Have you ever watched your dog sleeping and wondered why his paws were bicycling in the air? When was the last time your cat jumped at a blank wall with nothing on it for apparently no reason? Pets do strange things while their owners are not looking and some of the most bizarre pet habits are only “found out” when we catch our animals off-guard. Other strange pet habits are behaviors pet owners may observe more often that are only odd under closer examination of the nature of non-human species. Recognizing these pet habits for their healthy and special qualities can assist potential pet owners with pet choices and care. Keep reading for the ten strangest pet habits, some of which would appear “normal” on the surface:
- Cats and Dogs– Both cats and dogs roll over and expose their bellies for rubbing when they are happy and content. This behavior is so common in both types of pets, cats and dogs, that this habit of rolling over exposing an underbelly does not always register with the pet owner as behavior that is not exhibited by most animals in their natural habitats. Belly exposure is an indication in any animal of security in the environment and trust in life-form surroundings. Wild cubs of various species will exhibit this behavior naturally until maturation as they are under the protection of their sires. Rolling around upside down is the sign of a happy and healthy cat or dog.
- Birds– A bird flies from place to place and lands when it arrives at its intended next perch. Once in awhile some birds crash during flight for no apparent reason. This behavior or habit is not known to be an act of sabotage or destruction and is not categorized as “dive bombing” (a practice of angry birds or birds of prey) or the same indication as an injury or illness. Rather, some experts consider bird crashing to be attributable to distractions or the need to suddenly appear vulnerable to avoid other dangerous elements in their flight-paths. Examining a pet bird for problems if a bird crashes in flight is a good practice. Birds with crashing behavior will repeat the habit and should just be checked occasionally to ensure best care.
- Fish- Sleeping upside down in the water, (not fish floating on top of the water), is a strange aquarium fish habit. There are two schools of thought on the reasons for this behavior in fish. The first group of aquarium gurus believes that fish do not sleep and that an upside down fish probably is exhibiting some sign of disease. The second school of thought is that fish that are from an aquatic species oriented to resting in cave-like environments will turn upside down to rest as the behavior keeps them oriented to escape quickly from predators. Fish pet owners should look into this behavior and study up on their fish species when deciding if their pets have a problem or a strange, quirky nature.
- Hamsters– Disappearing is a strange behavior that hamsters exhibit. They have this habit in common with cats. A hamster will burrow under woodchips or newspaper nests in its cage. Cats will hide under piles of clothing or in closed in dark spaces. Since both types of pets are natural predators, this behavior is categorized as survival oriented. Burrowing can add to security factors and assist with isolating prey for food. However, there is some evidence to suggest that both hamsters and cats need solitary time and that the disappearance habit can be stabilizing as a reaction that creates a removal of the presence of other environmental inhabitants and irritants.
- Dogs- The eating of feces comprises a strange canine behavior that does not necessarily indicate any form of hunger or malnutrition. There are no definitive reasons that can be discerned as to why dogs occasionally partake in this; informed speculation abounds including the idea that this is due to a natural “scavenger” instinct. The supposition that this behavior is based on some sort of nutrient requirement has no real foundation. This habit can lead to issues with muzzle and mouth diseases if it is allowed to prevail.
- Snakes, Lizards and Frogs– Possibly the very strangest difference in reptiles and frogs from other types of pets is that they are not a warm-blooded species. Basking in the sun is common to the animal kingdom and a strange phenomenon in snakes, lizards, and frogs. Since these types of pets do not have internal thermoregulation, they use the warmth from the sun to keep from freezing, even in hotter weather. The direct light and heat create the kinetic energy needed to remain active. Instead of producing a sluggish effect, basking in the sun actually keeps snakes, lizards, and frogs more mobile than without external temperature transference. Pet owners often employ solar lamps to “warm” their reptiles, as snakes, lizards and frogs are not pets that are routinely allowed to wander outdoors.
- Spiders- All spiders make silk. This does not mean that all spiders use their silk for the same purposes. Some spiders create webs from their silk; others do not. Spider silk can be used to trap prey, build protective shelter and to cocoon young spiderling eggs. When a pet owner chooses a spider as a pet, housing a spider in a cage and feeding a spider by hand may begin to interfere with the natural use of the spider’s silk. Some spiders sold as pets have this capability removed in order to try to curb overly aggressive behaviors and make upkeep of pet cages and houses easier to clean.
- Horses– Tossing of the head and stamping of the feet is a natural strange behavior in horses. Equines are normally categorized as an aggressive species and are actually animals of prey. Often, people that own horses will perceive head tossing and foot stamping as an attempt, on the horses’ part, to communicate. This does not negate the fact that this type of equine behavior is stimulated by environmental situations and is based in instinctive reactions that signal the next behavioral intentions. Although horses are easily domesticated, trained head tossing and foot stamping habits are not as a general rule characteristics that can be “removed” through domestication.
- Cats– If a cat sees a bird, the cat may start to chatter or make mewling noises at the bird. This is not an intention to attack and will not often be followed by aggressive behavior. In fact, this habit is most commonly exhibited when the cat is in some way removed from the bird (such as by a window, porch screen, or tree height). Experts think that possibly this could be due to the fact that the cat is not in a position to chase and kill, but the strange behavior has never been fully explained. Communication does not seem a plausible reason for this habit, but it could be considered as a theory due to the fact that cats are known to be naturally expressive vocally in a similar manner to dogs.
- Rabbits– Rabbits do bite. They nip each other, gnaw on cage bars and can become aggressive. Usually, a rabbit will not cause damage due to biting. On the other hand, when a rabbit engages in biting behavior it is a common sign that the rabbit is uncomfortable, upset, or bored. Nipping one another is also a form of communication between rabbits and does not signify dangerous behavior toward other rabbits. A biting habit in a rabbit is only problematic when the bites become hard enough to break skin or if the rabbit is injuring itself on the object being bitten. Just as with other pets that can bite, healthy rabbits with proper vaccinations keep their owners and other handlers safe from accidental biting incidents.
Pet behaviors and habits have been studied for as long as human beings have adopted animals and other creatures. Some of their stranger habits have become routine characteristics that we use to identify our individual pets as healthy. On the other hand, some of the healthy pet habits exhibited in nature’s kingdom are still strange and singularly different features that can be abused the wrong way by pet owners. Recognizing the signs of aberrant behaviors and adapting to strange pet habits that are healthy can help pet owners love and care for their pets for the duration of a normal pet life-span. Choosing a pet is sometimes difficult and when the stranger habits of possible pets are identified ahead of time, the “best fit” for a pet owner’s environment and care levels can result. Some strange pet behaviors will not be visible ahead of adopting a pet or identifiable under a species characteristic. On the other hand, each individual pet owner should take the time to become acquainted with their own pets and enjoy the strange habits that make pets stand out as remarkable and exceptional in their own ways.