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Questions tagged [ethology]

The scientific study of animal behaviour, and a sub-topic of zoology.

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Does human excrement or toilet paper attract wild animals?

One commenter on Clarification sought on the six-inch-cat-hole rule says of toilet paper, "One issue is that (even if it does biodegrade), animals may dig it up and scatter it around..." I've heard ...
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Can elephants be held by a single piece of rope if they grow up conditioned to believe they cannot break free? [duplicate]

According to theunboundedspirit.com: As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to ...
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Can Rambo, the German shepherd, follow written commands?

An article on The Laughing Squid shows a German shepherd seemingly following written commands. An impressively intelligent German shepherd named Rambo, who’s learning how to read with the help of ...
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1answer
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Have badgers eaten coyotes?

Wikipedia claims that badgers sometimes eat coyotes: In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral.[19] ...
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2answers
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Do apes/monkeys open bananas from the floral end?

I often hear people lecturing about how to open a banana from the "right" end, including an explanation that this is how monkeys do it. A quick search in the internet offers a lot of examples (for ...
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Would a ferret (or any other animal, for that matter) insist on its caregiver to handle its offspring?

There is a video of a ferret biting on someone's hand, guiding it towards a shoebox filled with kits (baby ferrets). It tends to appear alongside the claim that the ferret wants its caregiver to meet ...
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0answers
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Do overpopulated rats have extremely high infant mortality rates caused by competition and stress?

Dr John B. Calhoun conducted a series of experiments in the 1960's on the effect of over-population on Norway rats. Wikipedia explains: The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when ...
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1answer
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Is the “Alpha Wolf” theory debunked?

The concept of "Alpha" originates in studies of wolves and the theory that an "Alpha" wolf leads a pack. They were very scientifically popular in the 60s/70s, and obviously dominate popular culture. ...
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2answers
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Do the older slower wolves lead a wolf pack?

I saw this on Facebook. Is it true? pretty cool A pack (wolves): The first 3 are the older or sick and they set the pace of the group. If it was on the contrary, they would be left behind and ...
12
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1answer
716 views

Do roosters let hens eat first?

I recently saw this Reddit comment claiming that roosters are seen as gallant because they let their hens eat first: In France, the Rooster is seen as a symbol of gallantry. This is because, (...
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Is tickling a form of torture for slow lorises?

The campaign Tickling is Torture by international animal rescue campaigns against people keeping slow lorises as pets (for very good reasons). One claim they make however is that tickling is torture ...
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1answer
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Do pigeons and doves refrain from mating after their lifelong mate dies?

I just came across this quote by Jerome (I don't know in what book he originally wrote it): Even the pigeons and doves don't take another partner if their companions pass away. I don't take Jerome'...
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Do orangutans rape women?

Following up from the lions-attacking-menstruating-women question, I read an account that claimed male orangutans will rape a human woman, especially if she is in menstruated. Are there verified ...
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1answer
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Can lions sense menstruating women?

I had an interesting chat today with a young woman from a traditional circus family, who explained she could not grow up to become a lion tamer, because lions could smell when women are menstruating ...
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1answer
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Have cats hunted at least 33 species to extinction?

I heard recently that cats have hunted numerous species to extinction, but I couldn't find a reliable source for this. Several sources say that they have been blamed for these extinctions, but is ...
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1answer
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Can mice find their way back to your home from 1+ miles away?

I've read on many pest control websites that if you catch a mouse in your home that they must be taken 1+ miles away, otherwise they will easily make their way back to their old home (ie. your house). ...
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1answer
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Did lions in Ethiopia save a 12 year old girl from rape?

The story goes, with a youtube video: A 12-year-old girl was kidnapped in Ethiopia, beaten, and almost forced into an awful and disgusting marriage, but luckily, that marriage didn't happen because ...
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Can chickens be hypnotized by drawing a line in front of them?

It's commonly said that if you hold a chicken's beak to the ground and draw a straight line in front of it, it will stare at the line and not move. There's no shortage of footage on youtube to prove ...
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Does a monkey/ape flee from half peeled bananas?

There is a claim by a German philosopher, named Max Scheler. Ein Affe, dem man eine Banane halb geschält in die Hand gibt, flieht vor ihr, während er sie ganz geschält frißt, ungeschält aber selber ...
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1answer
150 views

Do dogs bite more during a full moon?

In various cultures throughout the world there is the widespread belief that animals, including companion dogs, are more likely to bite when under the influence of a full moon http://www.dogexpert....
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1answer
2k views

Do barking dogs seldom bite?

There is a very famous proverb that "BARKING DOGS SELDOM BITE". According to the saying: The dogs which bark too much in loud tone, bite very rarely. It implies that the people who threaten you more ...
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Do crabs exemplify “crab mentality” behaviour?

Is there any verifiable evidence that crabs, in fact, behave as if they possess "crab mentality"? The term “crab mentality” is used to describe a kind of selfish thinking that runs along the ...
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2answers
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Do animals commit suicide?

I've done some Googling and only found case stories without any scientific backup. Most of the case reports about animal suicide online can by easily debunked by logical reasoning. For example there ...
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2answers
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Do roaches die (naturally) on their backs? [closed]

First, a major qualifier here; by naturally, I mean not forced to die on its "stomach" (like by being stepped on). Secondly, I live in the U.S., so maybe this applies to only American roaches. ...
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1answer
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Do Japanese fishermen put sharks in their tanks to keep fish fresh?

I saw the following story on Quora and when I Googled it, I got a lot of inspirational websites like Patheos.org that were hosting this same story without any citations. I would like to know if the ...
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1answer
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Do Macaque monkeys steal money from wallets and use it to buy food from vending machines?

I saw this rumor on Reddit, which refers to factsanddetails.com and which doesn't indicate the information source. I saw a video of a monkey using a vending machine on College Humor, but that doesn't ...
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1answer
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Do spiders intentionally wear water droplets on their heads?

I discovered today that there are a lot of pictures of spiders "wearing" water drops as hats. (More research: Warning -- Spiders!) However, I can't find anything related to why they might do this. ...
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1answer
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Do sea otters rape baby seals to death?

Popular facebook group Nature isn’t always kind and cuddly. A study showed that sea otters will restrain baby seals and then begin copulation; sometimes drowning it during the 105-minute-long ...
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1answer
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Can a skunk spray with its feet off the ground?

A colleague has a family story that if confronted by a skunk, if you can get its rear feet off the ground, it's unable to release its foul-smelling spray. Evidence for or to the contrary?
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1answer
396 views

Can dolphins learn a symbol based language?

I recently stumbled across the following article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1240334/Dolphins-clever-humans--treat-like-people-say-scientists.html which makes the claim that ...
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2answers
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Do wind turbines kill many birds each year?

It has been claimed that due to their large size, and the velocity of their blades that wind turbines kill large numbers of birds that run into them at night, or in fog, and die. http://www....
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3answers
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Do male penguins search for pebbles to present to female penguins?

I came across the following unsourced claim: When a male penguin falls in love with a female penguin, he searches the entire beach to find the perfect pebble to present to her. And when he finally ...
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1answer
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Did large herbivorous dinosaurs have any predators?

I went to the Natural History Museum in London today. I saw the dinosaur exhibition, and in the exhibition was this image, of an Allosaurus attacking a Diplodocus: Image by John Sibbick This ...
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1answer
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Do birds eat chewing gum they think is bread?

This image popped up in my facebook feed today. Roughly translated it says that chewing gum thrown on the street might be seen as pieces of bread by birds. The birds will then eat it, but it gets ...
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2answers
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Do cats get stuck in trees?

There are a number of movies and cartoons that humorously have a hero saving the day by rescuing a cat from a tree (the first one that pops into my mind is in the movie The Incredibles). There are a ...
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4answers
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Is 94% of male giraffe sexual behaviour homosexual?

I've been trying to track down the source of a claim that research has shown giraffe exhibiting a really high rate of male homosexual relations. Going through the blog spam leads me to a site without ...
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0answers
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Are “banana traps” effective at catching monkeys?

There is a famous claim that says the way to trap monkeys is by placing a staked container with a hole cut into it just wide enough for a monkey to stick its empty hand into. The container is baited ...
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1answer
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Can an elephant be trained to be lightly leashed?

Is been claimed that the way you keep an elephant leashed is with a chain pegged to the ground which they can easily break, just since they have learned when they where younger they could not escape ...
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1answer
850 views

Do bitter apple or actual orange peels prevent cats from scratching?

This article - http://www.allourpets.com/feline/stop-scratching.shtml - mentions that bitter apple or actual orange peels prevent cats from scratching? If your cat still scratches in appropriate ...
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0answers
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Does chicken manure keep cats away from garden areas?

This article mentions that chicken manure can keep cats away. Chicken manure around established plants can also deter cats as they don't like the smell. Is it true?
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4answers
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Do we know why animals have evolved to have sex for reproduction?

I've been reading 13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time (2010) and Chapter 10 concentrates on the subject of Sex. The author argues that we do not know ...
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1answer
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Do pigs have 30 minute orgasms?

A widely circulated internet meme (see e.g. the oatmeal) states that pig orgasms can last up to 30 minutes. I've been trying to find any source or reference to back up (or refute) this claim, but ...
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1answer
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Are there examples of exclusive homosexuality in non-human animals?

I have often heard the claim that homosexuality exists in non-human animals. Sheep and dolphins seem to be common examples. I find it easy to believe that homosexual activity exists - some animals ...
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2answers
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Does swatting/killing a bee cause the hive to attack?

I used to hear this all the time when I was growing up. Just ignore bees, don't swat at or try to kill them, because if they die, they'll send a "signal" to the hive that will attract dozens more. ...
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1answer
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Do dolphins attack dangerous sharks?

I've heard numerous anecdotal claims of people being rescued from shark attacks by dolphins. One source mentions that such rescues happen "surprisingly often", and cites three unreferenced incidents, ...
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4answers
2k views

Are some breeds of dog inherently dangerous, despite training?

On another SE site, this report was cited as evidence that some breeds of dogs are inherently more dangerous than others. I have some serious issues with that report (not least of which is that it is ...
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1answer
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Will cats eat their deceased owner, but dogs will starve to death instead?

A friend of mine is a former prosecutor for the Crown/State. He's observed that it was often harder to investigate whether a deceased person was murdered when they own cats because the cats will eat ...
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1answer
605 views

Do elephants never forget?

There is a ubiquitous belief that "elephants never forget". I know we aren't suggesting that elephants have unlimited memory, but have there ever been any scientific studies/case studies that suggest ...
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1answer
4k views

Do elephants like to get drunk?

While answering the question about elephants and mice, I was reminded of a clip I saw on The Big Bang Theory. The common lore is that they eat the fermenting fruit of the Marula Tree. But that makes ...
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2answers
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Do cats always come back home from anywhere?

It is said that no matter how far you take away a cat from home, it always come back from anywhere. Is that true? Obviously, this pre-supposes that: Home is some place that the cat lived in for a ...