The Hidden World of Tiny Creatures
Latta Nature Preserve is chock full of interesting and busy critters. Lots of people think there's no wildlife to be found because they didn't see a fox, deer, or raccoon on their visit. I think those people aren't looking close enough. It's true that megafauna (a.k.a. large animals) are not something we see every day in the preserve, but smaller creatures like lizards, birds, and invertebrates (those without a backbone) are easy to spot if you take your time and look a little closer!
Tips for watching tiny wildlife:
Slow down. Not every walk in the preserve needs to get your heart rate pumping. Slow your pace and open yourself up to nature.
Use your senses. Often you'll hear a creature before you see it. Many frogs and crickets have excellent camouflage so try to follow your ears to the source!
Be patient. We are conditioned for instant gratification, but nature doesn't work like that. You might not find The Most Exciting Creature ever on every walk in the woods, but you never know on which walk that creature is waiting!
Get into bugs! Insects, snails, and slugs are literally everywhere. You should have no trouble finding wildlife as long as your definition of wildlife includes these guys.
Get in close. Many of my discoveries of hidden creatures come about because I stopped to take a picture of this mushroom, or identify that wildflower. Look closely at the plants and you'll be surprised what you find.
Do no harm. Remember to be respectful of the creatures you find. Not every lizard needs to be chased nor every toad picked up. While the wonder of holding these things in your hand is incomparable, be sure you're not causing them too much stress or even injury!
If you head out on your hike and don't find anything exceptional, you can always come visit us at Quest! Get up close to tiny wildlife in the exhibit hall, including an anole, treefrog, and salamander, or look even closer at invertebrate specimens using MicroEye microscopes.