Friday, June 4, 2010

Why Dogs Eat Poop & Other Useless or Gross Information About the Animal Kingdom, by Francesca Gould and David Haviland

The title kind of says it all, right?

Want more? There's a blurb on the front cover that says: "Every disgusting fact about animals you ever wanted to know--from monkey-face lamb disease to exploding toads!"

Heck, exploding toads? I'm there. Even though it was published for the adult market, Why Dogs Eat Poop is EXACTLY the sort of book that my fifth-grade self would have loved. And my sixth-grade self. And, really, every version of me -- because ever since I received it in the mail, I've been wandering around, asking people things like:

  • Do you know how squirrels use their tails to outsmart rattlesnakes?

  • Did you know that snapping turtles have assisted in police investigations?

  • Do you know what "penis fencing" is?

Gould & Haviland cover lots of ground, from super-smart animals to not-so-bright-but-ultra-strong animals, to the bizarre sex lives found in the animal world to some utterly disgusting facts about vomit. (I say utterly disgusting, but what was the first chapter I turned to? You got it.) Occasionally, the writing feels a little choppy and repetitive, but the subject matter carries it, and it's not a book that many people will sit down and read cover to cover. It's more of a book for waiting rooms or bathrooms or long car rides. Or, like I said, my fifth-grade self.

Oh, you actually want to know the answers?

The squirrel will fill his tail up with blood, which makes the rattlesnake's infrared sensors see it as much bigger than it actually is -- and so, more often than not, it moves on, looking for other, small and "less dangerous" prey.

Since it's their favorite meal, snappers have an impressive talent for sniffing out rotting flesh underwater. So police investigators have tie line to them and the turtles lead them right to hidden bodies. (Though I wouldn't want to be the one to do the tying -- even the common snapping turtle, which is far smaller than the alligator snapping turtle, has jaws strong enough to easily bite off a few adult human fingers.)

Penis fencing happens in the worm world. Most worms are hermaphrodites, and there's a certain species of flatworm that, when it comes time to mate, use their penises to... well, you get the idea. The "winner" is the one who impregnates the other worm.


Liviania said...

Okay, this sounds like it would be fun. (The squirrell thing is really cool.)

tanita✿davis said...

Awesomely disgusting! Disgustingly awesome! A definite riveting read.

Leila said...

Books like this make me so happy, happy, happy!

Sarah Stevenson said...

Honestly, who could resist? I'm a sucker for the random factoids.

Leila said...

Same here. Love the little facts!

Katherine Langrish said...

Excellent. (Now when is my nephew's birthday?)

Anonymous said... to read.
Thank's for sharing with us


Adi S Chudlori
Wire Fencing