The dumbest myths you heard about animals

Just dumb things that you heard people say about certain creatures, some I heard in real life for me are;

‘‘gecko salvia if comes into contact with the scalp will make you bald.’’

‘‘Pigeon’s (specifically Columba livia domestica) carry the most diseases known to mankind’’

‘‘Goldfish have a 3 second memory’’.

The list goes on, what are some interesting ones you’ve heard? Other than the typical ‘‘black cats are bad luck’’ ones.

Would love to know.

3 Likes

I think that people tend to believe anything when it comes to subjects they don’t know much about, best thing we can do is try to educate people.
I’ve heard plenty, but most of them are the classic fear-mongering comments made due to ignorance, such as ‘snakes will chase you down’, that their tongues can sting, they can roll in a hoop down hills, they can be trapped/attracted by fresh milk, they are scared off by lizards. I’ve never seen any evidence that snake repellers work either. Also livestock/ a pet’s death will often be blamed on snakebite if they don’t know what caused it.
Turtles are often shot unnecessarily for eating marron here as well.
One myth that has really become popular is that shooting kangaroos is wrong and cruel, which is not true at all.

4 Likes

I think that people tend to believe anything when it comes to subjects they don’t know much about, best thing we can do is try to educate people.

That is true, educating people is the best thing to do.

One myth that has really become popular is that shooting kangaroos is wrong and cruel, which is not true at all.

Can you further explain? Is it a norm in australia to shoot 'roos?

  1. Sharks don’t deliberately target swimmers. Yeah, I’ve seen the arguments that say they don’t, but I’ve also seen pictures of fatal shark attack victim’s bodies. Quint, Martin Brody and Matt Hooper were right all along.

  2. Poisonous snakes don’t climb trees. They most certainly can and do.

  3. Horses have a low intelligence - Worked with many of them. Some do but most are pretty clever.

5 Likes

The last two are interesting, horses are really smart animals, and they are known for their ‘‘6th sense’’, I can’t see how people see them as dumb. Also snakes, imagine running away from a snake and then climbing a tree, to suddenly find out it could easily climb one. :laughing:

1 Like

Decades ago, I’ve met folks who strongly believed that adders/vipers/snakes can suckle a cow’s milk. (Here’s a neat scientific paper on the subject (PDF).)

Incidentally, in the same area there’s an enduring rumor that “ecologists” deliberately breed then release adders/vipers in the wild, dropping them in crates from helicopters.

Pre-internet conspiracy theory, Countryside Edition.

4 Likes

The good old days :rofl:

1 Like

Yes, they’re a reliable and sustainable source of food, and in some areas they have massive detrimental impacts on the environment because of farmland. Because they breed according to the amount of food available, farmland next to National Parks provides an environment that they can breed extremely rapidly. this translates to them negatively impacting low groundcover plants, orchids and sensitive bush areas, and spreading diseases such as dieback. A lot of farmers shoot them because of this, particularly in reveg areas.

I’m sure you mean venomous :wink:

I’ve heard this one too!

1 Like

The one that’s locally celebrated with festivals right now here in Southern Appalachia is that woolly worms can predict the severity of winter.


The more black they have, the longer, colder and snowier the upcoming winter season will be. I once raised a bunch from eggs and saw a lot of variation. So how do you pick the one for the forecast? Race them! The one that can crawl to the top of a string the fastest is the winner and gets to predict your winter weather.

And then of course everybody knows that groundhogs are quite adept at prognosticating the end of the winter season based on whether they see their shadow on a day in early February or not. Here’s my local meteorologist moving in under my garden shed for the winter. If I see him in February, I’ll ask him for his opinion. However, the ones I’ve had in the past had a habit of sleeping right through Groundhog Day and didn’t come out of their burrow until March.

14 Likes

I have a stitch from laughing, especially from the image of seeing an image in my head of people stooped over wolly worms racing and cheering them on.

2 Likes

Oh, you can check out the picture gallery on the festival site for actual imagery. This is some serious business! :smile:

3 Likes

Is there somewhere I can apply for my free adder drop? I still need to tick that box for local reptiles!

On a more serious note, thank you for the article! I didn’t know that journal, it looks fascinating.

5 Likes

Yes, I hear this about rattlesnakes all the time.

Also that the state wildlife agency is releasing panthers and/or conspiracies that they are covering up panther sightings (in the northeast US where panthers no longer occur).

I think some people think the word “animal” refers solely to mammals. Like I’ve known people to be surprised to learn birds or insects are types of animals.

Also, basic myths like harvestmen “granddaddy longlegs” are the most venomous spider but their mouths are just too small to bite you. (neither a spider nor venomous).

5 Likes

The idea that porcupines are capable of throwing their spines is a persistent myth here in Canada. The origin of this myth baffles me.

My favorite myth though is that cow dung (or any other type of animal dung) is good for hair growth. I’m sure this myth is spread by people hoping to see their friend actually smear poop on their head. I may have contributed to this myth.

9 Likes

That there is such a spider as the white widow, with more potent venom than the black widow.

And just the fact that, range map be damned, people in every part of every state “know” that they have brown recluses there.

4 Likes

Oh yes. We have that here too. Evidence be damned.

1 Like

Whitetail bites cause necrotic ulcers.

Despite being widely debunked https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2017/04/the-truth-about-white-tail-spiders/ media loves to run with it, and it seems still its a fave scapegoat for cases of necroticism.

Its not to say they can’t bite, I have rolled on one, and got a nip, which I held for a while just in case. But out of many hundreds of proven cases of whitetail bites, none seem to match the medical outcomes blamed on them when there wasnt evidence of it being them.

Also anything about daddy longlegs.

6 Likes

The spider threat seems to be overhyped, I blame the fly lobby.

I’m amazed by how many people seem to think that the majority of European spiders have medically significant or even lethal bites.

Another unrelated myth that irks me is when different species get somehow mistaken for different genders of a same species (for instance toads as male frogs, rats as male mice). Languages with gendered nouns might not help for that, but I’ve heard those kinds of things even from well-educated people.

4 Likes

Thanks for that, I had assumed it was true- someone I know claims they still have a large scar from an old bite. Spiders in general seem to be a lot less venomous than people think. Sounds like we need to take anything ‘laymen’ say with a pinch of salt :smile:

3 Likes

Myself and some friends debunked a few myths for Bay Nature magazine a few years ago:

And this is one of the more epic takedowns of the brown recluses in California myth.

I think the way I’ve usually heard this explained is that sharks generally do not consider human swimmers to be prey, and my understanding is that this is basically true. They’ll attack humans that look like their prey items (eg the silhouette of a surfer looks like a seal). And some shark “attacks” are considered to be the shark using its mouth to investigate. Which, of course, can be devastating depending on the shark’s size.

Humans are relatively terrible swimmers and there are millions of us in the water every day. If sharks truly considered us to be prey, there’d be far more shark attacks than the handful that are documented each year.

11 Likes