Like people, animals do some pretty strange and fascinating stuff. Most of the time it’s for a very good reason, but that’s not always the case. Mother Nature is a mysterious being and it’s never more apparent than in the differences in how animals treat their young, their mates, their living spaces and their food. Some animals eat things that would kill any other creature on the planet. Others eat their young. And some even try to eat people. But it’s not just about food. Animals have unique rituals for sex and crazy methods of self-defense. Here are ten truly bizarre things animals do.
10) Turtles Have Favorite Colors
Turtles rely primarily on sight for finding food, mates, and shelter. In fact, turtles are so dependent on their sight that when they lose it they literally cannot survive. Many animals can get by with an engorged sense of smell or taste, but not the turtle. As such turtles seem to gravitate towards certain colors – such as red, orange and yellow. Mostly they try to eat things this color first, so if you’re in the business of luring turtles maybe you want to try some tomatoes or something similar in color. At any rate, given a choice a turtle will gravitate towards these colors first.
9) Animals Can Commit Suicide
Unfortunately, like us people, some animals just can’t handle life anymore, or so it would seem. There are an incredibly high number of mass animal deaths. Most of the ones we record are believed to be mass suicides, and many date back to the 1800s when people starting wondering why in the hell a bunch of animals were jumping off cliffs. There’s a bridge in Scotland where dogs seem to want to leap from and there are cases of birds committing mass suicide in India. It doesn’t seem to be limited to a certain species of breed. There have been accounts of squids, shrimps, and whales washing up en masse on shore to die for no reason, cows and sheep who leap from cliffs by the dozens, and many more. Scientists are perplexed, but most believe conditions in the climate or atmosphere play a role in these tragic situations.
8) Cows Eat Facing the North or South Pole
Speaking of cows, did you know they eat only when facing north or south – always, every, single, damn time. Google Earth has led to many discoveries but none more bizarre perhaps than the realization that cows always face one of the earth’s magnetic poles when they eat. No one really knows why for sure, but like many animals, cows seem to have a magnetic sense of which way is north. When they stand and eat they apparently feel the sense to align their body facing magnetic north or south. There are also accounts of power lines being too close and screwing with this innate sense. No one really knows why, but maybe that’s not the right question. Maybe we should be asking if anyone cares.
7) Flamingos Eat Upside Down
As if being a giant orange or pink bird wasn’t cruel enough. Flamingos, those wonderfully long-necked birds can only eat when their head is upside down. Why? Who the hell knows. Perhaps it was a mean joke because having an obnoxiously long neck and legs doesn’t make one self-conscious enough, we might as well make them eat with their face upside down. At any rate, it seems physically impossible for a flamingo to eat with its head right side up. No word yet on if some brave scientist has funded a grant to strap these creatures down and force-feed them to see if their biology works when “upright.”
6) Crocodiles Eat Stones
At least we can explain this oral fixation. Crocodiles will routinely eat stones, but they at least have a very good reason – it helps them swim. While a crocodile stomach can break down a hearty turtle shell, the acid isn’t quite strong enough to destroy stone. Some crocodiles will swallow stones by accident, but most do it because it gives them ballast which helps when they submerge themselves. As if being a fearsome meat-eating machine isn’t enough, we now have to worry about these beasts figuring out better ways to swim? It’s only taken a few million years to perfect this tactic, let’s hope it takes that long for them to figure out how to drive a car.
5) Female Ferrets Are Literally Dying to Mate
Dating is difficult, but for the ferret it’s a life-altering experience. Female ferrets that go into heat and don’t find a mate are so traumatized by the rejection (or so we assume) that they just up and die. That’s right, if the ferret doesn’t get herself laid she just keels over and calls it quits. Talk about pressure to perform. On the plus side, if you’re a male ferret out on the town for the night the odds of you going home alone are ridiculously low.
4) There Exist Immortal Jellyfish
Imagine living in a world where you grow up and reach sexual maturity. Eager for a little fun you decide you’re not quite ready for a hectic life of online dating, expensive dinners and unfulfilled sexual promises so you organically modify your body type and revert back to being a Lego-eating toddler. Hard to believe? Well there’s a species of jellyfish called the Turritopsis Nutricula that can do just that. With just a bit of transdifferentiation this wondrous creature can turn back time – making it essentially immortal. Seems like a pretty cool gig.
3) Dolphins’ Brains Work While They Sleep
Again, at least this one makes some sense. When a dolphin sleeps, apparently only half its brain sleeps with it. So what’s the other half doing? Actually something very useful it seems. No, it’s not figuring out the mysteries of organic chemistry or plotting some awful retribution on human beings for polluting the ocean – it makes sure the dolphin comes up for air while it sleeps so it doesn’t drown. That’s not only pretty useful, but also badass. “Hold on, I’ll just take a nap, don’t worry my brain won’t let me drown!” said every dolphin everywhere. It’s like if you got up at 2 AM and made a McDonalds run because your body was demanding food, but never woke up.
2) Horned Lizards Can Squirt Blood From Their Eyes
Here’s a fun defense mechanism. Horned lizards, when threatened, increase the blood flow to their eyes and shoot a stream of blood out of their eye sockets at their enemies. Not only is this gross, but it’s also highly effective. Oddly enough the blood isn’t poisonous or deadly, it’s just alarming and confusing as hell. Which is totally understandable because which one of us wouldn’t be shocked if a five-foot stream of blood shot out of someone’s eye socket at us! It’s utterly spectacular, and seems to work very well. Let’s just hope we humans don’t figure this one out, because we’re gross enough as it is.
1) Tarantulas Can Throw Their Hair
Apparently being a scary-ass spider isn’t enough. While we don’t doubt that even the tarantula has enemies, it’s funny to think that this large, creepy arachnid would need anything more than a stern look to ward off enemies, but apparently it does. When some other animal is brave enough to come after this large hairy spider it does the most logical thing possible – it tears the hairs off its own legs and hurls them at its attacker. And it works. The hair is relatively sticky and causes problems for those trying to eat this beastly-looking spider, especially if it gets in their eyes. While most humans seem to be deathly afraid of spiders, the tarantula is actually rather defenseless and dies easily, especially if knocked from a high perch. We guess this hair tossing helps, since the species has lived on, though it seems relatively ineffective to us.