Think of freshwater wetlands as giant sponges. When it rains, not all water can soak into the ground. Wetlands give the water that doesn't soak into the ground a place to hang out. They also give wildlife awesome places to live!
Some freshwater wetlands are temporary. That means they are only there when it rains a lot, or when it floods. Other times of the year, especially when it is dry, the wetland is not very wet.
What Lives in Freshwater Wetlands?
Remember how we talked about diversity? That means LOTS of different animals live in our freshwater wetlands, so we couldn't possibly list them all here!
|(Photo by Jeff Parker,
|Look at what this great egret can do with its neck! Amazing! Grab your meter stick and take a look at it. That’s how tall great egrets stand. This dramatic bird holds its head out in an "S" shape as it flies.
|These bright green amphibians would rather walk away from danger than jump. Sometimes you'll notice their white lips, but you'll always spot them at night since they're nocturnal.|
|We almost lost this giant reptile to extinction, but thanks to protection first provided by Texans in 1969 you won’t see the words "American Alligator" on the Endangered Species list anymore. Hooray!|
|Their scientific name is "spatula," which means "spoon" in Latin because their snout looks like a, well, you guessed it...a spoon! Like other fish, they get oxygen from the water through their gills. Alligator Gar sometimes grow 10 ft. long and weigh 300 lbs. But never fear - even though their alligator-shaped heads and sharp teeth make them look scary, these fish won't bother you.|
|Nature gave snappers the ability to pull a sneaky trick: a bright red, worm-shaped piece of flesh acts as a lure to attract unsuspecting prey. When animals come too close to investigate, SNAP! One SNAP! from this alligator snapping turtle would be a big OUCH!|
Water Strider (Photo not available)
|It might seem like these zippy dudes wear roller-skates, but it's really tiny claws on the very tips of their feet that let them zoom all over the water's surface. When striders catch a meal, they use sucking mouthparts to feast on the insect's body fluids. Who needs teeth, anyway? Right!|
Freshwater Wetland Plants
Could you imagine if your feet never ever got to dry out? Well, that's what life is like for plants in wetlands whose roots are always underwater. That's why only certain kinds of plants can survive here.
Freshwater wetland plants have hollow tubes to send oxygen down to the roots. That would be like you blowing air down through your legs so your toes could get some oxygen.
Whoa...you'd have to blow very hard wouldn't you?
Don't worry...it's not that bad for these plants. They get some help from animals living in the wetland with them. Some animals tunnel into the soil and this gives the plant's roots oxygen.
This does something called "aeration" (air-ay-shun). Aeration is when oxygen gets put into the soil.