Pets Fact or Fiction?

Our companion animals are so much part of our everyday lives that you may think you know everything about them. But have you wondered whether your pet fish sleeps? Or how does your pet bird hear you when it does not have any ears?

Read on to separate some pet facts from fiction.

Fiction: Cats Always Land on their Feet
Cat are instinctively curious and that can sometimes land them in dangerous situations. While cats possess the “righting reflex” where as they are falling, they may be able to twist their flexible backbones mid-air to allow to land upright, most cats will still end up with serious injuries and/or even death from the impact, regardless. As a responsible cat owner, it is pertinent that you install mesh to windows and gates to prevent such accidents from happening.


Fact: Turtles Can Live for 100 years

Turtles age very slowly throughout their lives. Due to their slow metabolism, they can also survive long periods without food or water. Coupled with their tough shells, this gives them a better chance of survival in the wild.

In fact, the largest land turtle, the giant tortoise, can live for 100 years, some up to even 200 years! Pet species such as box turtles and terrapins can live up to 40 years old, while their wild counterparts like the sea turtles can live an estimated 80 years.

But while turtles are such resilient creatures, turtle owners should not leave their pets alone if they need to travel. For peace of mind, arrange for a friend or family member to drop by to feed your turtle once a day, and to change the water in its tank as often as necessary. A pet turtle will make a faithful companion for decades, but you must also ensure you are able to provide the care it needs for its entire life.


Fact: Rabbits Do Not Like Warm Temperatures
A rabbit’s ideal outdoor temperature is between 12 and 21 degrees Celsius, and it can tolerate up to 30 degrees Celsius. However, anything above that increases their chances of getting a heat stroke. As the temperature starts to rise in Singapore, your rabbit may start feeling the effects of the heat under its thick fur coat.

To ensure that your bunny is kept cool throughout the day, open the windows, or turn on the fan. Be sure to provide plenty of water to keep it hydrated and add a couple of ice cubes to ensure that the water stays cool.

Some signs of heat stroke are lethargy, panting, salivating, weakness and reddening of the ears. If you witness any of these signs, bring your rabbit to the vet immediately.


Fiction: Fish Do Not Need Sleep

As fish do not have eyelids, they sleep with their eyes open. If you spot your fish lying motionless on the bottom of the tank at the same time every day, it is likely to be sleeping. Most fish remain still for periods of time, to rest and recharge. It is believed that most aquarium fish rest from 8 to 12 hours a day!

To ensure your fish is well-rested, switch off your aquarium light at the same time each day to give it a consistent day and night routine. Provide plenty of cover in the aquarium so your fish can feel safe while at rest.


Fiction: Birds Do Not Have Ears
One of the things that makes birds different from mammals is their lack of an outer ear structure. Instead, they possess funnel-shaped ear openings on both sides of their heads, that are usually right behind and slightly below their eyes.

These openings are covered by a layer of soft feathers which protects the ears and minimises wind noise. Look out for these openings the next time your pet bird self-grooms or when a gust of wind ruffles its feathers.


Fact: Dogs Can Save Lives
OK, this is somewhat true, and studies have shown that dogs can be trained to detect cancer! With smell detectors that are 10,000 times more accurate than humans, dogs are highly sensitive to odours that we cannot perceive. By sniffing people’s skin, bodily fluids and breath, dogs can be trained to detect skin cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.

A 2019 study by BioScentDx has shown that dogs can use their sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people diagnosed with cancer with almost 97% accuracy. These results could lead to new cancer-screening approaches that are inexpensive in the future.


Learning More
Getting a pet is a lifelong commitment but if you are sure of wanting to take up this responsibility, you can visit here for more information. Capture your pet’s day-to-day actions like a pro. Learn how to photograph your animal companion like a pro.

Want to know more about your pet’s behaviour and what your pet might be trying to tell you, read this. And bust some myths about some commonly misread pet behaviour here to get a better understanding of what your companion animal is actually thinking!

To learn more about the ins and outs of responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, follow @AnimalBuzzSG or visit the Animal & Veterinary Service webpage here

You can also contribute towards the Animal & Veterinary Service’s animal-related programmes through the Garden City Fund. Find out more here.

Visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube Channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It also provides you a platform for existing and future digital outreach including DIY gardening and related crafts, virtual tours of our green spaces, and livestream events. 

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Text compiled by Felix Siew

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