Animal facts: Interesting facts you never knew


  • You can tell if a skunk is about if you smell only .000 000 000 000 071 ounce of its spray.
  • When a dolphin is sick or injured, its cries of distress summon immediate aid from other dolphins, who try to support it to the surface so that it can breathe.
  • The Albatross has a wing span of up to 14 feet and only needs to land once every couple of years to breed. They can travel hundreds of thousands of miles each flight.
  • Certain Chinese and American alligators can survive the winter by freezing their heads in ice, leaving their nose out to breath for months on end.
  • Sea Otters use so much energy that they need to eat as much as one-third of their weight each day.
  • The biggest bird in the world is the ostrich, which can grow up to nine feet tall.
  • According to hospital figures, dogs bite an average of 1 million Americans a year.
  • The sailfish, the swordfish and the mako shark have all been clocked at swimming over 50mph.
  • Montana mountain goats will butt heads so hard their hooves fall off.
  • It takes around 10 dump-truck loads of wood to make a proper funeral pyre for a full-size elephant.
  • The notion that cats and dogs are natural enemies (suggested by the phrase,"fighting like cats and dogs") is overstated, if not simply false. Generally speaking, cats and dogs get along better than cats and cats or dogs and dogs.
  • The last animal in the dictionary is the Zyzzyva, a tropical weevil.
  • Honeybees have hair on their eyes.
  • The only continent without reptiles or snakes is Antarctica.
  • There's a "meow" in the middle of "homeowner."
  • According to a survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, 53 percent of pet owners vacation or travel with their pets.
  • The Dalmatian breed of dog originates from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia.
  • Surveys show that 62 percent of dog owners admit that their dog owns a sweater, wintercoat or raincoat.
  • Cats prefer to eat their food at 86º F, which is why they don't immediately gulp down the half-eaten can of food from the refrigerator.
  • In 1987, cats overtook dogs as the number one pet in America.
  • A frightened dog puts it's tail between it's legs because it covers the scent glands in the anal area. Since the anal glands carry personal scents that identify individual dogs, the tail-between the-legs behavior is the canine equivalent of insecure humans hiding their faces.
  • At least 63% of dog owners admitted to kissing their dogs. Of these, some 45% kissed them on the nose, 19% on the neck, 7% on the back, 5% on the stomach and 2% on the legs. An additional 29% listed the place they kiss their dog as other!
  • The frog was an ancient Egyptian symbol, later adopted by the conquering Romans. The Frog-headed goddess Hekt was the goddess of birth and fertility, and later also of resurrection.
  • The study of ants is called Myrmecology.
  • One in 5,000 North Atlantic lobsters are born bright blue.
  • The biggest ant colony was found on the Ishikari Coast of Hokkaido: 306 million worker ants and 1 million queens lived in 45,000 interconnected nests over an area of 2.7 square kilometres (1,7 square miles). A worker ant will live for up to 5 years; while a Queen will live up to 25 years.
  • Newfoundland dogs are strong swimmers due to their webbed feet.
  • Some ribbon worms will eat themselves if they can’t find any food.
  • The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
  • Fleas have changed history. More human deaths have been attributed to fleas than all the wars ever fought. As carriers of the bubonic plague, fleas were responsible for killing one-third of the population of Europe in the 14th century.
  • The Dalmatian is the only dog that gets gout.
  • A tiger's paw prints are called pug marks.
  • A dog was once the King of Norway for 3 years during the 11th centurey AD. The Norwegian King, angry his subjects once deposed him put Saur on the throne, demanding that he be treated regally.
  • Rabbits love licorice.
  • Emus have double-plumed feathers, and they lay emerald/forest green eggs.
  • The tallest dog on record was named Shamgret Danzas. He was 42 inches tall (at the shoulder!) and weighed 238 lbs.
  • To figure out your "true dog's age" in human terms, count the first full year as 15 years, the second full year as 10 yeas and all the following years as 3 years. In other words, a 5 year old dog would be: 15+10+3+3+3=34 years old.
  • Great Danes can eat up to 8 1/2 pounds of food a day.
  • Slugs have 4 noses.
  • The first dog show was held in England in 1859.
  • A cheetah can reach a top speed approaching 70 mph.
  • Greyhounds can jump a distance of 27 feet.
  • More than 5 million puppies are born in the United States each year.
  • As of 2001, there are around 44 million sheep in New Zealand, a country of around 4 million people.
  • Dolphins sleep with one half of the brain at a time, and one eye closed.
  • Cat whiskers are found on the face and on the back of the forelegs as well.
  • A hippo can run faster than man.
  • In North America, a black cat crossing your path is thought to bring bad luck. In Great Britain, a black cat crossing your path is thought to bring good luck.
  • A white cat sleeping outside your home on your wedding day is said to bring lasting happiness.
  • The Rottweiler makes an excellent family pet. They are especially good with children and a fantastic guard dog.
  • The average cow produces 40 glasses of milk each day.
  • The membranes in a dog's nose, if unfolded and laid out, would be larger than the dog itself.
  • Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door.
  • Current domestic cats were the result of genetic mutation so that they would be tame at birth.
  • A Panda's diet is 99% bamboo.
  • When two dogs approach each other, the dog which wags its tail very slowly is in charge.
  • Some lions can mate over 50 times a day.
  • If you lift a Kangaroo's tail off the ground it can't hop - they use their tails for balance.
  • For every person there are rougly 200 million insects.
  • Polar bears can swim 60 miles without pausing for a rest.
  • The leech has 32 brains.
  • The Galpagos Tortoise has a potential life span of 200 years.
  • At the end of the Beatles' song 'A Day in the Life,' an ultrasonic whistle, only audible to dogs, was recorded by Paul McCartney for his Shetland sheepdog.
  • The praying mantis only has one ear.
  • A purring cat doesn't always mean a contented cat. Cats will also purr if they are in pain.
  • Dachshunds were bred to fight badgers in their dens.
  • A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  • You are more likely to be killed by a Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.
  • On average, people fear spiders more than they do death.
  • Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.
  • Small dogs usually live longer than larger breeds.
  • 40% of all cats are ambidextrous. The other 60% are either "right-pawed" or "left-pawed".
  • The Chihuahua is the oldest breed of dog native to North America.
  • Many cat lovers believe cats are intuitive. That's because they are right-brain dominant.
  • Cats spend 30% of their waking hours grooming themselves.
  • Cat's can't taste sweets.
  • The smallest dog in history was a tiny Yorkie from Blackburn, England. At two years of age and fully grown he was only 2.5 inches tall by 3.75 inches long and weighed only 4 ounces.
  • Not all dogs eyes reflect green in the dark, some reflect orange or red.
  • White cats with blue eyes are usually deaf.
  • Cats rarely meow at each other. Meowing is reserved for "speaking" with humans.
  • The only dog in the world that cannot bark is the Basenji, an African wolf dog.
  • The membranes in a dog's nose, if unfolded and laid out, would be larger than the dog itself.
  • About 600 species of plants are carnivorous. Most eat insects but also on the menu are frogs, birds and even small monkeys.
  • If you bring a raccoon's head to the Henniker, New Hampshire town hall, you are entitled to receive $.10 from the town.
  • A group of owls is called a parliament.
  • Dogs and humans are the only animals with prostates.
  • A flea expert is a pullicologist.
  • A pig is a hog -- hog is a generic name for all swine -- but a hog is not a pig. In the terminology of hog raising, a pig is a baby hog less than ten weeks old.
  • Ancient Romans ate flamingo tongues and considered them a delicacy.
  • All elephants walk on tip-toe, because the back portion of their foot is made up of all fat and no bone.
  • A rhinoceros's horn is made of hair.
  • Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.
  • Elephants have been found swimming miles from shore in the Indian Ocean.
  • The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male's head off.
  • "Eat like a bird?" Many birds eat twice their weight a day.
  • Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of them made with the ears.
  • Many hamsters only blink one eye at a time.
  • All swans and all sturgeons in England are property of the Queen. Messing with them is a serious offense.
  • Kiwi birds are blind, they hunt by smell.
  • Rhinos are in the same family as horses, and are thought to have inspired the myth of the unicorn.
  • Studies show that if a cat falls off the seventh floor of a building it has about thirty percent less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the twentieth floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occuring, relax and correct itself. At about that height it hits maximum speed and when it hits the ground it's rib cage absorbs most of the impact.
  • The Honey Badger can withstand hundreds of African bee stings that would kill any other animal.
  • Giraffes have no vocal cords.
  • The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
  • During World War II, Americans tried to train bats to drop bombs.
  • Roosters can't crow if they can't fully extend their necks.
  • The leg bones of a bat are so thin that no bat can walk.
  • When opossums are playing opossum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.
  • The placement of a donkey's eyes in its head enables it to see all four feet at all times.
  • A full-grown bear can run as fast as a horse.
  • If NASA sent birds into space they would soon die, as they need gravity to swallow.
  • A donkey will sink in quicksand but a mule won't.
  • The penguins that inhabit the tip of South America are called jackass penguins.
  • Goat's eyes have rectangular pupils.
  • Human birth control pills work on gorillas.
  • A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down.
  • A dolphin's hearing is so acute that it can pick up an underwater sound from fifteen miles away.
  • Chickens absorb vitamin-D through their combs from sunshine.
  • The common goldfish is the only animal that can see both infra-red and ultra-violet light.
  • Blue Whales weigh as much as 30 elephants and are as long as three Greyhound buses.
  • Butterflies taste with their hind feet.
  • Birds do not sleep in their nests. They may occasionally nap in them, but they actually sleep in other places.
  • A snail can sleep for three years.
  • More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes.
  • Lobsters can live up to 50 years.
  • Male flies only gather at the base of bright lights when they are having a mating assembly.
  • In 1939, a shower of tiny frogs fell on the English town of Trowbridge. Strong winds had carried them aloft from streams and ponds.
  • Bees have five eyes. There are 3 small eyes on the top of a bee's head and 2 larger ones in front.
  • The fruit flys DNA sequence is 180 million bases long, whilst a humans is three billion.
  • In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
  • Cows do not have upper front teeth.
  • A female oyster over her lifetime may produce over 100 million young.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to the colour blue twice as much as to any other colour.
  • Spider web filaments were used in gun sights as the 'cross hairs' until the early 1960's.
  • No two zebras have the same markings.
  • Some male songbirds sing more than 2000 times each day.
  • There are more chickens than people in the world.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds.
  • Killer Whales (Orcas) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.
  • Hippos have killed more than 400 people in Africa - more than any other wild animal.
  • A baby elephant calf can weigh up to 260 pounds when it is born.
  • Pandas in China have been given Viagra to help them mate.
  • Polar bears are the only mammal with hair on the soles of its feet.
  • We share 98.4% of our DNA with a chimp - and 70% with a slug.
  • Oysters can change from one gender to another and back again depending on which is best for mating.
  • A dragonfly has a lifespan of 24 hours.
  • A bee must visit 4,000 flowers in order to make one tablespoon of honey.
  • The common Black Ants and Wood Ants have no sting, but they can squirt a spray of formic acid. Some birds put ants in their feathers because the ants squirt formic acid which gets rid of the parasites.
  • The wingspan of the Indonesian fruitbat equals the height of filmstar Sylvester Stallone.
  • Ticks are second only to the mosquito as the most dangerous parasites to humans.
  • By swallowing water, the Pufferfish becomes too big for other fish to swallow.
  • According to one study, plant and animal species are becoming extinct at the rate of 17 per hour.
  • The larva of the polyphemus moth consumes 86,000 times its birth weight in its first 56 days.
  • Mayflies live for a year or more as larvae; but as adults they live for only a few hours.
  • Great White Sharks can go as long as three months without eating.
  • Mexico is the world's pig tapeworm capital with estimates that about 4 percent of all Mexicans have the adult tapeworm in their intestine.
  • A bee can see the colours green, blue and ultra-violet - but red looks like black.
  • Shrimps' hearts are in their heads.
  • It takes 3000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of American Footballs.
  • Bats always turn left when leaving a cave.
  • Polar Bears cannot be detected by infrared cameras, due to their transparent fur.
  • An elephant herd can move fifty miles in a day.
  • The biggest shark species has the smallest teeth. The 12 metre long whale shark has more than 4,000 teeth, each only 3mm long.
  • As a general rule in the animal kingdom, the more complex or relatively big the eye in relation to the body, then the smaller the rest of the brain.
  • A large swarm of locusts can eat 80,000 tons of corn in a day.
  • The female lion is a much more efficient hunter than the male.
  • Giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands weigh up to 225 kilos and can live for over 150 years.
  • Most elephants weigh less than the tongue of a blue whale.
  • A newborn giant panda is only the size of a stick of butter.
  • An Animal Hospital Association survey revealed that 62 percent of dog owners sign letter or cards from themselves and their dogs.
  • The hydra - a close relative of jellyfish and sea anemones, can regenerate or grow back if it's cut in half.
  • Coyotes are a close cousin of all pet dogs. The coyote's scientific name (Canis Latrans) meands 'barking dog'.
  • The Dodo was first discovered in 1507 - 100 years later it was hunted to extinction.
  • Female fleas consume fifteen times their weight daily.
  • Mosquitoes have been found to prefer biting people with smelly feet.
  • A rhinoceros beetle can support up to 850 times its own weight on it's back. That would be the equivalent of a man carrying 76 family-sized cars around on his back.
  • The silkworm moth has eleven brains.
  • Americans spend more money on dog food each year then they do on baby food.
  • The Australian Sea Wasp or Box Jellyfish which is found off the coast of Queensland causes death within 3 minutes if medical aid is not administered.
  • When a giraffe's baby is born it falls from a height of six feet, normally without being hurt.
  • A dragonfly can spot an insect moving 33 feet away.
  • Giraffes can clean their ears with their half metre long tongue.
  • There are an estimated five million, trillion, trillion bacteria on Earth.
  • The world's smallest winged insect, the Tanzanian parasitic wasp, is smaller than the eye of a housefly.
  • Inbreeding causes 3 out of every 10 Dalmation dogs to suffer from hearing disability.
  • When a flea jumps, the rate of acceleration is 20 times that of the space shuttle during launch.
  • Over 10,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows.
  • Despite its reputation for being finicky, the average cat consumes about 127,750 calories a year, nearly 28 times its own weight in food and the same amount again in liquids. In case you were wondering, cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet.
  • The remains of diatoms, algae with hard shells, are used in making pet litter, cosmetics, pool filters and tooth polish.
  • When a queen bee lays the fertilized eggs that will develop into new queens, only one of the newly laid queens actually survives. The first new queen that emerges from her cell destroys all other queens in their cells and, thereafter, reigns alone.
  • The cat was domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Today's house cats are descended from wildcats in Africa and Europe.
  • Many fish can change sex during the course of their lives. Others, especially rare deep-sea fish, have both male and female sex organs.
  • Cats step with both left legs, then both right legs when they walk or run. The only other animals to do this are the giraffe and the camel.
  • The stuff (allergens) that people are allergic to in cats is a protein in cat saliva. When the cat grooms and the saliva dries it can become airborn. This protein is 1/3 the weight of ordinary housedust, so it can travel farther. You can find this allergen where cats have never been.
  • An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles away, and warns off intruders or reunites scattered members of the pride.
  • The oarfish, Regalecus glesne, is the longest bony fish in the world. With its snakelike body_sporting a magnificent red fin along its 50-foot length_horselike face and blue gills, it accounts for many sea-serpent sightings.
  • Camel milk does not curdle.
  • Australian termites have been known to build mounds twenty feet high and at least 100 feet wide.
  • The first house rats recorded in America appeared in Boston in 1775.
  • A father sea catfish keeps the eggs of his young in his mouth until they are ready to hatch. He will not eat until his young are born, which may take several weeks.
  • Animal gestation periods: the shortest is the American opossum, which bears its young 12 to 13 days after conception; the longest is the Asiatic elephant, taking 608 days, or just over 20 months.
  • A cat sees about six times better than a human at night because of the tapetum lucidum , a layer of extra reflecting cells which absorb light.
  • The Pacific Giant Octopus, the largest octopus in the world, grows from the size of pea to a 150 pound behemoth potentially 30 feet across in only two years, its entire life-span.
  • Horseshoe crabs have existed in essentially the same form for the past 135 million years. Their blood provides a valuable test for the toxins that cause septic shock, which previously led to half of all hospital-acquired infections and one-fifth of all hospital deaths.
  • Cats respond better to women than men. One reason this might be is that women have higher pitched voices than men.
  • The cat's brain needs so much energy to function that over twenty percent of blood that the heart pumps goes immediately to it.
  • The male penguin incubates the single egg laid by his mate. During the two month period he does not eat, and will lose up to 40% of his body weight.
  • A Holstein's spots are like a fingerprint or snowflake. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.
  • A group of herring is called a seige. A group of jelly fish is called a smack.
  • The domestic cat is the only species able to hold its tail vertically while walking. Wild cats hold their tail horizontally, or tucked between their legs while walking.
  • The catgut formerly used as strings in tennis rackets and musical instruments does not come from cats. Catgut actually comes from sheep, hogs, and horses.
  • Penguins "fly" underwater at up to 25 miles per hour.
  • The oceans contain 99 percent of the living space on the planet.
  • Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.
  • According to experts, whale songs rhyme.
  • Electric light or light from your TV set will make your cat shed her fur.

Published: 7 January 2005

Related