Step Aside, Honey Badger — These Animals Are Even Crazier

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Prilfish/Flickr

The honey badger has a reputation for being one of the craziest animals on the planet. Thick-skinned and impervious to most venom, the honey badger fearlessly raids beehives for honey and hunts poisonous snakes as a matter of routine. They'll eat virtually anything else too, including carrion. But here on Earth, there are plenty of other animals with incredible enough attributes and abilities to compete with Mr. HB in the "crazy" department — and all of them are amazing.

The Sea Cucumber Will Throw Its Guts at You

On the outside, the sea cucumber isn't nearly as ferocious or threatening as a honey badger going full bore into a beehive. In fact, it has its own serene beauty about it. But the sea cucumber can do one crazy thing that most animals can't.

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If threatened, it can expel its guts while it makes a quick exit in the other direction. That's like a human being throwing their own intestines at you to make a getaway. Predators react the same way you might — with confusion, followed by the thought to leave the crazy thing alone.

The Platypus Is Like Four Animals in One

So what the heck is a platypus? Technically, it's a mammal, but it's a weird one. The platypus has a bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver and webbed feet like an otter, yet it lays eggs like a bird.

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Photo Courtesy: Stefen Kraft/Wikimedia Commons

But it has one more thing that most people don't know about: excruciatingly painful venom like a snake. During mating season, the claw-like spurs that are on the males' ankles produce venom to fight off other suitors. You just can't trust an animal that can't decide on a final form.

The Octopus Just Might Be an Extraterrestrial

Octopi are among the smartest animals in the ocean and have demonstrated the ability to solve complex problems. Their stealth abilities make them hard to catch as prey and difficult to evade as predators. As shapeshifters, they can completely change form, texture and color to match their surroundings.

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On top of that, they’re incredible escape artists, with more than a few springing loose from aquariums where such a feat seemed impossible. Some scientists have speculated that they may not be from this planet. Honestly, would anyone be surprised?


The Piranha Will Eat You Alive in Record Time

Can a school of piranhas really skeletonize large prey like a cow in less than a minute? Well, it's uncommon. But it is possible, especially if they haven’t eaten in a while.

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What makes the piranha so dangerous is its teeth, which chomp down in an interlocking pattern and tear flesh away immediately. And yes, those scary teeth are as sharp as scalpels. One piranha is bad enough. But if you fall into a pool of hundreds of them...well, let's just say that can ruin your whole day.

Orcas Are Lean, Mean, Pack-Hunting Machines

The orca is a fierce and intelligent hunter, one you shouldn’t underestimate. Yes, we think of them as cute and friendly to humans, but make no mistake — these are not dolphins. They're called "killer whales" for a reason. Orcas hunt together in packs, just like wolves, and tend to attack their prey from every angle at once.

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When acting together as a pod, orcas can use group tactics to take down the largest prey on Earth: the blue whale. For this alone, orcas deserve our respect as ace predators.

The Parasitic Wasp Transforms Spiders Into the Walking Dead

It sounds like a horror movie. The victim gets stung by a monster and slowly turns into the walking dead, but not before making his home a sanctuary for the monster's brood.

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This monster is the parasitic wasp, and its prey is the orb spider. The wasp begins by laying its egg inside the abdomen of the living spider. As the larva grows, the spider becomes its slave and creates a special web just to support the developing wasp. Once the web is finished, the larva kills the spider. Hard. Core.


Flatworms Have Unusual Sword Fights

Some aquatic flatworms "sword fight" other potential worm mates with their own reproductive organs. Flatworms are hermaphroditic, meaning they’re technically both male and female at the same time. But when they mate, they fight each other with their respective male inseminating organs, with fights sometimes lasting an hour. Winners become the fathers and inseminate their opponents.

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Losers become the mothers and carry the eggs. But it gets crazier. In one species, if there are no flatworms to spar with, one might inseminate its own head and become both the mother and the father.

The Mantis Shrimp Murders Three Ways at Once

The mantis shrimp is one of the fiercest predators in the sea. There are two incredible reasons for this, and they're called its two front claws. Mantis shrimp can use their front claws to strike with about the same velocity as a bullet. That's fast.

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It's so fast that the kinetic energy causes a lethal shockwave, makes the water momentarily boil around the claws and produces little flashes of light. Even if the mantis shrimp misses, the prey is usually stunned, speared or completely dismembered. Just call it the triple-tap.

Geese Are Wicked Aggressive

Would you believe that geese have been known to cause severe injuries to humans? During mating season in particular, geese may attack anyone they feel is threatening their young — even big humans that outclass them by hundreds of pounds.

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Geese can be so fiercely aggressive that some people actually use them in place of watchdogs to protect their homes or businesses. Geese are loud, protective, loyal and unafraid of causing damage. Though it's unlikely anyone you know will be the victim of a fatal goose attack, it’s best to steer clear.


Vampire Bats Literally Suck

It's not a myth. Vampire bats actually do feed upon the blood of the living. And though you won't turn into a vampire if bitten, you might get a blood-borne disease like malaria.

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Vampire bats have a special secretion in their saliva dubbed "Draculin" (seriously!) that prevents the blood from coagulating. They also have special nerves in their faces that help them locate the veins in their prey. But the worst thing? They're always hungry. They'll die if they're not feeding almost every day, so they're always looking for their next victims.

Army Ants Devour Everything in Their Paths

If you happen to live near army ants and a colony of them goes marching through your village, there’s really not much you can do. Your best plan is to just get out of the way as they devour everything in their path.

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By itself, a single army ant has a painful bite. But thousands of them can swarm you and easily kill you if you're not careful. The craziest part? They're mostly blind and find you by their sense of smell, and they're not afraid to attack anything.

The Black Mamba Is Death Incarnate

If you don't go near the black mamba snake, you have nothing to worry about. They’re actually pretty shy and won't actively seek you out. But if you threaten a black mamba, you're as good as dead. They become highly aggressive, and their venomous bite has a near-100% mortality rate — within 20 minutes.

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The venom is a potent mix of neurotoxin (affecting the nervous system) and cardiotoxin (affecting the heart). Even if you know of a facility with the anti-venom, it's highly unlikely you'd get there in time.


For the Praying Mantis, Love Is Murder

Male praying mantises have it rough. If they get a little frisky during mating season, there's always the chance that their female partners just might bite off their heads after the deed has been done. And that's the end of that.

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But wait, there's more! Sometimes the female bites off the head of the male before the mating has finished. And wouldn't you know it, the male praying mantis can still finish mating, even when missing his entire head. Now that's the kind of dedication a female mantis craves.

Baboons Are the Scariest Cousins We Have

Humans should never underestimate their less-evolved cousins. Many people don't realize that most other primates are stronger than humans ever will be. And a few are so aggressive that they’re outright dangerous, like some baboons.

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Baboons have sharp claws, aggressive personalities and powerful jaws. These are three things you don't really want in an unplanned animal encounter. On top of that, they often fight each other, so they're going to have no problem picking a fight with you. Some have been known to even break into cars.

Cockroaches Will Feast Long After You're Gone

There's no way around this one. Cockroaches, evolutionarily speaking, are some of the most successful organisms that have ever lived. They’re not that much different than they were 320 million years ago, way back in the Carboniferous period.

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They're survivors. They outbreed us. They can survive wars, atomic blasts, famine and disease. They just keep going. They can even survive for a while if you rip off their heads. They eat almost anything. Let's face it. These guys aren't going anywhere because they're just too stubborn to die out.


The Decorator Crab Drafts Other Animals to Its Defense

The decorator crab likes to "draft" other animals and organisms into its defense scheme by decorating its shell with their bodies. The crabs can be highly strategic, affixing animals like stinging anemones or toxic algae onto their bodies to ward off predators.

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It's actually a win-win situation. The crab gets an anti-predator defense, and the organism stuck to its body gets more food than usual. Basically, the decorator crab warns that it's not a good dinner option, and predators that attempt to eat it get a mouth full of stingers.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bait Lions

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred in South Africa for the purpose of protecting cattle and homesteads from lions. This required a certain amount of insane courage on the dogs’ part. Their tactic was to "bait" the lions by running in and out of the big cats’ range, drawing the lions out into the open where the dogs’ masters could shoot the lions.

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Natural selection worked fast — only the Ridgebacks that survived their lion encounters could reproduce, ensuring that only the skilled passed down their talents. Now that's a good boy.

Giant Squids Take Down Whales

For the longest time, scientists thought stories of the giant squid were just products of sea-faring legends. But there were signs that they were real. Biologists found dead sperm whales with suction marks on their bodies the size of dinner plates. That meant the squid that made them must be gigantic.

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Today we know they’re real, and we know they’re fierce predators that reach lengths of up to 60 feet and possibly longer. Any animal that can take on a huge whale by itself should probably be left alone.


The Goliath Birdeater Is Savage

If you have a fear of spiders, you might want to skip this one. This is the goliath birdeater — the largest spider on the planet. It's so huge it actually jumps on birds and catches them faster than you can say "ew, ew, ew!" It's not picky; rodents, frogs or really anything bird-sized will do.

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Once it catches its prey, it sinks its huge fangs into the body, filling it full of fatal neurotoxins. Once the prey’s guts are nice and liquefied, the spider sucks out all the gooey innards. Yum.

Hippos Are Mankillers

Of these choices, which animal is more dangerous to humans on the African continent: lions, snakes or hippos? Surprise! It's hippos! It's estimated that hippos kill around 2,900 people a year in Africa. That's not a small number.

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Yes, they're fat, but they can easily outrun humans at speeds up to 30 miles an hour. Those chompers effortlessly cut a human being in half. Though not naturally violent, hippos are extremely territorial and will go to great lengths to protect their young. They'll take on tough predators like crocodiles and win.

Bald Eagles Spot Prey From a Mile Away

Once endangered, America's national symbol was removed from the endangered species list in 2007, a sign of its successful comeback. Like all birds of prey, the bald eagle has impressive talons and hunting abilities.

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But what most people don't know is that it can spot its prey, usually fish, from over a mile away. Once in range, the birds can dive at speeds of over 100 miles per hour to catch a meal before the prey even knows what hit it. If the prey weighs 15 pounds or less, an eagle can carry it back to the nest, too.


Crocodiles Aren't Going Anywhere

Like cockroaches, crocodiles haven't changed much since prehistoric times. Crocodiles as we know them came on the scene about 65 million years ago. The fact that they’re basically the same (just half as big) as back then proves how effective they are as predators.

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The largest reptiles on the planet, crocs also have the strongest bites ever recorded. But the bite is for killing; crocs don't chew their food at all. Sometimes they even eat rocks to help their bodies crush their prey once they’ve swallowed it.

Trapdoor Spiders Are Stealth Assassins

Every predator has a different style. Being the biggest and strongest isn't always the best. Sometimes it's being the quickest and the stealthiest. Enter the trapdoor spider. Its crazy strategy? It builds a hidey-hole with a perfectly camouflaged trapdoor to match its surroundings.

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It perches near the door, sensing the vibrations of any other insect that happens to pass by. Once it gets close...BAM! The spider bursts out of the door, snatches the prey and drags it into the hidey-hole. If you blink, you'll miss it.

Great Whites Are Still Scary

The movie Jaws gave most people a permanent phobia of great white sharks. But the risk of being bitten by a great white is lower than being struck by lightning. Then again, why take the risk?

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They're huge and they're fast, swimming at speeds approaching 40 miles an hour. The news gets worse: They usually attack from below, where prey can't see them. When great whites attack humans, some die and some make it out with a limb or a chunk of tissue missing. So yeah. Great white sharks are scary.


Tasmanian Devils Eat Everything

The Looney Tunes version of the Tasmanian devil isn’t so much of an exaggeration as it is a caricature. While they don't turn into living tornadoes, they do make scary snarling noises just like the cartoon version does. And they’re known for being aggressive.

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The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial on Earth, with a powerful bite and a voracious appetite. They'll eat virtually any small prey animal that moves. But here's what makes them even crazier than a honey badger: They'll eat all of their prey — skeleton, claws and teeth included.

Japanese Giant Hornets Are Angry and Lethal

The Japanese giant hornet is not to be trifled with. It's about 2 inches long, but a quarter of that is just its stinger. The nasty-looking stinger contains a powerful and potentially lethal venom. If a human being gets stung multiple times, chances are high they won’t survive.

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This aggressive hornet is responsible for about 40 human deaths each year. This makes them Japan's most dangerous animal. Their diet mainly consists of other hornets and bees, making them hated and feared even amongst their own kind.

You Shouldn’t Mess With Polar Bears

It's absolutely true: Polar bears are killing machines. They're both the largest bear and the largest carnivore on Earth. They can smell food from nearly 10 miles away. If you're on the menu, the bear will catch you, easily outswimming you in water and outrunning you on land.

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Polar bears also have incredibly thick skulls, so thick that a direct hit with a bullet near the eye may not even penetrate. Luckily, they’re rarely aggressive to humans and usually only attack when desperately hungry.


Alligator Snapping Turtles Can Bite Your Hand Off

Technically, the bite from an alligator snapping turtle isn’t as strong as it looks — about the same strength as a human bite. But it's the teeth you have to worry about, which are razor-sharp and can easily break wood in half or dismember you.

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This turtle hunts by submerging itself in freshwater and wagging its fleshy tongue, which resembles a worm, as bait for fish and small predators. Once within range, SNAP. It's over. The alligator snapping turtle isn't aggressive but will certainly defend itself if disturbed.

Mosquitos Are Record-holding Human Killers

They're diminutive. They're annoying. You can kill one with the flick of a hand. Yet as a species, they hold the all-time record for killing the highest number of humans. Mosquitos are responsible for over a million human deaths per year, mostly due to spreading bloodborne diseases like malaria. They’re our biggest threat from the animal kingdom.

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There's no hiding from them. These little bloodsuckers are on virtually every continent and in every country. Your best defense is living somewhere cold — in temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit they stop biting and take shelter.

Skunks Will Mess Up Everyone's World

Most animals have a much stronger and more advanced sense of smell than humans. They rely on their noses to navigate, communicate and absorb information from the environment. So if we think the smell of skunks is bad, you can only imagine how awful and overwhelming it is to other animals. It must destroy their whole world.

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What’s worse? When the skunk is provoked, its spray is so potent that critters can smell it across a 1.5-mile radius, where those other creatures are just minding their own business. Not cool.