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#DOESITFART?

The internet wanted to know which animals fart, so scientists happily obliged

Five elephant backsides as they wade in a river.
Reuters/Denis Balibouse
Elephants do fart, according to biologists
  • Katherine Ellen Foley
By Katherine Ellen Foley

Health and science reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Scientists take on the most important challenges of our time, like combating climate change, fighting cancer, exploring the outer realms of our universe, or characterizing matter itself.

But sometimes they answer questions like whether or not frogs fart.

This week, a conservation researcher named Dani Rabaiotti at University College London took to Twitter to ask fellow ecologists and biologists an important question: #Doesitfart? Ever searching for knowledge, responders created an open spreadsheet to log whether or not different species pass gas.

Flatulence happens when gases that have been accidentally swallowed or produced while breaking down food (dairy and fried foods tend to produce more) escape through the anus. Human farts range in volume from “a bottle of nail polish to a can of soda,” as FiveThirtyEight diligently reports, and the smells vary depending on the types of gases they’re made of—hydrogen sulfide and ammonia are particularly pungent.

Although we all fart (admit it), not all animals do. The table below is what scientists were able to provide. Some of the answers are obviously silly—we have no idea if aliens fart, and extinct animals like mastodons definitely don’t—but some include insightful scientific observation. Birds do not fart, for example, because they have different bacteria that live in their guts that don’t produce the same gaseous byproducts.

African wild dogs
Yes
Aliens
Maybe
American Badger
Maybe
Ammonite
No
Arachnids
Maybe
Baboons
Yes
Bats
Yes
Bearded Dragon
Yes
Birds
No
Blue mussels
No
Bobcats
Hell Yes
Bristle worms
No
Burchell’s zebra
Yes
Burmese python
Yes
Camel
Yes
Cheetah
Yes
Chimpanzees
Yes
Cockroaches
Yes
Colobine monkeys
Yes
Common whelks
No
Copperhead
Yes
Domestic cat
Yes
Domestic goat
Yes
Domestic hedgehogs
Yes
Domestic pigs
Yes
Domestic sheep
Yes
Domesticated Dogs
Yes
Elephants
Yes
European oysters
No
Fancy goldfish
Yes
Freshwater mussels
No
Frogs
Yes
Crested Geckos
Yes
Giraffe
Hell Yes
Gorillas
Yes
Gray Fox
Yes
Grizzly bear
Yes
Guinea Pigs
Yes
Herring
Yes
Horse
Yes
Humans
Yes
Lagomorphs
Yes
Lemurs
Yes
Lion
Yes
Manatees
Yes
Mastodon
No
Millipedes
Yes
Moonsnails
No
Mustelids
Yes
Orangutan
Yes
Panther Chameleon
Yes
Parakeets
Maybe
Parrots
No
Rabbits
Yes
Rats
Yes
Rhesus macaque
Yes
Rotifers
Maybe
Salamanders
Maybe
Sea Anemone
No
Seals
Yes
Shore crabs
No
Skunks
Yes
Sloths
Yes
Snakes
Yes
Snow leopards
Yes
Soft-shell clam
No
Spiders
Maybe
Spotted hyenas
Yes
Squid, octopus, cuttlefish
Yes
Syrian hamster
Yes
Tapirs
Yes
Termites
Yes
Unicorns
Yes
Wombat
Yes
Pupfish
Yes

More interesting than whether or not animals fart, though, were some of the accompanying descriptions in the notes section. We put together a quiz based on these that you can take to see if you can identify an animal from a scientist’s account of its fart.

On a separate page of the spreadsheet researchers began documenting whether or not animals puke. In humans, vomiting occurs when the stomach is compressed by your abdominal muscles and rapidly expels whatever contents were inside. It can be physically triggered by the stomach feeling too full, or neurologically when the brainstem senses poison in the blood or extreme emotional distress.

As you might expect, animal puking habits vary as well: Vultures have highly acidic vomit (handy for breaking down carcasses), which they upchuck as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened. Mites and spiders reportedly throw up, and the scientists who responded disagree about whether or not horses do; one responder said they don’t, while the other said they do, except it comes through their noses.

This open-sourced spreadsheet doesn’t hold up to the standards of, say, a peer-reviewed study, although some researchers provided their Twitter handles so that the data could be traced to the source. And there is something special about the way that researchers join forces on the internet to provide answers to highly sought-after questions.

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