ZOO-ology column: A to Z Animal Facts
By Judie Farnsworth
Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.
Updated Aug. 20, 2012 at 3:20 a.m.
Aardvarks can eat 50,000 termites in one sitting.
Bumblebee bats of Thailand are the smallest mammals weighing less than a penny and are about one half inch long - full grown.
Cheetahs are animal land-speed champions reaching top speeds of 60 mph in just three seconds. High speed sprints last only about 900 feet because of the tremendous energy used by the leg muscles.
Dragonflies live about 24 hours.
Elephant's trunks contain around 100,000 muscles and may lift 600 pounds.
Froghoppers (spittle bug) are champion insect jumpers. Only 0.2 inches long, they can launch up to 28 inches into the air.
Goldfish are the only animals that can see infrared and ultraviolet light.
Hummingbirds are the only birds that fly forward and backward.
Iguanas have excellent vision. They can communicate visually with other iguanas using a series of rapid eye movements.
Jaguars, unlike most big cats, love the water. They're excellent swimmers and may bathe and hunt for fish in the water.
Koalas get water from their main food - eucalyptus leaves. Some say koalas smell like a cough drop because of their diet.
Lobsters can live to be 100 years old or older. There are records of full-grown lobsters measuring 3 feet and weighing more than 40 pounds.
Mosquitoes can smell our exhaled carbon dioxide from up to 70 feet away. I've read beer drinkers attract more mosquitoes, but also that mosquitos are drawn to smelly feet.
Narwhals (whale) are the unicorns of the sea. They have two teeth, but In males, the major tooth grows through the upper lip to become a sword-like tusk - sometimes up to 8 feet long.
The Giant Pacific Octopus is generally thought to be the world's largest octopus. Males can have an arm span up to 25 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds.
Peregrine Falcons are the animal kingdom's fastest fliers. They stoop (dive) at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Quetzals (rainforest birds) are widely considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Males often have 3-foot-long tails.
Rhinoceros beetles are, for their size, considered the world's strongest creature. They can carry up to 850 times their body weight. A human with similar relative strength would be able to lift 65 tons.
Sailfish are the world's fastest fish. They may reach speeds of 68 miles an hour in short bursts.
Tasmanian Devils are said to be mini-vacuum cleaners. Nothing remains after a meal. Meat, bone, even fleas, they eat it all.
Red sea urchins are one of the longest living creatures. Some have lived more than 200 years.
Uakaris (wah-car-ee) short tailed tropical monkeys have bright crimson faces. When sick, uakaris becomes more pale-faced and will not be a mate choice.
Vampire bats are the only mammals that feed entirely on blood. They land near their prey and approach it on all fours.
Blue Whales are the largest mammals in the world. They may weigh up to 200 tons.
X-ray tetras, popular aquarium fish, have great hearing. Sound waves are transmitted partially through their vertebrae to an inner ear.
Yaks. They're intelligent, personable and make great "watch-yaks" because of their curiosity. Domesticated yaks will come when called.
Zebras have distinctive stripes - like human fingerprints.
Amazing Animal Facts by Jaqui Bailey
National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals Karen McGhee and George Mc Kay Ph.D.
Judie Farnsworth is a longtime volunteer at the Texas Zoo specializing in educational programs.