The big bad anaconda is more than a malt liquor or an Eric Stoltz picture. It is also the largest and heaviest known snake. And if you think that’s the end of my animal facts, oh boy, ya gotta ’nudder ‘ting comin’.

Remember lemmings, the suicidal rodents? Not true a tall. Disney, known primarily for its wartime propaganda, staged the whole tendency in White Wilderness to get some dramatic nature to bring back to their boss. A mass homicide tweaked using favourable camera angles to resemble a mass suicide. The survivors were too scared to speak up.

The hedgehog rolls into its life already ingrained in an inevitable dilemma. Often used as a metaphor for the challenges of human intimacy, no matter how bad they might want to, hedgehogs are unable to cuddle each other for warmth or affection because of their spikes. Never been hugged, never not once.

As far as existential questions go, only one animal has ever been observed asking one – Alex the parrot wanted only to know what colour he was, and he wasn’t happy with the answer. A muted grey. Better luck next life, Al.

In certain parts of rural Argentina, inhabited by wandering Germans, you can still listen to songs on a Katzenklavier, a 16th century piano-type contraption played by a trained bear who yanks the tails of cats in order to create subpar music.

Ants always seemed to be the hardest working of them all, and organized, and a socialist’s pinnacle. A few of them are, sure, but about half of them just hang around, doing nothing, like you and me but mostly me. La cigale et la fourmi, par Jean de La Fontaine didn’t have it quote right. Either way, lazy or not, the ants need to take it all in to avoid what’s next.

There is a beetle that can infiltrate ant colonies by mimicking the sounds of the queen. They can then move around the colony at will, preying on the insects when they get hungry, all the while being treated like royalty by the others.

Further along on the parasite train, there’s one that lives and breeds best inside the guts of a cat. Their babies get excreted through the cat’s bottom and end up getting eaten by a rat. Then they affect the rat’s behaviour to make them less scared of cats, even sexually aroused by them, with the ultimate aim of returning to the cat guts from whence they came.

The wasp displays a vengeful fortitude as it lay dying, releasing an alarm pheromone, a 999-style chemical signal that incites up to 10,000 other wasps from its nest to come buzzing to the rescue. And they are well armed.

Hares are overconfident by nature and fable, but they’re also the only ones who can get pregnant and then conceive a second litter all the while in the phenomenon of superfetation.

Whale stress levels plummeted sharply right after the 9/11 attacks. Shipping traffic halted to give the men up top some time to figure out what they hell they were supposed to do next, the oceans quieted down and made it easier for the large mammals to communicate with each other. The 52-hertz whale remained in solitude and adequately stressed.

The bees observe a moment of silence during a full eclipse. Their buzzing ceases right at totality, the only ones aware enough to keep their traps shut during the majestic time.

Even dead, animals can do amazing things, like banding together, not in a rat king scenario, but in the more sophisticated rôti sans pareil. The delicious feast is made up of a warbler, stuffed inside a bunting, inside a lark, inside a thrush, inside a quail, in a lapwing, in a plover, in a partridge, in a woodcock, in a teal, in a guinea fowl, in a duck, in a chicken, in a pheasant, in a goose, in a turkey, in a bustard. As of press time, the emu is considered safe from this sadistic dish, but for how long…

[Editor’s note: You beat out Neil Gaiman and Tracy Morgan for this birthday message because the of how a re-watch of Black Dynamite led to one of the longest and hardest laughs of anyone’s life.]

November 10 – Michael Jai White gets more animal facts than he can handle
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