Information for Kids

Animal Trivia

Did you know that 94% of pet owners say their pet makes them smile more than once a day?  Read on for interesting facts about the animals the MSPCA places for adoption.

Dogs

  • There are more than 150 dog breeds, divided into 8 classes: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous.

  • According to a recent survey, the most popular name for a dog is Max. Other popular names include Molly, Sam, Zach, and Maggie.

  • Dogs can vary in size from a 36 inch (150+ lb.) Great Dane to a 2 lb. Chihuahua.

  • Puppies and kittens can be adopted as early as 8 weeks of age.  Until then, they should stay with their moms and littermates.

  • About 1/3 of the dogs that are surrendered to animal shelters are purebred dogs.

  • Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not sweat by salivating. They sweat through the pads of their feet.

  • Dogs may not have as many taste buds as we do (they have about 1,700 on their tongues, while we humans have about 9,000), but that doesn't mean they're not discriminating eaters. They have over 200 million scent receptors in their noses (we have only 5 million) so it's important that their food smells good and tastes good.

  • The term "dog days" has nothing to do with dogs. It dates back to Roman times, when it was believed that Sirius, the Dog Star, added its heat to that of the sun from July3 to August 11, creating exceptionally high temperatures.

 Cats

  • A cat sees about 6 times better than a human at night.

  • When a cat drinks, its tongue - which has tiny barbs on it - scoops the liquid up backwards.

  • The ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat (in about 3000 BC), and used them to control pests.

  • Healthy adult cats are in deep sleep 15 percent of their lives. They are in light sleep 50 percent of the time. That leaves just 35 percent awake time, or roughly 6-8 hours a day.

  • Six-toed kittens are so common in Boston and surrounding areas of Massachusetts that experts consider it an established mutation.

Rabbits, Guinea pigs, and other small animals

  • Our domesticated pet rabbits are descendents of European rabbits and are a different species than the wild rabbits you see outside.

  • Rabbits are crepuscular. This means that they are most active at dusk and dawn.

  • Guinea pigs have four toes on each of their front feet and three toes on each of their back feet.
  • The hamster’s native habitat is the deserts of Asia.

  • Hamsters cannot swim and therefore do not need baths - they clean themselves without any difficulty.

  • Pet rats are not like their wild cousins. Pet rats are actually very lovable, affectionate, and one of the most intelligent rodent pets. They can be taught tricks, and they can even learn to help keep their cages clean.

  • Guinea pigs are born with their eyes open and all their teeth and fur.

  • Many birds, including doves, parakeets, and lovebirds, enjoy living in pairs for companionship.

Horses

  • A horse’s height is measured in ‘hands.’ The height measurement of a 'hand' is 4 inches. That's because it was considered to be the width of an 'average' mans' hand across the knuckles.

  • Most of the time, a horse has "monocular" vision. This means a different image is seen by each eye so that a horse is seeing two different pictures at the same time.

  • The horse has one stomach. In contrast, cattle, sheep, goats, bison, deer, elk, caribou, moose, and camels are "ruminants" which means (among other things) they have four digestive chambers instead of just one stomach.

  • Horses produce approximately 10 gallons of saliva a day.

  • Horses have a prehensile upper lip. Prehensile means "adapted for seizing, grasping, or taking hold of something." Their upper lips are very sensitive and capable of feeling the smallest of differences in objects.

  • Horses can live more than 30 years.

Chickens, goats, and other farm animals

  • Goats and sheep don’t have teeth on their upper jaw.  They have a hard palate that helps them grind their food.

  • Goats are great companions for other farm animals, including horses, cows, and chickens.

  • Sheep make a bleating sound. A baby lamb can identify its mother by her bleat.

  • One mature ewe (female sheep) produces 7 to 10 pounds of newly shorn wool a year - enough to make a man's suit.

  • Goats were the first animal to be domesticated, according to many historians.

  • The goat is among the cleanest of animals, and is a much more selective feeder than cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and even dogs. Goats do eat many different species of plants, but do not want to eat food that has been contaminated or that has been on the floor or the ground.

  • The chicken is the closest living relative to the T-Rex.

  • Some breeds of chickens can lay colored eggs. The Ameraucana and Araucana can lay eggs of green or blue.

  • Chickens have over 200 distinct noises they can make for communicating.