Liz Langley

Are there very few pink fairy armadillos, or are they just good at hiding? When you write about weird animals all the time, it takes something really special to make you ask, “What is that?” That’s what I thought when I saw the pink fairy armadillo. It looks like a cross between a guinea pig...

I always heard that if you touch a baby bird or other baby animal, the animal’s mother will reject it because it smells like humans. Is that a myth or actually true? —Tristan, Winter Park, Florida This is an old wives’ tale: Birds don’t have a keen sense of smell and therefore don’t abandon their...

Why do my kittens keep gathering around the litter box when I’m cleaning it out? —Kim Cleaning the litter box is the stinkiest job in the house: Why would anyone want to watch? Is this just classic cat curiosity? Barbara Sherman, a veterinary behaviorist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said that may be part of...

Does this calico lobster also turn red when cooked, or does it stay the same? —Liselle S., Philippines  First things first: A rare calico lobster caught earlier this summer was donated to the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium in New Hampshire and was reportedly set to be released in the ocean in September. It isn’t destined for...

Dogs are known for their outstanding scenting and trailing abilities. Dogs can also detect diverse odors like explosives and narcotics. Can elephants do the same? —Liselle S., Philippines  “They do. They track each other,” said John Lenhardt of the National Elephant Center, a refuge in Florida. “They’ve been observed in the wild to raise their trunk and...

How long do [alligators] stay outside water? Are they comfortable for long periods of time? —Vamsi Having just settled in to stay at a Florida house with a lake ten yards from the back door, I have a vested interest in this question, which came from the story Beware in the Bayou: Alligators and Crocodiles Can...

Do echidnas have venomous spines similar to a platypus that can be used in defense? —John McMillan, Metung, Victoria There are two echidna species—the long-beaked echidna, which lives on the island of New Guinea (map), and the short-beaked, which is found on New Guinea and Australia. Both funky little mammals lay eggs, among a very...

I have always wondered why we have not domesticated [zebras] for riding, like horses? —CeeCee Hall, California Historically, it’s a matter of circumstance that zebras weren’t domesticated—not necessarily because the equines are aggressive, as is commonly thought, said Fiona Marshall, an expert in animal domestication at Washington University in St. Louis. (See “Zebra Stripes Evolved to Repel Bloodsuckers?“) That’s because...

From purring to slithering, we’ve got your weird animal questions covered. Let’s start with an ophidiophobe’s nightmare. Check out the stiletto snake for a weird use of teeth! [How can a] venomous snake … strike sideways? —John F. Taylor, New Brunswick, Canada Normally I’d save this for Halloween, but the venomous stiletto snake of East...

 Ask Your Weird Animal Questions flies right into facts about our winged brethren this week. I love watching the frigatebirds in the skies above Key West—so elegant and it seems like they stay “afloat” forever. How high can they fly? —Jim Crescitelli via Facebook The magnificent frigatebird, a distinctive black animal with an inflatable red throat...

From cats to clams, the animal kingdom literally has many different ways of seeing things—including some we may not think of as having eyes at all. This week on Ask Your Weird Animal Questions, we’re taking a visionary look at nature. Which creature has the most eyes? —Crystal Henson via Facebook The answer may surprise...

We love getting questions with teeth, and this week’s Ask Your Weird Animal Questions tackles animals and their various bites. Keep your hands (and toes) away from these critters. Why does the gavial have such a narrow snout? Do they have snout envy issues? —Tristan  The gavial (Gavialis gangeticus), sometimes called a gharial, is a wicked-looking crocodile relative with...

Reptiles may not be as cuddly as cats or as dutiful as dogs, but reptile people love their lizards, snakes, and turtles. This week Ask Your Weird Animal Questions slithers into the world of reptiles, starting with one reader who shelled out some great questions about turtles. Water turtles/terrapins: When they sleep at night, how...