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Parrots and Horses Reveal their Musical Preferences

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From classical and country to dub step and smooth jazz, humans have some drastically different opinions on music. But when it comes to animals, it seems that birds of a feather tend to rock together—or at least they tend to agree on what they hate. We know that because researchers in the UK recently exposed African grey parrots to folk, rock, pop, classical and techno. While some of the birds seemed relaxed while listening to classical music, others preferred to bob their heads to folk or rock music. The one thing they all agreed on was techno. Whenever the Chemical Brothers or Prodigy were played, the birds started acting stressed, screeching and squawking until the music was shut off.

Horses, too, are quite critical when it comes to their musical tastes. Another team of British researchers recently studied how horses behaved while exposed to classical, rock, country, and jazz (unfortunately, no techno was played). Strikingly, the horses were much bigger music critics than the parrots, showing stressed behaviors such as head tossing, stamping and snorting when both rock and jazz were played—seeming the most agitated by jazz (the researchers think it's because of jazz's fast tempo and minor key). On the other hand, when country and classical were played, the horses were far calmer than they were when no music was played at all.

Though the parrots and horses seemed to disagree on many genres, they did both agree that classical music is relaxing. So until similar studies are performed on dogs, cats, chinchillas, hamsters, and any other pets you may have, you might want to stick with classical if you want to play some music for your non-human friends.

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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