Pets and humans have worked together for centuries. Farm animals and household pets often do tough jobs that their owners can't. Many animals are hard workers who rarely give up on a job before it's done, and they do it all for the love of their owners.
From dogs that guide people with sight loss to mules that pack loads down canyons, animals can work an impressive number of jobs. Here are 10 more unique jobs that animals have mastered.
Dogs are well-known for detecting explosives in public, but they're not the only animals that have this special ability. Some airports have started to train bees to identify bombs, as their sense of smell rivals a dog's keen nose.
They're trained to associate the scents of explosives with nectar. When bees catch the scent, they extend their proboscis (mouth tube) and flock toward the item. This lets security personnel know that something needs to be checked out.
A special species, the greater honeyguide, is a bird that lives up to its name by leading humans to beehives. These small birds are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Over time, they developed dependent relationships with humans.
People make specific chirping noises, and the birds lead them to a beehive. The humans break open the hives to get the honey. The birds get to feast on their preferred food, the beeswax inside the hive.
Driving a lawnmower over acres and acres of land can be exhausting. Some pets are much better suited to the task of maintaining large tracts of land than humans. Animals that love grazing on greenery—like sheep, goats, and cattle—make great landscaping help.
These animals have long been used to clear fields for agriculture and other human uses. Grazing animals are now used in some areas to clear weeds and dry grass for wildfire prevention.
You probably know that the military uses dogs to detect drugs, explosives, and other dangerous substances. But did you know that the partnership between militaries worldwide and animals is much deeper than that?
In Northern Africa, camels have been used as military transport and pack animals for centuries. Homing pigeons have carried messages behind enemy lines during battle. The U.S. Navy has even trained dolphins to detect underwater explosives.
A wide variety of animals have become companions to humans over the centuries. Now, many of these animals officially help humans as therapeutic and emotional comfort animals. Dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, and birds all work in medical settings and nursing homes. They soothe patients and brighten the day of everyone that encounters them.
Therapy animals are also deployed to the scenes of tragedies to comfort individuals experiencing trauma.
Dogs are pros at sniffing out scent trails and bombs, but that's only some of what their powerful noses can do. Some dogs are also capable aides in hospitals and doctor's offices. Canines have been trained to sniff out high blood sugar, impending seizures, and cancer.
Patients who are afraid of needles or invasive testing generally respond well to these super-sniffing pets.
Land mines buried in the ground pose major risks to humans and animals in regions throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. Dogs generally can't be used to sniff for mines because they weigh too much and run the risk of setting them off. That's where the mighty African pouched rat comes in.
These pint-sized rodents have powerful noses and can navigate through mined areas without setting off any explosives. They alert their human handlers when they sense a mine so that it can be removed.
Many service animals assist people with day-to-day tasks like stability and navigating crosswalks. Only monkeys, though, can truly give their owners a helping hand. Like humans, primates have flexible fingers and toes that are capable of grabbing. Monkeys have been used as assistants for people who suffer from severe mobility issues or have lost the use of a limb.
Their intelligence makes them stellar helpers for those with disabilities.
Everyone has seen a movie where the starring animal stole the scene. The list of animals that have made movie appearances is truly impressive. The most popular animal actors include cats, dogs, dolphins, and primates.
Snakes and penguins have enjoyed prime time in Hollywood productions alongside human co-stars, too. There are few species and animal families that haven't been represented on the big screen.
Members of the weasel family, ferrets have long, flexible bodies that are built for squeezing into tight spaces. In the wild, ferrets chase rodents down holes and sneak into nests to steal eggs. Humans have used them as rodent hunters since Ancient Roman times.
In the 1900s, British electricians trained ferrets to carry wires through tight underground tubes for them. Ferrets have worked running wiring for special events like concerts too.
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