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13 Animal facts you didn't know

The world is full of wonderful things, and the animal kingdom is no exception. Certain animals have special qualities that help them survive and thrive in their corner of the natural world. This slideshow will provide you with surprising facts (that you probably didn't know) about some of the animals that share our planet.

Penguins

Penguins come in all shapes and sizes and this determines their ability to hold their breath. Small penguins can last between two to three minutes without taking a breath, while larger species, such as Emperor penguins, can hold out for as much as 20 minutes.

Related: How 'd penguins survive in freezing climates?

Cats

Each animal has its own way of conserving energy. Cats, for example, choose to take naps. However, we are not talking about the average “siesta” that a human being may take. The recommended average of six to eight hours is not enough for our feline friends. On average, a cat sleeps for 16 hours a day and some even sleep for up to 20 hours.

Related: How to wash your cat

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers have eyes where you would expect to find them – on their heads. The ears of certain species, however, are located below the knees of their front legs. This unusual position helps these varieties communicate with fellow grasshoppers and listen to the environment in which they find themselves.

Related: Facts about grasshoppers

Bats

Many animals have the ability to fly. However, it is only bats that can do so within the biological class of mammals. Unlike birds and some insects, bats do not have feathers. Their wings are made up of a fine membrane attached to the limbs of their bodies, allowing easy and quick manoeuvring.

Related: Building a bat house

Dogs

A dog’s life is like watching an old black and white film. This is because, unlike humans or other species, they do not see in colour. Dogs view the world around them in black and white.

Related: Foods that are dangerous for dogs

Owls

An owl’s ability to turn its head 360 degrees allows it to be aware of what is happening all around it. Owls also have very long-range eyesight. Both these abilities not only protect owls from potential predators but also make them into skilled hunters.

Related: Indian owl legends

Hummingbirds

In the animal kingdom, the classification of birds is vast and diverse. There are approximately 10,000 identified species. The hummingbird belongs to this group and is characterised as being the smallest bird. It is also the only bird that can fly backwards.

Related: How to make a wine bottle hummingbird feeder

Dolphins

The dolphin is known as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. Coupled with its ability to learn is the amazing fact that it keeps half its brain awake while it sleeps. This allows it to regularly take in oxygen. The whole of the brain is rested because the dolphin cleverly interchanges between both sides during sleep.

Related: How to swim with dolphins in England

Hippopotamus

Historically, the lion has been seen as the most dangerous animal by human beings because of its ability to convert us into prey. However, despite the lion’s undoubted hunting ability, the hippopotamus is statistically the most dangerous animal for humans. It has registered more human deaths than the lion, snake and crocodile.

Related: Facts on the hippo

Blue whales

The animal kingdom possesses many large animals. The biggest of them all is the blue whale. Adult blue whales measure approximately 30 metres long, the equivalent of three buses side by side. Their hearts are also the size of a small car.

Related: Whale migration routes

Ostrich

The ostrich is considered the largest and heaviest of the biological group classed as birds. It has wings but cannot fly. However, it can run faster than any other two-legged animal. For short periods of time, the ostrich can reach speeds of 72 kilometres an hour, which in some countries is above the maximum speed limit for vehicles.

Related: How to start an ostrich farm

Bees

Bees are constantly on the hunt for pollen to take back to the honeycomb. When a bee finds an important source of pollen, they use dance as a way to communicate the news of their discovery. Their fellow bees then fly to the site to help take the pollen back to the honeycomb.

Related: Essential guide for beekeeping

Cheetah

The cheetah is the fastest of all the animals in the world. It can reach speeds of between 112 and 120 kilometres an hour and has the ability to accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in just three seconds. It uses its speed to hunt other animals within its environment.

Related: How cheetahs communicate

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About the Author

Raquel Villarreal is a culture writer based out of Los Angeles, active in the field since 2008. Her work has been published in the print or online editions of "Time Out New York,” “Texas Monthly,” “Austin Monthly,” as well as in the student newspaper “The Daily Texan.” She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.