Farts: which animals do, which don’t, and why (2022)

Here’s a mind-boggling fact: Almost all mammals fart, yet the sloth does not.

I learned this because I read Does it Fart? A Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence, which published in April. It’s a small (133 pages), illustrated compendium of all things that toot from the rear.

Each page of the book is devoted to one animal and one question: Does it fart?

Orangutans? Yes.

Salamanders? Maybe.

Sloths? No.

Dani Rabaiotti, a PhD zoology student at the Zoological Society of London and co-author of the book, studies how climate change impacts African wild dogs. But in early 2017, her brother asked her, “Do snakes fart?” and she didn’t know the answer. So she posed it to an expert on Twitter. (Spoiler: They do.)

(Video) Can You Guess Which Animals Fart (Or Don't)?

Virginia Tech ecologist Nick Caruso saw the tweet and was inspired to create the hashtag #DoesItFart. The tag became a forum for discussions on animals and whether they pass gas.

When writing Does it Fart, Caruso and Rabaiotti never actually met in person (Rabaiotti is based in the UK, Caruso in the US). But inspired by the conversations in #DoesItFart on Twitter, they penned this book together and added cheeky illustrations by Ethan Kocak (see a few examples below). “We just had a mutual interest in farts,” Caruso explains of why their collaboration worked.

(The book was so successful, that the trio is publishing a sequel called True or Poo?: The Definitive Field Guide to Filthy Animal Facts and Falsehoods. It comes out in the US on Tuesday, October 23. It’s already for sale in the UK.)

Overall, Caruso hopes Does it Fart will help readers appreciate how “there’s still a lot that we don’t know, whether it be about farts or a lot of other aspects about biology,” he says.

But also: What we do know about farts is surprisingly wondrous. Here are a few endearing lessons.

1) Farts take on many forms across the animal kingdom

Farts: which animals do, which don’t, and why (1) Ethan Kocak

First off, “fart” is not a scientific term, so Caruso and Rabaiotti had to decide what counts as one.

They decided on a simple definition: Farts are simply gas that comes out of the end opposite the mouth, Rabaiotti says. That definition encompasses a wide range of biological processes.

(Video) Life or Death Farts: How Animals Use Passed Gas

For humans and our mammalian relatives, farts are mainly the result of digestion. Microbes break down food in our guts and produce gases like carbon dioxide or methane as a byproduct. In humans, these microbes help us break down fibrous plant materials found in beans, grains, and vegetables. Likewise, horses fart so much because their diet is mostly plant-based, and their fibrous food gets digested through fermentation in the back half of their digestive tract. (Elephants and rhinos do this too.) But diets full of meat can produce a lot of farts too (as red meat contains sulfur and other foul-smelling compounds). Seal farts, the authors relay, smell like fish.

But some species also swallow air and then expel it out their butts. That counts as a fart too.

Sonoran coral snakes have an anus-like hole called a cloaca that can suck in air and then expel it with a popping noise to ward off predators. Yup, that’s a fart.

Zebras fart when startled (we’ve all been there). Cows fart, and also burp around 100 to 200 kilograms of methane a year each, which is a big problem for global warming.

Octopuses don’t fart gas, but they can expel a jet of water to propel themselves through the ocean (the authors call this a “pseudo-fart”). Parrots don’t fart, but they potentially can mimic the sound of human butt toots. No one really knows if spiders fart; it’s just never been studied. And whale farts “have only been captured a handful of times on camera,” Caruso and Rabaiotti write.

The entry on sloths explains that while they eat a lot of plants, they avoid releasing gas through the quirk of their slow digestion. “They only poo about every three weeks,” says Rabaiotti.

If gases accumulated in sloths’ intestines over that long a time, they might get sick — and even burst. So would-be sloth farts are simply reabsorbed through the intestines into the bloodstream. The gases are then respired out of the lungs: literal fart breath.

(Video) ULTIMATE ANIMAL FARTS 😹 Funny Animals 🤣 Try Not to Laugh!

There are some cases where researchers just don’t know if animals fart or not. Like with salamanders and other amphibians, which “may not possess strong-enough sphincter muscles to create the necessary pressure for a definitive flatus,” the authors write. Gases may ooze out of their bums continually. Is that a fart? Some questions in science are best left to philosophy.

I was also surprised to learn that bat farts have never been recorded in the scientific literature. And it’s possible they don’t exist: Bats digest their food within minutes of eating it. The food waste may be excreted so quickly that nary a single fart can be formed.

2) In many cases, farts help animals survive

Farts: which animals do, which don’t, and why (2) Ethan Kocak

I took away from the book an appreciation of the many ways farts are used across the animal kingdom. Sure, many farts are merely the byproduct of digestion, are smelly, and serve no real purpose. But there’s a wide array of behaviors in which farts prove useful, adaptive even.

Herring — a small saltwater fish most commonly served pickled — use farts to communicate with one another, so that they can stay close in a shoal, even in the dark.

Manatees hold on to their farts to remain buoyant in the water, and they are known to fart before diving from the surface. Caruso says it’s easy to spot a constipated manatee: These will be swimming with their tails up out of the water, unable to expel the buoyant gas from their behinds.

One species of beaded lacewing (they kind of look like a cross between a moth and a dragonfly), when in the larval stage, have farts that contain a chemical that stuns termites. Then the lacewing eats the stunned, farted-upon termite. Yum.

For one species of pupfish, farting is a matter of life or death. These small freshwater fish feed on algae in the rivers of South America. These algae produce gas, which inflates the fish intestines and causes the fish to float to the surface, where they’re more vulnerable to being eaten. So they have to fart to sink back to safety. “Which I thought was hilarious,” Rabaiotti says. “Imagine them flopping them about on the surface, desperately trying to fart.” For me, that would be a singularly torturous version of hell.

(Video) Horse kicks tree, farts on dogs then runs away.

The book doesn’t really note what all these farts smell like. Elephants, we learn, “produce incredibly pungent farts.” But are these more pungent than zebra farts? More malodorous than manatee butt belches? And what is the quality of their odor: musky, sulfury, briny? Reader, you may need to go out into the world and find out.

3) And finally, here’s a question I didn’t even know I wanted answered: Did dinosaurs fart?

Farts: which animals do, which don’t, and why (3) Ethan Kocak

Dinosaurs roamed and ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years. But did they stink up the place?

First, the evidence against: It’s believed that modern-day birds are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs. And generally speaking, birds don’t fart; they lack the stomach bacteria that builds up gas in their intestines.

“But then, dinosaurs were pretty diverse,” Rabaiotti says. There were meat eaters like the fearsome Tyrannosaurus, and there were giants like sauropods that ate only plants. It’s possible the vegetarian dinosaurs had the gut bacteria necessary to break down these fibrous plants and produce gas.

“Those animals probably did fart,” Rabaiotti says, “and we’re pretty certain that they don’t fart anymore.”

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FAQs

Which animal can fart? ›

Rats, zebras and bearded dragons are also among Those Creatures That Fart. Birds, on the other hand, do not seem to have a biological need for passing gas, but they could let one rip, theoretically.

Which animal has the most stinkiest fart? ›

Rick Schwartz, ambassador and keeper for the San Diego Zoo, dug into his memories of the worst farts he has ever encountered to select the sea lion as the number the producer of the foulest wind on earth.

Do spiders fart? ›

Since the stercoral sac contains bacteria, which helps break down the spider's food, it seems likely that gas is produced during this process, and therefore there is certainly the possibility that spiders do fart.

Do ants fart? ›

Yes. In insects, we usually call it the “gut,” but it does more or less the same things in insects that intestines do in humans.

Do snakes fart? ›

They don't pass gas, but they often will defecate and urinate in an attempt to scare predators off. Some snakes also have well-developed musk or scent glands that open into the vent, and those species will often release this odiferous, noxious liquid when alarmed or threatened. It is a nasty-smelling liquid, for sure.

What animal does not fart? ›

Here's a mind-boggling fact: Almost all mammals fart, yet the sloth does not.

Who is the biggest fart in the world? ›

The current Guinness book of world record's holder for the world's longest fart is a man name Bernard Clemmens of London. This man managed to let off one continuous fart for exactly two minutes and forty two seconds, a feat that has yet to be even close to replicated by other fart enthusiasts.

Who has the loudest fart in the world? ›

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the loudest fart ever recorded was a fart of 113 decibels, by Herkimer Chort of Ripley, NY USA, on October 11th, 1972.

Do fishes fart? ›

If you consider farting to be the by-product of digestion – in other words gases expelled from the rear end – then most fish don't fart. However there are two exceptions, the shark and the herring.

Do sharks fart? ›

Via Southern Fried Science: According to Daniella Rabaiotti, a postdoctoral researcher at the Zoological Society of London, sand tiger sharks are the only shark known to fart.

Do rats fart? ›

They are large herbivores with many stomachs and a large quantity of (harmless) bacteria that produce gas . Rats, on the other hand, are omnivores, but depending on the types of food a particular rat eats and how much it eats, it may also fart often.

Do birds fart? ›

The short answer to this is, generally speaking, is that birds do not fart. Birds have the anatomical and physical ability to be able to but do not have the need to. Unlike other mammals who pass wind (gas) from their anus, there is no sound evidence of birds doing the same.

Do worms fart? ›

If you were a sea anemone, you wouldn't fart, but you could probably burp. Last year, a bunch of researchers listed which animals they studied farted. According to their list, it appears that some worms don't pass gas either. Then there are some animals that scientists aren't sure about, like spiders and parakeets.

Do chickens fart? ›

Like us humans, chickens also fart as they have to pass the Air coming from the intestine and let it gas out. Not only can chickens fart, but another piece of information that you might find strange is that chickens can burp as well.

Do bees fart? ›

Yes, bees can fart just like humans! Honeybees ingest pollen which is passed down into their honey stomachs and middle gut to be digested. Digested matter travels to the hindgut to be expelled as excrement, any air present in the fecal matter at the time of expulsion will become a bee fart.

Do cockroaches fart? ›

Scientists think that cockroaches fart once every 15 minutes. While there's no concrete number, they believe it's at least once a day. Some may fart more often than others, depending on what they eat. Cockroaches produce methane gas due to their consumption of decaying matter, rotting wood, and leftover food.

Do crocodiles fart? ›

Well, Alligators do not fart as much. They swallow meat and in this way, it directly goes into their belly for digestion. They just fill up their belly and the rest of the work is done by their body. They are unable to digest the bones and only excrete the bones out of their body with poop.

Can a butterfly fart? ›

The butterfly takes in the moisture, which can be urine from other animals or water from decaying plants. Then, its body uses the nutrients from the water. The moisture that is not needed is forcibly expelled from the other end. Many species, such as the Gluphisia septentrionis, even fart at regular 3 second intervals.

Can dinosaurs fart? ›

Scientists Estimate Dinosaurs Passed Enough Gas To Warm Up The Planet : The Two-Way Their flatulence and burps were more than four times that of modern-day cows, scientists estimate.

Do cats fart? ›

The answer is yes. Cats do get gas. Like many other animals, a cat has gases inside its digestive tract, and this gas leaves the body via the rectum. Cats usually pass gas quietly and there isn't much odor to it.

Do dogs fart? ›

While the occasional gaseous emission from your pooch is a normal and unavoidable part of life, excessive gas is not. There are several causes of dog farts, from gastrointestinal issues to food intolerance, so you'll need to visit your veterinarian to determine what's triggering your dog's smelly gas.

Can frogs fart? ›

Frogs are another species whose farting status is uncertain. For one thing, their sphincter muscles aren't very strong, so any gas escaping their rear end may not cause enough vibration to be audible.

Do rabbits fart? ›

Rabbits do fart. In fact, rabbits fart a lot. It is an essential part of their digestive health. But while it might sound fun to have a little tooting bunny running around, you probably won't hear your rabbit's farts very often, if at all.

Who was the first person to fart? ›

Le Pétomane
BornJoseph PujolJune 1, 1857 Marseille, France
DiedAugust 8, 1945 (aged 88)
1 more row

Who was the first person to fart in space? ›

American astronaut John Young, 87, died on Saturday, after a career of many firsts: first man to fly in space six times, pilot of the first Gemini mission, commander of the first shuttle flight, and humorously, becoming the first man to fart on the moon.

How often do humans fart per day? ›

Humans pass gas between 13 to 21 times a day. Farts can be flammable, if they contain hydrogen and methane.

Why do we fart so loud? ›

Loud flatus – this is caused by the muscles of the bowel forcing air through the tight ring of muscle at the anus. Suggestions include passing the air with less power, and reducing the amount of intestinal gas by making dietary adjustments.

Why do we fart? ›

Why do we fart? We fart because there is gas in our intestines that we need to get out. A small amount of swallowed air makes it into the intestines, but most of the gas there is produced by the bacteria that help to digest our food. This gas is expelled by burping and farting.

Do giraffes fart? ›

A Google spreadsheet detailing the fart fact finding mission has since grown to include 81 entries ranging from seals, whose farts apparently smell like lutefisk, to giraffes, which, unfortunately for researchers, pass gas at the “face height of the average man.”

Can birds fart? ›

And generally speaking, birds don't fart; they lack the stomach bacteria that builds up gas in their intestines.

Do fishes fart? ›

If you consider farting to be the by-product of digestion – in other words gases expelled from the rear end – then most fish don't fart. However there are two exceptions, the shark and the herring.

Can crocodiles fart? ›

Well, Alligators do not fart as much. They swallow meat and in this way, it directly goes into their belly for digestion. They just fill up their belly and the rest of the work is done by their body. They are unable to digest the bones and only excrete the bones out of their body with poop.

Can cats fart? ›

The answer is yes. Cats do get gas. Like many other animals, a cat has gases inside its digestive tract, and this gas leaves the body via the rectum. Cats usually pass gas quietly and there isn't much odor to it.

Do bees fart? ›

Yes, bees can fart just like humans! Honeybees ingest pollen which is passed down into their honey stomachs and middle gut to be digested. Digested matter travels to the hindgut to be expelled as excrement, any air present in the fecal matter at the time of expulsion will become a bee fart.

Do sharks fart? ›

Via Southern Fried Science: According to Daniella Rabaiotti, a postdoctoral researcher at the Zoological Society of London, sand tiger sharks are the only shark known to fart.

Do rats fart? ›

They are large herbivores with many stomachs and a large quantity of (harmless) bacteria that produce gas . Rats, on the other hand, are omnivores, but depending on the types of food a particular rat eats and how much it eats, it may also fart often.

Do worms fart? ›

If you were a sea anemone, you wouldn't fart, but you could probably burp. Last year, a bunch of researchers listed which animals they studied farted. According to their list, it appears that some worms don't pass gas either. Then there are some animals that scientists aren't sure about, like spiders and parakeets.

Can a butterfly fart? ›

The butterfly takes in the moisture, which can be urine from other animals or water from decaying plants. Then, its body uses the nutrients from the water. The moisture that is not needed is forcibly expelled from the other end. Many species, such as the Gluphisia septentrionis, even fart at regular 3 second intervals.

Do chickens fart? ›

Like us humans, chickens also fart as they have to pass the Air coming from the intestine and let it gas out. Not only can chickens fart, but another piece of information that you might find strange is that chickens can burp as well.

Do flies fart? ›

The answer is… yes they do! Most insects have micro-organisms (bacteria etc) that live in their digestive systems (just as we do); they do no harm and they help the bug by breaking down (digesting) their food.

Do Dinosaurs fart? ›

Scientists Estimate Dinosaurs Passed Enough Gas To Warm Up The Planet : The Two-Way Their flatulence and burps were more than four times that of modern-day cows, scientists estimate.

Do dolphins fart? ›

Yes, dolphins like humans and other animals fart or pass gas. In fact farting is a trait that is common among all mammals. By passing gas dolphins, humans and other animals are able to release trapped air and toxic fumes that have accumulated in their stomach.

Do cats get periods? ›

In a sense, yes, cats do have menstrual periods. In felines it's called 'oestrus', but many people just refer to it as being 'in heat'. Only unspayed female cats go through these cycles but rather than shedding the old womb lining like humans do, they reabsorb it, so bleeding is a very rare side effect.

Why do I fart in my sleep? ›

People commonly fart in their sleep, although they usually are not aware of it. Research suggests pressure in the anal sphincter muscle 2fluctuates in cycles throughout the day. This muscle is more relaxed during sleep, and it controls whether or not gas present in the large intestine is released.

Do cats have 9 lives? ›

While cats don't actually have nine lives, many humans believe this myth because cats are able to survive falls that would surely be lethal to most humans. But science can explain this phenomenon. First, cats have an air-righting reflex.

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