Every day we are surrounded by all sorts of interesting critters. There is that spider on the wall, your dog on the couch and that song Berg that insists on singing away right outside your window at ridiculously early hours of the morning. Yes, the animal world can be both incredibly awesome and annoying at times. To ensure the survival of these creatures, mother nature gives most of the defense mechanisms. Today, we’re going to bypass the usual biting and stinging defenses and take a look at animals that utilize some rather incredible defenses when threatened.
1. Escaping Squid
When you picture a Squid, you likely imagine a massive multi-tentacle beast taking on whales or attacking fishermen at sea. Ok, so our imagination got the best of us there. But Squids can get pretty big and strong. Not all Squids, however, are massive. As a result, one has developed a rather amazing defense mechanism. Enter the O. Deletron. This little guy isn’t going to be starring in any crazy sea monster movies, but maybe he should get a minor role. You see, this type of squid is a pretty impressive defense tactic. When one of its tentacles gets grabbed or caught up in something, it simply snaps the part of the tentacle off so we can get away. Not done there, the piece that broke off lights up and dances around to attract the attention of any other predators. So, why O. Deletron’s enemy is distracted by the shiny light and squiggling tentacle place, and the Squid can make its getaway. Incredibly, the Squid will only break off as much of the tentacle as needs to be severed, and it can grow back the lost part over time.
2. Hairy Frogs
In the world of Frogs, there are a few stranger than the hairy Frog. First of all, there is the way it looks. This guy gets its name from the long skin strands that grow out of its sides and legs during the mating season. Apparently, the lady frogs love a hairy guy – who knew? Then there’s the way this frog has evolved to defend itself. No teeth are poison here because that would just be too normal. We think the hairy Frog must really be into Marvel Comics because it has taken a page straight from Wolverine’s playbook. You see, when threatened and fighting off potential predators, the hairy Frog will deliberately break bones in its appendages. Once this is done, the sharp shards of bone are pushed through the skin. Like Wolverine before the Adamantium injections, the hairy frog now is super sharp bone claws which likely don’t feel nice to any predator. In Cameroon, where most of these frogs are found humans are known to eat them as a delicacy. Needless to say, the hunters hunt with spears and machetes because they know how painful this frog’s claws can be.
3. The Eurasian Roller
No one wants to hold anything that’s thrown up on itself. Interestingly, Nature has picked up on this fact and incorporated it into a certain species. Take the Eurasian Roller as a prime example. This distinctive blue and brown bird lives across the Middle East, Asia and part of North Africa. But that’s not what’s interesting. When chicks are just days old, they develop a defense mechanism to ward off predators. Should anything get into the nest and grab a chick, the bird will proceed to throw up all over itself. If the predator isn’t totally grossed out by this, then the smell and taste of a barf-covered baby bird is likely enough to put it off. You see, the vomit is apparently filled with slightly toxic and terrible tasting acid. In fact, to prove their point, scientists did a test where they demonstrated that 18 out of 20 dogs preferred eating chicken that didn’t have Eurasian vomit on it. We’re not sure what the other two dogs were thinking.
4. The Bombardier Beetle
There are countless species of small insects all over the planet. They help spread pollen, keep a balanced eco-system and, of course, provide food for bigger prey. The Bombardier Beetle is one of these insects. But don’t feel too sorry for this little guy. He may not have cool claws or fangs to fight off enemies, but he does have something truly impressive. The Bombardier Beetle rightfully gets its name from the way it can defend itself. In a nutshell, this thing is totally into chemical warfare. Stored in two separate reservoirs inside the beetle, are chemicals called hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. When it feels threatened, the two chambers open in a chemicals react. The heat from this reaction brings the mixture to a near boiling temperature. The reaction and gas build-up then causes the mixture to be shot out from the Beetle’s backside toward the threat. The results can be potentially fatal for any predators to close. With the ability to direct the spray and the fact that it produces a small popping noise, we think the Bombardier Beetle is fully deserving of its name.
5. Exploding Ants
If you’ve ever seen a documentary on ants or termite colonies, then you know they can grow to be absolutely massive. Even more incredible is that there is nothing random about these communities. For instance, every ant in a colony, no matter how massive, has a role to play. When threatened, some ants will run to protect the Queen while others will fight to the death to stop any attacks from harming the colony. In Borneo, researchers discovered one species of ant that willingly sacrifices itself to protect the rest of its colony. Belonging to the genus Camponotus, these ants deliberately march to their death to fend off predators. In one instance, when a group of European answer introduced to the environment by researchers, the Borneo ant grabbed on and pressed its abdomen against the invaders so hard it exploded. The result was a mass of sticky yellow goo that left the European ant immobilized and the Borneo ant, well, dead. While its defense mechanism does result in its own death, this ant’s sacrifice means that any attacker is pretty much unable to threaten anyone else because of the resulting sticky mess. Ok, time for our Creature-Related Quiz. Do you know the longest a tarantula has been recorded to live without having any food? The answer will definitely amaze you. We’ll tell you the right response after we show you a few more animals with incredible defenses.
6. The Hagfish
If you’ve ever watched Ghostbusters, then you know one of the defenses ghosts use against humans is to slime them. Yes, we imagine getting covered in disgusting slime would slow us down and make catching those pesky ghosts extra difficult. In nature, there is clearly one fish that has taken a page from this famous movie series to defend itself. First off, the Hagfish is so ugly that we think only its mother could possibly love it. Yet, those underwater predators who can get packed this hideous eel-like appearance are in for a nasty surprise. The Hagfish is covered in dozens of glands down its length. If a larger fish chomps down, these glands release a massive amount of mucus. How much you ask? Picture the worst sinus infection ever and multiply it by 1000. The Hagfish can release so much mucus that any predator often runs away while literally choking on a mouthful of slimy goo. Should the attacker be really desperate, holding on to the slimy hagfish can result in gills becoming clogged and the predator suffocating. It’s disgusting and fascinating at the same time.
No list of incredible animal defenses is complete without this little guy. Its actual name is the Opossum, but most of us just call them Possums. These marsupials are known to be highly adaptive and willing to eat nearly anything. This pretty much means they can be found anywhere which also means that they have quite a few predators. So, what sort of defense mechanisms are we talking about here-claws, teeth, insane ninja moves? It’s actually none of the above. The Possum’s reaction, when confronted with a terrifying situation, is to fall over and play dead involuntarily. That’s right. Kind of like how one parent will pretend they are super asleep, so they don’t have to get up and take care of that crying baby, the Possum will try and convince predators that it’s not very tasty because it’s already dead. Curled up with its mouth open, we have to say it definitely looks the part. It’s even been reported that it will emit a really bad smell as well just to add that extra little bit of persuasion to make a predator move along to someone else.
8. Spanish Ribbed Newt
Clearly, the Spanish Ribbed Newt heard how cool we all thought the hairy frog was and decided to get in on the action. Found in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, these newts prefer to stay in the water and like to stick to small ponds and wells where they can feed on tadpoles and insects. At around 20 centimeters in length, they aren’t the smallest creatures, but they do have their share of predators. So what sort of crazy defense system do these creatures have in place? Well, first off, the Spanish Ribbed Newt can secrete a poison through its skin. But that’s not original enough to make it stand out here. So, in addition, this creature can actually make its ribs shoot out of its sides, effectively turning it into a walking cactus. As an added bonus, the Ribs also get coated in poison, which means any predators that try and fight this Newt are in for a really uncomfortable surprise. Then, when the threat is gone, it can retract its Ribs. Just like Wolverine, this Newt’s skin heals super-fast, meaning it’s good as new in no time.
9. The Potato Beetle
Do you remember when we said that people don’t like holding babies that are covered in vomit? It also turns out that people don’t like to hold babies that have soiled themselves. Yes, that smell can be pretty off-putting and no one wants to be near a stinky kid. In fact, we can pretty much guarantee that anyone who soils themselves won’t have to worry about other people coming near them. Nature has picked up on that, and bestowed a certain creature with a very interesting defense tool. Enter the Potato Beetle. You’ve likely seen these beetles around. In fact, you’ve probably seen a lot of them crawling over your tomato plants. Well, the reason there are so many is because of the hilariously disgusting way these guys protect themselves. Spending all day munching on various toxic leaves means these bugs have a lot of pooping to do. Being considerate and all, they don’t just throw it on the ground. Nope, instead, when they are larva, they take all that waste and pile it up on their back as a defense mechanism. We guess that children’s books were right-everybody really does poop. It’s just some animals like to cover themselves in it.
10. The Texas Horned Lizard
When you first look at the Texas horned lizard, it’s just so obvious what his defense mechanism is. After all, look at all those crazy spikes all over it. Ok, those spikes are definitely one aspect of this lizard’s defense. But please, do you think we’d leave it at that? That’s just Phase One. Phase Two of this lizard’s defenses to puff himself up and then flip himself over dramatically. The over-the-top dramatic break-dancing moves are sure to confuse anyone thinking of eating this guy for dinner. If that doesn’t work, then we move on to Phase Three-which is just pure profit. You see, once it’s used its spikes and bizarre moves, the Texas horned lizard goes total poltergeists on any unsuspecting predators. It builds up blood pressure in its head to the point where it actually shoots blood from its eyes. We’re not kidding. With high pressure and a certain vein in the eye, this lizard can aim and shoot streams of blood up to five feet in distance. While the predator might be expecting claws, teeth or even poison, we imagine getting sprayed and blood is enough to make anything think twice before trying to eat one of these incredible lizards. So, do you know how long a tarantula was recorded to live without being given any food? The Answer Over Two Years! That’s Right. One study found out that a tarantula given only water lived over Two years and 9 Months.