More than pet advice: 10 amazing animal myths

More than pet advice on healthcare and treatment, vets and vet nurses are always true animal lovers. No truer is that statement than when its applied to our vet nurse Hayley. Hayley loves a great animal myth and a bit of pet advice. She’s also great with working with kids when they are nervous about their pet’s treatment at our Wahroonga vet clinic.

For example, you might here Hayley ask a worried child “Ever wondered if camels store water in their humps or if our canine friends can see in colour?” or “What’s an animal fact you think might stump me?”

Today, in vet nurse Hayley’s maiden blog for Fox Valley Animal Hospital, she puts that big animal loving brain to its best use with some amazing animal myths and pet advice.

Would you like the memory of an elephant? Photo source: Discovery - pet advice and animal myths from vet nurse hayley

Would you like the memory of an elephant? Photo source: Discovery

Vet Nurse Hayley takes you through her list of 10 animal myths that will have you questioning the wonderful world of nature. Enjoy!

The old saying “an elephant never forgets” may be a little truer than we think.

Elephants are the largest land animals and live in very structured social herds, being led by a matriarch. She will retain a mental map of their entire home range and lead her herd to food and safety.

Elephants will not forget a face be it another elephant they met in passing 23 years earlier, or a human.

In terms of smart they are up there with animals such as apes and dolphins.

So next time someone says you have a memory like an elephant take it as a compliment!


Despite the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, you actually can.

Some may find it more difficult and challenging and you may need more training, but it is still possible – young or old. Some components of ageing may slow learning but continuing to learn new things will keep the mind sharp and greatly increase the quality of life.

Bonus pet advice: As our dogs age, mental stimulation may be the key to a happy pet as the physical aspects slow down.


A bee can only sting you once before it dies, right?

We have probably all at one point been stung by a bee and took great satisfaction knowing that the little critter was on a suicide mission. Well, think again: not all bees die after they sting you.

Honey bees indeed die, but other types of bees and wasps go on to fight another day or come back for more! Ouch.


What secrets lie within the camel’s hump?

It was long thought by scientists that the camel’s hump was a reservoir for water storage. However we now know the hump is made up of fat. This allows a camel to go an extremely long time without food; up to 2 weeks relying on its fat reserves.

The hump will become limp and drop down, but with proper food and rest it will restore to its usual shape. It can weigh as much as 35kg! Talk about getting the hump carrying that around.


Some friendly pet advice- don’t pick on your pig for not being clean

Nothing looks messier than a pig wallowing around in mud, but are pigs really dirty animals as they would lead us to believe?

Not at all. The misconception of a pig in mud all comes down to the fact they cannot sweat like humans. The mud helps cool them down and offer some sun protection.

They will, if given adequate space, have separate areas to sleep, eat and go to the toilet.

So don’t be fooled – they are highly intelligent, with remarkable cognitive abilities and very curious animals with a similar IQ to a 3 year old child.


Is it really black and white in a dog’s world?

Take a look through our dogs’ eyes and find out just how they see the world. Our eyes and those of our pooches are made up of special cones or light catching cells that respond to colour.

Dogs only have 2 cones whereas humans have 3. Where their colour vision is somewhat different to ours, they do see in colour in a similar way to a human with a red-green colour blindness.

Bonus pet advice: Think about this when you purchase your dog’s toys. The next time you throw that red ball into the green grass and they can’t find it, remember it may not be as obvious to them as it is to us.


As blind as a bat!

Well not quite. They may not have the best night vision compared to some nocturnal animals but they can certainly see. Bats rely on echolocation to navigate around and hunt at night. The bat uses its mouth to create sounds that bounce off nearby objects, such as a moth.

When the sound comes back to the bat’s ears, the bat can tell exactly where its dinner is, thus allowing it to catch its prey in the air.


Is the goldfish memory myth a little fishy?

Ever wondered as your goldfish does a lap of his bowl whether it’s like seeing the world again for the first time? It’s been a long standing myth that goldfish have a 3 second memory. In fact, our finned friends have approximately a 3 month memory, according to researchers from Plymouth University!


A healthy dog’s nose is cold and wet.

This is certainly an old wives’ tale that has caused many a panic-stricken call to the vet when its been mistaken for actual pet advice. The temperature of a dog’s nose fluctuates during the course of a day, causing no concern for alarm. The moistness of a dog’s nose is no indication of their overall health. A dog suffering from a nasal cold may have a wet nose.

As a dog owner, it is much better to know your dog and any changes from their normal behaviour may give a better clue to your dog’s well-being.

Toads and warts…yuck! Can touching a toad give you warts?

Well they may look like they’re covered in warts and ready to share but in actual fact the wart-like bumps are glands used for protection from predators. They secrete toxins or a milk-like substance that can be harmful when ingested.

So, all in all the best pet advice is probably not to consider a toad for a family pet as it’s best to steer clear of these little fellows and let them be.



So there you have it, some of nature’s marvellous myths unravelled. What else in the animal world has had you questioning “is it fact or fiction?”

Please share your favourite animal myths and tricky pet advice see if the vet nurses from Fox Valley Animal Hospital have heard it before! We’ll be waiting at the vet clinic for your challenges! 

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.