The 6 Deadliest Animals Too Adorable to Run Away From
As we love to point out, Mother Nature's favorite gag is giving vicious predators the bodies of harmless fuzzballs. As part of our duty to make sure you don't judge an animal's lethality by its appearance, we'd like to remind you that ...
Roadrunners Eat Rattlesnakes
When someone mentions roadrunners, you probably think of a tall, skinny bird that runs really fast, goes "Meep meep" and routinely outwits cartoon coyotes. And while Warner Bros. did get some things right (the birds are capable of flight, but choose to just run around really fast), cartoons are rarely accurate sources for the aspiring ornithologist.
Top speed: 17 mph.
Real roadrunners are smaller (upward of 2 feet long from beak to tail) than their cartoon counterparts, and they're far more likely to be doing the murdering than running from it.
Roadrunners are almost exclusively carnivorous. The diet they follow is not the wimpy "small furry things" sort, either. Try rattlesnakes.
A snake lunging at a roadrunner's face is the same as you punching at a mugger's gun.
The roadrunner just sinks its beak into the snake (or whatever abomination it happens to be facing), promptly lifts it high into the air and repeatedly smashes it into the ground until it is tenderized enough to swallow whole. This technique, according to scientists, "subjects the prey to an outward force away from the center of rotation, in this case, the center of rotation being the roadrunner's face." More importantly, it does it like a boss.
That there, friends, is a goddamn finishing move. It even has a name: the Centrifugal Slam.
Oh, and the roadrunner also eats other birds. It doesn't even fly after them -- instead, it just jumps in the air and snatches them as they pass. And then: the Centrifugal Slam.
If that doesn't work, its manager distracts the ref and throws in a chair.
Roadrunners are the only known predator of the tarantula hawk, a 2-inch insect hellspawn that fights tarantulas into submission and lays eggs inside their living bodies. Roadrunners also eat the horned lizard, a spiked monster that shoots blood out of its eyes when threatened.
"Meep meep, motherfucker."
Once the prey is dead, the roadrunner swallows it whole. Well, attempts to. The snakes in particular are usually too long to swallow entirely, so most of the meal ends up just sort of dangling from the roadrunner's mouth. But don't think that the bird gives a damn. It just goes about its business with a dead snake hanging flaccidly from its throat, slowly swallowing more as its stomach digests the meal.
Giant Otters Murder Piranha and Alligators
Otters are some of the cutest, most innocent-looking animals on the planet. Statistically speaking, 102 percent of what they do is adorable. Giant otters are the same, only more so.
At 6 feet, the giant otter is physically the largest member of his family, and even though he's a bit on the big side, we would totally name him Buster and take him rafting. Come on, look at the big fella.
Well hi there!
Giant otters even have a cute nickname:
Giant otters live in South America, where they primarily feed on perch, large catfish and characins, such as piranhas. They hunt in packs (hence the nickname), corraling fish into shallow water for easy pickings. When feeding cubs, they beat up the fish within an inch of its life but leave it hanging -- so that the cute otter babies can have fresh food.
His sadism is matched only by his adorablism.
But no matter how much of a fish-mutilating dick the giant otter may be, it's still just a cute and furry mammal. It has to be wary of other predators that haunt the Amazon River -- such as the local member of the alligator family tree, the caiman.
Also known as the "poor man's dinosaur."
Oh, wait -- it's the other way around.
When a pair of giant otters see a caiman basking on the shore, they might start pawing at the reptile's tail, apparently just for shits and giggles. Maybe the caiman takes the hint and pisses off, but more likely it will turn around and attack. The otters will dodge, then have a go at the tail again. And again. Until the caiman is too tired to fight back. Then they calmly eat the caiman alive. Starting with the damn tail.
If there are more otters around, they'll skip the tail biting, gang tackle the caiman and start chomping away. A pack of giant otters can devour an entire caiman, bones and all, in 45 minutes.
Another delicacy on the giant otter menu is the anaconda, which you may remember as the largest damn snake on Earth. A small group of giant otters will swim up to and grab the snake, then start biting and clawing it. They will bash the anaconda against tree trunks and, if they feel particularly badass, employ a technique described by a biologist as "tug-of-war with an animated fire hose." Yes, giant otters can reduce the most powerful snake on the planet to a mere plaything.
Not bad for an animal that sounds like a squeak toy.
Long-Tailed Weasels Are Dancing Spree-Killers
Oh, come on now. Weasels? They do probably hunt mice or something, like pretty much every small carnivore. But a long-tailed weasel on a list of ferocious killers? No way. Look at that little fella -- it's just a fluffy hot dog with legs.
Well, the long-tailed weasel isn't just one of the most horrible serial killers in nature; one of its many methods of mayhem involves break dancing.
The long-tailed weasel likes to kill by wrapping its body around its prey, then crushing the prey's skull by biting it. If the victim tries to escape into its burrow, the weasel's slender body allows it to run in after the prey to deliver the skullcrusher. If the victim tries to run out of its burrow, the weasel crushes its windpipe instead, because variety is the spice of life.
But what if the teeny tiny predator feels like attacking larger foes, such as, say, snowshoe hares, which are routinely three to six times the size of the less than 10 oz. weasels?
Enter the "weasel war dance," an intricate series of movements performed by the weasel to charm the bunny with the power of dance:
Here's a step-by-step guide for rocking those moves at home: run right really fast; run left really fast; right; right; left; left; jump; hop; roll; roll; kill.
Somehow, it gets nastier still. Long-tailed weasels are genetically hardwired to commit mass murder. They kill whenever they can and store the food for later, but rarely visit their corpse stashes because they prefer their food "alive and quivering." They also lap the blood from the wounds they inflict, and as the icing on the serial killer cake, they make their nests out of the fur of their victims.
Awww. We'd name him Hannibal and make him wear a skin mask.
Olive Baboons Are Kind of Dicks
First things first: an olive baboon is a monkey. Quick -- what do monkeys eat? You thought "bananas," didn't you? Everyone thinks it's bananas.
She thinks she's people!
Olive baboons -- like all monkeys -- are actually opportunistic omnivores. That means they eat whatever they think looks delicious. This is usually just grass and plants and stuff. In fact, baboons are known to peacefully graze next to gazelles. But every once in a while, like a man forced to subsist on salad for too long, they decide enough is enough and they want some meat right damn now. And that's when their peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world ends.
Those gazelles the olive baboon likes to hang out with? They do double duty as fluffy animal friends and a snack cabinet. At any given moment, a baboon may decide he wants him some gazelle. So he nonchalantly walks up to the grazing gazelles, pretending to be uninterested and doing whatever the baboon equivalent of whistling is. Then he just suddenly bolts at whatever looks like it runs away the slowest. Yes, of course this is usually a baby gazelle.
Once the baboon catches the African Bambi, he unceremoniously kills it by beating and biting it. Then he holds it in his hands like a watermelon wedge, munching on its sweet, sweet insides.
Occasionally, olive baboons wake up and find that their home has been invaded by a bunch of flamingos, a "bunch" in this case meaning "up to four freaking million." Just as with the gazelles, the baboons are happy to sit and eat berries with them. Then, completely at random, they just charge the boundless sea of flamingos head-first, giving zero thought about the fact that they're outnumbered four million to one.
"Don't mind me, I'm just a fellow flamingo, and -- MONKEYPUNCH!"
The baboons jump into the fray with the exact same gusto monkeys apply to pretty much everything -- as running, leaping, screeching, shit-stained monsters, screaming at the very top of their voices. They tear through the flamingo flock, grabbing birds left and right the by the legs and throat, and crush the heads with their teeth. They then eat their prey, feathers and all. In fact -- they eat the feathers first, apparently just because they've heard of the phrase "apeshit crazy" and are making an argument for broadening it a bit.
Leopard Seals Eat Penguin Heads
Seals? Seals? No fucking way. Seals are the cutest, sweetest, most adorably helpless-looking things ever. There's no way in hell seals could ever be anything but cuddly tubs of lard. They just eat fish, right?
That assumption goes right out the window when the leopard seal opens its mouth and you find out it's part dinosaur.
OK, all dinosaur.
Sure, all pinnipeds, including seals, are carnivorous. But whereas all other seals eat fish and other cold-blooded animals, leopard seals are one of the top predators of the whole Antarctic. As such, they have a taste for warm-blooded animals. They'll take an occasional fish or squid, sure. But they'd rather snack on fellow seals.
Even more disturbing is their tastes for birds. They'll happily catch an occasional duck or some other seabird. But their favorite is penguins.
"Hmmm. This looks like a safe, seal-free place to relax."
Leopard seals will wait in shallow water or under ice ledges where penguins like to hang out. When the little guys jump into the water, the seal shoots out and grabs it.
OH DEAR GOD!
After it catches its prey, the seal slaps the penguin across the surface of the water to skin it before eating it. Or, if it's feeling particularly merciful, just bites off its head. There are pictures of this if you don't believe us. No, we're not going to show you one.
Cape Buffalo Are Remorseless Machines of Vengeance
The Cape buffalo is a large herbivore that roams the African grasslands. Its most distinctive feature is its fused horns, which form a solid bone shield across the forehead and look not unlike a Wild West bartender's haircut. Cape buffalo spend most of their day lying around, eating grass and drinking water. You know, normal cow stuff. That cows do. Because they're cows.
"Moo, I suppose."
They also fucking murder everything that even thinks of messing with them.
The Cape buffalo has many names. Names such as "Black Death" and "Widowmaker." It is, in fact, the most dangerous member of the "Big Five" of Africa. The other four members? Lion, leopard, rhino and elephant. This means Cape buffalo are officially deadlier than two big cat predators, a notoriously grumpy horned monster and the largest goddamn land mammal on Earth. Hell, even lions usually dare only attack old or sick ones, far from the herd.
Holy crap, it has murder in its FUCKING EYES!
A Cape buffalo weighs up to 2,000 lbs., and its stupid-looking horn helmet is actually a handy combination battering ram/impaler. The Cape buffalo is also, apparently, capable of recognizing the concept of vengeance, and definitely the only animal in existence to downright cherish it.
"Alright. On the count of three, let's wreck their shit."
Cape buffalo can -- and do -- seek revenge against their main enemies, lions -- especially those that kill a calf. Should a lion make that mistake, they come for it with a mob that can contain up to a thousand pissed-off Cape buffalo. In fact, because some lion has surely killed a cape buffalo at some point, they make a point of actively attacking lion prides, either as pre-emptive strikes or, more likely, just to show them who's the boss.
And if a calf is in distress, every member of the herd immediately comes. A bit like this:
If you didn't watch the video, let us recap: a young Cape buffalo is attacked by lions. Then, by a crocodile. Then, the lions and the crocodile play tug-of-war with it for a bit. At which point an entire Cape buffalo herd shows up and gives the predators the beating of a lifetime, sending actual goddamn lions flying through the air, cartoon-style. And the young buffalo, the one two species of vicious predators were doing their very best to kill? It survives.
That's the cat doing wicked involuntary flips.
Attempts to domesticate these murder-cows have been made. They have, unsurprisingly, failed spectacularly. So, as the next most misguided move, we hunt them. As a direct result, more big game hunters are downed by Cape buffalo per year than by any other African animal.
This is largely because the Cape buffalo is a huge believer in offense as the best defense, and in complicated revenge schemes as the best offense. If you shoot one but fail to deliver a kill shot, it will receive an adrenaline boost that makes it oblivious to pain. After that, it will make its mission in life to straight up murder you no matter what. Even if you manage to escape the initial attack, the wounded animal will stalk you, circling around, just waiting for a chance to strike. Shit. Maybe you can try shooting it again? Feel free -- that silly-looking fused-together mass of bone on their foreheads is effectively bulletproof. And the bulk behind it is currently coming at you fast from those nearby bushes like an unholy, steaming, screeching lovechild of Predator and the Hulk.
You'd better hope he thinks those cats shot him.
All in all, we're pretty sure that the only reason aliens haven't attacked Earth yet is because they know they would eventually have to deal with the Cape buffalo.
For more animals not to judge by appearance, check out The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe) and 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see a giraffe dropkicking a rhino.
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