10 Animal Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

10 Animal Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Find out what animal can breathe out of its butt

1. Tigers have striped skin.


Photo Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wiki Commons

Let’s say you get drunk one night and end up shaving a lion and a tiger (long shot, but it could happen). How can you tell them apart afterwards? Normally, tigers are bigger than lions but let’s say these two are the same size. Actually, they become quite similar under these circumstances. Without the tiger’s stripes or the lion’s trademark mane, it gets pretty tough to tell these animals apart. Well, it would be if the tiger didn’t also have striped skin. Not only that, but the striped pattern is unique on every tiger, so it could be used to identify a particular animal (kind of like fingerprinting for us).

2. Lyrebirds are the best imitators.

Parrots might get all the fame for being able to vocalize sounds very similar to human speech, but the range of noises in the lyrebird’s repertoire is truly staggering. Not only is it capable of accurately duplicating the calls of other birds, but it can also imitate man-made sounds. The clip below shows a lyrebird at Adelaide Zoo in Australia imitating construction work such as chainsaws, powerdrills and hammers, as well as intricate birdcalls like that of the kookaburra.

3. Poison dart frogs aren’t always poisonous.

Poison dart frog blue

Photo Credit: Quartl via Wiki Commons

Most of us are aware of the various deadly species of frogs found in the rainforest. They are all brightly colored and most of them have enough poison to bring down the entire human population (not really, but you get the idea). Oddly enough, we’re still not quite sure what the source of their toxin is. Most likely that they assimilate their poison from plants. They don’t actually eat the plants, but they do eat the insects that eat the plants. When poison dart frogs have been raised in captivity and given other sources of food, they do not develop their deadly toxin.

4. Squirrels are unintentional tree planters.

They do a lot of work to help preserve forests, even if they are not doing it on purpose. Squirrels love acorns and they are also hoarders, storing as many as they can in anticipation of the colder months. However, oftentimes they will forget where they bury those acorns and young trees will sometimes sprout from the seeds.

5. Pandas don’t eat only bamboo.

Panda Lani

Photo Credit: popofatticus via Flickr

It’s true that pandas really, really, really love their bamboo. A staggering 99% of their diet is made of it. And they really like everything – the stems, the leaves, the shoots etc. This poses a problem for two reasons: one, bamboo isn’t very nutritional which means that pandas need to eat loads every day just to maintain their delicate figure; and two, pandas have the digestive system of a carnivore like all other bears despite their almost-vegetarian diet. And I say almost because pandas do, on occasion, eat meat. They prefer small rodents.

6. Turtles can breathe out their butts.

Yes, you read that right. Not all of them, but some can. Technically, they breathe out their cloaca since they don’t actually have an anus. But why? We aren’t really sure, but we think that it is simply more efficient for them. Particularly, it’s more efficient when they hibernate because it uses fewer muscles and, conversely, less energy.

7. Anteaters never destroy the nests.


Photo Credit: Miguelrangeljr via Wiki Commons

You would think that an anteater is the ultimate scourge of the ant (and termite) population. After all, just one anteater can consume as many as 35,000 ants in a single day. They strike lightning-fast. They have to; anteaters are not immune to the bites and stings of the thousands of ants that descend upon them each time they attack a colony. However, they are always careful to leave the nests intact. That way the ants regroup, repopulate and the anteater can come feast again.

8. Elephant shrews aren’t shrews.

At first glance, you might think that these little critters are shrews who gained their name because of their elongated noses. However, they aren’t shrews at all. Not only that, but they are more closely related to elephants than they are to shrews. They are both part of a relatively new clade of mammals called Afrotheria comprised of animals of African origin. In order to minimize the confusion, experts prefer to call them by their other name, sengis.

9. Cows like music.

Photo Credit: Richard New Forest via Wiki Commons

Photo Credit: Richard New Forest via Wiki Commons

Research has shown that cows who listen to music will oftentimes produce more milk because they are less stressed. However, what matters most is what kind of music you play them. They enjoy something calming, with a slow tempo. The biggest hit seems to be “Everybody hurts” by REM, but they also liked Moon River, Perfect Day, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Music they didn’t like included Supergrass, Jamiroquai and Mousse T.

10. Crows are pranksters.

Throughout many research studies, crows have displayed impressive signs of intelligence, showing that they are able to memorize patterns, use tools and solve puzzles as long as there’s something in it for them. In reality, the entire corvid family that crows are a part of is quite clever and it also includes ravens, jackdaws, rooks and magpies. They also have a complex social structure and it would seem that they like to goof around every once in a while. Crows have been observed playing pranks on each other and on other animals, as well as teasing their targets just for the hell of it.



Featured image courtesy of Yathin sk via Wiki Commons.