15 Animal Myths That Are Absolutely False

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on May 19, 2016.

We’ve previously cleared up some common misconceptions about animals, but with so many remaining doubts, questions and wonders, we needed to give it another shot. From lobsters’ love lives to the feeding habits of bats, cats and rats, prepare to have your mind blown.

1. If you chop earthworms in half, both halves live.

earthworm

Photo Credit: benketaro/Flickr

Although it might not look like it, earthworms have a head and a tail. If you chop a worm in half, the part with the head and all of its vital organs will survive — and most likely regenerate its tail — but the original tail dies.

2. Cows lie down if it’s going to rain.

Who didn’t hear this one on a road trip growing up? If a cow is lying down, it means rain is coming. Unfortunately, whichever adult fed the kids this piece of information was wrong.

Dr. Jamison Allen, a livestock researcher who investigated cow behavior, explains:

If an animal is left on its own in a pasture, it will spend a third of its time gathering food, a third of its time eating, and a third of it sleeping. If they’re lying down, it probably doesn’t signal much beyond the fact that it’s sleeping time.

3. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

house fly

Photo Credit: Jayden Yoon/Unsplash

While the old adage may be a good metaphor for how to get people to take your side, it’s not real for actually catching flies. As it turns out, flies — especially the ones often found in homes – are very fond of apple cider vinegar. Filling some containers with this type of vinegar and a tad of sugar is the best way to trap them.

4. Pigs sweat a lot, hence the expression ”sweating like a pig.”

pig

Photo Credit: Fabian Blank/Unsplash

Anyone who follows Esther the Wonder Pig on Instagram knows that pigs love a mud or water bath, and that’s because they don’t actually sweat. While they do have a few sweat glands, that’s not how pigs cool off.

The expression “sweating like a pig” comes from the process of iron smelting. When liquid iron was poured back in the day, the shape resembled a mother pig and her piglets. The process occurred at extremely high temperatures — and, at one point, the air around the mould would turn into steam, making the piglets look like they were sweating.

5. Bats are blind.

little brown bat

Photo Credit: J Jongsma/Flickr

Some bats can see three times better than humans.

6. Bats will suck your blood.

bat

Photo Credit: Enrique Dans/Flickr

Nope, not true either. There are more than 1,300 types of bats, and most of them are insect eaters. Vampire bats live in Mexico, Central America and South America and do suck blood — but not human blood, at least not commonly. They feed mostly on cattle, and they’re more like mosquitos than a Dracula-esque threat.

7. Mice like cheese.

mice

Photo Credit: Jason Bolonski/Flickr

Just about every cartoon features a big piece of cheese on a rat trap in attempt to catch the critter when it can’t resist a nibble. But in reality, Tom would’ve had a lot more luck catching Jerry if he had used cereal or fruits. Studies have shown that while mice will eat cheese if hungry enough, that’s not their number one snack choice.

8. Fish have a 10-second memory.

There’s only one fish with a short-term memory — and her name is Dory. However, studies show that all other fish can remember things like sounds up to five months later. They’re also self-aware enough to recognize themselves in a mirror. Some fish hunt collaboratively in a group, and some like being petted – even “asking” divers for attention. Fish have feelings, and they can experience stress.

9. Cats like drinking milk.

cat drinking milk

Photo Credit: Marek Kubica/Flickr

When cats are not trying to catch mice with pieces of cheese, they’re usually drinking milk out of a bowl. What those classic images didn’t show was that the feline probably had terrible diarrhea afterwards. While cats will drink milk, their bodies can’t properly digest lactose – which means stomach problems will usually follow.

10. A bear will walk away from you if you play dead.

grizzly bear

Photo Credit: Janko Ferlic/Unsplash

The National Parks Service doesn’t suggest playing dead when encountering a bear. Instead park rangers advise people to carefully and quietly walk away. In the case of a brown or grizzly bear attack, lying on your stomach and playing dead is an option — but if the bear turns you over, the best strategy is to fight back. If attacked by a black bear, the agency stresses to never play dead.

Can’t identify which type of bear is attacking you? Fight back, and run for your life.

11. One human years equals seven dog years.

dog

Photo Credit:
James Barker/Unsplash

In reality, the math is a little more complicated. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, for a medium-size dog, the first year equals 15 human years. The second year of a dog’s life equals about nine human years — and after that each human year is equivalent to about five dog years.

12. Dogs can only see black and white.

bulldog

Photo Credit: David Beatz/Unsplash

It’s a common misconception that dogs only see black, white and shades of gray. The truth is that they do see colors – just not all of them. While humans can see many different shades, dogs see mostly yellows, blues and violets. That means greens and reds will appear to them as blues and yellows — but it’s still more cheerful than black and white.

13. Bulls see red and attack.

bull

Photo Credit: adam morse/Unsplash

The imagery of a matador using a red cloth to lure bulls in for the kill made this myth widespread, but it’s not the color of the cloth that makes the bull charge for the matador — and, on a good day, strike him. Mythbusters did a test with different colored cloths and found that the animal doesn’t have a preference for — or a grudge against — any particular color. It’s the movement in the fabric that entices him to attack.

14. Dolphins will protect you from sharks in the ocean.

dolphins

Photo Credit: Evan Kirby/Unsplash

While a couple of dolphins have played heroes in the past, don’t count on all of them to do you a solid if a shark comes around. Dolphins have been known to also flee when approached by sharks. On top of that, even though we’d like to believe that dolphins love humans, the truth is that they don’t.

15. Lobsters mate for life.

lobster

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sorry, Phoebe. Ross and Rachel might have ended up together — but not because they were each other’s lobsters. The animals actually have multiple partners throughout their lives, and they don’t walk around holding claws. Courtship is a lot less romantic than that –  more reminiscent of a one night stand than a storybook romance.

Photo Credit: Wynand Uys/Unsplash

450 comments

Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx8 months ago

Part of these myths originate from stories written a long time ago for children, cfr. the bad reputation of the wolf is. As far as mice and cheese is concerned, many people put a little chunk of cheese in a mouse trap, but never catch a mouse. So they should know.
Of course there are some, like catching flies with apple cider vinegar, I did not know. And now I can apply this, because I HATE using chemicals to kill mosquitos or flies or ants... Thanks for the info.
Cow's milk is bad for kittens and cats. It causes diarrhea. In shelters, they use milk powder for human babies. Usually it are pots they get from the Manufacturers because the sale's date passed. When you have little puppies, also use this powder milk. Much better. On the other hand, dogs love yoghurt and mine never got sick from it.

A good advice : when you give your cat or dog something new, just try it out first with just a little spoonful. When there is no diarrhea or vomiting, you can gradually increase the quantity.

And not only with lobsters there is no love, not even a kind of friendship or being nice to one another when mating. It is just about passing your genes to a future generation and nothing else. There are some exceptions. Some birds f.i. stay partners for the rest of their live and both feed/raise the children as well.

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R8 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Ruth S
Ruth S8 months ago

Thanks.

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Cindy S
Past Member 8 months ago

16. animals are food

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Anette S
Anette S8 months ago

There are some domestic cats who can drink cow's milk without getting any digestive problems. My cat belonged to this particular group =^..^=
I agree with everything else mentioned here.

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Lesa D
Past Member 8 months ago

#3 ~ you catch even more flies with manure... just sayin'...

thank you Natalia...

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