If you are looking for weird, almost unbelievable animals facts, you came to the right place! There are a million and one things to learn about animals all over the world. From the high peaks of the Andes to the lowland jungles of the Congo Basin, and everywhere in between all over the world on both land and sea, there is no shortage of tidbits to take in on the animal kingdom and its subjects.
Today, let’s go over ten more of those unique morsels of trivia. These are ten seemingly made-up animal facts that are actually true. They are so weird, random, and unexpected, that you will think they are fake. But they’re not! They are all backed by science.
No Sloth Farts
Everything sloths do is slow. They take hours to move even short distances in the trees, their digestive systems take days (and sometimes weeks) to push food through to be used for nutrients and turned into waste, and they put themselves at great risks in the times they rarely leave the trees to move slowly down on the forest floor. But there’s one other really weird thing about them besides their (lack of) speed: they don’t fart!
See, sloths have digestive systems that are incredibly slow, as we’ve mentioned. Because it takes them so long to digest leaves, they have intestines that push out their farts in the same way through their body like we do. Instead of going through the butt, then, that methane is actually absorbed into their blood. And with that methane absorbed so slowly internally, scientists figured out the ultimate question: that means they don’t fart!
With the methane absorbed into their blood, and their systems pushing so unbelievably slowly out the back-end, sloths don’t have the ability to fart. The methane that isn’t absorbed in their blood is instead pushed out with a series of quiet burps. So, it goes the other way! By the way: scientists think spiders don’t fart, either. So sloths aren’t the only animal who doesn’t have to blame it on the dog…
No Sloth Breaths
Let’s stay on the topic of sloths for another minute. Even though they are incredibly slow on land, they actually move pretty well in the water. They are good swimmers who move swiftly through the current. And while they aren’t Olympic-level fast (they are no Michael Phelps’ when it comes time to take a dip), they nevertheless move through the water about three times faster than they do on land. That’s all relative, of course, but when they need to get somewhere at once, the water might as well be their highway.
That’s not the interesting fact about sloths’ swimming prowess, though. The crazy tidbit is this: when they are swimming, sloths can hold their breath for as long as 40 minutes at a time. The science behind that is pretty simple. See, sloths can slow their heart rates to about one-third its normal beating tempo when they get in the water. Their bodies more or less shut down to conserve energy and keep them calm while swimming. In doing so, they don’t need to breathe anywhere near as often as they did on land. So, they can hold their oxygen intake and chill out for two-thirds of an hour. Talk about being laid back!
You Are NOT The Father!
Pandas are very smart creatures in a lot of different ways—and one of those ways is apparently their ability to fake pregnancy to get nicer digs and more lifestyle perks while in captivity. In 2014, a 6-year-old panda named Ai Hin started showing signs of being pregnant while living at China’s Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center. For two months, she was showing the telltale signs of pregnancy, and officials moved her inside. There, they gave her extra treats, including an all-you-can-eat supply of bamboo with fruit to chow down on for dessert.
The nicer set-up worked well for Ai Hin, who simultaneously used that close observation by panda experts to stay out of the heat and hang out in her nicer indoor digs. She kept showing signs of pregnancy for weeks on after that, but then, officials noticed something: she wasn’t growing like she should have been with an unborn panda inside of her. That’s when experts realized she was having what was called a “phantom pregnancy.” Impressed with how long it lasted, these experts now believe Ai Hin played up her phantom biological moves to continue getting that extra food and special treatment.
“Some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” a world-renowned panda expert named Wu Kongju told Chinese state-affiliated media agency Xinhua. Disappointed that Ai Hin was not actually pregnant with a baby panda, officials at Chengdu were forced to call off a livestream they’d set up of the panda giving birth since, well, it wasn’t going to happen. And now you know this wild and nearly-unbelievable animal fact: pandas can fake their pregnancies!
Ringtone On Repeat
For a lot of different reasons, starlings are very cool birds. They are beautiful, tiny birds with dark green heads that fly in large, noisy flocks. They are very vocal when they communicate with each other, alerting other members of their flock to danger, navigational changes, predators on their tail, and more. That’s not all, though. Starlings are also expert mimics, and they can perfectly repeat nearly any noise they hear in an almost immediate, uncanny fashion.
Because they are so small, they use this mimicry ability to imitate other birds and throw deception to their surroundings. They can perfectly cry out like the other bird noises they hear around their habitat. And bird noises aren’t the only things they pick up on. If they hear it out and about in their realm, starlings can quickly imitate and perfect noises like car alarms and phone rings. If you give it a few cell phone ringtone sounds as an example, it’ll come back with a call that’s exactly like what they just heard on the phone. Neat! We’re really just left with one question, then: can they mimic the phone’s “vibrate only” mode, too?
Don’t Sweat It!
We all know that dogs don’t sweat, instead opting to pant to keep themselves cool and cut down their body temperature when they get overheated. They aren’t the only mammals who keep cool in other ways besides sweating, though. Take pigs, for example. They may be remarkably similar to human beings in quite a few biological ways, but one in which they aren’t is the method for which they cool themselves off. While humans perspire to cut down their core temperatures during terrible heat waves, pigs don’t have those glands, so they choose to roll in the mud instead.
No, really. A pigsty is a very important part of a pig’s healthy life, because the mud that is such a critical part of keeping pigs cool. They roll around in the dirt, hay, and mud, and the cooling properties of that caked earth helps regulate their temperature. In turn, pigs also have respiration techniques similar to dogs’ panting that keep them cool during the dog (er, pig) days of summer, too.
Animals On Trial
Beginning in about the ninth century, various European nations and communities would regularly put animals on trial from crimes they committed against people. Dogs and other animals were accused of doing things that led to heartache for people within communities, and dead-set on justice, the animal in question would be “arrested,” then tried in a real court of law. If found guilty, these animals would either be executed or ordered to leave town by a certain day.
That idea seems foreign to us now, but back at that time, animals were believed to have the same moral standards they had to follow as humans did. So, if a person was killed or property was damaged in an accident or other event involving an animal, that animal could be held legally liable for the action despite (obviously) not knowing what was going on. And here’s the even crazier part of the story: this belief about animals being legally liable for events in the community persisted all the way into the 1700s. We’d like to think of our ancestors from the 18th century were a little more intelligent about things like this, but they simply weren’t.
Buy One, Get One (Or Else!)
In Switzerland, you’re not allowed to own only one guinea pig—or one parrot—as a household pet. That may seem like a very random rule at first, or a classic moment of government overreach in the lives of private citizens. But there’s actually a really smart reason behind it. See, both guinea pigs and parrots are highly social animals. They constantly communicate with the other guinea pigs and parrots with whom they live (and any other animals or humans, too). Because of that, it’s not wise to leave them all alone for their lives, as they will stagnate in their emotional and psychological development.
Animal behaviorists in Switzerland understood this early on, and petitioned the government to make it a rule that guinea pigs and parrots had to live in pairs (or more) within one household. If they live alone, they are to be considered as victims of animal abuse, since they need the ability and access to regularly interact with others of their same species. With it, they can thrive. Without it, they can languish. So, Switzerland cut to the chase and made it a thing to ensure that extroverted attitude could be enshrined into law!
Sleep Carefully At Sea
Dolphins sleep with one eye open. When they are out in the open ocean and looking to get a rest, they can’t just bed down for the night, since where they are in the water has no ready-made spots to lie down even if they could. And they can’t go floating away in the water while sound asleep for hours on end because their slumber leaves them vulnerable to predators like sharks. So, they do the sensible thing: they keep one eye open while sleeping to look out for potential death coming through the waves.
Dolphins go through what’s called unihemispheric sleep. That’s a fancy way of saying one side of their brain (and one eye) shuts down to rest and recover while the other stays working to keep them safe. In that method, dolphins shut off the left side of their brain and their right eye jointly to sleep, then flip those back on and shut off the right side of their brain and their left eye to balance it out. The whole while, they are both resting and watching for danger at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking!
Pink Has A Purpose
One of the most obvious aspects of a flamingo is the color of its feathers. They’re pink—and usually a bright pink that stands out even among other colorful birds. Forget about toucans, and parrots, and parakeets, and cockatiels. Flamingoes have the best and brightest to offer the bird world! But what makes them pink, anyways? Is it just a random genetic mutation? No! It’s actually carotenoid pigments in their diet!
See, flamingos—and shrimp, too, for that matter—eat certain kinds of algae that are very high in carotenoid pigments. In turn, when these flamingos (and the shrimp) digest the shrimp, the carotenoid compounds transfer to the birds and hue their feathers. If you’re wondering what a carotenoid is beyond that, rest easy, because you technically already know. See, these pigments are also the same things that make carrots orange and tomatoes red. So you already eat them regularly. They just (thankfully) don’t turn your skin pink. But wouldn’t it be cool if they did?!
Rubber Duck Drama
Let’s end this list about animals with a very weird final fact: in January 1992, a ship that had left China was traveling in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles north of Hawaii. During a bad storm, some of the ship’s cargo went overboard. Unfortunately for the shipper, that’s a pretty well-known situation out in the open ocean on occasion when bad weather sweeps through. But hilariously for us, the cargo that went overboard was perfectly in line with the water in which it landed! The lost supplies included 29,000 rubber yellow ducks, blue turtles, and green frogs. These floatable rubber toys had been destined for American shores, where they were to be sold presumably to homes with children who needed a nightly bathtime. But instead, they wound up in the Pacific Ocean!
As funny and strange as that cargo situation may have been when it happened, the capsized ducks have actually played a critical role in oceanography. See, over the ensuing couple decades since the 1992 spillover occurred, rubber ducks and turtles have washed up on beaches across Asia, the Arctic, and even as far as Maine and elsewhere in New England on the other side of North America. Scientists have used those landings and tracked the times when those ducks were found to improve their knowledge about sea currents. Now, thanks to this bizarre spill, we know more than ever about how ocean currents tend to travel all across the globe.
[Image via BBC Earth/YouTube]