Myth: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they are scared or threatened
How it started: It’s an optical illusion! Ostriches are the largest living birds, but their heads are pretty small. If you see them picking at the ground from a distance, it may look like their heads are buried in the ground.
Why its not true: Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand — they wouldn’t be able to breathe! But they do dig holes in the dirt to use as nests for their eggs. Several times a day, a bird puts her head in the hole and turns the eggs. So it really does look like the birds are burying their heads in the sand!
Myth: Opossums hang by their tails
How it started: Opossums use their tails to grasp branches as they climb trees. So it’s not surprising that people believe they also hang from branches.
Why its not true: A baby opossum can hang from its tail for a few seconds, but an adult is too heavy. Besides that wouldn’t help them survive. Why would they just hang around? That skill isn’t useful—there’s no point.
Myth: Touching a frog or toad will give you warts
How it started: Many frogs and toads have bumps on their skin that look like warts. Some people think the bumps are contagious.
Why it’s not true: Warts are caused by a human virus, not frogs or toads. But the wartlike bumps behind a toad’s ears can be dangerous. These parotoid glands contain a nasty poison that irritates the mouths of some predators and often the skin of humans. So toads may not cause warts, but they can cause other nasties. It’s best not to handle these critters — warts and all!