Humans do some pretty weird things, but animals are more than capable of matching us at every odd, quirky and twisted step of the way. Read on to learn about some of the weirdest things that animals do.
KOALAS SLEEP 18-22 HOURS PER DAY
Koalas sleep the day away more than any other animal. The eucalyptus on which koalas subsist are not particularly nutritious, but they are high in fiber and also contain certain toxins. As a result, eucalyptus requires a lot of energy for koalas to digest. This means they must sleep a lot as a means to conserve energy.
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WOMBATS POOP CUBES
One of the strangest and most distinctive features that wombats boast is their poop. Wombats poop cubes. It’s true. Wombats poop neat, dry little cubes. And because wombat eyesight is so poor and their sense of smell is so important, their cubic poops are also vital for marking territory and helping wombats find their way around.
PORCUPINES PEE ON EACH OTHER FOR SEX
Many animals engage in what one could most delicately describe as non-consensual sex. But porcupine sex is all about permission. Here’s how a male porcupine gains a female’s consent: He urinates on her. If the female likes what she smells, she’ll allow things to continue. If she shakes it off in disgust, the male has been rejected.
OTTERS TIE THEMSELVES TO KELP WHEN THEY SLEEP
Sea otters float on their backs when they sleep, which is unassailably adorable. But isn’t there a danger of floating away into the middle of the sea? Actually, yes. That is a concern. That’s why, when it’s “bedtime,” otters tie themselves to strands of kelp. This anchors them to kelp beds and ensures they stay put while catching some ZZZs.
HAMSTERS CAN BECOME ADDICTED TO THEIR RUNNING WHEELS
Most pet hamsters learn to love running in their exercise wheels, but some take it a bit too far. Whether because of boredom, a high-energy diet or just natural instinct taking over, some hamsters become addicted to their wheels. This over-exercise can lead to exhaustion and foot injuries.
SOME BIRDS DEFECATE ON THEMSELVES TO STAY COOL
Certain species of storks and vultures practice the unusual method of cooling themselves by defecating and urinating all over their own legs and feet. Other than the gross nature of this behavior, it works just like sweating. The evaporation of water in the feces and urine cools the birds down. The habit is called "urohydrosis."
MALE BOWERBIRDS COMPETE OVER INTERIOR DESIGN
Much like in our own human culture, attracting a desirable mate for bowerbirds is largely a matter of having the best stuff. Male bowerbirds spend a lot of time and effort designing and building bright, beautiful nests to attract similarly bright, beautiful mates. The competition gets so fierce that males often destroy each others’ nests.
CERTAIN WASP SPECIES ENGAGE IN PARASITIC TORTURE
Ichneumon wasps are parasitic wasps — two words nobody wants to see together. First, these creatures lay their eggs in the bodies of hosts (usually caterpillars). Then they inject the hosts with a toxin that paralyzes them without killing them, so that the larvae can eat their hosts alive as they hatch. Darwin cited the ichneumon wasp as proof that God doesn’t exist.
CATS MEOW TO IMITATE THE CRIES OF HUMAN INFANTS
Cats communicate with a variety of vocalizations, but a 2009 study found that certain meows are unique to cats' interactions with humans. The study suggests that cats are able to modulate their meows to imitate human babies. The pleading meow of a cat has a frequency like a human infant's cries, which elicits a quicker response from a human owner.
Next: 12 Unusual Animal Group Names
SOME FROGS FREEZE TO DEATH TO SURVIVE WINTER
Lots of animals hibernate. Bears, most famously, slow down their metabolisms and sleep through winter. But that’s just a cold nap compared to certain frog species that completely shut their bodies down during winter — their hearts stop and they cease breathing. They’re dead, for all intents and purposes. But a high glucose concentration in their vital organs prevents them from freezing to death, and they thaw in spring to continue life as usual.