July–August 2023

Young Naturalists

All Clean!

Minnesota creatures get the grime out in their own special ways. 

C.B. Bylander

Getting dirty is part of enjoying the outdoors.

Sand between toes. Mud on knees. Fish scent on hands. These and other signs of good times are easily washed away with soap and water.
But what if you were a wild animal? How would you get clean after getting dirty? 

The answer is “naturally.” Critters clean themselves with what nature provides, which is often little more than their tongue, teeth, beak, or paw. Some animals lick themselves clean. Some use special techniques or body parts to get the grime out. Some animals let others of their own kind—or even other species—help to groom them. From birds to bats, moose to mice, animals of all kinds have special ways to clean up. 

In the wild, staying clean can help keep animals warm, dry, safe, and free from parasites or disease. It can sometimes even mean the difference between life and death. Let’s learn more about how different animals stay clean.

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