April 4th is celebrated as World Rat Day. This day was chosen in honour of the date of incorporation of the Ratlist, a mailing list that’s dedicated to the care and upkeep of pet rats.
A rat’s whiskers are its “hearing” devices. The whiskers pick up vibrations from the ground and inform the rat the size of the object/creature coming towards it and the direction it is coming from.
Rats have been observed making a high-pitched laughing noise when they play.
A rat’s teeth never stop growing. They can grow up to 5 inches per year. These teeth are so strong, they can gnaw through lead and aluminum sheeting!
Rats have really good memories and can recognize faces & places. Their superb memory is one of the reasons why they don’t get lost in mazes and drain pipes.
In countries like Cambodia, Angola and Zimbabwe, Giant African rats are trained to detect landmines. In fact, these rats have saved countless lives through their super-rat landmine-detecting abilities.
To qualify as a landmine-detector, the rats have to undergo a gruelling 6-9 months training and must pass an accreditation test. Read all about this interesting processhere. You can also meet some of these heroes at Apopo.
Armadillos swallow large quantities of air to inflate themselves into a balloon-like shape and float across water bodies.
The three-banded armadillo is the only one of its species that can form into a complete ball. Its shell is so hard that even dogs can’t break it.
When startled, armadillos jump 3-4 feet vertically into the air. This is the biggest cause of fatal accidents between cars and armadillos.
The nine-banded armadillo becomes mother to 4 genetically-identical quadruplets each time it gives birth. Why? It produces a single egg that divides into 4 equal and completely identical parts.
Armadillos are the only animals other than humans which can contract leprosy.
Armadillos are a delicacy in the United States. In fact, there’s a special dish called the Hoover Hog which locals in the southern United States make, using roadkill armadillo, fresh veggies and spices.
However, I strongly discourage you to try this dish, as it is one of the causes of leprosy transmission between armadillos and humans.