5 Animals With Stinky Defenses

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You’re chatting with someone you find bright and attractive when suddenly they lean a little closer and WHAM! You get hit with a whiff of monster breath. Nothing pulls the plug on attraction, even just social attraction, like a bad bouquet.

Plenty of animals will run a mile from a foul stench, too. While camouflage, tough skins, and fierce looks are among animals’ great defenses, these five species know that everyone runs from a big stink. (Also see “Top 5 Animal Defense Tactics.”)

Vulture

In Stand by Me, Stephen King describes a pie-eating contest that turns into “a complete and total barf-o-rama” when the winner intentionally vomits, moving the crowd to follow suit.

Vultures, too, know all about puke power. They are scavengers that feast on the rotting flesh of dead animals, which benefits us by ridding our highways and landscapes of carcasses and the bacteria they might carry. When vultures feel threatened they vomit, and the stink of barfed-on carcass puts off most predators.

Written By: Liz Langley
continue to source article at newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. I have to admit most of these were a surprise. I didn’t know the opossum supplemented its dead act with a stench, and that was less surprising than the next three candidates. They’re all pretty ingenious tactics when you think about the logic behind them.

    • In reply to #2 by Zeuglodon:

      I have to admit most of these were a surprise. I didn’t know the opossum supplemented its dead act with a stench, and that was less surprising than the next three candidates. They’re all pretty ingenious tactics when you think about the logic behind them.

      I suppose it makes sense that if your major defense mechanism is pretending to be deceased, it will only be effective if you appear to have been so for some time. A fresh-smelling ‘dead’ possum would be quite appealing to most passing carnivores – I’m getting quite peckish myself just thinking about it.

      To be honest, re its famous death-feigning bit, if I have thought about it at all, I think I always just assumed the possum used this as a last-ditch gambit when some predator was closing in and it had nowhere left to run. It grabs its little chest and falls down, tongue lolling out, and the pursuer, told by mom to be self-sufficient at all times and only eat what you kill yourself, leaves it alone and goes looking for something else.

      It never occurred to me that as a survival strategy, it relies on the possum’s getting into position before any potential predator is aware of its possumy existence.

      • In reply to #3 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #2 by Zeuglodon:

        I have to admit most of these were a surprise. I didn’t know the opossum supplemented its dead act with a stench, and that was less surprising than the next three candidates. They’re all pretty ingenious tactics when you think about the logic behind them.

        I suppose it…

        Yes, I agree. It makes sense now, because rotten corpses are poisonous to most creatures (vultures and other scavengers being exceptions). Yet, before I read the article, I hadn’t thought about it all that much. There are other creatures that pretend to be dead when confronted with a predator, but I’d thought its success was due to the fact that predators react to moving things and then identify them as prey thereafter, just like a kitten will chase anything that wiggles and then incorporate that into its hunting when it reaches adulthood.

  2. This is just a bit OT but still on the general topic. Does anyone know is there a good scientific explanation for why dogs usually stick their heads out the window in a car? I’ve never heard an explanation that sounded like science.

    I have two hypotheses:

    1) For the dogs its a treat. Its kind of like watching a movie for a human. They are so into smells and the experience of having so many various smells rushing past them at a speed they would never experience gives them a bit of a rush.

    2) They hate the smell of humans and our various toxins like cigarettes and perfumes. There have been times when I wanted to stick my head out of the car as well. I can imagine for the dogs, with their much keener sense of smell it might be awful to be trapped in such a small space with all those odors.

    • In reply to #5 by Red Dog:

      Hypothesis 3) They just like having the wind in their face.

      Dogs are massively into smells. If you’re going for a drive in the country and pass a farm, the aroma of horse manure ― the nicest-smelling poop of any animal by the way although this is admittedly a matter of personal taste ― and other animal odours will be of great interest to your pet pooch.

      But a dog will stick its head out the window even when its human servant is propelling the shiny box of fun which takes me to nice places where cool stuff might happen at speeds which make discerning individual smells impossible.

      Dogs do not generally hate our smell. Cigarette smoke probably is objectionable to them, as is most of the stuff we habitually spray, rub or otherwise apply all over ourselves to hide our natural, God-given stankiness. But I find it hard to believe our canine pals sprint out to the car when they know a journey is in the offing because there’s a chance they’ll get a bit of fresh, inodorous air up their noseholes.

      We’re part of their pack; the way we smell identifies us to them. If you ever have to kennel your dog and want to ensure its time away from you isn’t abject torture, make sure it has items of your family’s clothing for comfort, even if you happen to be a chain-smoker or one of those ladies who habitually wear fragrances that could be used to remove paint.

      That’s my scientific explanation anyway. Damn your beret and floppy ears if it’s insufficient.

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