5 Animal Myths We Believe Thanks to Hollywood

5 Animal Myths We Believe Thanks to Hollywood

By now, we know that not everything we see in movies is real (in fact, most of it isn’t). As an entity, Hollywood is probably responsible for more myths than anything else and plenty of them are still pervasive even today.

1. The Call of the Bald Eagle

The bald eagle is one of the proudest and most powerful symbols of the United States. It has also been the national bird of the country ever since the 18th century. This animal is truly impressive and majestic both when it is seen up-close and when it is soaring across the sky.

There is one problem, though. Whenever a bald eagle is seen, it is typically accompanied by its striking and intimidating call. Here is a particularly impressive one just to illustrate the point:

As that video shows, the call does not actually belong to the bald eagle, but rather to the red-tailed hawk. Early on in Hollywood movies (typically westerns) when these birds were seen flying across the screen, that is the sound that accompanied them. But why did Hollywood decide to replace the sound of the bald eagle? Well, to put it mildly, its own call is less than impressive. It’s a very high-pitched squeal which isn’t intimidating at all. Did they make the right choice in changing it? Judge for yourself:

2. The Frog’s Ribbit

frog orange-thighed

Photo Credit: Rainforest_Harley via Wiki Commons

The bald eagle isn’t the only one being misrepresented by Hollywood. Whenever there is a swamp scene in a movie or anything like that, the first noise we usually here is the call of the frogs. Even though they are all from different parts of the world and come in all colors and sizes, they always make the same sound – ribbit.

Of course, as you might guess, this isn’t true. Frogs produce an incredibly range of sounds including groans, squeaks, whistles and chirps. You can hear for yourself:

So why do we think that all of them have the same croak? It is because there is one species of frog that genuinely makes that noise. It is the Pacific Tree Frog and it is indigenous to California. In other words, it is the one found in Hollywood so the noises it makes have been recorded and later dubbed over other frogs in movies.

3. Lobsters Mate for Life


Photo Credit: Bart Braun via Wiki Commons

This one we can actually trace to a specific instance in Friends when Phoebe casually mentions the “well-known” fact that lobsters mate for life. It probably existed for a while beforehand, but that is the moment when this myth gained a much larger exposure.

Actually, lobsters only stay together briefly. Like with many other groups of animals, the dominant male in a particular region is the one who has the privilege of fertilizing all those sexy lobsters. The female is the one who makes the first move. When she decides it is time, she will approach the dominant male in an attempt to make him more receptive. When this happens, she sheds her exoskeleton and the two engage in the beautiful act of exchanging genetic material. After about a week or so, she leaves and another female gets her turn.

Bonus fact: If you are looking for animals that actually do mate for life, look at the white-handed gibbons, the waved albatross or the black vulture.

4. Rabbits Eat Carrots

rabbit carrot

Photo Credit: Jessie Eastland via Wiki Commons

Although most of us would be inclined to believe this, anyone who has ever had a rabbit knows that this is not the case. To put it simply, if a rabbit were to eat nothing but carrots, it would die. Sure, a rabbit will eat a carrot every once in a while just like you will eat some broccoli on occasion. It doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t prefer a cheeseburger instead.

It’s pretty much the same thing with rabbits. Their preferred diet is mostly comprised out of fruit and green leafy vegetables. If you happen to have a rabbit, you can do a little test and feed it a carrot with the green top still attached. More than likely, it will eat the green part first and then move on to the carrot itself.

It Happened One Night (1934) Directed by Frank Capra Shown from left: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

Our first instinct would be to blame Bugs Bunny for this injustice to rabbits everywhere and we would be right…partially. When Bugs first did his soon-to-be iconic shtick of talking while eating the carrot, he was actually parodying an already-existing scene from another movie. The movie in question is called It Happened One Night and Clark Gable is the one chewing on the carrot. Back then the scene itself was very famous so people watching Bugs would immediately spot the parody. However, as it stands, the parody went on to become a lot more enduring than the original scene itself.

5. Suicidal Lemmings


Photo Credit: Frode Inge Helland via Wiki Commons

To this day, the word “lemming” can refer to a person who joins various self-destructive movements without thinking. The term gained traction after the shocking revelation that lemmings (the animal kind) will actually commit suicide by jumping off cliffs to their death. This was all revealed in a critically acclaimed 1958 Disney documentary called White Wilderness.

The only problem is that none of that is true. There were some questions about the giant spikes and decreases in lemming population so Disney just decided to fill in the blanks. The filmmakers brought a pack of lemmings and just threw them off a cliff and filmed them. For their efforts, Disney won an Oscar and we’re left with the image of these furry little guys desperately trying to climb back up the steep rocks.




Featured image courtesy of Carl Chapman via Wiki Commons.