Although some animals love to lounge, many of them are bursting at the seams with energy to spare. In addition to being extremely spirited, these creatures also come with a competitive side, and we're not just talking about horses. If only there was an animal Olympic team from each country, we'd be watching the following amazing races on TV. Check out 12 of the most unusual animal races now. On your marks, get set, go!
It isn't a fair in the American South without a pig race. In this cute competition, young pigs race around a small enclosed dirt, grass or gravel track. The most popular hog dash event is the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs Race. This event was created in 1987 in Fairbacks, Alaska, and now tours around the country. The race involves a 100-yard dash and the 50-yard high hurdles. At a recent pig race in the U.K., a spokesperson for a pig-racing event said, "Pig racing is hilarious fun, but the ones who enjoy it most are [the] pigs. They thrive on human contact and get very excited by the crowd."
If you're ever in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt, you may find yourself in the audience of a camel race. Like horse racing, professional camel racing is extremely popular and has been around for centuries. They may not look very fast, but camels can run at speeds of up to 40 mph. Many camels are used as a means of transportation, or for their meat, milk and hides. However, camel racers are raised specifically for track. A well-bred camel can sell for a large sum of money. The biggest camel race, known as the Camel Cup, takes place in Alice Springs, Australia.
Cane toads are not your average amphibians. These creature can grow to be as big as a small dog. Because they breed like rabbits, cane toads are quite rampant in Australia, specifically Queensland. To deal with the abundance of these pesky hoppers, pubs all over the country created cane-toad racing. During a cane-toad race, each toad is assigned to a jockey. The jockeys then place their toads in a starting bucket at the center of the table. When the race begins, the bucket is lifted and the cane toads take off. The first toad to jump off or out of the designated area wins.
In 1981, a gambling activity began in Australia in which two drunken men held a race with cockroaches. Ever since then, roach races have been held all over, but most often in the sport's home country. Performance enhancers including coffee, sugar and wine are banned for all participants.
In 1979, the National Crab Racing Association was formed by Jim Morgan in Florida. He spent all of his time building this new sport, scouring beaches for championship hermit crabs. One fateful day, Morgan met a man who was the largest importer of hermit crabs. Ever since then, each year, the strongest and leanest crab competitors are chosen and put through extensive training to compete against one another. In a hermit-crab race, the participants are placed in the center of a circle and the first one to cross the finish line wins.
Wiener-dog racing began in the 1970s when Australian dog owners gathered their pooches to participate in a competition for fun. Typically, daschund dashers are not bred to race, as the events are informal. However, the sport is still taken quite seriously. The Weinerschnitzel Wiener Nationals is an annual event held in San Diego. Daschunds race 25- or 50-yard runs. Hank McGuppy has proven to be the swiftest and strongest champion dog racer, winning four years in a row.
Hamster racing not only involves adorable small-and-furry creatures, but it also requires a vehicle that the hamster can race in. During a hamster race, each high-speed rodent is placed in either a racing car or a ball, and shoots down a nine-meter course. The first hamster to cross the finish line in the shortest amount of time wins. In 2001, the world-record time was set when a hamster crossed the finish line at 38 seconds.
Many people have never even seen an ostrich in person, but in South Africa, these animals are so common that they even participate in races. In these competitions, humans ride ostriches with special saddles. However, the birds are not as easy to maneuver as horses. Although this sport is uncommon anywhere outside of Africa, many cities in the United States have adopted the event.
Sheep racing may seem unusual, but it's a fairly popular sport in England and Australia. At a particular race in South Yorkshire, wooly competitors gathered round, strapped with teddy-bear jockeys to their backs. The sheep trained for months to navigate a 250-meter course that had 20-inch-high hurdles. Unlike horses, sheep are a bit stubborn, and need to be bribed to the finish line. At the end, sheep would find cereal, their ultimate motivation.
If you thought turtle racing was slow, you might want to grab a snack before you head out and watch a snail race. This slow sport involves two or more land snails racing on a circular track set at 13–14 inches. The annual World Snail Racing Championships were held in Congham, Norfolk in the 1960s. Many snail-racing events soon followed all over the world. In 2010, a snail named Sidney won the World Championship with a time of 3:41. Amazing!
Turtle racing seems like an oxymoron, but it's actually one of the most popular animal competitions in the country. It all began as a pastime in the Bahamas in the early 20th century. The earliest known turtle race to take place in the United States was in Chicago in 1902. It was called "The Strangest Race Ever Run" by the Chicago Daily Tribune. Turtles are placed in the center of a circle and the first turtle to cross the line is the winner. There are several variations of turtle racing, some on land and some in pools. Turtles are not known for their speed, but the fastest turtle ever recorded raced from the center of a 25-foot-circle to the edge in an impressive 39 seconds.
Next: Unusual Animal Swimmers!
They may be small and squirmy, but it turns out that worms make for excellent competitive creatures. Worm races are usually held by children. To start off the race, the worms are placed into the center of a 50-centimeter circle with a damp surface. This helps the squiggly racers move more easily. The first worm to reach the edge of the circle wins. Many fairs and festivals hold worm races too.