ANIMAL FACTS

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CAT FACTS

INVENTIONS

WE SUPPORT SHELTER ORGANIZATIONS, especially the Ottawa Humane Society (where Bobbi adopted Terzo in October, 2006), the Aylmer SPCA (where Bobbi adopted Q.T. Penny in 2015), as well as many others. See the Fan Club page for all the links.

The ASPCA was founded in 1866. It was the first animal welfare organization in the Americas. Canada's first SPCA was established in 1869 in Montreal.

Canada's Animal Cruelty Act dates back to 1892. But it's never been revised.

The first zoo in the U.S. was established in Philadelphia.

Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten is the largest zoo in the world both in terms of number of species (1,500) and animal population (14,000). Germany boasts more than 400 registered zoos.

A recent study analyzed the brains of dogs as they listened to human speech. It revealed that dogs understand both the meaning of words and the intonation used to speak them. They are able to match hundreds of objects to words and learn elements of grammar, and processed familiar words regardless of intonation, using the left hemisphere, just like humans. Tone, or the emotion behind the word, on the other hand, was analyzed in the auditory regions of the right hemisphere — just as it is in people.

It has long been understood that some animals can teach their peers to perform new tasks. But the most famous examples involve primates or birds like ravens: Japanese macaques show other monkeys how to wash sweet potatoes in streams. A certain group of chimps knows to fish for insects by prodding termite mounds with sticks, nibbled into brushes for maximum scoopage. But new research suggests that bees are also capable of intricate form of communication, and can teach these to other bees. They have something called a waggle dance, with which they signal the location of nearby food. Every 75 milliseconds a waggle lasts, roughly speaking, indicates to other honeybees that a nectar source is an additional 330 feet further from the colony. In recent experiements, bees were taught how to pull a string to reach a sugar-filled flower substitute, and then they taught this to other bees.

A seminar called “animal-assisted education” was offered for the 2016 summer semester at a German university, teaching students the benefits of using animals at day care centers, youth centers, and schools, for example, with regard to the assumption of responsibility and mutual respect. It may just be a coincidence that Campus cat Fräulein Sinner has chosen Hildesheim University over shelters and family homes as her place to live, eat, sleep, and study, and has sat in on lectures for the past 13 years, since she turned up as a thin, injured stray.

President John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has captured portraits of more than 5,000 creatures to date, with more to come. Photo Ark is a multiyear National Geographic project with a simple goal— to create portraits of the world’s species before they disappear and to inspire people to care. Each image is a visual connection between the animals and people who can help protect them.

A new book, Ten Million Aliens: A Journey thought the Entire Animal Kingdom, contains a wealth of fascinating facts, especially about the 90% of all living creatures have no backbone. That means that mammals and vertebrates make up only a small minority of the animal species.

Researchers in the U.K. have discovered the strongest biological material ever recorded—in a breed of aquatic snails. Limpets, which are snails with shells that have no obvious coiling, possess teeth made of goethite, an iron-based mineral that is threaded into fibers. It is five times stronger than spider silk and is now deemed the world's strongest material. "These teeth are made up of very small fibers, put together in a particular way," the study's lead author Asa Barber said. "And we should be thinking about making our own structures following the same design principles."

It seems the octopus has been overlooked until its genome was decoded recently. It turns out they have the largest genome of all invertibrates, similar is size to the domestic cat, and more genes than humans. They have large brains which allow them to learn and solve puzzles and use tools.

In just seven years, a single pair of cats and their offspring could produce a staggering total of 420,000 kittens.

Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, writing about cat color in www.catchannel.com, describes the black and white cat as born to be an ambassador. There is always a black and white cat in residence at 20 Downing Street, residence of the British Prime Minister.

An article in Cat Fancy about cats predicting earthquakes cited the experience of Simon Teakettle II (Tiki) just before the huge tsunami which devastated southeast Asia, which was detected by seismographs on the other side of the world (including Canada's national capital, where we live). In the aftermath of that disaster, it was revealed that most coastal animals left for higher ground hours before the quake causing the tsunami hit. Now scientists have discovered that a certain species of toad fled a town in central Italy just before an earthquake struck there. How many animals in Haiti and Chile predicted the quakes that hit there recently, or are these areas so quake-prone that the animals no longer react?

The National Zoo documented strange behavior in several of its animals in the minutes before the August 2011 earthquake struck the east coast of the U.S. Five to 10 seconds before the quake, many apes ditched their food and began climbing their tree-like structure. Flamingos also seemed to know it was coming, gathering into a group before the shaking began and remaining huddled throughout the quake. Most impressively, red ruffed lemurs let out an alarm call 15 minutes before the quake and then again just before it struck.

Dogs, cats, monkeys, and all other vertebrates all yawn. The giraffe is the only exception, and nobody seems to know why.

A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue. 
                        Giraffes have no vocal chords.
                                    Giraffes don't yawn.
                                            A giraffe has only seven bones in his neck, like all mammals.

Giraffes sleep only 1.9 hours a day in five- to 10-minute sessions. Koalas, however, are the longest-sleeping mammals, sleeping up to 22 hours a day.

The giraffe has been added to the international watch list of threatened and endangered species. The tallest land animal is now “vulnerable” to extinction after its population shrunk about 40 percent in 30 years. In 2015, there were only about 97,562 giraffes in the world, reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Scientists blame habitat loss, in part, for the decrease in population.

Only one half of a dolphin’s brain goes to sleep at a time. Dolphins are capable of what is known as unihemispheric sleep, in which one hemisphere of the brain goes into a deep sleep while the other hemisphere remains awake. This allows dolphins to sleep under water without drowning. Dolphins spend approximately one third of their lives asleep.

Inside some whales and dolphins are small bones that show they once had back legs and that their ancestors walked on land. These occasionally reappear as tiny rear flippers.

The longest living mammal is the blowhead whale, which can live more than 200 years.

But the ocean quahog, a hard shelled clam often found off the coast of New England, is the longest living animal in the world, often reaching 500 years

Nine out of ten humans are right-handed. Most animals are closer to ambidextrous than right-or left-pawed, clawed, etc. Terzo favors his left paw. He almost always raises it first when I ask him to give his paw for a treat.

An important difference between wild and domestic animals is that animals who live with humans have flatter faces, more range of colors, things like floppy ears and curly tails (to use dogs as an example). Wolves have larger brains than dogs, which allows them to have flashes of insight so they can solve problems on their own. Dogs, on the other hand, rely on humans to solve problems, so are much better than wolves in noticing and interpreting the gaze and gestures of humans.

Unlike other animals, wolves have a variety of distinctive facial expressions they use to communicate and maintain pack unity.

The Vikings wore wolf skins and drank wolf blood to take on the wolf's spirit in battle. There were referred to as Berserkers, which is where that word came from.

The Greeks believed that if someone ate meat lamb that a wolf had killed, he or she ran a high risk of becoming a vampire.

Under certain conditions, wolves can hear as far as six miles away in the forest and ten miles on the open tundra.

Animals began to be domesticated about 15,000 years ago, when agriculture began. Humans no longer had to move around to follow game, and their settlements produced a lot of garbage, which attracted animals who had to learn how to co-exist with humans.

Most experts believe humans domesticated dogs before donkeys, horses, sheep, goats, cattle, cats, or chickens. Researchers speculate that early dogs crept up to the human campfire to beg or steal meat. Humans began to share their bread, so that these early species developed the ability to digest starches. If wolves had wanted to get human food, they would have needed to evolve both trusting behaviors and mechanisms for digesting starch. Dogs, in other words, evolved a mechanism for digesting starches that wolves don’t have.

All dogs can be traced back 40 million years ago to a weasel-like animal called the Miacis which dwelled in trees and dens. The Miacis later evolved into the Tomarctus, a direct forbear of the genus Canis, which includes the wolf and jackal as well as the dog.

As a single species, the domestic dog embodies one of the largest collections of phenotypic diversity for any species living on earth.

The shape of a dog’s face suggests how long it will live. Dogs with sharp, pointed faces that look more like wolves typically live longer. Dogs with very flat faces, such as bulldogs, often have shorter lives.

During the Middle Ages, Great Danes and Mastiffs were sometimes suited with armor and spiked collars to enter a battle or to defend supply caravans.

Dalmatians are completely white at birth.

Branford, Connecticut, where Bobbi used to spend summers growing up, began to license dogs in 1908.

The corn fritters known as hush puppys earned their name because they were tossed to barking dogs in order to quiet them down.

The Beach Boys’ song, Shannon, was written about guitarist/singer, Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter.

Many animals seem to take on a more juvenile state as they are domesticated, getting bigger eyes, smaller faces and less aggressive demeanors. One common way of achieving a domesticated form of a species might be to slow down the development of the animal, Axelsson says. So the finding here, that it’s the development of the nervous system that’s affected, gives some support to this theory.

Other raccoons will back down during feeding to let a a mother and her cubs eat before any others.

The only two animals that can see what's behind them without turning their heads are the rabbit and the parrot.

Four of the five fastest land animals reside in Africa: the cheetah, the wildebeest, the lion, and the Thomson’s gazelle. All of these animals can run at speeds above 50 miles per hour, with the cheetah reaching a top speed of about 70 miles per hour.

Birds evolved from dinosaurs and both are descended from reptiles. The closest living reptilian relation of a bird is the crocodile.

The common, or northern, mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is well known as a mimic; it has been known to imitate the songs of 20 or more species within 10 minutes.

According to Nature World Report, birds that ended up choosing their own mates had 37 percent more offspring than those that were paired up by humans.

Swiftlet nests are made from strands of saliva from the male swiftlet bird. Swiftlet nests collected from Thai caves can fetch more than $900 per pound. It is one of the world’s most coveted and expensive food items.

There are about 10,000 bird species in the world. About 925 have been seen in the U.S. and Canada. About 1,000 have been seen in Europe. By far the largest concentration of bird species are found in South America. Over 3,200 species have been seen there.

The brains of songbirds and parrots have twice as many neurons of primate brains of the same mass and two to four times more neurons that rodent brains of the equivalent mass. Ravens and kea parrots have 1.2 billion neurons in their cerebral cortex, a brain area associated with consciousness, more than capuchin monkeys have. The blue-and-yellow macaw has almost 2 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex — more than the rhesus macaques found in India and China.

The crow is actually a large songbird. Instead of a musical voice, it has more than 20 rough calls, each of which has a different meaning. Crows have 250 distinct calls, including two different vocal levels, loud as a public voice, and a softer voice for "chatting" with family.

The raven is a relative of the crow, the largest songbird of all, three times larger than a cardinal. Jays, magpies and nutcrackers also belong to this family.

Research with jays has shown them to have superior abilities to plan for the future. They will cache food in the place where they previously found breakfast, in anticipation of needing it then.

Jays, ravens, rooks, and other corvids (as well as parrots) have a larger neocortex than other birds. Rooks, for example, will drop rocks into a tube where they can see a tasty worm just below the reach of their beaks, until the water level rises sufficiently.

Crows can recognize human faces and tell other crows which humans are friends are which are enemies. A recent study of crows in captivity suggested that these birds memorize the faces of the humans who had initially captured them — and they then warn their crow friends about them. “Even after going for a year without seeing the threatening human, the crows would scold the person on sight, cackling, swooping and dive-bombing in mobs of 30 or more,” wrote Stephanie Pappas in 2011 for LiveScience. And a follow-up study of crows using brain-imaging technology found that bird brains look a lot like human brains when it comes to recognizing the faces of people they know.

Crows memorize garbage routes for best times to find food, and learn from each other. They mate for life,  and babies spend a long time with the family, learning from parents and older siblings. This exended family helps the young thrive and learn, and a wider diet helps the brain develop. Omnivores have to learn how to find and deal with different foods. Crows learn, for example, the height from which to drop nuts so they will crack open but not smash. Social animals  have to learn relationships, which also require more brain power. Like elephants, crows gather to mark the site where a friend has died.

Only elephants and chimps actually make tools. Crows make hooks, which chimps don't do. A crow will use a short stick to retrieve a longer stick that can reach the food.

Researchers analyzing footage of chimpanzees at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands aggressively attacking a drone say the primates planned their actions in advance and weren’t acting out of fear. The group of chimps noticed the drone during a preliminary flyby and immediately grabbed twigs and long sticks before climbing to the treetops. When the drone returned, they were prepared. “The use of the stick as a weapon in this context was a unique action,” study author Jan van Hooff, a primatologist with life-long ties to the zoo, said in a statement. “It seemed deliberate, given the decision to collect it and carry it to a place where the drone might be attacked.” The primates have not been taught to use tools, but have learned 13 unique skills by observing humans visiting the zoo.

Parakeets are enjoying a population explosion in London suburbs, devouring seed from feeders, fighting with native birds, and possibly threatening crops. No one knows why the parakeets have flourished. Possible reasons include residents putting out more food for them, planting berries they like to eat, the death of a predator, or climate change. Or it could be simply that once there are enough parakeets, it’s easier for them to find mates, and they breed faster. In any case, the government is keeping an eye on them lest they begin to ravage crops as they do in India. “I was delighted when I first saw one in my yard, but when you have a flock of 300, it’s a different matter,” said Dick Hayden, a retiree volunteering to help take a census of London’s parakeet population. “They eat all the berries. They ate all the food from my feeder in one day; it was ludicrous.”

Penguins can identify the scent of close relatives, as well as their mates. This means they can reunite with their life partners (yes, they're among the birds who mate for life) in crowded colonies. 

There are 18 different kinds of penguins. 

You can't tell a penguin's sex even by examining them closely. The only way to tell is by DNA testing.

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human is a fascinating book by Noah Strycker. One of the things he says about certain birds who seem to be able to find their way across long distances is: To be able to find their way home from an unfamiliar place, birds must carry a figurative map and compass in their brains. The map tells them where they are, and the compass tells them which direction to fly, even when they are released with no frame of reference to their loft. Researchers have gone to great lengths to confirm that pigeons don't merely memorize their outward trip. In one experiment, birds were transported in sealed containers filled with purified air, mounted on tilting turntables between coils that varied the magnetic field, and exposed to loud noises and flashes of light, so that, unlike a blindfolded person in the backseat of a taxi who might remember the twists and turns of the journey, they had no external cues. In another study, pigeons were anesthetized and unconscious during the outward trip. They still made it home, proving the existence of an intrinsic map and compass system.

While the ostrich lays the largest eggs on land, the whale shark lays the largest eggs in the world. An egg from a whale shark measuring 14 inches in diameter was found in the Gulf of Mexico in 1953.

Abraham Lincoln had two goats named Nanny and Nanko, and they often slept in his son Tad’s bed.

Researchers at the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China recently discovered that the endangered giant panda has a potent antimicrobial compound in its bloodstream. Known as cathelicidin-AM, the compound can kill a wide range of bacteria, including those that are resistant to antibiotics. According to the Daily Telegraph, cathelicidin-AM was able to kill bacteria in less than an hour — five hours faster than other widely used antibiotics. The discovery may lead to increased interest in preserving the population of wild pandas. There are about 1,600 left in the wild, and more than 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China. And for those worried that this scientific breakthrough will lead to pandas being killed for their amazing antibiotic blood: fear not. The compound can be manufactured synthetically in the laboratory.

A starfish uses its arms to force open shellfish, turns its stomach inside out onto the prey, and ingests it.

A male emperor angelfish lives together with up to five female mates. If the emperor angelfish dies, one of the females turns into a male fish and becomes the leader of the group.

One of Thailand’s most curious creatures is the mudskipper, which is a fish that is capable of walking on land and climbing trees. It uses its fins to “walk” and can absorb oxygen through its skin and lining in its mouth. It spends most of its time out of the water, eating the algae in tidal pools.

Unlike most other fish, the ocean sunfish does not have a tail. A female sunfish can lay 300 million eggs each year. Each egg is smaller than the period at the end of a sentence.

Since a fish’s jaw is not attached to its skull, many fish can shoot their mouths forward like a spring to catch startled prey.

Jellyfish are not fish. They have no eyes and no brain. Some types grow up to 80 feet long!

Dolphins and humans have many of the same basic traits: high intelligence, self-awareness, and sophisticated social skills. They are among the few mammals able to recognize themselves in a mirror, and one of the few species with cells that act as bridges between brain areas devoted to cognition and self-awareness. Dolphins don’t have a sense of smell, but they do have a sense of taste and, like humans, can distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes.

Bats and dolphins both use echolocation­emitting sounds and listening for echoes to help locate prey­and both went through similar evolutionary changes to develop it, scientists say in a new study. They found that the two species, while evolving independently, underwent many of the same genetic and physical changes, with natural selection strongly preferring animals with more highly developed echolocation abilities. Overall, there were 200 genomic regions where dolphins and bats had similar genetic inventions.

A single bat can eat more than 600 bugs in one hour. 

A bat that dies while roosting will continue to hang upside until something shakes it loose. Most bats rest, sleep, mate, and give birth upside down.

Whales, dolphins, and porpoises move through the water by plunging their tails up and down in a vertical motion. This action distinguishes them from fish, which move their tails from side to side when swimming.

A female dolphin will assist in the birth of another’s baby dolphin, and if it is a difficult birth, the ‘midwife’ might help pull out the baby. Other dolphins, including bulls, will swim around the mother during birth to protect her.

A dolphin can produce whistles for communication and clicks for sonar at the same time, which would be like a human speaking in two voices, with two different pitches, holding two different conversations.

While ancient fishermen used the meat of whales for food, in the modern era whales were primarily hunted for oil and whalebone, a term used for the baleen. Whalebone was used to make corsets, umbrella ribs, handles, and brushes, while the oil was used for cooking, candle wax and, much later, making margarine.

Scientists in California believe that audio captured in 1984 was a whale imitating people. In fact, the whale song sounded so eerily human, divers first thought it was a human voice. Handlers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego heard mumbling in 1984 coming from a tank that sounded like folks chatting. An acoustic analysis revealed a beluga whale's sounds were several octaves lower than typical whale calls. Scientists think the whale's close proximity to people allowed it to listen to and mimic human conversation. This research was published online in Current Biology.

The eyes of frogs and toads bulge out enabling them to see in almost all directions. The close their eyes by pulling the eyeballs deeper into the sockets, which closes the upper and lower eyelids at the same time. Most species also have a thin, partly clear inner eyelid attached to the bottom lid. This inner eyelid is called the nictitating membrane. It can be moved upward when the eyes are open. It protects the eyes without completely cutting off the vision.

Butterflies have been sighted near the top of the Empire State building, and some species live in mountain areas at elevations up to 5,500 meters.

Austin, Texas is home to the largest bat colony in North America. Over 1.5 million bats roost beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake and eat between 10,000- 30,000 lbs. of insects a night.

The Mongolian pony is the only animal other than an elephant capable of fending off an attack by a healthy adult tiger.

Domesticated on the Eurasian steppes before 3500 B.C., horses carried the Huns, the Mongols, and the Pizarro brothers to victory over the Romans, the Chinese, and the Incas, remaking ancient cultures into societies dependent on high-speed mobility, and revolutionizing human transport.

Horses were introduced to American Indians by Europeans in the early 1500s. As ownership of horses spread, it created great disruption among Native American tribes, because the increased need for grazing lands caused an increase in wars among tribes.

Horses are not only intelligent, but they use both sides of their brains to process information. This may be because their eyes point to the sides instead of forward. This is why they sometimes don't appear to see something to the right of them as the go up the road, but may react to it coming back.

Like elephants, horses who have positive experiences with a human never forget that person.

The largest recorded lobster, caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1934, weighed 44.4 pounds and was at least 100 years old, according to scientists.

The largest fish caught with a rod and reel was a Great White shark. It weighed 2,664 pounds and was almost 17 feet long.

Sharks have been called “swimming noses” because their sense of smell is so good (they smell with their nostrils but don’t breath through them). Some sharks can smell one part of blood in 100 million parts of water and can tell which direction that smell is coming from.

Dog nose prints are as unique as human finger prints and can be used to identify them.

According to Discover Magazine, dogs and cats have gotten really good at reading people, albeit in their own peculiar ways. Dogs are easily influenced human actions or what a new study calls "ostensive cues." These are the same cues — body language, gazes — an inarticulate infant picks up on when it's trying to figure out what the world's all about. Researchers working on this new study figured out that dogs, true sycophants that they are, make their decisions based on ostensive cues from people, preferring, in one instance, a plate of food preferred by a person even in that plate has less food than another.

Cats, however, run a different game on their doting human companions. In a paper titled, "The cry embedded in the purr," researchers explain different purrs cats employ to get people to do things for them. Certain purrs, they found, sound so urgent, grating, and generally pitiful that people will do anything — including pouring out dish after dish of Fancy Feast — to make it stop. The "solicitation purr" is inharmonic to boot, meaning that even veteran cat owners who think they know all of their cat's wiles are susceptible to the distressing sound.

A black Lab in New Zealand donated blood to a cat. When Macy’s cat friend, Rory, accidentally ate rat poison, a bold veterinarian took a drastic measure to save the cat’s life. With time working against them, the vet took a gamble that Macy’s blood would be a match with Rory’s.

Three dogs from First Class cabins survived the sinking of the Titanic – two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.

          According to an article in the New York Times by Natalie Angier, pigs are better than many other animals at learning new things. They can perform many tricks, including jump through hoops, bowing, spinning, and making sounds on command that mimic words. They can be taught to roll out rugs, herd sheep, close and open cages, and even to play videogames with joysticks.
          Some scientists believe our relationship with dogs goes back as far as 100,000 years. One theory says that man and dog have co-evolved through the centuries in untold ways; one scientist speculates that we lost our own, keen sense of smell by relying on the sharper sniff of our beastly hunting partners.

Recent research indicates that the first dogs lived about 33,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. Using whole genome sequences from 58 canids (wolf and primitive dog species), researchers determined that dogs from Southeast Asia have the greatest genetic diversity compared with populations from other parts of the world. They also exhibit the most genetic similarity to gray wolves, long believed to be dogs’ closest wild ancestor.

In his new book, The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson considers how a "mutual evolution" not only impacted dogs, but also the human capacity to love and to feel empathy for others.

Of the 650 dogs that have seen active combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 5 percent suffer from canine PTSD. The symptoms vary from hypervigilance and increased aggression to extreme timidity. The military is experimenting with desensitization treatment and anti-anxiety medication, but about half the dogs will half to be retired from service. They also stop being able to work.

There are five dog breeds that originated in Canada. The most famous are the Alaskan sled dog, the Newfoundland and the Labrador retriever. The Newfoundland dog evolved from the Tibetan Mastiff, which was crossed with a Viking bear dog in the first century. The Lab is thought to be descended from dogs abandoned by European fisherman.

Thirty percent of all Dalmatians are deaf in one or both ears. Because bulldogs have extremely short muzzles, many spend their lives fighting suffocation. Because Chihuahuas have such small skulls, the flow of spinal fluid can be restricted, causing hydrocephalus, a swelling of the brain.

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused. In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary. Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It would not matter  if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting  animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick. Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight  guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits - and one roe deer fawn. See the full story and photos at: http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/jasmine.asp

The smallest dog on record was a matchbox-size Yorkshire Terrier. It was 2.5? tall at the shoulder; 3.5? from nose tip to tail, and weighed only 4 ounces.

Rin Tin Tin was part of a litter discovered in 1918 by an American soldier while serving abroad in World War I. He smuggled the pup into the U.S. from France, and trained him to jump so high he stood out from the many other German shepherd then working in Hollywood. His breakthrough film was Where the North Begins, based on a script by Duncan. He turned out to be one of Warner Brothers' most profitable commodities, and lived to the age of 14.

There are several species of squirrels, including the grey and black, which are actually the same. They're sociable animals who live near deciduous trees, and we've hosted a family of black squirrels in our big maple tree for many years. Their relationship with Simon Teakettle II (Tiki) is on the Cat Facts page. For more about squirrels, click HERE.

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are a type of marmot, large rodents related to squirrels. They have a large habitat, extending throughout most of North America, from Alaska, as far south as Alabama. In the wild, groundhogs usually live two to three years, but have been known to live up to six years. In captivity, they can live much longer. The original Wiarton Willie - one of Canada's most famous prognosticating groundhogs - lived to be 22 years old.

Groundhogs are typically 16-26 inches long, and weigh 4-9 pounds. They have 22 teeth and manage the length of their incisors by actively gnawing on tree bark and brush.   Two coats of fur: a thick, wooly, grey undercoat and a longer coat of silky brownish hairs, help to keep them warm throughout the year.

Groundhogs prefer to eat wild grasses, leaves, berries, and food crops. They will also occasionally eat nuts, insects, grubs, snails, and other small animals. The average groundhog moves approximately 710 pounds of dirt when digging its burrow. Burrows can be up to 46 feet long and up to 5 feet underground. They hibernate during the winter, usually between October and March or April, depending on the climate.

If in danger, a groundhog will produce a high-pitched alarm whistle to warn the rest of its family. This is how they got the nickname "whistle-pig" in some regions. Other groundhog sounds include squeals, barks, and tooth grinding.

A characteristis that beavers share with alligators and hippos is having their eyes, nose, and ears are all in a line close to the top of the head. This allows the animal to float with only the top of the head visible above the water, and still have all sensory organs fully functional. In addition, beavers can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes because they can store a lot of oxygen and also reduce their heart rate.

Beavers take down large trees thanks to the top two incisors, which anchor the beaver's mouth while huge jaw muscles power the lower incisors. Only one lower incisor cuts at a time, which is how they cut trees at an angle.

Monogamy, a pair-bond between a single male and female, is comparatively rare among mammals. Small songbirds, such as sparrows and warblers, are annually monogamous, forming new bonds each mating season. Perennially monogamous  animals include: ducks, eagles, geese, swans, gibbons, lynx, marmosets, mountain lions, wolves,  foxes, and beaver.

The prairie vole is monogamous; it forms long-term pair bonds after mating. But the montane vole, is polygamous; it mates and moves on.

Bob & Frances Walker have built what Publisher's Weekly has called, the ultimate cat-friendly fantasyland. See "the Cat House" at their website, where you can use your mouse to track the cat paths through the floor plan, buy their books, and take the tour.

The Elephant Listening Project at Cornell University has classified elephant sounds into distinct categories. These range from greetings, to protests, to reassurance, to annoyance, to get out of my way. But it turns out these vocalizations are just a tiny fraction of the sounds elephants make. Bob Simon, a correspondent for 60 Minutes, investigated this, and discovered that elephants talk to each other. They communicate in their own secret language, most of which is inaudible to humans because it is infrasonic. He also noticed that there's a protocol to meeting an elephant. He will offer up his trunk and he expects you to blow into it. That way, he will remember you forever.

New research indicates that elephants can differentiate between male and female voices, and between languages used by different tribes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences studied hundreds of wild elephants in Kenya, and discovered that the elephants reacted differently to the same phrase said in two different languages. They reacted defensively to the Masai, who often kill them, whereas when they heard voices of Kamba men, who are less threatening, they didn't react. 

Elephants are terrified of bees and actually have a special, distinct vocalization for Run away the bees are angry.

Elephants have a unique way of walking. Recent research indicates that they move each leg independently. Cats walk by moving their front and back legs on one side, then the other side. That is, the right hind leg moves forward, then the right foreleg; then the sequence is repeated on the left side. Only camels and giraffes move in the same way. Also, cats can rotate their front legs back and forth at a much greater range than other mammals. The elephant is the only animal with 4 knees.

An elephant’s trunk is extremely complex and sensitive, capable of performing delicate functions like picking up a coin from a flat surface or cracking open a peanut, blowing away the shell, and putting the kernel in its mouth. The trunk contains 40,000 muscles, but no bones.

Elephants are able to read the visual cue of pointing, picking the right bucket two thirds of the time­a slightly better rate than a 1-year-old human. The scientists say pointing could be a social thing, since elephants live in packs that require cooperation and communication, and it's logical they'd used their flexible trunks for that.

The longest gestation period of any mammal is the elephant, at 22 months.

The Elephant Company, The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II, by Vicki Constantine Croke, describes the Japanese occupation of Myanmar, then known as Burma, when Lt. Col. James Howard Williams and his company of elephants helped build bridges and evacuate refugees.

The book contains many additional facts about elephants. Their sense of smell is five times that of a bloodhound. They have six sets of teeth throughout their lives that move into place “not from underneath, but as if moved forward along on a slow conveyor belt,” and once they’ve used up their sixth set, they starve to death.

From The Memory of an Elephant: An Unforgettable Journey: An elephant sleeps very little at night, "usually standing, always on alert," and takes standing naps throughout the day. An adult elephant needs to drink 30 gallons of water a day and eat between 220 and 440 pounds of food depending on the season. Elephants can't jump and must have one foot on the ground at all times, and despite an enormous weight of about five tons, an elephant makes no noise while walking.

White lions are very rare. A female white lion cub, just a week old and yet to be named, made her debut recently at the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia. She weighs 2.8 pounds and traces her roots back to South Africa, where her mother, Masha, originated.

As herds of African lions wait for their prey, the oldest and weakest, no longer capable hunters, take their place in the tall grass and when the herd passes by, they roar. This sends the herds in the opposite direction, into the waiting pack of young lions. 

A tiger's stripes are completely unique to each tiger.  Tigers have the longest life span of all the big cats, and can live to up to 26 years in the wild. There are five different species of tiger - Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Bengal and Sumatran.

The leopard is the most widespread of all the big cats. Leopards are so strong they can climb up a tree carrying prey twice their weight in their jaws.

Big cats have an acute sense of hearing and a mother cat can hear one of her cubs crying from anything up to a mile away.

The five rarest wildcats are the Bornean Bay cat, the Flat-headed cat, the Snow Leopard, the Andean mountain cat and the Iberian Lynx.

The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels.  This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.

The Venezuelan brown bat can detect and dodge individual raindrops in mid-flight, arriving safely back at his cave completely dry.

Most people have more than 1,460 dreams every year. Animals also dream, although it's hard to tell what these contain. Simon II (Tiki), however, was a rescued feral kitten, and often had dreams that disturbed his sleep sufficiently to cause him to twitch as if he was trying to escape from something frightening. Terzo's naps, on the other hand, are always tranquil.

The “nine lives” attributed to cats is probably due to their having nine primary whiskers.

Camelids are a species of two-hoofed mammals related to the camel and the dromedary. They include the llama, which is quite a bit taller than the alpaca. They hum when they congregate, and hiss and spit when they get into fights.  See Brinks, who made it into the calendar put out by the Fort Smith Animal Shelter in the NWT, in Terzo's blog (August 13).

An African grey parrot named Alex was trained by scientist Irene Pepperberg to count, recognize shapes and colors, and identify different textures like wool, wood, and paper. Before he died, he had mastered more than 100 English words. Pepperberg has described her experiments in a book called Alex & Me, published by Harper Collins.

A parrot in Japan who escaped from his cage was brought to a veterinary hospital, where he told the staff his name and address. “I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura,” the bird told the veterinarian. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs. The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

On average, a 4-year-old child asks 437 questions a day. Cats and grey parrots probably have just as many questions, but can't find the words to express them!

After observing the Kanyawara group of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park in Uganda for more than a decade, researchers have concluded that differences in their play behavior may be gender-driven. Over a hundred instances of young female chimpanzees playing with sticks as though they were dolls were observed over the years. This sort of behavior was very rarely observed in young males. They typically used sticks as weapons, shaking them to intimidate playmates.

Apes originated on Earth about 35 million years ago, and the first apelike men appeared about 10 million years ago. The modern human species of Homo sapien has existed on the earth for only 100,000 years.

The Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population in the European continent, having been brought from North Africa by the Moors, who occupied southern Iberia, including Spain and Portugal, between 711 and 1492), who kept them as pets. Smaller than most other apes, this species resemble monkeys, but don't have tails.

Gibraltar's barbary macaque population was under the care of the British Army and later the Gibraltar Regiment from 1915 to 1991, who carefully controlled a population that initially consisted of a single troop. An officer was appointed to supervise their welfare, and a food allowance of fruit, vegetables and nuts was included in the budget. Births were gazetted in true military fashion, and each new arrival was named. They were named after governors, brigadiers and high-ranking officers.

However, since the Barbary apes are one of the top tourist attractions in Gibraltar, a few myths have sprung up, including that they're all named after members of the Royal Family. Tourists are also told the macaques were brought to Gibraltar by the Royal Navy in 1704, although they actually existed in the region long before that.

Humans share more similarities with orangutans than with chimpanzees. Researchers have identified 28 anatomical characteristics they share, a 98% genetic match, compared to a 97% match with the gorilla.

Chimpanzees freak out when one chimp gets more than his fair share, so zookeepers are careful about food portions. Chimps are hardwired to get angry when they think they’ve been cheated.

The bonobo, a pygmy chimpanzee, appears to use what’s akin to human baby talk. The closest relatives to humans have started to make a series of sounds that parallel those of human babies before they begin to learn language, according to new research from a psychologist at the University of Birmingham. The study analyzed the sounds of bonobos in the Congo forest and discovered that they made different noises based on positive, negative, or neutral stimuli. The chimps had to interpret their own sounds in different contexts, which suggests a potential origin for human language.

Georgia State University researchers have concluded that chimpanzees can communicate with meaningful gestures. During an experiment, two language-trained chimps used meaningful clues to help human researchers find hidden food. Researchers also noticed that the chimps use directional gestures. The study’s findings may provide clues about the basics of language development.

Recent research indicates that the reason why chimps can't speak has to do with a single gene that has two extra amino acids in humans. When this gene mutates, humans have difficulty with language. Evidently this gene doesn't function well in chimps. That may mean that chimps have the ability to compose rational thoughts, just not the means to express them, except by gestures, actions, and vocal sounds.

Could this be the case in other animals as well? Maybe those of us who think our cats, dogs, horses, parrots, and other domesticated animals (including the very intelligent pig) have the ability to form complex thoughts are not so silly after all.

Recent brain scans of dogs showed areas of their brains lighting up when their trainers used hand signals. There was little reaction to verbal commands.

Most of us had heard of the famous lowland gorilla, Koko, who was taught American Sign Language when she was about a year old. There were many stories about how she adopted a kitten. Now, at 40 years old, she has a working vocabulary of more than 1000 signs and understands about 2000 words of spoken English. Most remarkable is that she is always learning, and creates signs for new things in her environment. She often strings signs together to express something new, so that a hair brush became scratch comb, and a ring became a finger bracelet.

Zoo animals know when their day starts and ends, they line up ready to go on exhibit in the morning, they get tired and ready to get off exhibit at night. I observed a lot of this, and realized I hadn’t thought a lot about animal jobs. I began to wonder what would happen if we took these working creatures and tried to entertain them instead of forcing them to entertain us all the time. An animal's life can be enriched by giving them opportunities to learn and things to do.

Hyenas communicate clues about their social rank in the "laughing" sounds they make. Pitch reveals age,  and the "notes" and their frequency denote whether the hyena is dominant or submissive. They can call each other for help in hunting or defending their food from lions.

Scientists have identified more than 800 genes in the zebra finch that reveal the tiny birds learn to sing in a similar way to how human babies learn to speak. There's a possibility that this might lead to finding genetic components related to human speech disorders, such as autism and stuttering.

Finches are known for their fine singing voices. German criminals called snitches "finks" because they were prone to "singing like a bird" to police. The word followed German and German Jewish immigrants to America where it became part of our everyday vocabulary, primarily through films, tv and radio.

Many animals have what appear to be human-like impulses in their brain's higher centers. Researchers have identified seven basic emotional drives common to both humans and mammals in sections of the mid-brain called the PAG (periaqueductal gray). These include basic emotions, such as fear, rage, lust, and separation-distress, but also the desire to nurture and be nurtured, the drive to play, grief, despair, sadness, and joy. Some examples include elephants, who keep vigil over the dead, and have been known to collect the scattered bones of the dead family and friends.

Species from magpies to elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror, which some scientists consider a sign of self-awareness.

In a basic numeracy test, long-tailed macaque monkeys were able to understand relative quantities and to point out which of two plates contained more pebbles. Researchers initially performed the test using raisins, which the monkeys would then be fed as a reward; however, the monkeys’ impulsive desire to eat the raisins impaired their judgment, and they frequently chose wrong on that test. Once researchers swapped out the raisins for inedible items, the monkeys were able to successfully complete the task.

Capuchin monkeys use different vocal sounds to identify different types of predators. They have also been seen banging stones together to warn each other of approaching predators.

South American Titi monkeys are rare among primates because they are monogamous. They mate for life and become distressed when separated. They show affection by remaining close, grooming each other, intertwining their tails, holding hands, nuzzling, cuddling, and lip smacking.

Some grey parrots are as smart as a five-year-old child. A grey parrot who shares a birthday with Terzo (Simon Teakettle III) is Mrs. Doyle. Read about her on Terzo's blog.

From The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us, by Diane Ackerman: "We used to think that wall-climbing geckos must have suckers on the soles of their feet. But in 2002, biologists at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Orgeon, and the University of California at Berkeley released their strange findings, and science was agog. Viewed at the nano level, a gecko's five-toed feet are covered in a series of ridges, the ridges are tufted with billions of tiny tubular elastic hairs, and the hairs bear even tinier spatula-shaped boots. The natural force between atoms and molecules is enough to stick the spatulas to the surface of most anything. And the toes are self-cleaning. As a gecko relaxes a toe and begins to step, the dirt slides off and the gecko steps out of it. No grooming required.”

There are more insects in one square mile of rural land there are humans in the entire world.

Alligators are blackish/gray with a rounded snout and teeth that are not readily visible. They live in fresh water and are less aggressive than crocodiles.

Crocodiles are olivegreen/brown with a sharp snout and visible teeth. They're more aggressive and live in salt water.

Bears are three-gaited, meaning they walk, lope or gallop. It has been reported that a grizzly bear can run nearly as fast as a horse (33-34 mph) for a distance of 50 to 100 yards. This is definitely faster than a human being. The lope, slower than the gallop, is an easy, ground-covering, bounding gait that does not seem to tire the bear and can be maintained for a long time.

Bears have been known to eat almost anything, including snowmobile seats, engine oil, and rubber boots.

Bears, seals, and dogs are closely related carnivores but are on a different branch of the evolutionary tree than cats and hyenas.

The black bear is not a color but a species. The North American black bear can be a variety of colors, and although black is dominant, other colors, such as shades of brown, can turn up no matter what color the mother is.

The North American male moose can weigh more than 700 kilograms and stand up to 2.1 metres tall. Caribou are smaller, rarely exceed 300 k and 1.5 m at shoulder height. Unlike moose, both male and female caribou grow antlers.

                                     A zedonk is a cross between a donkey and a zebra.

The American “buffalo” are actually bison.  The only true buffalo are the Asian water buffalo and the African buffalo.

Swiss biologists determined that stupid flies live longer than smart flies because intelligence wears out flies' brains. Canadian researchers claim that straining to recall information which seems to be “on the tip of my tongue” makes us learn mistaken guesses instead of the correct answers we may (or may not) eventually remember.  (source: Harper's)

One in two mammal species on Earth are in decline and at least one in four are at risk of disappearing forever, according to a scientific survey which described the trend as an "extinction crisis in the making."

James Spratt, an Ohio electrician, who had gone to England to sell lightning rods in 1860,  saw British dogs being fed old ship biscuits, and thought he could make a better biscuit. His formulation, based on guesswork, not science, succeeded and he soon had a thriving business among English gentlemen who owned sporting dogs. In 1890 the company went public and came to the US. Thus, an American lightning rod salesman started the entire pet food business.  (written by Barbara Moss,  www.barbcat.myweb.com/myweb/)

According to a recent survey:
Dog people: 15% more likely to be extroverts; cat people: 11% more likely to be introverts. 
Dog people: 30% more likely to enjoy slapstick humor and impressions; cat people: 21% more likely to enjoy ironic humor and puns.
Dog people: 67% more likely to call animal control if they happen upon stray kittens; Cat people: 21% more likely to try to rescue stray kittens.
Dog people: 11% more likely to say they'd support cloning, but only for animals or pets; Cat people: 17% more likely to have completed a graduate degree.
Both dog and cat people: talk to animals of all kinds, are equally likely to have a four-year degree, and dislike animal-print clothing.

A leveret is a young hare, especially one that is less than a year old.
A polliwog is a young frog or tadpole that has not yet grown legs.
A smolt is a young salmon in the midst of its first migration from fresh water into the sea. 
A shoat is a young pig that has recently been weaned off of its mother's milk and onto solid food.
The word spat refers to the spawn of an oyster or similar shellfish. 
An eyas is a young nestling hawk or falcon.
A whelp is the young of a tiger, lion, wolf, bear, or dog.