6 Horrifying Dark Sides of Creatures You Think Are Adorable

#3. The Arboreal Salamander Is a Tiny Crocodile in Disguise

Steve Jurvetson

D'aww, just look at that thing. Forget that it's slimy and cold-blooded for a second and just stare into those puppy-dog eyes. There's no earthly way it could do any harm at all, right? Even if it has teeth, they're probably harmless little blocks, useful for gnashing teeny bugs and that's about it, right?

Val Johnson via CaliforniaHerps.com
We're gonna take that as a "wrong."

Yep, these adorable little babies are basically closet crocodiles. With its muscular jaws and wicked fangs, an arboreal salamander can easily draw blood from a human being, and would definitely eat us if it were just a little bit bigger. And we mean it; they like them some meat. For the most part, arboreal salamanders feast on insects, worms, and other invertebrates, but they have no issues with making a meal out of their fellow amphibians, particularly the even more adorable and totally-harmless-for-real-this-time slender salamander.

Wikipedia
Totally no poisonous genitals or anything. That we know of.

They're nasty as fuck, too, as you might expect from a sharp-toothed psychopath that eats its own cousins. The arboreal salamander is described as "aggressively territorial," often carrying the battle scars of run-ins with its own kind. If you stick two of them together in a cage, they'll probably try to kill each other, or at least bite each other's tails off, because playtime is for the weak.

#2. Spiny Mice Lose Their Skin and Then Regenerate It Like Wolverine

Lt. Shears

Not every animal has to kill to be horrifying. Case in point: the spiny mouse. Resembling the adorable love child of a gerbil and a hedgehog, spiny mice are timid little desert dwellers who basically lead normal mouse lives: pooping, nibbling, and more pooping. That is, until danger comes along. Then it's time to get nasty. You see, spiny mice have an incredible (and disgusting) mutant power where they will rip apart their own body if attacked or threatened. And not just a little bit. No, they'll tear up to 60 percent of their own fucking flesh if need be.

J. Goheen via Nature.com
Has anyone tried offering them a Snickers or something?

When grabbed by a predator, entire chunks of the mouse's fur, skin, and underlying flesh will simply peel right off while the rest of the mouse scurries away, no worse for wear save for a shitload of gaping, gory holes in its body. The attacker, meanwhile, is left holding a gross hunk of skin that's almost completely inedible due to being covered in sharp spikes and all. This phenomenon is officially known as a "crumble zone," although since pretty much every part of the mouse's body is fair game, "zone" may be the wrong choice of word.

So now that this cute (kind of) little guy has shown up any puny skink or newt that thinks losing their tail makes them hot shit, what's left? Well, how about the ability to completely regenerate any and all lost flesh in a short period of time? Yes, much like Wolverine, the spiny mouse will begin to heal its wounds almost immediately, taking only three days to begin growing back lost flesh and skin. It takes a bit longer to grow back its hair, but even then it's only a month or so. Naturally, the hair is exactly the same color and texture as the old stuff, a secret most middle-aged men would love to get in on. Even if it requires the loss of their flesh first.

Discover Magazine
Brogaine: Now With Complimentary Scalping Knife!

Actually, we're not joking when we say humans may learn something from these mice. This is a mammalian species that can completely regenerate its own cartilage, skin, hair follicles, even sweat glands, without so much as leaving a scar. Studying these guys could well lead to advancement in the quest to develop regenerating human organs. No word yet on whether this would allow us to rip apart our own flesh, too, but hopefully it will, simply for the pranks we could pull on Grandma every Thanksgiving.

#1. Ladybugs Are Poisonous, Fungus-Infested, Carnivorous Death Tanks

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Ladybugs, or ladybirds if you live in the U.K. and have no idea what a bird looks like, are bright, colorful, and oh so pretty. They're probably neck and neck with butterflies on the list of the most socially acceptable insects around. If you call a little girl a ladybug, it's a sign of love and affection -- far less so if you call her, say, a mealworm. Other, smaller bugs, though, are not exactly fans of the polka-dotted beauty. In fact, if you could talk to one and pointed out a particularly pretty ladybug to it, its reaction would likely be along the lines of "OH JESUS FUCK, RUN AWAY." Because there's a good chance the ladybug wants to eat it.

Anderson Mancini
This particular bug is called "Lunch."

Yes, those precious little ladybugs harbor secret contempt toward all life, especially the delicious kind. Strictly carnivorous, their diet is comprised largely of soft, defenseless little bugs, like mites and aphids. Their roly-poly, waddling body is actually a protective dome, allowing them to plow through a ton of cute little farmer ants and freely massacre their herd, even though they're oftentimes much, much larger. So yeah, not only are ladybugs cold-hearted murderers, they're cowardly bullies, too.

Alejandro Erickson
Admit it, you'd do the same thing if you were five times larger than everyone else and armored like a tank.

Hey, would you like to watch? Of course you would. Here are a slew of baby aphids, disappearing one by one down the gullet of this living killdozer, flailing helplessly to the bitter end:

But at least they still got those cute polka dots we can stare at, right? Yeah, about that -- there ain't a damn thing cute about them after all. Those dots are nothing but a warning to other animals that ladybugs taste like shit and are poisonous. This poison can't hurt us, but it can definitely do in any fellow insect that the ladybug deems a threat.

In case the visual sign isn't enough, a ladybug will ooze its own rancid, toxic body fluids into a predator's mouth, something researchers refer to as "reflex blood," and something we refer to as "ewwwww." They'll even use this shit on rival ladybugs, infecting them with a poisonous fungus that kills bugs dead and leaves the victor free to chew away on the victims' children.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Ladybugs are basically Voldemort, is what we're trying to say.

Oh yes, their children. As is often the case with creatures that are evil on the down low, ladybugs are goddamned cannibals. But they don't typically cure their munchies with the corpse of an adult that they just poisoned to death. No, they'll stick to the eggs, thank you very much. They're defenseless, they're chewy, and they're immobile. Perfect prey for the beautiful bullies of the insect world.


You can see more abominations of nature at Jonathan's site, The Insidious Bogleech.


Related Reading: For some animals that are adorable on the outside but terrifying on the inside, read our article about cute animals with nightmarish skeletons. If you're interested in sweet animals that have just recently embarked on a career in violence, this is the article to read. You'll never look at squirrels the same way again. Last, wind down with these bloody rampages by benign critters. Did you know a chicken once tricked six people into drowning to death? Yep. We were shocked too.

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