Interesting Facts About Animals

Otters have a specially adapted lens so that they can focus underwater. Will and Guy have collected these fascinating facts about a wide variety of animals.

Interesting facts about bearsInteresting facts about bears

  • Statistically, more people are killed by lightning strikes than by grizzly bears.  Taking the USA as an example, although deaths by bears attacking people are on the increase, they account for no more than 4 deaths per year compared with about 70 for lightning.  In the UK, on average 3 people each year are killed by lightning, but none by bears.
  • The brown bear eats a lot of fish, this is one of the reasons that it's the largest land carnivore. If you are ever confronted by one of these animals, you better out-smart it because bears run faster than you can.
  • The term 'bear' is correctly applied to at least five completely different species.  To distinguish between these different bears, we need an adjective or epithet.  There is the North American grizzly bear, Ursus arctos and its close relative the polar bear, Ursus maritimus. Then there is the panda (bear), Ailuropoda melanoleuca and also the Asiatic black bear, Selenarctos thibetanus.  If you visit South America you may be fortunate and see the spectacled bear, Tremarctos ornatus.  Finally in India there is the sloth, which is really a bear called, Melursus ursinus.  The Koala bear is of course a marsupial.  See more interesting facts about bears

Interesting facts about crocodiles

  • Eight times a year a congregation of crocodiles gathers in on the Mary river to the east of Darwin Australia.  Instinct tells them that at these unusually high tides means masses of fish are going to leap over the barrier as the tide comes in.  On one occasion David Attenborough showed up and filmed about 60 crocodiles feasting on the fish as they tried to leap over the barrier.
  • Differences between Crocodiles and Alligators Crocodiles have more pointed 'V-shaped noses, whereas alligators have a wide U-shaped, snout.  If you see a an olive brown body wriggling in a tropical river it's more likely to be a crocodile.  By comparison, alligators are darker and may appear almost black.Interesting facts about crocodilesWill and Guy think that the teeth are the biggest clue in the croc -v- gator debate.  In crocodiles, the lower 4th tooth looks like a peg and juts into the upper jaw.  Alligators have a smaller lower jaw, thus when they close their mouth you don't see much of the lower teeth in general, and the 4th 'peg' in particular.
  • Unusually, the gender of crocodiles is determined by temperature. If the eggs are incubated tat over 33c, then the egg hatches into a male or 'bull' crocodile.  At lower temperatures only female or 'cow' crocodiles develop. See more interesting facts about crocodiles

Interesting facts about dolphins

  • Watching dolphins feeding on shoals of fish is fascinating.  The school of dolphins marshal the fish into a ball, then each dolphin in the school takes it in turn to swim through the fish and seize a tasty snack.  Such is the control of these animals, that it is impossible for the fish to escape until all the dolphins have had their fill.
  • How dolphins drink water is a conundrum.  In a nutshell, they don't drink seawater, because of the salt concentration.  Thus they have to obtain water through their food, for example, squid or sea cucumber. The rest of their water balance is down to having efficient kidneys. Talking of water balance, let us consider, how do we humans 'lose' water? The answer is by sweating and through exhaling, both of which are reduced in the dolphin.
  • Dolphins see and navigate their underwater world by echo location.  By generating clicks at about 500 clicks per second, dolphins can echo locate, their friends, their foes and their prey.  We are only just appreciating their skill in simultaneously detecting objects, both near and far, moving and stationary. See more interesting facts about dolphinsInteresting facts about dolphins

Interesting facts about ducks

  • One amusing ritual for introducing friends to an Indian restaurant, is to persuade the greenhorn to order a Bombay duck, and then watch their incredulity when the waiter brings a dried fish.  The Bombay duck really is a fish, or to be completely accurate, a lizardfish, which does indeed live in the waters off Bombay.
  • 'Lame duck' was originally an 18th century term for investors in the stock market who could not, or would not, pay their brokers.  Later in 1926 a Wisconsin newspaper, wrote the heading:  'Making a lame duck of Coolidge'.  Calvin Coolidge would be the first of many American presidents to be saddled with the epithet - Lame duck president.
  • Will and Guy's favourite collective name for a group of flying ducks, is a 'team of ducks'. When they are on the water we call them a 'paddling of ducks'. However, everyone else seems to refer to them a 'flock of ducks', whether they are flying, swimming, or on land. See more interesting facts about ducks

Interesting facts about elephantsInteresting facts about elephants

  • Elephants display 'right-handedness', not in their limbs, but in the tusks.  Close examination of an elephant's tusks will reveal that one tusk has a blunter tip and is thicker than its less favoured counterpart.  The reason for this difference is that in their natural habitat elephants use their tusk(s) for gathering food, and digging for water.  Consequently the tusk on their favourite becomes more developed, but blunter.
  • An elephant detective could track an elephant by following their individual footprints.  What would help such stalking is the elephant's habit of using the same paths as their ancestors.
  • The elephant's memory is legendary, what is not so well known is they have a special ceremony for greeting a long lost member of the herd.  In this greeting ceremony both elephants flap their ears, trumpet and generally express joy.  See more interesting facts about elephants

Interesting facts about ferrets

  • Ferrets make for an interesting and unusual pet.  Owners love them because they are inquisitive while awake, else they just sleep.  They are also relatively easy to house train, and can interact ok with other pets such as cats or dogs.
  • Hearing is their most strongly developed sense, presumably linked to their ability to survive underground in nature.
  • Ferret racing is making a come-back in England, it's a popular way of raising money at fetes and craft shows. See more interesting facts about animals

Interesting facts about the flamingo

  • Whilst the male flamingo doesn't actually lactate, he can produce a milky fish soup in his crop, which he then feeds to his little fledgling flamingos. Incidentally, chicks are born with straight bills, they only start to curve after about 10 days.
  • In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the flamingo was the symbol for red.
  • Ancient Romans on the other hand, thought that the flamingo's tongue was a tasty delicacy.  See more interesting facts about the flamingo

Interesting facts about frogsInteresting facts about frogs

  • Frogs will only eat something that moves; in nature that would be insects, or maybe spiders.  Frog farmers soon learn that frogs are not tempted by dead meat.  Tadpoles on the other hand, are vegetarian.
  • Unlike reptiles, amphibians such as frogs, always return to water to breed.  (Think of frogspawn). However, there is a midwife frog where the male carries the frogspawn around on his body.  When he senses the time is ripe, he swims out into the water and the tiny tadpoles emerge from their egg-jelly and swim away.
  • Ranidaphobia means fear of frogs; however there is no need to worry that touching the animals will give you warts, that's just one of the many myths surrounding frogs.  See more interesting facts about frogs

Interesting facts about giraffes

  • If you ever see live giraffes, then the first surprise is how graceful they are; despite their long legs and neck, they glide over the ground.  To prevent them tripping over their own legs, when they run, the front legs land inside the hind legs.  Still pictures of giraffes don't do justice to their athletic movement in nature.
  • Just as we humans all have distinct faces, so giraffes all have distinct markings or patterns.
  • Watch for the neck, giraffes show their emotions by the position of their head, submissive - near the horizontal; aggressive, standing tall.  It strikes me as one of the wonders of nature how their hearts can pump blood all the way up to their heads.  See more interesting facts about frogs

Interesting facts about lionsInteresting facts about lions

  • A lion's tail is different from that of the other members of the cat family, it has a tassel end.  The tail can be used for signalling in a wide-range of situations; for instance, mother to cub, 'this way', one huntress to another, 'I am circling left', or even from lioness to lion, come hither'.
  • Crepuscular means becoming active at dawn or dusk, and it describes the lionesses hunting strategy perfectly.  In the twilight they take advantage of their good eyesight, stalking prowess, teamwork and raw power to overcome the weakest zebra or wildebeest in the herd.
  • While the lionesses do most of the hunting, and pretty much all of the cub rearing, the lion dominates the pride and fights off other males. When the old lion is deposed by the new younger fitter lion, the new king kills off all the cubs.  This seems cruel, nature in the raw, but as he is king of the castle, killing the cubs makes sure that the lionesses come into season, and look to him to father some more cubs. See more interesting facts about lions

Interesting facts about moles

  • Going back in history to 1702, moles were responsible for the death of King William III (William of Orange).  What happened was the king was out riding, and his horse stumbled over a molehill.  Three weeks later the king was dead as a result of injuries sustained during his fall.A fanciful story? Maybe; but how do you explain William of Orange's enemies, the Jacobites raising their glasses and toasting, 'The little gentleman in a black velvet suit'.
  • In the mole kingdom, the males are called boars and the females are called sows.  Both genders are solitary outside of the mating season. Consequently, it's only in quizzes that you ever see the collective noun, a 'labour of moles', or a 'company of moles'.
  • One of the funniest made-up names that I have heard was Dame Celia Molestrangler, played by Betty Marsden in the 1960s radio programme 'Round the Horne'. See more interesting facts about moles

Interesting facts about ostrichesInteresting facts about animals

  • Ostriches are the fastest two-legged animal on the planet, capable of over 40 mph.  Also stamina is not a problem, they could probably cover 25 miles in one hour.  Unfortunately, or fortunately - it depends on how you look at it - ostriches are a flightless bird.
  • Do ostrich feathers make good dusters?  True, you bet; ostrich feathers are highly prized for removing cobwebs.
  • Do ostriches really bury their heads in the sand when danger approaches?   It's a myth.  Firstly it would have no value as a survival strategy.  Secondly, ostriches have vicious beaks, and they can also deliver a nasty kick with those long powerful legs. See more interesting facts about ostriches

Interesting facts about otters

  • Otter have specially adapted lens, which enables them to focus underwater. Have you tried opening your eyes underwater?  What a difference a pair of goggles makes.  They also have skin flaps to help them keep out the water when they dive to depths of around 30ft.
  • As with humans, old otters have white whiskers.
  • Those that study otters say that they carry around the same stone. Moreover, they are one of only a few tool-using mammals. See more interesting facts about otters

Interesting facts about pandasInteresting facts about pandas

  • The giant panda has a special place in Chinese folklore; for example the fur or pelt was thought to ward off plagues.  Each region of China seems to have a different name for the panda for instance, cat bear, eater of bamboo or great bearcat.
  • Pandas have one of the biggest contrasts between tiny baby and adult.  They gain their full size at about 4yrs old and become reproductively mature at age 6, and may live for about 25 years.
  • Rumour: The collective name for a group pandas is a pandamonium. See more interesting facts about pandas

Interesting facts about peacocks

  • Some people believe that to see a white peacock will bring eternal happiness.
  • Several Asian countries have the peacock as their national bird, notably India. In the case of Burma it's a different species, the grey peacock-pheasant.
  • Peacocks get most of their colour from light reflection rather than a dye.  The feathers have barbs, which in turn have rods.  It is these rods that controls how light reflects and produces the green, golden yellow, brown and bright blue.  White peacocks have a slightly different arrangement of the rods thus don't develop the usual colours. See more interesting facts about peacocks

Interesting facts about tigersIntersting facts about tigers

  • How many stripes do you thing a tiger has?  Guy guessed 20, Will guessed 50, we were both a long way out, tigers have over 100 stripes.
  • At the mouth of the river Ganges in Bangladesh is the Sundarbans mangrove forest.  This area house one of the largest groups of tigers in the world.  Moreover, unlike other tigers, this Bengal sub-species will kill humans who wander into its territory.  While old or injured tigers of other sub-species will kill humans when they are hungry, the Bengal tigers are the only group where fit an healthy tigers and tigresses become man-eaters.Relatively recently locals realize that tigers attack only from behind, thus if they have to go into the mangrove swamp, then a mask on the BACK of their head really does offer protection from tiger attacks.
  • Cartoons featuring tigers often show them opening their claws like flick-knives.  There is a grain of truth in this caricature in that tigers do have sharp 4in retractable claws.  Incidentally, they have five toes on their front legs, but only four on the back legs. See more interesting facts about tigers

Interesting facts about tortoises

  • Giant tortoises can weigh over 500 lbs. This makes some tortoises strong enough for humans to ride on their backs.
  • Tortoises evolved over 200 million years ago and are relatively unchanged over time.  Their success in adapting to the environment is probably due to the protective ability of their shell or carapace.  This shell is made up of 60 bone-like plates. Interesting facts about tortoises
  • You may recall the famous Aesop's fable featuring the Tortoise and the Hare.  Ever the boaster, the hare taunts the tortoise that he can race him.  The hare rushes off into a lead, but then fools around and falls asleep.  When the hare wakes he is just in time to see the plodding tortoise crossing the finishing line and winning their race. See more interesting facts about tortoises
Footnote: Please write to Will and Guy if you have any interesting animal facts

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