It’s hard to say what it is about animals that we love the most – their cute or beautiful looks, their natural innocence or the emotional reactions that they elicit from us. But whatever the case may be, one of these 30 happy animal facts is bound to bring a smile to your face.
A lot of these facts also underscore the similarities and emotional connections that people can share with animals, which raises a broader and more interesting questions – what is it about animals that we love so much?
According to scientists at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Califorina at Los Angeles, humans experience an emotional reaction to animals (both cute and dangerous) in a very old and basic part of their brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is involved with emotion, emotional learning and the formation of memories. So it could be that our appreciation for animals stems from an ancient need to evaluate whether these animals were friends or foes. And it could be that they react in just the same way to us.
1. Sea otters hold hands when they sleep to keep from drifting apart.
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2. Squirrels plant thousands of new trees each year simply by forgetting where they put their acorns.
Image credits: Irene Mei
3. When playing with female puppies, male puppies will often let them win, even if they have a physical advantage.
Image credits: Brian Whipple
4. Turtles can breathe through their butts.
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5. Cows have best friends.
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6. Gentoo penguins propose to their lifemates with a pebble.
Image credits: telegraph.co.uk
7. A prison in Washington pairs up “death row” shelter cats with select inmates as part of a rehabilitation program. It seems to be a pretty wonderful thing for both the inmates and the cats.
Princess Natalie relaxes with Joseph Contreras, one of her caretakers. (Image credits: catster.com)
8. Macaques in Japan use coins to buy vending machine snacks.
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9. Norway knighted a penguin.
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10. In China, killing a Panda is punishable by death.
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11. Rats laugh when tickled.
12. Spiders can’t fly.
13. Sweden has a rabbit show-jumping competition called Kaninhoppning.
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14. Pigs’ orgasms last for 30 minutes.
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15. Dolphins have names for each other.
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16. Puffins mate for life. They make their homes on cliff sides and set aside room for their toilet.
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17. A study measuring the effects of music found that cows produce more milk when listening to soothing music. They produce the most when listening to R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts.”
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18. Oysters can change gender depending on which is best for mating.
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19. Japanese Macaques make snowballs for fun.
Image credits: Lee Fisher
20. The closest relatives to the elephant shrew are actually elephants, not shrews.
Image credits: Klaus Wiese
Image credits: Josef Gelernter
21. A cat version of the corgi exits: the munchkin cat.
Image credits: Jimmy Leo
22. There is a program that makes prison inmates responsible for training and raising seeing-eye dogs. Many reported that they felt like they were making amends for their past actions by working with the puppies.
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23. Seahorses mate for life, and when they travel they hold each others’ tails.
Image credits: Georgina Gomez
24. Before chicks hatch, they can communicate with each other and their mother through a system of sounds.
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25. Dogs’ nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints and can be used to identify them.
Image credits: Elke Vogelsang
26. Turritopsis nutricula Immortal jellyfish is the only species known to live forever.
Image credits: Takashi Murai
27. Long-time bird watcher and nature writer Candace Savage has observed that crows are so intelligent they can play pranks on each other.
Image credits: Lauri Tammik
28. Butterflies taste with their feet.
Image credits: Chris Spracklen
29. There have been studies that show that goats, like us, have accents.
Image credits: Jean-Claude Sch.
30. Squirrels will adopt other squirrels babies if they are abandoned.
Image credits: pensivesquirrel.wordpress.com
Image credits: Ken Yuel