A Child’s Book of Riddles
29 riddles and facts about animals and nature

By: Harris Tobias


This book contains 29 riddles. Most of them are about animals but some are not. There are hints on the riddle pages and some interesting facts about the creatures or objects pictured on the answer pages. See if you can guess the riddles before you scroll down the page. Good luck and no peeking.      
1.  My howl can make you feel small,
You hope I don’t pay you a call,
My bad reputation,
Comes from poor education,
Over hunting has been my downfall.
Red wolves once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States where it was an apex predator. The red wolf was thought to be extinct in the wild by 1980. 1987 saw a reintroduction in northeastern North Carolina through a captive breeding program and the animals are considered to be successfully breeding in the wild but are still considered critically endangered. WOLF. 
2.  I can move without making a sound,
My figure is low to the ground,
I go where I please,
If I give you a squeeze,
You won’t like me hanging around.
The Boa constrictor is found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. Boa constrictors can reach lengths of anywhere from 3–13 feet Boa constrictors are very popular within the exotic pet trade, and have been both captured in the wild and also bred in captivity. BOA CONSTRICTOR. 

3.  I fly but not in the air,
My skin hasn’t feathers or hair,
And one other thing,
I have a terrible sting,
Do you know who I am? Do you care?
Most stingray species are relatively wide spread but several are listed as vulnerable or endangered. Stingrays do not aggressively attack humans. A sting can occur if a ray is accidentally stepped on. To avoid stepping on a stingray in shallow water, it’s a good idea to shuffle your feet. STING RAY.  

4.  My kind is most seldom seen,
Unless your senses are keen,
My color is black,
All pity I lack,
I bite but I’m not being mean.
The common name black widow spider is due to a behavior in some species in which the female eats the male after mating. Its bite is harmful to humans; however, black widow bites are rarely fatal. BLACK WIDOW SPIDER. 

5.  You can run but you cannot hide,
My fangs are the source of my pride,
If you try to run,
You’re certainly done,
You’ll be looking out from inside.
Male lions can exceed 550 lbs in weight and are the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia but have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of their decline. Within Africa, the West African lion population is particularly endangered. LIONS.  

6.  Some people think I’m a pet,
A mistake they may live to regret,
My line is quite ancient,
I’m smart and I’m patient,
With a bite you won’t soon forget.

Most species of tarantulas are not dangerous to humans, and some species have become popular as pets. Tarantulas make good pets due to their docility and vivid colors. This, unfortunately, has led to its over-collection from the wild. The illegal pet trade, together with the ongoing destruction of natural habitat and its high mortality rate, causes considerable concern for the future of the tarantula. TARANTULA. 

7.  I can take on most any shape,
I’m essential to any landscape,
If you look in the air,
You’ll find me there,
I can touch you and not leave a trace.
A cloud is a large collection of very tiny droplets of water or ice crystals. The droplets are so small and light that they can float in the air. A cloud is made up of liquid water droplets. A cloud forms when air is heated by the sun. As it rises, it slowly cools it reaches the saturation point and water condenses, forming a cloud. As long as the cloud and the air that its made of is warmer than the outside air around it floats. CLOUDS.  

8.  Some people find it droll,
To see me out for a stroll,
I’m most often found,
Under the ground,
But I sometimes come out of my hole.

Moles are small mammals adapted to an underground lifestyle. They have velvety fur; tiny or invisible ears and eyes and short, powerful forelimbs with large paws oriented for digging. Male moles are called “boars”, females are called “sows”. A group of moles is called a “labour”. A mole’s diet primarily consists of earthworms and other insects found in the soil. European, Asian, and North American moles are not endangered and are often considered agricultural pests. Many African moles, however, are endangered; Juliana’s Golden Mole is listed as endangered, as are the Giant Golden Mole and Van Zyl’sGolden Mole. MOLE.  

9.  I can be gentle and calm,
Or do some serious harm,
I can break trees,
Or be soft as a breeze,
When I’m angry you better be gone.
Wind is air in motion and is referred to according to its strength. Short bursts of high speed wind are called gusts. Long-duration winds have various names associated with their strength, such as breeze, gale, storm, hurricane, and typhoon. THE WIND.  
10.  I’m a creature very well known,
I make the jungle my home,
The sound of my call,
Strikes fear in all,
But, still, I’d rather be left alone.
The tiger is the largest cat. They are generally solitary but are still social animals. They require large areas of habitat to support their prey requirements. Unfortunately, they live in some of the more densely populated places on Earth. This has caused significant conflicts with humans. Over the past 100 years, tigers have lost 93% of their historic range. The remaining tigers have been classified as endangered. TIGER.  

11. I’m everywhere you want to be,
Without me there’s nothing to see,
When I’m on the scene,
Everything’s green,
When I’m absent it’s pure misery
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System and the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. The Sun is our nearest star. It is spherical and consists of hot gas as a result of thermonuclear reactions in its core. It is thought that almost all stars form by this process. The Sun has a diameter of about 865,374 miles, or approximately 109 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. In approximately 5.4 billion years our sun will start to turn into a red giant large to engulf the current orbits of the Solar System’s inner planets including the Earth. THE SUN.  

12.  Most birds fly better than I,
They make their home in the sky,
Me, I don’t care,
Fish are my fare,
So underwater I fly
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Penguins are highly adapted for life in the water. Their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life caught while swimming underwater. They spend about half of their lives on land and half in the oceans. PENGUIN.  
13.  You wonder how something so grand,
Could eat peanuts out of your hand,
My size alone,
Would fill up your home,
Some of my parts are in great demand 
Elephants are the largest land mammals. They are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. They are the only surviving relative of the now extinct mammoths and mastodons. The trunk, is the elephant’s most important and versatile appendage, contains up to 150,000 separate muscles. Elephants eat leaves, twigs, fruit, bark and roots. The ivory trade has contributed to their severe population decline. ELEPHANT.  

14.  Sometimes I’m old, sometimes new,
Once in while I’m blue,
I come and I go,
High tide and low,
I am always looking at you

The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth and is the fifth largest moon in the Solar System. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face. It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun. The Moon is the only celestial body other than Earth on which humans have set foot. THE MOON.  

15.  My coat is what gives me away,
I am faster than all of my prey,
My teeth and my claws,
Are what give others pause,
For there’s little that I cannot slay
The species’ success in the wild is due to its opportunistic hunting behavior, its adaptability to habitats, its ability to run at speeds approaching 58 kilometers per hour (36 mph), its unequaled ability to climb trees even when carrying a heavy kill, and its notorious ability for stealth. The leopard consumes virtually any animal that it can hunt down and catch. Its habitat ranges from rainforest to desert terrains. Most leopards avoid people, but humans may occasionally be targeted as prey. LEOPARD.  

16.  I’m everyone’s favorite pest,
When you sleep I won’t let you rest,
In your ear I will whine,
On your blood I will dine,
Itchy bites are my bequest
Mosquitoes are a family of small, blood-sucking insects. Although a few species are harmless or even useful to humanity, most are a nuisance because they consume blood from living vertebrates, including humans. In feeding on blood, some of them transmit extremely harmful diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever and filariasis. Some authorities argue accordingly that mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on Earth. There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes known to science. MOSQUITO.  

17.  When something falls on the ground,
My sisters and I gather around,
We clean up the mess,
Take it back to our nest,
Without ever making a sound 

Ants are social insects and are related wasps and bees. Only half of the 12,500 species have been classified. Ants form highly organized colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Ants perform many ecological roles that are beneficial to humans, including the suppression of pest populations and aeration of the soil. There are approximately 1 million ants for every human on Earth. ANTS.  

18.  My funny call gives me away,
Dead animals make my buffet,
I travel in packs,
Hunting for snacks,
I’m ugly or so people say
Although long reputed to be cowardly scavengers, hyenas kill as much as 95% of the food they eat. Hyenas are primarily nocturnal animals, The striped hyena is primarily a scavenger, though it will occasionally attack and kill any defenseless animal it can overcome. The spotted hyena, though it also scavenges occasionally, is an active pack hunter of medium to large sized prey, which it catches by wearing them down in long chases. HYENA.  

19.  There is no creature larger than me,
Good thing I live in the sea,
I’ve been hunted and slain,
Until so few remain,
I might be the last one you’ll see
The Blue Whale is a marine mammal. At 30 metres (98 ft.) in length and 170 tons or more in weight, it is the largest known animal ever to have existed. As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill. Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a century, they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until protected by the international community in 1966. A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide. BLUE WHALE.  

20.  You can only see me at night,
When it’s clear I’m a remarkable sight,
I hide in the day,
I’m so far away,
That I shine with an unearthly light
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of hot gas held together by its own gravity. Our nearest star is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Other stars are visible from Earth during the night appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points due to their immense distance. Historically, the most prominent stars were grouped into constellations and the brightest stars gained proper names. Extensive catalogs of stars have been assembled by astronomers. THE STARS. 

21.  There are so few of my kind in the wild,
Even though I am peaceful and mild,
The problem is that,
I have no habitat,
I have no place to raise my child

The orangutans are an Asian species of great apes. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia and are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Orangutans spend most of their time in trees. Their hair is typically reddish-brown. Fruit is the most important component of an orangutan’s diet. The orangutan is critically endangered. A major factor in their alarming decline has been the conversion of vast areas of tropical forest to palm oil plantations. Hunting is also a major problem as is the illegal pet trade. ORANGUTAN.  

22.  My kind is nearly extinct,
Hunters brought us to the brink,
They think that my horn,
Will make them re-born,
It’s just hair and not what they think

Members of the rhinoceros are some of the largest mammals with all of the species able to reach one tonne or more in weight. They generally eat leafy material. Rhinoceros are killed by humans for their horns. People grind up the horns and then consume them believing the dust has therapeutic properties. The horn is incredibly valuable: an average sized horn can bring in as much as a quarter of a million dollars in Vietnam. As a result, poaching is hitting record levels due to demands from China and Vietnam. RHINOCEROS  

23.  In rivers I like to swim,
Mud protects my sensitive skin,
I can bite a canoe,
Almost in two,
And no one considers me thin

The name Hippopotamus comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse”. It is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal. After the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal. Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun a human. The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Nevertheless, they are still threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth. Hippos are subject to unregulated hunting and poaching. HIPPOPOTAMUS.  

24. There’s no place that I’d rather be,
Than out in your yard running free,
This rather begs,
The question of eggs,
Which came first, them or me?

The chicken is a domesticated version of the Red Jungle fowl, one of the most common and widespread domestic animals with a population of more than 24 billion. There are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs. Some hen breeds can produce over 300 eggs per year. CHICKEN.  

25.  My body is covered with scales,
A protection that never fails,
What I like best,
Is a big termite nest,
And ants make the tastiest meals 

A pangolin (also known as a scaly anteater) has large scales covering its skin, and is the only known mammal with this adaptation. It is found naturally in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia. The name, pangolin, comes from the Malay word, pengguling, meaning “something that rolls up”. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armor and its face tucked under its tail. Deforestation, has led to a large decrease in the numbers of giant pangolins. In 2010, pangolins were added to the list of endangered mammals. PANGOLIN.  

26.  I can zip through the air like a dart,
I make flying into an art,
I am swift and deadly,
I eat insects steadily,
Ecologically I do my part
Dragonflies are characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world. Dragonflies can fly backwards, change direction in mid-air and hover for up to a minute. Dragonflies are major predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps, and, very rarely, butterflies. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic. DRAGONFLY.  

27.  I’m as big and slow as expected,
My age alone should be respected,
Sure I move slowly,
My diet’s quite lowly,
My armor keeps me well protected
Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling turtles. Contrary to popular belief, tortoises are in fact turtles rather than part of a separate group. Like most turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. Female tortoises dig nesting burrows in which they lay from one to 30 eggs. Most land-based tortoises are herbivores and are among the world’s longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more. The giant tortoise is threatened by introduced species such as dogs and cats which prey on young tortoises, and cattle which compete for grazing vegetation. TORTOISE.  

28.  People fear that I may be inserted,
And hang in their attic inverted,
I don’t need to see,
The dark’s fine with me,
But my character’s been grossly perverted
Bats are the only mammals capable of sustained flight. Other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums can only glide for short distances. To help them find their prey in the dark, bats have developed a navigation system called echolocation enabling bats to capture prey in total darkness. Bats are the second largest order of mammals after the rodents and represent 20% of all mammal species. The greatest threat to bats is people. Bats are also killed by harmful development projects such as wind turbines that are placed along migratory routes. In addition, an emerging disease called white nose syndrome is killing large numbers of hibernating bats in North America. The United States is home to an estimated 45 to 48 species of bats. BATS.  

29.  People think I look like I’m praying,
When in fact I’m only weighing,
Whether to dine,
On six bugs or nine,
My numbers have been reduced by spraying

Praying Mantis is the common name for this insect. It is thought to be praying because of its typical “prayer-like” posture. Mantises have large compound eyes and excellent vision. The majority of mantises are ambush predators and camouflage themselves spending long periods standing perfectly still. In pure ambush mode a mantis lashes out at remarkable speed when a target comes within reach. PRAYING MANTIS.  

A Pledge For The Earth:
You know it’s important, my friend,
To save the planet upon which we depend,
Yes, it’s up to us,
To make a big fuss,
All Earth’s creatures we must defend,
You must understand that,
Without habitat,
For many species this is the end,
So let’s band together and say,
Let no bird or beast fade away,
The Earth is our home,
Just leave it alone,
And we’ll all live together someday


Special thanks to Harris Tobias for providing us this wonderful book.

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