Giant African Snails

Humans grow hair, nails due to the presence of keratin in our body. But one thing that we can’t grow is a pair of eyes! However, land snails unlike us, re-grow their eyes, if damaged. 

Most land snails have eyes on the ends of their two upper long tentacles. The head has one to two pairs of tentacles which have the eyes at the tips. These tentacles can regrow if severely damaged and if a snail’s eye is cut off, the antennae can regrow a new eye when the antennae grows. 

Snails don’t have a clear vision, but can detect changes in big and light objects. If you place a finger in front of the snail’s eyes, it can sense it and will instantly retract or draw back its eye into the tentacle to protect itself. 

The Giant African land snail is known to eat more than 500 different types of plants.

Blob Fish

When we humans stay underwater for too long, our skin changes its appearance. It begins to look pale and wrinkly. This is because water is not our natural habitat. This is exactly what happens to blobfish.

This is how blobfish look when they are deep in the ocean.

These creatures live off the coast of Australia, somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 feet beneath the waves. Here, the pressure is up to 120 times higher than the surface.

Fish that swim in this high-pressure area have a swim bladder, which are sacs of air in their body that help them swim without cracking their bones. However, blob fish don’t have a swim bladder. Their bones and body are soft like jelly so
they don’t crack under pressure. Hence, they are able to swim deep in the ocean. The water pressure keeps their muscles tight, making them look like ordinary fish.

But when they are taken out of their natural habitat and bought up to the surface, the pressure drops, making them look saggy and droopy. This is why they are also known as one of the ugliest fish in the ocean.

Blobfish don’t have teeth. They don’t hunt and keep their mouth open to swallow crabs, sea urchins and shellfish.

Giant Pandas

Giant pandas are large cuddly-looking animals. They have a heavy body, rounded ears, a big head and a short tail. Found in China, these pandas eat while sitting in an upright position holding food in their hands, just like humans.

Giant pandas survive almost entirely on bamboo, which is low in nutrition. Hence, they eat 12 to 38kgs of bamboo per day to get enough nourishment. But bamboo does not digest properly in their stomachs and passes undigested. To digest as much as possible, pandas sit upright and eat for more than 12 hours a day. Sitting upright helps them use their front paws to hold their food comfortably.

Their front paws have five clawed fingers and an extra bone that works like a thumb. Pandas use this bone and their fingers to grasp their food.

As they spend most of their time eating, sitting upright leaves their front paws free to pick and trim leaves.

Giant pandas begin climbing trees when they are 7 months old.

Mantis Shrimps

Humans train for years at throwing punches to become good boxers. However, Mantis shrimps have a naturally powerful punch.

Mantis shrimps are found in the shallow waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. They are very colourful and their size ranges from two to seven inches. They are crustaceans, which means that they are animals with a hard outer shell.

Mantis shrimps can throw the fastest punches in the world. They use their powerful punch to hunt for preys. Their punches can break through crab shells and walls of fish tanks as well.

Their bodies have adapted to throw fast punches. When their upper arms contract, their body’s energy gets stored in a small saddle- shaped part in their body. This acts like a spring that has been compressed. All this energy is released at once, leading the lower arm ahead quickly. Each punch produces small flashes of light, upon impact. These small flashes occur because their claw moves so fast that it lowers the pressure of the water in front of it, causing it to boil.

A Peacock Mantis shrimp’s punches are as fast as a bullet.

Marvellous Aunt Maneka

Q. There are many dogs at the bus stop near my house. They climb all over me, so I chase them away with a stick. How can I avoid driving them away with a stick?

-Venky, 11 years, Borivali

aunt maneka

Dear Venky, This doesn’t seem like natural behavior for dogs. They normally don’t jump on anyone without good reason. You may be carrying food and eating it in front of them. You may have hit them several times. Another reason is that they like you and are coming to make friends with you. I suggest that you stand with an adult for a few days. Avoid looking at the dogs and ignore them when they come near. Do not eat anything there and if you wish to make friends with the dogs keep a few glucose biscuits which you can throw at them from a distance.

Q. I want to keep a tortoise as a pet but I don’t know what they eat. What should I do?

-Surabhi , 10 years, Kolkatta

aunt maneka

Dear Surbhi, It is illegal to keep tortoises as pets. They are scavengers in the water and they eat dead animals and alage. You cannot keep them alive for very long and its not right to take them out of their surroundings. They do not make good pets because they do not recognise human beings. They need sun and a specialised diet. If you want a pet, you can get a dog or cat.

Q. Can newspaper be used as bedding for my guinea pig? Is sunlight essential for him? How can I build a play area in my small house for him?

-Vipasha , 13 years, Hyderabad

aunt maneka

Dear Vipasha, You should be letting the guinea pig out to play all over the house. Guinea pigs don’t like being locked in cages. A newspaper bedding has to be done in many layers. But there should be some cloth bedding as well. It should be changed every day and the cloth must be cleaned out. If you take him/her out into the garden or the house then you won’t have this trouble. The guinea pig needs sunlight so let him/her roam around in sunlit areas. If you are unable to watch over your pet, then make a small enclosure in which he/she can play. Get them chew toys and things they can use to exercise.


If you have questions about pets/animals/birds, write to us and we’ll ask Aunt Maneka to answer

Submit your queries at or Magazine



Deep sea creature

Every birthday, we grow a year older. Our body also ages with time. This is true of most living beings, except a type of jellyfish that has the ability to reverse its life cycle!

Turritopsis dohrnii, a species of jellyfish lives in the Mediterranean Sea and in the waters around Japan. This small bell shaped jellyfish grows up to 4.5 mm in diameter as well as in height—that is about the size of a fire ant.

Generally, a jellyfish starts life as a polyp—a cucumber-shaped organism that attacks itself to the ocean floor or a coral reef. Depending on the species, a polyp takes between a week and a month to grow into an adult.

When an adult Turritopsis dohrnii is injured, it goes to the bottom of the ocean floor and transforms back into a polyp—its infant state. It does so by first retracting its tentacles and then gradually shrinking its body. Once it reaches its polyp state, it starts to grow back into an adult jellyfish. This makes the jellyfish immortal. It has the ability to do this over and over again, until it is either eaten by a predator or dies of some disease.

Turritopsis dohrnii has inspired scientists to use this process of “rebirth” to try and renew damaged or dead human tissues of a dysfunctional organ and restore it to its normal state.

Winter Animals Winter Sleep

Trees shed their leaves. People wear jumpers and parkas and at home turn the heater on. But what about the animals? How can they survive low temperatures, long chilly nights and the lack of food?

Animals have developed few strategies to get through winter. They migrate to warmer places, they adapt to the season or they fall asleep and remain inactive until external conditions suit them better. This long, very deep sleep over winter time is called hibernation.

The coolest winter hibernators on Earth are:

Alpine Marmots

winter animals

(Marmota marmota) are quite sleepy animals. Found in the mountain areas of central and south Europe, they hibernate for up to 8 months.



winter animals

They might be the sleepiest animal on Earth. In captivity scientists have recorded a big brown bat that spent 344 days sleeping away!


Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)

winter animals

It is the only known bird species to hibernate. This bird sleeps for up to 5 months.



winter animals

They are not always found in hibernation, except for 4 species: American Black Bear, Asiatic Black bear, Brown bear and Polar bear. Then their sleep is not a real deep one. They can wake up at any moment. So beware!


animal winter


They die at low temperatures but the queen bumblebee hibernates in a hole in the ground for 6 to 8 months. As soon as weather conditions warm up the queen wakes up and works to create a brand new swarm.


animal winter

Common Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

They can hibernate from 80 to 160 days. This length varies according to location and turtle subspecies. These turtles are very delicate. If they get up too early, they may not survive to winter.



winter animals

They can hibernate for years. They just need to lock them inside their shell and wait for the right time to get up and go out.



animal winter

Garter snakes are social. They hibernate in groups for warmth and as soon spring arrives and temperature goes up, they, in group, go out of their winter homes. People who see them say it’s quite amazing.


Hedgehogs can sleep through the whole winter in their in their burrows.

animal winter


Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher told us why: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”