#3. Make a Lobster Do a Headstand
For an animal hack that serves no purpose at all and is only notable for the bizarre position you can leave the creature in, our ability to hypnotize lobsters is still surprisingly fascinating:
Simply grab the crustacean and turn it on its head, using its claws to balance it. Then rub the top of the tail. The lobster will then stay in that position for hours, balancing on its nose and just generally shamed into paralysis.
Why it Works:
While the trick for putting lobsters in a trance is widely known (lots of recipes for lobster dishes will even mention it as a way to make the lobster hold still), very little research has been done on why exactly it happens. Maybe it has to do with blood flow, the same way a person can pass out if they hang upside down long enough. Experts speculate that it's a defense mechanism, like with the chicken -- but again, no one really understands how it would possibly help in a life or death situation. It apparently works on crabs as well, and some people insist on cooking their seafood in this position, presumably because they love the taste of crustacean humiliation.
"Just ... just kill me, man.
#2. Put a Lizard to Sleep by Rubbing Its Belly
On the hierarchy of animal adorableness, lizards barely squeak in above spiders and hairless moles. They have all the writhing ugliness of a snake, but they are also equipped with dinosaur feet and eyes that act independently of one another. Fortunately for you, and for nature, there's an easy way to incapacitate them long enough to pretty them up a little with some tiny sunglasses and a cabana hat -- assuming you have those things.
It couldn't be simpler: You put the lizard on its back, then rub its throat and belly. It will go completely limp in your hand.
Why it Works:
A lizard depends on muscles in its throat and torso to contract and expand the lungs to keep oxygen flowing in the body (it doesn't have a diaphragm). When it's on its back, the weight of its limbs put abnormal pressure on these muscles and they can't do their job properly. Exacerbating this is your damn finger poking at its belly and throat.
Dude, KNOCK IT OFF!
As a result, the whole system shuts down temporarily, conserving what little oxygen it's getting. The result is a lizard that's more or less putty in your hands. To be clear, the process doesn't hurt the lizard, it just forces it to shut down, like an on/off switch. And just to give this context, when humans suffer from oxygen deprivation, the symptoms aren't nearly as elegant.
Suddenly lizards don't look so stupid.
#1. Turn Off an Alligator by Flipping It
Alligators don't swim as much as they drift lazily through water, much like that creepy guy who hangs out at public pools, except without the beer koozie or the wake of body oil. That languid glide of alligators is deceptive, however, because they are certainly much faster when they want to rip your arm out of its socket -- and it's impossible to tell which mode they're in. Well, it turns out there's a way to make sure that the alligator stays drugged-up and on autopilot, and never enters predator mode -- but it requires some courage.
Because they occasionally burst into song.
To hack its brain, you'll first have to approach it from the back, avoiding the teeth, and hold its jaws together. That sounds harder than it is -- the alligator can clamp down with an amazing amount of pressure, but is surprisingly bad at opening its mouth when any kind of force is applied. Once you have a good grip, you'll have to turn the alligator onto its back. Here's how that's done by the pros:
This feels like a good time to point out how incredibly dangerous this is. Even the alligators that don't want to eat you, generally don't like being touched and they'll let you know by murdering you. But if you can manage to get an alligator on its back, you can send it into a sort of hibernation where everything in its body slows and it can't be bothered to do anything but lie there.
Why it Works:
Unlike pretty much every other animal affected by these odd brain hacks, alligators actually voluntarily use this "skill" in everyday life. When, for instance, an alligator feels threatened by an oncoming boat, it submerges into water and its heart-rate drops from 35 beats-per-minute to two. It becomes perfectly motionless, which is in effect what is happening when we turn it over on land; it's re-enacting what happens when it feels threatened in water.
Outside of the water it is, of course, a pretty useless defense but one that still takes over as a means of protection. Fortunately, alligators don't have a lot of natural predators on land other than humans, so falling into this state of paralysis isn't a trait that's been weeded out over the centuries. So keep in mind if you try this: You're banking that your alligator doesn't happen to be part of the first generation that finally figures out what we're doing.
For other ways man messed around with nature, check out 7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals and 6 Insane Uses of Animals in Wartime (That Actually Worked).