a litter of 3-12 pups. In fall (autumn) they start shedding hair. In summer they sleep in the shade throughout the day because they don’t want to be hunting in hot weather at night is when you will see them hunting and playing.

     Coyotes eat deer, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Coyotes are not picky eaters they will eat whatever is available they will hunt small prey alone but they will hunt in small packs when hunting big prey like deer. They will shed their winter fur in spring in fall they go out and find more coyotes to join their pack and form strong family groups. I winter coyote’s start to fuel up on sugar from falls fruits, proteins from prey and fats from seeds and nuts.

     Coyotes aren’t just country creatures they also are found in urban environments. Coyotes look for a long term commitment. Coyotes parent in a unit. Coyotes are closely related to grey wolf. Coyotes can breed with wolves and dogs. Coyotes have an expansive population range. Coyotes are great swimmers. A rare population of (snow coyotes) exist in Newfoundland. There is no wrong way to pronounce coyote’s name. The root word of coyote is an indigenous word meaning “barking dog”. Coyotes can run up to 64 kilometers/hour. Coyotes will eat pretty much anything. With a few predators coyote populations are self- regulated by disease. One time at Grandma Twyla’s house we heard howling so loud we turned on a light and there was a coyote sitting on her deck howling that’s when I got a close look of a coyote.



Turtleford Community School

Birk Street, Box 490, Turtleford, SK, S0M 2Y0
(306) 845-3211
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