Cover image for Exploding ants : amazing facts about how animals adapt
Exploding ants : amazing facts about how animals adapt
Settel, Joanne.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
40 pages : color illustrations ; 22 x 27 cm
Describes examples of animal behavior that may strike humans as disgusting, including the "gross" ways animals find food, shelter, and safety in the natural world.
Reading Level:
1020 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 6.4 1.0 39761.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 6.3 4 Quiz: 21998 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL751.5 .S54 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL751.5 .S54 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL751.5 .S54 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL751.5 .S54 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A wasp lays its eggs under a
caterpillar's skin so that its young can
eat the caterpillar's guts as they grow.
A young head louse makes its home
on a human hair and feasts on
human blood.
Frogs use their eyeballs to help
swallow their food.
From small worms that live in a dog's nose mucus to exploding ants to regurgitating mother gulls, this book tells of the unusual ways animals find food, shelter, and safety in the natural world.
If animals all ate the same things and lived in the same places, it would be impossible for all of them to survive. So they specialize. Some animals eat the bits that others leave behind, such as skin and mucus. They find all kinds of unusual places to shelter, including the cracks and holes in another creature's skin or its internal organs. They use their own bodies to protect themselves from predators by imitating unsavory items such as bird droppings and even by blowing up.
These habits that may seem disgusting to us are wonderful adaptations that make it possible for a great variety of creatures to live and thrive on Earth. Read about them and marvel at the amazing ways animals adapt to the natural world.

Author Notes

Joanne Settel is a professor of biology at Baltimore City Community College. She makes her home in Columbia, Maryland, where she enjoys hiking, biking, and bird watching. Dr. Settel is the coauthor with Nancy Baggett of Why Does My Nose Run?, How Do Ants Know You Are Having a Picnic?, and Why Do a Cat's Eyes Glow in the Dark?, also published by Atheneum.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. Not just another gross-out book of animal oddities, this attractive volume presents its material as wondrous science instead of sensational effect. The chapter heads are a bit over the top--" Murderous Nest Mates," "Gulping Eyeballs," and so forth; but, of course, kids will love them. They'll also like the variety of unusual creatures Settel introduces in straightforward terms--whether it's the nefarious cuckoo that insinuates its young into another bird's nest or an African frog that drops its eyeballs into its mouth. Most scientific terms are explained quite clearly in the text, and a glossary is appended. Color photos, sometimes a bit too small, show each animal. The selected readings are mostly adult titles. Some children's titles would have been a good addition, as this is one of those books kids won't want to end. --Stephanie Zvirin

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-The subtitle for this book modestly describes what Settel delivers with panache. Among the creatures described are swallowtail butterflies (with slimy larvae), predatory fireflies, murderous cuckoos, parasitoid wasps, regurgitating birds, and a few bloodsuckers (ticks, lice, bats, and lampreys). Chapter headings such as "Dog Mucus and Other Tasty Treats," and lovely lurid prose describing the brainwashing behavior of fluke parasites will definitely hook the book's intended prey. Vivid comparisons make the astounding facts comprehensible to young readers: "Some ticks take in so much blood, they swell to nearly four times their normal size. That's like an adult human expanding to the height of a two-story building!" The format differs from that in Theresa Greenaway's Really Fearsome Blood-loving Vampire Bats (1996) and the rest of "The Really Horrible Guides" (all DK) due to its emphasis on text over illustration, but the small, full-color photos are clear. A useful glossary defines the italicized scientific terms sprinkled throughout the text. This offering is another strike against the undeserved reputation of science books as dry, dusty tomes of little interest to children.-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.