April is National Pet Month in the UK, so as a celebration of pets big and small, furry and feathered, on land or in water, we’ve put together some of our favourite fascinating animal facts! Did you know that female cats tend to be right pawed, while male cats favour their left paw? And we’ll bet you didn’t know that dogs can remember where they’ve been throughout the day by licking their feet! Read on for some more fun pieces of information about your favourite animals!
DID YOU KNOW?
Cats and dogs have unique patterns of ridges and creases in their nose print; no two are the same, which makes them as individual as human fingerprints! So next time your food disappears or some furniture gets destroyed, get yourself some rubber gloves and UV lighting and you’ll be able to identify the culprit!
Other than when they are kittens, cats do not meow at anything other than humans. It is believed to be an attempt to replicate the cry of a baby, used to get attention. Another fact worth noting is that cats can recognise their name and their owner’s voice – they’re just selective about when to respond!
We know hamsters store food in their cheeks, but did you know that their cheek pouches can actually extend all the way down to their hips? Wild hamsters will also inflate their pouches with air to help them swim, or even use them to carry babies away from danger.
A bird’s feathers weigh more than its skeleton, as they have hollow bones to help them fly. They also need to eat half of their weight every day in order to survive!
Dogs can tell the time – yes, really! Okay, so they can’t actually understand clocks, but they have a strong sense of routine and are aware of the passage of time. This is why they start giving you those eyes when it’s time for walkies or dinner, or when somebody is due home from work! Scientists believe dogs can smell the passage of time through the movement of air over the course of the day.
As fish get bigger, so do their scales. This results in them having growth rings which can be used to work out how old the fish is – just like trees!
Some lizards can actually detach their tails from their bodies when they feel threatened. This can help them to escape if trapped, or can simply confuse whatever the threat is. Don’t worry though – they can grow a new one!
The oldest dog on record lived to 29 years and 5 months. Bluey was a cattle dog who worked for 20 years on farms in Australia. This would make him over 160 in human years.
The oldest cat on record lived just past her 38th birthday. She was named Creme Puff and lived in Texas, USA. Her owner had also owned the previous record holder.
The oldest bird to have ever lived was Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, who was 83 years old when he died.
Goldfish are associated with having relatively short life spans, but the oldest goldfish ever actually lived to the age of 43 years.
The most talkative bird in history was an African Grey parrot who could understand and say 1,728 words. He could also count! The brain structure of a parrot is very similar to a primate, so it’s no wonder they’re considered to be very intelligent.
The largest litter of kittens ever born was in 1970 in the UK; 19 kittens were born, with 15 of them surviving. The average litter size is 4-6 kittens.
IN HISTORY & AROUND THE WORLD
The phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” comes from 17th Century England. Stray animals would sadly often drown during heavy rainfall and end up floating in the streets, making it look like it had actually rained cats and dogs.
During the Spanish Inquisition, the Pope declared that cats were evil and suggested they had links to witchcraft, which resulted in thousands being killed. This led to a huge increase in the rat population, which severely worsened the effects of the Black Death.
Since 1955 there have been hundreds of wild cats in the grounds of Disneyland Florida; they’re looked after and allowed to stay because they keep the mice away!
When a pet cat or dog died in Ancient Egypt, family members would shave off their eyebrows and mourn for days.
There were 12 dogs registered on board the Titanic when it sank in April 1912; 3 survived as they were small enough to be hidden inside coats and smuggled onto the lifeboats.
Cats are very sensitive to vibrations and can sense earthquake tremors up to 15 minutes before humans. Two Siamese cats in Holland’s embassy in Moscow were even able to locate microphones hidden inside the walls by Russian spies because of the vibrations they emitted when switched on!
The cat flap was invented by Isaac Newton to stop his pet cat from opening the door, letting light in and ruining his experiments.
It is illegal to own hamsters in Hawaii. This is an attempt to protect the local ecosystems, which would be negatively impacted if pet hamsters were to escape and breed.
Have you got any strange and wonderful facts about the animal kingdom? Let us know what we’ve missed!