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Does It Fart?

Scientists may know the complete life cycle of whatever beast they are studying, but when they tell schoolchildren about it, they often get the same question: "Does it fart?" Those who study wildlife in the field can tell you about some species, but not others.

“Does it fart?” is one of most frequent questions zoologists receive from kids, said Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London. In fact, the whole #DoesItFart adventure started when her teenage brother asked if snakes ever experience flatulence. Rabaiotti knew from her own work that the wild dogs of Africa definitely fart, as do the extremely gassy seals that reside on the Atlantic island of South Georgia. But she wasn’t sure about snakes, so she consulted snake expert David Steen.

The short answer is yes, says Steen, a wildlife ecologist at Auburn University. “Snakes sometimes discharge feces and musk as a defensive strategy, and this is often accompanied by what I would consider classic fart noises,” he said.  

This question has finally received the scientific collaboration it deserves. It began with the Twitter hashtag #DoesItFart, which currently is full of news articles about the hashtag. But a database also grew out of the project, where you can look up an animal and find an answer, along with notes from those with experience.

Giraffe        Hell Yes    At "face height" of the average man

Herring        Yes    Entire bays are filled with their farts. Used for communication

Mastodon        No    Not anymore

Seals        Yes    Smells like lutefisk

Snow leopards    Yes    Their floofy bottoms help to muffle the sound

The database has links for some of these animals so you can read more about their farts. -via Metafilter


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