Useless Animal Facts

Genuine ivory does not come only from elephants. It can also come from the tusks of a boar or a walrus.

A horse can sleep standing up.

A rat can go without water longer than a camel can.

An elephant may consume 500 pounds of hay and 60 gallons of water in a single day.

Cats have no ability to taste sweet things.

Elephant Herds post their own sentries. When danger threatens, the sentry raises its trunk and though it may be as far as a half-mile away, the rest of the herd is instantly alerted. How this communication takes place is not understood.

The Whale has the slowest metabolism of all animals. Despite its great size, it lives on one of the smallest of all creatures, the microscopic plankton found throughout the sea.

A horse focuses its eye by changing the angle of its head not by changing the shape of the lens of the eye, as humans do.

The largest living species of kangaroo has a head the size of a sheep's and may stand 7 feet tall. An extinct species of kangaroo had a head the size of a Shetland pony's and reached a height of more than 10 feet. There are miniature kanagroos, such as the musk kangaroo, that are no bigger than a jackrabbit.

Greyhounds have the best eyesight of any breed of dog.

Every 9.6 years there is a peak in Canada's wildlife population, especially among muskrats, red fox, skunks, mink, lynx, and rabbits. The population of grasshoppers in the world tends to rise and fall rhythmically in 9.2 year cycles.

A rodent's teeth never stop growing. They are worn down by the animal's constant gnawing on bark, leaves, and other vegetable matter.

One million stray dogs and 500,000 stray cats live in New York City metropolitan area. There are about 100 million dogs and cats in the United States. Americans spend more than 5.5 billion on their pets each year. Every hour, 12,500 puppies are born in the US.

Deer have no gall bladders.

A mole can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in one night.

The average porcupine has more than 30,000 quills. Porcupines are excellent swimmers because their quills are hollow and serve as pontoons to keep them afloat.

Wildlife biologists estimate that as many as five out of six fawns starve to death during a hard winter in Vermont.

The now-extinct ancestor of the horse, eohippus, had a short neck, a pug muzzle, and stood no higher than a medium sized dog.

The kinkajou's tail is twice as long as its body. Every night it wraps itself in its tail and uses it as a pillow.

The ring-tailed lemur, a primate found only on the island of Madagascar, meows like a cat.

There is no sing cat called a panther. The name is commonly applied to the leopard, but it is also used to refer to the puma and the jaguar. A black panther is really a black leopard.

Guinea pigs were first domesticated by the Incas, who used them for food, in sacrifices, and as household pets.

A male baboon can kill a leopard.

The hippopotamus is born underwater.

Cows have four stomachs. Often when a calf is born the farmer will make it swallow a magnet. This is to attract the various nails, staples, tacks, bits of wire, and so on that the cow may ingest while grazing. (This odd hunger is known to farmers as “hardware disease”) When the animal is slaughtered, the butcher will remove the magnet along with the metallic debris and sell the mass of iron and steel for scrap.

The hippopotamus is, next to the elephant, the heaviest of all land mammals, larger even than the rhinoceros. It may weigh as much as 8,000 pounds.

The hippopotamus:

  • Is a close relative of the pig.
  • Can open its mouth wide enough to accommodate a 4-foot-tall child.
  • Has skin as inch and a half thick, so solid that most bullets cannot penetrate it.
  • Has a stomach 10 feet long, capable of holding 6 bushels of grass.

The crocodile:

  • is a cannibal; it will occasionally eat other crocodiles.
  • Does not chew its food, but swallows it whole. It carries several pounds of small stones in its stomach to aid in grinding up and digesting its nourishment.
  • Does cry tears, but they are crocodile tears—not real tears at all, but glandular excretions that serve to expel excess salt from the eyes.
  • Continually grows new sets of teeth to replace old teeth.
  • Cannot move its tongue (a crocodile's tongue is rooted to the base of its mouth).
  • Is surprisingly fast on land. If pursued by a crocodile, a person should run in a zig zag motion, for the crocodile has little or no ability to make sudden changes of direction.

The frigate bird can fly at a speed of 260 miles per hour. The snail moves at a rate of 0.000362005 miles per hour. The fastest animal on four legs is the cheetah, which races 70 miles per hour over short distances and can accelerate to 45 miles per hour in two seconds. An elephant, despite its ponderous appearance, can do 25 miles per hour on an open stretch, and a charging rhino has been clocked at 30. The fastest of all fish in the sea is the swordfish, streaming forward at 68 miles per hour. Man's best speed in the water is 4.1 miles per hour; the maximum speed at which a human being can run on land is 24 miles per hour.

A squirrel has no color vision; it sees only in black and white. Every part of its field of vision, however, is in perfect focus, not just straight ahead, as with man.

Weimaraner dogs were first bred in Germany for hunting deer in a special manner; the dogs were trained to pursue stags low and from behind, and to leap at their victims' genitals and rip off these most vulnerable organs in a single bite. Today, if given a chance, many members of this breed will instinctively perform the same feat.

An ox is a castrated bull, A mule is a sterile cross between a male ass and a female horse. A donkey is an ass, but an ass is not always a donkey. The word “ass” refers to any of several hoofed mammals of the genus Equus, including the onager.

A baby turkey is called a “poult.” A group of lions is known as a “pride”, and a group of hogs is a “herd”. Geese in collection are a “gaggle,” and when in the air they are a “skein”. A gathering of foxes is referred to as a “skunkel,” a gathering of quail as a “covey.” A baby kangaroo is a “joey”. A baby fish is a “fry”.

A kangaroo cannot jump if its tail is lifted off the ground. It needs its tail for pushing off.

A snake has no ears. However, its tongue is extremely sensitive to sound vibrations, and by constantly flicking its tongue the snake picks up these sound waves. In this sense a snake “hears” with its tongue.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not sweat by salivating, They sweat through the pads of their feet.

When a hippopotamus exerts itself, gets angry, or stays out of the water for too long, it exudes red sweat like mucus through its skin.

Every day of the year, 100 whales are killed by whale fisherman.

A newborn Chinese water deer is so small it can almost be held in the palm of the hand.

Every year more people are killed in Africa by crocodiles than by lions.

Antlers and horns are not the same. Horns grow throughout an animal's life and are found on both the male and female of a species (such as a cow). Antlers, composed of a different chemical substance, are shed every year. Usually, though not invariably, they are found on males.

A hippopotamus can run faster than a man.

The Mojave ground squirrel, found mainly the American West, hibernates for two-thirds of every year.

The sea lion:

  • Can swim 6,000 miles, stopping only to sleep.
  • Is susceptible to sunburn, and if put on board a ship will get as seasick as man.

Male sea lions may have more than 100 wives and sometimes go three months without eating.

There once were more sea lions on earth than people.

The venom of the king cobra is so deadly that one gram of it can kill 150 people. Just to handle the substance can put one in coma.

A whale's heart beats only nine times a minute.

A cat uses its whiskers to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through. The whiskers act as feelers or antennae, helping the animal to judge the precise width of any narrow passage.

Of all known forms of animal life ever to inhabit the Earth, only about 10 percent still exist today.

The lesser mole rat not only digs an entire subterranean house for itself, complete with storerooms, halls, bedrooms, and a “wedding chamber” where all mating takes place, but actually constructs a separate bathroom which, when filled, is sealed off from the rest of the house.

Elephants are covered with hair. Although it is not apparent from a distance, at close range one can discern a thin coat of light hairs covering practically every part of an elephant's body.

Male monkeys lose the hair on their heads the same way men do.

The flying snake of Java and Malaysia is able to flatten itself out like a ribbon and sail like a glider from tree to tree.

A good milking cow will give nearly 6,000 quarts of milk every year.

There are buffalo in Poland. They live mainly in the area of the Bialowieza Forest and are known as zubra. The well-known Polish vodka Zubrowka, which means “buffalo brand,: takes its name from these animals.

Sheep will not drink from running water. Hence the line in the Twenty-thrid Psalm: “He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

A completely blind chameleon will still take on the colors of its environment.

Camels were used as pack animals in Nevada and Arizona as late as 1870.

Male moose have antlers 7 feet across. The antlers often weigh 60 pounds.

The fur of the vicuña, a small member of the camel family which lives only in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is so fine that each hair is less than two-thousandths of an inch thick. The animal was considered sacred by the Incas, and only royalty could wear its fleece.

A female mouse may spawn as many as ten litters of eight to ten young during her lifetime--which generally is less than a year. The gestation period is three weeks, and the young mice reach maturity in only ten weeks.

The chameleon, a small lizard generally measuring 6 or 7 inches, has a tongue several inches longer than its body. With a thrust of this remarkable appendage it can catch insects some 10 inches away.

The bat is the only mammal that can fly.

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.

The bottle-nosed whale can dive to a depth of 3,000 feet in two minutes.

The chow is the only dog that has a black tongue. The tongues of all other dogs are pink.

Kangaroo rats never drink water. Like their relatives the pocket mice, they carry their own water source within them, producing fluids from the food they eat and the air they breathe.

More than 99.9 percent of all animal species that have ever lived on Earth were extinct before the coming of man.

Almost half the pigs in the world are kept by farmers in China.

A skunk will not bite and throw its scent at the same time.

A crocodile weighing 120 pounds exerts a force of about 1,540 pounds between its jaws. A human being's jaws exert a force of only 40 to 80 pounds.

A python can swallow a rabbit whole and may eat as many as 150 mice in a six-month period.

From 1890 to 1900, 20 tons of ivory were shipped every year from Siberia to London. All of this ivory was taken from the remains of woolly mammoths, which have been extinct since the Ice Age.

Most varieties of snake can go an entire year without eating a single morsel of food.

A rat can fall from a five-story building without injury. Two rats can become the progenitors of 15,000 rats in less than a year.

No one has ever been able to domesticate the African Elephant. Only the Indian elephant can be trained by man.

According to tests made at the Institute for the Study of Animal Problems in Washington, D.C., dogs and cats, like people, are either right-handed or left-handed—that is, these animals favor either right or left paws.

How to classify the platypus, a native of Australia and Tasmania, is a problem that has puzzled biologists and zoologists since the animal was discovered in the eighteenth century. This strange animal has characteristics of both mammals and birds. For instance, the platypus lays eggs, as birds do. Yet platypus mothers nurse their young, a typical mammalian characteristic. (However, the platypus has no nipples. The mother secrets milk from stomach glands and the baby laps it up.) The platypus has a leathery, duck like bill (from which it gets the name “duck billed platypus”), and its feet are webbed like those of aquatic birds. Bu at the end of the webs are claws just like a cat's or a racoon's. After much argument, scientists finally decided that the platypus merited classification as a mammal—but only marginally.

At birth, baby kangaroos are only about an inch long—no bigger than a large waterbug or a queen bee.

A full-grown moose may be 8 feet high at the shoulder and weigh almost a ton. The male moose sheds its antlers every winter and grows a new set the following summer.

A herd of sixty cows is capable of producing a ton of milk in less than a day.

A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can.

Through the giraffe's neck is about 7 feet long, it contains the same number of vertebrae as a mouse's—seven. The giraffe's tongue is 18 inches long. It can open and close its nostrils at will, can run faster than a horse, and makes almost no sound whatsoever. The first giraffe ever seen in the West was brought to Rome about 46 B.C. By no less a personage than Julius Caesar.

The blue whale weighs as much as thirty elephants and is as long as three Greyhound buses.

An anteater is nearly 6 feet long, yet its mouth is only an inch wide.

A lion in the wild usually makes no more than twenty kills a year.

Turtles, water snakes, crocodiles, alligators, frogs, porpoises, dolphins, whales, and several other water going creatures will drown if kept underwater too long. Unlike fish, these animals require a certain amount of air in order to survive.

Lanolin, an essential ingredient of many expensive cosmetics, is, in its native form, a foul-smelling, waxy, tar like substance extracted from the fleece of sheep.

Some dinosaurs lived to be more than a hundred years old.

The stegosaurus, a giant dinosaur that grew to more than 18 feet long and was armed with enormous bony plates on its neck, back, and tail, has a brain that weighed only 2 onces and was no bigger than a walnut.

There is a rare variety of ivory that comes from the male narwhal, a whale that inhabits Arctic waters. In infancy, this formidable creature loses all its teeth but two upper incisors. One of these continues to grow forward through the narwhal's upper lip, twisting corkscrew fashion, until it develops into a spiral tusk that may reach 9 feet, almost two-thirds the length of the whale's body. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century whale hunters stalked the creature for its precious ivory, and there are many tales of men being impaled on narwhal tusks and carried into sea.

Nose prints are usually used to identify dogs in the same way finger prints are used to identify human beings. Breeders and trainers keep a dog's nose prints on file as part of its permanent record, and insurance companies require them whenever a dog is to be bonded. At one time paw prints were used as a means of canine identification, but these proved less accurate than noses.

The weasel and the ermine are the same animal. This mammal's coat changes with the seasons—in its white winter coat it is known as an ermine, in its brown coat it is a weasel.

A newborn polar bear cub weighs only twice as much as a newborn human—about 15 pounds. Yet when fully grown, polar bears reach weights up to 1,600 pounds.

Garter snakes, though reptiles, do not lay eggs. They bear live young, just as mammals do.

The polar bear is one of the only large land mammals that has absolutely no fear of man. It will stalk people at every chance and has been known to charge large groups of hunters, sometimes into heavy gunfire, not slowing down even after its vital organs have been hit repeatedly.

The smell of a skunk can be detected by a human a mile away.

Useless Facts