Not every animal in the animal kingdom likes to blend in with the crowd - these five creatures are no exception.
The tapir, octopus, boxer crab, aye-aye, and echidna are unique creatures in their ecosystems but also have some rather unusual habits.
From using noses as snorkels to throwing rocks at harassers, these animals have unique habits you will not believe.
The Tapir Sometimes Uses Its Snout as a Snorkel
Native to the South and Central American woodlands, the tapir looks like a cross between a boar and an anteater. What is most recognizable about this horse and rhino relative, though, is its unique prehensile snout.
A combination of the nose and upper lip, the tapir snout is like a shortened elephant trunk and is used in much the same way. Tapirs use their unique schnoz to sniff through the forest, strip leaves from vegetation, and snorkel!
An animal that relies on camouflage for protection from predators, the tapir uses its nose as a snorkel. Gripping the lakebed with its hoof-toes, this herbivorous mammal can spend minutes underwater and evade big cat predators like the jaguar.
Female Octopuses Won’t Put Up with Harassment
The nine-brained octopus is an intelligent animal that has completed puzzles, played with toys, and escaped tricky situations. But with three hearts, it is also no surprise that the brainy octopus is also an emotionally sensitive creature.
In 2015, scientists from the University of Sydney observed a large population of Sydney Octopuses. The researchers observed the cephalopods becoming frustrated and purposely throwing rocks and sand at each other. In most cases, the thrower was a female octopus tired of being harassed by a male trying to mate with her.
It is not only female octopuses that take part in throwing behavior to release frustration, though. One scientist noted a male octopus replicating similar behavior by throwing a shell after being rejected by a female.
Boxer Crabs Are the Ocean’s Cheerleader
The boxer crab - known by the scientific name Lybia tessellate - is an inch-wide crustacean native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean. A small crab with undersized claws, the boxer crab has few natural defenses against predatory fish, so it improvises.
Also known as the pom-pom crab or the cheerleader crab, this shallow-water crab wields sea anemones in its claws, resembling a cheerleader. This relationship is the perfect example of symbiosis - in return for their assisted defense, the boxer crab ensures that the sea anemones are well-fed.
By simply wielding the anemones, the boxer crab can deter most predators. When the predator continues to push forward, the boxer crab punches the predator with its anemone pom poms, driving them away.
The Aye-Aye Loves to Mine for Gold
Native to the Madagascan rainforests, the aye-aye is a lemur species and a nocturnal primate. Commonly associated with bad luck and omens of death by locals, natives have hunted this big-eyed tree-dweller to the point of being endangered.
In addition to having large eyes for better nocturnal hunting, the aye-aye has a 3-inch long skeletal-like middle finger. This bizarre finger helps the aye-aye to poke around for grubs inside trees and scoop the meat out of coconuts.
Researchers have also caught the aye-aye doing more than scooping coconuts with that extended middle finger. Scientists at the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina observed one of their aye-ayes, Kali, digging around for gold up her nose.
Scientists believe Kali reached her long finger through the nasal passage entirely and entered the throat! Shockingly, after fitting almost the entire finger up her nose, Kali licked it clean – making the aye-aye the 12th known primate to pick its nose and eat the findings... yuck!
The Echidna Conga Line
Native to Australia and New Guinea, the echidna is one of only five species of monotreme (a mammal that lays eggs and lacks teats) in the world. Sometimes called the spiny anteater, the echidna has no teeth and uses a 6-inch tongue to gobble up insects.
There are only two months of the year when the echidna breeds – July and August. During this time, it is common to see echidna trains – as many as eleven males following a single female. The male echidnas follow the female – sometimes for days – until she lays on the ground.
Once the female echidna lays down, the remaining males dig around her and push and shove each other until one emerges the victor. The winning echidna male gets to mate with the female first. Talk about running the gauntlet - it is a conga line followed by a sumo wrestling match for these guys to win a mate!