50 Amazing Animal Facts That Will Change the Way You View the Animal Kingdom
Wait—frogs can do what?
With an estimated 7.77 million species of animals on the planet, the animal kingdom is an undeniably diverse place. However, while the breadth of earthly biodiversity may be well-known, the amazing things our animal counterparts can do are often hidden to humans.
From furry creatures you never realized could use tools to those who enjoy getting tipsy, these amazing animal facts are sure to wow even the biggest animal lovers out there. And when you want to know how weird and wonderful the world really is, check out the 100 Awesome Facts About Everything.
Slow lorises are the only venomous primates.
They may be cute, but their bite can kill. According to Popular Science, these adorable animals secrete toxins from a gland in the crook of their inner arms. Their bites have caused anaphylactic shock and even death in humans. Better watch out! And for more cute killers, check out these 30 Super Adorable Baby Photos of Super Dangerous Animals.
Pigeons can do math.
You might think of pigeons as… not that smart. But it turns out, they're actually quite intelligent. In fact, one 2011 study published in the journal Science found that the birds are capable of doing math at the same level as monkeys. During the study, the pigeons were asked to compare nine images, each containing a different number of objects. The researchers found that the birds were able to rank the images in order of how many objects they contained. Put simply: they learned that the birds could count! Think that's amazing? Wait until you discover the 15 Animal Species Miraculously Saved From Extinction.
Zebra stripes act as a natural bug repellant.
One 2012 report published in the Journal of Experimental Biology suggests that zebras' black and white stripes may be an evolutionary feature to fend off harmful horsefly bites. "A zebra-striped horse model attracts far fewer horseflies than either homogeneous black, brown, grey or white equivalents," the researchers wrote. They also explain that stripe width can have an effect on an animal's attractiveness to horseflies and that the "stripe widths of zebra coats fall in a range where the striped pattern is most disruptive."
Wild chimps like to drink.
Humans aren't the only animals who enjoy a drink or two. A 2015 study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science reveals that chimpanzees in Guinea had a fondness for imbibing fermented palm sap, getting tipsy in the process. And for more knowledge that you can tell people, check out the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Own Body.
Sea otters are adept at using tools.
While many scientists believe that tool use among dolphins is a relatively new phenomenon, a 2017 study published in Biology Letters suggests that otters may have been using tools for millions of years. Sea otters frequently use rocks to break open well-armored prey, such as snails.
Frogs can freeze without dying.
Why tolerate the cold when you could just freeze yourself solid? According to Kenneth Storey, a professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada, frogs undergo freeze-thaw cycles all the time. "We have false springs here all the time where it gets really warm and all the snow melts and then suddenly—bam—the wind comes from the north and it's back down to minus 10, minus 15 [degrees Celsius], and they're fine," Storey told National Geographic. And for more astonishing truth bombs you can share, memorize these 75 Weird But Wonderful Facts That Will Leave You Totally Amazed.
Male horses have way more teeth than their female counterparts.
Koalas sleep up to 22 hours a day.
If you thought your pet cat was sleepy, just wait until you hear about koalas. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, these cuties sleep between 18 and 22 hours a day. The koalas' diets require a lot of energy to digest, which is why they've got to nap so much. And for more adorable animals, check out these 23 Photos of Animals in Love That Will Make You Literally Melt.
A group of ferrets is called a business.
However, it's not because they're so professional; it's a modernized form of "busyness," the word originally used to describe a group of these weasel-related mammals.
Octopuses can taste with their arms.
And yes, they are called arms, not tentacles. According to the Library of Congress, the animals can taste and grab with the suckers on their arms. Even more impressive? Octopuses are capable of moving at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
Dolphins have names for one another.
You already know that dolphins are smart. But did you know that they're so human-like that they even have names? One 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that bottlenose dolphins develop specific whistles for one another. And for some facts that come with laughs, see these 40 Facts So Funny They're Hard to Believe.
Reindeer eyes turn blue in the winter.
Reindeers have beautiful baby blues—but only in the winter! According to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, "the eyes of Arctic reindeer change color through the seasons from gold to blue, adapting to extreme changes of light levels in their environment." The change in color impacts how light is reflected through the animals' retina, and improves their vision.
Giraffes have black tongues.
Scientists believe that it's so they don't get sunburns while they eat. The animals' tongues are also around 20 inches long.
Alligators will let manatees swim ahead of them.
In busy waters, manatees will nudge alligators to get in front, and alligators generally oblige.
Sloths can take up to a month to completely digest a single leaf.
Everything about life is slow for these sleepy mammals. Most sloths will only have a bowel movement once a week, and it can take them up to 30 days to completely digest a single leaf. For comparison, it takes the average human 12 to 48 hours to ingest, digest, and eliminate waste from food. And for more crazy stuff, here are 20 Crazy Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
Crocodiles can grow for more than 30 years.
According to a 2018 study published in Copeia, alligators often haven't hit their full size until 33.
Cats only meow at humans.
You probably know that cats love to talk to their humans. But did you know you're unlikely to see your feline friend interact the same way with another cat? That's because other than kittens meowing at their mothers, cats don't meow at other cats.
Elephants and humans have similar self-soothing techniques.
Elephant calves will suck their trunks to comfort themselves. The babies do it for the same reason humans do (it mimics the action of suckling their mothers).
Female bats take care of other bat babies.
According to Bat Conservation International, Mexican free-tailed bats make their way from Mexico to Texas to roost. More than 15 million mother bats will make the journey and raise their pups together in the safety of Bracken cave in Texas. It takes a village!
Painted turtles survive winter by breathing through their butts.
Not all creatures head to warmer climates when it gets cold out, and that means they need to learn to survive in the cooler conditions. Painted turtles need to adapt to frozen ponds, which restrict their access to the air above the water. They do that by breathing through their butts (specifically, their cloaca orifice). Thanks to a process called cloacal respiration, the turtles are able to get oxygen directly from the water around them.
Dogs have way fewer tastebuds than humans.
While you may think that Fido has the same dinnertime experience as you do, he's actually got a much different tastebud arrangement. Humans have roughly 9,000 tastebuds, while dogs have around 1,700. What's more, dogs cannot differentiate between different types of meat, although they can differentiate between meat and non-meat foods.
Otters have the world's thickest fur.
They're thought to have up to one million hairs per square inch. Their fur consists of two layers and is designed to trap a layer of air next to their skin so their skin doesn't get wet.
A group of owls is called a parliament.
Their legislative powers, however, are still up for debate.
Snow leopards don't roar.
Snow leopards have less-developed vocal cords than their fellow large cats, meaning that they can't roar, but make a purr-like sound called a chuff instead. For a 2010 study published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, scientists researched why some cats have a higher-pitched meow than others. They found that it's not size that determines a kitty's call, but habitat. High-frequency sounds, like the ones your housecat makes, are easily disrupted by forest vegetation, while low-frequency sounds travel less well in open spaces where they can be disrupted by air turbulence.
Axolotls can regenerate their parts.
The salamanders are the only vertebrates that can replace their skin, limbs, tail, jaws, and spines at any age. On the flip side, humans can regenerate lost limb buds as embryos and fingertips as young children.
A group of rhinos is called a crash.
Individual male rhinos are referred to as bulls, females as cows.
Squirrels will adopt orphans.
Turns out, squirrels have an intense motherly instinct. One 2010 study by researchers at the University of Guelph found that the animals will take in the orphaned pups of their late family members.
"Social animals, including lions and chimpanzees, are often surrounded by relatives, so it's not surprising that a female would adopt an orphaned family member because they have already spent a lot of time together," said lead researcher Andrew McAdam, an evolutionary biologist. "But red squirrels live in complete isolation and are very territorial. The only time they will allow another squirrel on their territory is the one day a year when the females are ready to mate or when they are nursing their pups."
Giant anteaters have two-foot tongues.
Cows have best friends.
Cows have stronger social ties than you might thank. One 2013 study conducted by researchers at the University of Northampton found that when cows were separated from their BFFs, their heart rates increased as a sign of stress. And when you want a companion of your own, This Is the Best Way to Make New Friends.
Moths experience love at first scent.
When a male moth catches a whiff of a female moth, he'll travel miles to find her—based off her scent alone. According to the experts at Audobon, "they don't know what the female sounds like, or even what she looks like. But when they smell her, boy, do they know it, and they use her seductive musk to track her down." And for even more incredible trivia about planet Earth, check out these 50 Most Interesting Facts About the World.
Horses Have Distinct Facial Expressions
Horses use their ears, nostrils, and eyes to communicate with other horses.
Deer Can Run Up to 30 Miles Per Hour
Take that, Usain Bolt.
An Octopus Has Three Hearts
Two hearts are used to pump blood to its gills, while the third brings blood to the rest of its body.
Some Worms Can Jump
Certain species of the Amynthas worm, which have recently been identified in the Midwestern United States, can jump and detach their tails.
Alligators Can Live to 100
Nile crocodiles can reportedly live for a full century.
Crows Play Tricks on One Another
Researchers have found that crows are fond of playing pranks on one another.
While scientists don't exactly think they have a sense of humor, rats will make a laugh-like sound when tickled.
Tigers Have Striped Skin
It's not just their fur that bears a distinctive pattern.
Chameleons Can Move Their Eyes in Different Directions at the Same Time
Of course, the skin-color-changing trick is pretty neat, too.
Cows Produce More Milk When Listening to Slow Music
According to researchers at the University of Leicester School of Psychology found that cows produced 1.54 more pints per day when slow music was played for them, versus more upbeat tunes.
Butterflies Taste With Their Feet
Most butterflies lack the ability to bite or chew, so they taste by using their feet. When a butterfly lands on a plant, they use sensors on their feet to determine whether or not what they're standing on is edible.
The Spur-Winged Goose's Diet Makes it Poisonous
Don't plan on eating a spur-winged goose if you happen to come across one during your travels. These birds, natives of sub-Saharan Africa, often have flesh that's poisonous to humans, thanks to their diet of blister beetles, with secrete the potentially-deadly cantharidin poison.
Vampire Bat Saliva Keeps Blood From Clotting
Vampire bats do more than just bite their prey: they keep the other animal's blood from clotting. Vampire bat saliva works as an anticoagulant, keeping the blood flowing freely as they feed.
Wombat Poop Is Cube-Shaped
Wombats use their droppings to warn other animals to stay off their turf. Luckily, their cube-shaped poop makes it easy to see that a spot is governed by wombats, as the little squares tend to stay put more easily than spherical droppings would.
Tortoises in Hotter Environments Come in Lighter Colors
While residents of cooler climates may be used to seeing tortoises with dark skin and shells, in warmer climates, they're often lighter. The African spurred tortoise, also known as the sulcate tortoise, is often a light tan hue.
Orcas Can Learn to Speak Dolphin
Groups of killer whales have their own dialects that are further influenced by the company they keep. Research published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America reveals that orcas housed with bottlenose dolphins over a long period of time were able to replicate the dolphins' language.
Queen Mole Rats Make Other Female Mole Rats Infertile
To ensure her dominance, the queen mole rat works to make it impossible for other female mole rats to have litters. In fact, the queen can produce a substance in her urine that renders other female mole rats infertile.
Horned Lizards Squirt Blood From Their Eyes
The horned lizard has a pretty impressive trick for evading predators. When a horned lizard finds itself in a perilous situation, it can squirt a stream of blood at a predator or into its mouth to get them to scamper off.
Male Emperor Penguins Can Go Months Without Eating to Protect Their Young
Male emperor penguins take an active role in raising their young, often going without food for months at a time to guard their mate's eggs. Male penguins are known to lose up to 26 pounds during this process, and only eat when their mate has returned to care for their newly-hatched chick.
Crocodiles Can Gallop
If you think crocodiles aren't frightening enough, consider this: they can gallop. While some modern-day crocodiles can run surprisingly fast, even more horrifyingly, giant crocodiles during the Cretaceous period were so large and so fast they could catch and eat dinosaurs.
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