Amazing Pets and Animals Trivia!
Did you know?
Dr. Jungle says, “and I always thought it was that guy who stole my girlfriend.”
| And…Did you know?
The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (So does a friend of mine)
A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
A snail can sleep for three years. (I know some people that could do this too.)
An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
There are more chickens than people in the world.
| The average hamster, if provided a wheel, will run up to eight miles
“Remember to buy 3-in-one oil with your hamster wheel” – Dr. Jungle
Mice are the smallest mammals to ever be domesticated. Mice weigh on average 1 ounce and are approximately 2.5 to 3.5 inches long (without the tail). Mice not only captivate our imagination but they play a very important part in history also. One of our favorite mice is Mickey Mouse who has delighted us since the late 1920’s. The mouse is a very adaptable creature who can thrive in almost any environment and has resisted mans’ attempts to eradicate it for centuries.
|The lifespan of the common goldfish is over 20 years!
|A common old wives tale is that fish grow to the size of the aquarium. Actually they will continue to grow as long as they have a quality environment. To find out, a group of researchers kept several trout in a 3 inch diameter tube. Clean water was constantly circulated through the tube. The trout eventually grew to fill the tube completely!
Another misconception is that sharks must keep moving in order to pass water over their gills. While this is true of many of the larger open water sharks, there are many kinds of sharks that just lie on the bottom waiting for unsuspecting animals to fall into their clutches!
The Living Toothpick
King Angelfish Holocanthus passer act as cleaner fish for Hammerhead sharks. They can be seen picking parasites from inside the sharks’ mouth! (As it turns out many of the Holocanthus angelfish act as cleaner fish).
|The average life span of a the hermit crab (not pictured) is 75 years.
Legend has it that one catfish, the giant Manguruyu, Paulicea lutkeni, can reach 3 meters in length and has been held responsible for eating small children in such rivers as the Rio Branco in the Amazon basin. Click here to see more Catfish.
The Livingtonii Cichlid Nimbochromis livingstonii from Lake Malawi in Africa has an unusual behavior! It will “play dead” on the bottom of the aquarium, lying on its side for long periods of time. When smaller fish approach as if to nibble at the dead carcass, they are captured with a lightning quick lunge! From this behavior originated the German name for these fish, the ” Sleeper”. These tricksy fish are definitely predators!
|The candy cane, or white striped cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis, sets up shop in a cave in the reef for fish to come by and be cleaned of parasites. This behaviour can be seen in reef tanks, the fish will visit the shrimp on a regular basis. The shrimp gets fed, the fish gets relief from parasites.
|The adult sperm whale will regularly dive to depths of up to 1200 feet in search of their favorite food the Giant Squid. The pressure at this depth is about 500 lbs per square inch. Scientists still do not know how they can withstand the pressure.
|It is said that Hatchetfish will break the surface of the water and “fly” after their prey using their large pectoral fins as “wings”.
All domestic canaries available today originated from the Island Canary, Serinus canaria.
Canaries were introduced to Spain in 1478 when the Spaniards conquered the Canary Islands. For over 100 years, until the 16th century, the Spaniards maintained control of these delightful little birds, selling only males to other European countries. Then, due to a shipping accident, a large cargo of canaries escaped and flew to the Island of Elba. They soon were sold all over Europe.
Canaries were classified for by their shape and the geographic areas in which they were developed while others are named and classified for their plumage, song, or color. Different countries became known for the classification they bred, for example, the Germans bred for song while the English and French bred for coloration.
|Cockatoos are one of the most long-lived parrots.
|Bird Feeding: Do not feed avocado as it is toxic to birds!
Associated with Indonesian parrots including the Eclectus parrot is the fungal disease, Candidiasis. It results because these birds need a relatively high amount of Vitamin A. Dry seed is notably deficient in Vitamin A, which is why they need additions to a seed based diet. Candidiasis is apparent in the mouth. The bird will play with its food rather than eating it, and you may notice a sticky whitish discharge from the beak. Inside the mouth will be whitish patches of Candida fungus. Your vet can give you medication for this, but you will also need to improve the birds diet.
|The keeping of finches is a worldwide hobby! These delightful little birds are found native throughout the world and there are hundreds of species. Finches are very attractive and active. They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and personalities. Some have been kept as pets for over 500 years!
|African Greys enter into a lifelong monogamous bond when sexually mature. Like macaws, they pick their mates carefully!
African Grey parrots have been known to have vocabularies of well over 200 words and in one case a bird named “Prudle”, a male African Grey, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having a vocabulary of over 1000 words.
|Lovebirds are delightful little parrots that have been kept as pets for over a 100 years! There are 9 species of these colorful, stocky little birds. There is also a wide variety of colorful mutations that have been developed within these species in captive bred lovebirds. Individual lovebirds will often pair up and be mates for life, staying very close to each other and constantly grooming each other. They display very loving affection, hence the term “lovebirds”.
Macaws are definitely among the most colorful and strikingly beautiful birds of the parrot family. Because of their great beauty and engaging personalities, they are a favorite pet among bird lovers and have been kept for centuries. Widely kept as pets since the beginning of the 20th century in the United States, they have been kept by the Pueblo Indians since 1100 A.D. The Pueblos especially prized the Scarlet Macaw.
|There is a very wide variety of parakeets! They consist of about 120 species with many sub-species. The parakeet genera are found in various parrot sub-families.
|Senegals are much quieter birds than many of the smaller, more colorful and popular parrots like the conures in the Aratinga genus. For this reason they make ideal pets for apartment or condominium living. They are an interesting bird that likes routine and become accustomed to the habits of their owners. Senegals learn human speech quite easily.
Chinchillas are an adorable animal with long ears, large eyes and bushy tails. Their tail looks like a squirrels’ tail and accounts for about one third of their length.They have the finest fur of all the mammals which makes them very soft.“The Chinchilla’s exceedingly soft, dense coat is the cause of it’s present extreme rarity in the wild”
|Ferrets are carnivorous mammals that were domesticated several thousand years ago for the purpose of disposing of pests such as rats and mice and helping hunters “ferret” out hunted game from their burrows. The name ferret comes from the latin word “furritus”, meaning “little thief”. Some people believe that ferrets are just domesticated European polecats, but there are slight differences between the two. Where they originated at is debated. There is evidence that it may have been in Egypt, but it is more likely in Greece or England because the climate in those places isn’t as hot. Another thing to note is that today’s domesticated ferret is not the wild North American Black-Footed Ferret.
Guinea pigs, more accurately called “cavies,” are rodents that originated in South America. They were domesticated between 9000 and 3000 B.C. by the Incas of Peru, and were killed for their fur as well as used for food. English and Dutch slave traders took some of these guinea pigs to Guinea (thus the name “guinea”) and then to Europe, where they became popular pets.
Although hamsters were not kept as pets until 1930, they are naturally tame and enjoy being handled. Their name comes from the German word hamstern which means to ‘hoard’. They have pockets in their cheeks which can hold an incredible amount of stuff!
Sizes of hamsters vary with the type of breed. The giant hamster gets to be 8-12 inches long, the middle sized hamster, which is the most common hamster found in pet stores, is 5-6 inches long while the dwarf hamster is only 2-4 inches long!
Mice not only captivate our imagination but they play a very important part in history also. One of our favorite mice is Mickey Mouse who has delighted us since the late 1920’s. The mouse is a very adaptable creature who can thrive in almost any environment and has resisted mans’ attempts to eradicate it for centuries. They are the smallest mammals to ever be domesticated. Mice weigh on average 1 ounce and are approximately 2.5 to 3.5 inches long (without the tail).
|It is a common misconception that rabbits are rodents – which they are not! Rabbits actually belong to their own order called Lagomorpha. They are also not “hares”, hares are wild and have quite a few subtle differences in their lifestyles from rabbits, which are domestic. Rabbits have been around for at least 3 to 4 million years and were first domesticated in Spain, but were more widely distributed by the seafaring Phoenicians.
|Angoras will shed about every four months or so. The wool can be gathered either by shearing it or pulling it out by hand. Although earlier in this century Angora wool was in high demand, nowadays it is considered a cottage industry which supplies wool mainly for hand spinning.
Adrian DeCock, of the Netherlands started developing the Holland Lop in 1949. He bred Netherland Dwarfs with French Lops in an attempt to produce a miniature French Lop but instead ended up with what is known today as the Holland lop. The Hollands were then brought to the United States in 1975 by Aleck Brooks III who is the founder of the Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club.
|Mini-lops were derived from German lops called “Kleine Widder” lops. Mini lops were recognized as their own breed in 1982.
|The main feature of Netherland Dwarf rabbits is their small size. They have a similar appearance to the Polish dwarf, except that they are the smallest of all rabbits – weighing only 2 lbs.
|The British Polish rabbit is the original rabbit that was termed a “dwarf”. They were first recognized in Hull, Yorkshire in 1884. They are very petite, and compact, with a maximum weight of 2.5 pounds. American Polish rabbits are larger than their British counterparts. They do originate from British Polish rabbits, but also have other small-rabbit genes mixed in (such as the Netherland Dwarf).They have an upper weight closer to 3.5 pounds.
Sugar gliders are small possums found in Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, and Papua-New Guinea. They are mammals classified as marsupials and got the name “sugar gliders” from their sweet tooths and because they have a membrane that helps them glide – similar to flying squirrels.
|The Texas Cichlid is the northernmost cichlid and is the only cichlid native to North American waters.
|The Labyrinth fish are a group known for their ability to breath atmospheric oxygen in the event the water they live in becomes depleted of oxygen or polluted! The organ that allows these fish to breathe oxygen is called the Labyrinth. It is located in the head just behind the gills. The labyrinth looks like a maze which traps air in its’ many folds. The oxygen from this air is then absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the labyrinth organ.
|An interesting characteristic of the Three-spot, Blue, Gold, Opaline and Pearl Gourami, is that they are well known for eating hydra. The hydra is a tiny pest that has tentacles with a venom. Very small fish that come in contact with the hydra are paralyzed by the venom and then held fast by the tentacles until eaten by the hydra. If you have a hydra problem in your aquarium, here is your solution!
|The Giant Gourami is the largest of all labyrinth fishes. A stunning fish when it gets large! In their natural environment, natives have reported lengths of 60 cm (24 inches) and it has even been suggested that the Giant Gourami can get as large as 70 cm (28 inches)! Wow! One big gourami! Giant Gourami are considered a delicacy and are used as a food fish in areas they are native to.
|The Kissing Gourami is one of the most popular gouramis. Everyone likes a Kissing Gourami because of their unusual “kissing” action! When the Kissing Gourami look like they “kiss” each other, the action is actually thought to be some form of social testing of strength or status. The Kissing Gourami is actually named for the unusual shape of its mouth when eating or sucking debris. These fish use their lips to rasp algae from the surface of rocks or from the glass in the aquarium.
Some labyrinth fish have voices!…and the Pearl Gourami is no exception!
The Pearl Gourami and the Snakeskin Gourami have a kind of vocal, that sounds like cracking tones. Though this is generally most pronounced during breeding or territorial type behaviour, it is not known whether it has any special function.
|There is only one species in the genus Phractocephalus, the Red-tailed Catfish and a unique phenomena with this fish, as stated by author Hans A Baensch in Aquarium Atlas Volume 2, is that “…the red colored tail fin secrets a substance which colors the hands an intense red on contact.”!
The hatchetfishes, Gasteropelecidae, leap from the water and fly through the air flapping their large pectoral fins to catch flying insects!. They are generally accepted as being the only true “flyingfish” as they are the only fish that move their pectoral fins to aid in their flight!
|The White Dove (Sacred White Dove, or Java Dove) is the most historically described dove since the time of Noah. We often see it used today as an emblem in peace negotiations as well as in weddings to where it is used to symbolize love. But an even more special contribution of the gentle White Dove is in magic acts. They are intelligent birds that can be taught simple tricks, and they are not afraid of being in a cloth handkerchief or a dark hat!
According to National Geographic, one of the most commonly kept marine hobbyist fish, the Engineering Goby, is also one of the most unigue fish in the world! The real name of these fish is the Convict, and in the wild it is believed that they are the only fish in the world that evolved to have the parents rely on the young to feed them predigested plankton!
For more information on this unigue fish, see National Geographic, June 2005, “Clues From a Convict”.
Dr. Jungle says, “kids supporting their parents, what a great idea!”
Though it is a bottom dwelling fish, very seldom going to the surface, in oxygen depleted waters the Four-lined Pimodella can change almost entirely to surface breathing! This catfish locates its’ food by smell and by feeling it with its antennae.
Catfish are found all over the world and belong to a large family of Carp-like fish.They are different from most other fish since catfish don’t have scales, although some catfish have armor or bony plates for protection.
Most catfish are also nocturnal, becoming active at night.
The most interesting thing about the patterning of the Black-Banded Leporinus, Banded Leporinus, or Eight-banded Leporinus is that as a youngster it only has 5 black bands. Starting at one year of age, the first of these bands splits, dividing into two bands. Then every six months another band will split into two. By the time the Black-Banded Leporinus is 3 years old, it will have ten bands with the yellow colored band turning orangish. You can actually determine the approximate age of this fish by the number of bands it has.
Dr. Jungle says, “the femal leporinus can’t fib about her age?”
The Polish Dwarfs are quite intelligent little bunnies! They can follow voice commands and hand signals, which they learn mostly through repetition. Along with the Netherland Dwarf, the Polish Dwarf is one of the most common small animal breeds used by Magicians for their magic acts. This is because they are not only small and smart, but they have the right temperment! They are not afraid of children and enjoy being petted by them!
The Corydorus have a very interesting breeding routine. After bumping the male on the vent, the female will receive the males sperm into her mouth. She then discharges a few eggs which she catches and clasps with her ventral fins. Then the female will swim around and deposit a bit of sperm and just a few eggs at a time in select spots, such as a strong plant, the heater tube or ever the aquarium glass. When she has runs out of sperm, she will go back to the male and repeat the process until the spawn is complete.
A curious fact about the Striped Raphael Catfish or Chocolate Catfish is that it also has tiny curved spines running along its body to protect it!
In his book Aquarium Atlas, author Hans M. Baensch states that most of the Synodontis Catfish have not been bred in captivity, with the exception of the Upside-Down Catfish, Synodontis nigriventis and possibly the Black Synodontis, Synodontis nigrita. He states that nutrition is very important for the breeding of the Synodontis species and that some of the nutritional substances they get from their natural diet, notably snails and insect larvae, is not provided in available fish foods. This is partially due to the drying process which destroys traces of vitamins from these substances, and that some of the trace substances have not been investigated yet.
Fishes with suckermouths have a few special features!
Dick Mills, author of You & Your Aquarium says they have extra slits behind their heads to breathe through, so they can use their mouths for more important duties such as feeding and clinging to surfaces. He also shares that they have an unusual eye feature, an eye flap. This is a flap of skin that protrudes from each eye, allowing them to alter the amount of light that reaches their eyes.
During spawning, the male Firemouth Cichlid displays an impressive bluff, an aggressive stance where he inflates his fiery red throat sac and gill covers. It has been discovered by ethologists that the red coloring itself is intimidating to other fishes!
There are some Cichlids, such as the Boulengerochromis microlepis, that reach up to 31″ (80 cm)! Needless to say, they are popular food fishes to the native people where they are found!
Due to it’s ferociousness when first introduced to the aquarium hobby, the cichlid Jack Dempsey was named after the 1919 Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, “Jack Dempsey”. It is not nearly as combative or aggressive, however, as some of the cichlids later introduced, such as the Red Devil!
Chinese Algae Eater, Indian Algae Eater, or Sucking Loach is desirous to many aquariust mainly for their ability to keep the aquarium free of algae. However, they won’t work in the cold. If the temperature drops below 69° F (20° C) they will stop eating algae!
Despite the quiet, fragile nature of the Compressed Cichlid, Compressiceps, or Lamp Compressiceps, it does have some defenses. Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod cautions handling this fish carefully. In his book, Starting Your Tropical Aquarium, he shares that its’ “dorsal fin spines are very sharp and cause an unpleasant iching if the skin is pierced”. So if you do handle it, do so with care!
The females of the Livebearing families of Toothcarps (which includes the Guppies, Mollies, Swordtails, and Platys), Four-eyed Fishes, and Halfbeaks, through a process called “superfetation”, have an amazing ability to store unused sperm from the male fish in her body for several months. The female is then able to have young several times after just one mating! A female Mosquito Fish was noted to give birth 11 times from just one pairing! Only the Mexican Topminnow livebearer does not have this capacity!
There is an occasional tendency for a female Swordtail to change sex and develop a “sword” on her tail, especially when old or affected by parasites. She may even attempt courtship with another female, though the majority of the time they are infertile!
Historically thought of as a utility or working rabbit, the New Zealand rabbit has been selected for hundreds and hundreds of generations by people who work with rabbits. This is because they have good outgoing personalities and are easy to work with. They don’t tend to bite or struggle and they don’t get sick or have health problems nearly as often as other breeds.
The Chinchilla’s exceedingly soft, dense coat has more fur per square inch than any other known mammal! Chinchillas have the finest fur of all the mammals. They are very clean with no noticeable odor and their dense fur keeps lice, fleas and other parasites from taking up residence!
The Europiean Hedgehogs, Erinaceus, though now protected in their native countries, were well liked by European gardeners as they would eat up to a third of their weight in slugs, snails and insects in a single day! This hedgehog is larger than its cousin the African Pygmy Hedgehogs that we often see as pets today. The European Hedgehog grows to about 12 inches long and weighs about 3 pounds.
The term ‘Pocket Pets’ refers to small animal that will fit in your pocket. Dwarf Hamsters, Mice, Southern Flying Squirrels,and gerbils all ‘fit’ nicely in this category!
There are some unique strains of mice!
One is known as the “waltzing” or “shaker” mice, or sometimes the “Japanese” mice as they were first recognized in Japan. These mice are defective in their balancing ability and appear to “waltz” rather than move about as normal mice do.
Another is the “singing” mice that make a faint twittering sound that is distinct from other mice and makes us think of singing.
The Lionhead Rabbit has a ‘mane’! The Lionhead Rabbit is unique to all other “new breeds” of rabbits. It has the first major mutation in rabbits since ‘satin’ fur first appeared in a litter of Havana’s in the early 1900’s. Unlike most fur mutations that are recessive genes, the Lionhead has what seems to be a dominant mutation that causes the ‘mane’. So only one parent is required to have this gene to produce more Lionheads and it cannot be recreated using other breeds!
Wow, did you know that male rabbits can hold sperm up to 4 weeks after being castrated (neutered) and can still impregnate females. Best to keep the fellow apart from females for a few weeks or they can become pregnant!
Body flukes that sometimes infest fish are a parasitic worm (Monogenetic tremetodes) called Gyrodactylidia. This little critter contains three generations of body flukes within it’s own body! So one mature body fluke can produce about a million decendents! The one little critter by himself doesn’t do much damage, but when all his relatives are born….watch out!
There are more species of tropical fish in South America than there are in the entire Atlantic Ocean!
Cichlids are considered the most intelligent species of fish, as well as very hardy and adaptable! They evolved from a marine ancestral form and were ‘secondary’ freshwater fish in the South America region, where they had to compete for survival with the ‘primary’ freshwater fish already inhabiting the area.
A unique feature of some loach species is being extremely sensitive to atmospheric pressure. When the pressure changes they get quite active, swimming up and down in the aquarium. These fish have been used as living barometers and are referred to as ‘weather fish’! A noted example is the Japanese Weather Fish or Weather Loach.!
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