Flying Mammal


‘They [bats] are the only mammal to sprout wings and fly, opening up a whole new world of habitats and food sources. Their order name Chiroptera means ‘hand wing’, and their wings remain recognisable as hands, with a thumb and four fingers. If ours grew to match them, it would be almost 7 feet long and thinner than knitting needles. […]

Vampire bats (Desmodus Rotundus) feed mainly on cattle, horses, tapirs and turkeys. If they do dine on humans, they usually go for the big toe, not the neck, but can only manage two table-spoons at one sitting. They are the only mammals that feed exclusively on blood.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 14-15

Woodland Aristocrat


‘The parallels with the British upper classes are striking: badgers are stubborn creatures of habit; some of their setts, and some of the paths or ‘runs’ that lead to them, are centuries old, handed down from generation to generation like stately homes. The largest sett ever found was a veritable Blenheim Palace with more than 130 entrances, fifty rooms and half a mile of tunnels. Seventy tons of earth had been moved to make it. Most setts house a group of up to twenty adult badgers, known as a ‘clan’, and they will spend half their lives inside it, fast asleep. […]

Badgers can mate at any time of year, and sex can last for up to ninety minutes. The sow will mate with several different boars, holding all the fertilised eggs until she gives birth to a multi-fathered litter in early spring. […]

The origin of the word ‘badger’ is uncertain, but the best guess is the French bĂȘcher, meaning ‘to dig’. The French call them blaireau, a word they also use for ‘shaving-brush’, and ‘tourist’.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 12-13

Best Endowed of All Mammals


‘If the Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) were human, its penis would be 4 feet long. […] As a result, armadillos lead the world in research into the function of the mammalian penis. The members of dead armadillos are regularly harvested from road-kill – a job made easier by the fact that they are so gigantic.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 10-11

Ant Defences


‘If the colony is threatened, many species emit a pheromone from a gland in their mouths. This causes some workers to grab the larvae and run underground while others prance around with their mandibles open, ready to and sting. Brunei ants even have guards that explode their own heads when threatened, leaving a sticky mess which slows down the intruders.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 9

Ants’ Mating Ball


‘Ant species mate in a variety of different ways: in mid-air, on the ground or in a ‘mating-ball’, where the queen is completely surrounded by a swarm of love-addled males.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 8

Mating Anglerfish


‘The male deep-sea anglerfish is much smaller than the female and doesn’t have a lure. He’s interested in mating, not fishing. He uses his giant eyes to look for a suitable female, and his enormous nostrils to sniff out her pheromones. Having found her, he latches on to her with his teeth and then starts to disappear. Scales, bones, blood vessels all merge into those of the female. After a few weeks all that’s left of the male are the testes hanging of the female’s side, supplying her with sperm. Females have been found with eight testes attached to their sides.

In some species, if the male fails to find a female, then he will eventually turn into one himself and grow massively in size.’

– Lloyd. J., Mitchinson. J. 2007. The QI Book of Animals London, Great Britain: Faber and Faber (2009) p. 7