Thirty Weird and Amazing Facts about African Animals

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By Darcy Logan

Do you know which vegetarian kills more people in Africa than lions? How about which antelope can sleep underwater or why some people believe that the Loch Ness Monster might be an elephant? You can find the answer below as well as some other amazing facts that you might not have known about elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions, cheetahs, chimpanzees, giraffes, hyenas, anteaters, camels, antelope, and more.

30 Wild and Amazing Facts about African Animals

Most African animals travel in groups, but not all groups are called the same thing. For example, a group of elephants can be called a parade while a group of giraffe can be called a tower. A group of gorillas is called a band. A group of hippos can be called a bloat. A group of hyenas is called a cackle. A group of tigers is called an ambush or a streak. A group of rhinos is called a crash. A group of zebras is called a crossing.

  1. The sitatunga, a species of African antelope, is capable of sleeping underwater.
  2. Elephants can spend up to twenty-three hours a day eating.
  3. Although an elephant has four knees, it is the only mammal that cannot jump.
  4. An elephant pregnancy can last two years, although the average is “only” twenty-two months. This is longer than any other animal.
  5. An elephant does not only have a very long nose, it has a very powerful sense of smell. They are capable of smelling water that is three miles away.
  6. The first bomb dropped during World War II by the Allies on to Berlin, Germany, killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
  7. One tooth of an elephant can weigh as much as nine pounds. Their tusks can weigh more than two hundred pounds.
  8. Elephants are good swimmers and have been found swimming in the Indian Ocean miles from shore. Some have even suggested that the infamous picture of the Loch Ness monster in silhouette is a picture of a swimming elephant.
  9. A hippopotamus is born underwater, one of the few mammals that give birth underwater. Hippos are too heavy to float, however. They typically move through the water by walking along the bottom of the river.
  10. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the plural of hippopotamus can be spelled “Hippopotamuses” or “hippopotami.”
  11. Hippos are the most dangerous mammal in Africa. They kill more people each year than any other animal in Africa. Hippos are so fierce that they have been known to kill lions and are powerful enough to bite a crocodile in half.
  12. The lips of a hippo are about two feet wide and cover a mouth that is capable of opening over four feet wide.
  13. Although it does not look it, a hippopotamus is capable of running faster than a human runs and have been clocked at speeds of thirty miles per hour.
  14. The African black rhinoceros is capable of producing its weight in dung in only two days.
  15. The horn on a rhino is made from compacted hair, not bone and is the only horn that lacks a boney substructure.
  16. Anteaters actually prefer eating termites, not ants.
  17. The roar of a lion is so loud that it can be heard five miles away. They roar to warn off intruders or locate members of their pride.
  18. Catnip has been known to affect lions and tigers the same way it affects domestic cats. It is believed that catnip contains a chemical similar to one found in cat urine.
  19. The Chinese once used lions for hunting. The cats were trained to pursue and kill animals such as bulls and bears. Once killed, they would stay with the carcass until the hunter arrived.
  20. Cheetahs do not roar. Instead, they make a chirping noise, similar to a dog’s yelp. This sound is so intense that it can be heard a mile away. They are also the only species of cat that is capable of retracting its claws.
  21. Zebras are white with black stripes, and no two zebras have identical striping. This coloring is a good thing, since they are incapable of seeing the color orange.
  22. A giraffe’s tongue averages about twenty-one inches long, making it able to use it to clean out its ear.
  23. A giraffe is not only the tallest animal on Earth, it also has the highest blood pressure. Baby giraffes are about six feet high at birth.
  24. Chimpanzees can learn to recognize themselves in the mirror. Monkeys cannot learn this skill.
  25. Camels have three eyelids, which protects them from blowing sand. They also produce milk that does not curdle.
  26. Ostriches are the world’s largest bird, with males weighing up to 350 pounds. However, they are probably not the world’s smartest considering that their eyes are bigger than their brains.
  27. Ostriches produce the world’s largest bird eggs. Ostrich eggs are typically between six to eight inches long and are so thick that you would have to cook it for over forty minutes before it would become hard-boiled.
  28. Many people mistakenly believe that an ostrich will stick its head in the sand when it is scared. Others believe that ostriches do this to look for water. However, an eighty-year study that included 200,000 ostriches did not observe one single case of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand or even attempting to do so.
  29. Ostriches cannot fly, but they are fast runners. They reach speeds of 45 mph and have the endurance to run at speeds of 30 mph for up to thirty minutes.

Now you know why you should be more afraid of hippos than lions. After all, not only is the hippo more deadly, you can always distract a lion with a little catnip. 

 

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