Many of us grow up with stuffed animals, which we take to bed and cuddle. We watch cartoon characters of adorable bears, elephants, and sweet-natured hippos.However, these loveable characters are dangerous in the wild.
They are often known as malu malu, Indonesian for ‘shy one’ because they freeze and cover their faces when startled. Button noses and sauce-like eyes peeking from a cuddly, round fur ball might make them look cute. However, it is anything but adorable. It is one of only a few venomous mammals.
The Slow Loris, an endangered species, has become an internet sensation for appearing to enjoy having its armpits tickled. When slow lorises feel threatened, they raise their arms to reveal their inner upper arm, where there is a small bald patch, a brachial gland that secretes a pungent, toxic oil. When they lick the gland, the oil mixes with the saliva to create venom.
Their big sharp teeth and powerful jaw enables slow lorises to attack ferociously with a bite laced with poison. The venom is harmful enough to rot flesh, cause an anaphylactic shock, and even death in humans.
Slow loris produces venom as young as six weeks, which they use to ward off intruders. They are incredibly territorial and are one of five mammals that use their venom against their kind. It is not unknown to see slow loris with half their face fallen away after an attack from another.
While the slow loris may look adorable, they are furballs of death.
Many picture seals as cute, white, fluffy pups. Baby leopard seals don’t fit into that category. A newborn pup has a distinctive leopard-spotted coat resembling a smaller version of its parents. Their mouth curls upwards towards the ends, creating the impression of a happy smile or mischievous grin.
The illusion of a smiling face is as far as it goes to being adorable. Sometimes known as sea leopards, they are formidable predators. They can reach up to 11.5 feet (3.5 meters), weighing 1,322 pounds (600kg). The female can be up to twice the size of the male.
Leopard seals are apex predators and opportunist feeders whose prey includes birds, fish, penguins, and other seals.
Sea leopards are solitary animals except during the annual mating season. Females do not form colonies similar to other seals.
These large sea mammals do not hesitate to attack when protecting their young or in a situation involving food. Their razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaw allow them to rip into a penguin or baby seal. Although rare, sea leopards have fatally attacked humans.
They are surprisingly fast for their cumbersome appearance. Their large fore flippers propel them through the water, reaching 25 mph (40 kph), allowing them to launch onto land to catch a penguin. They appear to play with their prey, chasing penguins in and out of the water.
Dolphins are adorable, playful, intelligent, and sociable. Many positive stories describe human interactions. Dolphins also play a vital role in protecting the sea.
It is easy to forget that these fascinating creatures are naturally wild and apex predators at the top of the ocean food chain, falling victim to a few shark species and orcas.
Their weapon is their long, powerful snout, which they use to ram the soft underbellies and gills of sharks. Some dolphin species have over 200 teeth, which they use to grab and rip at their prey. They will shake and slam their victim to dismember it, making it easier to swallow and digest in its three stomachs.
If threatened, dolphins will attack humans, rarely fatally. They can be territorial, including possessiveness over humans, as in the case of Valerie Ryan, who suffered spinal fractures, broken ribs, and a punctured lung in a dolphin attack.
Giant Pandas feature high on the cuteness scale in the animal kingdom. According to Dr. Edgar E Coons, a Professor of Psychology and Neurology, pandas' trademark black-patch eyes, big heads, and chubby bodies instigate a hedonistic mechanism.
Generally, giant pandas are not aggressive. However, if they feel threatened or angered, they can attack. They prefer to spend their lives in solitary, paying more attention to feeding and avoiding confrontation.
Like other bears, pandas will fight with their sharp claws, teeth, powerful jaws, and physical strength. Their bite force at 1300 psi comes close to a lion at 1315 psi.
Native to South Central China, Giant Pandas have few natural predators. Their threat comes from humans and the development of infrastructure.
Most panda attacks on humans occur in captivity. While it can kill a human, there are no reports.
Tasmanian Devils, known as Tassies in Australia, are only found in Tasmania’s wilderness. They are the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. The size of a small dog, and with brown fur and a plump appearance, they appear comical.
The Tasmanian devil appears in the Looney Tunes cartoons as Taz, a bundle of unstoppable, whirling chaos Bugs Bunny calls ‘Poochie.’
Unlike their cartoon characters, Tassies are shy, only becoming aggressive when cornered or hungry. They make a lot of strange noises, such as growls, snorts, sniffs, shrieks, and sneezes, to scare off potential attackers.
When forced to attack, they have incredibly sharp teeth and one of the strongest bite forces relative to their size. Their teeth can crush bones, breaking their food into small pieces and making it easier to digest.
They have a reputation for flying into a rage, and their prey consists of wallabies, wombats, sheep, and rabbits. However, they are opportunist eaters and will scavenge anything they can find.
Another defense mechanism is to release a pungent odor to detract predators. It rivals the smell of a skunk.
Despite their notorious character and mighty bite, Tasmanian Devils remain on the endangered species list.