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Amazing Animal Facts for Kids

Updated on November 7, 2014

Although the term animal applies to all members of Kingdom Animalia, when most people talk about animals they mean all living things other than humans. The world is full of animals of all different shapes, sizes and types from tiny insects to giants such as the humpback whale and elephants but even animals we are used to seeing and interacting with everyday can have unusual and amazing abilities, characteristics and histories.

In this hub I have collected together some facts about animals that may interest children of all ages and can be used in projects, lapbooks or other activities or as a talking point or starting point for further research and discussion.

A 9 week old great dane puppy.
A 9 week old great dane puppy. | Source
The St Bernard is a large breed of dog that are often used to aid humans in mountain rescues.
The St Bernard is a large breed of dog that are often used to aid humans in mountain rescues. | Source

Dogs

  • The domestic dog has been kept by humans as a companion and working animal for thousands of years. Dogs have been trained to do a range of tasks for humans including hunting, herding sheep, pulling sledges and aiding people who have disabilities. Assistance dogs are often used to help people who are blind or deaf in their everyday activities and also as therapy dogs for people with conditions such as autism.
  • There are hundreds of breeds of dog from the tiny Chihuahua to larger breeds such as St. Bernard, Great Danes and the Bernese mountain dog. Many breeds have been bred to do a certain job for humans, for example border collies are commonly used as sheep dogs as they excel at this type of work.
  • A dog has far more sensitive hearing and sense of smell than a human. Dogs are able to hear sounds that humans cannot detect and can hear sounds at a greater distance. A dog’s sense of smell is roughly 50-100 times more powerful than humans. Some breeds of dog are known as ‘scent hounds’ due to their powerful sense of smell. Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds and Beagles are all scent hounds.
  • Dogs carry out many jobs assisting humans. Dogs are used to guard homes and livestock and to herd animals on farms. Many dogs perform jobs using their sensitive sense of smells including sniffing out illegal drugs, blood, guns or other animals. The police also use dogs to locate bodies that have been hidden or buried.

  • The oldest recorded age for a dog was a Queensland heeler called Bluey who lived for 29 years and 5 months.
  • A dog has double the amount of muscles in its ear compared to humans.
  • A three – headed dog known as Cerberus was said to guard the gates to the Greek Underworld.
  • A dogs hearing is far more sensitive than humans. A dog is able to hear sound waves that vibrate at more than 30,000 times a second. Humans can hear sounds that vibrate up to 20,000 times a second.
  • A dogs heart beats between 70 and 120 times a minute compared to a human heart which has between 70 and 80 beats a minute.
  • Dog should never be allowed to eat chocolate intended for humans. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which can make dogs very ill and even kill them. If you want to treat your dog there are special dog chocolates that are safe.

Elephants

  • There are two types of elephant – the African elephant and the Asian elephant. African elephants are larger and have darker coloured skin than Asian elephants. African elephants also have larger ears and both the males and females have tusks whereas only the male elephant has tusks.
  • Female elephants are called cows and an elephant pregnancy lasts for 22 months. Males are called bulls.
  • Elephants can swim and can use their trunks like a snorkel.
  • Female elephants live together in herds. Each herd is normally led by the oldest member of the family who is known as their matriarch. Once a male calf reaches 12-15 years old he leaves the family group.
  • Elephants cannot jump.
  • Elephants have the largest brain of any land animal. They have a highly developed brain that is 3-4 times larger than a human brain.
  • An elephants skin is an inch thick.
  • Elephants are highly sensitive animals. They are able to express grief, compassion, self-awareness, altruism and play with each other.
  • An elephants large ears are full of a complex network of blood vessels. Blood is circulated through these to help keep the elephant cool in the hot climates they live in.

A elephant family.
A elephant family. | Source
A giant African land snail. In some places these snails are considered a pest as they can cause vast damage to plants and crops.
A giant African land snail. In some places these snails are considered a pest as they can cause vast damage to plants and crops. | Source

Snails

  • The largest land snail ever recorded was 15 inches long and weighed 2lb.
  • Snails are herbivores and enjoy eating living and decaying plants, algae, fungi, lichens and young tree bark.
  • Snails are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female reproductive organs).
  • Snails hibernate during winter.
  • Many scientists believe that mollusc evolution began more than 500 million years ago.
  • Snail is the common name given to animals that belong to the class Gastropoda. Snails are divided into three categories: sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails.
  • An average adult moves at around 1mm per second.

Collage of various breeds of cat.
Collage of various breeds of cat. | Source

Cats

  • Cats spend around two thirds of every day sleeping.
  • Cats where sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. The cat was a symbol of the goddess Bastet, who had the head of a cat and a woman’s body.
  • A cat’s nose pad has a unique pattern.
  • The largest breed of cat is the Ragdoll. Adult Ragdoll cats can weigh between 10 and 20lbs.
  • A cat’s skeleton has 244 bones.
  • The fastest land animal is the cheetah (a big cat).
  • Cat’s use their whiskers to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through. This stops them getting stuck in small spaces.
  • A group of cats is called a colwder. A male cat is called a tom and female cats are known as a queen.
  • Cats are crepuscular – meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
  • Cats have a weak sense of taste, approximately 473 taste buds compared to a humans 9,000 but they have a superior sense of smell.

Cat anatomy.
Cat anatomy. | Source
Although it is a fish the mudskipper can survive out of water.
Although it is a fish the mudskipper can survive out of water. | Source

Fish

  • Fish are believed to have been on earth for more than 450 million years.
  • Flying fish cannot actually fly but are able to jump out of the water and glide using their long wing like fins. Flying fish have been known to glide as far as 660 ft. (200m) in one jump.
  • Some species of fish change their sex during their lifespan. A male emperor fish lives with a group of up to five females. If the male dies one of the females changes sex to become male and becomes the new leader of the group.
  • The study of fish is called ichthyology.
  • Starfish and jellyfish are not actually fish at all.
  • The mudskipper fish can walk on its fins. They breathe through the pores of their wet skin and can carry a supply of water in their gill chambers.
  • The biggest fish in the world is the whale shark which can weigh as much as 25 tons and grow to 60ft long. Despite its huge size the whale shark eats mainly plankton.
  • Fish are divided into three basic groups: cartilaginous fish, ray-finned fish and lobe-finned fish. Cartilaginous fish have a tough, flexible cartilage body frame instead of a skeleton and include sharks, rays and skates. Ray-finned fishes include cods, trout, herrings and salmon. This type of fish has skeletons made of bone. Lobe-finned fish have paired fins with fleshy lobes and include lungfish and coelacanths.

Tiger trout.
Tiger trout. | Source
A ostrich in Ngorongoro.
A ostrich in Ngorongoro. | Source

Birds

  • Geese fly in a V-shaped formation because this helps to reduce the air resistance the birds experience while flying. This saves energy and enables the birds to fly longer distances.
  • Ducks have webbed feet that act like paddles when they are swimming.
  • Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards.
  • Owls have no teeth so they have to swallow their prey whole. Later they cough up the feathers, bones and fur in a pellet.
  • The oldest known bird was called a cockatoo named Cocky. He lived in London Zoo and died aged 82.
  • Migrating swallows can cover distances of 200 miles a day and fly at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour.
  • Ostrichs lay the largest eggs and the vervain hummingbird lays the smallest.
  • Chickens are believed to be the most common birds in the world.
  • Birds have hollow bones. If they have solid bones they would be too heavy to fly.

A Common Hoopoe (Upapa epops).
A Common Hoopoe (Upapa epops). | Source

© 2013 Claire

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