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QI IDLE ANIMALS
Can any animal really qualify as an idler? Surely they are continually driven into non-stop activity by their need to eat and reproduce? Far less than you’d think, as it turns out.
¶Obviously, the sloth family is in a league of its own: no other mammal is lazy enough to allow algae to grow on their fur, nor survive on a digestion so painfully slow that they can actually starve to death on a full stomach. But there are plenty of other animal sluggards, some of them rather surprising:
Bees Despite their reputation, honey bees aren’t all that busy. They look it, buzzing from flower to flower, and we all are dead impressed by the fact that single bee would have to travel the equivalent of twice around the world to make a pound of honey, but they don’t. They might spend a couple of weeks on serious pollen duty, usually towards the end of their life; the rest of the time, they’re hanging out around the hive, growing, or feeding the next generation and they all take a six month winter break. Nice work if you can get it.
SUMMER 2008 Beavers Beavers are slightly busier than bees, but a five hour day is about the limit. During the winter they leave their lodge only once a fortnight, sustained by a larder of logs and the fat stored in their scaly tails. In 1760, the odd texture of their tails led the College of Physicians and Faculty of
Divinity in Paris to classify the beaver as a fish. This meant the French settlers in North America could officially eat beaver during Lent and on other fast days. Beaver tail is supposed to taste like roast beef.
Koalas Because they live exclusively on eucalyptus leaves which are very low in energy, koalas spend 20hours a day kipping. The leaves are mostly water, so the koalas don’t even have to climb down to drink. It explains why their energy-guzzling brains only fill half their cranial cavities, floating in fluid like prunes. But it offers no clues to their lesbian behaviour in captivity. Romps involving up to five females are commonplace and last twice as long as heterosexual encounters. Unfortunately, Cell Block Hsyndrome also spread chlamydia, or ‘wet bottom’, leaving them sterile.
NOTES FROM THE COUCH