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Whiskers (40) More files...
Humans don’t have whiskers, but most other mammals do. Some birds possess specialized hair-like feathers called rictal bristles around the base of the beak which are sometimes referred to as whiskers as well. These wiry hairs growing out of an animal’s face, forehead, and sometimes legs have a fancy scientific name: vibrissae From cats and dogs to rats and seals, animals use whiskers to help them find their way and follow their prey. Animals brush, or whisk, their whiskers against objects to guide them, measure things, and find food.

Whiskers aren’t just hairs. Where each whisker is rooted in the skin are lots and lots of nerve cells. When the whisker touches something, these nerve cells send messages to the brain. It’s amazing how much information an animal’s brain gets from the whiskers. Rats’ whiskers help them make mental maps of the world around them. Seals use their whiskers to sense the vibrations of a fish moving in the water. Many animals use whiskers to figure out whether or not they can fit through a tight space. Whiskers may look cute, but they also help animals survive.
Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) with open mouth, Toronga Zoo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia  -  Martin Willis
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00538470 Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) with open mouth, Toronga Zoo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia© Martin Willis
European Hare (Lepus europaeus) adult, close-up of head, Norfolk, England, June  -  Simon Litten/ FLPA
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80184719 European Hare (Lepus europaeus) adult, close-up of head, Norfolk, England, June© Simon Litten / FLPA
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) adult male, close-up of head, in water, Okavango Delta, Botswana  -  Dickie Duckett/ FLPA
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80120417 Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) adult male, close-up of head, in water, Okavango Delta, Botswana© Dickie Duckett / FLPA
Harp Seal (Phoca groenlandicus) pup, Magdalen Islands, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada  -  Jan Vermeer
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00432959 Harp Seal (Phoca groenlandicus) pup, Magdalen Islands, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada© Jan Vermeer
Pacific Common Seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) adult, close-up of nose and mouth, Comox Harbour, Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada, November  -  Jack Chapman/ FLPA
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80177871 Pacific Common Seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) adult, close-up of nose and mouth, Comox Harbour, Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada, November© Jack Chapman / FLPA
Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) pup, resting on sandy beach at dawn, Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, England  -  Richard Costin/ FLPA
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80084313 Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) pup, resting on sandy beach at dawn, Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, England© Richard Costin/ FLPA
Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) adult male portrait, native to Africa  -  ZSSD
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00119256 Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) adult male portrait, native to Africa© ZSSD
Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernating, France  -  Paul van Hoof/ Buiten-beeld
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00517256 Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernating, France© Paul van Hoof/ Buiten-beeld
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck showing close up of nose, western Montana  -  Donald M. Jones
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00432170 White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck showing close up of nose, western Montana© Donald M. Jones
Nutria (Myocastor coypus) showing orange teeth, Germany  -  Ingo Arndt
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00456587 Nutria (Myocastor coypus) showing orange teeth, Germany© Ingo Arndt
Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) swimming underwater, Monterey, California  -  Norbert Wu
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00977126 Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) swimming underwater, Monterey, California© Norbert Wu
Jaguar (Panthera onca) male, native to Central and South America  -  ZSSD
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00478073 Jaguar (Panthera onca) male, native to Central and South America© ZSSD
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) portrait, Anholt, Germany  -  Misja Smits/ Buiten-beeld
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00514650 Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) portrait, Anholt, Germany© Misja Smits/ Buiten-beeld
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), Germany  -  Paul van Hoof/ Buiten-beeld
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00517170 Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), Germany© Paul van Hoof/ Buiten-beeld
Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus)with open ear hole, Svalbard, Norway
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00559638 Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus)with open ear hole, Svalbard, Norway© Heike Odermatt
Harp Seal (Phoca groenlandicus) pup portrait, Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada  -  Michio Hoshino
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00097549 Harp Seal (Phoca groenlandicus) pup portrait, Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada© Michio Hoshino
Pouched Rat (Cricetomys ansorgei), Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
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00585605 Pouched Rat (Cricetomys ansorgei), Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique© Piotr Naskrecki
Domestic Cat (Felis catus) close up face of hissing kitten  -  Mitsuaki Iwago
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00900063 Domestic Cat (Felis catus) close up face of hissing kitten© Mitsuaki Iwago
Leopard (Panthera pardus) snarling, Botswana  -  Sergey Gorshkov
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00445916 Leopard (Panthera pardus) snarling, Botswana© Sergey Gorshkov
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), Svalbard, Norway
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00568216 Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), Svalbard, Norway© Jami Tarris
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in winter, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
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00582708 Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in winter, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming© Chase Dekker
Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus) male displaying colorful head crest, Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve, Guyana  -  Wil Meinderts/ Buiten-beeld
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00278653 Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus) male displaying colorful head crest, Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve, Guyana© Wil Meinderts/ Buiten-beeld
Buff-collared Nightjar (Caprimulgus ridgwayi) calling, Arizona  -  Alan Murphy/ BIA
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00547417 Buff-collared Nightjar (Caprimulgus ridgwayi) calling, Arizona© Alan Murphy/ BIA
Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) portrait, native to the Amur River Valley, Siberia, Manchuria and Korea  -  Michael Durham
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00640110 Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) portrait, native to the Amur River Valley, Siberia, Manchuria and Korea© Michael Durham
North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis mantelli) in nocturnal kiwi house, Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch, New Zealand  -  Tui De Roy
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00544448 North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis mantelli) in nocturnal kiwi house, Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch, New Zealand© Tui De Roy
Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) Close-up of head, Saint Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska  -  Mark Newman/ FLPA
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80029529 Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) Close-up of head, Saint Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska© Mark Newman / FLPA
Atlantic Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) adult male, close-up of head, at surface of sea, Spitsbergen, Svalbard  -  Bill Coster/ FLPA
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80132931 Atlantic Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) adult male, close-up of head, at surface of sea, Spitsbergen, Svalbard© Bill Coster / FLPA
Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus), Scotland
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00569537 Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus), Scotland© Melvin Redeker/ Buiten-beeld
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) portrait, Chobe National Park, Botswana  -  Winfried Wisniewski
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70024089 Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) portrait, Chobe National Park, Botswana© Winfried Wisniewski
Pyrenean Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus), Galicia, Spain  -  Karl Van Ginderdeuren/ Buiten-be
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00523715 Pyrenean Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus), Galicia, Spain© Karl Van Ginderdeuren/ Buiten-beeld
Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) close-up portrait of female, endemic to Sumatra, Indonesia  -  ZSSD
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00117842 Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) close-up portrait of female, endemic to Sumatra, Indonesia© ZSSD
Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), Codfish Island, New Zealand  -  Stephen Belcher
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00482747 Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), Codfish Island, New Zealand© Stephen Belcher
North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis mantelli) probing in the damp understory showing tactile bristles and prominent ear, Kiwi House, Otorohanga Breeding Facility, New Zealand  -  Tui De Roy
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00140669 North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis mantelli) probing in the damp understory showing tactile bristles and prominent ear, Kiwi House, Otorohanga Breeding Facility, New Zealand© Tui De Roy
Nutria (Myocastor coypus), Germany  -  Wahrmut Sobainsky/ NiS
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70030037 Nutria (Myocastor coypus), Germany© Wahrmut Sobainsky/ NiS
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) face, Svalbard, Norway  -  Jan Vermeer
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70032729 Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) face, Svalbard, Norway© Jan Vermeer
Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus) scratching its chin while resting on ice floe, Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic  -  Tui De Roy
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00140477 Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus) scratching its chin while resting on ice floe, Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic© Tui De Roy
Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) females socializing, Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador  -  Tui De Roy
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00143574 Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) females socializing, Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador© Tui De Roy
Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia  -  Roland Seitre
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00530489 Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia© Roland Seitre
Domestic Cat (Felis catus) white adult cat with one blue eye and one green eye, a condition called heterochromia which does not affect vision  -  Mitsuaki Iwago
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00900036 Domestic Cat (Felis catus) white adult cat with one blue eye and one green eye, a condition called heterochromia which does not affect vision© Mitsuaki Iwago
Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) mother and pup, Prince William Sound, Alaska  -  Donald M. Jones
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00535512 Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) mother and pup, Prince William Sound, Alaska© Donald M. Jones
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