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Does a Goldfish really have a three second memory?

Do you also believe that goldfish have a memory span of only three seconds? Dogs fail to recognise colours other than white and black? Some animal myths exposed...

india Updated: May 06, 2009 13:57 IST

Do you also believe that goldfish have a memory span of only three seconds, and that dogs fail to recognise colours other than white and black? Well, then you are certainly on the wrong side of the facts, for these ideas are just some of the myths recently exposed by an animal charity called People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

The group has said that the widely held idea that purring means that a cat is content is also a misconception.

The assumption that a dog wagging its tail shows that it is happy is not necessarily true, revealed the research.

The charity has compiled a list of some of the most common urban myths about pets, thinking that owners may be unintentionally harming them because of misinformation.

The list was drawn on a series of research projects to challenge deeply held misconceptions about pets.

The idea that goldfish have a memory span of only a few seconds was challenged by a study, which found that the they remember to avoid an area of their tank associated with tiny electronic shocks for at least 24 hours.

Meanwhile, tests involving food rewards have shown that dogs can distinguish blue, grey and yellow objects and do not just see only black and white.

Other potentially dangerous misconceptions include the idea that dogs will only eat as much as they need, which means that it’s impossible to overfeed them.

However, the fact is that they descend from wolves, and thus have a natural tendency to gorge, without knowing where their next meal is coming from— a trait that leaves them prone to dangerous obesity if overfed.

Another convention that rabbits should always be given carrots or that cats should be given milk are also potentially harmful, revealed the veterinary charity.

The PDSA revealed that the notion of "dog breath" is also a myth—rather than being normal for a dog, foul smelling breath could be a sign of illness.

The group even challenged the belief that rabbits make ideal cagemates for guinea pigs, warning that the larger animal sometimes bullies it smaller neighbour.

First Published: May 05, 2009 21:54 IST