Here’s a topic of I’ve never given much thought…which animals fart?
— Helen Mann (@HelenMannCBC) January 13, 2017
If someone asked you if a snake farts or not, do you know the answer? I definitely had no idea before reading this article from CBC’s As It Happens.
There’s a group of researchers compiling a worldwide list on animal flatulence thanks to google spreadsheets. Naturally, the topic is getting lots of love on twitter because there’s a hashtag that goes along with it #DOESITFART
It started with one zoologist (at the dinner table actually):
Dani Rabaiotti: A member of my family asked me – and as a zoologist, you do get asked these questions quite a lot – they asked me, “Do snakes fart?” I study mammals, so I didn’t know very much about snake farting habits, but because I’m quite active on Twitter and a lot of other biologists and zoologists are, I knew exactly the person to ask. I asked Dr. David Steen on Twitter, do snakes fart? The answer was “yes.” Other biologists got involved and suggested that it should be a hashtag. From that, I suggested compiling a database of all the animals, and who found out whether they did or didn’t fart.
And wow, I’ve discovered some #FunFartFacts :
HM: Which other animals pass gas the most?
DR: I think my favourite story of the spreadsheet was the one about chimps, and how if you’re researching chimps, you can actually find them in the jungle from the sound of their farting, it’s so loud. As well, there’s some really interesting scientific papers out there on farting in fish. Some species of fish actually use farting as a form of communication, and you get whole bays filled with fish farts, apparently. And these have actually been published in scientific journals. So I think there are some actual animal fart researchers out there, although I’m sure they do research other things as well.
DR: Interestingly, if you look on the spreadsheet, there’s a reference to the fact that birds don’t fart. I never knew that. Despite the fact that they biologically can fart – they have all the anatomy there – they don’t fart. That was quite interesting, because someone said their friend’s parakeet had farted on them. But if you read the reference to the article about the fact that birds don’t fart, it does say that birds will make farting noises with their mouths, but it isn’t actually a fart.
HM: One of our listeners who saw a tweet that we were doing this story contacted us to say that whale farts were particularly deadly. Is that true?
DR: I imagine they’d be very big. If you’re on a small boat and loads of bubbles came up, that probably wouldn’t be great. But I can’t say I’ve ever encountered anyone that’s ever encountered a whale fart, and we didn’t have really any input from whale researchers in the spreadsheet. I’d be surprised if they didn’t fart, but we haven’t gotten any positive confirmation as of yet.
HM: Any idea where domestic dog farts fit in? Because I’ve had some experience with that.
DR: Oh, yeah, domestic dog farts are … Well, I don’t know how bad they are, though. Definitely in my family, the dog gets blamed when it’s not necessarily the dog, in my opinion. I think they get the short end of the stick.
HM: Are there any surprises on your list? Things that really caught you off guard?
DR: I was definitely surprised by millipedes, actually. Apparently, they release a combination of gases. They do fart. Again, there’s a whole scientific paper on the gases that millipedes give off, so that was a surprise.
HM: Is there any debate about what constitutes a fart?
DR: There was debate around the spreadsheet for what constitutes a fart. For example, someone put entries for things like octopus and squid, and they move by jet propulsion, but is it a fart? I don’t know. We need to get medical Twitter on board to give us the pure definition of what a fart is if we really want to get that accurate description.
DR: In the entry we have for birds, it says that birds don’t have the same bacteria in their gut, so they don’t have as much gas. But then, I guess it depends on anatomy as well. We have marine invertebrates on there, saying that they don’t fart. If they don’t have a stomach or a gut, then I guess an animal wouldn’t be able to fart.
Read more HERE