The mascots

Meet our mascot from Iceland, the Snowy Owl (name will come later)

 

After some discussion about endangered species, we chose the Snowy Owl to be our mascot in Hraunvallaskóli.

 

The Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is the owl of the Arctic regions, and is well adapted to the wild nature that surrounds the entire Arctic.

She is tall and heavy, 53-66 cm tall and weighs two kilograms, her wingspan is up to 170 cm. The female is larger than the male bird, and it is therefore quite easy to distinguish between the sexes. Snowy owls have a blue-gray curved and sharp beak. The talons are dark, with feathered feet. The eyes of the owl are yellow.
The Snowy owl glides slowly, but when she sees a pray, she will dive. The Snowy owl is a solitary bird, except during the breeding season. Snowy owls in Iceland are few, each year there may only be seen as many as ten birds, they do not usually lay their eggs in Iceland, but when it happens, it will occur in mid-May and the eggs are 4-10.

Snowy owls mainly feed  on grouse and ducks, but also smaller birds and mice. They can grow old compared with other birds and sometimes they reach 10 years of age. The home of the Snowy owl is all around the Arctic region, including Greenland and it is believed that the Icelandic snowbirds are from there.
The Snowy Owl is a protected species in Iceland.

All of our students will make their own version of Snowy Owl from clay, which is a recyclable material.

Meet Spike

I am the mascot from Northern Ireland!

We decided to choose the hedgehog as our mascot. The population of hedgehogs is getting smaller because the winters are getting warmer and this means that they waken up too early and there is not enough food. There used to be 36.5 million hedgehogs in the world but now there are only 1.55million left. Hedgehogs all like to eat bananas, raisins, cat food, dog food and worms but to get to these they often have to cross busy roads. If a car comes by the hedgehog has to curl into a tiny ball. Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets and are soft, round and pink. When they are getting their spikes it is called quilling. All hedgehogs have a small tail and bad eyesight but they have a very good sense of smell and hearing. They hibernate from November to March.

We made our hedgehog using old tights, socks and an old scarf. We used an old school tie for some of its spikes! We then ran a competition to name our mascot.

Meet Lucky  the engineer

I am the Romanian mascot.

           The beaver is a surprising animal. You wouldn’t expect much from this semiaquatic animal, which looks like an unsightly cross between a rat and a capybara. But in fact it’s an ingenious animal that hugely imapcts its environment through its actions. Its nickname is „the engineer of ecosyistems”, because it deliberately gathers and stacks up pieces of wood and other materials, creating veritable dams along rivers. These new habitats, where beavers dwell in their so-called „lodges”, are vital. First, the retention of water leads to an extension of wetlands, which are important in the context of climate change. Second, the biodiversity of these habitats is tremendous: they attract fish, which hide there to lay their eggs, and even birds and reptiles want to make a home in the area. So, the beaver’s dams have a positive effect on the local flora and fauna. Also, the wetlands slow off the flow of rains, thus preventing floodings.

            Obviously, beavers must have a physique that fits their feats and work ethic. Interestingly, they keep growing for the duration of their approximate lifespan of 24 years, thus often weighing over 25 kg. They are quite slow on land, but very agile in water, partly thanks to their broad tail. Their most vital weapon are the teeth, which grow continuously, so that they will not be worn down by chewing on wood. Their four chisel-like incisors are covered by hard orange enamel, which contains iron and makes the beaver’s incisors more resistant than those of any other mammal. Also, they are responsible for the funny-looking face beavers are known for among children. Unfortunately, it was their blackish-brown thick fur and castoreum, a secretion from their scent glands believed once to have medicinal properties, that brought beavers on the brink of extinction.

            Due to this aggressive hunting, there were only about 1200 beavers spread throughout Europe and Asia at the beginning of the 20th century. Reintroduced through much of their former range, they have now reached the general conservation status of „least concern”, though they are absent from some countries or they are still endangered or vulnerable, as it happens in Romania. Here, beavers became extinct in 1824, but were reintroduced in 1998 along the Olt River, spreading to other rivers, as well. In 2014, the animals were confirmed to have reached the Danube Delta and, hopefully, in the years to come, they will really start making an impression.

            This resilience of the species, which gives us hope that bad things can be reversed in nature, coupled with the beaver’s typical industriousness and ability to shape the environment in which it lives, made us choose it as Romania’s mascot for our „Green Clean Future” project. Hopefully, it will be a lucky and amusing one!

Meet Erkki

I'am the Finnish mascot.

Erkki is the Finnish Mascot from Marttilan koulu, Seinäjoki Finland! Erkki is a siberian flying squirrel and he lives in the Finnish forests. The Siberian flying squirrel is the only species of flying squirrel in Europe. It is considered  vulnerable within the European Union. It is found only in Finland, Estonia and Latvia.  

The flying squirrels favour old forests with a mix of conifers and deciduous trees. They are being most active late in the evening. In the winter they may sleep continuously for several days. The flying squirrels are seldon seen since they are shy and nocturnal animals.  

The students planned and prepared the mascot using recycled materials. You can find pictures of the process in the blog!

Meet the Hassel family: Anna, Thomas and Aunt Hassel - the Danish mascots

Hazel dormouse is among the most rare and endangered species in Denmark. They are found only relatively few places in the country on small isolated “islands” of younger mixed forest with lots of close scrub.

 

Hazel dormouse is today on the red list of endangered species in Denmark and throughout the world. It is also listed on the EC Habitats Directive. This means, among other things, that Denmark is obliged to monitor the species and protect the animal in its natural range. For example, there is a ban on the destruction of the animal`s habitat as well as intentional disturbance of the species, espesially during the breeding season.

 

Hazel dormouse has golden-brown fur and a long furry tail. Its head and body can grow to a length of 5 - 9cm, and its tail length can around 5 – 8cm. They have large ears, large black eyes and long whiskers.

This animal is nocturnal, and will enter a state similar to hibernation, known as torpor, during the colder months of the year, from around October to May.

Their diet varies throughout the seasons and may consist of flowers, such as from oak, hawthorn and bramble, as well as insects, such as caterpillars. Before hibernation fruit, such as blackberry, is an important food source.

This species can have a litter of around four to seven babies during June to August in a nest which they have woven from grass and small strips of bark.

Dormice are arboreal and will not go onto the ground to cross large open spaces. This means that many populations are isolated causing problems such as the inability to migrate, leading to a low diversity in their gene pool.

Hazel dormouse also likes specific woodland habitat and if the woodland is not managed appropriately the habitat could change so that it no longer suits this species.

They can live for around five years.

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