People enjoy farting. They enjoy farting and farts, fart paraphernalia, the films of Adam Sandler, farting’s premier chronicler. People enjoy animals. People enjoy animals and watching animals, stuffed animals on their desk, the documentaries of David Attenborough, the animal kingdom’s premier chronicler, a beloved national treasure who may or may not smell of farts.
And now here we are, the two worlds joined – the new and the old, the fart and the animal – and people are bombarding scientists on Twitter with questions over which animals are farters and which animals are not farters with the hashtag #DoesItFart. Scientists obliged, seeing as there’s nothing else so important in the world as levity, animals, farting.
Thanks to University of Alabama Ph.D candidate Nicholas Caruso, we now have (pretty much) all of the responses in one, shared Google spreadsheet.
“I figured the best way to find out if a particular animal farts would be to ask the people who spend the most time with them. Which includes people who study them, or maybe people who keep them at home, or just happened to hear one fart,” Caruso told Gizmodo in an email.
The spreadsheet itself is a joy to behold. Here’s a quick round up of some animals that can and cannot fart:
SNAKES – YES, SOME OF THEM FART
And they use it 'Cloacal popping', as it is referred to, occurs in North American burrowing snakes the Sonoran coral snake and the western hook-nosed snake and is used as a defensive warning, much like the rattlesnake’s rattle. According to research, “each pop lasts less than two-tenths of a second, may be repeated several times, and can be heard from up to two metres away [and] sound very much like human farts.”
FROGS – MAYBE FARTERS
Splitting the science of farting world: some say they can't fart due to their weak sphincters (at least not audibly) whereas others say the pyxie frog and the horned frog can and do fart often
MILLIPEDES – SOMEHOW, YES THEY ALSO FART
Not sure how but millipede farts are, according to the spreadsheet, "of the silent but deadly variety” as they contain both methane and hydrogen sulfide.
SPIDERS – MAYBE FARTERS
Nobody knows! But their digestion does take place OUTSIDE the body, the creepy little fucks, so it’s probable that gases escape immediately.
BATS – YES, THEY FART
While updated versions of the sheet do agree that yeah, bats can do farts, the updater does not necessarily agree with the earlier assumption that, when it comes to bats, “the bigger they are, the harder they fart.”
COCKROACHES – YES, ALSO COCKROACHES FART
And they do it loads, too. The average cockroach can give off up to 35g a year of methane – which is more than 43 times their average body weight.
SEA ANEMONE – NO, BUT BURPS REAL BAD
Which is basically the same thing, I guess, since the anemone’s mouth is also its arsehole.
BIRDS – NOPE. THEY JUST DON’T.
This last one made us dig a little deeper and we found the blog of Dr. Laura Rickson, Ph.D in ornithology, the study of birds. In her blog “Do birds fart?” she writes:
While studying them, I spent many, many hours in extremely close quarters with nighthawks, paying an inordinate amount of attention to sounds and smells, and never once detected anything resembling a fart.
But why, Dr.? Why can’t my bird fart?
She writes: Mammalian intestines are very long, digestion slow, and fecal contents can remain in the intestines for quite a while. Gases erupting from any point in mammalian intestines can build up before they reach the end, and are going to pass through a bunch of malodorous stuff along the way, picking up additional odors. Birds get rid of any gases as quickly as they do the other material in their guts, and so there really isn't time for huge buildups of the kind that 10-year-old children (of both sexes, in my experience both as a former kid and as a former teacher) delight in and squeamish, oh-so-proper adults (again, of both sexes) recoil from.
She also raises an interesting question: why are humans intrigued by farting? Well, as she states, pretty much every mammal farts and many of them are attracted (or at least intrigued by) the smell of an arse and so it’s a perfectly natural inquisitivity and nothing weird at all.
And they’re funny. “Humor occurs when the brain recognizes a pattern that surprises it,” said the 2008 research paper, Mechanism And Function Of Humor Identified By New Evolutionary Theory by Pyrrhic House. It became clear that it was “not the content of the stimulus but the patterns underlying it that provide the potential for sources of humour.”
“It's when we recoil from asking natural questions,” writes Rickson, presumably with the window cracked open just a smidgen, “that we are least human and most like animals.”
(Main Image: ‘Argentine Horned Frog’ by Max Gross / WikiCommons)