13 Bizarre Animal Antics Snopes Fact-Checked in 2021

Year after year, the animal kingdom continues to amaze the internet.

Published Dec. 20, 2021

 (Snopes montage)
Image courtesy of Snopes montage

No, images of a sea star at the Seattle Aquarium that went viral in 2021 didn't actually show the creature's "butt."

Similarly, a photo that a Snopes reader sent us this year didn't actually depict a "hairy frog."

However, a 2021 TikTok video indeed made an accurate claim about a so-called "demon fish," and photos of a "penis snake" that caused a stir on Reddit featured a real, phallic-looking animal.

Those are just a few of the numerous fact checks involving members of the animal kingdom that our newsroom investigated in 2021 — and they are among Snopes staff members' favorites due to their level of bizarreness. The full list of the team's standouts is below.

[See also: Deepfake or Not? Snopes Debunked These Videos in 2021]

Note: This page is part of our annual review of Snopes’ content, and you can read all of our “Staff Picks & Standouts” for a variety of content categories here.

Does This Photo Show a ‘Real-Life’ Spongebob and Patrick?

True. A photograph captured by a team of scientists aboard the deep-sea research vessel Okeanos Explorer showed a “real life” Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star.

Image via NOAA

Gorillas Find Snake at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Viral Video

The videos were apparently first posted on TikTok, showing part of the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.

Image via @silkystrokesurvivor/TikTok

Is the ‘Penis Snake’ a Real Animal?

True. While these pictures often make their way around the internet attached to names like “penis snake,” “floppy snake,” or “man-aconda,” this creature’s proper name is Atretochoana eiselti.

Image via Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi

Watch a Hummingbird Slap a Bee in Slow Motion

The fiery throated hummingbird beats its wings close to 100 times per second.

Image via Instagram

Video Captures Moment Golden Retriever Fends Off Alaskan Brown Bear

The dog’s owner said he was changing his pet’s name from “Pretty” to “Legend.”

Image via Screengrab/Nicholas Galanin

Does Video Show ‘Starfish with Buttcheeks’?

Miscaptioned. Is it funny? Yes. Is it true? That’s another story.

Was a Tiny Chameleon with Huge Genitals Discovered in Madagascar?

True. A newly discovered, miniature chameleon may be the world’s smallest adult male reptile. Evolutionarily speaking, not everything appears to have shrunk at the same rate, however.

Image via Glaw et al. 2021 / Scientific Reports

Was One of These Webs Spun by an LSD-Tripping Spider?

True. Like humans, the cognitive abilities of spiders appear to be impaired by drugs.

Image via Twitter

Can Some Turtles Breathe Through Their Butts?

True. And you thought mouth breathers were weird.

Does a Photo Show a Parasite That Replaced a Fish’s Tongue?

True. And you thought that canker sore was bad.

Image via Jimmy Bernot

Is This Hairy Frog Real?

False. In June 2021, a picture supposedly showing a “hairy frog” turned up in our inbox (where you can send us tips and questions), along with a question about whether or not this photo shows a real-world animal.

Image via Worth1000 / DesignCrowd

Can Sheepshead Fish Bite People with Their ‘Human’ Teeth?

True. The so-called “demon fish” have a mouthful of molars and two incisors.

Image via USM

Were ‘Rabid’ Squirrels Attacking People in Queens, New York?

Mixture. In late December 2020, readers flagged news reports about “aggressive” squirrels attacking residents in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, requiring one person to go to the emergency room.

Image via The Humane Society of the United States.

Want something fact checked in 2022? Submit your misinformation leads and questions to Snopes, subscribe to our newsletters, and support us financially by becoming a member or making a direct contribution.

Jessica Lee is Snopes' Senior Assignments Editor with expertise in investigative storytelling, media literacy advocacy and digital audience engagement.

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