#3. Frogs Are Swallowing Rats Whole
As a predator, it's a good rule of thumb to know precisely what you're getting into before you make a move. After all, you don't want to take a bite out of something poisonous or wind up facing an opponent that could potentially get the upper hand. Or you could be like South American horned frogs and shove literally everything you see down your enormous piehole no matter the consequences, even if it's pretty much the same size as you.
Eating anything smaller than your head is for pussies.
Horned frogs are known for a monstrous, gaping chasm for a mouth and an appetite that's best described as "indiscriminate." Their mouths appear to account for half of their entire body, which explains their other common name, the Pac Man frog. They'll eat insects, of course, but will also gleefully slurp down other frog species, lizards, mice, and each other.
Even their tadpoles are cannibals. While you're imagining that, you should also know that horned frog tadpoles are also the only known vertebrate larvae that can scream.
Dan Bristow/Reptile Forums UK
Jesus, close your mouth when you chew.
Horned frogs are so fearlessly voracious that virtually nothing that moves is immune from their unprovoked gobbling attacks -- sometimes to the point where it's downright suicidal, as "some have been found dead in the wild with the remains of an impossible-to-ingest victim still protruding from their mouths." We're pretty sure there's an important life metaphor there somewhere.
#2. Praying Mantises Are Snatching Birds
The praying mantis is already one of the world's more unpleasant creatures -- it looks like a miniature alien, and it tends to be way bigger than an insect has any right to be. But as much as you don't want one of these things landing on your face, it's still hard to imagine that they're capable of eviscerating anything bigger than themselves. That's if you've never seen one eat a bird.
Don't turn your back on that thing, kid.
Larger mantises are perfectly capable of snagging passing birds in flight, and can also take on some lizards, frogs, snakes, and rodents. Here's one mugging a mouse. If that doesn't drive the point home, here's one gnawing a hummingbird's head off.
Sharon Fullingim/National Geographic
The hummingbird's tiny, sap-sucking tongue lolling out as it dies in agony is a lovely touch.
You don't have to travel to some remote, malaria-themed jungle hell to see this type of thing go down, either. The photos above were taken at someone's front yard bird feeder, and this one here comes courtesy of Richard L. Walkup, who offered a play-by-play of the scene that unfolded at his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania:
"... this hungry mantis captured and killed a hummingbird not much smaller than itself. The mantis used its spiny left foreleg to impale the hummingbird through the chest while leaving his right leg free. We surmised that the mantis ran the hummer through and dangled its full weight on its foreleg while he consumed the flesh of the hummingbird from the abdomen. After he had his fill, the mantis gave his foreleg several swift jerks and freed his leg."
Holy crap. Replace the word "mantis" in the last paragraph with "xenomorph" and "hummingbird" with "colonial Marine," and it sounds like an after action report from an LV-426 reconnaissance mission.
#1. Moths Are Developing a Taste for Blood
On the rare occasions when Siberia comes up in conversation, there are usually only three things that come to mind: brutal cold, bleak desolation, and inhospitable gulags. If the place wasn't already enough of a tough sell as a tourist destination, in 2007 we found out it's also one of a select few places in the world with a booming population of bloodthirsty vampire moths.
Suomen Luonto/V.S. Kononenko/Helsingin Sanomat
Mothferatu? Quick, somebody get a script over to the Syfy Network, stat!
Most moths of the genus Calyptra are fruit eaters, and all of them started out that way, but a few of them figured out that the same terrifying face spike that they'd been using to pierce the outer skin of fruit could be put to much better use as a hypodermic needle on mammals (humans included), and they began to feast on the blood of the living.
A bite from one of these moths is reportedly much more annoying than that of a mosquito, but unlike mosquitoes, it's only the male moths that are actively seeking warm blood. And they don't just suck your blood like a mosquito, either -- they actually rely on their victims' own blood pressure to force the blood up through their proboscis while they gently rock back and forth to force said proboscis deeper into the flesh.
J.M.Zaspel/University of Waikato
Don't think a moth proboscis sounds scary? Check this shit out.
Global warming may be allowing vampire moths to increase their range, as they've been showing up with increasing frequency in areas that gratefully never before had to include "painful biting moth" on their list of things to complain about. If you happen to see one flitting about overhead, or worse, slowly working its hungry dagger-like blood hose into your forearm, try not to panic overmuch, because vampire moths also like nothing more than to gleefully lap up your tears.
Getty Images Sport/Scott Barbour/Getty Images
"Do I need to tell you again that your mother never loved you? Or can I finally eat?"
E. Reid Ross does some other stuff over at RealToyGun.com.
For more reasons to purchase a flamethrower, check out The 6 Most Badass Murder Weapons in the Animal Kingdom and 5 Terrifying Serial Killers Who Happened to Be Animals.