12 tweetable facts about Chinese zodiac animals

Sable Island horses (Photo by Bill Freedman)

Sable Island horses (Photo by Bill Freedman)

January 25, 2017 | by Adam Hunter

Lunar New Year is a celebration of the first day of the first month in the lunisolar calendar. The tradition, believed to have started as early as 2300 BC, is based on a 12-year-long cycle, with each year in the cycle corresponding to a particular zodiac animal sign: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog or pig. This year is the Year of the Rooster. 

A bighorn sheep on Luxor Linkage conservation area (Photo by Bonnie-Lou Ferris)

A bighorn sheep on Luxor Linkage conservation area (Photo by Bonnie-Lou Ferris)

Many legends surround the origins of the zodiac animals. The most commonly told story involves the Jade Emperor. He decreed that the first 12 animals in the universe to complete a race would be chosen as calendar signs, and the order in which they finished the race would determine the order of the zodiac. The rat, who placed first, is believed to have won the race by hitching a ride on the ox’s back.

In honour of Lunar New Year on January 28, here are 12 tweetable facts about the zodiac animals. Tweet as many facts as you want or tweet the fact that corresponds to your zodiac sign.

1. Sumatran bamboo rats can weigh as much as a domestic cat. (Tweet this!)
2. To protect their young, muskoxen form rings around them, with their horns facing out towards predators. (Tweet this!)
3. Tigers are the world's largest wild feline, weighing up to 363 kilograms and measuring up to 3.3 metres. (Tweet this!)
4. A snowshoe hare's (rabbit's) white winter fur turns brown as the snow melts each spring. (Tweet this!)
5. A Komodo dragon bite can kill an animal within 24 hours. Their toxic saliva contains more than 50 bacterial strains. (Tweet this!)
6. Common garter snakes, Canada's most widespread snake, give birth to live young. (Tweet this!)
7. The only truly wild horse is Przewalski's horse, a species not descended from domesticated horses. (Tweet this!)
8. At 14 kilograms, the horns of a male Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are heavier than the combined mass of its bones. (Tweet this!)
9. Golden snub-nosed monkeys inhabit higher altitudes than any other primate species, besides humans. (Tweet this!)
10. To attract mates, roosters do a dance called "tidbitting," which involves making noises and moving their heads up and down. (Tweet this!)
11. The hunting success rate of the African wild dog is higher than a lion's. (Tweet this!)
12. Female wild boars (pigs) can have two litters per year, with six or more offspring per litter. (Tweet this!)
Adam Hunter (Photo courtesy of Adam Hunter)

About the Author

Adam Hunter was the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Adam Hunter.

More by this author »