Questions tagged [ethology]

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

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9
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0answers
295 views

Do dogs who play with laser pointers get neuroses?

There are many anecdotes about "laser pointer syndrome" claiming that dogs suffer from something like OCD as a result of playing with laser pointers. Some vet clinics that propagate this ...
7
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1answer
681 views

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 ...
8
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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
259 views

Did a rabbit bite Justice David Souter?

In a panel discussion titled HLS in the World | A Conversation with Six Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court [partially transcribed at Harvard At 200: Justices Look Back On Their Law School Days — And ...
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1answer
1k views

Do wombats share their burrows during fires?

In the wake of the devastating bushfires currently burning in Australia, an image has been widely shared on social media: Here is one example from Twitter, retweeted 11K times: While I have an ...
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4answers
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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
1k views

Do European deer still stick to their sides of the Iron Curtain?

I found such a claim in an article here: http://nowiknow.com/the-thin-red-deer-line/ But that was a long time ago, especially if you’re a deer — they only live about ten or so years in the wild. ...
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2answers
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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 ...
10
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1answer
812 views

Do dolphins intentionally intoxicate themselves with puffer-fish venom?

Since late 2013, outlets as serious as Smithsonian Magazine have circulated the claim that dolphins intentionally get "high" by harassing pufferfish. It is further claimed that this is a ...
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Do crows like to get dizzy? [closed]

In a lecture on the "Meaning Crisis", John Vervaeke, an assistant professor of cognitive science at the University of Toronto, and a colleague of Jordan B. Peterson, states: Caledonian crows will ...
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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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Insects as food: Is it feasible for humans to replace traditional “livestock” meat with insects?

I have heard of some benefits of insects as food, but are there any drawbacks? I've never heard of a human culture whose primary protein intake came exclusively from insects. Would someone ...
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2answers
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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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1answer
697 views

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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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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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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Will a mother bird abandon her young if touched by a human?

Welcome to installment #2 of my "the science of animals falling" series of questions.... I've heard it said many times since childhood that if you are to find a baby bird on the ground which appears ...
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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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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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2answers
4k views

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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5answers
4k views

Are humans the only species that hunts down competitors, denies and destroys food for others?

In the book Ishmael, there's a passage that claims "Takers" (i.e. modern man) are the only thing in nature that hunt down competitors, destroy or otherwise deny someone else food. Are there strong ...
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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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4answers
8k views

Is eating cloven-hoofed animals, bottom-feeders or ruminants bad for you?

The Torah and Talmud claim (and I have Christian friends that also claim) that eating animals that are bottom-feeders or ruminants—That is, eat the crud off the sea-floor, like shrimp, or digest ...
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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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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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1answer
4k views

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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1answer
15k views

Are humans the only species to have homophobes?

Here's a quote that's being passed around: Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is only found in one. Which one seems unnatural now? With all the good intentions behind what's ...
12
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1answer
1k 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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1answer
15k views

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
296k views

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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0answers
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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 ...
26
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1answer
59k views

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. ...
25
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3answers
126k views

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 ...
18
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1answer
8k views

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 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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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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0answers
737 views

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
3k 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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1answer
174 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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2answers
671 views

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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2answers
4k views

Do dogs know when their owner is coming home through some form of telepathic link?

My friend cited a study by Rupert Sheldrake which ran an experiment over several years that video taped dogs, showing that dogs knew when their owner was coming home due to some psychic link. He ...
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1answer
27k views

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 ...