You’ve probably heard some of these outdoor myths growing up. Here is the scoop on why they are false and how they may have come about.
A lot of these myths passed around the campfire are often received with some doubt. But when these myths are touted as wisdom with numerous sayings dedicated to the false information, they can easily be believable.
Check out the truth behind these outdoor myths you may have heard as a kid.
Also called harvestmen, these aptly named arachnids are often touted as the most venomous insect alive, but with a mouth too small to deliver their load. This is a myth, however, and the opiliones do not even have venom glands. While certain species of cellar spiders are referred to as “daddy long-legs” and while they sometimes do have venom, they are very much capable of biting humans, although the effects of their venom on humans is almost completely negligible.
9. Birds blow up from rice
You may have been told not to feed rice to birds as the uncooked rice would swell and pop the bird’s insides. While this is not only false, some species of birds rely on rice to help fatten up during migration periods. The myth was purported by a newspaper column in 1996 and has stuck around since.
8. Porcupines shoot their quills
Another popular animal myth is that porcupines hold the ability to actually shoot their quills as projectiles at potential threats. While it seemingly made sense as a kid, the fact of the matter is, the quills release only once they have come into contact with something. Fido wasn’t shot, he just bit off more than he could chew.
7. Bears attack with frequency
Like many tales of animal attacks, the number of actual encounters is greatly over-exaggerated. There have been only 15 fatal wild bear attacks in the U.S. since 2010.
6. Handled baby birds/eggs are abandoned
If you ever happened across a baby bird fallen from its nest after hearing this myth you may have panicked; I know I did as a kid. If it is a nestling, with fuzz or no feathers, return it to the nest. If it is a fledgling, with feathers, it is common for them to spend some time on the ground before learning to fly, so returning it to the nest may hinder its development.
5. Suck out the venom from snake bites
Generally recognized as false today, but sometimes still given as advice, this myth is either entirely ineffective or potentially more harmful than doing nothing. The suctioned area may undergo necrosis and/or be exposed to further infection via bacteria in the mouth of the person trying to help.
4. You can drink less water in winter because you sweat less
Many people believe that because it is cold out and you’re sweating less, you don’t need to drink as much water. The opposite is true here; dry and cold days can be as bad for dehydration as hot ones. This one is just general misinformation, without a definitive source.
3. Drink urine if dehydrated
This is a myth that seems to have gotten a lot of recent attention and while in extremely dire situations it may work out, it should generally be avoided. Urine contains toxins and mineral waste that have been removed from the body, so drinking your urine returns all that bad stuff to your system. It also has a salinity level close to saltwater, which is terrible when dehydrated.
2. Swimming, eating, cramping, and drowning
Summertime as a kid meant going to the pool with a big lunch only to eat and be told you had to wait an hour before going in the water. Why? Because supposedly you would get cramps and drown. Luckily, this is not the case at all. It is hard to pin an origin for this myth, but some believe it came about because it was thought eating caused blood to flow to the stomach to aid digestion, so the limbs wouldn’t have enough blood to operate properly.
1. You lose most of your body heat through your head
An old mountaineer maxim is, “If your feet are cold, put on a hat.” It comes from the idea that we lose a significant amount of heat through our heads. However, this is false. A U.S. Army manual from the ’70s wrongly interpreted a study from the ’50s in which participants did lose the majority of the heat through their heads, but only because the rest of their bodies were covered in thick arctic gear (thus insulating everything but the head).
These myths are most commonly believed by kids, but some are still widely circulated throughout outdoor communities. Some make sense that they were created and others…not so much. I do admit, I definitely believed a few.