One of the burning questions I’ve always had for humanity is which animals fart and which ones don’t? It’s important because flatulence is a topic I don’t feel is discussed enough in today’s society whether it’s loud and proud or silent and deadly. Thankfully, there’s a guide out there to help answer these inquiries and more. I have to say, it taught me a lot about flatulence I didn’t expect.
Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence is a collection of animal flatulence, with illustrations (by Ethan Kocak), that reveal whether or not various four-legged, winged, or finned creatures pass gas. Yes, this is clearly a book meant to live in bathrooms and other ‘noticeable’ places around the home, but that doesn’t make it any less informative and more than a little enjoyable.
And boy did I enjoy it, but I also came away more knowledgeable about the flatulence of many animals big and small than I first thought possible.
Did you know some creatures use their flatulence to control their buoyancy in water? You may laugh, but I learned that a species of shark will gulp air from the surface and store it in its stomach to keep them balanced. Manatees also use carbon dioxide to help them stay afloat in the water and when they’ve stored a little too much of the gassy stuff they can be seen floating near the surface with their tail held aloft to expel the excess.
Flatulence is even important for fish, too. Take a species of herring that uses it to communicate via something called FRT or “Fast Repetitive Tick”. Yet another species of fish collects so much gas that they’ll end up floating to the surface and will have to fart to relieve themselves quickly so they can swim back down to hide in the mud. If they’re not able to break wind, they’re easy prey for predators, so flatulence is literally a life or death sentence for them.
The book also covers the digestive systems of animals like the horse and cow, detailing what causes them to produce so much gas. We peek into why “hindgut fermenters” animals like horses are so big. Unlike cows, that have multi-compartment digestive systems (multiple stomachs basically), the horse lets its food ferment in its hind gut after digesting part of its feed in the foregut. This breaks down food more efficiently and lends the horse its large size. The rhino is another animal that uses this same digestive system for breaking down their food. Who knew they were filled with so much gas?!
Does It Fart? is an insightful little book that’s not just filled with hot air, but information that left me surprised with how much it was packed to the brim with in-depth knowledge about how different animals can be so differently filled with gas. From Ethan Kocak’s silly illustrations of a bug using its gas to subdue its prey to answering the eternal question whether bats truly break wind or not, it’s hard not to smile at the lighthearted journey Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti’s book takes readers through. For those of you more than a little curious about animal flatulence, or just need interesting reading material while seated on the throne, here’s something special for the holiday shopping list.