If you're a parent of a young child, you know how curious and investigative they can be! And this is great because it helps them grow and develop their cognitive skills. So if you recently took a trip to the aquarium, your child may have a new interest in sea life.
Or maybe you're trying to introduce them to something new. Whatever the case may be, we're sure this guide to the best manatee facts for kids will have your child inspired to learn more. So sit down, unwind, and get your child ready for a great read.
1. Manatees Can Weigh Up to 3,500 Pounds
One of the coolest manatee facts may seem shocking, but did you know that newborn manatees are about 4 feet long? They also weigh up to 70 pounds!
And when they're fully grown, they can be as 13 feet and weigh up to 3,500 pounds. Just to put this into perspective, a regular car weighs about 3,000 pounds. So imagine your car as a manatee. Crazy, right?
2. Manatees and Elephants Are Like Cousins
Just like you, manatees also have relatives! Scientists have found that manatees are distant relatives of elephants. Both of these mammals have a trunk, thick hair, and really tough skin. So odds are if you ever get to touch a manatee, you probably won't like the way they feel.
3. Manatees Are Herbivores
Manatees or "sea cows" only eat plants. In the animal kingdom, we refer to this as herbivores. Therefore, manatees do not eat fish or any other crustaceans.
So you might be wondering, what do manatees eat? Well, they mostly eat seagrass which is found at the very bottom of the sea.
Getting to the bottom of the sea can take hours for a human. However, manatees have solid and thick bones which helps them reach the bottom faster.
And the reason they're called sea cows is that they spend six to nine hours eating grass and aquatic vegetation. Land cows spend around six to twelve hours eating grass.
Another fun fact about manatees is that they produce gas just like cows. This is why they're so round and big.
But don't get worried. The gas in their bellies helps them digest their food so they don't get an upset stomach. So how's that for cool facts about manatees?
4. Algae Grows on Their Skin
Some more facts about manatees are that they grow algae on their skin. If you're not familiar, the alga is a form of aquatic plant. This organism grows in wet and sunny areas. And since manatees come up for air and move really slow, the algae likes to make them their home.
But manatees don't mind having these plants on them. In fact, algae help protect manatees from harmful skin rays.
5. They Can Hold Their Breath Underwater for a Long Time
Rule number one: don't ever have an underwater breathing contest with a manatee! You will lose. That's because manatees can hold their breath for about 20 minutes.
But manatees still like to come up for air every three to four minutes. So you might be wondering how manatees breathe underwater. If som this manatee fact will surprise you.
For starters, manatees have nostrils just like you. This means they need oxygen to breathe. But when they swim, they can keep their nostrils closed to avoid water getting into their body.
After a few minutes, they will poke their gray heads out of the water to get some fresh air. However, for naps, the process is a lot different. For example, they can sleep for 20 minutes and then wake up and get air. This is why manatees nap closer to the surface so they can easily get the air they need.
And you might be thinking how do they not oversleep and forget to catch fresh air? Well, manatees take multiple, 20-minute naps per day.
And their bodies are naturally trained to wake up whenever they need air. So they never forget to get fresh air.
6. They Can Live in Most Waters
When teaching kids about manatees, we also like to incorporate some fun geography. So here's a question for you-- where do manatees live?
- Gulf of Mexico
- Caribbean Sea
- Amazon Basin
- West Africa.
The answer is all of the above but let's dive deeper into what this actually means! For starters, Manatees prefer freshwater. However, they can swim in saltwater when necessary.
Some manatees can even live in calm rivers and shallow bodies of water. The only big requirement that manatees have is that they cannot survive in water that is below 60 degrees.
Lastly, the manatee that we see most often is the Florida manatee which lives off the coast of Florida. So if you ever take a trip to the sunshine state, you might run into a sea cow!
7. They Grow New Teeth All the Time
When humans are young they start to lose their baby teeth and then get their adult teeth. However, after this transition, humans cannot grow new teeth!
In contrast, manatees can grow new teeth throughout their lives. What happens is that their teeth get withered down over time. Then they fall out which makes roo for new molars to grow.
This cycle happens many times throughout the manatee's life. So they get a lot of visits from the underwater tooth fairy. Lastly, adult manatees only have molars which means they have no front teeth!
8. They Are Very Slow
Manatees swim at about 3-5 miles per hour. However, when necessary they can reach up to 20 miles per hour but only for a short time. And they also travel about 40 to 50 miles every day.
9. There Are Three Main Species of Manatees
Manatees have three species called the West African Manatee, West Indian Manatee, and the Amazonian Manatee.
But we're not done et, manatees also have two other sub-species of manatees. They are the Antillean Manatee and Florida Manatee which we discussed earlier.
10. They Have Interesting Behaviors
Manatees are calm and well-tempered sea mammals. They are also very smart and can learn to do tricks. In fact, some manatees like to do flips and swim upside down.
Lastly, manatees also have a really good memory. So they can distinguish sounds and even faces. How cool is that?
The Best Manatee Facts for Kids
These manatee facts for kids may have left you astonished which is good! We hope we were able to teach you more about this amazing animal.
Lastly, manatees are some of the most endangered species in the ocean. So visit our donation page to find out how you can become an ally.