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Animal toes.

A quick look at your feet tells you that you have five toes on each foot, and each toe has a nail. You walk flat on your feet and run up on your toes. What about the toes of the other animals? Let's go toe-to toe and see how animal's toes fit their lifestyles.

Not all toes face forward Parrots have four toes -- two facing forward and two facing backward. This toe arrangement enables parrots to handle food and other objects with great skill.

When you run, just your toes hit the ground, not your whole foot. This lengthens your stride and helps you run faster. That's the idea for a tot of animals who walk on their toes all the time -- coyotes, for example. Like other members of the dog family, their toes have claws that are fixed in place. That is, the claws are out all of the time. This gives them good traction on the ground as they chase their prey.

Cats, including lions and tigers, also walk on their toes. Their hunting method is to stalk their prey, get close to it, then pounce and overpower it. Their claws are usually hidden in their paws, helping to make their stalking silent. When they pounce, they thrust out their sharp claws to strike at and grasp their prey.

Komodo dragons have five scaly toes with sharp claws. These large lizards are about 3 m long and can weigh over 90 kg. They use their strong toes to hold down their prey, as well as to dig burrows in the hard ground.

Webbed toes help many water birds, such as ducks and seagulls, to paddle around in the water. Flamingos use their webbed feet, not so much for swimming, but to find food. They splash their webbed feet around the muddy bottom of shallow lakes. This swishing stirs up small creatures, like shrimp, for a tasty meal.

Monkeys and apes have opposable big toes. That means that their big toes are like thumbs, These opposable big toes enable monkeys to grasp things with their feet as well as their hands. This grasping ability comes in "handy" when climbing through the trees.

The ostrich is the only living bird with two toes, And these are big toes to go with a big bird. An adult male ostrich may be 2.4 m tall and and weigh 136 kg. Ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand when they're afraid -- they run. They can run as fast as 65 km per hour.

The prize for the fewest toes goes to the horse family. They have one toe. With fewer toes, they have less weight at the end of their legs so they can pick up their legs quickly and RUN.

Bears, like people, walk flat-footed. That makes them slower runners. But that doesn't bother the American black bear who gets about 75% of it food from plants. And you don't have to run very fast to catch a plant.

Reindeer have four toes on each foot. Two of these toes are large and support the animal's weight. The other two toes are smaller and give it traction and support when walking in the snow or over boggy ground. The front toes are larger than the back toes and are used for digging through the deep snow to find liches to eat.

Most animals with hooves walk on the tips of their toes, like a ballerina. Although you probably don't think of a ballerina when you see a rhinoceros. Rhinos have three toes. They are the only hoofed animal with just three toes on all four feet.
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Author:Suttle, Betsy
Publication:Kidsworld Magazine
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Words:606
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