Not long ago we looked at the most horrifyingly diabolical predators in nature, creatures that had raised murder to an exquisite art.
What we have also found, however, is that they have to be smart for a reason. Some of their prey have come up with tricks to avoid capture that would put a even supervillain to shame.
8The Hognose Snake Stages Its Own Murder
The hognose snake is venomous, so you might think that's all the defense it'd need. The problem is it only has small fangs at the back of its mouth, so you'd only have to worry about a hognose bite if it was deep-throating you and we're guessing you gents have already tossed caution to the wind when you're taking that for a run.
To compensate for this cruel twist of design, they have developed a defense strategy that takes "playing possum" to a bizarre, mind-boggling level. These things fake their own murder, and with such detail that they could fool the CSI crew.
Yes, like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, the hognose snake knows when it's opportune to fake being dead. In the animal kingdom, it's typically done because certain predators will avoid carrion, but lots of mammals and birds of prey have no such qualms about dead snakes. It's just that the hognose snake attacks the role with such vigor that no one has the heart to tell it the truth.
It will convulse wildly, flip over on to its back and lie nearly motionless even when prodded. The hognose death-stagger is so overwrought that even Jim Carrey's directorial notes advise dialing it back.
In some cases it accompanies the performance with a lolling tongue and--get this-- will even spew blood from its mouth and anal openings.
It is so dedicated to the role that if reset on to its stomach, it will immediately flip over to its back. What it lacks in an understanding of death it certainly makes up for in commitment.
Even weirder, when finally forced to fight, the hognose snake will imitate a cobra. It'll flatten out the skin on its neck, and even coil and strike (remember, its lack of fangs make striking useless--it's all for show).
We say it's weird because they don't live on the same continent as cobras, aren't directly related to them and there's no fossil evidence that they ever crossed paths. It's imitating behavior it's never seen in person, so we have to assume they just saw a cobra on TV at some point.