QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Sandi Toksvig. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 249 episodes (pilot + 17 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on in 2020. Series Q, Episode 17
Catch-up on Episode 8 on BBC iPlayer   Series K, Episode 8 is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Cariad Lloyd, Sandi Toksvig, Daliso Chaponda, Phill Jupitus. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series Q, Episode 8 - Qanimals

Further details


- The thing that is blue and sounds like a whale is a quail. The blue quail lives in sub-Saharan Africa and is one of about 40 species of quail. However, only the males are blue with the females being brown. (Forfeit: Blue whale)

- Tangent: In space, quails lose their sex drive. They are arguably the first extraterrestrial life form, in that quail eggs were sent into space on the Mir space station in 1990, and they became the first vertebrates to be born in space. The Soviets wanted to see if quail eggs would be a good source of food for long-term missions. Eight of the eggs hatched, but the birds couldn't cope with zero gravity. The quails could not latch onto things and could not feed themselves. Also, the females stopped ovulating, the males had reduced testosterone levels, and both sexes exhibited an absolute apathy to mating.

- Tangent: In 2011, the University of Kentucky was given a grant by the National Institute of Health to study the effects of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quails. The cocaine was linked to risky sexual behaviour. The male Japanese quail has a gland above their sex organ that secretes a liquid containing some of the same enzymes and proteins you get in egg white. They whip this into a stiff foam using their sphincter and they deposit this into the female after depositing their sperm.

- The most numerous undomesticated bird in the world is the red-billed quelea, also known as the weaver bird. In Malawi, there are a major pest and there 1.5 billion of them, in comparison to the UK's most numerous bird, the wren, of which there are 8.6 million breeding pairs. The queleas come in flocks of two million, and each bird eats roughly half of its own body weight per day. One flock can consume 20 tonnes a day. Farmers try to get rid of them by beating drums, using dynamite, napalm, pathogens, electronic devices and fire-bombing. (Forfeit: Pigeon; Chicken)

- The thing that has started waking up earlier in order to get more selfies is the quokka. In photos they always appear to be smiling and are dubbed the world's happiest animal. Most live on the small island of Rottnest, just of Perth, Australia. In 2018, over 7,400 quokka selfies were posted on social media, including selfies by Roger Federer and Margot Robbie. Quokkas are nocturnal, but the ones on Rottnest are now staying awake during the day in order to spend more time with tourists, and the ones that are one the part of the island that's highly developed for tourism are doing better than the quokkas in less disturbed habitats. (Forfeit: Kim Kardashian)

- Tangent: Quokkas are not good parents. When the female is attacked, the first thing she does is eject the joey from her pouch and the infant lies on the ground making a hissing noise. This distraction allows the mother to escape.

- Tangent: A comedian once gave Daliso some advice, saying that if a fan comes to him and recognises him, he should offer to do a selfie because some people are too shy. Once he tried to do this in Nottingham, asked a woman if she wanted a selfie, the woman said: "No, you're not the Eiffel Tower."

- If a quoll (a squirrel-sized marsupial) came to your barbeque you should offer it toad sausages. Quolls are in danger of extinction, partly due to foxes and cats being introduced to Australia by Victorians, but also from poisonous cane toads. These toads contain a toxin, which can cause hallucinations when you lick the toad, leading to some dogs in Australia being completely addicted to them, but while quolls like to eat the toads the toxin is deadly to them. Thus, to teach the quolls not to eat cane toads, they are being fed sausages made from toad mince. The harmful skin is taken off the toad, they mince the frog, and then add a chemical that makes quolls feel nauseous, so puts them off the toads. There are plans to drop toad sausages by helicopter.

- Tangent: Cane toads were introduced in 1935 to help sugar plantations, which were plagued by another pest, the cane beetle. 102 toads were introduced, but the plan failed because the beetles flew and the toads didn't. Australia now has 1.5 billion cane toads, and they have devastated the country's flora and fauna. A female toad can have 35,000 eggs.

- Tangent: Another method being used to save the quoll is domesticating them and making them pets. Quolls can be trained to use litter trays. Quolls also has the second-biggest bite force quotient of any animal, i.e. the force of their bite relative to their size. The animal with the biggest bite force quotient is the Tasmanian devil. The mating season of quolls only lasts three days, during which they mate with their partner every 15 minutes for the entire duration. The female gives birth to about 30 offspring, each one the size of a grain of rice, but as the female only has size nipples, only the first six to reach the mother are given milk.

- The panel are shown a picture of what looks like a zebra which only has strips in the top half of its body, and are asked what is wrong with it. The answer is that it is not a zebra, but an extinct subspecies called a quagga. Quaggas were made a protected species by the Cape Town government in 1886, three years after they became extinct, with the last one dying in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883. Grant Museum at University College London is home to an almost complete quagga skeleton, although they originally thought they had two zebra skeletons until an examination of them in 1972 (the other one was a donkey). There are believed to be only seven quagga skeletons in the world, and the one in the Grant Museum is the only one with a skull. The museum's quagga is missing its back left leg, and in the studio the museum's curator Tannis Davidson explains some of the possible theories as to where it is. One idea is that it had been loaded to the Royal College of Surgeons just before World War II, and this college was bombed during the war. Another theory was that the bones were lost when the specimen was evacuated to Wales. Sandi thus launches a "Quime Watch" appeal to help find the bones, with an award of a holiday to the Mountains of Kong.

- Tangent: When Daliso was in school in Kenya, he read early colonial books, and one old theory stated that if a white human and a black human had offspring, the children would be stripped like zebras.

- The most offensive thing you can do with a queen conch shell is to use it as a boxing glove. About 3,000 years ago, the Mayans used them as boxing gloves. This was part of the ritual worship of the rain god Chaahk, and part of the ceremony involved bloodletting.

- Tangent: Phill is given a conch shell to play with as a musical instrument. The Aztecs used to have a conch shell trumpet called a, "quiquiztli", and the people who played them were called, "quiquizoani". It was thought that these instruments had the power to defeat the Aztec lord of the dead.

- The most famous quilled animal in the world, the porcupine, makes loves spike free. The North American New World porcupine has sex for about a minute. The female signals her interest by urinating and screaming, then the female turns her back on the male and arches her tail over her back, providing a safe space for the male to mate. Baby porcupines are called: "porcupettes". (Forfeit: Carefully)

General Ignorance

- According to the traditional proverb, care killed the cat. For over 260 years the proverb was: "Care killed the cat", with the word "care" meaning worry or sorrow. This how the word appears in the works of Shakespeare, with the following line in Much Ado about Nothing: "What courage, man! What though care killed a cat. Thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care." The proverb changed in the mid-19th century and no-one knows why. In Russia, their version of the phrase is: "Curious Barbara's nose was torn off at the market." (Forfeit: Curiosity)

- The panel are shown a picture of an armadillo and are asked how it would protect itself. It does so by digging a hole and hides in it with only the armour showing. Of the 18 species of armadillo only two curl themselves into a ball, the Brazilian three-banded and the southern three-banded. The one the panel were shown was the six-banded armadillo, which digs a hole. Meanwhile, nine-banded armadillos can walk underwater, hold their breath for six minutes, and can by buoyant on the water by swallowing air and inflating their stomach and intestines. (Forfeit: Rolling into a ball)

- Armadillos are not the only animal in the world apart from humans to catch leprosy. Mice and rats can also contract the disease, while a 2016 study found that one third of red squirrels in Britain carry it. (Forfeit: Leprosy)


- Daliso Chaponda: -5 points
- Phill Jupitus and Cariad Lloyd: -6 points
- The Audience: -10 points
- Alan Davies: Score not given.

Broadcast details

This episode is currently available on BBC iPlayer

Friday 25th October 2019
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Phill Jupitus Guest
Cariad Lloyd Guest
Daliso Chaponda Guest
Tannis Davidson Self
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Anna Ptaszynski Script Editor
Sandi Toksvig Script Editor
Mike Turner Question Writer
Production team
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Justin Pollard Associate Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Nick Collier Lighting Designer
Howard Goodall Composer
Mat Coward Researcher
Will Bowen Researcher
Andrew Hunter Murray Researcher
Ed Brooke-Hitching Researcher
Jack Chambers Researcher
Emily Jupitus Researcher
Sarah Clay Commissioning Editor

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