Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence – Nick Caruso & Dani Rabaiotti

Illustrations – Ethan Kocak

You know those facts that you didn’t know you needed to know until you read a blurb and realise that you urgently need to know this vital information? Well, that sums up how I felt when I discovered Does It Fart? on NetGalley. I read the blurb, knew immediately that I needed this book in my life, hit the Request button and waited. Then my email notification arrived letting me know I was denied access to this title. My heart sank and I experienced one of my biggest NetGalley disappointments to date.

Yet I still desperately needed to read it ASAP so I waited as patiently as possible for the release date. Finally it arrived and I thought about ordering it through my local library but quickly determined that I needed it now, so downloaded it to my Kindle and started reading straight away.

I was anticipating a book with some facts but more laughs. In the introduction I read that “Not all farts are created equal” and that confirmed to me that this was definitely the book for me, so I eagerly read on. Then I found I was disappointed because my expectations didn’t match the reality of this book.

There are some interesting facts and you do find out the answers regarding whether an animal farts, doesn’t fart or maybe farts, but I found it was written in such a clinical way that the only laughs I got out of the book came from the illustrations.

Had I simply expected information telling me that this animal farts because it eats a plant based diet and has a certain type of stomach and digestive system, or this animal farts because it eats a meat based diet and has certain type of stomach and digestive system, I would have been satisfied. There was other information about each animal including details of scent glands and digestive enzymes, how many species of that animal exist and where they’re found along with the animal’s scientific name, but I didn’t need to laugh at all while I read.

I did like learning smelly facts including an animal that uses their farts to kill prey, another that uses farts to communicate and one that will die if they don’t fart, but I found these facts interesting rather than funny. Even the entry about unicorns mostly compared them to horses, cows and rhinos, making the assumption that because each of these animals fart then a unicorn would be likely to as well.

I know I’m in the minority here as plenty of reviewers are talking about how hilarious this book is but the illustrations stole the show for me. They were fantastic and looked like they belonged in a cartoon or a funny graphic novel. The expressions on the animals’ faces were priceless, with plenty of big googly eyes and crosses replacing eyes for those in the flatulence firing line. All of the animals had so much character I could have written a story featuring each of them based on their expressions and the way they were posed alone. I definitely need to see more of Ethan Kocak’s artwork.

I am glad I read this book as it satisfied my curiosity and I now know the answers about whether the animals discussed fart or not. However I wish I’d waited to borrow it from the library rather than spending money that I would have preferred, in hindsight, to spend on several other books I know I would have enjoyed more and wanted to reread.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Dogs do it. Millipedes do it. Dinosaurs did it. You do it. I do it. Octopuses don’t (and nor do octopi). Spiders might do it: more research is needed. Birds don’t do it, but they could if they wanted to. Herrings do it to communicate with each other. 

In 2017 zoologist Dani Rabaiotti’s teenage brother asked her a most teenaged question: Do snakes fart? Stumped, Rabaiotti turned to Twitter. The internet did not disappoint. Her innocent question spawned the hashtag #doesitfart and it spread like a noxious gas. Dozens of noted experts began weighing in on which animals do and don’t fart, and if they do, how much, how often, what it’s made of, what it smells like, and why. 

Clearly, the public demands more information on animal farts. Does it Fart? fills that void: a fully authoritative, fully illustrated guide to animal flatulence, covering the habits of 80 animals in more detail than you ever knew you needed. 

What do hyena farts smell especially bad? What is a fossa, and does it fart? Why do clams vomit but not fart? And what is a fart, really? Pairing hilarious illustrations with surprisingly detailed scientific explanations, Does it Fart? will allow you to shift the blame onto all kinds of unlikely animals for years to come. 

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