Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

11 Common Myths About Animals (Debunked)

The world of animals is full of diversity and richness, displaying a wide range of adaptations, behaviors, and ecological functions. Because of our fascination with them, some people have made up some myths about animals, which have been passed down and believed by most people. 

In this article, we aim to debunk some of the common myths about various animals and give you some interesting about each of these species. 

11 Myths about animals

1. Bats are blind

California Leaf-nosed Bat
California Leaf-nosed Bat | image by Joshua Tree National Park via Flickr

Bats are fascinating creatures that have a unique ability to fly using their wings, which are formed from skin stretched over their finger bones. These flying mammals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and one of the most common misconceptions you’ve probably heard about bats is that they’re blind. Although some species of bats have weaker eyesight in comparison to other animals, it doesn’t imply that they’re entirely blind. 

They do, however, heavily rely on echolocation to navigate and find prey. Echolocation is a process in which bats emit high-pitched sounds that bounce off objects and return to the bat to help them create a mental map of their environment and find prey, even in total darkness. 

2. Toads and frogs will give you warts

American toad
American toad

Both frogs and toads are well-known amphibians that inhabit various types of environments worldwide. While frogs have smooth, moist skin and live in or near water, toads have drier, warty skin. You may have even heard that some people believe touching them will give you warts. 

The belief probably originates from the fact that some toads have rough skin with bumps that look like warts. In reality, warts are brought on by a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV), which can’t be contracted from frogs or toads. Because of this, it’s not possible to give yourself warts from a frog or a toad by touching them.

3. Bulls hate red

Bull on show
Bull on show | image by Arild Andersen via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

You may be familiar with the portrayal of bulls charging at red capes in movies, which may have led you to believe that bulls get angry when they see the color red. Bulls are adult male cattle, known for their strength and often used as symbols of power, and the myths about them are false, as cattle are colorblind to red. 

The rumor probably came from bullfighting, where a red cape is used to taunt the bull. However, the truth is that it’s the movement of the cape, not the color, that lures and provokes the bull to attack.

4. Bears will attack a human if they sense fear

Black bear sitting in grass
Black bear sitting in grass

Bears are among the large mammals found in North America, and it’s believed that they’ll attack a person if they feel threatened. In reality, bears usually try to avoid human contact and don’t attack them unless provoked. Despite having a keen sense of smell and the ability to locate food or other scents from great distances, bears can’t naturally recognize human fear. 

You may also like:  16 Fascinating Adaptations of Animals

Bears usually attack humans when they feel threatened, or cornered, or when they need to protect their young ones or food source. If a bear perceives a human as a threat, it may respond with aggression, regardless of whether the person is fearful or not.

5. Goldfish have a short memory span

Goldfish
Goldfish

If you own a small pet goldfish or have seen one of these adorable aquatic creatures, you may have assumed they have a 3-second memory, as some people have. You’ve probably heard that goldfish have a short memory span and can only remember things for a few seconds, but this is actually a misconception that has been widely spread. It has been discovered that goldfish have a longer memory span than what was previously believed.

Research has shown that goldfish have the ability to learn and remember information for several months, and sometimes even longer. In one experiment, goldfish were able to learn and navigate mazes, proving that they had adequate time to observe and memorize their surroundings and confirming that the 3-second memory is a myth.

6. All bees produce honey

Honey bee
Honey bee | Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

Bees are among the most popular flying insects and are well-known for their role in pollination and, in some species, honey production. You may have believed that all bees produce honey, but this isn’t true. Only certain species, like honey bees, are capable of producing honey in large amounts. 

Did you know there are more than 20,000 species of bees, and the majority of them are solitary creatures that neither reside in colonies nor produce honey? Although honey bees are important for agriculture and honey production, it’s worth noting that all bee species have significant roles in preserving ecosystems by pollinating.

7. Parent birds will abandon their young if humans have touched it

Bird’s nest on the tree
Bird’s nest on the tree

Birds are vertebrates that lay eggs and usually leave their young in nests in trees or on the ground while they go out to find food. This can cause some baby birds to fall out of their nests, where people can see them.

But some people might stay away from these little birds because they think that the parents will leave their young if people touch them. It likely stems from a well-intentioned effort to discourage people from interfering with wildlife, given that the belief that birds will abandon their young if a human has touched them is false.

Parent birds are hardwired to take care of their young, so they probably won’t leave them just because a person touched them. If the nest or the young bird is disturbed, the parent birds may flee temporarily but will usually return once the perceived threat has passed. 

8. Mice love cheese

Mice eating
Mice eating Monika Baechler from Pixabay

The Mice are tiny mammals that can be found in various habitats worldwide and due to their adaptability and high reproductive rates, these animals are known to enter human houses in search of food. Although it’s a popular belief that mice love cheese, this is more likely to have originated from cartoons and other forms of popular culture, where mice are often shown nibbling on cheese. This myth that mice love cheese isn’t entirely true.

You may also like:  12 Examples of Structural Adaptations In Animals

Mice are capable of consuming a diverse range of food items. Although cheese is something they would eat if it were there, it’s not their top food choice.

Mice are usually drawn to foods with high levels of sugar, protein, or fat, like grains, seeds, and fruits. In the wild, dairy products such as cheese aren’t usually a part of their natural diet.

9. Wasps are more dangerous than bees

Great black wasp
A great black wasp | image by Joseph Gage via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Wasps are a close relative of bees, which can also be found all over the world. As insects that are frequently seen living in close proximity to humans, it’s natural for them to be perceived by humans as a threat. These insects may, however, be compared to bees by some people, who may even believe that they’re more harmful. 

This belief may stem from the fact that some wasp species are more aggressive than bees and can sting multiple times, whereas honey bees can only sting once before dying due to their barbed stingers. The myth that wasps are inherently more dangerous than bees isn’t entirely correct.

The majority of them aren’t even aggressive towards humans unless provoked, and their aggressive behavior is usually associated with wasp species like yellowjackets and hornets, which are more likely to defend their nests vigorously. 

10. Porcupines can shoot their quills

Porcupine spreading its quills
Porcupine spreading its quills | Image by Tom from Pixabay

The Porcupines are rodents that are typically active at night and have sharp quills that they use to protect themselves from predators. Some individuals may be hesitant to approach porcupines because they believe that the animals can shoot or throw their quills. However, this is a misconception, as porcupines can’t do so. 

Porcupines aren’t able to shoot their quills, but these animals can release them automatically when they’re touched or when a predator comes into contact with them. Quills are actually modified hairs that have barbed tips, which makes them quite challenging to remove once the quills get stuck in an attacker’s skin.

11. Chameleons change colors to camouflage

A chameleon color changing
Chameleon color changing | Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

The Chameleons are a unique group of lizards known for their ability to change colors. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t change colors only for purposes of camouflage. Instead, color change serves as a means of communication and regulation of body temperature. 

Chameleons adjust their colors to convey emotions, dominance, and readiness to mate. While camouflage can be a secondary benefit of color change, the primary purposes are social interaction and thermoregulation within their environment.