5 Animals With Unusual Ways Of Protecting Themselves

<p> Tambako The Jaguar / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/10001290116/" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>)<br> </p>
<p> Tambako The Jaguar / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/10001290116/" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>)<br> </p>

The animal kingdom is full of creatures which possess impressive weapons, used to hunt their seemingly helpless victims. However, there are certain animals out there that are more than capable of looking after themselves. Here are Frontier Gap's top five animals with the most efficient, surprising and downright disgusting self-defense techniques!

Killer bees

Photo: Andy Blackledge / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Their name alone should be enough to put off any potential predators but if anything does decide to take on a swarm of these killer bees then they have an efficient way of making things regret it! If the swarm suspect a potential threat to themselves or their hive they will begin to attack the unlucky individual. Like all bees, the Africanized bees (killer bees) will sting their enemies, releasing toxins into their body in the process. However, this is not the end. The toxins contain a hormone which attracts the other bees and signals exactly where the enemy is. So if you are stung by one of these beasties, be sure to run because their friends won't be far behind!


Photo: gamppart / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Is it any surprise that the skunk as made the list for best self-defense? The animal is infamous for its pongy method of detraction and is the pin-up for all things self-defense in the animal kingdom! As portrayed in many a cartoon, this little mammal has specially adapted glands on their back ends which, if threatened, can spray out an odorous musk in the faces of their potential threats. Not only is this musk notoriously smelly, if sprayed in the eyes, it can also begin to sting! You'd have to be very brave to take on a skunk because chances are you'll lose and will smell for weeks!

Boxer crab

Photo: Rebecca Tse / Flickr / Public domain

The boxer crab has perhaps the most bizarre method of self-defense in the animal kingdom. If you do happen to swim by this unique marine creature, do not be fooled into thinking they are holding pom-poms. In fact, those are sea anemones which the crab uses as venomous boxing gloves! Incredibly, these clever crabs use the sting of the anemone to warn off any potential predators by waving them above their head! The symbiotic relationship works both ways because, being attached to the crab, the anemone is more mobile allowing it to find more food. One of the most unique and bizarre self-defenses in nature, I'm sure you'll agree.


Photo: Mike Keeling / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Another of nature's famous defense strategies is one that works particularly well. The opossum is not the most threatening of mammals so it is naturally more in danger from predation. However, this American marsupial has a simple but effective way of protecting itself. Most of us would run in fear if being chased but not these furry little things. Instead, the opossum plays dead. Under extreme fear they fall into an involuntary state of stillness fooling its predators into thinking it's dead. The hunter no longer sees the "dead" opossum as appealing and leaves it alone. Incredibly the opossum can then detect when the danger has passed and returns to life, as healthy as ever. A true miracle of nature!

Potato beetle

Photo: Juraj Kubica / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

This innocent looking beetle may not look like a master of self-defense but it truly is. This small insect is no push over and can certainly look after itself, albeit in quite a peculiar way. Young potato beetles have a rather disgusting method of looking after themselves which certainly puts off any potential predation. They may look defenseless but these baby beetles cover themselves in their own feces which just so happens to be poisonous to anything that tries to eat it. Not the most glamorous of techniques but very effective none the less!

So, although all these animals may seem harmless enough, do not make the mistake of scaring them. If you do, you may have quite the shock because these little creatures pack quite the punch. It's these bizarre methods of self-preservation that ultimately allow these species to stay alive in an often dangerous world!

If you are excited by the prospect of working with animals then Frontier have some amazing opportunities for you! Whether you are interested in wildlife or marine conservation, we have a project which will suit you to the ground!

By Ben Church Frontier runs conservation, development, teaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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