CLOSE
Original image
iStock

7 Fast Facts About Llamas

Original image
iStock

ABC15, via Twitter

This afternoon, two llamas escaped from a mobile petting zoo and led authorities on a sometimes high-speed, sometimes moseying chase through Sun City, Ariz., for nearly an hour. Here are a few fun facts about the camelids.

1. According to legend, the Spaniards, who had never seen llamas before, kept asking what they were called (“¿Cómo se llama?”)—and so the Incans thought “llama” was the Spanish name for the animals. But according to the BBC, this story is “not quite accurate. In fact the expression llama was there before the Spanish arrived. It's of Quechuan origin and was borrowed by many languages, together with other Quechuan words such as condor or puma.”

2. Llamas are native to the South American Andes. They were first imported into the United States in the late 1800s for display in zoos. In the early 1900s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst brought 12 of the animals to his private zoo at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.

3. Llamas are pack animals, and can carry 50 to 75 pounds up to 20 miles. If you overload the animals, though, they’ll refuse to move. According to National Geographic, an overloaded llama will “often lie down on the ground and ... may spit, hiss, or even kick at their owners until their burden is lessened.”

4. According to the Pittsburgh Zoo, when one llama has an issue with another llama, it will stick its tongue out to express its displeasure. They’ll also spit on other llamas.

5. The llama gestation period is around 350 days. Baby llamas are called crias, and mothers usually have just one; twin births are rare.

6. Llama dung makes great fuel—and fertilizer. In fact, it may have helped the Incans grow corn and survive in the Andes. 

7. Llamas can reach speeds up to 35mph. So let’s hope no more get loose!


Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
Original image
iStock

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.

Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages
arrow
Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

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]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios