4 Wild Animals That Get More Dangerous After They Die
Plenty of wild animals pose a threat to your well-being, but generally, a big requirement for that threat is them being alive. If an animal is dead, generally, it either means you’ve never been in danger, or you just now removed yourself from danger with a bit of highly stressful violence. If you’re out hiking in the woods and were given the option to run into either a grizzly bear or a grizzly bear’s corpse by some sort of imaginary danger sommelier, it’s a good bet you’re picking the cold variety. Some animals, though, are not only still dangerous when dead, but might be more of a threat from beyond the grave.
Here are four animals who are more dangerous when dead…
As far as being fleshy vectors of all sorts of nasty stuff, the rat is pretty much king. Only the mosquito could present any real argument against their dominance, and the rat still has some pretty compelling arguments. For example, a pesky illness known as the Black Plague. Modern research has shown that rats might not have been the only or primary method of transmission. At the same time, having even partial credit for knocking off roughly one-third of the population of Europe is plenty enough reason not to poke any bubo-riddled recently deceased rats.
Historical tragedies aside, rats carry a whole lot of diseases that would recommend careful handling of their remains. Not that most people are psychotic enough to barehand a rat corpse and dunk it in a dumpster, but building some sort of improvised device around not having to touch it might be the medically recommended path. Just ask a bunch of Californian neighbors who all picked up typhus after getting rid of some dead rats on their property.
The pufferfish, in terms of traditional defense mechanisms, was dealt a pretty shitty hand. It’s incredibly slow, basically floating along like a little drumstick-shaped treat for any nearby aquatic predators. Given that they’re not getting away from anyone, they developed some alternative defense mechanisms. The first gives them their name, in their ability to rapidly inflate into a spiny ball much more difficult to get a hungry mouth around. The second isn’t visible, but is incredibly deadly: Organs that are positively swimming in tetrodotoxin, an incredibly deadly neurotoxin.
The solution to not dying from that neurotoxin seems pretty simple: Don’t eat them. For one reason or another, however, the Japanese have instead chosen to engage in the culinary equivalent of base jumping by considering pufferfish, or fugu, a prized delicacy. It’s known as an edible curiosity to foodies and Simpsons fans the world over. If the chef prepares it properly, without accidentally spilling any of the toxin inside onto the edible bits of flesh, enjoy your meal. If not, well, hopefully your affairs are in order. It’s so difficult to safely prepare that it not only has its very own license required for legal preparation, but its own knife, known as a fugu-hiki.
When any living creature dies, their body quickly begins the next task on the docket: decomposition. From dust to dust, as they say, though with a couple of extremely disgusting and very wet steps included in-between. Part of this decomposition includes the production of highly unpleasant gases inside the corpse in question. We’ve gotten a lot better at preventing this so that a funeral can be held without the need for hazmat suits, but in worst-case scenarios, like with the body of William the Conqueror, that gas can result in one of the least cool explosions ever.
Now, if you scale up that phenomenon dramatically, and add extremely thick skin and layers of blubber that are able to store a lot more force and compressed gas before giving way, you get the stinky ticking time bomb that is a beached whale. Despite how fascinating this recently expired king of the ocean might be, there’s a good reason that scientists recommend, to use layman’s terms, not fucking with it. Disturbing or attempting to move the corpse might result in those gases moving from inside to outside at extreme speed through the path of least resistance you just created with your hand.
At best, you’re spending the next week in the shower. At worst, you might be getting clocked at high speed by whale innards. Observe from a distance, and your nose will thank you.
This last entry is unique in that the animal in question is causing so much danger not alive or dead, but at their exact moment of transition. That perilous moment is caused by an unexpected and sudden introduction between a deer and a car. The necessities of human transportation require roads to criss-cross our country, often through territory inhabited by wildlife. That wildlife is not fully educated on the dangers of vehicular travel, the need to look both ways or what “roads” or “cars” are, which can lead to a deer deciding to cross a bit of weird, hard, black forest floor at highly inopportune times and causing horrible accidents.
Deer’s propensity to huck themselves in front of speeding cars makes them more dangerous to the public than a lot of animals that people are a whole lot more scared of. The idea of running into a bear sends shivers down campers’ spines, but only around two to five people per year are killed by bear attacks in North America. A deer running into you, on the other hand, kills roughly 200 Americans a year, and injures 10,000 more.
So, drive carefully in deer country, and hope there aren’t any nearby bucks with a death wish.