Animals Wildlife Fun Facts About 21 of N. America's Coolest Critters By Stacy Tornio Stacy Tornio Writer University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee University of Oklahoma Stacy Tornio has authored more than 15 books about nature and gardening. She is a master gardener and master naturalist. Learn about our editorial process Updated June 5, 2017 'The Secret Lives of Animals: 1,001 Tidbits, Oddities, and Amazing Facts About North America's Coolest Animals' features illustrations from , including (from left) dolphins, wolverines, kingfishers, and moose. Rachel Riordan Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species Africa has lions and Australia has kangaroos, but don't get animal envy. Right here in North America, we have some pretty incredible species. In the new book, "The Secret Lives of Animals: 1,001 Tidbits, Oddities, and Amazing Facts About North America's Coolest Animals" by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, with illustrations by Rachel Riordan, you'll find all kinds of information about the animals in this country. Here are a few of those animals with facts guaranteed to surprise and entertain. 1. Armadillo Female armadillos are consistent breeders. Rachel Riordan Female armadillos are consistent breeders. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Here's something unique about the offspring of the nine-banded armadillo, found in the southeastern part of the United States: Females nearly always have quadruplets, and they’re all the same sex. 2. Badger Badgers are prodigious diggers. Rachel Riordan Badgers are more than the mascot of a Big 10 football team. (Truth be told, badgers aren't really even common in Wisconsin, so we're not sure why they adopted this animal as their mascot.) In the wild, badgers are great excavators. They have long claws that are designed to dig. Then their feet in the back are almost like little shovels, pushing the dirt through and helping to create a safe haven. 3. Bighorn sheep Having trouble telling male bighorn sheep from female sheep? Look at the horns. Rachel Riordan Having trouble telling male bighorn sheep from female sheep? Look at the horns. (Image: Rachel Riordan) These mountain animals have excellent balance and can stand on ledges of just a couple of inches. Here's another thing you might not know: both males and females have horns, though the female horns will be a little smaller and might not have as much curve to them. 4. Bison Don't let their size fool you: Bison can run pretty fast when they want to. Rachel Riordan Don't let their size fool you: Bison can run pretty fast when they need to. (Image: Rachel Riordan) This is another mammal where both the males (bulls) and females (cows) have horns. If you’re in a national park like Yellowstone where there are lots of bison, be sure to give them plenty of space. It might not look like it, but if they needed, they can reach speeds of nearly 40 miles an hour. 5. Catfish Male catfish are charged with raising the little fish. Rachel Riordan Male catfish are charged with raising the little fish. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Girl power to the female catfish! After female channel catfish lay their eggs, they leave and it's up to the male to guard the nest. 6. Dolphin Dolphin calves stick close to their mothers for a couple of years. Rachel Riordan Dolphin calves stick close to their mothers for a couple of years. (Image: Rachel Riordan) When dolphins give birth, the babies come out tale first! Those young dolphins might stay with their mom for two or three years before they venture out on their own. 7. Jaguar Not all jaguars have spots. Rachel Riordan Not all jaguars have spots (Image: Rachel Riordan) Yes, there are jaguars in the United States, though the range is limited to areas of the Southwest like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. While you think you might know what a jaguar looks like, you'll likely be surprised to learn that they don't all have signature black spots. A small percentage of jaguars have dark fur and can appear almost black. 8. Kingfisher Typically, male birds are a bit flashier in their plumage than females, but not so with the kingfisher. Rachel Riordan Typically, male birds are a bit flashier in their plumage than females, but not so with the kingfisher. (Image: Rachel Riordan) When it comes to birds, male birds are usually more brightly colored and patterned. This isn't the case for kingfishers, though. Females are brighter. They have two stripes across their chest, a blue one and a brown one. Males only have a single blue stripe. 9. Manatee Manatees have some serious lung capacity. Rachel Riordan Manatees have some serious lung capacity. (Image: Rachel Riordan) These gentle giants are found in the warm waters off the Florida coast. Their lungs are highly specialized and stretch almost the entire length of their bodies. 10. Mantis Despite its tiny size, a mantis will stalk speedy hummingbirds. Rachel Riordan Despite its tiny size, a mantis will stalk speedy hummingbirds. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Even though they look nothing alike, these insects are closely related to termites and cockroaches. Here's another weird fact: Praying mantis have been known to stalk and kill hummingbirds. 11. Moose Moose are excellent at hide-and-seek. Rachel Riordan Moose are excellent at hide-and-seek. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Moose might be giants, but this doesn't mean they're easy to spot. They do a great job of hiding themselves in dense willow thickets. Don't forget to look in the water, too. These animals are very comfortable in the water. They feed on plants underwater and can remain underwater for 30 seconds or more. 12. Octopus Octopuses hide something bird-like with their tentacles. Rachel Riordan Octopuses hide something bird-like with their tentacles. (Image: Rachel Riordan) You might think birds are the only animals that have beaks, but octopuses do, too. They need the strong beak to break open the hard shells of the prey they eat. 13. Otter Otters' tails can be quite large. Rachel Riordan Otters' tails can be quite large. (Image: Rachel Riordan) You can find two otters in the United States — river otters and sea otters. Otters have powerful tails that can be up to a foot long; the tails can be about one-third the size of their body. 14. Roadrunner Roadrunners are surprisingly adept hunters. Rachel Riordan Roadrunners are surprisingly adept hunters. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Roadrunners have deadly bills, which they use to kill their prey. Here's another great fact related to their hunting skills: They know how to work as a team. They might join together to kill something like a rattlesnake. One bird will distract the snake while the others kill it. 15. Salamander Female salamanders lay a large number of eggs each birth season. Rachel Riordan Female salamanders lay a large number of eggs each birth season. (Image: Rachel Riordan) The tiger salamander is one of the most widespread in the United States. It's one of the most colorful salamanders, too with yellow stripes and blotches across its body. Females can lay up to 7,000 eggs in a single season. 16. Scorpion It's a good thing scorpions don't hunt under ultraviolet light. Rachel Riordan It's a good thing scorpions don't hunt under ultraviolet light. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Scientists can't exactly explain why, but if you put scorpions under an ultraviolet light, they look fluorescent. What a cool trick! 17. Sea lion Like their name implies, sea lions can have their mane of fur around their necks. Rachel Riordan Like their name implies, sea lions can have their mane of fur around their necks. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Sea lion males have shaggy hair around the head and neck, similar but less obvious than a lion's mane. Males can also be four times larger than the females. 18. Stingray Stingrays tend to keep to themselves. Rachel Riordan Stingrays tend to keep to themselves. (Image: Rachel Riordan) Rays are generally pretty solitary animals, but there's a species called bat rays that gather in schools of hundreds. 19. Tortoise Like badgers, tortoises like to dig. Rachel Riordan Like badgers, tortoises like to dig. (Image: Rachel Riordan) All species of tortoises are great diggers. Their burrows can also serve as homes for more than 350 other animal species, including small mammals, snakes, toads, invertebrates and even burrowing owls. 20. Warbler While they prefer insects, some warblers will change their diets depending on the season. Rachel Riordan While they prefer insects, some warblers will change their diets depending on the season. (Image: Rachel Riordan) You can find 50 species of warblers in North America. Most warblers are specialized to eat insects. They migrate to the tropics for winter. A few, like the yellow-rumped warbler, can shift their diets to berries during winter in the United States. 21. Wolverine Wolverines have keen sniffers. Rachel Riordan Wolverines have keen sniffers. (Image: Rachel Riordan) They have a fantastic sense of smell. For instance, if an animal is burrowed under the snow, a wolverine can smell it 10 to 20 feet deep! This is good for the wolverine, but not so good for that hibernating animal.