10 Animal Myths You Probably Believe

Published January 5, 2015
Updated November 21, 2014

Animals have always played a huge role in society. Besides the ones we keep as beloved pets, we love to learn about the vast diversity that nature has to offer. However, there are right and wrong ways to go about this. Watch an Attenborough documentary and learn all kinds of cool things about animals in their natural habitats. Watch cartoons and old movies and get plenty of animal myths and misconceptions that you might still believe to this day.

1. Bees can only sting you once

Animal Myths Bee

Another bee myth – many bees are solitary, they don’t live in a large group
Source: Blogspot

For many people, this is the way to tell bees apart from wasps – a bee dies after it stings you while a wasp can do it over and over again. Sorry to say, but this is only true for honey bees, and they make up a very small minority of bee species. Honey bees die because their stingers have barbs at the ends and get lodged into their target. Then, when the bees fly off, they are basically ripping themselves in half. However, most other species of bees have a smooth stinger that can go in and out of the target with no problems.

2. Lemmings are suicidal

Animal Myths Lemming

Curse you, Disney!
Source: Deviant Art

Besides the animal, the term “lemming” can be used to refer to a person who follows everybody else without thinking. It is inspired by the (animal) lemmings that supposedly commit mass unintentional suicide by jumping off cliffs in groups. Disney gets all the blame for this myth. The idea of suicidal lemmings comes from a very successful 1958 Disney film called White Wilderness which won an Oscar for Best Documentary. The film depicts such an event, with dozens of lemmings tumbling towards their doom. The only problem is that the whole thing was completely staged by Disney, who basically chucked the lemmings into the water.

3. Rabbits love carrots

While we’re blaming Hollywood, we might as well mention that it also fabricated the rabbit’s love for carrots. Sure, it will eat them, but as any bunny owner could attest, rabbits prefer leafy green vegetables. The image of the rabbit enjoying a carrot was, of course, made iconic by Bugs Bunny. However, when Bugs first did it, he was actually parodying a (then) famous scene from another movie called It Happened One Night. In the movie, Clark Gable is munching away on the carrot while talking and, when Bugs did it, he was merely referencing a scene which was quite well-known at the time, but became less so over the years.

4. Elephants love peanuts

Animal Myths Elephant

Source: Oregon Zoo

The logic here is pretty much the same as that of the rabbits. Because of old cartoons, people get this idea that elephants are crazy about peanuts and they were constantly fed peanuts at circuses and zoos. This is not a common practice nowadays, though. In the wild, peanuts are simply not a part of an elephant’s diet and most who’ve been fed peanuts in captivity don’t like them. They prefer hay and other grains along with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

5. We swallow 100 spiders per year in our sleep

Animal Myths Spider

Source: BHM Pics

The number associated with spider consumption is not always 100. Sometimes it is 50, sometimes it is 200. It doesn’t really matter, though, because none of those numbers are correct. It could be possible for you to swallow a spider or two in your lifetime, but it is definitely not a common occurrence. Spiders know better than that. They have no reason to go anywhere near your mouth. This “fact” can be traced to the early days of the World Wide Web to show how people are gullible and will believe anything they read on the Internet.

Radu Alexander
Radu is a freelance writer who specializes in historical, scientific and offbeat topics.
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