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Watch 20 Million Bats Form a Batnado Outside of Bracken Cave in Texas

Sharknados and Lavalantulas are made up nature events that only exist on television, but Batnados are real—they're just not as terrifying as they sound. Filmmaker Kelly Sweet and a National Geographic film crew visited Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas and shot footage of 20 million bats taking to the skies at the same time to feed. The resulting bat tornado isn't as menacing or vampiric as pop culture would have you believe, but it is definitely cool to see from the perspective of someone inside the vortex.

As the video explains, between March and October every year, millions of bats pour out of the cave together each night to hunt. The chaotic scene is bad news for nearby insects—and dangerous for the young bats as well. "They need to make it out without running into other bats or losing their way," Kelly said. "Otherwise, they're going to drop to the floor." The floor of the cave is literally crawling with coachwhip snakes that are waiting for small bats to touch down so that they, too, can have a hearty meal. Those who don't fall still run the risk of getting caught in cacti, and others are greeted by larger predators including hawks as they leave their crowded home.

Kelly says in the clip that she and the rest of the crew were being bumped into by bats, so they decided to lie down on the ground to avoid the traffic jam. Despite being crawled over by snakes and splattered with bat guano from overhead, she enjoyed the experience. "If you really want to see into the animal's lives, you have to go into the animal's world," Kelly told National Geographic. "Having the privilege and being able to go and just experience and document what they're doing is amazing.” Watch the video above to experience the event, sans poop.

[h/t National Geographic]

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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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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]

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