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Nature

26 Amazing Nature Facts to Impress Your Hiking Partners

Nature is wild. Wow your hiking partners with these fun facts.

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There’s no better time than spring to appreciate the wonders of nature, as the backcountry comes to life again. But don’t just observe: Show your hiking partners the nature guru that you are when you whip out these fun facts on your next group hike.

  1. Sea otters use rocks as tools to break open hard-shelled food, and they often store favorite rocks in a pouch under their armpits.
  2. European Starlings, one of the most abundant birds in North America, are an invasive species—they were released in Central Park in 1890 by a man named Eugene Schieffelin, who thought that every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays should be found in New York. 
  3. Owls have tubular, bell-shaped eyes. Their eyeballs are immobile, which is why they can rotate their heads 270 degrees. 
  4. Aspen groves are actually one interconnected organism. The largest organism is an aspen grove in Utah named Pando. 
  5. There are 70,000 different types of soil in the United States.
  6. Licking a banana slug will cause your tongue to go numb. 
  7. Skunks can spray up to 10 feet.
  8. Markings on a wolverine’s chest and underside are like fingerprints—no two animals have the same pattern.
  9. Geckos can’t blink. Instead, they clean their eyes with their tongues.
  10. Fir needles contain vitamin C, and were once used to prevent scurvy with tea made by sailors.
  11. Bighorn sheep horns can weigh up to 30 pounds. 
  12. Squirrels are one of the leading causes for power outages in the United States. 
  13. Some crevasses on Himalayan glaciers are large enough to swallow helicopters, especially in narrow valleys. 
  14. Porcupines can’t actually throw their quills. 
  15. Poison ivy isn’t actually poisonous. The rash you get after touching it is an allergic reaction; some people aren’t allergic and don’t get a rash.
  16. In the months prior to hibernation, black bears eat up to 20,000 calories a day. 
  17. Polar bears have black skin. Their fur is actually hollow translucent tubes that only appears white because it reflects light.
  18. One tablespoon of dirt has more organisms than there are people on earth.
  19. Elk antlers can grow up to an inch a day. 
  20. A foehn wind is a strong, dry wind that runs down the leeward side of a mountain range. It can sublimate off up to a foot of snow per day.
  21. The largest Saguaro cactus was 46 feet tall and 200 years old. It was damaged by wildfire in 2005. 
  22. Mosquitos are attracted to stinky feet.
  23. Female mountain goats are called nannies.
  24. Moose are born knowing how to swim. 
  25. Alligators regrow teeth as they wear down, and can grow 3,000 teeth over their lives.
  26. Gray wolves are big eaters—but they can go almost two weeks without food. 

Have a fun nature fact? Send it to us at letters@backpacker.com.