Did you know that cows like Simon & Garfunkel and penguins propose to their mates?
Animals never cease to amaze us with their vast emotional and intellectual worlds.
We’re only just starting to understand most animal behavior, but these 30 pieces of animal trivia have been backed up by at least some research (even if it’s inconclusive).
We bet there are at least a handful you didn’t know.
1. Cows have best friends
Cows not only have best friends, but they’re sad when they’re separated from them.
Considering the way we treat cows, it’s a little disturbing to know that they have a rich emotional life.
But we’re charmed to know that giving a cow a buddy is a sure-fire way to cheer it up!
2. Penguins make a laughing noise when they’re tickled
If you never became a scientist when you grew up, you missed out on your chance to tickle animals for a living to see if they laugh.
If you’ve seen a penguin get tickled, it was likely Cookie from the Cincinnati Zoo because she really does have the best laugh.
Now, we don’t recommend trying this at home (because you should never bring home a penguin), but try not to burst out laughing when Cookie gets tickled. We’ve set the video about 1 minute in, but feel free to scroll back as well to hear researchers talk more about her.
3. Many fish can recognize faces
Have you ever noticed that when you walk towards your fish tank, your fish might come say hello? That might not just be because he/she thinks it’s snack time but is genuinely showing you some recognition.
For now, there’s just one study that’s been done on archerfish, but it did indeed find that they could recognize a human face among dozens.
4. When guinea pigs get excited they jump up and down and squeal
If you have a guinea pig, you’ve no doubt already told all your friends about “popcorning.”
Popcorning is when the little creatures suddenly “pop” up in the air and change directions, usually with a little squeak. And plenty of research has been done to make sure it’s not a sign of something less amusing. (Scientists have also come up with a much more serious term for it – “pronking.”)
As far as we can tell, when your guinea pig popcorns/pronks, it means you’ve made its day! Take a look in slow-mo here.
(Oh, and chinchillas do it too!)
5. Bees get sleepy on the job and sometimes doze right off inside flowers
Bees are some of the most important creatures on earth. And while most of us react to them with a swat, they’re really not out to hurt you.
These hard-working pollinators (of which there are more than 20,000 varieties) can sometimes doze off on the job. Honeybees, for example, just fall right over and take a nap. Other bees, like the globe mallow bee, even snuggle up with one another inside of flowers.
Bees don’t have eyelids, so you can’t actually catch them getting shut-eye, per se, but when they stop moving their antennae and are perfectly still, it might just be nap time.
6. Otters choose a favorite rock when they’re young and keep it for life
It’s true – they use it as a tool to crack open shellfish and they store it in a tiny, furry underarm “pocket” for safekeeping.
7. Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species
They’re not the smartest creatures on Earth, but since we destroyed large swathes of their habitat, the least humans could do was work hard to keep them from going extinct.
Breeding programs around the world have worked pretty well. Giant panda populations have increased by 17% over the last 10 years.
They’re still classified as a “vulnerable” species, but no longer endangered.
8. A dangerous minefield in the Falkland Islands has been taken over by penguins who are now safe from humans
35 years ago, landmines were placed on the shore of the Falkland Islands’ Yorke Bay to maim invading British soldiers. The mines are still there and can easily harm humans that go near the beach, which has been blocked off.
But that makes it the perfect spot for Magellanic penguins to thrive since they aren’t heavy enough to set off the mines.
In fact, the beach is in fairly pristine ecological shape as a result.
9. Baby elephants can’t control their trunks, so it flies around everywhere
It takes a while for all babies to develop fine motor control, but not all babies can squirt water out of their noses.
We have to admit that baby elephants look pretty hilarious as they try to get control over those trunks.
10. Forgetful squirrels are responsible for accidentally planting an untold number of trees each year
23. There is a death metal band whose lead singer is a parrot
Hatebeak is a death metal band whose lead singer, Waldo, is a grey parrot
They released their album The Number of the Beak in 2015 with Reptilian Records, but they never tour so as not to annoy the bird.
24. Sea otters hold hands while they’re sleeping so they don’t drift apart
Otters hold hands in pairs and in groups (which are called a “raft”) while they eat, sleep, and rest to keep from losing one another.
Sometimes they even wrap sea plants around their hands to make a tether.
25. Military dogs always outrank their handlers
While it’s ceremonial, dogs outrank their handlers so that all signals they give can be interpreted as a direct order.
As one military man said on Reddit: “It’s so every indicator that the dog has found something (excessive sniffing, pointing, barking, etc) that they’re trained to detect, is acted upon as if it were a lawful, direct order.”
But they tend to only do this for extended family (which they can somehow sense).
28. Alligators give manatees the right of way
Not only do alligators break for manatees, but if a gator doesn’t see one coming, the manatees feel perfectly comfortable going up to them and giving them a nudge. And alligators heed the right of way on the ocean highway!
Who would have guessed?
29. Ducks like to surf
We don’t know why because they don’t look terribly elegant while doing it, but ducks just can’t resist catching a wave.