13 Fun Facts About Animals

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: June 10, 2022
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Key Points:
  • The platypus is one of the few poisonous mammals on earth. It can shoot its venom from it’s feet!
  • Elephants can’t physically jump because they have weak lower-leg muscles and stiff ankles.
  • Here’s a fact that will warm your heart: sea otters hold hands when they are sleeping.
  • Did you always assume that hyenas were related to the canine family? Think again–think feline.

In search of fun facts about animals!? Well you’ve landed in the right place. Sit back and read our list of fascinating animals facts. And check back often, we’re always adding new one!

#1 Animal Fun Fact: Koalas Have Human Fingerprints

Slow-moving eucalyptus aficionados, koalas are beloved! They also have fingerprints that are indistinguishable from human ones with the same whirls and loops. Researchers have determined that the marsupials adapted this feature to clutch the branches of trees when foraging for food.

Bonus Fun Fact About Animals: Chimpanzees share this same human characteristic.

Baby Koala bear hangs on branch for fun facts about animals
Koalas have fingerprints that are indistinguishable from those of a human.

Learn more about koalas here.  

#2 Animal Fun Fact: Platypuses Can Shoot Venom from Their Feet

Platypuses have unusual appearances. They look as if they’re cobbled together from other non-threatening animals, like a duck and a beaver. But in reality, platypuses are feisty!

If you anger one, it may shoot venom at you from spurs located on its back feet. Thanks to this feature, platypuses are one of the few poisonous mammals on Earth.

Learn more about the platypus here.

Platypus are a species that show up in fun facts about animals lists
When angered, a platypus may shoot venom from spurs located on its back feet, making it one of the few poisonous mammals on Earth.

John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com

# Animal Fun Fact: Sloths Have Olympian-Like Swimming Skills

Sloths are one of the slowest animals on land, but in the water, they swim like Olympians! In fact, these slow-moving creatures can speed along almost four times faster in water than on land.

Sloths even do the breaststroke the same way as humans! Swimming is a skill they need to survive.

Learn more about sloths here!

There are so many fun facts about animals when it comes to the sloth
Sloths are four times faster in water than on land.

jdross75/Shutterstock.com

#4 Animal Fun Fact: Elephants Can’t Jump

Elephants are amazing animals with many admirable characteristics. They have an incredible sense of smell, social lives that are as complex as our own, plus, they’re nearly immune to cancer. Yet, despite all of their great qualities, elephants can’t jump. Why? They have weak lower-leg muscles and stiff ankles. Remember that the next time you’re exchanging fun facts about animals with your friends!

Read more about elephants

Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)
Elephants have weak lower-leg muscles and stiff ankles, making it impossible for them to jump.

5. The Great White Shark Must Keep Swimming to Breathe

In the Pixar movie “Finding Nemo,” Dory sings “just keep swimming” to keep Marlin from giving up, but fun facts about animals include the one that the great white shark must keep swimming to stay alive. This type of shark must swim quickly with its mouth open for oxygen to get to its gills. This is called “ram ventilation,” and is a technique used by more of the species than just the great white shark. Others include hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, reef sharks, and makos. Learn more about great white sharks here.

A great white shark swimming through blue water.
A great white shark must swim quickly with its mouth open in order for oxygen to get to its gills.

Ramon Carretero/Shutterstock.com

6. The Narwhal’s Horn is a Tooth

Narwhals have the ultimate snaggle tooth. The famous tusk or horn that gives them the appearance of being a unicorn of the sea is actually a tooth. It protrudes through the upper lip of male narwhals, and it is how they attract females. Narwhals are at home in the cold waters of the Arctic Circle.

Narwhal Horn Tooth (Monodon monoceros)
The famous narwhal tusk or horn that gives them the appearance of being a sea unicorn is actually a tooth.

7. Whales Can Put Half of Their Brains to Sleep

Blue whales are so large that a human baby could crawl through one of their major blood vessels, but they are unable to breathe underwater. Periodically, they must surface to breathe. So, how do they sleep? They sleep by being able to put half of their brains to sleep. This lets them rest while remaining awake enough to breathe and search for danger. Read more about this animal here

Blue Whale (Balsenoptera musculus) Jumping
Blue whales are able to put half of their brains to sleep, allowing them to remain awake enough to breathe and detect dangers.

8. Kangaroos Can’t Walk Backwards

Kangaroos are large Australian marsupials capable of hopping great distances, but the structure of their large tails and strong rear feet makes it impossible for them to walk backward. The designers of the Australian Coat of Arms used the animal for this reason. It symbolizes that the nation only moves forward. Read more here. 

Kangaroo (Macropus Giganteus)
The kangaroo’s large tail and strong feet prevent the animal from being able to walk backwards.

9. Sea Otters Hold Hands When They Sleep

Sea otters are water-based creatures that live most of their lives in water. They hunt, eat and sleep in waterways. Sea otters hold hands when they fall asleep to avoid floating away from one another in the ocean while they’re resting. They also anchor to a spot by tangling themselves up in seaweed or kelp. Read more about this amazing animal. 

Otters (Lutra Canadensis) Holding Hands
Sea otters hold hands when they sleep to avoid floating away from one another in the ocean while resting.

Hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs even though many people think that they look more like a dog. Technically, the animal is a part of the Feliformia suborder, which is one of the two Carnivora orders, but they are different enough from cats for their own separate classification, which is the Hyaenidae. Read more about hyenas.

Hyena (Crocuta Crocuta) Jaws
While most people would assume the hyena is more related to a dog, they are actually part of the Feliformia suborder.

11. Bearded Dragons Wave Their Arms to Get Your Attention

You’d think that beared dragons would be feisty and inclined to bite, but these mid-size lizards are quite friendly. Bearded dragons might look intimidating with their scales and jagged beards, but they like to be stroked. They also waive their arms in a human-like way to get attention. Read the bearded dragon encyclopedia page for more information.  

A bearded dragon with its front legs on a log.
Bearded dragons will wave their arms, like a human, to get attention.

Shinedawn/Shutterstock.com

12. Butterflies Taste with Their Feet

Butterflies can taste with their feet! The insects have a long tube-like tongue, which is referred to as a proboscis, that they use to ingest flower nectar, but they actually taste with their feet. This lets them determine which flowers are best for laying their eggs on. Learn more about butterflies here. 

Blue Butterfly (Morphinae)
Butterflies taste with their feet, letting them determine which flowers are best for laying their eggs on.

13. Rabbits Release Heat from Their Ears

Like you, rabbits use their ears to hear. In fact, they can rotate them 270 degrees to do so. However, bunnies are unable to sweat to stay cool in the hot summer. Instead, their ears shed heat, allowing rabbits to keep their bodies at a safe temperature. See the rabbit encyclopedia page for more informaiton. 

Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
A rabbit’s ears shed heat, allowing them to keep their bodies at a safe temperature during summer months.

Summary of 13 Fun Facts About Animals

Here’s a roundup the these enjoyable fun facts about animals:

RankAnimalFun Fact
1KoalasHave human fingerprints
2PlatypusesCan shoot venom from their feet
3SlothsHave Olympian-like swimming skills
4ElephantsCan’t jump
5Great White SharksMust keep swimming to breathe
6NarwalsThe horn is a tooth
7WhalesCan put half of their brains to sleep
8KangaroosCan’t walk backwards
9Sea OttersHold hands when they sleep
10HyenasMore related to cats than dogs
11Bearded DragonsWave their arms to get your attention
12ButterfliesTaste with their feet
13RabbitsRelease heat from their ears

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

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