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Handedness in Animals


Does left-handedness (or footedness, etc.) exist in other animals?

—Dick A., San Francisco, Calif.

Nope, and neither does right-handedness, for that matter. No strong parallel to inborn human “handedness” exists in other animals. A few weak parallels may be found, such as parrots that often use their left foot to grab a piece of food or toads that use a right foot to wipe off their faces. Each individual animal, such as your dog or cat, may develop a preference for one paw over another for a particular task, but neither chosen side strongly dominates the way the one inborn side does in humans. The developed preferences are divided roughly evenly between the right and left sides.

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