Have you ever wondered why some animals eat foods that seem disgusting to us? From a human perspective, it may seem like animals are eating gross things, but there are many reasons they do so.
From eating sick to consuming their mothers, continue reading to explore the diets of eight animals that will shock and surprise you.
The larvae of a Beaded Lacewing are tiny, measuring just 8mm, but that doesn't stop them from having a ferocious appetite. Its favorite prey is the termite, but at 35 times the weight of the tiny beaded lacewing larvae, the latter has had to form an ingenious strategy to capture it.
When hungry, these tiny insects point their bottoms at a potential victim and pass wind. That's right! They fart with a toxic gas that will stun their enemy within three minutes. At this point, the lacewing scurries over to ingest the digestive juices; once they're turned the insides of their prey to mush, they can feast on the remaining carcass.
You're likely familiar with the vampire bat's diet, but that doesn't make it any less gross! This flying mammal feeds on nothing but blood, using razor-sharp teeth to dissect its prey. Within 20 minutes, these bloodsucking vampires can consume up to six teaspoons - or one ounce - of blood, which may not seem like a lot to us, but is half of their body weight. That's like you or I drinking around 40 liters of blood in one sitting!
And the vampire bat has a nifty trick up its sleeve to prevent this excess weight from affecting its flight - it begins to urinate before it finishes eating its meal (long before it takes off in flight)
At 2.5mm, the scuttle fly looks harmless, and it is to you or me - but for the fire ant, this fearsome insect is its worst nightmare.
These devious flyers land on an unsuspecting ant and eject one egg into its body. At first, the ant doesn't feel a thing, but over the following days, a maggot hatches. This maggot drinks the fluid from the ant's head before devouring the muscle, nerve tissue, and brain. This leaves the ant a zombie, but sadly, it can still wander around in this aimless state for up to two weeks.
After this time, the ant's head finally pops off, and the larva makes itself a comfortable home.
Seeing a cockroach is enough to fill most of us with disgust, but when you learn what these alien-looking creatures eat, you'll be even more disgusted.
If small insects or grubs are available, they'll happily munch a meat-based diet, and if these aren't available, they'll turn to leftover vegetable peelings, dog food, or leftovers. Not too bad, right? What happens if these creatures can't find any protein sources?
Well, they turn to any source of food they can find. That includes wallpaper glue, paper, leather, wood, makeup, soap, used tissues, and even fingernail clippings.
The Caecilian is a legless amphibian that is related to frogs and salamanders. They live in tropical rainforests and can grow up to 18 cm long. Adults feed on worms, termites, beetles, frogs, lizards, and a range of other "normal" foods. But for the babies, it's a different story.
When Caecilians reproduce, the female lays eggs in an underground nest and wraps her body around them for protection. As the young worm-like creatures hatch, they take turns to slurp a clear liquid that excretes from their mum's butt - yum! As if that wasn't bad enough, the amphibians then use their tiny teeth to scrape off their mum's skin and eat it. This doesn't harm or kill her, though - she grows a new fatty and nutritious layer for her babies to consume whenever they get hungry.
Black Lace Weaver Spider
You might think the Caecilians are bad kids for feeding on their mum's skin, but they're nothing compared to the black lace weaver spider that devours their mum to death.
While many spiders lay their eggs and leave the youngsters to fend for themselves, the black lace weaver mum is determined to give her children the best start in life. Not only does she stick around, but she lays an abundance of special eggs to feed them. As they grow, their mum makes the ultimate sacrifice by surrendering her body to her babies, who eat her alive and devour every drop of fluid from her body.
And they're not the only ones - desert velvet spiderlings attack their mum immediately after birth by drinking the partially digested fluids in her stomach before piercing her abdomen and sucking out the innards of her body.
You've probably never heard of Ommatokoita elongata, but these tiny crustaceans can be found in almost every freshwater and saltwater habitat worldwide. Why are these mysterious creatures on our list? Because their diet is disgusting and downright cruel.
These parasitic creatures attach themselves to the eyes of Greenland and Pacific Sleeper Sharks, slowly consuming the eyeballs until the shark is entirely blind. Luckily for sharks, eyesight is not a sense they rely on, and they don't seem too fussed by the presence of the ommatokoita elongata.
A skua bird is a seabird species in the Southern Hemisphere. It is an opportunistic predator and scavenger, which means it will take advantage of any food source it can find, including the food already consumed by other birds.
Skuas are also known as the "pirates of the sea" because they love to steal from other birds. Not only will they take food that another bird has caught, but they will also bully them into regurgitating partially eaten food so that they can consume it themselves - gross!