Animals are pretty much the coolest—for real, they’re the best. Whether you’re talking about cats, cows, crabs, or another animal, there are a million ways in which animals are funny, sweet, loving, sneaky, silly, and sometimes even downright weird.
Here are just a few of the ways in which the animal kingdom makes us say, “For real?!”
1. One researcher described how a male bonobo who slapped a female was chased down by five unrelated females. That’s what’s up!
2. Wolves are awesome dads. When pups are born, papa wolves will guard the family in the den, bring home food for the kiddos, and serve as a mentor for pack members.
3. On farm sanctuaries, turkeys have been known to single out their favorite visitors and will come running to greet them upon arrival. Awwww!
4. Humans aren’t alone in mourning the loss of a friend. Nonhuman primates have been observed holding wakes and turning to friends for comfort in response to the death of a loved one. 🙁
5. Mice like to play! In one study, an exercise wheel was set up in an outdoor space and wild mice were all about it. “Mice run in the wheel; they never just walk,” said researchers. “They are frequently observed leaving the wheel, and immediately going back in, suggesting it is a voluntary act.”
6. Cows have panoramic vision, which means they can see more than 300 degrees at a time, compared to only about 140 degrees for humans. Take that, iPhone panoramic!
7. Wild dolphins off the coast of Australia have been known to get crafty in the kitchen, using sea sponges to find fish hiding in the sand.
8. Hippos can spend all day in the sun without burning, so scientists are trying to copy a molecule in their sweat that seems to serve not only as a super-sunblock but also as an insect repellent. Pretty cool!
9. Would you send a pig to preschool? You could! According to animal behaviorists, pigs are smarter than 3-year-old children.
10. Elephants and chimpanzees have been found to work cooperatively to get food. They will wait for someone else to come along if they get there first. Snack time is serious business.
11. Rats make great friends. In lab studies (ugh!), rats have been known to open other rats’ cage doors to come to their aid.
12. Cats have excellent memories and are able to remember incidents years after they’ve occurred, so be nice!
13. If you’ve ever yawned after someone else did (what’s up with that, anyway?), then you have something in common with monkeys, parrots, and dogs, who all appear to “catch” yawning as well.
14. Many animals can see ultraviolet light, even though it’s invisible to humans.
15. Much like humans do in high school, chickens—who can remember the faces and ranks of more than 100 other birds—form complex social hierarchies, with every chicken knowing his or her place on the social ladder.
16. Like humans, lobsters carry eggs for nine months, have a long childhood, and can live for 100 years or longer—if they manage to avoid being ripped apart and eaten!
17. Clams can change gender once during their lifetime … but only from male to female. Wise choice, fellas.
18. Ants are wonderful gardeners. They grow mushrooms to feed their colonies, which require a sophisticated system of 2,000 chambers, vents, and tunnels to control humidity and temperature. That puts my windowsill cactus graveyard to shame.
19. When squirrels know that they are being watched by potential thieves, they will pretend to bury an acorn while actually concealing it in their mouth.
20. Just like humans, lobsters are for the most part either right-handed or left-handed. Some will have the crusher claw (their dominant claw) on the right side while others will have it on the left. Some lobsters are even ambidextrous!
21. The migration of monarch butterflies takes longer than their life spans. The butterflies migrate up to hundreds or even thousands of miles every year from Canada to Mexico, but individual butterflies do not make the entire round trip because of their short life spans.
22. While hibernating, little brown bats can reduce their heart rate from 200 to 20 beats per minute and can even stop breathing for approximately 45 minutes. This state of regulated hypothermia allows the bats to survive through periods of food scarcity and can last from a few hours to a few months.
23. Humans aren’t the only ones to use music to “set the mood.” The males of certain spider species pluck their web like a guitar to attract females. I guess even female spiders are suckers for a dude in a band. 😉
24. Crocodiles can potentially live forever. The gradual deterioration of the body caused by aging (aka getting old!) that occurs in humans does not occur in crocodiles. Crocs die only from disease, accidents, starvation, or predation. Sea urchins, lobsters, clams, tortoises, turtles, and alligators also do not age biologically.
25. A chicken could outsmart a baby. Chickens comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and understand that objects still exist even after they are hidden from view, which is more than researchers can say for small human children. Chicken power!
26. Manta rays can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. That’s as much as a Toyota Prius!
Every animal is unique, but they all share the same desire to live free from harm. Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way. You do your thing and let animals do their own weird animal thing, and everybody wins!