16 Untrue Myths About Animals

We've all heard these things about animal behaviors - and we've all believed them. In fact, many of these animal myths have been around for so long, some people get angry when you debunk them. However, these oft-repeated "facts" have only anecdotal evidence to back them up, not scientific data. These are a select few myths about animals - 16, to be exact - that many still believe, but which science tells us are just not true.

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  • Baby Birds Will Be Rejected By Their Mothers If Handled By People

    Baby Birds Will Be Rejected By Their Mothers If Handled By People
    Photo: Max Forgues / Shutterstock

    The myth: Baby birds will be rejected by their moms if they come into contact with humans.

    The truth: While it may be for the best to leave baby birds alone, the enduring notion of the birds' subsequent rejection simply isn't true. This myth is rooted in the misconception that mother birds won't recognize their babies' scent after they've been picked up by humans, but in reality birds have a poor sense of smell and don't notice the difference. Baby birds are often found alone because they're learning to fly. In part, the myth may have been a result of well-meaning adults who didn't want children picking up baby birds and potentially injuring them.

  • Wedding Rice Kills Birds

    Wedding Rice Kills Birds
    Photo: Czino / Shutterstock

    The myth: When birds eat wedding rice, their bellies explode.

    The truth: Who knows where this misconception came from, but it's definitely not true. Wedding rice typically is dehydrated rice, as opposed to wild grains. Despite being a tradition that spans back to ancient Egypt, modern-day wedding planners have opted to use bubbles instead of rice for fear it's killing the poor little church birdies when it expands in their stomachs. But the truth is the rice doesn't expand enough to hurt the birds even a little bit. A 2002 research study done at the University of Kentucky showed regular bird seed expands in a stomach more than the rice does. So, in reality, wedding rice doesn't even constitute a full meal for church birds.

  • Bats Are Blind

    Bats Are Blind
    Photo: Jeffrey Paul Wade / Shutterstock

    The myth: Bats are completely blind.

    The truth: All bats can see to some extent - that's why they have eyes. Bats can actually see very well, because they use both their eyesight and their "sonar" sight. Most bats employ echolocation (which is like a kind of sonar), allowing them to "see" in greater detail than any human ever could. How else do you think these little guys can locate the tiniest flying gnat in near-darkness?

  • Pit Bulls Are A Dangerous And Harmful Dog Breed

    Pit Bulls Are A Dangerous And Harmful Dog Breed
    Photo: dezy / Shutterstock

    The myth: Pit bulls are vicious killer dogs. 

    The truth: Any dog is capable of attacking a human, and while the pit bull is no exception, the breed itself isn't more violent because of its DNA. It's easy to pick on this dog because it's commonly bred to fight, but many breeds of dog were trained to kill things and they don't get banned from parks or buildings because of it. German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and chows are all bred from a line of "aggressors." Pit bulls are only aggressive when they've been trained to be that way.

  • Toads Give You Warts

    Toads Give You Warts
    Photo: Camerauthor / Shutterstock

    The myth: Toads give you warts.

    The truth: This myth probably came into existence when mothers wanted a way to have their children stop picking up animals outside for fear they might carry disease. The lumpy toad - or any toad, for that matter - won't give you warts. These lumps help toads live in dry climates, unlike most frogs, which require moisture. This trait also helps toads blend into their environment with textures made possible by the wart-like protrusions. Those bumps may be a unique physical characteristic, but they can't be transferred to humans.

  • Daddy Longlegs Are The Most Poisonous Spiders

    Daddy Longlegs Are The Most Poisonous Spiders
    Photo: Regreto / Shutterstock

    The myth: Daddy longlegs are poisonous.

    The truth: There's probably a lot you don't know about this spider. For one thing, the spider you think is a daddy longlegs might actually be something else. There is a daddy longlegs spider, but in England the creature with this name isn't a spider at all. The long-legged cellar spider is an example of a daddy longlegs and is probably the reference point for this myth.

    The thing is, there's no record of a pholcid spider ever biting a human and causing any kind of reaction. If they were really poisonous, the only way we would know is if we had milked them and injected the venom into humans. This has not been done. And there are no toxicology studies of any kind showing the effects of pholocid venom on any mammal.