7 Fast Facts About Animal Farting

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Anyone who’s had a pet can testify that dogs and cats occasionally get gassy, letting rip noxious farts and then innocently looking up as if to say “Who, me?” You may not have considered the full breadth of animal life passing gas in the world, though—and not just mammals. In a new book, ecologist Nick Caruso and zoologist Dani Rabaiotti detail the farting habits (or lack thereof) of 80 different animals. Here are seven weird animal farting facts we learned from Does It Fart?.

1. FOR ONE FISH, FARTING IS AN EMERGENCY.

A black-and-white illustration of a fish floating upside down on the surface of the water
Ethan Kocak

The diet of the Bolson pupfish, a freshwater fish found in northern Mexico, can lead to dangerous levels of gas. The pupfish feeds on algae, and it can inadvertently eat the gas bubbles that algae produces in warm temperatures. The air inflates the fish’s intestines and distends its belly, messing with its equilibrium and making it difficult to swim. Even if it tries to bury itself in sediment at the bottom of a pool, as Bolson pupfish are wont to do, the air causes the fish to rise to the surface, where it’s at risk of being eaten by a bird. If the fish doesn’t fart, it will likely die, either from predation or because its intestines rupture under the pressure of the trapped gas.

2. MANATEES USE FARTS AS A SWIMMING TECHNIQUE.

The Bolson pupfish isn't the only animal that needs healthy farts to maneuver underwater. Buoyancy is vital for swimming manatees, and they rely on digestive gas to keep them afloat. The West Indian manatee has pouches in its intestines where it can store farty gasses. When they have a lot of gas stored up, they’re naturally more buoyant, floating to the surface of the water. When they fart out that gas, they sink. Unfortunately, that means that a manatee’s ability to fart is vital to its well-being. When a manatee is constipated and can’t pass gas properly, it can lose the ability to swim properly and end up floating around with its tail above its head.

3. TERMITE FARTS ARE A SIGNIFICANT SOURCE OF GLOBAL EMISSIONS.

A black-and-white illustration of a termite farting
Ethan Kocak

They’re not as bad as cars or cows, but termites fart a lot, and because they are so numerous, that results in a lot of methane. Each termite only lets rip about half a microgram of methane gas a day, but every termite colony is made up of millions of individuals, and termites live all over the world. All told, the insects produce somewhere between 5 and 19 percent of global methane emissions per year.

4. FERRETS ARE SURPRISED BY THEIR OWN FARTS.

Ferrets are quite the fart machines. They not only let ‘em rip while pooping—which they do every few hours on a normal day—but they get particularly gassy when they’re stressed. The pungent smells are often news to their creators, though. According to the book, “owners often report a confused look on their pet’s face in the direction of their backside after they audibly pass gas.” And you don't want your ferret to get really scared: Their fear response involves screaming, puffing up, and simultaneous farting and pooping.

5. A BEADED LACEWING’S FARTS CAN BE DEADLY.

A black-and-white illustration of a beaded lacewing standing triumphantly over a prone termite
Ethan Kocak

A winged insect known as the beaded lacewing carries a powerful weapon within its butt, what Caruso and Rabaiotti call “one of the very few genuinely fatal farts known to science.” As a hunting strategy, Lomamyia latipennis larvae release a potent fart containing the chemical allomone, paralyzing and killing their termite prey.

6. WHALE FARTS MAKE QUITE THE SPLASH.

A black-and-white illustration of a whale farting above water while a woman on a boat speeds behind it
Ethan Kocak

As befits their size, whales produce some of biggest farts on the planet. A blue whale’s digestive system can hold up to a ton of food in its multiple stomach chambers, and there are plenty of bacteria in that system waiting to break that food down. This, of course, leads to farts. While not many whale farts have been caught on camera, scientists have witnessed them—and report them to be “incredibly pungent,” as Rabaiotti and Caruso tell it.

7. NOT ALL ANIMALS FART.

Octopuses don’t fart, nor do other sea creatures like soft-shell clams or sea anemones. Birds don’t, either. Meanwhile, sloths may be the only mammal that doesn’t fart, according to the book (although the case for bat farts is pretty tenuous). Having a belly full of trapped gas is dangerous for a sloth. If things are working normally, the methane produced by their gut bacteria is absorbed into their bloodstream and eventually breathed out.

The woodlouse has an odd way of getting rid of gas, too, though it’s technically not flatulence. Instead of peeing, woodlice excrete ammonia through their exoskeleton, with bursts of these full-body “farts” lasting up to an hour at a time.

The cover of 'Does It Fart?'
Hachette Books

Does It Fart? is available for $15 from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Your Office is Infested With Germs—and In Places You Might Not Expect

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iStock/pixelfit

Elevator buttons and keyboards are teeming with bacteria, and you don’t even want to know what might be lingering on the coffee mug you keep at work. TIME rounded up the five germiest places in the average office, and you’ll probably want to wash your hands after reading it.

Disposable coffee cups are perhaps the most surprising one mentioned. One 1997 study found coliform bacteria (a.k.a. fecal matter) on 20 percent of the cups and lids tested. And those sponges in your office kitchen? They’re absolutely filthy. After the same researchers used a communal sponge or rag to wipe down the coffee cups, 100 percent of them tested positive for fecal bacteria. If lugging your cup to and from the office in order to wash it at home seems tedious, one of the researchers recommended investing in a personal cup washer to keep at work. As TIME notes, disposable coffee cups are also problematic because someone may pick up a couple lids that are stuck together, then return the now-contaminated lids for other, unsuspecting coworkers to use.

Unsurprisingly, objects that people regularly interact with—such as elevator buttons, office doors, and conference room phones—also made TIME’s list. Anything that’s frequently touched and seldom cleaned is a cause for concern because it could carry microbes that make people sick. If you're a frequent business traveler, for instance, you should wash your hands and wipe down your phone after going through airport security. Those plastic bins you stick your shoes, electronics, and personal items inside are germ-infested cesspools.

Another study from 2014 swabbed 120 elevator buttons at three hospitals in Toronto, Ontario. While the study wasn't conducted in an office building, the results were still telling. Researchers discovered that 61 percent of the buttons contained bacteria, compared to only 43 percent of toilets. This is likely due to the fact that toilets are often cleaned more frequently than elevator buttons. The most common type of bacteria found were Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS), which can be a risk factor for diseases for people with an already compromised immune system or those who have recently undergone certain surgeries or medical procedures.

Lastly, you’ll want to wipe your keyboard and mouse with a disinfectant wipe as often as possible. It might just save you from having to use up your sick days.

[h/t TIME]

Burger King's Halloween Slushie Might Turn Your Poop Black and Blue

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iStock.com/ilbusca

Of all the spooky events surrounding Halloween, peering into the toilet bowl and noticing that your poop has turned bright blue might be the scariest. This could be your new reality if you slurp down one of Burger King’s seasonal Scary Black Cherry slushies, Women’s Health points out.


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The black-tinted frozen beverage is made from Fanta soda, and presumably, a fair amount of food dye. Ever since its release ahead of the holiday, customers have been complaining that the drink turned their poo “blackish blue,” neon blue, green, or purple. Similar reports surfaced in 2015 after Burger King introduced a Whopper with a black bun that had been flavored with A.1. Steak Sauce. In that case, customers’ “grass green” bowel movements were blamed on food dye in the bun.

“To make poop turn that color green, it would require far more dye than is in the typical type of A.1.," doctor and nutrition counselor Pamela Reilly told USA Today at the time. "My guess is that they're using a concentrated form."

Although the Scary Black Cherry slushie’s ingredients aren’t listed on the fast food chain’s website, food dye is likely the culprit—once again—of customers' colorful poo. Michigan-based gastroenterologist Michael Rice explained to Women’s Health that food dye mixes with the yellow-green pigments in your bile, which is then excreted in your poop. Darker dyes in particular, like blue and purple, tend to yield the most visible changes in stool color. Beets, licorice, tomato soup, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, candy, and tinted icing can all have the same effect.

From a health perspective, there’s not much to fear, though. Aside from giving you a fright after you go number two, the artificial dyes that Burger King uses are within FDA-approved limits. Your poo should go back to its normal hue in no time.

[h/t Women's Health]

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