“Fun fact of the day: Cats aren’t the only animals that can purr. Squirrels, gorillas, guinea pigs, lemurs, bears, badgers, mongoose, and tapirs can all purr. How cool is that?”
“Fun fact of the evening: Baby pigeons are called squabs.”
“Fun fact of the afternoon: Rabbits pluck fur out of their chest (the dewlap, more specifically) to build a nest for their babies. The kits are born blind & find their way to the nest because the dewlap fur is covered in pheromones.”
All of these are instant messages I’ve sent to my brother over the past semester. It’s like some kind of reflex—every time I hear something really interesting about animals, I HAVE to tell someone. I think it’s because I want to share the sense of awe and excitement from learning something fascinating.
Our zoo medicine class has been a particular treasure trove of new facts to share with my brother. Our lectures have covered everything from hermit crabs, tarantulas, and tree frogs to snakes, dolphins, and orangutans. We had a whole test devoted just to birds, with lectures broken down to cover basics like anatomy, radiology, anesthesia and surgery, wellness care and emergency medicine. Then we had lectures that talked about husbandry concerns and diseases specific to raptors, waterfowl, poultry, songbirds, and pigeons.
I wish we had more lectures on fish and reptiles, broken down by groups the way the birds were, because not only are they very popular as pets, but they’re an important part of zoos and aquaria. Plus, the anatomical differences between species of fish and reptiles are immense—which suggests that the husbandry and veterinary medicine must vary accordingly.