11. There’s a train station in Japan that has a cat for a stationmaster. The current cat stationmaster is named Nitama who was appointed after the sad demise of Tama, the first cat to be the stationmaster there.
The Kishi Train Station located in Kinokawa, the rural neighborhood of Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, has a special stationmaster – a cat! It has not always been like that. Years ago, the station was on the verge of closure. But when locals demanded it be kept open, the authorities finally agreed. At that time, Toshiko Koyama was the station master.
Koyama had adopted a cat, Tama, who used to roam around in the station and greet passengers. On January 5, 2007, officials decided to award the official title of stationmaster to Tama. Her primary duty was to meet and greet passengers.
A specially designed stationmaster’s hat was made for Tama. In terms of salary, Tama received a year’s worth of cat food and a gold tag that had her name and designation engraved on it. During her first year on the job, Tama was said to have brought in 1.1 billion yen ($9.2 million) and to have led to a 17% increase in the number of passengers.
In 2015, Tama breathed her last. After a mourning period of 50 days, another cat succeeded in her post. The new cat is Nitama. It is said that she beat several other prospective cat candidates to get the job! Nitama was chosen on account of her experience.
She served as a stationmaster at the Idakiso Station before she became Tama’s assistant stationmaster in 2012. She had training from Tama directly, and that worked in her favor of getting the job. Wait, are we still talking about cats? (1, 2)
12. Dogs can sense when their owners are returning home by the amount of scent left in the house in the case where owners have the same daily routine.
Dogs have a power known as “stereo-olfaction.” This gives them the ability to smell differentiate scents with each nostril! The nose of a dog enhances the smells in the same way a high definition television enhances the picture quality. This is possible because the nose of a dog has millions of more receptor cells than that of a human nose.
Dogs can tell the time based on the smell of the space around them. For a pet, this spectacular ability helps them to get an idea of the time when their owners will be back home. Depending on the amount of scent left in the house, the dogs get a rough idea of how long their owners have been gone. So, if the owners have a regular schedule, the dogs are well aware when the owners are about to return home. (source)
13. In seahorses, it is the male that carries the babies and gives birth to them.
Seahorses are unusual-looking fish that have undergone numerous adaptations. Over thousands of years, seahorses have developed a tail to grasp onto seabed vegetation, a mouth that looks like a tube to suck in small water-borne organisms, and a protective cover for their skin. But nothing beats the ability of the male seahorses to give birth to their young ones!
Male seahorses carry the eggs of their babies on their belly. They have a pouch on their stomach that enables them to carry up to 2,000 babies at a time. Depending on the type of seahorse species, the pregnancy can last between 10 and 25 days.
When the eggs hatch in the pouch, it is the male who cares for them and nurtures them. Finally, when they are ready to be born, the male undergoes contractions that expel the young ones from the pouch. Once they are born, the male seahorse cuts all ties with them. The parents do not provide them with any care once they are released into the sea. (source)
14. It is illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland. You need to own at least two.
Switzerland is the home of numerous, pet-friendly laws. For example, they have this law where it is compulsory for dog owners to take a course on how to take care of their dogs and deal with various behavioral situations. Similarly, fishermen are required to take a course on humane fishing. And now they have come up with the “guinea pig law.”
Guinea pigs are social animals. They need to have constant social interaction if they are to remain happy, so, owning just one guinea pig would not be a good idea. They need a friend at all times. Hence, by law, you will need to have at least two guinea pigs in Switzerland. (source)
15. If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will turn paler.
If your goldfish has been lying in the dark throughout the night, you might notice that it has turned a little paler in the morning. Also, a goldfish kept indoors is slightly paler in comparison to the ones swimming in fresh water outdoors.
The reason being that when goldfish are not exposed to the entire spectrum of light or kept in the dark for many days, special cells of the fish, called chromatophores, will stop producing pigments that give color to their skin. These special cells will stop working, and the new cells aren’t stimulated enough to produce pigment.
The goldfish won’t turn entirely white as fish also get their pigment from the food they eat. Fish foods contain carotenoids and canthaxanthin, pigments that are responsible for coloration in fish. (source)