Animal Facts, Myths, Truths



FunFacts1Did you know: Bison are the largest terrestrial animal in North America at over six feet tall. Mature bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and mature cows can be as much as 1,000 pounds. Despite their size, bison are constantly on the move even walking while they eat. A bison’s hump is composed of muscle, supported by long vertebrae. It allows the animal to use its head to plow through snow. Fossils and accounts from early travelers show that Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.  The Yellowstone bison herd is one of the few that remains genetically free of cattle genes.

Whitemargin unicorn-fish are among the 325 fish species recorded in the waters of the southern Line Islands.  The purpose of the horn is unknown, but it’s not for jousting; the fish use sharp spines near their tails to settle territorial disputes.

Hey Did You Know Pigs Are Really Clean and Smart. From SPCA International. Pigs are among the smartest of all domesticated animals [even smarter than dogs!]. And despite their reputation, pigs are actually very clean. They normally only roll in the mud to keep cool on hot days, but pigs with clean, cool shelters tend to keep clean.  Pigs also have poor eyesight, but a very keen sense of smell.  They use their sensitive snout to find all sorts of yummy things to eat!. Be kind to pigs too. Kindness matters.

Ferrets are incredibly social small mammals. Their intelligence is remarkable and you can easily teach them tricks such as roll over and fetch, just like a dog.  Their intelligence also leads to extreme curiosity, which can sometimes translate to mischief. For instance, did you know that ferrets are notorious for stealing lightweight or shiny objects and hiding them? On some occassions, ferret pet parents have been late to work because they couldn’t find their car keys!  Remember to keep all important objects out of the reach of these clever, yet sneaky critters.  Instead, be sure to provide them with plenty of interactive ferret toys to keep their attention and to help with their boredom.  Another great thing about ferrets is that you can litter box or “potty” train them, keeping mess to a minimum.  While many people associate ferrets with a dreadful odor, most pet stores sell ferrets that have had their scent glands removed and additional odor can be kept at bay with helpful products such as “Good-bye Odor.” Ferrets make fantastic pets and thrive on human interaction and attention. As most ferret owners will tell you, you just can’t get enough!.

Chimpanzees are an endangered species- there are estimated to be 170,000 chimps left in the wild. The U.S. is the only remaining nation known to use chimpanzees as research subjects.  Thankfully, because of support from people like you, this practice is on the decline.Chimpanzees experience joy, anger, grief, sorrow, pleasure, boredom, and depression as much as humans do.  They also comfort and reassure one another by grooming and embracing.Chimpanzees can live to be 50 years or more in captivity.Nearly 850 chimps still languish inside research laboratories, suffering emotional and physical trauma. Chimpanzees are called our closest living relative because we share all but 1.4% of our DNA.  We are the chimpanzees’ closest relation-not gorillas or orangutans.

Rock Hyrax and African Elephant Related

Taken from January 2014 issue of National Georgraphic

The Rock Hyrax is the size of a groundhog, [and looks similiar] yet it’s a close genetic relative of the African elephant. “What unites them is a common ancestor,” says biologist Arik Kershenbaum.  The two species, along with manatees, are part of a taxonomic group called Paenungulata, which diverged from other mammals 65 million years ago during climate shifts.  They later began to diverge from each other to adapt in different habitats.  Although they look nothing alike, hyraxes and elephants share some physical similarities spongy pads under their feet.

Calculating Canine Years  It’s a Dog’s Life

Taken from The Book of Unusual Knowledge Copyright 2012

Ask a proud dog owner about the age of his or her beloved pooch, and you’ll likely hear this response: “Well, Fido is five in human years, so multiply that by seven, and he’s 35 in canine years.” But doggone it, it’s just not that simple.

Calculating Canine Years

A number of Factors are taken into account when one attempts to equate a dog’s development level with that with that of a human being.  Breed, size, heredity, nutrition, and training can affect and influence the development [and, therefore, the “human age”] of a dog.  Generally speaking, human beings experience developmental stages at these approximate ages: infant: 1 year; toddler: 3 years; youngster: 6 years; adolescent: 11 years; teen: 15 years; adult: 20 years; mature adult: 65 years; old coot: 85 years.   Note that the rate of development is faster and closer together in the early years and spreads out as time goes on.

Dogs experience similar developmental stages-they just don’t hit at the same points and in the same time frames as humans do. For example, an infant gains certain motor and communication skills, as well as knowledge, in his or her first year.  In the same time period, most dogs-regardless of breed or size-reach a physical and “emotional” maturity similar to that of a teenager.

Almost all dogs develop at the same rate in their first 5 years.  Relative to human years, they generally follow this range:

1 human year = 15 dog years

2 human years = 24 dog years

3 human years = 28 dog years

4 human years= 32 dog years

5 human years = 36 dog years.

A Breed Apart 

Relatively speaking, a larger breed will “age” at a faster rate than a smaller breed.  At 7 human years, a Chihuahua is considered 44 in dog years, whereas a Labrador has hit the big 5-0.  This span will continue to grow as the years go by.  At 10 years old, the Chihuahua is 52 in dog years, whereas the Lab is ready to collect social security at 66.

Part of this growth disparity is due to the fact that larger breeds tend to have shorter life spans than smaller breeds.  Larger breeds-such as Great Danes, St. Bernards, and Irish Wolfhounds-are susceptible to disabling ailments such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.  Other concerns include nutrition and healthcare.  If the family dog receives a balanced meal, as well as regular checkups and shots, it should live a long life.  Also, just as humans do, dogs start to experience problems with sight, hearing, mobility, teeth, gums, and digestion as they near the “senior citizen” status of 60 or 70 years – a mere 12 or 13 human years.  But the good news, according to veterinarians, is that a dog’s average life span has increased from 7 to 12 years in the past eight decades.

 Paw Prints in the Sand

The Canary Islands were named after the Latin word for dog, Canaria. It’s said that the island’s original inhabitants used to worship them.

Portuguese water dogs were originally bred to drive fish into fisherman’s nets, retrieve lost gear, carry messages from ship to ship or ship to shore.

New Foundlands, Labs and Weimaraners all have webbed feet for swimming.

The trend has yet to cross the ocean, but Italian beaches are putting canines to work as life-guards.  More than 350 dogs are now certified in water rescue.

Is it right to keep a pet parrot in a cage alone? Isn’t it cruel?

A recent study by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine-Vienna found that the stress caused by keeping highly intelligent and social parrots in solitary confinement can actually damage their DNA.  The scientists found that birds housed singly had drastically shortened chromosomal telomeres [something that happens naturally with age] – roughly the same length as those of communally housed birds who were 20 years older.  If you have a bird that is  alone in a cage you should consider adopting not purchasing a companion for the bird or to find a new home if you are unable to provide proper care. And make sure that the birds’ cage is huge and has a window view, places to hide and lots of toys and that the parrots are allowed out of the cage every day. From PETA 2014

Did You Know? Birds Including parakeets and parrots

Birds including parakeets and parrots shake their feathers more than once each day in order to remove dirt and debris and also to relieve tension.

The Gray Wolf [Canis Lupus]

Wolves belong to family units called packs that are capable of complex cooperative behaviors. They have unique traditions that guide their pack’s hunting and pup rearing strategies. Wolves have great endurance.  They can travel very long distances at a lope around 5 mph.

Wolves are Found in North America, Asia, and Europe

Gray Wolves were once the most widely distributed mammal. Wolves have been hunted, trapped and poisoned because of fear and perceived conflicts with livestock.  Legal protections have helped the wolf recover in portions of its historic range.

Threats to Wolves

Habitat Degradation, Human Interference, poaching, Climate Change, Natural Events

How to Help Wolves

The Wolf Conservation Center teaches people about the importance and plight of wolves in North America and works to restore these keystone species to their rightful places in our landscapes in our landscapes in our hearts, and in our culture.

Learn more at



FunFacts2Groundhog Day: The story goes like this. If the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2,there will be six[6] more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring. How did this myth get started? After researching this it seems that the woodchuck became the bearer of cold winter weather reports. It seemed to begin with German settlers in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where groundhogs are plentiful. In the late 1800s, some friends formed the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to conduct their annual search for groundhogs.  In 1887, these friends introduced Punxsutawney Phil and made his the only “official” weather-predicting woodchuck.Many other cities and towns have named their own meteorological rodents since then but non have caught on.

Myths About Dogs

A wagging tail indicates a friendly dog.  It depends on the position of the tail when it’s wagging.  A loose, mid-level wag usually indicates an approachable dog, but tails held high or low could signal an aggressive or defensive demeanor.

A dog is sick if its nose is warm.  The assumption is that a warm-nosed dog has a fever, but the fact is that a thermometer is the only reliable way to measure a dog’s temperature. The normal body temperature of a dog is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fehrenheit.


FunFacts3Animal Camouflage: Polar bears are not actually white. They look white because their fur is made up of hollow, transparent,pigment-free hairs, which scatter and reflect visible light, in the same way snow crystals do. Their fur underneath is black, which is how the animal appears if photographed with film that’s sensitive to ultraviolet light.

FunFacts4When Cats came in from the Cold.Cats have been pets for thousands of years and usually outdoor animals. Cats would sometimes spend time in the house but were put out at night because of the  smell from cat box fillers like sand, sawdust and ashes.  In 1947, Kay Draper of Cassopolis, Michigan, was running out of cat box filler and went to a neighbors to ask to borrow some. Her neighbor Ed Lowe sold industrial absorbants, and he told her to try some fuller’s earth which are small granules of dried clay used for soaking up oil spills and other things. After she tried the clay, Kay Draper said that it was cleaner and also helped control the cat box odors.  After this Ed Lowe filled several paper bags with fuller’s earth and put the name “Kitty Litter” on the side, and approached a local pet store. The pet store owner was not convinced anyone would purchase something that was already supplied for free with sand, sawdust or ashes. Mr. Lowe insisted he give the bags away for free if anyone was interested. Within a short amount of time customers came back saying they would gladly pay for more.  Lowe promoted his product; and his insistance paid off. Now nearly $800 million a year on clay cat box filler is purchased, and millions of felines enjoy living indoors.

FunFacts5Service Animals: Since 1999, miniature horses have served as service animals for the visually impaired. Cuddles, the first guide horse, went into service two years later. Guide horses are excellent for people who are allergic to or are afraid of dogs, or are simply horse enthusiasts. Guide horses, compare in size to a medium to large dog, are intelligent, docile, have excellent memories, provide stable physical support to individuals with balance problems. They also can be hose trained and can live to be three or four times that of a service dog. Two drawbacks are that they have limited dexterity and limited portability.

FunFacts6Large Parrots:  A large parrot’s beak can exert 500 lbs of pressure per square inch, allowing the bird to feast on delicables like Brazil nuts with a single crunch.
Servals, Scientific name: Leptailuras Serval – Longest legs of all cats, relative to its size. Can jump up to 10 feet high. Servals are common on savannas where there are plenty of water.  They prefer areas of bush, tall grass, and dry reed beds near streams, but they are also found in high-altitude moorlands and bamboo thickets.  It is found in most parts of Africa, with the exception of Central Equatorial Africa, the very Southern part of the continent, and the Sahara region.
Weight: 30 to 40 lbs. Size: 22 inches at shoulder, Lifespan in captivity: 20 years, Diet: Carnivorous, Predators: Hyenas, Leopards, hunting dogs.


Goats were the first animals domesticated by man somewhere between 7,000-10,000 B.C.E. They are one of the cleanest of animals, and far more selective eaters than most other farm animals and even dogs.  Goats eat many different species of plants, but do not want to eat food that has been contaminated or that has been on the ground.  Contrary to popular belief, goats do NOT eat tin cans or garbage.  They live on average for 8-12 years.

Cher Ami: Heroic Pigeon

A carrier pigeon named Cher Ami braved brutal enemy fire to save nearly 200 trapped American servicemen.

During World War I, the U.S. Army Signal Corps put nearly 600 carrier pigeons into service in France.  Among them was Cher Ami, a genuine hero among heroes.

During the Meuse-Argonne offensive in October 1918, more than 500 members of the 77th Infantry, led by Major Charles Whittlesey, found themselves trapped behind enemy lines.  Worse, their location began taking artillery fire from fellow American forces that were unaware of their predicament.  By the second day, 300 members of the 77th had been killed.

Whittlesey dispatched messages to division headquarters via carrier pigeon.  The first birds were quickly shot down, leaving only a pigeon named Cher Ami to finish the job.  A barrage of bullets whizzed past the little bird as he rose from the bushes; for a moment, it seemed that he too would go down.  Cheri Ami took a bullet in the chest, and another shot nearly severed the leg holding his message canister, but he managed to make it to headquarters.  Within hours, the surviving members of Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion” were safely behind American lines.

Cher Ami was hailed as a hero.  Army medics worked to save his life, going so far as to carve a tiny wooden leg to replace the one that had been injured by enemy fire. The pigeon was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm medal for his service and later became the mascot of the Department of Service.

Cher Ami died on June 13, 1919.  He is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., in an exhibition titled “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.”