Hoax Museum Blog: Animals

BirdTyping — Roman Kingsley is an Australian man who has trained geese to do skywriting, or 'birdtyping' as he calls it. Impossible, you say? Not at all, according to Kingsley. As he says in this interview, "It normally takes about three months to train the birds to spell out a word. Once each bird knows the letter, they have to know where in the word that letter occurs. But I’m hoping to speed it up more in the future. The curved letters, you know, like o, c, and b take the birds a bit longer. But…
Posted: Tue May 18, 2004.   Comments (1)

Cicada Cash — The cicadas have returned, and with them the rumor that researchers at Johns Hopkins University will pay up to $1000 for specimens of rare blue-eyed cicadas. Unfortunately, the rumor simply isn't true. In fact, no researcher at Johns Hopkins even studies cicadas, let alone insects, though back in 1947 the university did employ a Biologist, William D. McElroy (who later moved out to UC San Diego), who announced that he would pay kids twenty-five cents for every 100 fireflies they could…
Posted: Tue May 18, 2004.   Comments (0)

What Badgers Eat — In case you were confused, here's what you need to know about what badgers eat. According to Jeff, who sent me the link, the site derives from an episode of The Simpsons (one that I haven't seen). I guess you could also figure out the Simpsons connection from the logo at the bottom of the screen.
Posted: Sun May 16, 2004.   Comments (4)

Swiffer Wet Jet Pet Rumor — Teresa wrote in to ask about the truth of that email rumor going around alleging that the Swiffer Wet Jet cleaning fluid contains antifreeze and can be fatal to pets (you can read the full text of that email rumor here). Swiffer itself addresses this rumor on its corporate website, so it can be pretty easily debunked. It's totally false. But since I'm on the subject of Swiffers, I've got to note something about them that I find incredibly annoying... how you can only use Swiffer brand…
Posted: Mon May 10, 2004.   Comments (124)

Diapers for Cats — Are you tired of cleaning dirty cat litter? Then "Don't change the litter. Change the cat." Get some Catch-It Diapers for Cats. Actually I had a dog that had to wear diapers for a while (really), but somehow I don't think a cat would take too kindly to these things. Which must be why Catch-It also offers a line of bandages and other first-aid supplies.
Posted: Fri May 07, 2004.   Comments (2)

Anti Mosquito Software — Are you constantly swatting away mosquitoes as you work at your computer? Here's your solution: anti-mosquito software. A Thai computer programmer named Saranyou Punyaratanabunbhu developed it about two years ago, and it proved so wildly successful that he soon came out with version 2.0, that also promised to repel cockroaches and rats. It drives away the nasty critters by making your computer speakers emit high-pitched frequencies. But does it actually work? Well, I wouldn't bet on it.…
Posted: Fri May 07, 2004.   Comments (1)

Lion on the Loose in Gahanna? — Residents of Gahanna, Ohio have worriedly been following reports about a lion loose in their vicinity. Police have fanned out to search for the creature, but with no luck. Now some are beginning to suspect that the lion sightings were just a prank, perhaps engineered by local college seniors. Ohio is, of course, no stranger to non-existent wild beasts on the loose. Those with a long memory might remember the Paulding County Hyena that terrorized people back in 1858. But the greatest…
Posted: Wed May 05, 2004.   Comments (3)

Pets By Mail — If you can't make it down to the pet store, then just order a pet by mail. This seems to be an April Fool's day joke created by a Philadelphia radio station, as is revealed when you click on the 'order here' button.
Posted: Mon May 03, 2004.   Comments (3)

Four-Eyed Kitten — Recently a four-eared cat named Lilly has been in the news. Lilly and her four ears are quite real. They're the result of a genetic defect. By contrast, the four-eyed kitten shown in the thumbnail to the right doesn't seem real at all. The top set of eyes is exactly identical to the bottom set of eyes, indicating a cut-and-paste job. (Thanks to Alicka for the picture).
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (9)

Scary Spiders — If spiders scare you, then definitely look no closer at this picture of some spiders that a soldier in Iraq found in his sleeping bag. Yes, despite their size and ugliness, they're real. They're Camel Spiders.
Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2004.   Comments (29)

BBC Ducks the Issue — I just heard about this early April Fool's Day fumble on the part of the BBC. As the Times of London reports: "Declan Curry, the intrepid television hack, broke the embargo on a fascinating British Waterways study that revealed that ducks living on canals weigh, on average, about a pound more than those living on rivers. The slow-moving canal water, so the story went, provides less opportunity for the ducks to swim and as a result they piled on the pounds. Mr Curry and the BBC should…
Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2004.   Comments (2)

Mystery of the Three-Headed Frog — At the beginning of March a news story about a three-headed frog found in England swept around the internet. Experts warned that the appearance of such a mutation could be a sign of impending environmental problems. But science journalist Ray Girvan thinks we shouldn't be jumping to conclusions. To him the three-headed frog actually looks like three separate frogs clasping together, engaged in a well-documented frog mating behavior called multiple amplexus. He points out that the frog…
Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2004.   Comments (12)

Feline Bewilderment — If your cat has been feeling a little down lately, then you may need to hire the services of Confuse a Cat, Ltd., the world leaders in feline bewilderment. One of their highly trained technicians will come to your house and proceed to bewilder your cat, thus restoring it to its former self.
Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2004.   Comments (4)

Why you should not feed your cat table scraps — I don't know what it is about oversized domestic cats that's so endlessly fascinating, but I've got to admit that, as the owner of a rather corpulent kitty, I'm just as intrigued by this subject as everyone else seems to be. So anyway, first there was Snowball. Then along came Munchkin. And now the latest tubby tabby to do the email rounds is Scrappy, the Super-Sized Cat. This email comes with the subject line: Why you shouldn't feed your cat table scraps. I don't know if it's real or…
Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2004.   Comments (32)

Mountain Lion Email Hoax — Quite a few people have received this picture in their email showing a man holding up a giant (dead) mountain lion. According to the accompanying text, the lion was shot by the man near Leon, Kansas while he was out deer hunting, though different versions of the email list different locations. Is the picture real? It is. But the accompanying text is incorrect. According to this article on Buckmasters.com, the lion was actually shot near Seattle, Washington. The picture first appeared…
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2004.   Comments (1)

Winston Churchill’s Parrot — Newspapers are reporting the story of Charlie, a parrot that is 104 years old, once belonged to Winston Churchill, and still swears at the Nazis. When I read about Charlie, I figured it couldn't be true. First of all, could a parrot really live that long? Well, apparently in rare cases they can. So that part of the story might be true. But there is a lot of doubt about whether Charlie ever belonged to Churchill. Churchill's family is denying that Winston ever owned a parrot. Charlie…
Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2004.   Comments (44)

Real Dog — Why own a living, breathing dog that you have to feed every day, when you can own a RealDog instead?
Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2004.   Comments (2)

Haggis Hunt — Here's an interesting hoax website, courtesy of Anson Kennedy. It's haggishunt.com, which punctures the common misconception that a haggis is a sheep's stomach stuffed with meat and oatmeal. In reality (according to this site) a haggis is an extremely rare animal hunted by the Scottish. The site offers many educational haggis facts, such as that the sound the haggis is most sensitive to is plaid rubbing on underpants (I never knew!). And definitely check out the Haggis Cam.
Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2004.   Comments (0)

Bum-Breathing Turtles — I received an email from Tammy who had an important question for me. "Is it true a turtle can breath out of his butt?" she wants to know. Dear Tammy, yes this is true. At least, I know it's true that some species of turtle, such as the Fitzroy River Turtle, can perform this amazing trick, but I wouldn't stick my neck out to say that every species of turtle can. Those turtles which can are known scientifically as 'bum-breathing turtles.'
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2003.   Comments (0)

Sea Urchins Live Forever — One of the questions in my gullibility test is whether turtles ever die of old age. The answer is that they don't, and here's a BBC article about another species that shares this trait: the sea urchin. Apparently, unless urchins are killed off by predators or diseasey, they'll live forever.
Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2003.   Comments (0)

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