21 Disturbing Facts You Never Wanted To Know About Animals

Nature can be beautiful, but sometimes if you take a moment to scratch just below the surface what you'll find might disgust you.
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1. Fruit Fly Swarms Are Really Just Massive Orgies

Source: Solana Center for Environmental Innovation

You know that big knot of fruit flies buzzing around your fruit…and your head. Yeah, they’re hungry for more than just some overripe bananas. They’re swinging.

It starts off slow, but still gross. Two by two the fruit flies pair up and start building arousal through what some call “oral sexual foreplay” but what we call tiny bugs going down on each other. Then comes the action. Which, for beings which only live for a little over a month, last an impressive 20 minutes.

But wait, there’s more.

No sooner has her first partner rolled over and fallen asleep has the female fruit fly buzzed off in search of more. A few more, actually. The female will keep trying out new males until she finds Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Right Now, and he’s the one that will pass on the genetic code to her litter of little flies.


2. Petting Birds Turns Them On

Source: Chibiharu Channel

Ever notices how the pretty birdies like it when you stroke their feathers? Yeah, well, it turns out they really, really like it. Like, a lot.

Ever seen birds mate? Have you noticed how it often begins with one stroking its partner along the head and back? See a similarity here?

So yes, when you pet the birdie you’re getting them sexually aroused. They even start panting and everything. And if they barf on you? Well, that’s how you know you’re in. The offer of regurgitated food is like inviting you back up to their place for a nightcap, knowwhatImean?

At that point, you’d best be careful. If you don’t start giving them what they want, they might turn violent. Now we’re not suggesting that you put out, but consider: nobody wants a horned up creature with a sharp beak and pointy talons going all pecky scratchy on them.

3. You’ve Probably Eaten Beaver Anal Secretions

When open up the big book of “how did they discover this?” you’ll find a nice large section on beaver butt juice in there. It’s more properly called “castoreum,” because a nice latin name makes even the most horrific things sounds okay, and you either eat it, smoke it, or you spray it on your face.


Castoreum is the yellowish secretion of a beaver’s castor sac, which is basically the bladder they use to mark their territory. It’s full of anal liquids and urine, all mixed together, and it’s been used for years to bring out the flavor in vanilla ice cream, add a musky aftertaste to cigarettes, and add a fruity note to perfumes.

As you can probably imagine it’s not nearly as common an additive as, say, MSG or xanthan gum, because it’s not the easiest thing to acquire. Beavers are not particularly forthcoming about giving up their anal secretions to any old ice cream maker who comes along, so it’s expensive.

But no so expensive that some makers of luxury items don’t still use it.

4. Some Frogs Will Make Homes Out Of Elephant Dung

Source: Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz

What do you do when you’re a tiny 1 inch long amphibian and there aren’t any nice leaves to make a comfy home under? Why, find a big steamy pile of elephant poop and cozy on in, of course.

The ornate narrow-mouthed frog get a lot of out pachyderm poop, as it turns out. It provides the essential shelter from the sun, and packs a ready-filled pantry to boot. All the bugs crawling through the feces make for quick, easy frog snacks, and the bits of food lodged in it that the elephant didn’t digest first help round out the buffer. It helps that they can’t smell any of it, naturally.

What’s more, it’s never lonely. A giant elephant turd is large enough to provide a whole housing complex for frogs and more critters. As respected biologist Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz wrote in his scientific report, “$^*& Happens (to be Useful),” “A dung pile can become a small ecosystem on its own,” because so many animals are eager to move right into a pile of elephant poop and make it a home they can call their own.”

5. Proboscis Monkeys Taunt Each Other With Rage-Ons

A make proboscis monkey is a lot like your average frat boy. They’re little dongs are pretty much always hard, and they’re prone to being angry little buggers.

There’s no telling if the two are connected, although one can imagine that if you had engorged sexual organs all the time — and we mean ALL the time — eventually you might have some emotional issues to work through, too.

All of which is fine. The part that is troublesome is that when they get all raged up and start taking it out on someone else, they use their stiffies to express their anger, and that’s just…rude? Inappropriate? Icky?

And it’s not just a once in a while kind of thing, these guys fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. They’re always shrieking and shaking branches and spreading their legs apart as wide as they can and thrusting their boners at things.

Just like Friday night at the frat house.

6. Falcon Breeders Let Birds Copulate With Their Heads

Let’s start this off by making sure everyone knows that falconry is awesomely cool. It really is. But it’s also frought with a 5 alarm ick factor when it comes to how a falconer breeds little baby birdies. They let the male falcons fuck with their head. Literally.

First, the falconer has to get the male bird’s motor running. So naturally, the human will have to do a sexy little mating dance complete with come hither bird calls and everything. But of course. And if the bird likes what it sees and hears and starts to feel the call of the wild, it will fly onto the breeders head and go to town. Naturally.

People being people, they’ve designed special little hats to wear during this horrible act, to capture the falcon’s semen and make sure not a drop of precious love juice is wasted. Then they do as nature intended and inject this into the female’s eggs so that baby birdies can be born.

Naturally, they’ve got to get the females in the mood to present their lady bits for injection so there’s more dancing and calling to arouse them too. It’s a lot of flirting on the part of the human here, but apparently it’s worth it to make sure the best birdy DNA is used.

But is it worth it, really?

7. The Greater Short-Horned Lizard Squirts Blood Out Of Its Eyes

Source: Getty

So, we don’t know what you do when you feel threatened, but we are willing to bet that however horribly you react, the greater short-horned lizard still wins. Hands down. Every time. That is, unless you can do better than shooting blood from your eyes.

That’s right. Shooting blood. Not trickling blood, we’re talking real blood projection from the eye sockets splattering things up to 4 feet away. Like a water gun.

And it doesn’t even hurt. We think. At least, there doesn’t seem to be any limit to how much they can do it, except maybe how much blood they have inside their lizard skins.

8. Several Species Of Birds Keep Cool By Defecating On Themselves

Source: מינוזיג / Wikimedia

Let’s say you’re hot. It’s a sunny day, you live somewhere warm, and you’re hot. What do you do?

Sure, you could find some shade. Or step into some air-conditioned comfort. Or, perhaps, you could go to the loo on your feet.

It’s called urohidrosis and it’s how some birds like storks, condors, flamingos, and vultures keep cool. It seems to do the same thing as sweating, except that instead of sweat these birds dripple excrement down their legs and call it a day.

It’s an unpleasant way to beat the heat, but until they build nests with central AC, whatchagonnado?

9. Bored Ducks Become Cannibals

Source: Brent Moore / Flickr

Alright, time for another hypothetical. Say this time you’re bored. It’s been a long day our floating on the pond waiting for someone to chuck stale bread your way, so what should you do to pass the time? If you answered drop by a buddy’s place, kill their babies, then eat them, congratulations: you may be a duck.

Here’s a description of one such lazy Sunday afternoon: it starts with a bored duck visiting a neighbor’s nest and grabbing an egg, then “the male Muscovy cracked the egg open and bit down on the fully formed chick within. With a snapping upturn of his head, he then swallowed the duckling whole.”

Now in case you think this is an isolated case, consider that there is an actual beak-trimming machine that made specifically to prevent a duck from being able to go all Hannibal Lector on his pals. You don’t usually make tools for things that you don’t need to do a lot.

10. After Scorpions Shed Their Tails, They Die Of Constipation

Scorpions are pretty amazing. They’ve got those wicked stingers curling up over their backs to defend themselves with, and did you know that if the stinger gets lodged in an enemy, the scorpion can actually tear it off and run away while the stinger keeps pumping venom into their would-be attacker? Sweet.

Er, except what happens next. See, the stinger is more than just a stinger, it’s the whole tail section. And inside that tail section is the scorpion’s anus. And those tails do not grow back.

But hey, what happens to all the poop when there’s no bunghole for it to come out of. Excellent question, and one to which it’s likely you already know the answer. But in case you need it spelled out: the tailless scorpion is constipated for the rest of its shortened life. Physically incapable of relieving itself, it will gradually fill up with poop until it explodes.

This can take months. And it happens in stages. They get so clogged up that a section of their remaining tail blows off and all the built-up crapshoots out. Then it starts again. Boom. And again. Boom. And again until there are no more bits of tail left to release the pressure, so the last time they get filled up with poop ends with one final explosion of the poor creature’s entire body, and 8 months of agony is finally over.

11. When male bees mate, their sexual organs explode.

Source: David P Howard

This is best not to dwell upon for too long. Male bees have evolved a pretty gruesome but effective way to ensure their DNA goes into the next generation: after copulating with the queen, their testicles explode and their genitals fall off inside the vagina of the queen bee, effectively plugging it so that no other bee can go and pollinate the queen.

Er, not much more to say about that, really.

12. Sloths almost die every time they have to poop.

Source: Sergiodelgado / Wikimedia

Sloths are famously very slow-moving creatures. They spend almost their entire lives up in a tree, doing something close to nothing, moving very little. That slow movement also applies to the movement of their bowels: some meals can take sloths up to a month to digest so they only need to poop once a week.

But here’s the thing: they don’t poop up in their tree. It’s one of the few reasons they ever leave the tree, actually. And for good reason: the ground is dangerous. Predators, and such. And since they move so slowly, sloths are easy prey down on the ground.

So pooping is clearly a big deal for a sloth, made even bigger when you consider that a sloth can lose one-third of its body weight from pooping. Think about it: what must it be like to crap out a third of your body weight in one go? And it really is one go. One long, squishy go that looks like a ripe banana. Wait, too much information? Too late for that.

So if it’s so dangerous, and awful, why does the sloth do the equivalent of 10k run once a week to defecate on the ground instead of up in their tree? Nobody really knows, and there are lots of theories, but the front-runner is that it’s probably for sex, to mark the tree as a place for other sloths to find a good, albeit slow, time.

13. Flies are all-around horrible things.

Source: Katja Schulz

Apart from being super-annoying, flies are pretty thoroughly awful. Everything about them is just…nasty.

For starters, they eat feces. They literally roll around in feces and they eat it. So their bodies are covered in bacteria — hello typhoid and dysentery! — which means that every time one of the little crap-eaters lands on your food, you get to eat feces too. But wait, it gets worse.

Flies don’t just smear their poo-stained feet around on your food; they actually puke on it. They don’t do it just to be gross, that’s merely a happy side-effect; the reason they throw up onto your food is so that they can cover it in digestive juices that dissolve it down to a soupy substance they can suck through their straw-shaped tongue. So in addition to everything else, you’re getting fly vomit as well.

Oh, and flies also lay their eggs in rotting flesh, and get to spend the first part of their lives as maggots that only grow into flies after snacking on whatever corpse they spawned inside.

And they buzz.

14. Hagfish may even be worse than flies.

Source: Peter Southwood

Hagfish look awful, but the reality is they are much much worse than they look.

Nearly blind and completely toothless, the hagfish has a hankering for carrion, and they’re not too particular about how they get it. Once they suss out the irresistible aroma of a dead animal in the water, the happy hagfish will find a way inside. They’re flexible, so any convenient hole in the carcass will do.

They slither in, then begin to consume their dinner from the inside out.

So they are ugly, with awful table manners and horrible appetites. Could it get worse? Yes, yes it could. They are also exceptionally slimy. Like, to the tune of 17 pints of icky goo slimy. You know, on the off chance that anyone actually wanted to eat a gross little monster like that, the slime helps discourage even those intrepid predators.

15. Sea Cucumbers are almost as bad as hagfish.

Source: Bernard Dupont

There are a lot of different sea cucumbers out there, more than 1200 species in all, and some of them really are shaped like cucumbers. Some live in the deep ocean and some in the shallows. But all of them eat poop.

They open their horrible little mouths and scoop the poop in with a whole mess of tentacular tube feet. But that’s not the worst thing about them.

The worst thing is their built-in defense mechanisms. They vary from species to species, but are all awful. Some sea cucumbers release sticky threads to ensnare their enemies, which on the scale of things is positively benign. Much much worse are the sea cucumbers who violently contract their muscles and actually spew some of their internal organs out of their anus.

Fear not for the timid sea cucmber, though, for they can speedily regenerate whatever bits of themselves they shot out their assholes at their enemies.

16. Snapping turtles can be trained to be morticians.

This little nugget of horribilia comes to use from India, where the sacred Ganges River flows. The river is famous for lots of reasons, and one of the more interesting is the Hindu ritual of bringing deceased loved ones to its waters for their final resting place. The rather icky offshoot of this practice is that there is an unseemly number of corpses floating down the Ganges.

Naturally, the solution to a problem like this is to introduce something into the water that can get rid of all the rotting bodies. And that is why $32 million was invested into turtle farms. Snapping turtles, specifically.

Since 1990, 24,000 specially trained snapping turtles have been set free in the Ganges. How do you train a turtle? Well that depends what you’re training them to do. In this case, you want them to snap up dead bodies, so logically you train them to have a taste for dead, rotting meat. So from the moment they hatch, these turtles are fed on a strict diet of dead fish, which conditions them to seek out the charnel in the river and leave the living bodies alone.

It is so successful that when people bring a body in a bag, the turtles sometimes charge up to the shore and drag the bag off for lunch.

What could possibly go wrong?

17. Tarantulas suck their food through a straw.

Tarantulas are, admittedly, pretty scary. There is something primally fearful about big hairy things with lots of legs and, you know, poisonous fangs.

Truth be told, they are slow, fragile things that probably won’t hurt a person, but that doesn’t make them any less horrible to the things they do hurt: mostly insects but also frogs, toads, and mice, as well as the occasional unlucky bird.

There’s no web involved, but they can make a tripwire across the front of their hidey-hole alerting them when it’s time to pounce out and grab their prey and inject a paralyzing venom into it before using the fangs to finish it off. All pretty normal nightmare stuff so far. But keep going, now is when it gets well and truly horrific.

In order to eat their dinner, the tarantula secretes digestive enzymes into the critter that liquefies the body so that it can be slurped up through the spider’s straw-like mouth openings.

Mercifully, they don’t need to do this very often. After a large meal, the tarantula may not need to eat again for a month.

18. We’ve taken to hunting giant rats with sniper rifles.

Source: S.W.A.T. Total Pest Control

Let’s talk rats. They’ve had a bad rep ever since the middle ages where they were thought to be the carriers of the plague (although most scientists now think the real culprits behind the spread of the Black Death were dirty humans, go figure). But you know, while maybe they weren’t technically to blame for the plague, they’re still horrible.

And what’s worse than a rat? How about a giant rat? Say…11 pounds?

Tehran, Iran has had a problem with rats for a long time, but it’s gotten worse. Like, 11 pounds worse. That’s how big some of the rats are getting there. To combat the problem, there are now trained snipers on loan from the Iranian army prowling the streets of Tehran at night with infrared scopes on a shoot-to-kill mission against the giant rats.

But don’t start getting all smug if you don’t happen to live in Tehran. There are several species of “giant” rats all around the world that can grow that big. Even common black rats can get very large under the right conditions because their growth plates don’t fuse after puberty. They can conceivably just keep growing and growing.

According to reports in the Middle Ages — which you can take with however many grains of salt because it was the Middle Ages, and back then those dummies even thought rats were the cause of the plague — black rats in Europe grew large enough to carry off babies.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, rats are becoming resistant to poison. In West England, for example, rodenticide is completely ineffective on up to 75 percent or rats found there.

19. Koalas are really gross.

Koalas are not what you think. You might see a cute little teddy bear clinging to that eucalyptus tree, but looks can be — and in this case definitely are — deceiving. These nasty little beasts aren’t built like us, and evolution has only given them one opening through which to pee, poo, and reproduce. It’s called the cloaca, and in most koalas it is positively riddled with chlamydia. I mean, no wonder: they pee, poop, and screw through the same orifice.

Evolution has dealt the koala some other questionable cards. The things only eat one thing: eucalyptus leaves. And wouldn’t you know it, baby koalas can’t digest the poison in eucalyptus leaves. The only way a baby koala can survive is by eating their mother’s poo.

Well, not poo exactly, but a slightly less digested waste – fecal pap. Right from her chlamydia-infected cloaca.

20. Otters are murderous necrophiliac inter-species sex offenders.

The female otters are lovely creatures, adorable and sweet. Male otters should be registered as sex offenders.

Apparently, the kryptonite for these little deviants are baby seals, which everyone knows are pretty adorable and sweet in their own right. But these beastly little boy otters have a thing about raping them.

And when a boy otter does the deed with a girl otter, the act involved holding her head under the water. Because boy otters are horrible. Girl otters don’t usually have a problem with this, although sometimes they drown, which is a whole other topic for counseling. Baby seals aren’t as good at holding their breath, so the act of otter-on-seal copulation often results in seal death.

And sometimes, please please please don’t ask why, the male otters are known to continue mounting the body of the dead seal for up to a week after its death.

21. Ladybugs

Aw, cute, a ladybug. So pretty.

Oh look, it’s got a bunch of eggs there. How nice, lots of little baby ladybugs.

Say, what’s it doing there? Oh look, it’s eating its own eggs.

How awful.

Facts and sources here.
Story credit: Mark Oliver