Many animals are seen as evil or dangerous because of how they have been portrayed throughout history. Other animals are seen as disgusting and dirty, while the opposite is actually true.
Here is a list of ten of the most misunderstood animals in the world with some facts to set the record straight about them.
Wolves are iconic in human myths and legends and are depicted as symbols of chaos, messengers of gods, and dangerous villains. The reality about wolves is that they are important apex predators who play critical roles in balancing the ecosystems in their native habitats. Despite people’s primal fears about wolves, the risk of them attacking humans is almost too low to calculate.
It’s rare to see a porcupine in the wild, but if you do see one, you don’t need to worry about it throwing its quills at you. It’s a common misconception that porcupines can shoot quills to protect themselves. You’re not in any danger unless you try to grab one.
Bats have long been associated with vampires, witches, devils, and evil spirits. Even though some people see them as disgusting creatures, they are quite useful to have around. Bats have important ecological roles, like eating insects, pollinating flowers, and dispersing seeds. In one hour, a bat can eat about 1,000 mosquitoes.
4. Mountain Lions
Like all cats, mountain lions are stealthy hunters, and most encounters with the big cats are one-sided. Many people think that their neighborhoods aren’t mountain lion habitats, but just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They usually avoid people, although when they do attack, the results are often deadly. As human populations continue encroaching on their habitat, there are likely to be more instances where humans meet mountain lions.
5. Grizzly Bears
In the movies, grizzly bears are characterized as vicious, man-eating carnivores, but in reality, they mostly want to mind their own business, and they are omnivores. Attacking people takes a lot of energy, and they don’t do it unless they have to. Most bear encounters that end badly happen because of something that people did wrong, not bears, such as leaving food out while camping.
Shark attacks do happen, but not as often as people think. Humans have an irrational fear of sharks, considering that the odds of being fatally attacked by a shark are less than 1 in 4 million. You’re far more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, lightning, and even fireworks than from a shark attack.
Pigs are considered stupid and messy, but all the evidence points to the opposite being true. Pigs show self-awareness, respond to humans, and have demonstrated cognitive abilities at the same level as young children and dogs. Moreover, they have been ranked as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. They are also neat, and even when kept in small enclosures, won’t defecate in their sleeping and eating areas.
Many people think hyenas are related to dogs but are more closely related to cats. Like wolves, legends and movies haven’t helped the hyenas’ reputation. Hyenas have been portrayed as dirty scavengers even though they kill about 95% of their food.
9. Killer Whales
Most people know that orcas, also known as killer whales, aren’t actually killers unless you’re a seal. But did you know that killer whales aren’t actually even whales? Even though they are closely related to whales, they are technically members of the dolphin family. Orcas are highly social animals, hunting and raising their young in large groups called pods.
Snakes are one of the most misunderstood of all animals. They have been personified as evil in literature and religions around the world, but the truth is they try to avoid humans. Rather than bringing evil to the world, snakes are valuable predators who keep rodent populations in check. Without snakes, there would be an explosion of diseases that rodents carry.