6 Terrifying Predators Routinely Owned by Adorable Prey
Everyone loves an underdog. Even Mother Nature, with her Thunderdome sensibilities, loves a good underdog story -- or six. That's why, when creating the nastiest animals on Earth, she decided that they were each going to have an embarrassingly adorable nemesis to regularly knock them down a few pegs. Like these guys:
The Adder vs. the Hedgehog
Adders have dark zigzag patterns along their backs and giant, glaring, red eyes with vertically slit pupils. They are a universal symbol for danger and evil. They are venomous, vicious and are all-around well ... snakes.
Yes, it has the eyes of a Sith lord.
Sharing a common territory with the adder is the European hedgehog. The hedgehog grows to a maximum length of about a foot, and though its body is covered in up to 7000 spines, they're more of the "cuddly and/or wuddly" type than the "badass armor" variety.
He dreams of life as Bill Shatner's hairpiece.
While foraging for food, a hedgehog may occasionally come across an adder. They share the same 'hood; it was bound to happen. As expected, upon seeing the horrible serpent, the cute little hedgehog goes into lockdown, doing its level best to set up a lil' spiked fortress -- just trying to protect its face and legs.
His little feet are adorable and creepy at the same time. Kind of like the Alien's little second mouth.
Once this is done, it slides open a slit in its faceplate, waddles its bare face up to the adder and bites it. Because the hedgehog's spikes are significantly longer than the adder's fangs, the adder can't reach any hedgehog's flesh to bite and/or poison it. The snake slithers away, but that's not the end of the story. The hedgehog isn't just trying to protect itself here, or cowering, or even driving the snake away: It's hunting. The snake leaves, the hedgehog follows, and bites again. This harassment continues until the adder is too tired to fight back or escape. The hedgehog then breaks the snake's neck and devours it completely, starting at the head.
The humans in this picture were never heard from again.
Then it curls up into a little ball and drifts off to sleep, dreaming itty-bitty dreams of navigating loop-de-loops with an echidna.
The "Ultimate" Pit Viper vs. the White-Headed Capuchin
Bothrops asper, more commonly called a fer-de-lance or ultimate motherfucking pit viper (we may have added one of those descriptors -- but only one), are found in Central America. They grow to an average length of six feet, but some have been measured at over eight feet. They are the most dangerous snake in Central America for a slew of reasons, including the ability to strike from any position.
Drug-murders, diarrhea and this: three things you're unlikely to see in a Central America tourism ad.
Also living in Central America are white-faced Capuchin monkeys. Large males weigh in at an adorable nine pounds -- just enough weight to give solid hugs. They're most famous as the dancing organ-grinder monkeys, so you might have to picture this little guy in a tiny red vest and cap for the rest of the entry.
As if you weren't already.
This peer-reviewed paper details one attack by an ultimate pit viper on a troop of white-faced capuchins: At some point in the resulting standoff, a branch fell off of a dead tree, and onto the snake. One of the monkeys apparently remembered the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and immediately seized upon the branch. The monkey then used the wood to beat the snake, and it is simply astounding that this sentence isn't about masturbation right now.
Although we can assume it was preceded and immediately followed by masturbation.
That wasn't an isolated incident either: According to the Zoological Wildlife Foundation, white-faced capuchins routinely attack intruders with sticks, rocks and on one occasion, even a smaller squirrel monkey was hurled at an observer. It didn't even hesitate -- the monkey just plucked up and whipped a tiny version of itself at the nearest threat. That's like seeing somebody on your lawn, so you immediately start hurling your children at him until he gets back on the sidewalk.
Various Deadly Bugs vs. the Grasshopper Mouse
Giant desert centipedes are amongst the largest centipedes on Earth, commonly measuring in at almost nine inches. They are found in the deserts of North America and inside your pillowcase, right now, waiting for you to come to bed. They're extremely poisonous and routinely take down larger mammals.
Imagine waking up with that little guy crawling up your chest.
The grasshopper mouse grows to about four-inches long, and has the least intimidating name in the entire Animal Kingdom, aside from the long-extinct Parisian cuddle-pig.
But when the Segmented Wang of Poisonous Death steps to the adorable little mouse, shit goes stone cold crazy. It starts when the grasshopper mouse emits a high pitched howl -- seriously, it rage-howls before every fight -- and then initiates combat with an intricate series of cartwheels, back flips, barrel rolls and tiny bites. Unable to grab hold of the flipping, biting melee-mouse, the centipede is slowly but surely deprived of its primary weapon: Its face.
The grasshopper mouse doesn't just eat centipedes, though. This same fighting style, which we'll call Berserker Acrobatics, is used successfully against scorpions, poisonous beetles and even tarantulas:
Scorpions and Tarantulas vs. the Bullfrog
Both scorpions and tarantulas are arachnids, which means that they share a common ancestor: The first sin man committed against God, which congealed into the most fearful shape in mankind's thoughts, and then scuttled away into the rocks to haunt his children for the rest of eternity.
When most people think of a frog, they probably visualize a tubby, smiley little dude hopping across lily-pads on a warm summer's eve. They probably don't think of a blend between alligators, ninja and a black hole. But that is the most accurate way to describe the American bullfrog. It has no claws or teeth to speak of, but when you combine its disturbing appetite, natural stealthiness and go get 'em attitude, you get something that eats terror for breakfast.
Pictured: The thing nightmares have nightmares about.
The bullfrog is a master of the ambush, in a manner quite similar to the alligator or crocodile. It mostly hunts from the water, using its natural camouflage and minimal profile to its advantage. Only the eyes are visible above the water line, and its impossibly slow, deliberate movements make it look more like a branch or other inanimate object than a living thing. When it eventually does get within striking distance of its prey (in this case, the tarantula) there's just a frantic blur of scrabbling mucus and flapping jaws, until only the frog remains -- with a couple twitching legs poking out from between its lips. It will then retreat back into the water to drown the tarantula before eating it.
The scorpion, especially the giant hairy one shown above, poses more of a problem. The scorpion is bigger and more oddly shaped than the tarantula, and so doesn't fit comfortably into the frog's mouth. If prey is too large to be pulled into a frog's mouth using the tongue, as the scorpion is, the bullfrog is more than happy to make house calls. It uses its tongue like a zip line, tagging the prey and then pulling/leaping forward toward it. The combined momentum helps the frog shove the scorpion into its mouth, while it uses both hands to fold the arachnid like a creepy, multi-legged shirt. Finally, here it is eating a bird.
The Black Mamba vs. the Secretarybird
Black mambas are highly venomous, fast moving snakes native to Africa. The combination of nervousness and high aggression makes it the most deadly snake in Africa, and possibly even the world. Even mongooses, which kill cobras for fun, rarely attack an adult black mamba because it is so difficult to kill.
Above: Not the snake to fuck with.
Enter: The secretarybird! This goofy looking bastard is about one-meter high (a good portion is legs) and weighs about eight pounds. Although it can fly, it hunts exclusively while walking on the ground. Also, it looks like it's wearing bicycle shorts, and we are completely in love with that fact.
It's like the bird version of your office's nerdy IT guy.
A typical encounter between a secretarybird and a black mamba goes like this: The bird spots the serpent in the grass, recognizes it as a threat and takes appropriate action. By which we mean it casually strolls towards the snake, spreads its wings for balance and kicks it square in the face.
Because the black mamba always raises its head above the ground when preparing to strike, it is placed at a perfect snap-kick height for the secretarybird. If the snake's head is ever raised higher than the bird can comfortably kick, well that's no problem -- the secretarybird is one of the few animals on Earth to master the flying kick. If the damn thing doesn't have the decency to die from such an awesome and dramatic move, the bird will drop all pretense and just curb-stomp the snake to death.
Just to reiterate one more time: There is a bird in Africa that regularly and routinely jump-kicks poisonous snakes in the face.
"Eh. It's a hobby."
Dingoes vs. Kangaroos
Dingoes are the apex predator of Australia, a place where basically everything is actively trying to kill everything else. A dingo's diet consists of whatever it can catch, ranging from insects to large mammals, and as such the species has been blamed for the extinction of several other animal species, such as the Tasmanian tiger, or even the disappearance of the Tasmanian devil from mainland Australia. Unlike dogs, the dingo can rotate their heads 180 degrees in each direction, and can turn their wrist in such a fashion as to work knobs and open your goddamned doors. In summary: AHHHHHHH!
Kangaroos, on the other hand, are ridiculous looking marsupials that sometimes star in whacky caper movies with the fat kid from Stand By Me.
Screenshot from the movie Kangaroo Jack not included. Because we love you.
If chased by a pack of dingoes, the kangaroo has an odd defense: It will flee into at least chest-deep water and wait. If a dingo should follow the kangaroo into the water, the kangaroo will grab the dog's head with its arms and plunge it under the water, hit-man style, until it drowns.
But what if there's no water nearby? The kangaroo can't coolly and dispassionately execute all comers like Jean Reno, then, right?
On land, kangaroos again clutch the dingo about the head with their adorable little half-arms, but this time they just kick the animal in the stomach repeatedly until they're disemboweled.
But it doesn't stop at dingoes: To a kangaroo, a dog is a dog is a dead fucking dog. They'll go straight gangland on any domesticated dogs they perceive as threats as well. In 2009, an Australian man was out taking his blue heelers for a walk, when one slipped loose and chased a large gray kangaroo into a shallow creek. The kangaroo did how kangaroos do: He put that bitch in the water. When the man waded out to save his pet, the kangaroo kindly obliged him and released the canine. But life must always be paid for with life: The kangaroo slashed the man's face repeatedly, and attempted to drown him instead.
"Beware: Kangaroos will cut your goddamn face."
Eventually the kangaroo realized that the water was too shallow to drown a full-grown man, so it started disemboweling him instead. Luckily, the report says the man "escaped unharmed" ... or wait -- no, sorry. This says, "extremely harmed." Extremely harmed. There's a bunch of underlines here, too: He came away with an eight-inch cut across his abdomen, serious wounds to his head, back and chest, and a newfound respect for kangaroos.
Straight outta Compton.
For more animals that ain't nuthin' to fuck with, check out The 6 Most Badass Murder Weapons in the Animal Kingdom and The 8 Most Disgusting Animal Defenses.