9 Animals Whose Defense Mechanisms Go a Little Overboard

9 Animals Whose Defense Mechanisms Go a Little Overboard

Animals take the role of either predator or prey. If youre a predator, its your job to find prey to eat. If youre prey, your mission is to be harder to eat than other prey. This naturally leads to the development of defense mechanisms — features that both protect the animal from danger, and in some cases, are adorable to boot. Without constant danger, we wouldnt have things like hermit crabs and little turtles to pop into terrariums. 

But there are also animals that have defense mechanisms that are a lot less pleasant. Ones that make you wonder, was this really the only option? Couldnt you have just been a little faster? Looked a little more like a leaf?

Texas Horned Lizards

If youve decided to make a dinner of a Texas Horned Lizard, you might just get an unwanted appetizer in the form of a mouthful of blood. That’s because, when left with no other option, the Texas Horned Lizard will fire a stream of foul-tasting blood out of its eye sockets, hopefully directly into the mouth of the predator. Apparently, it tastes horrible to predators, so its just an extremely metal way to prove youre going to taste like shit.

Fat Dormice

Unim0g KS

Yes, weirdly enough, Im not just being mean — there is specifically a “Fat Dormouse,” which, obviously, doesnt bode well for not seeming delicious, and its safe to assume theyre not too bad, given that humans have eaten them as well. Dormice are also known for being extremely sleepy. So far, so bad on the staying alive front. But if a predator does happen to grab one by the tail, they do have one last chance: the skin on their tails is so loose it will just, uh, rip off, letting them get away. Its only a one-time get out of jail free card, however. No starfish genes here, that tail is gone forever.

Hairy Frogs

Emoke Denes

If youre an animal and youre being attacked, that would probably be a great time to have claws to defend yourself with. Luckily for the hairy frog, it has the power to create claws, Wolverine style, in a dangerous situation. Less luckily, the way the frog creates the claws is by breaking its own finger bones and then pushing them out of its fingertips. Okay, maybe a little more Deadpool than Wolverine.



The hagfish has two different unsettling defense mechanisms, which is probably necessary, given that anything trying to eat one of these nightmares has got to be really hungry. First, they release a bunch of slime out of their skin, which rapidly expands in water, enough to suffocate a shark. The second is that their skin is just really loose, making them hard to bite. And probably horrible, texturally. They also tie themselves in knots. That isnt a defense mechanism, but I do hate it anyway.

Turkey Vulture

Paul Danese

While the hagfish is over here trying to be the weirdest fucking animal on Earth, the turkey vulture is a student of simplicity. If theyre threatened, they go with a straightforward strategy: They just puke up everything in their stomach. Not even necessarily on the attacker, just on the ground. Given the smells connected with a vultures diet before digestion, you can imagine that round two smells even worse.

Northern Fulmar

Michael Haferkamp

The Northern Fulmar also turns to violent expectoration for self-defense, but with at least a little more precision involved. Instead of relying on just being gross enough for the other animal to give up, the Northern Fulmar, specifically their chicks, vomit a stream of oil directly onto their predators. Its not just the smell here, either. The oil sticks to and mats predatory birds feathers, making them unable to fly, which, given that they live among the cliffs, is a dangerous ability to lose. Getting hit with a baby birds puke laser and then immediately plummeting to your death on sharp sea rocks? Not the way Id want to go.

Potato Beetle


The potato beetles form of defense is no less disgusting than the fulmar or the turkey vulture, just a lot slower. Which arguably, is worse. What the potato beetle does to make itself generally unpleasant to consume is to constantly rub its own shit all over its back. This will definitely result in less things wanting to fight you, no matter what species you are. Just in case a predators thinking about pinching their nose and proceeding, the beetle eats nightshade plants, meaning the shit in question is also highly toxic.

Pygmy Sperm Whales

Public Domain

If you thought things couldnt get worse after the toxic shit-rubber, I have two words for you: anal syrup. That is, for whatever reason, the honest-to-god name scientists have given what the Pygmy Sperm Whale fires out of its anus when threatened. Its said to confuse predators, which, sure, Id wonder exactly what was coming out of there too.

Malaysian Exploding Ant

Bernard DUPONT

Three guesses as to what the Malaysian Exploding Ants defense mechanism is. No, not camouflage, idiot! It explodes. Specifically, it rips itself open, covering the thing taking it on with sticky, toxic fluid. Take… that?

9 Animals Whose Defense Mechanisms Go a Little Overboard

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