Feb 23 2016

Nightmares Of Nature

#10 Bird Eating Spider
Bird eating spiders are big, hair and dangerous. They not only have the largest leg span of any spider in the world but they also have the longest fangs to deliver their poisons bite. They’re so big the spider is sometimes called the “Goliath Bird-eater”. The creature thrives in the deepest tropical rain forests and feeds on almost anything it can grab.

Creature Features: Species: Theraphosa Blondi
Size: Length up to 5 inches, legspan isup to 12 inches
Habitat: Rainforests of noeth south america
Prey: Insects, Llizards, frogs, and an occasional bird
Lifespan: Up to 10 years

Spider Senses: Hairs around the spiders body are linked to its nervous system, detecting vibrations made by the movements of prey. Some hairs are hollow, and gather scents that tell the spider which type of prey may be near.

Put Out Your Feelers: Near the fangs, short feelers, called palps, wave around constantly when the spider is hunting. When prey is trapped under the spider’s legs, the pals feel the victims skin for the best place to dig in with its fangs.

Attack of the Giant Spider: The bird eating spider spends most of the day in its burrow to avoid the sun and predators, such as the coatimundi (a relative of the raccoon). At night it ventures out to find a meal and while its vision isn’t too good, this creature has other super senses. It uses the fine hairs on its legs and body to detect vibrations and “taste” the air for scents. The slightest movement from prey sends the spider into attack mode. It closes in, grabs the victim and sinks in its long deadly fangs.

Dart Thrower: Bird eating spiders also have stinging hairs they can shoot like darts for defense. These hairs are barbed like porcupine quills.

Silk Trail: Though it doesn’t spin a web this spider does spin a silk tub in which it rests. Also, it always leaves a small trail of silk behind while it hunts, using it as a tripwire to alert the spider to nearby prey.

Did you know? The bird eating spider can go weeks without eating.

#9 Velvet Worms
The velvet worm has the body of a worm but also has legs- as many as 43 pairs- to help it close in on prey. A night hunter, this creature moves along the forest floor until a victim is within range, then spits out a deadly “glue” that eats away at prey and keeps it from moving. Soon after, the worm is ready to enjoy its feast.

Creature Features:
Order: Onychophora
Size: Length up to 6 in
Habitat: Tropical forests around the world
Prey: Insects and spiders
Lifespan: Up to 7 years

Slow and Stealthy: Even with 86 legs, the velvet worm moves slowly. This can work to the animals advantage, however, since prey may not even notice the worm until its too late.

Tuned In: The velvet worms antennae tell the creature all it needs to know about potential prey. These sensory organs telescope out to touch a victim and then quickly retract so not to warn of the attach thats soon to come.

Worm Babies: Unlike other worms, the velvet worm gives birth to live young, and endures an incredibly long pregnancy, 13 months! Afterward, the baby worms usually stay with their mother for several months, then begin to hunt on their own at night and hide in soil or under leaves with groups of other velvet worms during the day.

Get A Grip: Velvet worms body is basically a muscle-filled tube. These creatures are soft to the touch because the’re covered with small knobs that feel like velvet and give these animals their name.

Sticky Situation: The velvet worm moves slowly and looks like a harmless slug, but its method of attack is deadly. When the worm finds an insect such as a grasshopper, it rears up and spits a sticky substance at the victim from glands around its mouth. This fluid hardens in seconds and acts like glue, trapping the prey in place. The glue-like substance then begins to eat away at the victim like acid, liquefying its body so the worm can stroll over and slurp up its dinner.

Did you know?
The earliest known velvet worms lived in the sea about 500 million years ago.

#8 Nile Monitor
The Nile Monitor is a nasty predator with a big appetite. It spends its day searching for food of all kinds – including dead animals – and leaves nothing on the table. Any animal that gets between this lizard and a meal had better beware. The lizard has extremely sharp teeth and claws, and will tackle animals much larger than itself even Nile crocodiles.

Creature Features:
Species: Varanus niloticus
Size: Length up to 6.5 feet. Weight up to 13 lbs.
Habitat: Near rivers, and swamps in central and southern Africa.
Prey: Insects, frogs, fish, eggs, and carrion
Lifespan: up to 15 years

Backbreaker: Because of its build, the nile monitor is an agile lizard. This beast will sometimes pounce on its victims back and snap its spine in two.

Triple Threat: The nile monitor attacks on land or in water, and will even climb a tree to snag a meal. Its tail propels it though the water, its stout legs make it a fast runner and its claws are perfect for scaling trees.

Bad To The Bone: The Nile monitor is simply a vicious creature that will pick a fight with anything that gets in its way – including humans- and has a wide assortment of weapons at its disposal. Even eagles trying to attack the lizard from the air can find the tables turned when the lizard clamps down with its powerful jaws. This beast has also been known to use its tail like a whip to slat at aggressive lions.

Did you know?
Some Nile monitors defend themselves so fiercely that they can’t be captured alive.

#7 Giant Centipedes
Giant centipedes scamper across forest floors, using their “chorus line” of legs to chase down prey or escape an attacker. When in range of a victim, these extreme creepy crawlers deliver a venomous sting to make a kill.

Creatrure Features
Genus Species: Scolopendra/Various
Size: Length up to 1 foot, width up to 1.5 inches
Prey: Frogs, lizards, small snakes, small mammals, and young birds
Habitat: Forest floors from the U.S to South America, through out Africa, Eurasia and Australia
Lifespan: Up to 10 years

Flex O’ Matic: Each segment of this centipede’s body has its own pair of legs and can move independently. This allows incredible flexibility when pursuing prey or curling up in a defensive position. The pairs of legs number from 21-23

The Bigger They Are..:Giant centipede are always on the prowl for a meal. With their colossal pinching claws that pump powerful venom, they can take on birds, rats, mice, and even snakes. ( A 4 inch centipede in the US was once observed killing and carrying off a 10 inch long snake!) Their venom is strong enough to kill most prey instantly and can cause sever pain and skin damage to humans.

Mighty Mouth: After a victim has been killed by its poison, the giant centipede chops the carcass up into bite-size chunks with its small toothy jaws.

Less A- Plenty: The tail end legs turn backward and upward. They can hold on to prey or be used for fighting.

Did you know?
Centipedes have walked the earth for about 450 million years. They were much bigger back then, measuring up to 6 feet long.

#6 Reticulated Python
At night rainforests of southeast Asia become this pythons deadly playground. One of the largest snakes in the world, the reticulated python can tackle prey as small as a squirrel or as big as an antelope. Its mouth opens wide to swallow victims whole.
Creature Features:
Speciies: Python reticulateus
Size: Length up to 30 feet. Weight about 300 lbs
Habitat: Rainforests of southeastern Asia
Prey: Reptiles, birds, mammals
Lifespan: Up to 27 years

Muscle Bound: The python’s long body is almost pure muscle from head to tail. The snake uses its incredible strnegth to climb tall trees, hang rigid from branches, and suffocate prey.

Heat Seeking Hunter: The pythons eyesight is poor and its forest hunting ground is dark, so it has special tools to locate prey. Pits in the pythons upper lip hold special heat-sensitive organs that help the python detect an animals body heat – much the way a heat-seeking missile finds its target. The snake silently slithers closer until it can see the prey with its eyes, then strikes.

Breathless: The python kills by squeezing the life out of its prey. It wraps its powerful coils around a victims body and tightens its grip every time the prey exhales until the victim simply cant breathe.

ATS (All Terrain Snake): Pythons hunt well on the ground, but they also snatch prey from water or trees. Broad scales on the snakes belly help grip tree bark when climbing.

Snake or Vine? A python often hunts by blending in with its environment. The cris-crossed pattern of its scales, called “reticulated” makes the snake difficult to see among the leaves and branches. One if its favorite ways of capturing prey is to climb up a tree and wait patiently for an unwary animal to pass by.

Did you know?
Pythons sometimes accidentally kill themselves by trying to swallow antelopes- the horns fatally puncture the snakes stomach on the way down.

#5 Saltwater Crocodile
Lurking in muddy waters, the saltwater crocodile burst from its hiding place to ambush passing prey, even animals as big as a water buffalo. The low-slung, leathery monster is now the largest living reptile in the world.

Creature Features:
Species: corcodylus porosus
Size: Length up to 23 feet. Weight is 2,200 lbs
Habitat: Streams and coastal waters from India to northern Australia
Prey: Fish, birds, pigs, deer, buffalo, monkeys, and people.
Lifespan: Up to 100 years

Good Point: Each tooth is like a sharp spike and is replaced by a tooth as it wears out, so the crocodile never looses its teeth as it gets older. This is one reason why it can live so long.

Great Tail: Using powerful sweeps of its long tail, the crocodile can move at blinding speed and burst from the surface like a missile. The tail also helps the animal steer.

Rip and Rot:
Patrolling a shoreline or lying in wait, the saltwater crocodile springs into action to grab a meal. It rips victims apart, often tossing chunks of flesh into the air before gobbling them down. These huge crocs often “tenderize” their prey by stashing it for several days under submerged logs or boulders and letting it rot underwater.

Tastes Like Chicken:The saltwater croc has probably eaten more people than any other wild animal. Estimates are it devours mare than 1,000 humans a year.

Old Salty: Special glands on the crocodiles tongue get rid of excess salt in the body, so the animal can spend long periods in salty seawater.

Did you know?
A crocodile often swallows stones to grind up the food in its stomach.

#4 Komodo Dragon
The heaviest, strongest and deadliest lizard in the world, the komodo dragon runs with lightening bursts of speed and sinks its sharp teeth into prey. It prefers to hide in tall grass and attack victims that stray too close.

Creature Features:
Specias: Varanus Komodeonsis
Size: Length up to 11.5 ft including tail. Weird up to 360 lbs
Habitat: A few tropical islands in indonesia
Prey: Deer, pigs, goats, and other komodo dragons
Lifespan: Up to 50 years

Foul Mouth: The dragons teeth point backwards to ensure a firm grip on prey, but those that do escape its jaws have little time left. Bacteria from rotten flesh can fester in the dragons mouth giving its bite a toxic edge that soon kills victims who escape.

Cool Claws: The sharp claws are multi purpose. Not only are they deadly weapons but they are also useful digging into volcanic soil so the dragon can make a burrow and stay cool.

Something Really Smells: Komodo dragons can make a quick kill, but sometimes a wounded animal escapes. No problem. The bite wounds from the dragon act like a slow-acting poison and the victim soon dies and begins to rot. The dragon uses its tongue to “taste” the air and picks up the scent of the stinking carcass. A dragon can smell rotting corpses from more than six miles away

Eater’s Digest: The stomach expands to hold the heartiest of meals. Large prey, eaten all at once can take weeks to go through the dragons system. Young komodoa dragons that dont want to end up as lunch spend a lot of time in trees. This is because the older dragons are cannibals and would happily eat their own or another dragons young if given the chance.

Did you know?
People in Komodo have to bury their dead extra-deep so the dragons wont smell them and dig them up?

#3 Barracudas
Barracudas patrol the worlds warm oceans, using their flesh ripping teeth to slash into victims- sometimes slicing their prey inttwo. This fish is ofter found near coral reefs, where the abundany sea life creates an all-you-can-eat buffet for the hungry predator.

Creature Features:
Genus/Species: Sphyraena / Various
Size: Length up to 6 ft; weight up to 100 lbs
Body Parts: Torpedo shaped body, strong tail, sharp fangs
habitat: All warm oceans especially around coral reefs
Prey: Smaller fish, squid and shrimp

Tail Power: A barracudas tail is packed with muscles. Sweeping tirelessly from side to side, it lets the fish stay in constant pursuit of prey.

Mouth Off: Fangs in front and saw-like teeth in back spell doom for a barracudas victims. This fish can open its jaws wide to swallow smaller fish whole, or take huge chunks out of larger prey.

Deadly Pursuit: Hunting primarily bi sight, barracudas stalk the shallow sunlit waters of coral refs. When a hungry barracuda spots prey, the race is on. With a body shaped like a torpedo these fish can launch an instant attack and hit a top speed of 25 mph. A smaller fish is an easy target as the “cud’s teeth cut the prey to pieces.

Save It For Later: After eating its fill from a school of small fish, an adult barracuda will sometimes herd the survivors into shallow water and stalk them when it is hungry again.

Did you know?
Curios barracudas often follow scuba divers as they swim through reef waters

#2 Aquatic Leech

The worm-like aquatic leech thirsts for one thing- blood. The size or shape of prey doesn’t matter, as long as the leech can slice through the victims skin. Wriggling through the water, this slimy creature attaches itself to an animals body, often without the host even knowing.

Creature Features:
Species: Various
Size: Length from 1 to 6 inches
Habitat: Still or slow moving waters throughout the world
Food: Fresh blood from any vertebrate
Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Triple Threat: Most animals have two jaws- upper and lower. The mouth of an aquatic leech contains three, each lined with up to 100 tiny teeth that easily cut a hole in a victims skin.

Growth Spurt: The leech can attach itself to a victim and dine on its blood for up to an hour. The parasite can drink so much that its body will swell to 10 times its normal size.

Blood- Its Whats For Dinner: When an Aquatic leech finds a suitable host, it used strong suckers on both ends of its body to attach itself to the victim. When the leech finds an area that’s rich in blood, it drools a bit of saliva from it mouth onto the spot, which numbs the skin so the leech can bite without being noticed and keeps the hosts blood flowing. Muscles in the leech’s mouth sucks the blood until the leech is satisfied.

Stay Fresh: Once a leech sucks down a good meal, it mat not feed again for several months. A special chemical in the leech’s stomach prevents blood from trotting over long period of time,

All Purpose Suckers: Using the suckers on each end if its body, an aquatic leech can crawl along like a slinky and attach itself to just about anything including rocks and plants.

It’s Not Ketchup: If a person takes a swim through a lake, he or she may come out carrying an unexpected hitchhiker. The leech’s saliva prevents its victims blood from clotting, so blood keeps pouring from the wound even after the hungry parasite has been removed. This blood loss causes many people to pass out after a leech has had it dinner.

Did you know?
Doctor in the past used leeches in attempts to cure disease by sucking out the “bad” blood. Medicinal leeches are still used today in cosmetic surgery.

#1 Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian devil is a vicious animal always ready to chomp down on prey or dig into its favorite food- a rotting carcass. The Devils often get into fights and let loose their nightmarish howls- screeching sounds that could have come from the devil himself.

Creature Features:
Species: Sarcophilus harrisii
Size: Length up to 3.5 feet
Weight up to 26 pounds
Habitat: Forests on the island of Tasmania
Prey: Small animals and carrion
Lifespan: Up to 8 years

Power Bite: Sharp teeth line the Tasmanian devils jaws. Heavy muscles around the jawbone provide the creature with a powerful bite that easily shatters bones to pieces.

Sniff Sniff: A scavenger, the Tasmanian devil has a very sharp sense of smell. It can pick up on the scent of a dead animal from several miles away.

Devil of A Beast: Tasmanian devils often feeds on the bodies of dead animals. As the stinking carcass rots, several devils at a time can sniff out the body. To get the best scraps, they try to intimidate each other. They howl with gaping jaws, and if that fails, they really turn nasty and fight one another off. After a group of devils is through eating, there’s nothings left but splinters of bone.

On The Hunt: More than just a scavenger, the Tasmanian devil does its share of hunting on the ground and in trees. This creature will go after anything it can kill, from insects to small kangaroos.

Road Kill: In the search for food, these creatures often are drawn to busy roads where animals are killed by cars. Unfortunately, the devils sometimes become road kill themselves.

Did you know?
Taz, the wild energetic co-star of Bugs Bunny cartoons is a Tasmanian devil.